— Growth Hacking Series —
The Internet is a ridiculously massive and ever-growing digital landscape, which has led to it being far too easy to get lost or forget most previously visited sites, even with the plethora of bookmarking options we have.
Creating a mailing list as early as possible is vital to the future success of your business.
There are a bunch of blog creators and businesses that launched sites years ago who are kicking themselves for not building a mailing list earlier. Some failed sites would have succeeded if they had just started to build their list in the beginnings.
Many thousands of past visitors will probably be lost to them forever, whereas they could’ve easily and cheaply reconnected with many of these old visitors every so often to further build upon relationships with their audience, while bringing in more revenue.
Are you unsure or too embarrassed to ask readers to join your mailing list?
Some of you may feel embarrassed to ask your readers to join up as a subscriber and I’ll explain why that is crazy in a minute. I’ve heard a few bloggers say something like they are “not really promoting their mailing list subscription because they don’t want to be perceived as a spammer”.
If you fall into the embarrassed group then you must change your attitude… Why?
Your audience doesn’t want to have to check your site every day for new content.
Do your audience a favor and offer them a handy reminder service of your new content and offers. If you don’t make it easy to subscribe to your list then you are doing your valued audience a disservice.
People are busy… longer than ever work hours, social media, social reality, and an overall information overload…
So if they like your articles, subscribing to your list helps make it easier and less time-consuming to connect with your brand.
It’s called an OPT-IN for a reason, so feel confident that it’s a win-win situation and then let the reader choose… They can always OPT-OUT (unsubscribe) later and if they do they won’t hear from you again.
1) Start Now With a Email Marketing Service
If you haven’t started building a mailing list from your website’s visitors then you really must start NOW!
It will be a great investment.
Maybe you’re using a basic free WordPress or other CMS plugin to slowly collect emails, but how are you sending out your updates or newsletters? Some of you haven’t started, which after reading this you can finally get started TODAY.
However, if you’re using an email marketing software on your PC or even plain-old regular email software like Mail, Outlook or Thunderbird, then you run the risk of dangerous email problems with your site that could even cause your email to stop working!
If you are sending out your emails yourself, your ISP or Webhost could block outgoing emails or enforce crippling restrictions due to spam risks. Your IP could also be labelled as a spam risk making it hard for your messages to avoid the Junk folders where it will be almost impossible to grow a nice list and communicate your messages.
It’s simply not worth the risk. Let the professionals handle it and they’re cheap!
These services will help you build your list, manage it and easily send out truckloads of newsletters, updates and promotions to your audience without risking paralyzing your normal business and personal emails.
Importantly, they all assist your business to operate your email marketing campaigns in compliance with Anti-Spam laws.
For sites that are new or have virtually no marketing budget, MailChimp is a good starting point to begin building your opt-in list. They have a free option (for up to 2000 subscribers), however the features are quite limited in the free version. It is easy to integrate with any website and has a great premium service for full features and larger email lists.
What is the best Email Marketing Service?
Every situation has different needs and all three services below are solid. If you already have a decent sized list, can afford to spend some small change on premium email marketing or plan on getting more than 2000 subscribers I would recommend (in order of preference):
- AWeber – Rating: 9.0/10
- Great Pricing: Starting at $19 per month
- Beautiful Templates, Best Support, Best Integration
- Amazingly Fully Featured (such as Split A/B Testing)
- Professional-Grade, Simple to Use
- iContact – Rating 8.0/10
- Great Pricing: Starting at $19 per month
- Great Templates, Good Support, Good Integration
- Great Range of Features
- Very Easy for complete beginners
- MailChimp – Rating 7.5/10
- Free (limited features) & subscribers
- Expensive to upgrade plan/features
- Basic Templates, Average Support, Great Integration
- Easiest for complete beginners
AWeber is the most popular among Internet Marketers for a reason. It is the most polished and fully featured service of its kind and is about the same cost as the other two when comparing plans of similar features and subscribers.
2) Offer a Free Gift To Your Subscribers
I’m sure along the way you’ve received gifts on festive occasions that you’ll never forget. Those gifts had a reason that they were memorable and probably fall into at least one or more of the following factors:
- Perfectly suited to your needs, interests or personality
- High Desire & Anticipation
- Highly Valuable
- Extremely Unique
- Ridiculously bad bordering on a joke
What To Gift Your Audience?
Now when it comes to representing your brand and offering a suitable digital gift to new subscribers, we can try to replicate the first 4 of the above memorable gift factors with the aim to forge positive connection with our brand and the reader.
