Online Marketing Lesson 28: List Building Techniques

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The two factors that affect the quality of an email list are its responsiveness and its size. In the previous lesson, we explained how you build responsive lists. In this lesson, we will focus on the second factor, which is the size of your list. In other words, we will highlight the techniques that you can use to grow your email list.

Landing Pages and Websites

If you want to build an email list, you will inevitably need to use a subscription form where visitors will fill in their email addresses and click on a button to confirm their desire to be included in your list. There are basically two places where you can place your subscription forms:

  1. on landing pages, and
  2. on your website or blog.

When you place your subscription form on a landing page, the only purpose for attracting visitors to that page is to convert them into email subscribers. For that reason, those pages are often called “name squeeze” pages. Usually, they contain a headline and an explanation about why the visitor should subscribe to the newsletter.

When you place your subscription form on your website or blog, on the other hand, you are hoping that some of your normal visitors will have enough interest to subscribe to your email newsletter. In this scenario getting visitors to subscribe to your list will not be your only objective, as you will also want them to read the content of your website and to purchase eventual products or services that you will be offering.

Both strategies can work, and they are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. It is recommended that you use both of them to grow your email list or to grow different email lists at the same time.

Six High-Powered List Building Techniques

As we explained above, building an email list always starts with a subscription form. While you can optimize the positioning of the subscription form and even tweak the copy that is supposed to convince visitors to subscribe, the overall size of your list will be a reflection of how much traffic you can send to the pages that will hold your subscription forms.

Below we are going to cover six list building techniques that can generate a lot of traffic, and therefore, build your list with thousands of subscribers.

1. Blogging

A blog is an excellent traffic generation tool, and therefore it can also be used as a technique to build your email list. If you have a company website where you offer products or services, for example, you could add an internal blog where you would publish articles related to your products or services. Those articles would attract visitors from search engines, social media and from other sites that would link to them, and by placing a subscription form somewhere in the blog layout you could convert many of those visitors into email subscribers.

Usually, the sidebar and the bottom of single posts are the two spots with the highest conversion rate.

Even if you use a blog to generate advertising revenues (the web publishing business model, in other words), you should still build an email list. You could use it to promote your blog posts, to build a stronger relationship with your readers and to make some money with affiliate marketing, for example.

2. Free eBook

Writing and releasing an eBook is one of the most powerful ways to build an email list. We called it eBook, but you could use any variation of the term, including report, whitepaper, research paper and so on. The important thing is to cover things in your eBook that your audience wants or needs to know. The more value you can pack into it, the better. You will notice that Internet marketers always share their very best content in their free resources, without the fear of not having anything valuable to sell afterward.

Once you have the eBook ready to go, you just need to create a landing page for it and explain that visitors must subscribe to your email list if they want to get immediate access to the eBook. It is important to craft that landing page as if you were selling the eBook, even if you are giving it away free. The higher the desire you can create in people to get the information that you share in your eBook, the higher your conversion rates.

If you already have a blog, you can leverage that to promote the eBook. You could write a post announcing it on the blog, and ask the people in your network to do the same.

Finally, instead of offering the eBook only on your landing page, you could also use it to increase the conversion rates of the subscription forms on your sidebar or below single posts. All you need is an image of the ebook close to the forms and an explanation that subscribers will also be able to download it free.

3. Free Videos and Audios

The free eBook or report is the most used list building technique , but free video and audio resources are equally effective. They are used less often only because they take more work to create.

Combining these formats together, for example by offering an audio version of your written report, is also very effective.

There are cases of Internet marketers who offered both written and audio versions of the same report, in fact, and the audio version was downloaded much more frequently, so do not underestimate the different preferences that people might have.

Video is very effective too because it has a high perceived value. A common list building approach with video is to offer the  first video to all the visitors (i.e., without requiring a subscription to your email list), and then mentioning that you have a second and even better video on the same topic, but in order to access it visitors need to subscribe to your list first.

Again, what you offer in the video or audio is the reason why it will become successful, so make sure you are giving people something valuable, or it won’t matter what format you use.

4. Affiliates

The quickest way to build a list is to leverage affiliates and joint ventures.

Other people, like bloggers or marketers in your industry, who already have lists or an audience, can recommend your content and send traffic to your landing page to help you build your list.

This is the quickest method because the type of traffic is very targeted, and it includes an endorsement from someone else who is already trusted by those visitors.

For this to work, you need to offer a reason for the partner to send traffic to you, which is usually an affiliate commission for future sales. For example, you could release a free report today, and make the content in that free report lead to the launch of a product in one week. You would then make your affiliate software track the people who send traffic to the report landing page, and if those subscribers end up purchasing the product once it launches, the commission would be credited to the affiliate who send the lead in the first place.

In most cases, it will be difficult to convince people to promote your free reports or product launches, even if you are giving out commissions. To solve this problem, you want to build a relationship with key people in your niche before you need them, and you will also need to support them before you ask.

5. PPC

Pay-per-Click advertising is another effective way to send traffic to your landing pages and thus grow your email list. The advantage of this technique is that the traffic will be highly targeted, improving the responsiveness of the list. Additionally, you can overcome time constraints with PPC. If you use your blog to build your email list, for example, only a certain number of people will subscribe every day. With PPC, the more you are willing to spend, the faster you can build your list. This is particularly useful if you need to have a list ready for a product launch coming soon.

The goal here is to spend as little as possible on every click because obviously only a fraction of all the clicks will end up subscribing to your email list. Secondly, you should also aim to have something to give away to those visitors (i.e., a free report, audio or video), because this can improve your conversion rates greatly, decreasing the cost per subscribers that you have on the PPC campaign.

6. Product Launches

Every time you launch a product in the market, be it a paid eBook, a service, a membership site or a physical product, make sure to build your email list at the same time. Ideally, you should build two different lists at each launch: a list of people who bought your product, and a list of people who had an interest but were not ready to buy.

For the first one you just need to use a delivery platform or shopping cart that stores the emails of the buyers (and in this case it is a good idea to let them know that you might use their email address to deliver information related to the product). For the second list, you could use an exit pop-up script that would invite the visitors who are leaving your site without making a purchase to download your free report, for example.

The important thing is to consider every product launch as an opportunity not only to make money but also to build your list. Your email list is a long term asset, something you can leverage for income again and again if you nurture relationships with your subscribers.

Action Points

  1. If you have a blog, insert an email subscription form below single posts or on the sidebar.
  2. Start researching a topic for your free eBook or report. Once you have it ready, launch it and use your network to promote it.
  3. Consider creating free video or audio resources to grow your email list.
  4. If you are planning to sell a product or service, remember to bring affiliates board, and use the launch as an opportunity to build your list, too.

Navigation Links

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