10 Tips How To Grow Your Email List 10 Times Bigger

By azfar on November 20, 2015

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how to grow your email list

Getting people to willingly opt-in to your email list is a very tricky business. Back when we first started content marketing about half a year ago, we barely have any clue on how to do it.

Like most other marketers, our main method of enticing people to subscribe is by using squeeze pages in form of exit pop-ups, as well as giving away blog offers.

We A/B tested a lot of stuff – from giving different kind of freebies, writing different type of messages and even the squeeze page layout.

While not exactly raking in tens of thousands of subscribers a month, we did manage to multiply our opt-in ten times the amount we get when we first started. Conversion rate almost quadrupled, from an average value of 1.48% up to 5.71%!

So here’s some of the tips how we manage to achieve those figures:

1. Give Unique Blog Offer

Giving away free downloadables in exchange of an email address is a bread and butter opt-in technique. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. To increase the effectiveness of your offer, it have to be related to the reader’s’ current interest.

Using the same offer on all blog post yield very low conversion rate.

Using the same offer on all blog post yield very low conversion rate.

When we first started we only have a couple of them so we gave out the same E-Book for every blog post. As you can imagine, the conversion rate is abysmal. We barely convert even 3% of our traffic from our subscribers!

Unique Blog Offer are products created exclusively as a tie-in to a blog post.

Unique Blog Offer are products created exclusively as a tie-in to a blog post.

That’s when we decided to switch to unique blog offers. It doesn’t have to be a 30 page E-Book each time as long as it’s related to the article and deliver value to the visitor.

Giving offers unique to each blog post drastically improved conversion rate.

Giving offers unique to each blog post drastically improved conversion rate.

The results is simply astounding – some of our unique blog offer even managed to get up to 50% conversion rate!

2. Freebies works better than opt-out message

A trend among marketers is to make use of crafty and witty opt-out message (also known as negative CTA) on exit pop-ups – You either accept the proposal or risk going on a guilt trip (or worse, feeling stupid) by declining. It seems like a bold technique and since even the top dogs are using it, it has to be effective!

You are either with us, or against us!

You are either with us, or against us!

We tried it out and pit it against our regular E-book download opt-in to see how it fares. The opt-out message does converts at a rate of 2.34%, but it’s not as good as the E-book pop-up which gets 3.9% conversion rate.

So we concluded that while crafty opt-out messages does work, giving away free downloadables still works better.

3. Use Testimonial

One of the most important part of a successful squeeze page is its presentation. You can have the best E-book as an offer but nobody will opt-in if you don’t present it well.

Needless to say the title and the message is important. But one of the most effective way of presenting an offer is by supporting it with user testimony.

Displaying testimonies from satisfied users can instil confidence in others.

Displaying testimonies from satisfied users can instil confidence in others.

Testimony from satisfied users can illustrate the benefit they gain from an offer. It also serve as a proof that people does actually find value in the offer.

You can easily acquire testimonies by letting your peers test an offer and give their honest opinion on how they found it useful. You can also get feedback from readers in the comments section or social media to replace a more generic copy you have initially.

4. Be benefit-oriented

It’s easy to fall in the trap of getting excited with your offer that you just can’t help but to boast about how well-made and complex the offer is.

Features, while might sound impressive and shows the effort put into the creation of a product, is not as relatable to the prospects as compared to the benefits they can gain from using it.

The article talks about content promotion and the offer helps the readers in doing it.

The article talks about content promotion and the offer helps the readers in doing it.

To take it to yet another level, it’s important to address the benefits to specifically solve certain problems the readers are having. You can even set it up in your contents – teach your readers something beneficial and give the tools to help them achieve it.

5. Be actionable

While focusing on the benefit is important, another aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked is to make them actionable. It means that your offer should include steps necessary for the readers to act upon in order to achieve the benefit.

The steps needed to achieve the advertised benefits should be well within the capabilities of the target audience.

The steps needed to achieve the advertised benefits should be well within the capabilities of the target audience.

An actionable piece of offer should include 3 main features:

  1. Clear instructions – It’s important to understand the level of understanding of the users and make sure to give clear instructions while keeping them brief.

  2. Practical – The core feature of an actionable offer is to ensure that the users are capable of executing them. It’s meaningless to advertise a benefit that requires the user to sacrifice an arm and a leg to achieve.

    A practical offer should take into consideration constrains of the target audience like budget, tools and manpower. Avoid giving big corporate solutions if you are targeting small business owners.

  3. Expected results – Give a realistic target for the users to achieve within a certain period of time. This allows them to measure whether they are successfully following the steps.

6. Present multiple squeeze page

Another useful trick to increase opt-in rate is by displaying more than just one squeeze page. At first we only displayed just one squeeze page at the end of each article.

