How to Build an Email list FAST (Tip #3 Might Surprise You)
So you want to grow an email list quickly–but why?…
It was the middle of winter.
I was about 5 weeks into my “audience building” experiment.
Reddit had voted up on our second article. Traffic had spiked, and then remained two times higher from that week forward. New subscribers to our list were slowly starting to trickle in.
Despite this progress I was getting restless.
Every case study and all my experience seemed to show that this was the way to go.
But it still wasn’t enough… I was already putting in about 15 hours per article. I did this in order to get up the learning curve about what potential clients and customers actually wanted to read.
The problem was all that effort seemed completely disconnected from our sales. Sure, having an audience sounded great. But my end goal was to build an online sales engine.
I decided it was time to run a test. Even though our list was still tiny, I knew had delivered 5 quality articles already since starting and most had received very positive feedback.
So I decided I would put together a simple landing page to pre-sell an online ebook.
I wrote an email explaining the offer and hit the send button that Friday… And nothing happened.
Then, the next day: BOOM. Two sales came in. It worked!
The following week (after I delivered another quality article) and I reminded our subscribers that this early purchase offer was going away soon. In addition, I doubled the price and added two simple upsells for $19 each.
Another sale came in almost immediately.
I was awe-struck. It wasn’t much in terms of revenue, but I was beginning to see first-hand the WHY behind this list-building thing.
Fast forward to today, here’s the bottom-line lesson I’ve learned as a result of that test: other than being 10x more effective than social media, and 2X higher ROI than SEO, great content + email marketing allows you to build relationships with people on a many-to-one scale.
And assuming you can create a back-end sales funnel for providing value and nurturing those relationships (which I’ll be talking about more in the near future), the sky is the limit as far as the growth of your business is concerned.
“Ok Matt, I got it. Large email list = business growth. But how do I go about growing my email list quickly so I can start to see results?”
After months of focused effort, researching dozens of articles, running experiments, and studying alongside friends in different markets with email lists larger than mine, here are the top 4 BEST tips on exactly how to do it (and the best part is none of these tips require a large budget to execute on).
Quick note: If you Google for “how to build an email fast” the results you get right now are LAME at best. Those results tend to revolve around:
- “Oh, just put a feature box optin at the top of your blog” (Sorry Derek, I love you but that strategy doesn’t cut it in this case) or
- “Go on social media and network with people!… And forums too!” (No, Copyblogger… no)
The tips below are anything but basic, they are pure spit-fire-action-oriented-and-not-for-the-lazy-or-faint-of-heart. If you want to build your list fast, then listen up…
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Fast List Building Tip #1 – Giveaways
What it is:
Giveaways are like a lottery, except that people actually have an incentive to spread the word and invite other people to come check it out.
In a lottery, you don’t have an incentive to do that because for every additional person that joins gives you a lower chance of winning (i.e. 1 in 10,000 vs. 1 in 10,001).
Below is an example of a giveaway currently being run by Ramit Sethi, entrepreneur and author of IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com.
In the past, Ramit also ran a giveaway for “Free Netflix for Life.” By the looks of his current giveaway, straight CASH as a giveaway incentive works well.
How to implement it right now to start building your list:
If you want to test out doing a giveaway on your website there’s a few key ingredients you should keep in that will determine your level of success:
- The offer – it must be something everyone in your target market will want. Keep it simple, but make it compelling.
- The kickstart – You need an initial flame if you’re going to start a fire. In each of the three case studies below, a critical ingredient was the initial seed email list. In the case of Harry’s shaving products, they leveraged the team’s combined group of friends and family as a starting point.
- The platform – Don’t try to “wing it” with a weak or non-existent Giveaway platform. Problems will more than likely popup, especially if you start to gain momentum. Stay away from the free options and which ever giveaway platform you use that a winner is chosen automatically.
Here are 3 case studies you can read with more specific info on how to implement this strategy (all of them are worth the time it takes to read):
- How to Gather 100,000 Emails in One Week (Includes Successful Templates, Code, Everything You Need)
- What I Learned From Growing My Email List 3,418% (Nearly 200k) in Just 11 Days
- Zero to 147,973 email subscribers by Noah Kagan, AppSumo
There are a number of giveaway options to consider, especially on WordPress.
Of course, you could build one from scratch, but why would you unless you plan on making that your core business? Too much time and headache…
The top one I recommend is KingSumo.
It costs $197 but if you use this discount code you’ll save 50% off on the purchase: JOSHEARLROCKS (Note: this is from one of the blog posts above)
You may also want to consider RaffleCopter, though they charge a monthly fee.
Pros and Cons:
- Con: You need (read: I recommend) a list of at least 1000 active subscribers to really kick-start the giveaway
- Pro: It’s insanely viral, even better than free advertising because when you add someone to your list that’s an opportunity to give and receive value over the long term.
- Con: You’re limited to running 1 per quarter since, according to Noah over at AppSumo, running one with greater frequency yields “diminishing marginal returns.”
If you want to learn more about the giveaway strategy, check out my earlier resource on the 47 Best List Building Strategies.