It’s important that we build our gift(s) with generous time and care to make it highly valuable to our audience.. Uniqueness definitely helps.. But presenting it in a way that creates desire and anticipation can further strengthen these memories.
The gift could be anything that is not offered free to the public, has value and can be legally reproduced infinitely (preferably your own creation) such as:
- Private Video Lectures
- Short Course
- Illustration Packs
- CMS / E-Commerce Plugins
- Other Useful Resources
If you put in effort to make it extra special it could take you around 25 hours to create, and if you look at opportunity-cost (eg. hourly salary of $25 p/hour equates to an $625 cost in time) it could be seen as an expensive gift to give away for free… Let’s hope it looks expensive!
But because it’s digital it can be reproduced an unlimited number of times.
The better it is the more likely it will be shared, and the less each gift actually costs you… If only Christmas worked the same way!
If you manage to attract 2000 subscribers to your list over a year, this equates to 31 cents per gift and is always getting cheaper as you keep giving! 5000 subscribers equates to 12 cents per gift.
Some bloggers can make around $20 avg. revenue per year per subscriber, some make a lot more while others make much less. So your 5000 subscribers could potentially be worth $100,000+ per year to you. So you’re 12 cent gifts you’ve been handing out, that really only cost you time (and perhaps $10-$20 or so on royalty-free stock photography) could help bring in a healthy and growing income some time down the track.
Make Sure It’s Valuable, Good-Looking and Polished
Whatever it is, just make sure it’s what you promise, it looks pretty & polished and most importantly provides great value to your audience. The goal is to exceed their expectations.
Any free subscription gift will not only attract more subscribers, but also increase opt-in email verifications as most of your audience will want to find the freebie in their inbox immediately.
Psychology studies also suggest that if you give someone a gift that has value, they are likely to feel the need to return the favour in some way.
This feeling may be marginal but could also lead to slightly higher click-through rates to your advertisers/affiliate offers, more blog comments/interaction, bookmarking, sharing, word-of-mouth recommendations and mentioning on social media.
If your freebie is highly valued by the reader they may also email it on to suitable colleagues or friends, this is why your freebie should look pretty, provide your business information/contact details, be consistent with your brand image.
The content should be well-researched, carefully structured and highly polished. The gift creates a first impression to potential new customers or audience.
3) Create a Landing Page For Your Free Subscription Gift
You’ve spent the time to create a gift that the customer loves, so make it easy for them to share a link to this wonderful freebie you’re offering. Create a gorgeous landing page complete with the details of the gift, a subscription form and some social share buttons. The easiest way to create a super high-converting “squeeze pages” is to use OptimizePress. They have over 30 beautifully polished & tested high-converting templates for your squeeze page and they only charge a small one-time fee instead of a monthly membership. OptimizePress is compatible with any website as it can output CSS & HTML5, you can also deploy to a WordPress site via their integrated Wordpress theme or plugin.
No code required, if you can point-and-click then you can design your own beautiful squeeze pages without the help of a designer that are responsive and look fantastic on every screen (including mobile). They’ve implemented a user-friendly drag-and-drop page builder with a wide-range of possible features including video, audio, countdown timers, guarantee badges, arrows and testimonial boxes.
There have been numerous credible reports that OptimizePress squeeze pages can consistently convert around 50% of the visitors to the page into subscribers, which is miles above any other conversion page designs.
4) Use a Quality Opt-In Subscription Popup
The best email marketing platforms (Aweber, iContact) are experimenting with lightbox popup subscription forms but currently they have flaws and lack many useful features, customizations and polish.
For instance, if you sign up to AWeber, they have a free lightbox popup feature which is nice but it’s quite limited… Importantly you haven’t got control over when and what pages to enable the popup, which can annoy both regulars and 1st time visitors to your site and lead to a higher bounce rate.
By far the best opt-in form popup software is PopUp Domination. It works on any website or blog, has an amazing array of features and is optimised for all devices including smartphones and tablets.
The settings and design are highly customisable. You can set the popup to only show on the second page impression, so that if someone visits your page it wont annoy them the first instant they arrive. If they like your site and navigate to a second page then the popup is shown. You can set popups to not show on the homepage. You can even set time intervals before showing popup a 2nd time. You can experiment with everything constantly making improvements to your opt-in rates.
