If you’re not building an email list you’re making a BIG mistake.
There’s one fundamental truth about email in business: if you have someone’s email address you can send what you like, when you like.
If you’re building your business on social media you’re building it on rented land. You don’t own the audience and are at the mercy of Facebook or Twitter allowing you to talk to your customers.
Email is the most scalable way to make sales with new customers and build deeper relationships with better customers.
If you give your subscribers value they will give value back.
That said, how can you capture leads and populate your email list? What strategies can nudge your audience to sign up? It is easier than you think but it requires good execution and the discipline to follow through.
It is not about the technology or the apps you use. Gaining subscribers is all about your quick and easy solution to a nagging problem.
Internet based marketers and software companies are a great source of inspiration and tactics to build your email list. Let’s look at some examples:
Example Number 1 – Smart Passive Income
When it comes to capturing leads, Pat Flynn is one of the experts. In 2008, he bought an Aweber account and grew his list from 0 to 10,000 emails in 13.5 months.
Pat created a free ebook on his site. It’s called “Ebooks the smart way” where he teaches newbies how to self-publish an awesome ebook.
He published the book as a special give-away and focused on quality even though it’s free. It’s a book full of truly useful information.
From the beginning, Pat did not create the list to hard sell his products. He created the list primarily to strengthen communication and relationships with his subscribers/readers.
I was one of his subscribers and I never felt he was selling anything to me. Why?
Because Pat Flynn is a master of copywriting.
He knows why you subscribed. You are curious about ebook creation and passive income. He over-serves you with useful information. Then, boom, you are clicking on his links whether it is an affiliate link or not.
His website has a couple of subscribe buttons on the front page. That is it. He uses landing pages via Leadpages. He also uses Viperchills’s OptinSkin to easily embed opt-in forms in his web pages.
Now, he has over 100,000 people in his community.
Example Number 2 – Zen Habits
This next example is a success story for every minimalist living in this digital era. Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits is an awesome website about living with less.
Leo is very strict about affiliate marketing. In short, he doesn’t like it much. His only subscribe link can be found on his navigation menu. In fact, it is just a simple Feedburner link. Its primary function is to push new blog posts to his subscribers.
He will not sell anything to his subscribers. Nevertheless, his email list is still valuable because he can share valuable information to people.
The people in his list will always get his blog posts via email. The newsletter drives traffic to his website. This traffic is important because this is where subscribers will get re-acquainted to Leo’s Sea Change course about minimalism.
This is how he makes his money, by selling his course. Without his list, people will probably forget to bookmark his site and he will be left shouting into a void of nothingness.
See, he is not pushing anyone to subscribe. Nor is he pitching his product in the newsletter. However, Leo has about a million subscribers.
He wants you to change bad habits. He wants you to be healthier. He wants you to be more productive. He wants you to be happy about your life.
This is the power of value and genuinely caring about your audience.
The Sleazy Side of Lead Capture?
Let me preface with a caveat. What is sleazy for some may not be sleazy for others. It really depends on your own personal ethics and principles. Part of marketing is understanding and playing into the psyche of your readers.
Now that you have read two shining examples, allow me to get into the other side of lead capture. This will sound, oh so, familiar to you.
Have you been to a landing page and suddenly or before you leave a pop-up comes filling up your whole monitor? You apparently have two choices:
- Yes – Subscribe now to get billions of targeted traffic to your site.
- Not now – I don’t want traffic and increased conversion.
This kind of tactic is the new normal. In my opinion, it is invasive and disrespects the reader. It is a promise that plays on our psychological weaknesses. Of course, who does not want billions (or even just thousands) of targeted traffic and increased profits?
This tactic converts so well that more and more honest marketers are using this with reckless abandon.
How to Capture Leads the Practical Way
You will find lots of information about capturing email addresses on the internet, telling you to do this and that. Is there a hard and fast rule to getting more emails and leads? There are none. However, you might get some ideas from these tactics that are time-tested and practical to implement.
- Placement of Forms
Your form’s immediate visibility is important. One practice that you will notice on most websites is placing the form “above the fold”. This is the part of the web page where a reader does not have to scroll down.
Based on a study by Jakob Nielsen, “web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold.”
- Fewer Fields
Work turns people off. If you want to get more subscribers then you need to make subscribing easy and less like work.
Fewer fields leads to more subscribers. In this contact form study, an 11-field form was replaced by a four field form. The result? 160% increase in form submissions and 120% conversion.
For your form just ask the subscriber for their email address. Remove everything optional if you can get away with it.
The screenshot above is from Fizzle.co co-founder, Corbett Barr’s personal blog. Look at this example and see how the copy (call-to-action) and the single field gently nudges you to type in your email address.
- Call to Action
Similar to the example screenshot above, you need a call-to-action in order to persuade people to subscribe. Your copy should be short but compelling. This is the reason why the best copywriters are paid so much.
However, you do not need to hire the ultimate copywriter. You just need to keep your sentences short and straight to the point.
Know your audience and distill their pain points into a few words, then present the perfect solution in fewer words. This creates motivation and that is the goal of your copy. Here’s a great article on how to create micro-copy.
- Button Colours
There is psychology in colours. It is essentially a branch of psychology that studies the behaviour of humans in relation to colour.
