This is a guest contribution from Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com
In every aspect of successful blogging, there are two sides to the coin: the stuff you do on your blog, and the stuff you do outside of your blog.
For example, with search engine optimization, you have on-page SEO (keyword optimization, metadata, internal linking structures, etc.), and off-page SEO (backlinks, etc.).
When building relationships, energy must be focused both on the community of readers and followers on your blog, as well as the other bloggers and authority figures in your niche, outside of your blog.
Even when it comes down to a successful blog post, there’s the work you do to craft a post and publish it, and the work you should do after you publish it to promote and maximize its potential.
When it comes to building an email list, however, there is so much focus on setting it up properly and promoting it internally, that the external factors that can drastically increase the number of subscribers are often overlooked.
If you’ve already set up your autoresponder, offered a lead magnet (i.e. a free eBook or course), and given your readers opportunities both in the sidebar of your blog and at the end of your blog posts to opt-in, you’ve done a great job so far.
You’ve got the internal stuff down pat, but here’s what you can do to utilize stuff outside of your blog to explode your list.
How to Build Your Email List Externally: the Ingredients
First, you’ll need a landing page.
Before starting any type of external list building campaigns, I recommend that you first create a landing page – a page on your blog that has copy, images, and calls to action that specifically encourage people to opt in to your list.
For instance, here's Ana's email landing page for her free Bite-Size Traffic Hacks email series.
We’ll be using this landing page in most of the strategies I outline below.
The reason this is important is because although you can use these strategies to send people straight to your homepage, sending traffic to a landing page instead with one call to action and a clear-cut purpose will yield you far more subscribers.
To take the landing page idea even one step further, I recommend purchasing a nice, quasi-short domain name that forwards to your landing page. Not only does a clean url help when trying to send traffic over in an audio or video format, but it also drives traffic simply because it can pique one’s curiosity.
Alternatively, you can create a custom vanity URL to entice the clicks. For instance, Ana uses tgcafe.it/get-this-free shortened URL for her Traffic Hacks landing page.
To learn how to set up your own custom vanity URL (and drive traffic with it!), read HOW TO: Create Your Own Custom Vanity URL for Branding and Traffic.
Now, here are some external strategies you can use to build your list.
How to Build Your Email List Externally: the Strategies
Build Your List In Your RSS Feed
A significant amount of people enjoy reading content through an RSS feed, which means there are people who are consuming content without ever stepping foot on our sites.
As a result, these people are never given opportunities to subscribe to our lists.
Yoast's WordPress SEO plugin can solve this problem for us. With it, you can add a few lines of text that will only be shown to RSS Subscribers at the end of your post.
Add a call to action to subscribe to your list or download your lead magnet, and you’re all good to go.
Build Your List In The Lead Magnet Itself
It might sound weird to ask people to subscribe to your list or newsletter from the very product they receive after they opt-in, but the truth is this can actually be very helpful.
- Not everyone who sees your lead magnet will have signed up for your list, especially if it’s really good and has been shared and passed around.
- Many people subscribe just to get your eBook or course, and then immediately unsubscribe. If you provide immense value in your lead magnet and then give people an opportunity to subscribe, chances are that a number of people who unsubscribe will be happy to subscribe again.
Have Your Subscribers Do the Work
The most powerful form of marketing is marketing that’s done by others for you.
At the end of your lead magnet, simply ask the reader to share it if they enjoyed it.
You can embed a retweet or Facebook ‘Like’ button, or ask the reader to point anyone who might find it useful directly to your landing page.
Even if they forget and just give away your lead magnet without having their followers opt-in, you’ve got #1 and #2 from above to take care of that for you and funnel those non-subscribers into your list.
Build Your List On Social Media
Note: to not flood Ana’s post with links to my landing page, I’ll be using the text [link] where a link to your landing page should go in the example below.
Using Twitter and Facebook is pretty much a given as far as external strategies to build your list, although make sure to really take advantage of your landing page when possible.
Here are a few ninja tricks I’ve seen being used to grow email lists on these platforms.
The Non-Direct Approach
Here’s a couple masterful pieces of copy that I saw used the other day, which uses a non-direct approach to send people over to a landing page:
What do you guys think of the new eBook cover I used on this page: [link] – Honest opinions only please!
Just added another 5 emails to my autoresponder today. I can’t wait for you to read them! [link]
The Social Proof Approach
If there’s a large number of people doing something, it’s almost guaranteed that just because there’s a large number of people doing it, more people will participate.
Think of a large crowd you see gathered at the mall. You can’t help but wonder what the heck it’s all about, right?
