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Ask anyone about your email list in the blogging world and they will start screaming at you about it’s importance… okay… maybe not screaming but I assure you they will be incredibly passionate about the importance of growing your list. Your email address is a valuable commodity and the question is… how do you get your reader to give theirs to you?
Have you noticed that we live in a world where everyone wants something? We rarely give anything up for free – there’s usually some level of exchange going on and the same happens with your email list. People have a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude and that’s perfectly fine. You just need to know how to work this to your advantage.
A lot of people will talk about giving a free offer in exchange for a reader’s email and this is a brilliant idea. However, offering any old freebie doesn’t necessarily work and you need to make sure you are offering something that is relevant to your audience. I’ve learned a few things over the least year including a way to rapidly grow your email list and I’ll share with you what did and didn’t work for me.
Way back when I first started growing my email list (and had no idea what I was doing) I started out by simply offering an opt in to my newsletter. The thing was – I had no idea what to send. Even now I’m still refining what I send in a newsletter.
AND – to top it all off, I was too scared to send anything to my readers incase they unsubscribed. Yes – I do realise how crazy that sounds now but I’m sure you know what I mean.
Now I still have the option on my site to simply subscribe to my newsletter (The Femme Report) and while people do still sign up to it, it is still one of the lowest converting ‘offers’ I have, averaging around 0.1% conversion… that’s pretty low.
Free Opt-In #1 – Printables and Quotes
So I realised I needed to give something to my readers in exchange for their email address, but at this stage I still wasn’t sure what to give. I had seen other bloggers offering printables and thought that would be an easy offer to put together so that’s exactly what I did.
I even went so far as to say that all of my subscribers would receive a new free download on the 1st of every month.
My download offers included printable goal planners, printable meal planners and quotes that could be used as screensavers or shared on Instagram.
I thought I was onto something great!! My subscriber numbers started to go up and I felt great being able to give my readers something… but there were a few issues with this. People were subscribing to my list for the free offer, then unsubscribing after they had received it (of which I tried to combat by continuing to give more free printables… it worked a little) and I had nothing else to offer these people.
Readers were subscribing to my list for the free printables, but I didn’t have any way to monetise that. I didn’t have any products to offer in relation to printables and I didn’t know where to go from there. Yes they were on my list, but my open rates weren’t so great and my click through rates to my website were even lower. These people weren’t on my list because they wanted anything from my website other than the printables.
This was not how I wanted my list to grow – I wanted my list to be filled with people who loved what I had to say, who wanted more information from me and who I could create products for.
Free Opt-In #2 – 11 Day Challenge
One of my posts – 11 Habits of Successful Women, had been widely popular, having over 12,000 social media shares and rapidly growing. It had hundreds of views every single day (sometimes thousands) and I knew I needed to do something with this.
I had been planning on creating a challenge to go with this for a while but one day, I woke up and my website had more than 10 times it’s usual page views already. I looked a little closer and it was this post gaining more traction again. I knew I had to take this opportunity and capitalise on the traffic so I worked quickly and created a list for an 11 Habits of Successful Women 11 Day Challenge – with a start date specified (around a week away).
I got it up onto the site as quickly as I could and the subscribers started coming in…. and they didn’t stop.
The idea was that I was going to take each of the 11 Habits outlined and send an email each day for 11 days talking about one of the habits and giving one action you could take in order to bring that habit into your daily life.
Within a week I had doubled my existing email list.
And can I tell you a secret? I wrote each challenge the night before they were due to go out. Which goes to show – sometimes you just need to dive in and go for it. Sometimes too much planning can get it your way. I had this challenge in mind for over a month and failed to launch it until I realised how much I was missing out.
This challenge continues to gain subscribers now and I’ve even added in the option of purchasing an eBook of the challenge rather than receiving the emails over 11 days. This allows readers to keep the challenge handy and means they get access to all of the challenges on day one, rather than having to wait for them to land in their inbox.
Free Opt-In #3 – Content Upgrades
One of the more recent opt-in offers I have been using are Content Upgrades. These are additional information, be it workbooks, worksheets or free downloads that are associated with a particular post.
Recently I switched over to ConvertKit from MailChimp which has been amazing as it has allowed me to create multiple different opt-ins, for different lists, that I can have running all at once.
This was previously difficult to do with MailChimp – I didn’t have the ability to set up different automations with different lists – and if that option is available it’s certain not easy to find or set up. ConvertKit has made this incredibly easy and allows me to create as many opt-in’s as I’d like or as many lists as I’d like.
Content Upgrades have converted well and allow me to see what my audience is and isn’t interested in. If a particular opt-in converts well, and another doesn’t, I have a good basis of information to keep in mind for future content creation.
The big lessons I have learnt so far is to ensure that I am giving something of value in exchange for an email address and that what I am offering is in line with my brand and what my readers are wanting.
Refining my opt-ins has resulted in a rapid growth of my email list and continues to grow each day. Multiple opt-ins allow me to appeal to more readers at different stages of what they need from their blog and business at a particular time.
What methods have you used to grow your email list? And what has and hasn’t worked for you? I’d love to know what works for others – feel free to share below.