3 Steps to List Growth: How Molly Marshall Increased Her Email Opt-in Rate by 274%

Email Marketing Guest Posts

When you first start your business, there are a few pieces of advice that start to sound like a broken record.

You must build your list!” is one of them, yet for almost two years, it is what I struggled with the most.

For my first couple of years in business, I would add a few subscribers here and there, but it didn’t add up to much.

At the end of 2017, I finally cracked the code on list building. I was able to take my list of 2,000 (which I had been growing for three years) and add almost 6,000 subscribers over the next two months by focusing on just three things:

  1. I created a new, main lead magnet that had a perceived high value among my audience.
  2. I made this new lead magnet the main call to action in my business.
  3. I implemented a Small but Mighty Offer (some call this a Tripwire), so that I could run Facebook and Instagram ads to my lead magnet without having to carve out a large advertising budget.

A high-converting lead magnet

Homepage CTA example
Molly's homepage CTA for her high-converting lead magnet: her free Instagram Strategy Guide

Before I settled on a core lead magnet, I was creating dozens of smaller “content upgrades” for my blog content. Every time I published a blog post, I would create some kind of freebie or worksheet to go along with it. Not only was this a ton of work, frankly, the conversion rates on the content were low. If 500 people read my blog post, I might only get a couple of new subscribers. I was burning out fast!

At the time, I was mostly blogging about Instagram marketing so I decided to create an Instagram Strategy Guide. This new guide was 11 pages long with tons of actionable content, worksheets, and links out to other Instagram marketing resources.

With this new guide, I created something that I felt was so valuable to my audience, I could charge money for it if I wanted to.

This changed everything!

Since the initial reception was great, I switched out all my smaller lead magnets on my blog posts for this new, robust guide.

Permanent header CTA example
Permanent header CTA on Molly Marshall's website

One call-to-action for my business

With momentum in my favor, I decided to go all in and put all my marketing efforts behind this new lead magnet.

Instead of offering a dozen different worksheets and mini-trainings, I plastered my Instagram Strategy Guide everywhere! My web designer came up with a conversion-focused design that kept the guide in front of my visitors, regardless of where they were on my site.

While we didn’t want to annoy people, we did want to keep the opportunity front and center!

Homepage hero image

When you arrived at the home page of my website, the first thing you saw was an invitation to download the guide. However, most of my website traffic comes from individual blog posts, so I didn’t stop there!

Permanent header

We added a band below my website navigation, but above any core page content. This header appeared on all the interior pages of my website. It featured a thumbnail of the lead magnet and a call to action to download it.

Permanent footer

We added a band across the bottom of my website that appeared on every page. It had a small thumbnail of the lead magnet and a call to action to download the guide.

Start here page

We added a Start Here page on my website that prominently featured my lead magnet, as well as a round up of my best blog posts.

Get Started Page CTA example
Molly also has a CTA for her lead magnet on her Get Started page

Bio line

As I mentioned before, most of my website traffic comes through blog posts. A new visitor may never look at my home page, so we needed a way to get the lead magnet in front of these people. At the end of each blog post, there was a bio box with a short blurb about who I am and a link to download the guide.

Embedded in blog posts

Where it made sense, or naturally came up in the article, I linked to the opt-in form for my lead magnet.

Contact form

On my contact form, I added a checkbox where people could opt-in to my list. This wasn’t for getting the Instagram Strategy Guide, but I wanted to capture email addresses (with permission!) wherever I could.

Off website CTAs

In addition to putting the focus of my website on list building, I also changed the call to action on each of my social media platforms. I put the Instagram Strategy Guide in:

  • my bio link on Instagram,
  • my video descriptions on YouTube
  • in my About sections on Twitter and Facebook

Every time someone found me online, I wanted them to know that this guide was available to them.

All of this was great!

Six months after I implemented these changes on my website, my email opt-ins increased by 274%!

I had an attractive lead magnet that my blog readers and audience were excited about.

I made sure that everyone knew about it by putting it in several places on my website and social media accounts.

But what I did next is what exploded my list growth.

Adding my Small but Mighty Offer

After someone signed-up to receive the Instagram Strategy Guide, they were shown a thank you page that contained a one-time offer for my Instagram hashtag mini-course at an incredible price.

I call this my “Small but Mighty Offer.” My hashtag course sells for $40 regularly, but if my new subscriber purchases it from this thank you page, they can purchase it for $7.

