Over the last couple of years I have built several large email lists in different markets.
I built one email list targeting students to 10,000+, one email list in the fitness market to 10,000+, one list targeting car owners to 6,000+ and a few smaller lists.
At the time of writing this post, I have 26,004 subscribers in my Aweber account and this is after deleting a couple of lists that I’m not using anymore.
To this day, all of these email lists were built:
- without guest blogging
- without any affiliates
- with hardly any SEO traffic.
Instead they were all built using profitable advertising campaigns.
In this blog post I will cover 7 key lessons from building large email lists.
Lesson 1: Email and My First $1,000+ Day
There are different ways you can build “assets” online that you can use to generate revenues and communicate with your audience.
Google rankings, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, guest posts on other blogs. The more of these assets you have the better.
But the problem with many of them is that they can be wiped out in a day. A little tweak to Google’s algorithm or a Facebook news feed change can have a huge effect on your business.
The solution is to build an email list of people who know and trust you and your business.
1. No one can take away your email list.
2. Email allows you to communicate with your audience for free.
3. Even though we all receive a lot of emails, it’s still the most efficient and direct communication channel to your audience.
So while it’s nice to have lots of Facebook fans and Twitter, ultimately email is where it’s at!
I learned this years ago in college when I had my first $1,000+ day by sending out one email to my list.
Lesson 2: The *Slow Way* To Grow Your Email List
There is only one way that is worse than the *slow way* to build an email list and that is to not build one at all.
In case that’s you, throw up a opt-in form on your website as soon as possible and offer something of value to your visitors.
What do I mean by the *slow way* to grow your email list?
It’s the way most bloggers approach list building.
You start writing articles and promote your content. Eventually, you put an opt-in form on your blog saying something along the lines of “Get Free Updates”.
You then, very slowly, start getting people to opt-in to your list. A few years later you might have a sizeable email list.
That approach works if you are happy to wait that long. Maybe your blog is a hobby and you are just writing for fun.
But if it’s a business you need to look at ways to scale this whole system and here’s how to do it. The next couple of lessons are about setting up this kind of system.
Lesson 3: The Value of An Email Lead
In order to grow your email list fast you first need to do some simple math to know how much an email lead is worth to you.
When I sell to my email list of car owners I make about 30 – 40 cents per subscriber for every promotion I sent out.
When I sold digital guides to students I made about 20 cents per subscriber for every promotion I sent out to my subscribers.
And in the fitness market these values tend to be lower again.
Either way, markets where your revenue per subscriber is a bit lower are also markets where it’s generally cheaper to buy advertising.
You can easily track you revenue per subscriber when you send out a promotion to your list.
Just wait a few days and track the revenue that the email generated. Then just divide the revenue by the number of subscribers to get the revenue per subscriber.
Of course this is just the revenue from one promotion. So the value of an email lead is generally several multiples of that figure.
In a recent talk Ryan Deiss talked about his goal to make an average of $1 per subscriber per month. So for every 1,000 subscribers you could be making $1,000 per month.
Obviously this depends a lot on the market and how much you promote. These are two variables you need to figure out before you can really scale your list.
Lesson 4: Understand Your Conversion Rates
The other metric you need to know inside out is the conversion rate from visitors to subscribers.
This will vary based on your traffic source and also based on the page your visitors land on. Dig into your Google Analytics data and find out which traffic sources convert the best.
Google, Facebook and Twitter are most likely generating a lot of traffic.
For each traffic source check which page on your website gets the most traffic.
Once you have a list of pages that attract a lot of traffic on your website you can work on creating more content similar to what is working well for you.
You can also start reaching out to other websites that are referring targeted traffic to you and run ads or propose a joint venture.
Lesson 5: Promote Your Best Content
Both Facebook and Twitter are great advertising platforms for bloggers and businesses. You can get low-cost, targeted traffic on both platforms and they are not picky in terms of the landing page you use (compared to Adwords).
Let’s assume your Google Analytics account shows that you are already getting some traffic from Facebook.
As a next step check which pages on your website convert best for Facebook traffic. Based on this list of pages you can run a promoted post campaign on Facebook.
With a bit of optimization it’s easy to get targeted traffic for 10 – 20 cents per click, even in the US and UK. For other countries the figures can be much lower.
That means if you convert 10% of your visitors from Facebook you are generating new email leads for just $1 per lead.
For most markets an email lead is easily worth $1 and often much more.
Lesson 6: Increase Conversion Rates
The best way to increase your opt-in conversion rate is by giving visitors what they want (or what they think they want).
There are several ways to find out what your visitors want.
First, you can ask your visitors. Just add an email to your autoresponder asking people about their biggest problems in your market.
You’ll be surprised about the answers. Over time you’ll see trends and you get a feel for your prospects problems.
You can then use their language in your opt-in form and create a free email course to address these problems.
Second, split test what works best. People don’t always know what they want so you can find out by just testing it!
In order to do this just create a subscribe page on your website and split test different versions of the page. Make sure your opt-in offers are as different as possible.
Third, you can change your opt-in offer based on the landing page on your website.
For example you might have a website about the Paleo diet. On the website your Paleo recipe article might get a lot of visits. If your opt-in form below the article says “Get Free Updates” you won’t get a lot of subscribers.
However, by customizing the opt-in angle on that particular page to say “33 Free Paleo Recipes” you will boost your conversion rate from the same traffic and capture more subscribers.
Lessons 7: Build A Long-Term Marketing Funnel
Once a person gets added to your email list you should consistently provide value and build a relationship with them.
When you consistently provide value your subscribers won’t mind if you are promoting your own products and other people’s products regularly.
The longer your marketing funnel the more you can afford to pay for new subscribers.
If you have an autoresponder sequence of 100 emails mixed with valuable articles and promotions, it’s much easier to pay more for advertising campaigns and buy more traffic for your website.