If you have a business in today’s busy world, you need to have an email list.
Not only does email make it easier to stay in touch with current clients, but you’ll want a way to correspond with those potential clients who found your site, looked around, then left for some reason. If this process sounds confusing or you think 200 subscribers is a pipe dream, stay tuned.
Ask anyone who has built an online business what they wished they had started to do sooner, nearly everyone will say that they wished they paid closer attention to building their email list.
An email list is a personal way to correspond with people and to remind them of who you are, why you’re awesome, and what products or services you offer. Personal emails from you don’t interrupt your subscribers’ day like those annoying robocalls do. Plus you can personalize your emails with the subscribers’ first names so it appears that you’re speaking directly to them instead of to masses of people.
If you want to stay in compliance with the CAN-SPAM laws, you cannot just randomly add email addresses to your list without first obtaining the person’s approval. So all those business cards you just collected at a networking event…do NOT add them to your list just yet. Subscribers have to agree to receive your email first, using what’s known as a double opt-in, so your list is very targeted with people who are interested in what you offer. If they’re granting their permission, they are interested. And one note: The penalties for not complying with these laws are quite hefty and can bankrupt a small business.
Most importantly, YOU own your email list.
- You’re not dependent on social media platforms or other third party sites to reach your clientele.
- You can reach your list literally any time or any day you want.
- If you rebrand your business, you can still contact your list.
- If you move to a different location, you still have your list.
- If you move your physical business to an online-only model, you still have your list.
This list is your golden ticket to contacting your customers but also making offers that they will snatch up because they’re a targeted audience.
So we can agree on how important an email list is but the next most logical question is: “How do I get subscribers to my list?” I’m going to break down the whole process and give you lots of tips that you can use immediately to attract more subscribers for free.
STEP ONE: COOK UP AN IRRESISTIBLE OPT-IN BRIBE
You and I both know you’re awesome and have a lot to offer your followers, but they need a little more convincing. Customers want to know “what’s in it for me?” so offering them a reward for subscribing to your email list is quite common. Some people call it a bribe, some call it a freebie or a lead magnet, and others call it a reward or a gift. The word itself doesn’t really matter because it’s used to describe the same thing: A free item in exchange for entering a valid email.
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Here’s a key piece of advice: Carefully plan your freebie.
Don’t just take a report that’s gathering dust on your hard drive and expect people to come running. This gift needs to be valuable to your audience and timely. It needs to be the first step to solving their biggest problem. Your subscribers will happily join your list when they see the value and when they realize it will help them.
To plan out your irresistible opt-in bribe, follow these steps:
1. Make it simple and easy for you to create. Remember, you don’t want to give away all your trade secrets at the first meeting. You want to give subscribers a taste of what you have to offer so keep your freebie simple.
Formats such as a worksheet, planner, audio, checklist, or video work very well. Provide your audience with the answers to few questions or tips that they can put into action immediately. Once they see your freebie and implement your advice, they will start to follow you on social media or look specifically for your emails to learn more. They will realize that you really are an expert and will want more from you.
Even if you have a big heart, do not give away a full eBook.
While it certainly offers value to your audience, it’s too big and requires a commitment from the subscriber to actually read it. That’s a lot to ask a brand new subscriber. Keep that in your paid product library.
Instead, consider offering an excerpt from your eBook or a full chapter so your reader can get a taste. Be sure whatever part of the eBook you share has advice and tips they can implement.
2. Focus on a pain point. A pain point is simply the hurdle or problem that plagues your audience. Your opt-in freebie should offer a super simple solution, or at least the first step toward a solution.
If you’re clear on your business mission and how you want to help your audience, then you should know from simple research what’s troubling them. When your audience sees that you have an answer, then your list will start to blossom.
3. Make the content evergreen. Evergreen content addresses a consistent problem that isn’t likely to go away. By making your freebie evergreen, you potentially can use this for years down the road, making your life easier by not having to create multiple opt-in freebies every year.
Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income said he’s used the same opt-in bribe (or lead magnet) for over 5 years because it’s evergreen and still works at attracting people to his list…to the tune of 120,000 subscribers!
4. Promote it everywhere. Once your freebie is produced and the opt-in link is on your website, start telling people about it. Don’t sit back and wait for the search engines to bring you traffic; shout it from the mountaintops that you have the answer to a problem.
It’s easy to promote good-quality work so add it to your social media posts and profile, livestream videos, and mention it on any podcasts or interviews you conduct.
Of course, also add it to your email signature. Don’t forget this last step because I’m guessing you use email daily to people who are NOT on your list, am I right? You just never know when or where you’ll find people who need what you’re offering.
Also consider using social media ads or boosted posts to raise awareness of your freebie, although there will be nominal charges involved in running ads.
5. Create a landing page for your opt-in. Consider creating a special landing page dedicated to your lead magnet. So many times opt-in boxes are stuffed in the sidebars of websites or they are lost in the sea of information on a website’s home page. Using a dedicated landing page takes away all the distractions and allows you to tell your readers more information about your freebie. But keep it simple and short; no long sales pages where they have to keep scrolling to get to your opt-in box. Make it quick and easy and visually attractive so they will take that action of signing up for your list.
Here's a great example I took from AmandaGenther.com of a landing page created only for the Freebie with an opt-in functionality. Even better, she is using it as a landing page for her error pages too! Brilliant!
When you’re cross promoting your opt-in on other platforms, it’s also easier to include a simple link to just this opt-in gift instead of telling people to go to your website and scroll for the opt-in box. Be very clear with your followers and make it as easy as possible for them to redeem their freebie.
Simply tell your followers to go to your specific URL to claim their gift. They also won’t get distracted with other details of your site; they can sign up right away and then choose to explore your blog or other service pages. You always want to make it as easy as possible for prospects to redeem their opt-in freebie. Complicated processes will frustrate them and they’ll click away from your site forever. If you want them to come back to your site to explore further, simply send them an email and direct them where to go.
6. Create dedicated landing pages for all your social media platforms. We’ll get into further discussion of how to specifically promote your opt-in on different social networks but it’s important to customize each landing page for each platform. Why do you want dedicated landing pages?
- You can customize your opt-in bribe based on which social platform page they land on.
- You need to cater to the specific needs and mindset of people coming from specific social media networks.
- You can track how well your different social promotions are working.
- You can segment your email list so you can customize follow up emails and promotional offers.
- Research shows that conversions increase on platform-specific landing pages.
- Do you see a running theme here? Your opt-in freebie should be all about your customer. Yes, you reap the rewards of collecting emails to grow your list but ultimately your freebie is about helping your customer.
Your opt-in process is about making it easy for the customer. When they’re ready to buy from you, you want the sales and purchasing process to also be easy. Customers don’t want to be frustrated, especially when redeeming a freebie, so remember to keep them foremost in your mind when creating your freebie and opt-in landing page.