13 min read
Growing your email list is no easy task, but if you’ve been around bloggers long enough, you’ve probably heard just how important building your email list is. That direct communication and permission to meet a reader in their inbox is your number one mission whether you’re new to blogging or have been around the block a few times.
It’s in those personalized moments that you can send targeted, directed, and specialized content to urge your subscribers on a journey that hopefully ends in you making money. But before you can get to any of that, it all starts with that email list.
It’s a great privilege for someone to allow you to pop up in their inbox, and you should treat it like the honor that it is. Most people aren’t just going to give you their email address. Sure there are people who love signing up for anything and everything because they either love information or just want to be a part of it all.
But more often than not, you’ll find a resistance, and rightfully so! Too many people have been burned by joining an email list and then receiving countless spam messages without the ability to unsubscribe. To break down those protective walls, you need some strategies to help you convince people to trust you enough to join your email list.
There are infinite tactics passed around on the subject of growing your email list. Some work, some don’t, and some are just super scammy. But you just can’t go wrong if you’re bringing readers into your fold by providing them with excellent content that solves their problems.
Whether you’ve heard them called lead magnets or incentives, these bonus materials are something you can give a reader in exchange for their email address. That way, if they’ve never heard of you before or are hesitant but still liking what they see on your blog, you can give them an extra nudge of confidence in you by giving them something completely free. It’s that extra step that helps you build trust with a reader and show them a little more about what you know about your topic.
Here are eight lead magnets you can use to convince a reader to join your email list:
Let’s get real for a second. If you’re going to offer a “newsletter” as your opt-in incentive, you better be one of the most interesting bloggers in the world. Your content needs to speak for itself if you’re going to use this as your call to action.
Newsletters are the old standby of email marketing. Whether you release them weekly, monthly, or just whenever you have something to announce, a newsletter (we call them Broadcasts) is the standard way for bloggers to directly connect with their audience right in their inbox.
While any blogger certainly has the ability to create their own newsletter and use it as an incentive, I wouldn’t recommend this channel as the end all be all to a beginner blogger. For a newsletter to really be worth the while of a new audience member, there has to already be a large amount of trust and authority between reader and blogger.
Newsletters will only work as a true incentive to opting into your email list if you are at the level of authority where people want to read everything you write. I’m talking Maria Popova, James Clear, and Marie Forleo level. That’s not to discourage you, but just to be clear: if you’re just promising content they could read on your blog, it needs to be great. So follow through.
If you’re a mere mortal like the rest of us, a promise of a newsletter probably won’t be enough of an incentive for a reader browsing your blog to hand over their email address. You still need to prove yourself worthy of their interest and time. For you bloggers that fall into this category, the rest of this article is how you can make it happen.
Readers signing up for your email list generally want something in return– it’s just the way the blog-o-sphere works these days. And one of the most popular means of incentives is the downloadable giveaway.
These free downloads can take many different forms. When deciding what kind of download to create you should consider what type of content your reader most wants from you, what your business is and does, and what content and assets you already have on hand. For example, if you blog about graphic design you can create a font bundle or if you blog about wedding cakes you can create a video teaching how to create flowers with frosting.
Other examples of downloadable giveaways are:
A content upgrade is a bonus piece of content that you can offer your readers in exchange for their email address. Sounds just like a downloadable giveaway, right? They are very similar, but the major distinction between the two is that content upgrades are linked to a specific blog post where as downloadable giveaways can be found statically throughout your site.
This form of incentive works well because you can capitalize on the fact that your reader is already interested in that particular blog post. By upselling and elaborating with more information on that topic, you’re giving your reader more of what you already know they want. Just make sure your upgrade is perfectly aligned with the original article and keep it evergreen so that a reader who sees that post months from now will see the same value as someone who sees it tomorrow.
To start implementing content upgrades to your blog, find the five to 10 most visited posts on your blog and think about what you can create to add even more value to that post. Would your readers benefit from a checklist of your actionable steps, a printable of your design to hang on their office wall, or a bundle of your stock photography images? Some more examples of content upgrades are:
One of the most powerful ways to build your email list is through a free online course. Courses are a handy, timely, and effective medium your readers can access at any time to buck up on the topic at hand. And as for you, courses help you grow your email list by being seen as the authority that you are.
