The money is in the list.
Email marketing is one of the most lucrative ways to grow your business. Once you’re inside the inbox, you have an enormous amount of leverage with your audience. You’ve built up trust.
And studies show that you can expect about a 3800% return on every dollar spent email marketing.
So let’s talk about how to build an email marketing list. We’ll discuss building the list, monetizing your list, and keeping your user engagement high.
How To Build An Email List
Building your list might be the hardest part of this whole process. Most people do these through annoying popups. You know the type: you’re searching some content on Google, browsing a few web pages and out of nowhere:
Does that make you feel as frustrated as it does me?
I get nothing for joining. They’re even audacious enough to ask me if I love adventure.
We know that opt in boxes are effective because everyone uses them – a good indicator that something works… but how do we build an email list without getting everyone to hate us?
It’s easier than you think.
Mastering The Opt In Box (Without Being A Jerk)
Opt in boxes do work. There’s a reason why every website under the sun uses one of them.
But as with all things, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do them.
Do an opt in wrong and you look like a jerk who’s trying to frustrate people out of their email real estate.
Do it right and your audience will thank you for it.
A good opt in box will help your audience achieve or get something. In internet marketing, we call this a “lead magnet”. Your readers like it, they want it, and they’re willing to give you an email address for it.
There are tons of strategies for developing lead magnets, but here are the two that work the best:
- Offer your readers a bonus on an existing piece of content. In the olden days when Jesus walked the earth, these were often a PDF form of the post. There are better things to offer than a PDF. You want something actionable and easy for your readers to fall in love with. We’ll call this a “content upgrade”.
- Offer your readers a super awesome, super amazing, super fantastic something that they would pay for. The good news is that they don’t have to pay for it; they can get it in their email address for free. These are best used if you have a funnel and sell higher-ticket items later on down the road. We’ll call this a “super lead magnet”.
Of the two of these, the content upgrade will be your staple. It’s the bread and butter of email marketing.
We’ll discuss how to build an awesome content upgrade and then talk about making a super lead magnet.
Quick Note: I’ll be using Constant Contact to build my email list. You can also use them to build your opt in boxes 🙂
Content Upgrades For The Win
A content upgrade is when you offer your readers something that’s “content plus”. If your page is about DIY craft ideas, then a content upgrade would be a video walkthrough for building home furniture (or whatever).
If you’re writing about how to catch big mouth bass, a content upgrade would be a free lure for bass.
The goal here is to take whatever your reader is learning about and upgrade it. Make it bigger, better, and more actionable. You want your content upgrades to be:
- Related to what the viewer is reading now
- Easy to consume (video, audio files, etc.)
The first step to making an awesome content upgrade is to make it related to whatever your viewer is already reading. You don’t have to make these on a post per post basis, but I think that you should at least have a different opt in for every category.
Category level opt ins help you boost your conversion rate and will allow you to segment your audience. This is a big help later when you’re sending out emails or selling products. You already know what each segment is interested in, so you can craft emails or products just for them.
It’s a bit more work on your part, but the payoff can be enormous.
Common content upgrades would be things like:
I found an amazing content upgrade on Healthline. I opened up an article about sweeteners that parents should watch out for. Here’s the opt in box I got:
This content upgrade is brilliant for a few reasons.
- It is related to what I’m reading. I am curious about unhealthy sweeteners, Healthline gives me an option to take a mindful eating challenge
- It’s easy! Look at the wording here. “Free”. “Our Nutrition team will show you how to create lasting, healthy eating habits“. Lasting, healthy habits for free? I’m all in.
- It’s actionable. It’s a challenge: go on this journey with us for 21 days
I can’t see their opt in rate for this, but I’m guessing that it’s pretty significant.
That’s a great opt in. What are the characteristics of a bad opt in?
I did a little digging and found a bad opt in. It didn’t take me long.
This is a bad opt in for a few reasons. First, you can see that it doesn’t offer me much of value.
A Roadie insider? What is that? Why would I want to be one?
The next things they offer me are “exclusive deals and discounts”. I don’t think I’m interested. I’m reading an article about how to tune a guitar. Odds are good that I already have a guitar, so I don’t need deals or discounts.
Second, they don’t offer anything actionable. Since this is an article about guitar tuning, an awesome content upgrade would be a video guide. It would be easy to consume, helpful.
