Not many issues tug at the heart of an ambitious blogger as the quiet hunger for a secret strategy on how to build an email list fast. Read on to uncover key list building strategies.
I’m going to show you:
- How to create an email list from scratch in a step-by-step style with screenshots
- How to get your first set of email subscribers
- Techniques I use for maximizing the number of email signups I get monthly
- How to retain the email subscribers you’ve got
- How to boost the open rates of your email campaigns
- The exact email format I discovered to increase click-through rates
The truth is, your email list will grow in response to the rate at which your blog traffic is growing.
And don’t listen to those talks of email marketing being dead.
61% of people prefer to be contacted by brands through emails and 91% of smartphone users check their email at least once a day.
This post may contain affiliate links. See full disclosure.
Email marketing remains the best way for most small businesses and digital marketers like you to retain, engage, and convert visitors from leads to buyers.
A lot of marketers do a good job of building their email subscribers. The problem, however, lies in boosting the click-through rate of their email campaigns.
After you get your subscribers, how do you write your email copy to make sure they click through to the link contained inside?
How do you get the most traffic out of your email subscribers?
Learn the exact email format I discovered that enabled me to start having a click-through rate that was higher than what I usually had.
Get The Exact Email Format I Discovered To Increase Click-Through Rates
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How To Build An Email List Fast – What Do I Need When Starting Out?
The only thing you need aside from that blogging laptop of yours is an email marketing software that mixes professional features with sheer awesomeness…
…one that allows you to send out automated, drip emails to your subscribers.
Has the capacity for email segmentation and automated workflow…
…can personalize emails by including a subscriber’s first or last name.
And comes along with bonus features like the ability to resend an unopened email to a subscriber.
As a blogger and content creator, wouldn’t it be nice if you could utilize an email marketing software that was built specifically for you?
Then prepare to meet the email marketing service that perfectly fits the bill – ConvertKit.
Testing out advanced list building strategies like A/B testing and email segmentation runs smoothly on ConvertKit with their nice design and easy to use dashboard.
This is the only email marketing software I’ve seen that match features with pricing in a way that it’s neither underpriced nor overpriced.
ConvertKit starts at $29 per month.
To carry out the strategies contained in this blog post, you’ll need to move away from regular email service providers to a professional Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool.
They can also migrate your email list for free along with your email campaigns and tags.
How To Create An Email List From Scratch
A blogger’s most valuable asset is his email list. That’s where the majority of sales, referrals, and the sales funnel path is made.
It’s also the place where critical factors to an online business like trust and loyalty are developed. Without these two, it’ll be hard to make sales.
Your blog posts are not enough.
There’s a high chance that most readers won’t click on your affiliate link or buy your online course at first visit.
They’ll just leave and float back into the sea of Google search to fish for more answers.
Do you know the worst thing?
There’s no way of retargeting or reaching out to them again.
That’s where email marketing comes in.
Dr. Jeffery Lant, a marketing expert, says that for a prospect to come to the point where he is ready to make a purchase, you need to contact him seven times or more within 18 months.
Building an email list by giving out content upgrade incentives that’ll help your audience solve a problem such as checklists, swipe files, eBooks, helps you acquire email subscribers big time.
Creating automated email campaigns that’ll direct them to your blog posts, product pages, helps you keep in contact with your audience, establish trust, and make sales on autopilot.
It’s like a ‘set it up and forget it’ system.
I know what you’re thinking right now.
What am I going to write in my emails?
Can I keep it up for long?
Am I sure I can provide enough value for readers to remain subscribed?
Those are totally valid questions. It means that you care about serving your readers, and you have the potential for over-delivering value to them.
That is really what being a blogger means.
Helping people solve their problems and making money while doing it.
It can take quite some time to get a sizable number of people on your list. That’s why I want to show you how to build an email list fast from experience.
So, let’s get started on creating one.
I’m going with ConvertKit as my email marketing software. It’s a truly great option for bloggers.
Head over to ConvertKit and click on the “Try It For Free” button. The free trial is for 14 days.
You’ll be taken to a page where ConvertKit requests to know if you’re migrating from another email marketing service or you’re starting from the start.
Since you’re creating a brand new email list, click on “I’m brand new.”
You’ll be asked if you have a website. Click on “Yes.”
A list of blog platforms will be displayed. Select the platform your website is hosted on. I’m going with WordPress.
Next, you’ll be prompted to create an account to get started. Type in your work email address and a password.
Your work email address should look like email@example.com.
A free email from Yahoo or Gmail won’t work. You can get your professional work email from your web hosting cPanel account.
After you’ve entered your work email and password, click on “Get Started.”
You’ll be taken to your dashboard.
Sending of emails is disapproved until your account is approved by the ConvertKit team.
They’ll have to check if you actually have a website and verify other matters that border on your level of trustworthiness.
In the meantime, you can create forms that can be embedded on your website.
These forms articulate what’s contained in your different freebies and content upgrades that your website visitors will opt-in to receive.
To do that, click on “Forms” on the menu bar in your ConvertKit dashboard. Then click on the “New Form” button by the right.
ConvertKit will ask how you want to gather your subscribers – either by form or a landing page. Select Form.
Choose the display format for your form. The options are Inline, Modal, and Slide-In.
Inline forms are forms that are displayed inside a blog post. Modal forms are basically pop-up forms. Slide-In forms are those mini-forms that pull up at the bottom left or right of a post.
Let’s start with inline forms. Select it and choose the template you want.
To edit the style and color of your form, click on it directly. When you’re done, click on the “Save” button at the top-right corner of the screen.