Adding an extra opt-in inside the contents can also increase conversion rate

Adding an extra opt-in inside the contents can also increase conversion rate.

Including an extra squeeze page in the middle of an article proves to increase opt-in rate. This is quite a popular tactic, widely used by influencers such as Neil Patel and CoSchedule.

7. E-book performs better than the average offer

Although I mentioned that an offer doesn’t have to be a huge E-book with tens of pages each time, we found out that E-books does perform much better than the average offer. Of course, like what’s stated in point number 1, you have to use the ones related to the article it’s displayed on.

You can start with creating an offer first, then plan your articles around it.

You can start with creating an offer first, then plan your articles around it.

Instead of writing E-books to be given as offer for an article, you can also do it the other way around. Start with writing an in-depth E-book, and then break the points into several parts and plan your article based on those parts. That way, the E-book can be reused multiple times as offer in several articles.

8. Reduce entry barrier

We always strive to keep our opt-in process as simple as possible.

We always strive to keep our opt-in process
as simple as possible.

Giving up your email address already takes a lot of consideration. The least you can do is to reduce barriers that might make it harder for your visitors to opt-in. Among the examples of things that might make your visitors stumble along their way to opt-in:

  • Having to fill up too many information – Do you really need the user’s first name, last name, home address and the name of their first pet? Having to fill all these extra information can be quite inconvenient and some users just can’t be bothered.

    To be fair some of the information might be useful. For example, getting names will help personalize emails you send to your subscribers. But there’s no need to be greedy.

    Your first priority should be to seal the deal as quick as possible and in that case, securing just the email would suffice. You can always get the rest of the details later.

  • Getting too many redirects – Signing up shouldn’t punish your visitors by sending them through multiple different pages just to complete the registration. Some marketers do this to increase the exposure of their other products or even getting sales right away.

    Again, this is just being greedy. In inbound marketing, building relationship should be prioritized over pushing out sales. Make it easy for them to start and slowly approach them later.

  • Multiple verification requirement – Email verification and Captcha can be useful to prevent spam and build quality leads. But overusing them will just annoy your visitors away.

    While you might not want ditch them all together, it helps if you choose only one to be implemented. Instead of making Captcha’s mandatory for every attempt, set them to show up only once every little while. This will both help protect your list as well as making it less annoying to your visitors to opt-in.

9. Simple versus complex design

There’s a lot of opinion on how should you design your opt-in page. Some thinks that it’s best to create a plain and simple design, while others suggests to make good use of eye-catching colors and flashier design.

So once again, we tried both and put them to the test.

simple vs complex design

And the winner is.. *drumroll*

COMPLEX DESIGN!

Although the differences isn’t really huge (about 20% improvement), it’s enough to settle the dispute.

10. Avoid giving repackaged information as offer

Offers that doesn't give additional information other than the ones already included in the contents tends to under-perform.

Offers that doesn’t give additional information other than the ones already included in the contents tends to under-perform.

An easy way of creating a relevant blog offer out of every article is just by summarizing the key points and wrap them up to be presented in a certain format. For example:

  • Text – Summarizing key points from and article and omitting unnecessary elements.
  • Infographic – Present the key points visually.
  • Checklists – Present the key points with checkboxes to be ticked as the users go through.

While it can sometimes help by repackaging a content in a more digestible form, generally these type of blog offers fares poorly. This might be because there are no added value gained by the readers as they are basically the same points only presented differently. Of course in certain contents, the convenience is something people need, it doesnt make a good all-around practice.

Combining the right article with the right offer can lead to a dramatic increase in conversion rate.

Combining the right article with the right offer can lead to a dramatic increase in conversion rate.

Instead, what is shown to work best are offers that’s complementary to an article. An example is one of our article on Google Knowledge Graph. The article talks about the benefits of Knowledge Graph and the offer teaches how you can get it. This particular offer currently sports a whopping 19.03% conversion rate!

What has worked for you?

All in all this is how we managed to grow our email list. What works for us might not work for you but the key to getting it right is to never stop testing. I certainly hope you’ll find these tips helpful in order to design your own tests or as a starting point.

For us we never stopped testing out new things to improve our current practice. So if you have your own tips and findings on growing your list, do share them!

How To Improve Conversion Rate Using Colors

  • Interesting Facts About Color Psychology.
  • Real Case Scenario Included.
  • Best Color Tips To Increase Conversion Rates!
  • A Complete Guide Every Marketer Must Have!

Updated: 26 July 2017

Azfar Hisham

About Azfar Hisham

A copywriter with previous experience developing computer simulations, managing websites and being the social media guy. Interested in Google Patents, Knowledge Graph and questioning everything.

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