Even in 2019, all marketing roads still lead to email.
In a world filled with:
- Instagram stories
- Facebook ads
- Live Streams
Email still reigns.
If Facebook changes its algorithms (or gets targeted by the feds), email still works. Chatbots may fall to banner blindness, but people will still read certain emails top to bottom. An update to Google could kill your rankings, but it can’t keep you out of your fans’ Gmail inboxes.
Even as new strategies dominate headlines, this one, practically ancient channel has been quietly pouring cash into the bank accounts of savvy business owners for decades.
In fact, according to a study by McKinsey, every dollar put into email gets back 40 times more than Facebook, Instagram, and almost every other marketing channel.
And in the face of advertising platforms that pivot overnight and strategies that fade out, email can be a sturdy pillar to build your business around. That’s why Foundr is thrilled to have Gleam.io co-founder Stuart McKeown show you exactly what email marketing can do, and how to build your list in a few simple steps.
After more than 14 years in digital marketing, Stuart has generated over 2 billion conversions via email. He knows what he’s doing. So we’re very fortunate to have him joining Foundr as the instructor of our new email list-building course.
And today he’s here to share five of his core email strategies in an advice-packed video. Watch Stuart’s advice on how to grow your email list. Then, we’ll break down his points into an action plan for you below.
Step 1: Convert 5x Better by Choosing 1 Platform
Visiting a website today can feel like entering a battlefield where it’s your cursor versus an assault of popups, banners, and chatbots.
For example, I recently visited one of my favorite websites for marketing tips. Within the first six seconds of arriving, I was prompted to opt in to get browser notifications, spin a wheel to win a prize, and like their Facebook page.
It was so overwhelming I just left.
Think about that. I did a search on Google, clicked on this site specifically (because I like their content), and then because I was bombarded with all these notifications about all the possible ways to communicate with them, I bounced.
As Stuart says, “There’s nothing wrong with a good popup.” But if you’re not strategic about what you ask your visitors to do when they come to your site, you risk losing them for good.
So when you’re building your site, you need to pick one clear channel that you’re going to push communication through and get people to do that. For Stuart and many savvy business owners, that channel is email because of the high ROI it provides. And research suggests you should focus your efforts there, too.
Email subscribers can provide some of the highest conversion rates possible, with some studies finding conversion rates of 4.16%. That’s five times social and nearly double search’s conversion rates.
It’s clear that email is a powerful tool. But for it to have power in your business, you need to prioritize it.
Consider this your official permission to focus on fewer channels—and gain more revenue as a result.
Stuart says one of the biggest mistakes he sees is businesses making their email opt-in forms impossible to find. They worry about being invasive or think people should just remember to come back on their own. So they bury their email opt-in forms in the footer or stick it on one lonely page on their site and hope visitors will find it.
This is a big mistake, he says. Even if you create content that people love, they rarely come back to a site on their own.
To realize how true this is, think about your own behavior.
Imagine you want to make gluten-free pancakes for a weekend brunch with your friends. So you do a search and find a recipe you love. How likely are you to ever come back to the site that gave you the ingredient list?
But what if the site offered to give you 15 more gluten-free recipes in a free guide? Then they could follow up with you, tell you about more recipes, and possibly sell you products.
Without collecting your email, they leave that process to chance. That’s why Stuart says you need to put your opt-in forms everywhere you can.
Without being invasive, you can easily place email opt-in forms:
- On the sidebar of your site. And thanks to tools like OptinMonster you can even make this content dynamic to the post that the person is reading.
- Midway through articles. You can offer people the chance to get more resources related to the content they’re reading in the middle of articles, like we do in this very Foundr post!
- At the bottom of posts. You can even have popups triggered based on how far someone has read in an article on your site and offer them more content.
Once you prioritize email and bring your forms out of hiding, then it’s time to figure out how to make people eager to give up their email address.
Step 2. Use the Right Offer and Get 3x More Subscribers
Here’s an example of how NOT to get people to join your email list:
|SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Get FREE updates 7 days a week
Nobody wants to subscribe to a newsletter just to get more email. OK maybe sometimes, but they’ve got to really love your content, and that’s pretty rare.
What people care about is what you can do for them. And if you want to get visitors to join your email list, you need to make it clear what they get by joining.
So instead of saying, “Get Free Updates, try something like, “Download this guide on 3 ways to get 1,000 Instagram subscribers in 7 days.”
