Let's talk email lists. By now, most bloggers and online marketers realize the importance of building an email list. Just in case you need a refresher, here are some quick stats:
And a quick video from Derek Halpern from Social Triggers.
Long story short, you need an email list. But the question is how do you actually get people to join? Especially when you're starting from scratch without a social media following, traffic or a recognizable brand.
You've probably Googled something along the lines of "how to build an email list" and scrolled through the results only to find tips like "put up email subscribe forms" or "be active on social media". Here's the problem. A lot of what's out there assumes your site is already getting a ton of traffic or have some subscribers already. They're really tips about how to improve your signup conversion rate, not how to start building your list.
So I want to focus on all of you out there starting from zero. Here are five easy ways to get your FIRST 100 email subscribers.
IMPORTANT: If you haven't setup your opt-in form on your site or created a lead magnet yet (something to giveaway to entice people to sign up for your list) read this post first.
1. Guest Blog Like a Mofo
This has hands down been my go-to tactic for building a list for this site and others. Guest blogging is the answer to the question "how do I build an email list if I don't get any traffic?"
You find blogs with more traffic than you, and steal their audience.
There are people who do tons of guest blog posts and don't get any referral traffic, yet alone email subscribers. Most of the time it's because they look at guest blogging strictly as a way to get links. So they half-ass their post just to get it done.
Instead of being lazy, put some effort into your guest posts. These are some of my top tips for using guest blogging to build your email list:
- Outdo them. Try to write something better than everything else on their site.
- Tell stories in the post. This will get people interested in the person who wrote the post (you) and therefore be more likely to visit your site.
- Mention your site. Some sites won't allow you to link to your blog within your guest post, but that doesn't mean you can't talk about it. Assuming you're not being spammy, saying something along the lines of "I recently wrote an article about how to get your first 100 email subscribers" lets the reader know you have a blog and entices them to find the post you mentioned.
- Link to a landing page. If the site you're posting on lets you link to your site in your byline or bio, don't just link to your homepage. Add a link to a landing page where people can sign up for your list.
You can probably tell, the goal is to make the reader get super interested in not only your content, but you as well. Because unless it's mentioned in the beginning of the article or you bring it up within the content, there's a strong chance most people won't check who wrote the article.
Seriously, how often do you scroll to the bottom of an article to see who wrote it? It's probably pretty rare, unless there was something in the post that stood out to you. You want them to be so engaged in your content that they want to read more of your stuff. It's not easy, but it's possible.
I've found out about so many bloggers because they wrote amazing guest posts on other sites I read.
Find blogs with more traffic than you and steal their audience with a guest post.
2. Do a Roundup Post
If you follow a lot of online marketing blogs, you're probably no stranger to roundup posts. They're the ones with titles like "50 Experts Share Their Top SEO Tip" or something along those lines.
Most people tend to look at them from the participant's point of view. The people picked for the roundup get exposure and a nice backlink. But the real winner is the site that hosted the roundup.
Their site gets a spike in traffic from all the participants sharing the link on social media, and sometimes they'll even give them a backlink. This was actually one of the tactics I used to get a few high quality links for the Cosmo Project site.
Along with that spike in traffic comes a boost in email subscribers!
I recently launched a brand new blog and did a roundup post to connect with other bloggers in the niche and to help promote the site a bit. Here's what the traffic looked like once the post was published.
As a result, I also got nearly 150 new email subscribers within a few days, which is great for a brand new site that nobody knows about with almost no traffic until this post.
With a little more promotion, I'm sure it'll bring in even more traffic and subscribers.
3. Partner Up With Someone
This is similar to the roundup tactic. You're basically borrowing someone else's audience to help build your own.
Reach out to blogs within your niche and start building a relationship by sharing their stuff on social media, including them in your roundup posts and commenting on their blog posts.
After a while, ask them if they'd be interested in partnering up on a project. It could be an infographic, eBook, webinar or anything other type of content you want. I'd recommend an infographic because they don't require a ton of writing and it can be outsourced if you suck at graphic design.
Since their audience is larger than yours, offer to do most of the legwork with putting together the piece of content. It'll also make it easier to get done if you can do it yourself.
You'll both agree to promote it on social and your blogs. Since its co-branded, it'll push traffic to both of your sites which is a good opportunity for you to get some new email subscribers!
4. Run Facebook Ads
Do you have $5 per day you can put towards Facebook Ads? Sure you do. Just skip the Starbucks for a week and invest in yourself.
Despite what everyone says about Facebook's shrinking organic reach, they still have the best advertising platform on the planet. Extremely detailed audience targeting, really low costs and it's super easy to setup.
Here's the basic process for using Facebook Ads to grow your email list:
- Setup a landing page for your offer.
- Create a Facebook ad (choose "send people to your website" as the objective)
- Make at least 3 different variations of your ads.
- Run the ads for at least a week and monitor the results.
For your landing page, don't use a regular WordPress page. It won't look good, trust me.
You need to create a REAL landing page. There are a bunch of tools you can use to make one. I've used Instapage before which is amazing. And there's also Leadpages, ClickFunnel and a ton of others. But since I switched over to the Thrive Content Builder for all my sites, I use their landing page templates now.
Although running Facebook Ads is simple in theory, it takes some practice to get good at. There are so many different variables that play a role, whether it's your landing page, the lead magnet you're giving away, the audience you choose, your ad headline, the visual or dozens of other things.
But I'll tell you this. There's no better feeling than when you put together an ad that works and converts well.
Again, my suggestion is to start out with $5 a day (or more if you can afford it) and test things out.
5. Be Aggressive
This was a big change I made with list building this year that really helped me take things to the next level.
For a long time I was heavily against "annoying" opt-in forms like pop-ups and welcome mats. As someone who visits a lot of blogs, they annoy the crap out of me. So I didn't want to add them to my sites. A lot of you can probably relate.
But here's the thing. As much as people (myself included) complain about these types of opt-in forms, they work. When I went from just having one email opt-in form in the side bar to adding pop-ups and welcome mats, my conversions and new subscribers shot up dramatically.
All the email opt-in forms you see on this site like the pop up, sidebar, and at the bottom of my posts are from the WP Subscribe Pro plugin from My Theme Shop. On one of my other sites, I use SumoMe (they have a welcome mat option which is awesome). I think new SumoMe users have to pay a monthly fee now to integrate your email marketing software (i.e. MailChimp, Aweber, etc.) which kind of sucks.
But anyways, my point is don't be afraid to try things out. Just because you hear people say something won't work, don't just take their word for it. Try it yourself.
Start Building your List
There you go. Five extremely simple and actionable tips on how to get email subscribers. Just one of these tactics is enough to get you 100 email subscribers. You just have to take action and put in the work.
One last thing I'll add is to consistently create content. You'll notice most of the tips here were about getting qualified traffic to your blog. In addition to all of the referral traffic, don't forget about traffic from search engines.
When you start ranking your site for a bunch of different keywords, you'll have a steady stream of new visitors to your site that you can convert into email subscribers. But that all starts with creating great content.
What are some of your top tactics for getting email subscribers? Leave a comment and let me know!