15 min read
Building an audience on YouTube is one thing, but to take that connection to the next level you need to get your viewers to join your email list.
Email is still the most powerful channel for deepening your relationship with your audience. Email is personal. It’s something we all check every single day.
And when you convince a YouTube viewer to join your email list, not only does that mean they’re more engaged with your content, but that you own the access to them. You’re no longer at the mercy of the YouTube algorithm, you can contact them directly anytime you like.
Plus, if you’re selling a product you’ll want to pitch it using your email list. Why? Well, a study by e-commerce platform Gumroad showed that email was the highest converting channel when it came to people clicking on a product and following through on a purchase.
Products promoted via email had a conversion rate of 9.4% compared to the 2.2% of conversions that came via YouTube. Even if you don’t yet have something to sell to your audience, it’ll be well worth your time to start building those relationships now.
So, how do you make that happen?
I’ve been growing my email list via my YouTube videos for four years now and have learned a thing or two about how to turn a YouTube viewer into an email subscriber–in fact, 82% of my list has come via YouTube! Here’s my advice on how to grow your email list through YouTube, along with some examples from other YouTubers.
A sure-fire way to convince someone to join your list is to offer an incentive. Often called a content upgrade or lead magnet, incentives allow you to give your audience some increased value related to the content they just watched in exchange for their email address.
What could you offer to go alongside your next YouTube video that would bring value to your audience?
Some ideas for companion material could be:
The right opt-in incentive will depend on the content you make:
Think about what value you’re already providing to your audience through your videos, and come up with an asset that would extend the value. You can start with a more general asset that relates to your niche at first, but the more closely tied the opt-in incentive is to the video where you promote it, the more success you’ll have convincing viewers to download it.
Once you’ve created your bonus content, you need a landing page to deliver it when a viewer signs up, and a free account with ConvertKit makes this incredibly easy. Click the button below to create a landing with me right now.
Perhaps one of the video templates so you can promote your video on the page too, or a template that focuses on the asset you’re offering and has lots of space for you to give details on it. They’ve all been created by world-class designers though, so you can’t make a wrong choice here!
Edit the colors and imagery of the template to fit the brand of your YouTube channel. A cohesive experience here will give your viewers a sense of familiarity and trust when they’re on the landing page, which will make them more likely to sign up.
Choose colors similar to those you use in any graphic elements in your videos, and you can easily bring in your own personal photos to the page using the Instagram integration.
Write a compelling headline and give your viewer a little more information about the opt-in incentive to encourage them to sign up. For more advice for creating a high-converting landing page, check out How to Write Great Landing Page Copy.
To connect your opt-in incentive either upload the file or add a link to the bonus content. When your viewer signs up, they’ll automatically be sent an email with a button they’ll click that will not only give them access to the incentive, but will also confirm their subscription to your email list. You can (and should!) edit the content of that email too to make it more personal.
The last thing to do here is customize the url. Personalize the domain and choose a url that makes sense for your opt-in incentive. After all, charli.ck.page/design-system-guide looks a lot more compelling to click on in a video description than charli.ck.page/3f4548b24c…
There are lots of ways to do this and it’s worth experimenting to figure out what works best for you and your audience. Here’s how I suggest you promote your opt-in incentive in a YouTube video.
First, near the beginning of the video mention the freebie and tell people how they can get it. It helps to show a glimpse of the bonus content on screen (the first page of a PDF, an outline of the email course lessons or a clip from the bonus footage, for example) as it will show your viewer visually what they’ll be getting and why they should take action to sign up for it.
Next, put the url right on the screen, but tell your viewers that they can find the link in the video description too. You should have the link available near the top of the description for easy access, and make sure you paste the full link, starting with the https:// because the url won’t be clickable in the description if you don’t.
Then, before you sign off your video, remind your viewer about the bonus content they can get for free if they want more information or insights into the topic you covered in the video.
If you’re part of the YouTube Partner Program (which requires a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time) you can also add your website as an “associated website” to your channel which will enable you to add links on a Card, which you can set to appear in the top right corner of your video.
Keep in mind that the url must start with your own domain in order to do this (I like to create a redirect to the ConvertKit landing page using my own url).
In ConvertKit you can create as many landing pages as you like. That means if you want to, you can come up with a different niche opt-in incentive for every video you publish!
Okay that might be a little extreme… it’d be better to focus on producing a few key assets that will bring value to your audience related to common topics you talk about in your videos. You should try out different incentive ideas and take note of which ones resonate with your audience.
In ConvertKit you can see the number of visits your landing page has had which you can compare to the number of views on your video to estimate what percentage of viewers found your pitch of the free incentive convincing enough to click through.