To make your course as effective and beneficial as possible, make sure your number one focus is on your audience. What are they struggling with and how can you/your business help them overcome that struggle to reach their goal? The more valuable information you can pack in your giveaway course, the more likely your new reader is to trust you on your subject matter and buy your products when you pitch them later on, like a full course on the same subject.
If you sell products on your blog, sometimes offering a discount is well worth the small dip in revenue. First, making your product more available to the reader is a sign of good will, but you can also exchange that discount for their email address. Often these discounts come with a limited time offer messaging to create scarcity and urge readers to act quickly.
You can let the reader know about the discount with a pop up (also called a modal) window. Understanding that this type of offer works best for readers who are already browsing your products and reading your blog, you could set your pop up to engage either after a certain scroll percentage or after a certain amount of time on the page.
Webinars are your best bet to clearly communicate to your audience and add a personal touch to your marketing strategy. Getting your face and personality out in front of your audience helps you build the trust and credibility you need to be known as an authority on your subject. That’s why webinars are an incredible way to convert casual readers into devoted subscribers.
They’re also a go-to for list growth because anyone who wants to attend your webinar must register with their email address. You can move those emails right on over to your list after your webinar and now you know you have a list of people who are interested in whatever topic your webinar covered.
Make sure to record each webinar as well to use as downloadable giveaways later on. You can keep them as a limited time run to create a little scarcity or turn them into an evergreen piece of content. Either way, you’ll have high-quality video you can continue to give your readers in exchange for their email address.
Everyone enjoys consuming content in their own way. We noticed this need in our own readers when we published our first issue of Tradecraft. Version 1 was available on the blog or through an email sequence, but we had so many people email in asking us to create a PDF version they could download and read when they had time.
By doing this, we were not only giving our readers what they wanted, we were also creating an extra way for us to gather emails. Just as we had previously done for sequences, we create forms on the blog for the PDF download so readers can opt-in for their personalized experience.
You can easily do this with the content on your blog as well. Whether it’s a PDF, an email sequence, a podcast transcript or even an audio file of you reading your blogs out loud, giving your readers a choice in what format they want most is a great way to incentivize them to join your list.
Contests and giveaways are a great interactive way to grow your email list. When they’re constructed well with clear communication, ease of use, and exciting prizes, people are always happy to volunteer their email address to enter.
To enhance the contest for your list building benefits, make sure your prize is something that can help you validate readers. It should be niched down to something that your ideal reader is already looking for or wanting. So again if you’re blog is about wedding cakes, your prize or giveaway could be a set of high-priced piping tips. The more specific your prize, the more likely the people entering to win will stick around your blog after the contest is over.
Just be ware, there will be people who could care less about what your mission is and are just after the freebies. So when you’re considering a giveaway, either make sure that what you’re giving aligns with your mission and values to attract the niched down audience you desire, or don’t worry about it all and know that you’re going to get quite a few unengaged subscribers.
Now that you have eight ways you can convince someone to join your email list, you can go out and start creating interesting and valuable content that blog browsers just can’t resist. But your job isn’t done when the reader opts in for your incentive. There’s one more major step to follow through on that can make or break your entire opt-in user experience– the delivery.
You have to make sure you can deliver on those promises. How quickly, easily, and efficiently your readers receive their downloads, discounts, and upgrades can either create a raving fan or stern critic. But if you’ve done your job well with creating valuable content on your blog and can honor your word to deliver, these exclusive pieces will continue to set you up as a trusted blogger and an authority on your topic.
Setting up an incentive email form
If you’re using ConvertKit, we’ve made delivering your incentives extremely easy! Here are some quick steps to upload your content:
It’s as easy as that. Your readers can have their incentive and you’ll have a new email list subscribers in minutes.
Choose one of these incentives and implement it in your blog this week. Think about what your readers are struggle with and create a valuable asset that they just can’t pass up. Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions about what type of incentive would work for you.
Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.