So you’ve got your blog up and running! Now you’re probably thinking about some of the other actions you could take to be a success with this blogging thing. One of those actions is an email subscriber list. But how do you build an email list from scratch?
You’ll find all kinds of information out there telling you how to grow your subscriber list. What if you’re a new blogger just trying to get things figured out. You’re not a business with a big budget or you’re not the blogger with 50,000+ monthly pageviews. What about the new person just trying to get that first subscriber to their blog and get some momentum over their first few months?
You’ve come to the right place. I’ll walk you through some tried and true tactics for a new blogger launching their website. We were able to grow our email subscriber list to nearly 500 subscribers in 6 weeks! Let’s get started on how to build an email list for you!
Why Should You Build an Email List?
Don’t let me tell you, listen to the professionals. Three-quarters of companies agree that email offers “excellent” to “good” ROI. (Econsultancy, 2016) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics). Email is 40x more effective at acquiring new customers than social media.
Simply put, if you plan on eventually promoting anything on your new blog, building an email subscriber base will offer the best conversion rate for your products. Now for 7 tactics to help build an email list.
Tactic #1 | Content Marketing 101
Content marketing is a key strategy of business big and small. What is it? Simple – you create something relevant and valuable for your target audience and give it away for free.
Yeah, that sounds a little painful doesn’t it? Why would I give something away for free that I could charge for right? You need to think long-term here. The goal is to build a valuable base of subscribers that you can market your products to in the months and years to come. The return will be 10 fold (or more) on your efforts of creating free content. Still with me? Good!
Tactic #2 | Relevant and Valuable Content
Remember the words relevant and valuable from the definition of content marketing? Adhere to this when you develop your free content.
Relevance is absolutely essential. Why? You want to build a subscriber list of people in your niche. It does you no good to build a subscriber list of 1000 people with 100 people in your target audience. Relevant content will attract the people you want to speak to and promote to in the future. Make your content fit your niche.
Make your free content valuable. Remember, you’re trying to get new subscribers from a relevant target audience here. If you want them to pull the trigger make the offering valuable as well.
Our blog target audience is homeschool moms. Our example of relevant and valuable content involved designing a school planner for moms that homeschool their children. We spent 30 hours building the content – it was 27 pages of material to help them plan their school and home schedule.
Keep one idea in mind when you build your strategy to grow subscribers…quality subscribers over the quantity of subscribers.
Tactic #3 | ConvertKit Email Marketing
Sign-up with a service to manage your subscriber list. I promise, you won’t regret this step. You have some free services out there but you get what you pay for folks. We went with ConvertKit after researching the different options. I liked the functionality of the service, the user-friendly design, and the free trial to check it out. I’ll share some of the features with you.
ConvertKit offers new bloggers lots of room to grow on their entry-level plan (up to a 1,000 subscribers).
Customization of opt-in forms is also easy with ConvertKit. You can design opt-in forms to place on your site in 3 different versions. The fancy modal form that moves down the screen with the visitor, an embed option you can place anywhere on your site (within the post or sidebar), and a slide-in from the side.
Another slick feature is the email broadcasts and sequencing you can send to subscribers. The automation processes from ConvertKit create a personal feel to your email marketing. Building a relationship with your new subscribers is a critical piece to long-term conversion. A feature I like from the email broadcast functionality is the report. You can quickly see on the report all the key stats you care about. How many people opened your email? What links were clicked? Did anyone subscribe to your newsletter?
One other useful feature is the ability to resend the email to people who didn’t open it. When you select this option your taken to screen where you can customize the message a bit before re-sending.
When you subscribe to ConvertKit the next step is to install the free WordPress plugin. The plugin will allow you to designate which opt-in form appears on each page or within each post. Love this! You can also assign a tag to each post using the ConvertKit plugin. This will allow you to segment your readers for email marketing that’s highly targeted in the future.