You’ll also see the number of subscribers each landing page has generated, along with the page conversion rate to show you what percentage of your landing page visitors followed through on signing up.
For example, my video about design systems currently has 32,500 views. While 5,774 people clicked the link to visit the landing page (a little under 18% of viewers) 1,927 people followed through to download the PDF (a page conversion rate of 33.37% as the stats in ConvertKit show). This means that about 6% of the people who viewed the video downloaded the guide and are now on my email list. Not bad!
Once you have some results from your first content upgrade, you can test alternate landing page templates, different incentive offers and more methods of pitching your incentive in your videos to figure out what the best combination is for you and your audience. You’ll be growing your email list in no time!
I talked to some fellow YouTubers about the different ways they’re finding success in getting their viewers to become email subscribers. So, read on for some more real-life examples of what’s working.
Nick creates video tutorials teaching best practices for using the personal budgeting software YNAB on YouTube. He estimates that around 77% of his email list has joined via his YouTube videos.
He’s tried different opt-in incentive offers like email courses and ebooks, but has had the best conversion rates when he offers a checklist that relates to the video. His viewers love having a resource to follow along with and put his advice into practice.
His best performing landing page offers a bundle of all the MappedOutMoney YNAB checklists together and has a conversion rate of 60%! This landing page is linked to from most of his videos about the software, like this one here about setting goals in which he shows the decision tree checklist on screen and walks his viewers through it.
“We have an awesome conversion rate on this incentive because the video shows you exactly how to use it” – Nick True
Notice how Nick also links to the opt-in in a comment that is pinned to the top of the comments section: another great place to ensure a link is posted so that you audience spots it and clicks.
Bestselling author David Burkus posts videos to his YouTube channel sharing his forward-thinking ideas about business, productivity and collaboration.
When it comes to his email list, David focuses on quality rather than quantity: he wants his list to be full of highly-motivated individuals who truly want to engage with his content.
He found that while it was easy to grow a list quickly by offering simple, single-page PDFs, the people who download those resources were more likely to unsubscribe from his list later compared to those who sign up for something a little more involved (like an email course). So he’s currently pitching a free 3 day course to help you build a more motivated and aligned team in his videos.
“Those who watched a video all the way to the end and then sign-up for a 3 day free course are much more likely to stick around on my list and read my emails. Those who grabs a simple PDF are much more likely to just click unsubscribe or ignore my emails but stay on my list (which is arguably worse)” – David Burkus
David makes his main pitch for the course at the very end of the video on his end screen. Any video creator who has delved into their Youtube analytics will know that it’s normal for people to drop off and stop watching at various points in a video, so only the most engaged viewers (the ones David wants on his email list!) will be sticking around to see the end.
Focussing on courses as content upgrades and promoting those courses at the end of a video has enabled David to build a list of loyal subscribers that actually open and read his emails.
Jess helps her viewers plan their trips to London (complete with suggestions of off-the-beaten-path restaurants and stores to visit). Her main opt-in incentive – A London 101 guide with everything a first-time visitor needs to know before their trip – has been downloaded more than 45,000 times.
With years of experience answering her viewer’s questions, Jess knew that this guide was exactly what her audience needed and she promotes it in many of her videos.
The 101 guide appeals to a new viewer right away, so even if a video is the first a viewer has ever seen on her channel, they’re still likely to download the guide.
The majority of the traffic to this guide has come from YouTube, and as Jess notes “video builds trust much quicker than any other medium”. So once someone has seen Jess on camera, they’re more likely to trust the quality of the content in her guide and input their email address to download it.
Matthew is a hyperlapse/timelapse photographer. He’s found the most successful way to get his YouTube viewers to join his email list has been through his educational content.
Someone watching a tutorial video is there to learn and by offering them an asset there will help his viewers further their learning by Matthew providing a ton of extra value.
He’s tried out both simple PDF tutorials and more complex ebooks as opt-in incentives. By investing the time into creating his Basics of Timelapse ebook, he’s able to promote it on any piece of timelapse content to get it in front of more people (and fun fact – this landing page has a whopping 87% conversion rate!).
The great part about using YouTube to build your email list is that YouTube itself is a search engine.
The content you produce for it (and the opt-in incentives you promote in that content) can be evergreen and get more and more viewers every day as people search for the information you’re sharing.
That’s why it’s worth putting the effort into creating a great incentive and landing page, and promoting it at the right points in your videos. You don’t have to post a link to the opt-in regularly as you do on other social media. The effort you put into your video and incentive will continue to pay off for years to come.
Create a free ConvertKit account today and start building the landing page that you’ll promote in your next video.