As one of the smartest businesswomen I know, Cindy Bidar is a deep well of information. In this post, she shares freely about her early years of growing her email list and what finally kicked her over the top. Take notes as you discover how to expand your reach and your profits!
For seven years, I had an email list that hovered in the low three figures. And I do mean low. Like, a handful of friends, my sister, and probably some sketchy bots low.
It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the importance of having an email list. AWeber (my list-management tool at the time) was one of the investments I made right after I bought my first domain. It certainly wasn’t that I didn’t know the value of that list. I knew plenty of smart people who all said some variation of “build a list” pretty much endlessly, and I was a good student.
The simple fact was, I didn’t know how to actually get it done.
Sure, I understood the nuts and bolts of it. I knew I needed a freebie to give away (check!) and a landing page or opt-in form on which new subscribers could drop an email address (check!). I even understood that it was in my best interest to have some kind of an offer in there somewhere, so I could start to earn from my new email list.
What I didn’t really get though, was how, exactly, I was supposed to entice people to that page. (This is still a pet peeve of mine. So many list-building courses and master classes and cheat sheets and whatnot, and none of them give you this basic information. What gives?)
So my landing pages and opt-in forms just kind of languished there, and once in a while I’d share on social media, or I’d post a link to my blog (also a ghost-town at the time), but none of that had any noticeable impact on that oh-so-low subscriber number.
What I wish someone had given me at the time was a list like this, with actual strategies that would kickstart the list growth. Because I’m telling you, once you get a little momentum going, you won’t have to think about it nearly as much, and you can get on with the business of running your business.
Here are 10 tried-and-true strategies for adding 1,000 people to your mailing list a lot faster than I did it.
1. Give Products Away for Free
Giving your products away in bundles and giveaways hosted by other people is one of the easiest and fastest ways to go from zero to 1,000 subscribers. I’ve added as many as 800 new subscribers with a single event.
Giveaways and bundles are everywhere these days, but before you head out to join them all, there are some things to keep in mind.
First, not all events are created equal. Look for giveaways and bundles that attract high-quality participants. Your results will depend in part on the traffic others are sending your way, so you want to be sure they have solid reputations for delivering top-notch products, and that the event organizer has at least some idea of what he or she is doing.
Which leads right into point number two. As a brand-new seller with a small list, it can be difficult to get accepted to some offers. Many of them have a list-size requirement (typically 3,000 or 5,000 subscribers).
But even if you’re new, all is not lost. A personal introduction from a well-known colleague can open doors, as can a little persistence, a professional attitude, and a killer offer.
Which of course means that you should always put your best stuff out there. Remember that this is the first impression people will have of you, so make it a good one.
I once downloaded a product from a bundle that claimed to be a “comprehensive resource” with a $97 value. It turned out to be a single page, very basic checklist that didn’t offer anything new or innovative about the subject. It didn’t leave a good impression of either the seller or the bundle organizer.
2. Invest in Paid Ads
I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge fan of paid ads when you’re just starting out. If you’re not careful, they can cost you a lot of money before you begin to see results. However, they can offer a fast list-building solution when you have more money to invest than time.
Before you spend money on paid advertising, you’ll first want to:
- Get clear on your ideal audience. Not everyone is on Facebook or Instagram or even Google, so it’s critical that you know where your ideal client is most likely to see your ads.
- Have a paid offer. Growing your list is a good goal, but when you’re shelling out actual cash to do it, I highly recommend you have a paid offer on the back end to help recoup some of your ad spend.
- Know your budget. Your ads are unlikely to bring in leads and sales from day one. You’ll need to invest a bit of cash while you get your copy and your targeting optimized. Set a budget ahead of time so you don’t get a nasty surprise when the credit card bill arrives.
3. Get Interviewed
Podcasts are hot, and even if you’re not a fan, you can bet there are members of your ideal audience who are.
Here’s something else about podcasts you should know: Hosts are always on the hunt for new guests. If you have knowledge to share with their audience and a decent microphone, you’re a shoo-in for most shows.
Before approaching a podcaster, you’ll want to:
- Listen to the show. This is a must, and will keep your interview request from landing right in the trash.
- Get clear on what you have to offer the audience. The podcaster’s number one goal is to grow his or her own audience, and the way they do that is by offering value in the form of useful information from industry experts.
- Have a relevant free offer to share. You know that part of the show where the host says, “Where can my audience learn more about you, Joe?” You definitely want a nice juicy resource to give them.
Booking interview spots takes a little legwork on your part. You’ll need to reach out to individual hosts to offer up your expertise, and you’ll almost certainly get a few rejections. Keep at it though and watch your subscriber numbers climb with every interview.
4. Be Intentionally Social
This is one thing that everyone can do. In fact, it’s probably the one thing we all do too much! The question is, are you doing it with intention?
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Promoting your opt-in offers on social media requires two things:
- Message to market match. You can spend a whole lot of time sharing your homeschool scheduler on LinkedIn, but you won’t likely get good results. Instead, focus on the social networks where your ideal audience is spending time.