The payoff on the second option is crystal clear.
Stuart says he’s seen this simple change result in 3x higher opt-in rates. Which means you get three times more people on your email list just by changing a few words on your opt in forms.
Here are some examples of good offers you can use to incentivize people to join your email list:
- Free training delivered via email. One of my past clients and friends Ryan Robinson has a free course that shows people how to start a blog. Offering a free training like this works really well for an email opt-in offer. In the few short months he’s had it live, more than 91,000 people have signed up for the free training.
- Free guide/report. People love getting bite-sized guides that help them solve a specific problem. For example, Foundr has put together dozens of these guides on finding mentors, doubling your productivity, startup advice, and more.
- Cheat sheets. If you don’t have time to create a full report or training series, brevity can be your strength. I’ve seen people put together quick cheat sheets and get incredible opt in results from it. As long as it’s valuable to your readers, people will appreciate the actionable size of it. For example, if you have a business that teaches people how to take great photos, you could put together a cheat sheet with the best camera gear you can buy for under $100. Something like that takes 10 minutes to create but makes a world of a difference for your opt-in rates.
All these options work incredibly well for getting more people on your list. One thing that Stuart cautions is to be careful about the quality and relevance when making such offers.
Because you don’t want everyone on your list. You want to attract your ideal audience. So don’t just say, “Get $100 FREE!” You might get lots of opt ins if you do. But they’ll probably be junk emails.
So just be cautious of this when you create your bait.
Once you have a great reason why people should join your email list, it’s time to begin growing your list.
Step 3: Get 100 Subscribers Without Spending a Penny
Once you have your bait, it’s time to go fishing. Stuart doesn’t like to overcomplicate things in the beginning. He says don’t start paying for traffic until you know how your email opt-in offer is going to convert.
He recommends starting out by creating content on your own Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook that would attract your ideal customers to your site.
Commit to creating one post a day on a platform of your choosing for 30 days. At the end of each post, you can throw in a short mention of your site. You can easily get your first 100 subscribers simply by publishing to your friends, family, and coworkers.
That might not seem like much, but one popular school of thought maintains that it only takes 1,000 true fans to make a decent living.
Once you’re confident that sending people to your site will result in email opt ins and sales, then you can turn up the dial and use some of the advanced strategies Stuart has learned for driving lots of conversions via email.
Step 4: Scale With Paid Traffic
When most people think about how to grow their email lists, they start with paid traffic. They hope they can convert traffic into subscribers and subscribers into paying customers.
But Stuart has learned never to build a business around hope. So he saves this step until he knows he has something that people want.
But once he gets the green light that people are opting in on his site and asking for more content, then he fires up some simple Facebook campaigns that drive people to his content.
And because of the way he built his site from the beginning, he knows that there are plenty of ways for people to get on his list if they want to learn more about his business and offerings.
That means he can focus his time and energy into creating great content that he knows will attract his ideal readers, and the rest will take care of itself.
The key is to make sure the content will resonate deeply with a core group of readers.
You don’t want to write content or create videos for everyone. In fact, generalization is the death of great content. Instead, Stuart likes to imagine he’s only allowed to write one piece that would stop his ideal readers in their tracks. He uses this constraint to force himself to create the single best post or video on the topic around.
A mistake he sees a lot of businesses make is thinking that they need to constantly be publishing content to grow their list. While there’s a definite benefit to regular publishing, imagine what it would mean to your business if you were the top result on Google or YouTube when your dream buyer searched for the solution to their problem.
Would you need a hundred pieces of content then?
For example, imagine you have a company that sells fish oil. The term “best fish oil” gets 9,900 searches a month. If you had an article on the seven things that make world-class fish oil and linked out to your product, you wouldn’t need dozens of pieces of content.
You’d just need one to make a dent.
The people who loved what you wrote would buy and the people who needed more info would opt in to your list for additional info/resources.
The key takeaway: If you focus on creating an amazing opt-in offer and prioritizing email, it radically simplifies your business. You can put your time and money into real, needle-moving activities and leave the rest of the flash-in-the pan tactics to another day.
How’s Your Email Marketing Going?
Email is still the most powerful marketing channel. Businesses that get this right can focus on less and get more done.
Leave a comment to let us know how your email marketing is going, or any questions you might have about email list-building. We’ll get back to you with our best advice!