Fast List Building Tip #2 – The JV Webinar
What it is:
JV stands for Joint Venture (not junior varsity), and like giveaways it is one of the fastest, most cost effective ways to build your email list.
Here’s how it works.
- You find someone to partner with, someone who has a sizable email list in your niche, or with substantial “overlap” in your target market.
- You craft an offer that makes sense, both with your business, your partner’s business (non-competitive), and is relevant to the audience being targeted. Typically this can be an ebook, an online course, or other type of product for which sales are easily trackable. This is important because you’ll be splitting profits with your JV partner.
- To kick off and advertise the webinar, your partner will send an email announcement to his or her list. Anyone who opts-in will also be placed onto your email list. You’re sharing the optins in this sense, though 99% will probably be from your JV partner’s list if your list if small or non-existent. This is the key part how your list gets built. Many of the most successful JV webinars I’ve seen use a 1-click email opt-in in the newsletter that advertises the webinar.
- Host the webinar, teach something valuable, sell your product–and done.
How to implement it right now to start building your email list:
A friend of mine, George Kao has this whole process down to a science. So if this is something you’re interested in trying, I highly recommend you read more about it and checkout the Google Docs link I included in my complete email list building resource here.
Here’s the jist of it though.
- Find marketing partners with existing communities and large followings via LinkedIn search.
- Reach out and pitch them to see if it’s a good fit.
- Agree on terms (meet face to face over Skype to keep it “real” and personal) and then execute on your plans.
Pros and Cons:
- Con: You need to have credibility, something you are prepared to teach, something you are truly an expert on. This means results, case studies, hands-on experience.
- Con: You need a product ready to sell to make it worth your partner’s time. Partnering around “leads” or income from new clients probably won’t work. It’s too much work to track who converts into a client for services. Stick with selling a product.
- Pro: you don’t need an email list, nor do you need to shell out any cash up front to set it this strategy up in most cases.
Fast List Building Tip #3 – Cold Email
What it is:
Cold email is reaching out to people with whom you have no prior relationship to check if they are interested in what you have to offer.
Every. Single. Company. (or freelancer — I’m looking at YOU SEO firms based in India) that tries to do this does this wrong. And for that reason, it’s spam.
I get pitched for SEO services and other junk every day from completely random people and companies I’ve never heard of–and they never stop. Probably because they have a 0.1% response rate, and that’s enough (unfortunately).
Well, here’s the NON-spammer way to do cold email which, in-turn, builds you an email list…
Important note: I do NOT recommend this as a long term strategy. It’s effective if you’re starting out with no-list, and zero networking opportunities. But if practice it for too long or too frequently, it will hurt your reputation and make it more difficult for you to send messages that make it into potential customer’s inboxes in the future.
How to implement it right now to start building your list:
- Choose a VERY specific market segment. Let’s say for example, answering service companies in the US. You want to state that you specialize in helping THEM.
- What is the specific problem they have that you can help solve with a free report, or a free email course? For example, for dentists struggling with marketing, it might be “how to attract your dream patients.”
- NAME the free incentive your offering, with a brief description of the benefits it offers.
- Use a 2-step opt-in process. Do NOT include a link. You want them to write you back requesting it.
If you want an example template or to learn more about how this strategy works (and specific stats around how it worked for me in the past), check out my complete email list building strategies guide here.
Pros and Cons:
- Pro: This is perfect if you have no list, and few if any networking opportunities.
- Con: Some people might get angry with you.
- Pro: Decent opt-in rate, probably between 5-15%
- Con: Not recommended as a long term strategy
Fast List Building Tip #4 (Bonus)
This fourth strategy is a bonus which I will instantly share with you by clicking here or the video image below.
- The growth of your email list easily correlates with the growth of your business over time (assuming that you’re constantly delivering value and build a real your relationship with subscribers)
- Growing your email list doesn’t have to be a slow and tedious process if you’re willing to step out of the box a bit and try some new, less talked-about (and yet still highly cost-effective) strategies.
- Giveaways can be extremely effective at growing your email list. Don’t expect to get HUGE result on your first try like the case studies above. But if your offer is something people in your audience WANT, it’s worth testing. One key point: I recommend you have an existing email list of with at least 1000 engaged people to really help you kick-start this strategy. Otherwise it’s unlikely to take-off
- Joint Venture webinars have a high opt-in rate PLUS they allow you to generate revenue immediately WHILE leveraging someone else’s credibility and reach. You don’t need an email list to use this rocket-powered list-build tactic… but you do need a good partner who’s list overlaps nicely with your target market along with a product to sell.
- Cold email. This one is perfect is you’re starting from scratch, have no list and no networking opportunities to run a JV webinar.
- Bonus strategy #4 — Make sure to check this one out because it’s a PERFECT balance of having a high conversion rate AND zero-risk of being perceived as spam. Plus, you don’t need to have an existing list in order to get it to work for you.
Which tip is most relevant to your business? What email list building strategy has worked best for you to date?Image credit: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/33664565/ns/us_news-us_postal_service?q=U.S.%20Postal%20Service