List building is one of the darlings of marketing. And it’s easy to see why… whether you’re a life coach, a yoga teacher, or a sports massage therapist, list building is a must-do task faced by any wellpreneur hoping to harness the power of digital marketing.
As a result, everyone has something to say on the subject.
In fact, there’s so much information out there it can easily be overwhelming.
It’s also problematic (especially if you are only just starting your list) because despite the information overload there aren’t many people providing a really clear plan of attack.
An easily followed, simple, step-by-step strategy for growing an incredibly powerful email list.
Something actionable, that doesn’t require lots of expensive systems and a Masters in online technology.
The reason for this regular absence in quality list-building content is really due to the complexity of the subject.
Building an email list seems like a simple concept doesn’t it? You collect the email addresses of people interested in your business, products, or services and market to them… right?
It shouldn’t be complicated, but it is, because the particular strategy that will work best for you depends on several factors:
- The stage you’re at in your list building efforts. (i.e. Are you starting from scratch, do you have a small list already, or are you at the mega-list stage?)
- The stage you’re at in your business.
- What products and services you have to offer, if any.
- The method by which you deliver those products and services. (i.e. digitally, via post, or at a bricks and mortar business)
- The infrastructure you have (or can put) in place.
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy accommodating all these variables. But there are several essential elements that you’ll require, regardless of your particular business stage and situation.
And actually, when you’re starting out, these essential elements are all you need.
So, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the complexities of list building, follow these five steps and you’ll be growing your email list in no time at all.
For those of you with a little bit of a budget, I’ve included a bonus tip for each step. These points are not essential, but they can be helpful if you’re able and willing to support them financially.
And don’t forget to download your totally FREE List Building Checklist. Simply pop your email in the form at the end of the post and it will arrive in your inbox seconds later!
Step 1: Optimise Your Website
One big mistake business owners make is thinking list building has to wait until their website is perfect. They want a site that does everything, looks fantastic, and magically converts readers with no effort at all.
That’s the dream.
We all want a website like that, but the longer you spend in the world of digital marketing the more you come to understand a simple truth: your website is NEVER finished (or perfect).
Building an all-singing, all-dancing, super-fancy website takes two things in abundance – time and money.
You need to time to understand your business and exactly what you do (and don’t!) need your site to do. Time also allows you to come to fully understand your niche, ideal client, products, services and brand.
If you’re doing all your own web design and development, you’ll almost certainly need time to learn how to do everything. And unless you’re a technical wizard, you’ll need help creating a fancy-schmancy site.
But here’s the thing… When you’re just starting out, expending a lot of time and money on your website isn’t a great use of your (presumably finite!) resources. You won’t get a good return on your investment and, crucially, it’s really not necessary.
You don’t need a posh website to build an email list.
What you do need is a well-optimised website, and that is your first priority.
What Is Website Optimisation?
Simply put, optimising your website means doing everything you can to ensure it’s as easy as possible for your site to fulfil your primary objective.
In this case, the primary objective is growing a powerful email list.
That means making sure there are multiple opportunities on your website for people to sign up to your list. It means ensuring they are highly visible and very enticing. Growing your list is a core function of your website, and the design should reflect that.
Here are some easy ways you can optimise your site without giving yourself a technical headache, or breaking the bank:
- Install a free plugin like Magic Action Box or Mailchimp Forms by Mailmunch that allows you to quickly and easily connect signup forms before or after any blog post or page on your site.
- Add an eye-catching banner image to your sidebar encouraging signups and leading to a form.
- Include a signup in or just below your header and/or in your navigation bar.
If you have a little money in the budget, you might also consider investing in:
- A handy, multi-functional plugin like PopupAlly Pro to create well-placed popups.
- A plugin or service like Thrive Leads to create attractive and effective squeeze and landing pages.
Step 2: Create Epic Lead Magnets (a.k.a. Bait!)
Now your site is fully optimised with lots of little hooks, waiting to catch some nice fat leads for your email list.
But… Trying to fish without bait is an exercise in futility and frustration.
You need at least one very powerful lead magnet to attract as much interest as possible.
What Is A Lead Magnet?
Imagine a huge tub of paper clips. Now imagine dropping it on the floor. You have hundreds of paper clips scattered all over the place. Picking them up one at a time is going to be tedious, time-consuming, and require a lot more of your energy than you can afford to spare.
