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Whether you have 10 or 10,000 email subscribers, you eventually plateau until you grasp the importance of capturing + retaining email subscribers. Start to build + grow an email list now, even if you don’t have an offer to present yet.

The most common mistake online business owners make is putting off building a list until “later.”

Today, we’re going:

  • Explain why this is a mistake
  • Provide a workable plan to grow an email list
  • Help you put the plan in place

Why It’s a Mistake Not to Grow an Email List

If you habitually neglect your list or haven’t even started building it yet, you are most likely making one of these common mistakes you think:

  • It’s not time to build your list because you don’t have a product or service to offer
  • You’re not important enough to attract a lot of subscribers

… or you’re just plain afraid to start.

What you need to know about others with large lists is that they aren’t better than you, or more important than you, or more charismatic than you. They’ve just actively taken the same list-building steps you can start taking today.

I can’t emphasize this enough: The time to start building an email list is now—not a week before you want to launch a package or program. Not “after” you’ve become famous or visible. In fact, that won’t happen until you start paying serious attention to building your list of email subscribers.

An email list isn’t a list full of people you bug.

It’s a list full of:

  • People who are your raving fans
  • People who believe in you
  • People who look to you for answers + solutions
  • Repeat buyers who are already 50%+ committed to buying products, books, or services you offer
  • People who support you, like you + are happy to tell others about you + your wonderful solutions

They are your single biggest business asset + sales tool.

And, luckily, you can start to grow an email list fast, one step at a time + today.

Steps to Grow an Email List for Beginners

Now that you know why it is a mistake not to start growing an email list today, let’s dive into the steps to take so you can grow an email list for beginners.

Remember…take one step at a time.

Step #1: Build a Community

List-building is NOT all about selling.

Let me say it again. Successful list-building is not at all about selling.

Rather than focus on selling a product or service, focus on the solutions you’re offering with your products or services. Selling is only one small part of it.

It’s really all about the connection you’re making with prospects + customers/clients.

Here’s how it typically works. Your ideal reader searches for a solution to a problem. She comes across a post by you, or a resource you’ve put out (free or paid), or she discovers your website, or sees your ad or boosted post on Facebook.

She signs up to get your solution … in very rare cases, she might sign up to stay in touch, if you’ve wowed her with your importance to her life.

If you haven’t yet created a list, she might find a post by you that helps her but if you don’t have some way + incentive for her to sign up, she quickly forgets you + probably won’t find you again.

Not providing a sign-up opportunity with every appearance you make online is the #1—yet most easily remedied—mistake people make that prevents them from growing an email list.

So write this down:

Make sure that every place your ideal visitor encounters you, you provide a reason to join your lista way she can do so.

Remember, you don’t have to have a product or service to offer right now. The incentive you can use to attract a subscriber can be:

  • An image quote you wrote or provided that inspired her
  • A tip you’ve shared in a Facebook group or on Twitter
  • A post you’ve shared (written by someone else) that helps her with what she’s grappling with at the moment
  • A post you wrote that gave her the information she was searching for
  • The joke or cartoon you shared that made her laugh + made her share it online
  • The story on your website in your about section that really resonated with her; that she could identify with
  • Stumbling across you by accident

You’ve shared a great way to start to build a relationship with her but now you need to continue to provide:

  • Answers
  • Inspiration
  • Links
  • Tools + resources
  • Tips
  • Entertainment
  • Comfort + encouragement
  • Instruction/Education
  • Help

Here’s the real reason people follow other people: trust. Building a successful, active email list is about connecting + helping—not selling.

To be memorable—to be the person your ideal client turns to first when she needs help, you need to focus on:

  • Communicating
  • Helping
  • Listening
  • Responding
  • Entertaining

Above all, deliver. Deliver on promises, deliver on help.

Step #2: Start with Basic ‘Set + Forget’ Strategies

Start with the ground zero basics of list-building.

Here’s the list of absolute basics to set up a (do them now):

  • Professional autoresponder subscription
  • Landing page + opt-in box
  • Website pop-up opt-in
  • Sign-up incentive (freebie or opt-in content)
  • Basic email series for those who sign up (autoresponders)
  • Facebook Page signup tab
  • Twitter pinned post
  • Digital signature
  • Author bio/resource box

Okay, so how do each of these look? Let’s go through them.

Professional Autoresponder Subscription

Sign up with a reliable, fully-featured autoresponder such as MailerLite, AWeber, MailChimp, or GetResponse.

All of the autoresponder services mentioned are top-flight … but MailerLite allows you to start with an account that is free until you reach 1,000 subscribers + 12,000 emails per month.

If you want to send unlimited emails or you grow over 1,000 subscribers, the next MailerLite price jump is $10 per month. the other services are comparable in pricing. Some of it comes down to personal preference, but choose a professional-quality autoresponder series.

