One of the best ways to grow your blog is by building your email list. An email list is simply a list of people’s email addresses – people who’ve chosen to subscribe to your list because you offered something of value to them.
In this post, you’ll learn why you need an email list. I’ll also give you plenty of ideas on how you can build your list using free methods.
If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, here they are along with a free checklist:
- The Introduction to Evergreen Blogging Profits
- How To Find A Profitable Niche
- How To Develop An Online Presence
- How To Create Content That Truly Sticks
- How To Generate Traffic From Multiple Sources
Why You Need An Email List
You’ll often hear marketers say the money is in the list. With just a few minutes work, they can contact their email list and get thousands of dollars of sales in just a few hours. Wouldn’t you want to do the same?
Here are more reasons you need an email list if you want your business to grow.
It’s your very own online asset
In the online world, you will be at the mercy of many web giants who can take your business away from you in an instant. Here’s a case in point:
You spend months working on moving your website’s rank up Google’s search results. You write thousands of words of valuable content to guest post on an authoritative blog with excellent domain authority. You follow white-hat SEO techniques and don’t mess around with blackhat SEO.
When your site finally reaches the top spot for your target keyword, a competitor uses some shady tactics so they can steal your spot. And in a matter of hours, Google penalizes you for something you didn’t do.
You could lose everything you worked hard for because you’re literally at the mercy of Google.
With a drastic decline in organic search traffic, you decide to try social media marketing. You pay for adverts on Facebook or Instagram just to get people to visit your website because you know Facebook’s organic reach is unpredictable.
It works well and you see some sales again, and you get your hopes up that this time it will be okay. Until the same invisible competitor figured out what you were doing and smeared your reputation on social media.
I know my example is extreme but can you see where this is going? You don’t have control over your Google rankings. Nor do you have control over your social media assets.
What you control, however, is your website and your email list, provided you own your domain name and pay for your own hosting (you don’t own your website if you host it on a free hosting service).
With your two web properties – website and email list – you’re free to do as you please with them.
It’s easier to sell to people who already know you
Selling to a cold audience is hard. Try pitching to random strangers on a busy street, and you’d probably get reported to the police for harassment.
To increase your chances of making a sale, you’d need to warm up your customers first to get them to trust you. Offer them something of value – a freebie – and if they like your product, they’d be more likely to buy what you have for sale.
The same idea goes for email lists. When people sign up to your list, it’s because they like you or they trust you on some level. So when you sell them something via email, they’ll be more likely to respond positively to your call to action.
Generating profits from your mailing list is important for your blogging business. But don’t make every email a sales pitch for your own products or any other product you’re affiliated with. Use your list to build a relationship with your audience. Build on the trust they’ve already placed in you by continuing to offer them value.
Remember to offer value to your subscribers, and you’ll be rewarded with profits you can only imagine right now!
You can easily drive traffic back to your website
In my example earlier, I showed you why you can’t rely on Google and social media to give you free traffic. But if you have your very own mailing list, then you can simply tell your subscribers to go check out your new post every time you publish one!
What you publish must apply to what your subscribers initially signed up for. If you cover a lot of different niches on your site, then it’s important that you consider segment your list.
For example, if you create evergreen products in the health, love and wealth niches then you have to create 3 different email lists. One list for people interested in the health niche, another for people interested in your love niche products, and a third one for those who are interested in becoming wealthy.
Segmenting your list will mean you’d have to work 3x as hard to grow your list, but sooner or later, you’ll amass a good number of subscribers per list. And your subscribers will be more than happy to read your emails because it applies to them.
If you group your lists this way, then you need to make sure you only send relevant content to the right list. Otherwise, you risk upsetting some subscribers which could result to too many people unsubscribing from your list.
However, if you only send them niche-related emails and it’s something that interests them, then they’d be more likely to follow your email’s call to action and go check out your new post on your website.
Steps To Build Your Email List The Right Way
In this section, I will cover the steps you can follow to create a high- quality email list. Note that I’m mentioning quality here because if you end up with a low-quality list, then it’s probably not going to be worth the time and effort building that list.