According to this Kissmetrics article, the best converting colours to use for your Call to action are: red, green, orange, yellow. Just avoid too much yellow because a lot of it can cause screen nausea!
You can also use orange for your buttons because this colour creates a sense of urgency, impulse and confidence.
In the example above, the copy is clear and short. In addition, they are practically giving away the course (more on that below). Plus, they are using orange as a background and a calming green colour for the button. The button stands out because of the background.
- Giveaway as Lead Magnets
Now that you have written compelling copy and you have your colours right, why not make your sign up form irresistible by giving away stuff. This step is optional but according to rewardlevel.com, conversion rate will increase.
Check out this Form from Quicksprout:
There is not much to say about giveaways aside from the fact that people love free stuff. Whether it’s a $5 voucher or a free discount code, you cannot go wrong with it.
Why do you need Lead Magnets?
Unless you are a well-known personality, people will not follow you or subscribe to your blog just because you said so. Your opt-in forms are useless without something to entice them.
Your opt-ins are only effective if you have lead magnets!
Lead magnets are ethical “bribes” so that visitors to your site will give you their names, numbers or email addresses. It sounds cool, right? More than that, a lead magnet can double or even triple your opt-in rate.
What kind of lead magnets can fire up your subscription?
We all know the term “different strokes for different folks,” this applies to everyone who goes to your site. It is good to make different variations so you can segment, at the same time, answer the different needs of your market.
I have gathered a list of different lead magnets that you can choose from. You can play with variations and add them to your opt-in forms. You can also place them on your landing pages or blog and seamlessly interweave them with your articles.
- How To ebooks in PDF
This is the most common, yet one of the most effective lead magnets around.
Time is of the essence for many people. For anyone who is trying to catch-up with the fast-paced web environment, “How-to” ebooks can save you a lot of time. A person can simply follow a step-by-step guide and learn from the experience of another.
Of course, your audience might try a different method eventually, but everyone has to start somewhere. A how to guide is a good one to start with.
Check out this example from Jeff Bullas.
If you are new to blogging or using a blog to increase your traffic, you would definitely sign up. Aside from its kick ass copy, with just 8-key steps to master blogging, it only requires your name and email.
- Cheat Sheets
Now there are different types like checklists, mindmaps, Q&As/fill-in-the blanks. The content, most of the time, is an actual process or practices by companies giving them out.
I love cheat sheets for the sheer simplicity of the process. They cut to the chase. They are very specific.
Your prospects would love them too. They give you a simplified process to follow and save you a lot of time.
Just check out this content mapping template from CMI.
- Video Courses
There are truly remarkable video courses that are offered in exchange for emails; like this video course offered by Amy Porterfield for free.
Of course the rise of video marketing is not surprising. YouTube alone receives millions of searches everyday.
Different forecasts including that of Cisco claim that there will be a rapid rise of video viewership until 2018. We have all seen videos go viral. More astounding is that there are videos that get millions not just thousands of shares.
According to a study by Content Marketing Institute, webinars or webcasts are one of the top marketing tactics that are very effective. This is across the board from lead generation to closing some sales.
Check out how B2C is leveraging webcasts to get more leads. It is a rather long form but it gets the job done.
- Free Consultations
Who doesn’t want free advice from the expert?
Experts are sought after especially online. Everyday many emerging entrepreneurs are looking for someone to guide them. If you are an expert on your industry, then this is a good lead magnet to get a targeted audience.
Infographics are good lead magnets, a powerful one is something that your readers want to download and paste on their walls.
More than that it is a good marketing material to remind your audience how valuable your service is.
Embed Code to Infographic:
<b>++ Click Image to Enlarge ++</b><br /><a href=”http://blog.kissmetrics.com/art-of-color-coordination/”><img src=”http://blog.kissmetrics.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/color-coordination-sm.jpg” alt=”The Art of Color Coordination”></a><br />Source: <a href=”http://blog.kissmetrics.com/art-of-color-coordination/”>The Art of Color Coordination</a>
- Gear List
I have seen a lot of opt-in forms giving away tools or resources that a prospect can use. One of them is the one below.
As you can see, Viperchill is simply offering information on different kinds of SEO Tools and products that they are using. Given that this kind of information is valuable, especially if you are new to SEO and you want to know more about the best tools online.
- Discounts, Coupons, and Freebies
This is a great lead magnet especially for online retail shops. People love discounts, coupons and freebies.
- Free trials
Trust is something that you will not easily get online. The tendency of prospects is to check reviews or try things first for free before paying for services or products.
That is why many businesses are now offering free trials especially when it comes to services or tools.
- Exclusive Invites to Join a Community or Forum
This is a site that offers a free SEO course. It has its own community where students can interact with other students and share their ideas.
In this scenario, there is high probability that anyone who signs will continue as paid members.
The Final Step
Whatever tactics and strategies you want to implement, it is always best to look at examples and A/B test your opt-in forms and landing pages. This includes the lead magnets that you plan to use so you know what converts the most for your of audience. The biggest websites do split testing, why not you?
Remember Pearson’s Law: “That which is measured, improves.”
The only way you can create relevant metrics is to test changes and make improvements as you go.
As always, you also need to provide value, as this alone can really push your business beyond the limits.
If you want some ideas on how to grow your email list post your site in the comments and I will give you specific recommendations for your business.