Here are some examples of some tweets and status updates that use social proof to get people to take action:
Yay! eBooks the Smart Way was downloaded 100 times today. That’s a new record! [link]
RT @BrandonEllisTV @Patflynn Best E-Book of 2010! Actionable and High Quality! Keep it up! [link]
Note: all of your retweets should be actual retweets!
The Direct Approach
And of course, there’s the direct approach:
Have you downloaded my free eBook yet? [link]
There is no harm in asking – just don’t overdo it.
The beauty about social media is, the better copy you write and the more value you can provide to your followers, the more viral those tweets and status updates will be and the more reach you’ll have.
Build Email List through Guest Posts
It’s common knowledge that one of the best ways to gain exposure and drive traffic to your site is to guest post on other blogs.
You can include at least one link back to your site in the guest author bio, so why not link to your landing page instead of just straight to your homepage!
Sometimes, the blog owner will allow you to insert two links, in which case you can link to both your homepage and your landing page.
Lastly, because you’ll probably be guest posting on sites that relate to your newsletter or lead magnet, you could possibly drop in a link within the body of the guest post itself (sort of like I did in one of the above sections of this post). A clean url is recommended, and if it’s relevant and provides value to their readers, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
The above strategies can apply to interviews as well.
Build Your List on YouTube and Other Video Sites
Videos are becoming more and more popular these days, especially with how much easier it is to both upload and consume video content.
If you’re not utilizing video, you’re definitely missing out on a huge opportunity to drive lots of targeted traffic to your site and increase the authority you have in your niche.
Here are some tips and tricks that you can use to build your list on video sites such as YouTube.
1. Link to your landing page in your video description.
But not only that, make sure the link is the very first part of your description.
Why? Because a lot of sites will show only the beginning part of the description on the video page, and then hide the rest until you click “more info”.
You want your link to be shown without the viewer having to do any extra work.
(Note: in most video sites, including YouTube, they only allow link to external sites if the link starts with “http://”. An anchor text html link will not work.)
2. Insert a call to action within your video.
At the end of some of your videos, you can simply ask people to go to your landing page (clean urls – yay!) to join your newsletter or get your free eBook or course.
Additionally, you can add a 5 to 10 second piece to the end of your video that only shows some text – a call to action to go to your landing page.
For example: Go to http://www.ebooksthesmartway.com to get your FREE eBook now!
Here's how Ana's done it in one of her videos:
The strategies for videos could easily be applied to podcasts too.
In fact, I get more traffic to my landing page from my podcasts than I do on YouTube. iTunes is definitely a search engine that is underutilized.
Build Your List with Free Webinars
The last strategy I’d like to offer is that of using a webinar to grow your list.
A lot of the top internet marketers are utilizing webinars to promote products and share valuable content with their viewers in an interactive way that just can’t be done through a blog post, a podcast or even a video.
But, not many people realize that webinars are a fantastic way to build your list, especially if you’re promoting your own product and have an affiliate program to go along with it.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say I had a product I was going to sell called Widgets for Parents.
I plan to host a free webinar on GoToWebinar that will give away a lot of valuable content, and at the end offer Widgets for Parents to the viewers, probably for a limited time discounted price.
Before the webinar, I contact the top authorities in the parenting niche – everyone who I have a deep connection with who may have an email list or audience that they would like to promote Widgets for Parents to.
I set each of them up with an affiliate link that links to a webinar registration page, instead of a typical sales page or landing page.
Each of the affiliates promote the webinar to their audience, and because I’ve integrated Aweber with GoToWebinar (I think other email service providers can work too), everyone who signs up automatically gets placed into my own email list.
Even if they don’t attend they have still become a subscriber and my list has doubled or tripled in size.
Futhermore, GoToWebinar can generate a report after the webinar of exactly who attended and who didn’t.
You can then get pretty slick and follow up with those groups of people in whatever way you choose, for example emailing all of the people who did not attend saying there’s a chance to watch a replay of the webinar.
This is a bit more advanced and a lot harder to execute, but I’ve witnessed email lists that grow by the thousands within a single day.
How to Build Your Email List Externally: Marketing Takeaway
You don’t have to use all of theses strategies that I’ve outlined above, but just know that the more diverse you are in your email list building campaigns outside of your blog, the more subscribers you’ll get.
It’s up to you how far you want to go.
Pat Flynn is a passive income whiz who earned $3 million in the last six years by creating authoritative and helpful websites in areas as disparate as passing a green building exam, becoming a security guard, and establishing and growing a successful food truck business. You can find Pat at SmartPassiveIncome.com and on iTunes.