Nowadays, people are bombarded with opt-in forms from left and right, therefore they are not exactly eager to give you their e-mail address.
How can you build a profitable list when your potential subscribers are so hesitant?
The mechanics of building an e-mail list
It doesn’t matter whether you have a company website, a blog, or a simple landing page, this is one of the most effective ways to build an e-mail list:
- Guest post on well-known websites in your niche. You have to get your work in front of a big audience in order to grow your list fast. Guest posting is the best way to do that.
- Drive traffic from your guest post to your website. The whole point of guest posting is to get people to visit a site that you want them to visit. This one is easy, since if your guest post was really interesting in valuable, people will want to learn more about you can click on the link in your byline.
- Convert that traffic from random visitors to e-mail subscribers. Once people are on your site, you have to make it as easy as possible for them to subscribe to your e-mail list and give them an incentive to do so, otherwise they’ll leave and never come back.
Repeat this process enough time, and, sooner or later, you will have a profitable e-mail list. I’ve covered guest posting in one of my previous articles, therefore in this article, I’ll focus on the topic of optimizing a website in order to get more e-mail subscribers.
However, before we get into that, I want to address two common mistakes that people who try to build e-mail lists make..
Mistake #1 :Giving away low quality free content
Many people think that their content can be low quality as long as it is free. People should be happy with whatever free stuff you throw their way, right? Wrong. This is a big big mistake that can ruin your business in the long run.
It’s very important to understand this: your free material is a representation of your premium material.
- People will not click through to your website if your guest post is “meh”.
- People will not subscribe to your e-mail list if your free material is “meh”.
- People will not buy anything from you if your subscriber-only content is “meh”.
This is the harsh reality of running an online business: you have to provide a lot of free value before you can expect to make a sale.
You can’t afford to give away low quality material if your goal is to build a profitable e-mail list.
Mistake #2: Trying to get ANY traffic instead of TARGETED traffic
Many people get obsessed with their Google Analytics stats. They try to increase their traffic in whatever way they can: posting on as many blogs as they can, commenting on other websites, buying ads, etc. I appreciate the enthusiasm, but it’s not the amount of traffic you get that counts, it’s the amount of sales you make.
Traffic by itself is largely a vanity metric because not all traffic converts equally well.Imagine that you have a bodybuilding website that sells a program “How to get big biceps”. You can publish a great guest post on a leading health and fitness website for teenage girls, but it’s not going to bring you many subscribers, and it’s most definitely not going to bring you any sales. You might see a small traffic spike, but it’s meaningless, and that guest post is largely a waste of time and energy. Why? Teenage girls don’t want big biceps. This example sounds ridiculous, but many people do this kind of thing, and then wonder why they can’t make any sales. It doesn’t matter how much traffic you will get to your website: if that traffic is a bunch of teenage girls, you are not going to sell any copies of your “How to get big biceps program”, therefore stop obsessing over getting whatever traffic you can possibly get , and start focusing on driving targeted traffic to your website (guys who want bigger biceps).
3 ways to optimize your website for converting random visitors to e-mail subscribers
Okay, so now that we got those two common mistakes sorted out, let’s move to actually converting visitors into subscribers:
1. Make sure you have opt-in forms in all the right places
People often say that building an e-mail list is their priority,yet they only have one barely visible opt-in form on their websites. You are losing potential subscribers everyday if you follow this strategy. Don’t be shy about building your e-mail list!
- Feature box. This is a little box on the top of your homepage like the one you see here on FounderTips. Adding a feature box will dramatically increase your conversion rate. Don’t skip this.
- About page. About page is a one of the most frequently visited pages on a majority of websites. Why not use all that exposure to get more e-mail subscribers?
- Below each blogpost. It’s reasonable to assume that if someone read an entire article, they probably like what they see, and might be interested in some more content like that. This is a really good time to offer someone to subscribe to your e-mail list.
Don’t be afraid to come across as a spammer: majority of your readers won’t be bother by the abundance of opt-in forms on your site as long as you keep creating good content.
2. Offer an opt-in freebie (or maybe not..)
An opt-in freebie is a “bribe”, such as a free e-book, video or audio, that people use to encourage others to subscribe to their e-mail list. This is a rather controversial topic in the online marketing space. Why?
- On one hand, offering a freebie as an opt-in bonus seems to increase your conversion rates, hence the number of subscribers.
- On the other hand, this leads to a lot of people signing up just to get a freebie, which consequently leads to a lot of unsubscribes and a non-responsive list.
I’d say that you should only offer an opt-in freebie if you are confident that your subscribers will find it interesting and valuable.
Keep this in mind: no freebie is better than crappy freebie.
3. Consider creating a landing page
Okay, so here are two terms that you probably know already, but just in case:
- A landing page is a page where a person “lands” after pressing a link and which displays asks people to take certain actions (opt-in, buy a product, etc.).
- A conversion rate is a percentage that shows the how many people who visit your website subscribe to your e-mail list (say, if out of 100 people you got 20 new subscribers, the conversion rate is 20%).
Landing pages, especially well optimized ones, have way higher conversion rates than simple opt-in forms sprinkled over the website, therefore it’s smart to drive traffic from guest posting to your landing page instead of your home page or a blog. What exactly should be on that landing page?
This question is too complicated to give it a fair explanation here (I’ll probably cover copy-writing in April), but here are three main things:
- You must clearly explain to people what personal benefits they will get from subscribing to your e-mail list.
- You must make the process of subscribing to your e-mail list very easy by providing visible opt-in forms throuhgout your landing page.
- You must make a clear call to action and explicitly ask people to subscribe to your e-mail list.
I suggest you to read an article “Landing Pages For Online And Offline Businesses” by Peter Sandee to get a better understanding of this topic (+ the comments below it where Peter gives gives feedback to various people about their landing pages).
Warning: It’s not enough to collect a bunch of e-mail addresses!
I want to make something clear: simply collecting a lot of e-mail addresses is not enough to make a lot of sales.
I’ve already explained in my previous article that people buy things from individuals and companies that they trust. It’s obvious that if someone gave you their e-mail address they trust you to some extent. They probably don’t trust you enough to buy something from you, though, at least not yet. How do you get to that level of trust?
That’s the topic of my upcoming article “How to maintain a profitable e-mail list”. Stay tuned!