List building is one of those things that marketers are always looking for ways to do better and faster. Even with the rise of social media and content marketing, email marketing continues to be one of the most effective digital marketing tactics; after all, when a consumer gives you her email address it means you have direct access to one of her most treasured (and nowadays heavily-guarded) possessions: her inbox.
Given that consumers are much more picky about who they give their email to than they used to be, how can you make your email ask stand out from the crowd, ensure that you are asking at optimal moments in the consumer’s journey and offer something that is more likely to be of real value to your prospect?
I looked across the web and found five proven list building strategies that are backed by hard data and case studies. This way, you know you’re trying out something that has worked for others in the past. Of course, there are many more than five ways to grow your mailing list. These are the ones that seemed the most interesting to me, either because they’re a clever take on a traditional tactic, they use a technology that’s relatively new or they not as widespread as some of the others.
5 Data-Backed Strategies for Better List Building
1. OkDork: Redesign Your Homepage and Increase Email Signups by 300%
Once you’ve committed to making list building a top priority, the logical next step is to figure out what changes have the potential to make a big impact on conversions.
This is what Noah Kagan did when he set a goal to reach 50,000 email subscribers for his marketing blog OKDork. He looked at Google Analytics and saw that most of his traffic came through his blog homepage.
Here’s what visitors saw when they arrived to OkDork’s homepage prior to the redesign:
Noah realized the homepage offered too many distractions that made it less likely a reader would do what he wanted: give him their email. So, he cut out all the extraneous stuff and created an eye-catching landing page with engaging copy and a super-simple call-to-action.
This one change increased email signups by 300%.
Noah talks about how to implement a blog homepage redesign and other super-useful strategies in his list-building course Email1k. I’ve gone through the course and got a lot of value from it, so I recommend anyone who is focusing on boosting email subscribers to check it out.
2. Brian Dean: Turn Your About Page into a Squeeze Page and Convert at 6%
This is one of the five tactics that Brian says helped him increase his mailing list conversions by over 134%. He makes a great point when explaining the logic behind this tactic: if someone visits your About Page it means they like what you have to say and want to learn more about you––in other words, they’re a perfect candidate for subscribing.
With this in mind Brian added two opt-in forms to his About Page (one towards the middle and one at the bottom), and they now convert at nearly 6%.
3. Brian Dean: Entice Readers With the Content Upgrade for a 785% Boost in Conversions
The idea behind The Content Upgrade is simple: Craft a highly-targeted offer that accompanies your best-performing blog posts––something people can access in exchange for entering their email.
For example, let’s say your most-visited blog post is about how to get cheap airfare; you can create a list of the top 10 websites that provide inexpensive tickets and offer it as a downloadable PDF.
Whatever you offer your readers, make sure that it’s something that anyone interested in the blog post would be eager to get their hands on.
Your offer should appear at the top of your blog post and again at the bottom.
After Brian added The Content Upgrade to his most highly-trafficked blog post, the conversion rate for that post increased by a massive 785%.
Brian has also experimented with combining The Content Upgrade technique and pop-ups by tailoring the offer displayed in the pop-up to each blog post.
You’re probably thinking “Who has time to do that?”
There’s a way to implement this without adding hours of work each time you want to publish a post: create pop-ups for each type of blog post you write (rather than each individual blog post).
For example, if you run a blog about health and wellness you’ll create pop-ups around the main themes that you write about, like meditation, yoga and healthy eating. Then you’ll chose the corresponding pop-up for each blog post.
This highly-targeted pop-up converts at over 6%, which is 50% better than the generic pop-up you’ll see on most sites.
4. Use Twitter Lead Generation Cards and Improve Your Cost Per Lead by 500%
Increasingly, companies are experimenting with Twitter Lead Gen Cards to bring new leads into their sales funnel. Shortly after Twitter announced the launch of Lead Gen Cards, Webtrends, a digital marketing strategy company, decided to dive in and see if they could use the new type of ad to funnel high-quality leads through their nurture sequence.
The results were excellent: Webtrends accelerated its lead acquisition by nearly 1000% and improved the cost per lead by 500%. A lot of planning went into this campaign: Prior to launch, Webtrends embarked on three months of rigorous measurement, testing and analysis to determine what drives meaningful social engagement.
The company then composed promoted tweets and Lead Gen Cards around keywords lists created with Google Adwords, and they used Twitter’s targeting capabilities to target people looking for specific keywords on Twitter.
5. Do a List Building Challenge and Get a 43% Landing Page Conversion Rate
A great way to build momentum and generate buzz in a short amount of time is to create a challenge around something related to your business and then ask for email addresses in exchange for participation.
For example, in the summer of 2013 Nathalie Lussier created a 30 Day List Building Challenge. The idea stemmed from her own desire to focus on list building for her business and document the results.
She invited others to work on growing their lists alongside her, and she gave them access to materials outlining the tactics she used to grow her own list.
Nathalie got great results from offering the challenge to her community, including:
- 43% conversion rate on the challenge opt-in page
- 3-4% conversion rate on upgrading to the paid version of the challenge
- 20% growth in mailing list subscribers (from 15k to 18k)
The challenge went so well that Nathalie incorporated it into her core product offering and made it available on an ongoing basis, including a more robust paid option.
Simple Green Smoothies is another company that is great at challenges that revolve around participants giving the company their email address. I constantly see them promoting 30-day challenges in my Instagram feed with fun photos and inspiring copy.
Here’s the landing page for their upcoming challenge, which starts just in time for the new year, when people are most committed to living more healthfully (click through to see the images and copy they use to explain why it’s worth joining).
People are used to seeing pop-ups and opt-in forms, so think of ways to add an element of surprise to these proven tactics. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, but you should be creative and push boundaries when implementing tactics that are commonly used.
Now I’d like to hear from you. What list-building strategies have worked the best for your business?