But you’ve no intention of wasting hours picking up those paper clips one at a time. Instead, you take a big, fat, powerful magnet, and ZAP! The paper clips come running to you.
Now imagine every one of those paper clips is a potential client. Collecting their information without a lead magnet is going to prove about as painstaking and time consuming as you would find picking up each paper clip individually.
You can pepper your site with forms, graphics and excellent ways of signing up to your email list, but the majority of people will ignore it unless something draws them in. Namely, the offer of something of immense value to your ideal client, which you are offering for free.
That’s your lead magnet.
Types Of Lead Magnet
There are many different kinds of lead magnets, some stronger than others. You need one uber-powerful magnet that will kickstart your efforts and really pick up as many of those paper clips as possible.
In business, the most effective form of lead magnet is currently the Mini Course, a series of three to five videos instructing people on something utterly vital and seriously valuable to them.
Mini courses work so well because they combine some of the most powerful aspects of digital marketing: video, auto-response sequences, and actionable content.
Other popular choices for major lead magnets are eBooks, samples of paid products and services, and first-purchase discounts (usually 10-20% off).
To ensure your lead magnet is successful make sure you do the following:
- Research what your Ideal Client wants most (don’t assume you know!).
- Create an epic lead magnet that delivers exactly what your Ideal Client wants while directly linking to the objective you seek. (i.e. If you want to ultimately sell a specific product or service, give people a good taste of what they’d get in the lead magnet.)
- Create a landing or squeeze page for your main optin to demonstrates why it’s so amazing, and connects to your email marketing service provider.
- Set up an auto-responder sequence to deliver your lead magnet, followed by a nurture sequence of more awesome content.
If you have a little money in the budget, it’s well worth advertising your main lead magnet using Facebook ads or other social media sites. You don’t need a large budget – a few pounds a day goes a very long way!
Step 3: Craft Killer (And Consistent) Blog Content
Just as you need bait to entice visitors on your site to subscribe to your list, you also need bait to draw them to your website in the first place. The single most effective way to do this is to create high-value, free content, and make it available on your site consistently.
The use of content to attract visitors and convert them into leads you can subsequently nurture into sales is known as Content Marketing.
Many forms of content can be utilised in a content marketing strategy. The most common forms are blog posts (just like this one), videos (in the form of vlogs, webinars, tutorials and more), and audio content (usually as podcasts).
When it comes to content marketing there are two key things to remember:
- Consistency always trumps quantity.
- Quality always trumps both quantity and consistency.
Consistency Vs. Quantity
Statistically speaking, publishing content more frequently proves to be more successful. It’s also true that long-form blog posts of around 2,500 words (like this one) are the most effective, particularly when it comes to list building and SEO. So there is something to be said for quantity.
That being said, quantity does nothing for you if you’re publishing in short bursts of a lot of content, followed by long lulls where there’s nothing new coming out.
It’s far better to publish new content once a month, than it is to release a new piece once a week for four weeks, and then nothing at all for the next three months.
Figure out how much content you can realistically create, and distribute it evenly. Once a week is ideal, but if you’re not going to be able to achieve a consistent schedule at that pace, don’t try. Cut it to once a fortnight (like I do), or even once a month.
Quality Vs. Quantity And Consistency
Just as it’s more important to be consistent than publish frequently, it’s vital that the quality of all your content is absolutely top-notch.
It’s far better to publish extremely high-quality, high-value, short posts than it is to churn out 2,500 words of waffle, bad advice, or simply boring content.
Likewise, if you find there is a week when you can’t create a piece that’s stellar quality, it’s better to skip the post entirely than publish something terrible.
Yes, you’ll sacrifice your consistency for that week, but it will do less damage to miss a post occasionally than to publish bad posts. (Just make sure it really is occasionally!)
Experiment with different formats for your content. If you record your content in video format you can have it converted into any other forms you need, from written transcripts to audio files and more. The more formats you provide your content in, the more accessible it is and the more likely you are to be found in organic search results.
You don’t have to create all your content yourself! One of the main reasons entrepreneurs and small business owners fail to be consistent and produce high-quality content is the amount of time, skill, creative juice and energy required to create a compelling content marketing schedule.
The good news is, you don’t need to do it all yourself. If writing isn’t your thing, or simply isn’t your priority, outsource your blog content creation to a copywriter and let them work their magic. A good content writer will ensure your content is high-quality and valuable, utterly consistent, and in the quantity you decide is best (not what you have time to do yourself).
