By Neil Patel
Every business owner eventually experiences growth stagnation.
It can happen with sales. And it can happen with your email list.
I’ve been there.
You feel stumped.
Your email list isn’t growing.
What can you possibly do to kick yourself out of this rut?
Well, the exciting news is, you’ve got several options.
Some of them are a fresh take on conventional list-building strategies. Others require you to think outside the box.
In this article, I’ll lay out the most effective techniques for you. You’ll walk away with a step-by-step plan to ramp up your email list.
Before we get into these strategies, I’ve got some crucial advice.
It is imperative that you block and tackle.
What does that mean?
When you’re trying to overcome a period of stagnation in business, it’s important that you put all your energy towards getting out of that rut.
Block a 30-60 day window on your schedule, and tackle only list building during that period.
Building an email list is fundamental to the success of your business.
The relationship you’ll nurture with your subscribers will determine the revenue-generating power of your business.
In fact, the average email marketer sees a 94% return on investment.
The strategies you’ll learn in this article will allow you to put your list building on autopilot. It means the time you take to focus on this one thing will be time well spent.
Let’s jump in.
1. Discover your lead magnet opportunities
It doesn’t matter what list-building strategy you’re using. It doesn’t matter which audience you’re targeting.
All list-building roads lead to your lead magnet.
Nobody will give you their email address without receiving an attractive offer in return.
With that said, the first step is to pick out incentives your target audience would want.
Put these steps into action to determine what that is.
Step #1: What does your audience want?
Think about the ultimate result. If you double-down on their biggest pain point, this won’t be difficult to come up with.
Step #2: What is your overarching solution to helping them get what they want?
Think about the big picture.
For example, if you’re a business coach, your ultimate goal may be to get your clients to bring in more sales and greater profits.
Step #3: What are the small steps required to deliver that ultimate solution?
In keeping with the example above, the small steps can be:
- build an email list
- have a content marketing plan
- launch a product
- set up evergreen sales funnels
- hire a virtual assistant
Your best free content lies in these small steps.
It will help you create an offer your audience wants. It will also ensure you give away something that will give them an immediate win.
This is super important for lead magnets.
You want subscribers to consume the content, implement it, and achieve a positive result.
Now that you have an idea of what your audience will benefit from, it’s time to create something concrete.
2. Create your free incentives to attract your ideal audience
I’ll cut to the chase.
Four strategies work exceptionally well.
Strategy #1: Pick out your top performing posts and create content upgrades.
Content upgrades are quickly becoming the gold standard for list building.
Brian Dean boosted his conversions by 785% using content upgrades.
Here is how to do that:
Let’s say you write a post “How to Write Blog Posts That Rank on Google’s First Page.”
You can create an “SEO checklist” as a content upgrade and place it within your blog post.
Here’s an example:
The chances of someone signing up to receive this upgrade? Sky high.
It adds to the value of your post as it gives readers a valuable resource to implement what you just discussed.
Strategy #2: Create a brand-specific lead magnet
This is an incentive that stands on its own.
It’s not tied to any piece of content, and it should have a mass appeal.
I don’t mean that it must be geared towards everyone on the Internet. But people in your target market should be attracted by your brand-specific free offer.
Here are some examples:
- an email course
- a challenge
- a resource library
- an ultimate guide
- a Facebook group or other online community
- a content series, e.g., a video series or a blog post series
- a toolkit
Strategy #3: Create a lead magnet that prepares your customer for a purchase
Most people talk about the first two strategies. But many leave out the most important one.
You must have a lead magnet that is connected to your premium offers.
This applies to a physical product, a service, or an informational product.
This type of a lead magnet is often (not always) smaller and quick to consume. This way, you give subscribers an appetite for your paid product.
For physical products and software, it’s easy to come up with an incentive. You can give away a coupon code, a free trial, etc.
Like Curology does:
Here’s a good rule of thumb for info-products and services:
- your free content can give away the “Why” and the “What”
- your paid content can be geared towards the “How”
Let’s look at an example from Jeff Walker.
He offers a premium program that helps entrepreneurs launch a product.
It’s called Product Launch Formula.
His free incentive is a “Launch workshop,” which is directly tied to his paid product.
And that’s what I mean by preparing your customer for a purchase.
This is a smart way to build a warm list of potential buyers.
Strategy #4: Create a promotional lead magnet
The last technique is to run a promotion.
This is where you use a giveaway to accelerate your list building.
When you implement this well, it works wonders. But I’ll admit: it isn’t my favorite strategy.
For one, it isn’t evergreen.
This isn’t something you can set and forget.
You run your promotion for a particular period. During that time, you have to market your giveaway aggressively and manage it closely.
After your promotion has run its course, that’s it. It has no use to you anymore.