- Consistency. As with all marketing efforts, consistency is the key to long-term results. Don’t post once and call it done. Share, share again. You can even automate this with a scheduler if you like.
5. Create Content… Lots of It
Got a blog? They’re a fantastic way to grow your mailing list if you:
- Post consistently. There’s that word again, and it might be even more important when it comes to gaining traction with your blog. Getting the attention of new readers (and the all-important search engines) isn’t going to work if your content schedule is all “I write when I’m inspired” instead of “Holy cow, it’s Wednesday, I better get this post written.”
- Make obvious offers. I look at some blogs and honestly have a hard time finding an email opt-in form. It’s like they don’t even want me to join their mailing list. Don’t be that blogger. Take advantage of all the obvious places (and even the not-so-obvious) to get your opt-in offer in front of your blog readers.
One of my favorite methods of list-building-by-blog is to use content upgrades. These post-specific opt-in offers are highly targeted and get great results.
6. Sell Something
Building an email list is cool. But building an email list filled with buyers? That’s Snoopy-dance cool.
The easiest (and fastest) way to fill your list with buyers is to get other people to sell for you. A well-run affiliate program will attract partners with big, responsive lists, and when that happens, everyone wins. You get a bigger list, your affiliates make money, and your buyers get products they need and love.
Snoopy would definitely approve.
7. Challenge People
I’m not one to pass up a good challenge. In fact, I once launched an entire membership site in a week thanks to a challenge.
If you’re good at motivating others, consider hosting your own three- or five-day challenge, then invite your social followers to participate. The energy of a well-run challenge is contagious, and if you enthusiastically cheer on your participants, you can quickly grow your audience and your email list.
8. Write Content for Others
Guest blogging (like I’m doing here on the Marketing Words blog) is a powerful tool not just for growing your list, but for SEO purposes as well. The more backlinks you have to your site, the more reputable you appear in the eyes of Google and other search engines, so it pays to put some serious effort into this one.
Just as with podcast interviews, it’s important to acquaint yourself with the blogs you plan to pitch.
- Understand the audience. A post about making your own yogurt isn’t going to get a lot of attention on blog for vegans, no matter how easy and delicious it is.
- Review recent content before you propose a topic. When Karon asked if I’d like a guest spot on her blog this week, my first idea was to talk about traffic. But all it took was a peek at the site to see she blogged about traffic just a couple of weeks ago, so I proposed a different subject instead.
- Make it easy. Jessica Larrew wrote a guest post for my blog recently, and she did all. the. work. She sent me the formatted post, put links in the appropriate places, and even included images. As far as I’m concerned, she has an open invitation to guest post on my blog any time she wants it.
9. Throw a Party
No, not a real party. A virtual one!
Gather up your smart friends and host an informative, inspiring, or just plain fun telesummit. The cover charge? An email address.
The key here is to encourage all your guests to invite all their friends. Before you know it, it’s like that out-of-control bash you threw in high-school, but without the potato chips smashed into your mom’s new carpet.
Good telesummits have:
- A central theme. Just like an 80s dance party or a steampunk wedding, your telesummit speakers and attendees need to all be on the same virtual page. When in doubt, go narrower.
- Your event should not be a pitch fest. Yes, your speakers can invite viewers to download a free gift, but they should not be using their airtime to sell products.
- Plenty of excitement. It’s a party, and as the host, it’s your job to be enthusiastic and bubbly about it. You’ll need to be inviting guests and motivating your speakers, so be prepared to spend time building a buzz about your event.
As with many things, the effort you put into it correlates directly with the benefit you receive. Telesummits are a lot of work to pull off, but the list-growth potential makes them well worth the overtime.
10. Take Center Stage
Prefer to keep the spotlight to yourself? Turn your telesummit into a one-man (or one woman) show… otherwise known as a webinar.
Webinars are still one of the best investments you can make to grow your business. Done right, they offer highly valuable content for your new subscribers, while building your email list AND making sales at the same time. Who doesn’t want that?
Effective list-building through webinars requires:
- Some technical proficiency. There are a good number of pieces and parts to coordinate when you create a webinar funnel, but once you’ve done it a few times, it gets easier.
- A topic worthy of an hour of someone’s time. Above all else, you want to bring lots of value to your webinar in exchange for that email address. Your webinar should help your attendees improve their lives in some way with actionable steps they can take.
- A way to drive traffic. The most successful list-building webinars are either co-hosted with an affiliate (you bring the content; they bring the guests) or promoted via paid ads.
Bonus Tip: Mix and Match for Huge Results
Any one of these list-building strategies will get you much closer to your 1,000-subscriber goal, but put a few of them together, and
For example, you can…
- Use paid ads and affiliates to promote a webinar
- Share your guest posts and interviews on social media
- Talk up your telesummit on a podcast interview
- Entice your affiliates to share your blog content (especially if there’s a high-converting content upgrade and a juicy offer on the back end)
Need more list-building help?
I teach these and other strategies inside The Six-Figure List-Building System. In 10 quick-and-easy lessons, you’ll discover exactly what it takes to create and grow an engaged mailing list. For a limited time, you’ll save 30% with promo code MW30.