The highest converting opt-in popup factors:
- Use an eCover to illustrate your digital gift (eg. Book or DVD Cover)
- Using the word FREE attracts interest & NOW creates urgency
- Button Color – Red & Green submit buttons convert best
- Reminding reader that their email address is NEVER shared helps encourage trust
- Tell the reader directly in large font what you want them to do (eg. DOWNLOAD NOW)
5) Send Beautifully Designed & Value-Packed Newsletters (With Consistent Timing)
If you starting out or haven’t created newsletters before, depending on the frequency you publish new content you should initially aim for a weekly, fortnightly or monthly newsletter. In my opinion Aweber has the best built-in professionally designed html newsletter templates.
If you publish one article per week, you could send out a reminder after each post with the article title in the subject line. Another option is to send out a fortnightly or monthly newsletter that contains small excerpts and a featured picture from each new article. Whatever the frequency, just make sure each email provides real value, and keep sales pitches and promoting of 3rd party products to a minimum (especially when you start out list building).
Promoting products works more naturally in context within the article itself (without any mention in the email). On the odd occasion it is fine to talk about a highly relevant promoted product within an email, but don’t overdo it!
These days people can smell a pushy salesman a mile away and may unsubscribe quickly if they signed up for ‘Entrepreneur Interviews and Insights’ but instead notice more of a trend in pushing affiliate products. Please Note: Check with your Email Marketing Provider if affiliate links are allowed within your emails as some don’t allow this or require that they grant permission on a case-by-case basis.
Give your audience free and real value and lot’s of it, show that you care about them and when you do recommend a product it will be taken far more seriously and have a higher conversion rate. Sometimes they won’t buy on the first recommendation, but if then 4 months later you obtain an exclusive discount you can refer to the previous recommendation as to why you spent the time to negotiate a deal for your readers.
6) Turn Your List Into Revenue (The Right Way)
Only promote items you are 100% confident in the quality and suitability to your audience. Promoting random unknown items will discredit your brand and lose you valuable subscribers. So treat them with respect and do your due diligence! It may take you a lot more time to find the right products to promote but remember that doing it the ‘right way’ will create positive experiences for those readers who purchased a product you recommended, which in turn creates more trust and likelihood to purchase another product you recommend in the future.
Sometimes you will find that the better product is the one where you make less commission but that happy customer now trusts you a lot more. In 3 months you may finally find a product that is fantastic AND pays top commission, that same customer may read your take and just purchase it without any further research. So taking less sometimes pays more in the long-term. Focus less on affiliate commissions per sale and more on providing exceptional value, honesty and integrity. This is what I call the ‘right way’ to make money from your list.
EXTRA TIP: WRITE EPIC SHIT
The best Mailing List strategy in the world will still be a waste of time if your content doesn’t inspire people to share it.
To be a true Rockstar in the art of building Killer Mailing Lists – and the only way any of this will be worthwhile – is… and yes I know it’s an overused cliche… but only because it’s the single most important factor in SEO and internet success…
You guessed it!
WRITE EPIC SHIT (aka great content). Without great content nobody except for spambots are going to join your list.
See this article if you want to read more about Epic Shit, otherwise to sum it up in a quote:
“Building a raving audience online all starts with writing epic shit. Period. Hands down. End of story.”
EXTRA TIP: Know Your Brand Identity & Be Faithful To It
Before engaging in an email marketing campaign It helps to first develop your brand identity in writing. A strong brand aims to be faithful to and consistent with their brand identity within all published media including outgoing emails. Having an internal brand identity document can keep everyone within the business on the same page helping to forge your brand personality.
This document should detail your brand’s;
Mission Statement, Vision Statement, Essence, Personality and Position/Value Proposition.
FINAL TIP: If Your Brand Is a Disaster or Unmemorable.. It’s Time To Rebrand!
There could be a number of reasons why your brand sucks…
Sometimes a name feels like a good idea but years later you realise it’s just too long? Maybe nobody can ever spell it after hearing it.
Rebranding to a short, memorable brandable name (with the all-important matching .Com domain) can do wonders for a business that needs to reinvent itself or simply market itself with a better name. A bad name can render loads of marketing effort and money useless.
Get your brand name right before you invest any more into it!
If you are considering this option or launching a new venture soon… Be sure to browse our name for sale in our brand marketplace.
All our names come with the premium .Com Domain Name and a Custom designed logo.
BustABrand’s Marketplace is full of short, catchy brandable names covering a range of niches that are ready-to-use NOW for your business.