You’ve probably heard how important email marketing is for your business, but do you know how it can specifically save you time and increase revenue?
When I started AppSumo.com, it took me three months to get a special deal with a company to promote one of our sales. Then on the day of the sale, I’d ask everyone I know to tweet about it.
We’d have a successful launch, but then the following week when we did another promotion, we had to start all over again — and go make as much noise as possible to get our potential customers’ attention.
I call this “amnesia marketing.” It’s when marketers have to start from the bottom every time they promote a product.
But once we grew our email list and had a built-in audience, we were able to ditch amnesia marketing once and for all.
To help you build your email list as well, today I’m going to share the three strategies I used to grow my personal marketing blog, OkDork.com, from 12,000 to 50,000 subscribers in eight months.
Let me show you how they work.
Strategy #1: Ask for emails more aggressively
In the early days of AppSumo, I was afraid of annoying our customers with emails, so I never sent any. But once we started regularly emailing our subscribers, people requested even more emails.
If you offer great content, people will want more from you. So you shouldn’t be bashful when asking for your customers’ email addresses either.
Here are three ways to help promote email sign-ups throughout your site.
Use free tools that give visitors an easy way to subscribe
My business website, Sumo.com, offers free tools to grow your email list. The main ones I use are List Builder, a non-annoying pop-up, and Scroll Box, a sign-up form that only appears towards the end of an article or blog post.
Each tool politely asks a reader for his or her email address and explains the benefits of subscribing. Instead of using a generic “give me your email address” call to action, which people often equate with spamming, offer a free product.
For example, to create your free product, you can turn one of your most popular articles into a PDF or create a new, educational piece of content based on common questions people ask you in person or via email.
Make your home page an email gate
When you look at the OkDork home page below, you’ll see that I ask readers to enter their email addresses to continue. That strong proposition is intentional, and it surprisingly reduces my bounce rate.
In other words, people stay and read more since they have to “earn” access to the content on my site.
Ask your readers for their email addresses within your content
You want to ask for email addresses in prominent places you know your reader will see. I used Crazy Egg and found that most people only scroll down through 30 percent of my posts. Eek!
I now offer bonuses at the top of all my most popular posts. For readers to access the bonus, they have to submit their email addresses first.
In exchange for an email address, the reader gets more valuable content.
Strategy #2: Create a one-month free course
Last year, a friend of mine launched a free online course called Summer of Design. It went viral, and he got nearly 30,000 sign-ups.
Since “Do more of what works” is my marketing motto, I followed my friend’s success and launched a free course called Summer of Marketing.
To create Summer of Marketing, I reviewed my pre-existing content, edited it, improved it, added weekly actionable items, and turned it into a 12-week drip series. You can easily create a drip series with the Rainmaker Platform.
Here are four recommendations based on my experience:
- Have launch partners. Line up partners to help you promote the course launch. Five of my friends who have more than 10,000 Twitter followers posted updates about Summer of Marketing the day the course went live.
- Decrease the course length. 12 weeks is a bit too long, and I noticed fatigue from some members. Four to six weeks is enough time to provide substantial educational value.
- Narrow your topic. I learned that most members really wanted to know how to increase their email sign-ups. “Marketing” is a broad topic, but “email capture” focuses on a specific subject that readers want to learn about.
- Create urgency. Course enrollment was only open for seven days. After that, I closed it and created a waiting list for the next offering.
A free course also helps you establish your authority and build relationships with your readers.
Strategy #3: Write high-value guest posts
If you write guest posts to increase traffic to your site, you should use that traffic to attract readers to your email list.
Here are the five steps I use to optimize my guest posts:
- Perform research. I read the top 10 posts on my target website to look for patterns. How are headlines written? How is the content formatted? What type of tone and language will connect with readers?
- Engage readers with your byline. Instead of a basic bio, include an action for readers to take that’s beneficial to them. My friend John’s byline is a great example: John Corcoran is an attorney and former Clinton White House Writer. When he’s not in a bathroom stall doing power poses, he writes about business relationships and social skills. He has a free 52+ page guide which you can download, called How to Increase Your Income in 14 Days by Building Relationships with Influencers, Even if You Hate Networking.
- Provide bonus material. Direct readers to bonus material on your site. In my byline for this post, I offer the spreadsheets I used to help grow OkDork to 50,000 email subscribers in eight months.
- Get specific. Create a custom landing page specifically for your guest post readers. You can make a template in WordPress and then duplicate it for each new site where you guest post.
- Promote your content. Make sure to share your content with your email list and through social media. If you help make the post a success, you’ll increase your chances of getting additional opportunities to write for the site.
Remember, your guest posts should be even better than the content you write for your own site. The super valuable information you contribute will benefit your email list and, ultimately, your business.
Over to you …
Many marketers wish they started growing their email lists sooner, myself included.
You can start today by utilizing the right spots on your website, offering a free mini-course, and optimizing your guest posts.
Are there other tactics you use to encourage readers to subscribe?
What email marketing obstacles have you encountered?
Share your own email list building strategies over on Google+…
Editor’s note: If you found this post useful, we recommend that you also read Henneke Duistermaat’s article Focus on These 4 Steps to Harness the Addictive Power of Email (And Turn Your Traffic Into Business).
Flickr Creative Commons Image via Man Alive!.