Thank Your Page Small But Might Offer CTA example
Molly Marshall offers her Small But Mighty Offer for her Hashtag Camp on her Thank You page

Integrity is everything here! This is truly the only way that anyone can ever purchase this course for only $7. I never offer it on sale. I don’t have secret deals floating around anywhere else. This is a one-time opportunity.

A Small but Mighty Offer is something that is the next step up from your lead magnet. Think about what your customer needs next after they have used your lead magnet. What could they use more education or clarity on? What other help can you provide that is valuable to them, but doesn’t require you to give away too much for too little compensation?

(In many online marketing circles, this is called a “Tripwire,” but I hate this terminology for many reasons. A “tripwire” in the dictionary sense is something that is used to activate a trap or other device. Not the rosiest picture. A Small but Mighty Offer is something that truly impacts your customer in a positive way!)

Here are some characteristics of effective Small but Mighty Offers:

  • It provides the user with a quick win or result. Your customer should experience some kind of change or transformation from using the product.
  • The product is focused on solving one specific problem your customer is having.
  • The perceived value of the product is high. You don’t need to give away everything you know, but you can make this upsell product feel more valuable by formatting it well, including a workbook or guide, or including some useful templates or small bonuses.
  • It is priced between $5-20. This is a “no brainer” purchase for many people because the risk is so low. If the product doesn’t deliver, they aren’t out much cash… but that won’t happen because you will WOW them with your helpful product!

If these sound a lot like the qualities of a great lead magnet, you are right! A lot of what makes an effective lead magnet also makes a great product to use for your Small but Mighty Offer.

Not everyone will take advantage of the Small but Mighty Offer. In fact, most people will pass. However, enough people will take you up on it, so you can take that small amount of income and use it on Facebook and Instagram ads.

When I introduced this concept, between 20-30% of my new subscribers purchased the hashtag mini course. That meant for every 10 people I added to my list, two or three bought the product.

So for every 10 people I added to my list, I was making between $14-21. If I could spend this money on Facebook ads, and get at least 10 people added to my list, it made financial sense.

It turns out that I was able to get my cost per lead to about $1! I was able to get my ads to “pay for themselves.”

This was the secret to my rapid list growth. I was able to run Facebook and Instagram ads indefinitely, because it wasn’t costing me extra. I was breaking even with my Small but Mighty Offer each day.

While the hashtag mini course didn’t change the bottom line of my business, it did allow me to reach thousands more people than I would have been able to organically.

Your turn to grow your email list

So now it’s your turn to make this work for you!

Upgrade your lead magnet

If you already have a lead magnet and you are wondering if it is underperforming, try something new! Keep iterating until you find something that people are excited about and give you good feedback on.

you don’t have a lead magnet yet, it’s time to create one! You don’t have to spend a lot of time on it. Just get something out there and start to gather feedback.

In either case, ask your audience (no matter the size!) what their biggest struggle is and create something around that. Put it out there and see what the reception is. Looking back, I put out several lame lead magnets until I found a winner. That’s ok! Every bump is an opportunity to find something that DOES work.

What kind of lead magnet will you create?

Promote your lead magnet like crazy

Add links to your lead magnet on your website in at least 3-4 places and put it on your social media profiles. You can even post about your lead magnet on social media from time to time.

People are extremely busy and inundated with information. It’s ok to remind them of what you offer.

Where will you promote your lead magnet?

Implement a Small but Mighty Offer

The last step here is to create your own Small but Mighty Offer! You probably already have several ideas left over from your lead magnet brainstorm. Take your lead magnet just a little bit further by offering a mini course or a video training on one of the concepts. Including a workbook or something else for them to produce really increases the value to your customer.

What ideas do you have for your own Small but Mighty Offer?

Want to see these 3 steps in action? See this working in action! You can head to my website to see the placement of all my CTAs or click below to download my Instragam Strategy Guide to see how I layout my lead magnet and then add my course to the Thank You page.

Download my free Instagram Strategy Guide 

Molly Marshall

Molly works with small business owners and online entrepreneurs, teaching them how to systematically and simply grow an online presence that they can make money from. She is known for her approachable “let me show you how” advice that proves that growing an online business is simple… without pretending that it’s easy. She lives and adventures in Oregon with her husband and three young boys.

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