Step 4: Upgrade Your Content
We’ve talked about the big lead magnets. Initially, you only need one of these. They take time, effort and a fair amount of resources to create and setup. Over time you will build on them and develop more, but one is a great start.
But if you optimised your website correctly you now have an awful lot of hooks and only one kind of bait.
You know that expression about there being plenty of fish in the sea? Well, at the risk of mixing metaphors, different fish need different kinds of bait.
If you’ve designed your main lead magnet correctly, most of your ideal clients will be falling over themselves to get to it. But what about the ones who aren’t interested? How are you going to catch them?
The answer is deceptively simple: to catch more leads, combine the power of crafting consistent content with everything we know about site optimisation and lead magnets.
Bait Your Blog
In short, every blog post is an opportunity to capture fresh leads and rejuvenate the interest of existing leads in your email list. But not every blog post is going to naturally link to your main lead magnet. The optin forms you’ve placed on each of your posts will work best if they are offering readers something they will definitely be interested in, right there and then.
Content upgrades are smaller lead magnets tied directly to the topic of your blog posts. They should provide readers with more of what they’re already reading. You know they’re definitely interested in that, because they’re reading it. Give them extra valuable information, or a means of easily actioning the content of the blog post. Package it up in an attractive download, and hook it up as an upgrade to the post.
As you do this, you will develop a catalogue of content upgrades. The more posts you create upgrades for, the more upgrades you will have relevant to specific topics. Future posts on the same topics can be upgraded with your existing content upgrades, or with new, updated, expanded, or complementary upgrades.
Here are some popular forms of content upgrades for you to create:
- PDF Printables
- Swipe Files
- Bonus Information
When your library of upgrades is extensive enough, you can start packaging up all the upgrades you have on a specific subject and promoting them as big lead magnets – resource libraries containing multiple forms of content to help people nail every aspect of that topic.
Lead magnets are another aspect of your copy you can easily outsource if you don’t have the time, skills, or inclination to do it yourself. Even if you’re happy writing everything, designing it all might be too daunting or too time-consuming. Getting help from a copywriter and/or designer to create your content upgrades (and even your mega lead magnets) is a great investment if you have the funds available.
Step 5: Drive Traffic
Everything you have done so far to grow your list requires one utterly essential component: traffic.
You need to drive traffic to your website so prospects can read your amazing content, be seduced by your fabulous lead magnets, take advantage of your websites well-optimised format, and signup to your list.
The first four steps were all about putting the various cogs, wheels and gears of your list building efforts into place. Traffic is the juice that charges the batteries, the oil ensuring the whole machine runs smoothly.
You can have the best website, lead magnets, and content in your industry, but if nobody ever finds them, they won’t do you any good. So how can you get more people in front of your lead magnet?
One of the best ways of driving traffic to your site is the use of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Very simply, SEO is the use of keywords and key phrases, relevant to your ideal client and niche, in your website copy.
Which copy? ALL your copy! You can and should optimise everything from static pages, sales pages and squeeze pages, to blog posts, images, and descriptions.
Optimising all your content will ensure people searching for related subjects on Google and other search engine sites will find your content..
It’s essentially free advertising and, when done well, is incredibly powerful.
An offshoot of content marketing is social media marketing, which also relies on consistent, high-quality, valuable content to draw in leads. Whenever you create a new piece of content on your website, you need to share it frequently on your social media platforms.
Repurpose your main content and use snippets of it to create social media posts – tweets, pins, eye-catching memes, quotes, and short excerpts of your blog posts and other content can all be used to entice people from your social media platforms onto your website, and from there, onto your list.
It’s well worth investing in a scheduling app to ensure you’re driving as much traffic as possible to your site through your social media. While there are free versions of this, like HootSuite, some of the paid options have great options available when it comes to repurposing and automatically resharing your content.
Post Planner is my personal favourite for scheduling social media posts on Facebook and Twitter – the recycle button enables you to set your most popular content to run at regular intervals on autopilot so you can essentially set it and forget it. CoSchedule is another great option and offers an all-in-one platform for scheduling and automatically re-sharing all your blog posts and social media content.
Ready To Grow A Powerful List?
If you’re ready to get cracking and grow a super-powerful email list of your own, download my List-Building Checklist now…