Here’s my advice:
- run giveaways sparingly;
- make sure you can execute them well because promotions can easily flop;
- give away something that closely aligns with your premium offers.
Which of these four strategies should you focus on?
All of them.
The days of one lead magnet are gone.
Of course, you don’t have to create all of them at once. That takes time.
But aim to have each of these types of incentives in your arsenal.
3. Design your website to convert
You’ve come up with your lead magnet ideas, and you’ve created them.
It’s time to ensure your website visitors have every opportunity to grab these free resources.
This is not about designing your site from scratch or spending big bucks on web design.
You simply want to ensure that your web traffic is directed to your incentives.
A few tweaks will do the trick.
Here are my recommendations.
1. Place your brand-specific lead magnet above the fold of your website
Above the fold is the upper half of a website page.
It’s that section that a web visitor sees without having to scroll down.
The premise is simple.
You have a few seconds to grab your visitors’ attention. If your primary goal is to collect leads, the first thing users should see is an opportunity to sign up to your email list.
Here’s an example from Blogging Wizard:
Here’s another example:
2. Create high-converting landing pages for your lead magnets
Every standalone lead magnet needs a landing page. (This rule doesn’t apply to content upgrades.)
If you decide to run list-building ads, you’ll need this asset. If you want to direct your social media traffic to your lead magnet, it will also come in handy.
Let’s talk about the anatomy of a solid landing page. It needs to have:
- a primary headline
- a secondary headline or subheading
- a descriptive statement
- benefits in bullet points
- an image of your lead magnet
- minimal form fields (two fields maximum)
- a call to action
- social proof (if you have it)
- a snippet about you and an image (optional)
I know. Most landing pages don’t include all these elements.
That’s why they don’t work.
I recommend including everything listed above, but if you have to choose, the first seven will do the job.
3. Every time you run a promotion, feature it above the fold
When you decide to run list-building promos, you need to capitalize on that prime real estate.
As I referenced earlier, giveaways require lots of marketing. The more exposure you can get, the more successful you will be.
Just replace whatever is above your fold at the moment with something related to your promotion.
Like in this example:
4. Include opt-in forms in three to seven different places on your site
Apart from landing pages and feature boxes above the fold, you need to have opt-in forms elsewhere on your site.
Why three to seven?
Well, two is not enough to get the job done.
In marketing, there’s this rule that says prospects need to hear your message seven times before it sticks.
Only then will they take action.
I’ve analyzed several of the top sites in various niches. They all have many opt-in forms in that range.
I don’t know what your results will be. You can test it.
In any event, one thing is for sure: the more opportunities you have for web visitors to opt in to your email list, the faster it will grow.
And that’s what you want.
Here are some ideas where you can place these additional opt-ins:
- within your blog posts
- in your sidebar
- in popups
- on your About page
- in your main navigation
- in your footer
4. Keep creating high-value content on a consistent basis
At this point, you’ll start seeing an improvement.
Why am I so sure?
If you create lead magnets your audience wants and optimize your site for conversions, you’re achieving two things.
First, you have a foundation to scale your list building efforts.
Second, you are capitalizing on the traffic you’re already receiving.
That combination alone will make a difference. But let’s see how you can ramp it up.
Content is crucial at this stage.
There are three types of content I recommend.
1. High-value blog posts with content upgrades
In the second step, we talked about the importance of blog posts with content upgrades.
However, you were working with existing content.
You have to keep publishing valuable posts on a weekly basis. If you can create a content upgrade for each article, definitely do that.
What’s the ideal publishing frequency?
That depends on your niche and your audience.
I’ll tell you one thing.
You don’t need to post daily. Consistency is what matters.
One post a week is enough to see results with your list building.
You may have noticed webinars are in vogue these days.
And with good reason.
It’s a fresh way to deliver value to your audience.
It’s especially powerful for list building because it’s gated content. People have to sign up to your email list to attend.
Here’s the thing though.
Webinars are a strategy into itself. It takes preparation, the right tools, and robust marketing to make it a success.
But it’s worth it.
Webinars typically run about 60 minutes. It means you’ll need lots of content to work with.
The great news?
This content is typically evergreen and can be repurposed into blog posts or social media posts.
3. Social media content
There’s no better source of free traffic than your social media profiles.
I recommend focusing on one main platform where your audience hangs out.
Post consistently. Build an engaged community. And direct that social traffic to your main site.
There’s no dancing around this fact: email list building is central to the success of an online business.
Make it a priority.
Periods of slow growth are commonplace and shouldn’t be a problem. What matters is what you do to get yourself out of the lull.
When it comes to increasing the number of your subscribers, you aren’t short on options.
Follow the strategies I’ve laid out in this article.
If you implement them, you’ll start seeing an increase in your email list sign-ups almost immediately.
Which list-building strategies have worked the best for you?