Create your main list with an autoresponder subscription that has professional features:

  • Email templates
  • Web forms you can customize
  • Export or import lists
  • Split lists into segments
  • Provide you with as-your-list-grows pricing options

When it comes to managing your list, don’t mess around. Instead, set up the best autoresponder for the job.

Landing Page + Opt-in Box

It’s fine to include a sign-up box on the Home Page or in the sidebar of your website, but you should also have a separate, dedicated + focused landing page.

We’re going to talk about landing pages separately.

Website Pop-Up Opt-in

This is how many people effectively present sign-ups on landing pages they send people to: With a pop-up that offers an immediate, irresistible incentive, like this one on Coach Glue’s list-building-through-webinars strategy page:

This is a perfect example of how to get an immediate sign-up BEFORE someone even visits the page they want to access!

Sign-Up Incentive

A sign-up incentive is a really powerful option. In the above example, Coach Glue is giving away 17 done-for-you forms to run a coaching business.

Notice how easy Coach Glue makes it to get those free forms. All you have to do is provide your email address + click the button (which tells you exactly what to do next: “Get my new client kit now”).

Basic Email Series for Those Who Sign Up

Write six or seven short emails. Your autoresponder service takes care of:

  • A thank you email for signing up, telling your signee how to get her download, how to contact you + how often she can expect to hear from you
  • An email to send two or three days later, asking if they’ve had time to download their gift + reminding them how to contact you if they are having any problems or want to ask a question
  • Five emails containing helpful things that might interest them. Some suggestions:
    • A short survey (no more than five questions)
    • Tips
    • Link to your post or another person’s post they might find helpful
    • Highly relevant or important news
    • A personal story
    • Another free resource
    • Your next offer (paid or free)

Make sure all of these emails contain a call to action: A suggestion that they take an action such as “download your tip sheet” or “read the full article.”

Space the emails to go out about a week apart, give or take a day or two. You don’t want to bombard them with emails or let them forget you so try to make the intervals as natural as possible.

Once you write the emails, upload them into your autoresponder service + schedule the emails to go out.

Voila!

You created your first email series!

Facebook Page Signup Tab

There’s no excuse to not create a Facebook signup page. All you need to do is enter the link to your best landing page (the one with your most compelling incentive).

For example, when you click on the link in Desiree Wolfe’s Facebook Page, it doesn’t take you to her home page. Instead, it takes you to a dedicated landing page  with a sign-up incentive and box:

Your Facebook Page sign-up tab doesn’t have to say “Sign Up”, either. You can kick it up a notch by giving a specific message such as “Learn more” or “Get your guide.”

Twitter Pinned Tweet

Another grievously neglected yet incredibly simple list-building essential is a pinned tweet. All you need to do is click on the three little dots under your favorite post to get a drop-down menu: Then select “Pin to your profile page.”

The next time someone clicks on your Twitter profile, the first thing they see is your pinned tweet sending them to your sign-up incentive. (Writing coach Shelley Hitz is one of the few coaches who fully takes advantage of this strategy.)

Notice how many followers she has: Well over 31,000.

That’s 31,000 potential subscribers.

Creating a pinned post is so easy to do!

Digital Signature

Add a sign-up link, call to action or other social connection links to your digital signature (email signature block).

This is the signature you put in your email autoresponder—as well as the signatures you set up for private forums.

Three email-signature tips:

  1. Don’t throw everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink into your email signature. Think about the specific action you want them to take next—be selective.
  2. Include an image or graphic: Your headshot or logo helps brand your business as your subscribers get used to seeing it every time.
  3. Don’t make your email signature sound like a business corporation. Keep it personal. Speak to your ideal subscriber’s biggest need—even in your signature.

Here’s a particularly effective signature from FitSmallBusiness.com selection of 25 signature examples:

Check out the article. Decide for yourself which signature examples speak to you.

Author Bio/Resource Box

The final basic on our list is an author bio/resource box. Even though these are rarely used nowadays, you should have one ready with a link to your ideal landing page for when you write guest posts.

Here’s a perfect example from affiliate marketing expert, Rosalind Gardner:

What does she want to be known for?

book, The Super Affiliate Handbook.

Who is she speaking to?

People interested in affiliate marketing.

Again, if you are trying to brand yourself, a profile headshot photo is a sensible image choice—but in this case, Rosalind Gardner wants to generate interest in her book, so she includes a 3D image of her book (which increases her credibility).

When you write your own resource box, try to keep it at about three sentences, speak TO your ideal subscriber + finish with a call to action.

Step #3: Perfect Your Pitch

I promised to talk about the importance of having a powerful landing page, so let’s take a look at landing pages, what they do + how to use them.

A powerful landing page with a focused message can almost instantly capture more subscribers than any other type of vehicle or message.

What is a “landing” page or “squeeze” page?

It’s simply a page that is focused on inspiring the visitor to take a single, specific action, such as:

  • Sign up for your email list
  • Sign up for a free webinar
  • Get a free resource such as a report, a cheat sheet, or a template
  • Subscribe to your newsletter
  • Watch your latest tutorial or video on a specific topic

In short, take any action you direct them to take.

