The Key Steps to Email List Building Success - Prue Madden

When you are at the beginning of building something new, the mountain often seems so high. It’s no different with email list building. But like with anything, if you know the key steps to focus on, and tackle them one by one, that mammoth mountain suddenly becomes a series of small hills.

So let’s take at the 7 steps to list building success.

Your Website

First of all, you are going to need to optimize your website so that you have a high chance at funneling website visitors to your email list. What you don’t want to do though, is get caught up in the world of fixing “just one more thing”. Trust me,  I’ve been there.

Website building can be time suck. I have worked with people who spent months, even years, working on the “perfect” website. Get your head out of that mode! In fact, if you think you’re prone to  perfectionism, then put a deadline on your website creation time yourself. Give yourself two weeks to get it up and running, and that’s IT! If you absolutely don’t have time, you can pay someone a couple of hundred dollars to get your website up.

In the end, two of the most important features you need to get right for successful email list building are:

  • An intriguing opt-in offer that takes advantage of above-the-fold placement (above-the-fold means what the user sees prior to having to scroll down for any information. Anything below it is referred to as below-the-fold.)
  • Additional opt-in forms for email list building that make it easy for anyone to sign up at numerous locations on your website. Some people make the mistake of having one opt-in OR having one position for their numerous opt-ins. You want to make your opt-in exciting and eye-catching.

Consider using opt-in locations for your email list building like these:

  • In the sidebar area
  • In the navigation menu area
  • Above-the-fold
  • Underneath each of your blog posts
  • In pop-overs, pop-ups and light boxes
  • Within the body of your blog posts

What you want is to make your opt-ins impossible to overlook. Just think about your experience when going to a website. You visit sites and get “web blindness” after a while. That’s why tools such as pop overs are used on so many sites. Pop overs are interruptive, and while many people find them annoying, they can be very effective. You do wnat to be careful with when and how you sue them. I’d suggest you use light boxes with a 15-30 second delay and only use them once per session. Pop up lightboxes differ from regular popups in that they are a web form that appear on top of the webpage that you are viewing. but they darken the page that you have been viewing behind it, so that the form stands out. These light box pop ups have a high conversion rate.

In addition to placement of email sign up forms, it’s also important to constantly keep your visitor front an center when creating all content.  When creating your site content, always ask “What’s in it for my visitor”. If your visitor doesn’t see what they want immediately, they can click on any number of other websites offering a solution to their problem or one which provides content that will entertain or educate them with “What’s In It For Me” customer-focused content. You need to have a deep understanding about what your audience wants and then communicate it clearly to them time and time again throughout your website. To do this, you will need to research your target market and document your finding in a Buyer Persona Template.

One way to communicate that you understand your audience, and to give them the content they need, is to  offer a blog that is jam packed with value. In fact, each of your blog posts should be value-driven.

So how do you tackle this when you are just starting out? How do you know what to write about, what will attract your target market and keep them coming back for more, and what will help you in your email list building efforts? Write long-copy form and write some short-forms blog posts and test the waters. Find out which works best for your target customers. As you get in more feedback, put that feedback on the website. Personal testimonials convey firsthand what the “what’s in it for me” truly is with your product.

Incentivise

As you delve deeper into the world of email list building, you will find that incentives are awesome ways to encourage people to join your mailing list. In fact, they aren’t just “awesome”, they are a necessity. It is the to the point today that people need some impetus to give their information to you. Yes – you want visitors to your website, but no – you don’t want them to just read it and leave. You want them to return again and again, and of course to sign up to your email list so you can deliver your content to their email inbox. A good incentive can help your email list building in a big way.

Here are some examples of opt-in incentives that work:

  • A working outline for them to follow to solve a problem
  • A checklist
  • A printable calendar to follow
  • Worksheets
  • A smaller version of your for-sale item
  • A video training course
  • An audio series
  • An e-book
  • A library of resources including e-books and worksheets
  • A video series

Regardless of what opt-in tool/s you use, make sure that they are value-drive. The number one way to speak to your potential audience and draw them in, is to offer them something they can’t “live without”. In general there are two different incentives you can work with when email list building:

  1. The incentive that offers relevant broad content
  2. The incentive that offers specific tailored content

Both are helpful and you usually can use them in some combination to get the most out of your efforts. A good structure would be to offer your blog readers a free e-book that helps them to hone in on what type of online business they can create (broad) and then a blog that gives them specific steps on how to develop their top three business ideas (tailored).

Though this is a simple example, when you start your email list building, you are going to find that some strategies are much harder to implement than others. That’s ok though—remember that this is all a learning process, for both you and your readers. If something doesn’t work with your audience, switch it up. If it does work, ask yourself what you can do to make it better. The internet is always changing, so you want to change with it!

Contests & Giveaways

Have you ever seen a contest and jumped for joy? I saw one the other day offering a free top-brand-name mixer. For any avid cook or baker this would be a great way to attract their attention. Knowing these machines can retail for up to $500, who wouldn’t want to at least take a chance? The great thing about contests for email list building, is that you can structure them any number of ways. You can use a voting system, content submission, trivia…the possibilities are endless. They are a great way to engage your viewers and get them excited about what you offer.