And third, this is unrelated to the content I’m consuming. Nothing here about being a better musician or tuning guitars better. I’ll pass, thanks.
The biggest problem with this opt in is that it doesn’t offer me much value. What does “deals and discounts” even mean? Is that a $10 off coupon once a blue moon? Or is it 50% off a $500 purchase? The difference between those two things is enormous. They need a better value proposition.
Here’s an opt in that is okay. It’s not great, but it doesn’t make me want to bleach my eyes:
The value proposition here is better: saving money on my next trip. That’s pretty appealing. I do love saving money.
But it doesn’t tell me how I’m saving money. Will I be spending less on airfare or will I be swapping a nice Airbnb for a hut in the wall?
It also doesn’t tell me how much I’ll be saving or what I’ll need to do to start saving. A better opt in might be “3 things to say to your airline to guarantee cheaper flights” or something like that.
It’s a fine opt in. But it’s pretty eh. With a clearer value proposition and more actionable content, this could be a killer.
So now let’s look at an amazing opt in:
Woah. Take a look at that copy.
I have no desire to be a profitable Youtube music star, but I opted in anyways. Let’s break this down:
- It’s related to what I’m reading. I was checking out best apps to learn guitar. They know I want to play music, they know I have a technical inclination. I’d rather use my phone than go to an instructor. There are good odds that I’ve seen someone teaching guitar on Youtube and have thought that I’d like to be in their shoes. They know that I’m a “real world independent musician”.
- It’s easy to consume (a free book, nice!) and has a super clear value for me. I could make between $4,077 and $22,573+ per month! Look at those specific numbers.
- It’s very actionable. 5 steps to a profitable music career. What gets easier than that?
That’s an awesome content upgrade.
As mentioned before, you can build these types of content upgrades in Constant Contact. Try Constant Contact free for 60 days, no payment method required
Super Lead Magnets For High Ticket Items
Content upgrades are great at building your email list for pretty general purposes. You want direct traffic, you want affiliate sales, you have a small funnel.
But if you sell big ticket items?
You might need to build a little more trust with your audience. You need to show them that business with you is always a win for them.
The easiest way to build trust and give amazing value is to give something away for free. But this can’t just be anything for free; it has to be something so cool, so awesome that someone would pay money for it.
These “super” lead magnets should be something that most people would pay in the range of $20-$100 to have… and you’re giving it away for free.
The best super lead magnet I could find was on Authority Hacker. They have a course called The Authority Site System that teaches you how to build a 4+ figures per month authority website (check out my Authority Site System review).
Their opt in process looks like this:
First they have a popup that offers relevant, actionable, easy-to-consume content:
And the free training they mention?
It’s an hour and a half long webinar that tells you step by step how to build one of these sites.
No hype, no fluff. It’s an hour and a half of pure value. They give you their strategies for building sites, proof that the methods work, and tell you how to replicate it on your site.
This free training alone is better than some online courses.
And I don’t know their numbers, but I’m going to guess that The Authority Site System sells like hotcakes.
That’s the power of a super lead magnet: you establish trust with your leads. And once they trust you, they won’t have a problem buying from you.
Since these are more difficult to make than a content upgrade, I recommend a super lead magnet if you’re looking at selling your own products. Super lead magnets work well with high ticket items that require a lot of trust beforehand.
Now that we’ve talked about the two types of lead magnets, let’s talk general opt in box strategy.
General Opt In Box Strategy
Best Practices For Opt In Boxes:
- Use pop ups
- Offer something of value
- Make them relevant to what the reader is learning about
- Make it actionable
- A pop up within 10 seconds of a reader landing on a page is about right
- Use content upgrades as your bread and butter
- Use super lead magnets to build trust for high ticket items
Bad Practices For Opt In Boxes:
- Putting them in the sidebar (you won’t convert anyone!)
- Popping up too late
- Offering “tips, tricks, and hacks” or other unclear value
- Making a general opt in for your whole site
Now that you have a strategy for your lead generation, let’s look at what to do once you have the email list.
Monetizing Your Email List
You’ll need to set your opt in boxes to where they send your leads into an email marketing software. I’ll be using Constant Contact to manage my email list. They offer a 60 day free trial, so you can use it for free and follow along 🙂
Use Constant Contact without a payment method
Once you have leads coming in, they’ll show up in the Contacts section. We’ll visit this more in just a little bit.