A strong landing page doesn’t contain anything except your message + your call to action (plus any supporting images or videos, of course). “Landing” is such a passive word, it is misleading. Landing Pages are actually all about impact + action.

It doesn’t contain more than one link, or tabs, or anchor text taking people to other pages. It does contain your call to action.

The best way to make sure you have a strong landing page:

  1. Include a powerful headline that identifies something that’s a big problem for them + promise a solution
  2. Identify their problem
  3. Promise a solution
  4. Tell them what to do to get it (“take the quiz”; “download the book”; get your cheat sheet”)
  5. Put your call to action in a highly noticeable form or button

Here is business strategist Miki Strong’s landing page:

The only clickable link on it is her “take the business archetype quiz” button. In spite of the fact she showcases notable places where she has appeared or makes a presence, none of these are clickable: They are there for social proof only.

She also identifies the problem (“Lost in a crowd?”) + hints she can provide a solution (“Create Distinction”).

In this case, her landing page does lead to her Home page—but it is a true landing page in that it focuses on capturing the attention of her ideal subscriber + on getting that ideal subscriber to take the action she specified—taking the quiz.

The real secret? Promise your solution RIGHT NOW—instantly. (Take the quiz + get an instant answer as to what business archetype you are.)

Remember that part of landing page creation: INSTANT help. Something they will get RIGHT NOW.

If you can reference the process that can get them from A to Z, then even better.

To summarize:

  • Be specific
  • Promise SIMPLICITY + an INSTANT RESULT—how it will INSTANTLY make their lives better

Another secret to powerful landing pages: Make them easy to find. If people Google your name, your landing page should be one of the first results to come up.

You achieve this by using the right domain name, either using your own name (if you are planning to do what Miki Strong does + use your home page as your landing page) … or use a domain name that contains your landing page’s promise + topic.

Your landing page domain name can also reinforce both memorability + branding.

Finally, make sure that whatever gift or incentive you are offering is top quality, relevant, valuable + the most irresistible gift you can offer (even if it’s only a tip sheet).

It’s all about creating the right incentive for the right person at the right time!

Designing Your Perfect, Powerful Landing Page:

So how do you create a gorgeous, professionally designed landing page?

You can either hire a web designer—and if you do, make sure it is one that understands marketing; not just design—or you can subscribe to LeadPages®.

LeadPages® is a drag-and-drop simple, intuitive, easy-to-use dashboard + hundreds of beautifully designed, powerful templates you can instantly customize—everything from simple landing pages to video sales pages.

Watch Nicole Dean and Melissa Ingold’s video training on Growing your list with LeadPages®.

Step #4: Conduct Daily List-building Activities

Growing an email list fast should be a DAILY priority.

List building is not something you do once (though as we’ve just seen, there are certain tasks you only need to do once, like creating a Pinned Tweet with a call to action in it). List building is a PROCESS…a daily process.

Get into the habit of asking: “What can I do to grow my list today?”

Make a list of actions you can take:

  • Write a new broadcast email (one not connected to a series)
  • Write a new email series
  • Write an email mini-course for your subscribers
  • Create + share a landing page for your new mini-course
  • Post a Facebook Live video
  • Change your Pinned Tweet
  • Update your profile photo on all your platforms
  • Write an article
  • Create a survey

Whether it’s a five-minute action or it takes up a full afternoon, do something every day to actively nurture, feed + grow your list + keep in touch with your fans.

Build time for doing this into your daily schedule!

Step #5: Finding Your Perfect List-building Mix

Our last step is all about finding your perfect list-building mix of strategies. You need to use more than one strategy. Choose the right strategies at the right time for list growth now.

You need to take care of two areas:

  1. The Essentials
    • Daily list building activities
    • Your “Set + Forget” basics such as landing pages
    • Emails
    • A knock-their-socks-off HIGH-VALUE gift that is NEEDED NOW
  2. Mix + Match Strategies

For example:

  • YouTube videos (with links to sign up)
  • SlideShare presentations (with links to sign up)
  • Swaps
  • Guest Interviews (blog, podcast, webinar)
  • Webinar
  • Gifts for Influencers
  • Facebook groups

Whatever mix you choose, remember to actively do at least one thing to grow your list daily while using tactics + strategies that feel the most natural + fun for you. After all, if you don’t enjoy nurturing the relationship with your subscribers + helping them, they’re not going to enjoy hanging out with you. You need to take actions + use strategies that make you feel empowered + fulfilled.

You need to:

  • Enjoy your subscribers.
  • Nurture your list EVERY DAY
  • Feed your list EVERY DAY

What you’ve learned today can save you months of wasted time + help you tackle list building one step at a time. Yes, it’s probably going to feel more like a chore at first, as you invest in new habits. It can take time for your mix to really catch on.

So start today. Create a list. Feed it. Plan for it. Nurture it daily.

You can do it. Your people are waiting.

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