Contests are also great at getting personal information. When someone visits your website, you want them to submit their name and email. Period. This is the number one goal you should have. Without it, they are just a visitor who browsed and most likely won’t return. If you get their name and email though, you can reach out to them and prove how valuable you are.

One thing to remember though is that when you are offering some type of contest, always make it on target with your goals and the goal of your website. If you are marketing herbal supplements, what good would it be to give away a pair of pants? Think of what your audience would want. If you’re selling herbal supplements, how about a contest offering a bag of specialized herbs? Or, a small shaker cup with your branding on it? Those are the tie-ins that speak to your audience and make your name resonate with their goals.

Use SEO to Attract Organic Traffic

When the internet first started, those who were innovative enough to delve into it went one of two ways:

  1. Some people just wrote whatever sparked their own interests and let people naturally find them. They hoped people would stick with them, but they rarely did
  2. Other people defined their audience and built content that spoke to them. They had bigger success with numbers than those solely relying on organic finds did

Now that the internet is the basis of business for billions-of-dollars’ worth of activities, you have to utilize all the tools available. That means using both organic and SEO-driven tools to maximize your potential audience. Let’s consider SEO first. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. What it means in a nutshell is that Google ranks content for quality. So let’s say your blog is written with a target around “improving study techniques for children from 7 to 11 years of age”. As you continue to feed content to your blog and website, Google has automated tools that take note. They start to affiliate your web address with that topic. As you continue to grow your traffic, Google’s metrics tell it that if a customer wants information on their 10-year-old who needs study help, they should send them to your website.

When you write your blog and set up your website, you have to know how Google works. If you are tempted to have blog posts or content off-topic, fight it! You want Google to understand without-a-doubt that “THIS” is what your blog is about. “THIS” is your specific product or service. Targeting who you are (remember that from earlier??) is the way to communicate it and grow your readership…with Google’s help. Just think of how powerful Google is!! Having them on your side when it comes to search engines is invaluable!

As you continue to build your website and blog with relevant topics, you will see your rankings on Google rise. Think of when you search for something online. Rarely, if ever, do you likely go to page 10 of your search engine results. Most people go to page 1 and possibly page 2 IF they absolutely can’t find what they want on page 1. That’s why it is so important to do whatever you can to push your website up on the rankings.

Keywords are something you definitely should know about when it comes to ranking. A keyword is something people search for. For example, let’s say you have a website promoting your special smoothie making powder. You want to pick keywords that target that. Words like “smoothie”, “banana”, “protein”, “healthy”, “meal”, “supplement”, “delicious smoothie” are all keywords that people may potentially use to search for your product. They are integral to helping people find you and to building your reputation with Google.

Speaking of Google, once you decide what your most important keywords are, you also have to use them wisely. Here are some rules to follow:

  • Always put your keywords in your blog post’s title. Google’s search machines gather this information
  • Put your keywords in your blog’s body too…not overly abundant, but a few times
  • If you put images into your blog post, make sure the name of the files have your keywords in them
  • Put a keyword or two into your blog post’s URL.

It  isn’t difficult to get results but it does take diligence and a general know-how of the way Google works.

Using Social Media to Drive Traffic

The bottom line is that Social Media is huge these days…and not just for creating a personal brand. It is integral to creating any business brand. Remember how we discussed letting your audience know who you are? This is where Social Media can help you to reach out to your audience and see success in your email list building. Plus, it does a lot of the work for you by suggesting friends and connecting like-minded individuals.

If you have an e-book you’re marketing to get the word out on your product or service, create a Facebook and Twitter campaign to go along. Not only will you be promoting yourself, but your message will be shared. You also can put social sharing buttons on all of your content. This is a great way to help people who really find value in your blogging to promote you. With today’s online tools, you can easily drop these buttons into every blog post you put out, without having to know in-depth coding or programming.

You also should look at things like LinkedIn and Pinterest. Both are tools that millions of users subscribe to and utilize every day. With LinkedIn, you can build your own professional profile and share it with the community. You can even garner certifications and recommendations that only add to your credibility. The same goes for Facebook. There are a number of tools with Facebook. You can create a business page, and also you can create members-only pages. It may not be useful at the beginning, but once you have a set audience who you want to share specific extra-value information with, this is a tool that can make them feel special and convey how loyal you are to them.

Pinterest is another tool that is picture-driven. Like Instagram, you want to use a relevant picture that has your keywords in the file title. You want to change it often too—this is a way to not only affiliate it with your intent, but also to keep people interested in what you are going to do next. You can market your e-books and products via both and tie them to your Twitter and Facebook posts.

Finally, whatever tools you use in terms of Social Media marketing, be sure that you have plenty of calls-to-action. When a visitor arrives on your website, they should know what you want them to do. Don’t just let them wander around aimlessly. Tell them exactly where to click for what. If your goal with your social media post is email list building, then when your visitor arrives on your website page form that post, you should tell them what they should click there and WHY (what’s in it for me?).

