Believe it or not, email is still one of the best ways to reach people directly. You get far better engagement, it’s not as intrusive or obnoxious as SMS marketing or push notifications, and it doesn’t have the limitations in terms of reach of social networks (we all know that it’s become mandatory to “boost” our posts on social if we want to reach all our followers.)
That being said, if you want to grow your blog, you need to get serious about building your email list.
And believe me, for a long, long time I’ve neglected this part, only to realize that email is far from dead, and that growing an email list is a surefire way to keep in touch with your audience.
Now, for the challenging part. How do you grow that list?
That’s why I’ve compiled a list of 21 things to do in order to grow your email list. From the obvious to the subtle, these are the best ways to grow your email list in 2021.
1. Pay for a serious email marketing provider.
One of the best investments you can make in your blog is to subscribe to a serious email marketing provider.
A few things to look for:
- The ability to white label your emails. This means there are no logos anywhere. Why? Because they distract your audience. What do you want them to do? Click on the links you share with them or click on your email marketing provider’s logo? This means that, no, you can’t get away with Mailchimp’s free plan.
- A mobile app. The truth is that you want to be able, at the very least, to check your stats easily, if not to be able to send campaigns directly through your app. A few providers offer a mobile app, such as MailerLite and ActiveCampaign.
- Unlimited emails (or something close to it.) Here’s the deal. Most times, yes, around 5-6 emails per month are more than enough to keep in touch with your audience, but sometimes you’ve got to kind of pester your audience with a couple of emails (this comes in handy especially if you are selling products/services on your blog and want to share a special offer with your readers.)
- Automations. This is a no-brainer. Setting up a welcome sequence for new subscribers, or those who download one of your free downloads, or even setting up an automated sequence for those who purchase a product from your online store, these are all important automations that you must be able to set up.
- Landing page builder. This is a crucial one. You’ve got to be able to design and launch landing pages for your newsletter, lead magnets, and so on.
- Pop-up builder. One of the things that I never liked about Mailchimp, for instance, was the basic pop-up builder. Yes, I know there are plenty of third party tools, but when a platform is priced the way Mailchimp is, it makes no sense to offer the most basic pop-up builder around. So keep this in mind.
- Integrations. You want your email marketing provider to integrate with all your other tools. If you’re on WordPress, check out if they offer a plugin. If you have an online store, see if they offer an integration with your e-commerce provider. These things matter, and it makes sense to have your email marketing provider integrate with all your tools, as it’s going to be your main hub when trying to grow your list.
- Pricing. This is an important one. Especially when you’re just starting out, and you have yet to grow your email list, your email marketing provider of choice has to be affordable, because you aren’t seeing any returns on your investment yet. If you’re paying a hundred dollars or more per month, you won’t feel like email marketing is worth it. Keep this in mind.
2. Offer free downloads.
You might get people to subscribe to your blog if you ask them nicely and add calls to action at the end of your posts, but the truth is that you’ve got to give your readers a strong incentive to sign up to your list.
And you do that by offering them “a lead magnet.”
Like we did with the Article Validation Canvas.
What can you offer people as a lead magnet?
Here are a few ideas:
- Resources and tools
- Email courses (which you can set up as automations)
Of course, there are no real limitations as to what you can offer. If you are selling products/services, you can offer people a discount code for subscribing. Or, if you are into coaching, you might give them a short one-on-one call.
This is when having a landing page builder integrated with your email marketing provider comes in handy. Of course, you can use a third-party platform, such as Instapage or Landingi to help you design more attractive landing pages for your lead magnets.
3. Pop-ups. A bunch of different kinds.
Even though some people find them annoying, there’s nothing that attracts attention like a pop-up.
Here’s what I think to be a smart strategy when it comes to pop-ups:
- Have a pop-up show up right after someone visits your blog and offer them an “irresistible” lead magnet.
- Have an exit-intent pop-up to attract first-time visitors who might give up on your blog before subscribing.
- Set up pop-ups on your most popular articles with a call to action that sounds like this, “Want more of this? Subscribe to the newsletter.”
A few things to keep in mind when setting up pop-ups:
- Keep it as clear and concise as possible.
- Make use of social proof, either by showcasing your total number of email followers, feedback you’ve received, etc.
- Rebrand the subscribe button. I use, “Upgrade my blogging.” You can use something similar.
4. Add a newsletter tab on your social media.
And we’re circling back to item number one on our list, and why it’s crucial to invest in a serious email marketing provider.
Some of the best email marketing providers do offer you this type of integration, allowing you to add a tab on your Facebook page to allow users to subscribe to your blog.
Alternatively, you can add a button on your Facebook page that links to your newsletter opt-in form or landing page.
I believe this is a far better use of that button than, let’s say, directing people towards your store or anything of the sorts.
But what about the other social media platforms?
Well, you can use a platform like Shorby to build a landing page and add all your social media links, links to your blog, and to your newsletter. That solves the age-old issue with “one link in bio” on Instagram, for instance.
5. Add calls to action at the end of your blog posts.
If you want people to subscribe to your newsletter, all you’ve got to do is ask.
Alternatively, however, you can also include such opt-in forms throughout longer articles.
6. Don’t forget about social proof.
While we’ve briefly touched on this previously when talking about pop-ups, the truth is that you can add social proof in your calls to action, on your landing pages, and pretty much anywhere.
Adding a testimonial to your call to action or sign-up form is one of the most powerful incentives you can use.
7. Turn a few articles into “subscribers-only” content.
Much like a paywall, let’s call this one a subscribe-wall, you are offering a select number of articles only to those who subscribe to your blog.
You can even turn the whole thing into a sort of exclusive club.
The price of admission?
Clicking on that subscribe button.
8. Contents and giveaways.
We’re doing this right now. A giveaway I mean. You can check it out here.
There are a plethora of platforms out there that can help you host a giveaway. Gleam is one of the most popular, and they do integrate with most email marketing providers, giving you the option to ask your readers to subscribe directly to your email list.
9. Turn your readers into ambassadors.
Another great way to grow your email list in 2021 is by using a referral software for your newsletter.
While these options can be a bit pricier, and in most cases, especially if you grow your email list to a couple thousand subscribers, can end up costing you more than your email marketing provider, they are guaranteed to help you grow your numbers quite a lot.
10. Host free webinars or office hours.
Another powerful way to grow your email list is by hosting regular free webinars.
Now, the goal is to get folks to subscribe, then offer them enough value (for free) that they don’t feel like they’ve been somehow tricked.
Also, one thing to consider when choosing your platform is to make sure that anyone can subscribe without needing additional software.
A great platform for this is Livestorm.
Also, if you do plan on hosting webinars, and you do have an online store, GetResponse is an all-in-one platform that offers you pretty much everything you need to grow your email list.
Let’s face it. Email is here to stay, and if you don’t get serious about growing your list, you’re going to struggle a lot of get people’s attention when it matters most to you.
Ultimately, each and every single one of these options requires a bit of time, a bit of effort, and a bit of money.
And, in the end, email marketing is well worth a monthly subscription, especially if you are monetizing your blog or plan to do so in the future.
P.S. For over 200 different tools, books, podcasts, and blogs about marketing and growing a blog, an online business, or a SaaS, check out our very own the Art of Marketing.
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