I know if I could do it all over again, I would have started building my list from day ONE. The problem is that when I first started blogging, I really didn’t know anything about monetization or realizing the value of a list. When I first started, I was more worried about just making sure the post was readable and that I could publish it properly. Obviously after years of practice, it became second nature and now writing/publishing content to my blog is easy.
However, while I was “learning the ropes” of blogging, I neglected actually trying to have my blog make money for me. I didn’t know about lead generation, list building, email marketing, etc… Now that I have been doing this for a while, I have really begun taking my passion for blogging and internet marketing and turning it into a real business.
As you have probably heard, the money is in the list, and that is true. If you have a responsive list of buyers who will basically do anything you tell them to do, that is extremely powerful. Being able to recommend a product you use and make hundreds or thousands of dollars off one email is very powerful!
Since I have started growing my list, I thought I would share a few problems I came across that will hopefully alleviate some of the pain you may be feeling while you are trying to build your email lists.
1. Traffic 1st, List Building 2nd?
OK, there are two parts to this and there is a reason I put a question mark to this sub-headline. In order to build a list, you need traffic. If you want to organically grow your list, you are going to need to have search engine rankings for relevant terms related to your blog. The hardest challenge is getting those first 1,000 subscribers on your list. When you start from nothing, it is hard to get found and heard and to build authority. Make sure you stick to your guns and write regular content, guest post, blog comment, tweet, FB update, etc…all of the things you need to do to grow your traffic and reputation.
HOWEVER, the other side to this is finding ways to build your list without traffic. Ad Swaps are a nice way to build your list without having to work at driving traffic to your site. This is where you agree with another person who has a list (usually of similar size) to send an offer (usually free content) on behalf of the other person, to your list…and vice versa. This can be a great way to build your list quickly, however, you can loose credibility with your list if you keep sending them offers where they have to sign-up. Also, you need to build your list to at least 500-1000 subscribers before you can actually do an ad swap.
The other thing to consider is that even though you may not have a lot of traffic, its still important to have an Opt-In form with a free piece of content on there so that for the small number of visitors that do come, you can try to build your list gradually.
2. Optimize Your Opt-In Form
By all means, don’t make your visitor jump through hoops to Opt-In. Keep your forms short and sweet. Only ask them for the necessary information. Ideally, if you are giving away a free piece of content, just ask for their name and email. The more information you request, the less likely they are to fill out the form, and you will see your conversion rates start to drop.
3. Use List Building Tools & Plugins
There are a ton of awesome tools out there that will help you to grow your list much faster and easier.
One that I use are PopUp Domination, which many of the top marketers use on their blog. It is a light-box popup that shows a nicely designed offer and Opt-In form when the user enters your site. Even though this pop-up is a big obtrusive, it does work and will increase your list size.
I also use List Eruption, which is a new plugin I created that launched TODAY! This plugin was designed to allow your subscribers to build your list for you. By leveraging friend referrals, social media, and reward bonus content, you entice each subscriber to refer their friends in order to gain more bonus rewards for the more people they refer to your list. I was able to easily double my list once I used the functionality that this plugin provides.
4. Give Them GREAT Content
Whatever you do, don’t just rehash or steal some crappy content from somewhere and put it into a PDF. You can actually negatively impact your subscribers, and it will lead to immediate unsubscribes! Make sure whatever you give away is your BEST content. Odds are this is going to be the first thing a new subscriber is going to receive from you, so make sure you start the relationship off on a good note.
5. Create a Killer Auto-Responder Sequence
Where I failed (…AGAIN) was when I thought just adding an Opt-In form and a free offer would do the trick. Nope, I was wrong again. I realized that without an auto-responder sequence, I wasn’t really building a relationship with my audience. If you don’t know what an auto-responder is, it basically automatically sends out emails to your subscribers on set dates after they Opt-In. The key is to provide 80% valuable content, and 20% offers. This way the majority of what you are giving them is useful, free content.
How my Auto-Responder Looks:
- Day 1: Content
- Day 3: Content
- Day 5: Content,
- Day 6: Content
- Day 8: Offer
- Day 11: Content
- Day 13 Content
- Day 15: Content
- Day 17: Offer
You don’t need to follow this exact formula, but this as worked for me. Feel free to tweak it based on the type of subscribers you have and their responses.
What type of other list building problems are you running into? Are you finding it hard or easy to grow your list? Would love to hear about your stories and experiences.