Follow “The Rules”

When you continue to market your website and blog, and focus on your email list building, be sure that you follow the rules of the game:

  1. Be transparent. Let your audience know who you are, what you value and what you want to offer them. Be inspiring. Give them insight into why you do what you do.
  1. Be inclusive. Tell your audience about what you’re working on. No- you don’t have to give them details of everything, but get them excited about what you’re going to do next.
  1. The gift. Everyone loves freebies! Come up with some that directly tie to your product/service and showcase how valuable following you is.

Remember that you are asking for their email. Likely they sort through hundreds of irrelevant emails daily and you don’t want to end up on the “spam” list. Make everything that you say count.

Set Anti Spam Protection – Email Double Opt In

Let me introduce a concept to you that will prove to be invaluable for you throughout your oemail list building journey: the double opt-in list.

Double Opt-In Lists Defined

A double opt-in list is nothing more than an email newsletter or email that allows people to sign up using your web page or by sending an email to the software that manages your opt in list.

Why is that different from an ordinary opt-in list? The difference is anyone who subscribes through a double opt in list must confirm their request to subscribe to your list twice.

The first time a subscriber usually opts in is when they give you their name and email address from a web based form. Once the initial request to join is received, software or your opt-in list management system like Aweber.com sends a confirmation email to the address the person entered as their email address. Users must then confirm their subscription by clicking the link provided in the email to affirm they agree to join your newsletter or ezine.

This is why the process is called double opt-in. People literally opt into your list twice. Once as an initial agreement to sign up then again to confirm their desire to be included on your list.

Why have people opt-in twice? Many marketers feel this process is mandatory to a business owner’s success. The double opt-in list confirms that someone entering his or her email address is genuinely interested in receiving your newsletter or other publication. The extra confirmation also verifies you have the correct email address.

By confirming a consumer is really interested in signing up for your list, you can rest assured the chances are very high you are getting high-quality prospects. These are people that are very likely to buy from you in the future because they have a solid interest in what you have to offer.

When you don’t offer a double opt-in option, a person can go on your website, enter another person’s email address and leave. Then the person receiving your confirmation email and following emails will think they are being spammed, and may report you for spamming.

You don’t want to upset someone accidentally, so your best bet is to protect your interests and those of your clients by providing the double opt-in list choice.

It’s also important you confirm people signing up genuinely have an interest in your email or newsletter. If they don’t you will not sell anything to them. A single opt-in list leaves more opportunity for subscribers that won’t respond to your emails because they will think they are Spam.

Advantages and Disadvantages Of The Double Opt-In

The point of an opt-in email list is attracting people to your list that are good, solid prospects. Good prospects are those likely to buy products from you in the future. A double-opt-in list will almost guarantee you get a high quality group of subscribers on your list. This will include people that want to receive the information you have to give.

You may have a smaller list of only 5,000 people if you do a double opt-in list, but chances are very high the people on this list are very eager for the information you have to offer. They are more likely to respond to promotions posted on your email, which may result in higher conversions, and more people benefiting from your products or services.

Having 5,000 high quality prospects is much better than having one million general prospects that may or may not have an interest in your product. You want to spend 80% of your time focusing on prospects that are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. You can spend the remaining 20% on leads that may result in some sales.

The biggest advantage, when email list building, of the double opt-in list, is it reduces the number of complaints of Spam your host receives. You don’t want to be charged with Spam accusations too often, or major ISP’s may ban your domain name. So make sure you always set up a double opt-in list when you can.

Not sure how to implement a double opt in? Check out the help or support section of your email marketing or autoresponder software. Each one has a different way of implementing the double opt in feature. In tools such as Aweber, Getresponse and Mailchimp it’s as simple as ticking a couple of check boxes and inputting the URL of your thank you page. In short, the double opt-in list is a good alternative to the traditional opt-in list for many reasons. The most obvious reason is if a customer chooses to confirm their subscription to your email list, you can rest easy knowing they will not consider your emails Spam. It also prevents the likelihood that someone else may enter your site and enter someone else’s information as their own. If someone receives a subscription they did not want, they are more likely to report your actions as Spam, and you want to avoid that at all costs.

Tracking Your Results

Even if you weren’t good in math in high school, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook with online business. In fact, numbers are the very things that will let you know if you’re on the right track or not, when it comes to email list building. Most website building tools and web hosts have easy-to-use tools that help you to gather the numbers you need. You can find out how many people clicked on your links, how long they spent on a page, how many people signed up for your special, how many are new visitors and how many are repeat visitors. This is all needed information. Remember that with the internet, you are always a work in progress. That means you have to consistently be gathering metrics and making changes to find out what performs best for your audience. Test some blog topics. Test pictures. Test a mini-version of your products and services. See how they work before you roll out the big product! This is a great way to make sure that you’re on target for success.

Adjusting your Approach

Once you start tracking your email list building results on a week by week basis, you can start testing different tactics and monitoring your success. This is where you will really start to see results. The key to success in any areas of marketing is making hypothesis, split testing and making changes based on your findings.

When Should I Implement this?

You don’t have to implement all of the steps contained in this course at once. You can take them step-by-step and work at your own pace. You also can move with your audience to be sure that you are giving the right steps at the right times.