Our plan was to create a landing page with ConvertKit. We wanted to personalize the experience around our giveaway and focus the visitor’s attention on one task – subscribing to our blog! Research shows that landing pages increase conversion rate by 50%! Using a blog post or homepage to gain subscribers can be distracting with all your other content, ads, links, etc.
Tactic #4 | Incentive Download
This step is easy. Use the landing page you just created and attach your incentive. ConvertKit makes this step easy during your landing page design process. You can customize what happens when someone subscribes to your newsletter.
We used ConvertKit to host our landing page and deliver the incentive to our new subscribers. The setup was easy. We also customized the other steps of the new subscriber process by personalizing the message (see below) they received upon subscription.
Tactic #5 | Create Opt-In Forms to Complement Landing Page
The landing page is going to be your best avenue for gaining new subscribers but don’t let other options be wasted.
Our plan was to also create an in-line form to be placed in the sidebar and at the end of posts. We also made a modal form that would appear when a visitor scrolled through 50% of a page or post. Although these options were less effective, we did pick up some subscribers with these forms. Leave no rock unturned!
Tactic #6 | Promote Your Giveaway
If your blog is new like ours, no one will know about your great giveaway unless you promote.
Our goal was to promote our homeschool planner giveaway through a Facebook promotion and Pinterest. The Facebook promotion consisted of making an advertisement using Facebook Ads Manager. We ran the promotion for 2 weeks to jump-start the process.
Our Pinterest promotion consisted of 4 pins we created. Each pin was placed on 10 different group boards and rotated on a weekly basis using Boardbooster. We also used Tailwind Tribes and placed the 4 pins with 15 different tribes.
The Pinterest promotion was free. We spent about $3/day for 2 weeks on the Facebook promotion.
Over a 6 week time period we added 426 new subscribers to our blog! That’s an average of 71 a week. Although these numbers may not wow a long time blogger, these are pretty solid results for a new blog. If our pace continued we’d be looking at nearly 1,000 subscribers in our first 3 months. Not bad.
Some other important takeaways. The landing page had a conversion rate of 40% compared to 1.1% for the modal (moves down the page with the visitor) and 0.2% for the in-line form (placed in sidebar in at end of post). Bottom line – the landing page conversion rate was exceptionally strong! If you want to build your subscriber list I highly recommend making a landing page part of your overall strategy.
Don’t ignore putting other types of opt-in forms on your page though. Even though the conversion rate for the modal form was low, the absolute number of new subscribers was still 142!
Tactic #7 | Send an Email Broadcast to Your New Subscribers
Once you’ve run the promotion for 2 weeks you’ll probably have a nice start to your subscriber list. Don’t take these new subscribers for granted. Begin building your relationship with them right away. I recommend a monthly, if not bi-monthly communication approach initially.
ConvertKit allows you to create email sequences for new subscribers. This is a topic for a future post but in a nutshell, the email sequence allows you to automate email communication. You can create a series of emails that go out at specific times to new subscribers. Talk about easy and efficient!
Two more points on email communication.
One, If you’re including links to posts or some other clickable content in your emails, pick your time to send the email wisely. Here’s a stat to emphasize this point from HubSpot. 11 a.m. ET has the highest click-through rate for email sends. (HubSpot, 2015) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics). Enough said.
Two, make sure your email content is responsive and formatted with the mobile user in mind. Two-thirds of emails are read on either smartphones or tablets. (Marketing Land, 2015) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics).
Go Build Your Subscriber List
Our new blog has only been around a couple of months. I’m excited about the ease with which we were able to create subscriber opt-in campaigns with ConvertKit. The results have been fantastic when you consider our overall blog traffic at this point in time.
I’m also sold on the landing page as a medium to convert new subscribers to our blog. At first I didn’t connect with the idea of why a landing page would be different from using a blog post, but now I’m a believer. The simple difference seems to be the focus on your free content minus the distractions that can present on your blog or home page. I can’t argue with the results!
Best of luck on building subscriber lists for your new blog! I hope that some of the tactics here will be useful to you. Please also share your ideas.
What successful tactics have you implemented to build an email list for your blog?