1. Offer something so valuable that your audience will feel compelled to sign up
You probably visited hundreds of websites in the last week. And I daresay a good number of those sites had an email opt-in form somewhere.
Probably a pop-up or in the sidebar, asking you to enter your email address so you can receive a free eBook or something. Can you remember how many websites you signed up for? And do you remember why you did so?
For most people, we normally only sign up for email lists which offer a tempting ‘bribe.’ We don’t want to receive ‘free updates.’ You can’t just put up an opt-in form anywhere and ask people to enter their email address.
That strategy probably worked 5 years ago but not today.
Today, if you want people to join your list, you’d offer them something valuable. Something that will make them go…
“Oh wow, this is really useful. I’d love to get my hands on that! Okay, here I go. I’m typing in my real email address now. I can’t wait to read this stuff!”
To get email subscribers, you need to think carefully about how you will lure them in to sign up for your list. Should you offer a free eBook, a free video course, a free Skype consult? Whatever you decide on, put yourself in their shoes. Would YOU sign up for your list?
If you answered yes, then you’re off to a good start. But if you answered no, then you need to go back to the drawing board and review your content strategy again.
The caveat is that not everyone would want to sign up for your list no matter how great your free eBook or video course is. That’s normal. But with a high-quality offer on the table, your opt-in rates will be so much higher than if you didn’t carefully think things through.
2. Put your opt-in forms in high-converting places on your website
Ad banner blindness is a real thing. And so is email opt-in form blindness. If you’re using a standard opt-in form with a generic design, no one will pay any attention to it.
It may just as well be invisible with the dismal opt-in rates you’re going to get. It’s also just a waste of valuable website real estate.
Website design can differ from one site to another. But these are the top places most website owners report as giving them higher- than-average opt-in rates:
- Top of the sidebar – your sidebar can be on the left or right side of the page. Wherever it is, try adding an opt-in form at the top of the sidebar. Heatmaps show sidebars get good activity so don’t be afraid to try this option.
- Splash page – this is the first thing your site visitors will see on your website. Make it clear to them what the benefits are if they sign up for your list. You can use a ‘start here’ sign, a smiling photo of yourself or your free giveaway, or a testimonial from a happy subscriber or customer.
- Header – your website’s header is the one place everyone sees no matter where they are on your website. It’s above the fold, so people need not scroll down to see your opt-in form. With a combination of a great offer and opt-in form design, you may get more people to opt-in to your list!
- Within your blog posts – Publishing high-quality content regularly on your blog will help establish your authority and attract more people to follow your brand. Add your opt-in form preferably in the middle or bottom of your posts. This way, people would already have read your content, so you know when they sign up, they’re interested in what you have to offer.
- Timed pop-up or lightbox – you can set your opt-in form to appear after a certain amount of time – say 1 or 2 minutes or when they exit. This allows your visitors to look around your site for a bit and get to know you better before you ask them to sign up. Most people normally just close pop-ups that appear as soon as they land on a website, but timed pop-ups allow people to get acquainted with your brand first.
The opt-in rates for any of these locations will vary from niche to niche. You’d have to do a lot of tests to find the spot that will work best for your website.
I recommend ConvertKit for your email service provider because they have opt-in forms and landing pages built right into their service.
3. Drive highly targeted traffic to your website’s opt-in form
The last step you need to do to get people to sign up to your list is to drive traffic to your website. Without traffic, you don’t get to build an email list.
But don’t just invite anyone to sign up to your list.
Remember, you want to build a high-quality list full of people who are very interested in you, your products, or your services.
A strategy most successful marketers use is they first create a buyer persona or a profile of a person most likely to enjoy their business.
So, if you’re targeting middle-aged women with 1 to 2 kids, then you have to reach out to this audience.
In the previous post, I showed you different methods to generate traffic using free traffic sources. So, use whatever method you are most comfortable with.
The important thing is that you know exactly who to target, so you don’t waste too much time or money. Having a good-sized mailing list composed of your ideal audience will bring you plenty of profits in the long run.
Treat your subscribers as your friends, and you’ll be justly rewarded with everlasting profits!
Join me for the last post in the series: How To Create & Sell Your Own Course.