Let’s discuss making some money with your email list. From the Constant Contact dashboard, you can click on Campaigns on the header menu. You’ll get a screen that looks like this:
This shows you a list of the campaigns you’ve created. Campaigns will include one time email blasts (called “Emails”) and then automated campaigns (called “Automation”). These automated campaigns can be set up to send a series of emails. When a subscriber joins your list, they might get a welcome email, an email after 3 days, an email after 5 days, and so on.
A lot of people in internet marketing use automation to build email funnels and sell their own products or promote affiliates.
The process for creating emails and automations is the same in Constant Contact, so it doesn’t matter which one you choose. Click Create and we’re off to the races.
You first get a screen asking what kind of automation you’re looking to make:
You have plenty of options here (and I discuss them all in my Constant Contact review). But I’m going to go with “Email Automation”. If you just want to send 1 email and not a series of them, click on “Email”.
Constant Contact helps by giving you a few options for your automation:
It’s fine to start with any of these. They’re all just templates and flexible enough for you to adapt them, maneuver your messaging.
I’m going to click Create Automated Series to create my own automation from scratch.
You get to name your campaign and set an initial trigger. your trigger options are:
- When a subscriber opens an email
- When a subscriber clicks a link
- When a subscriber joins a list
These tools are all amazing for setting up funnels. I love the option to send an automation when subscribers click a certain link. It’s great for getting your message to fans who you know are interested in something you’ve mentioned before.
It’s a great tool for funnels.
I’m going to set my trigger as when a subscriber joins a list. This is a good trigger for a pretty standard email list campaign in internet marketing. A subscriber joins, you send them whatever you promised. Everyone is happy.
All that’s left from there is setting up your emails and the time between events.
For most users, I recommend starting with a blank template and then building your email out from there. But if you’re design-challenged (like I am), then starting with a template can’t hurt anything.
Pick your template or lack thereof, write your email, and voila. You have your first automation set up and ready to run.
You can always send out more emails after the first one. Tell Constant Contact how long to wait and create another email:
You can use these to create funnels for your reader. At Niche Pursuits, we have a 10 step course to build a niche website. It all takes place through an email automation when someone signs up to our list.
When your email list gets to a certain size, you’ll begin to notice that some subscribers start to drop off. Maybe they aren’t interested, maybe they just don’t want your emails any more. Whatever the cause, they aren’t interacting like they used to.
Let’s talk about the last important aspect of building your email list: maintaining engagement.
Maintaining Engagement With Your List
We already talked about why opt in boxes should be similar to the content that the reader is consuming: you want to have your list segmented. You want to know what readers and subscribers want from day 1.
This comes in handy with monetization and it comes in handy here. If your list isn’t segmented, it will be almost impossible for you to maintain engagement with your list. You just don’t know enough about them. You don’t know what they want.
You can segment your list at the opt in level with your lead magnets. But you can also segment your following at the list level. This type of list level segmentation will help you to figure out who is/isn’t responding and send them some tailored messages. Constant Contact has a great way of doing this.
From any spot in Constant Contact, click Contacts and then Segments:
And then click Create A Segment.
Now you’re given an option to define what your segment will be. There are several options here. You can define segments based on:
- Were sent
- Did not open
- Did not click
- and were not sent
any certain message or link.
I want to segment my inactive subscribers, so I set my filter to did not open or click any of my last 5 emails:
This will be my subscribers who are pretty much unengaged. If you can find subscribers like this, you can send them special, tailored content. You might could send them a bonus, a discount, or something else that reminds them who you are.
The goal with these subscribers will be to put your brand in front of them again. You want them to memorize who you are and trust what you’re doing.
You could do something similar with your super active subscribers. This might be sending them a care package, giving them a special thanks, or telling them how much they mean to you.
Constant Contact’s list segmentation options will help you to keep engagement high in your list. You can keep your brand front and center so people recognize, trust, and buy from you.
The Email List Of Your Dreams
Building an email list starts by offering something of value and presenting it through an opt in. From there you monetize your list through email blasts or automations. Once you’re up and running, it’s time to maintain engagement by using segmentation to figure out your active or inactive list members.
By Brady Cargle
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