You’ll need to embed the form on your website in order for it to be displayed. After you’ve saved, click on “EMBED” among the menu options.
Go to the “WordPress” tab and install the ConvertKit WordPress plugin. Use the API key you find in your Account Settings to set up the plugin.
When you’ve successfully installed the ConvertKit plugin, you’ll find the shortcode. The shortcode is responsible for the form being displayed on your blog.
When you’re in your WordPress editor, copy and paste the shortcode wherever you want it displayed in your blog post.
The next step would be to add anyone that subscribes through that form to a sequence.
A sequence is a series of automated emails sent out to subscribers on a particular list.
The name is not as important as the marketing power generated from its strategic execution.
A sequence or campaign, lets you send out automated emails that go out at the time interval that you specified.
Let’s assume that someone opts-in to the form you just created to get the lead magnet or freebie that you offered.
You’ll have to create a sequence and add emails to it.
The first email you send out would contain a link to the lead magnet you promised on your form. The first email can be scheduled to go out immediately after someone subscribes through your form.
Next, you can schedule the second email to be sent six days later or anytime you want. You can create and schedule as many emails as you want to be ‘dripped’ to your subscribers.
A sequence is basically a collection of automated emails that are segmented based on the interest of subscribers.
I’ll talk more about that when I’m sharing some list building strategies with you.
Back to the form we were creating.
Since we have the shortcode, we’re supposed to connect the form to a sequence so that a subscriber automatically gets on our list when they opt-in.
We’ll create a sequence first.
Go to “SEQUENCES” on the menu box.
Then click on the “New Sequence” button on the right side.
You’ll be required to give a name to your sequence.
Click the button for “Create Sequence” when you’re done.
You’ll be taken to your email dashboard where you can create your email, schedule when to send out emails, add new emails to your sequence and publish your email.
After you’re done writing your first email, change the status from “Draft” to “Published,” then save it.
To schedule an email to send immediately, probably the email that contains the link to your lead magnet, set the “WHEN TO SEND” dropdown menu to “0 days.”
Now, you can link your form to the sequence you just created by opening your form and going to the “Settings” area.
How To Link To A Lead Magnet In Your Welcome Email
It’s no longer news that using a lead magnet to build your email list is way faster than displaying the good old “subscribe to my newsletter” form.
The internet has since matured.
Nobody wants to receive more emails than they already do now.
But, everyone wants to consume information that solves a problem they’ve been silently struggling with.
And that, my friend, is where a lead magnet comes into play.
Lead magnets are valuable information that solves a problem while giving immediate gratification to your blog visitors in exchange for their email address.
A lead magnet could be in the form of an ebook in a pdf format, video, or any creative format you could think of.
One of my best-performing lead magnets is Traffic Blueprint For New Blogs. So far, it has the highest conversion rate across my website.
Some problems could arise for beginner bloggers when they are about to use lead magnets to build their email list.
Where do I host my lead magnet so that only those who subscribe can see it?
Should the lead magnet be a monster eBook or something with few pages like a checklist?
I usually write my lead magnet in Microsoft Word, save it as a PDF file, then upload it to my Google Drive.
After the file is uploaded, I get a shareable link and include it in the email that should contain the link to my lead magnet.
Of course, there are other platforms where you can store your lead magnet. I just find Google Drive to be an easy option.
For us to include the link to our lead magnet in our email, we have to first host the lead magnet somewhere and get its link.
We’ll save it with Google Drive.
Head over to Google Drive and click on the “New” button by the left.
Then select “File Upload.”
Browse through your documents and upload the lead magnet PDF file.
Now, you should see the file among those on your Drive.
We’re going to get the shareable link. Double-click on your lead magnet file to open it.
At the top-right corner of your document preview, you’ll see three vertical dots. Click on them and select “Share.”
A pop-up box will appear. Click on “Get shareable link.”
A link to the lead magnet document will be generated and automatically set in such a way that only those with the link can view it.
That way, you can be sure that someone won’t just search for your lead magnet document on Google and download it.
Only those who opted-in to receive your freebie will be provided with the link to access it.
Copy the link and keep it somewhere safe where you can include it in the email that’ll contain your lead magnet.
You can always create a sequence starting with the email that contains the link to your lead magnet, then schedule it to send immediately someone subscribes.
Then, set an automation rule for any subscriber that finishes this welcome campaign to be added to your main sequence where you have emails that link out to your blog posts or product pages.
Here is an example of an email that contains the link to a lead magnet I offer in one of my blog posts.
I set it to go out immediately someone subscribes to my lead magnet that offers visual steps on how to increase page speed.
How To Get Your First Few Email Subscribers
The bigger your email list, the higher the income you can generate from your blog.
That’s why an influencer like Bryan Harris made up to $220,750 when he launched his first online course with 10,000 subscribers.
10,000 email subscribers might seem unattainable right now. Nevertheless, we’re going to work our way up there.
After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with what?
You know the answer.
Give yourself two years and put all the strategies contained in this blog post to use. You would’ve worked out your own rhythm of getting email subscribers and be a proud four-figure email list owner.
At the very least, you would’ve surpassed the 1000-subscriber benchmark and be making some income from your blog. By then, 10,000 email subscribers wouldn’t be such a big deal anymore.
If you can get 1000 subscribers, you can scale it up to 10,000 subscribers.
You’ll look back one day and say, “started from the bottom now we’re here.”
So, how do you get momentum on your email list when you’re starting out?
Offer a relevant content upgrade on every blog post you publish
When I say content upgrade, I’m not talking about a beastly eBook that contains 79 pages.
Nobody has the time to go through such monstrous information.
It’ll get pushed to the back burner and go unread. And it’s not a good thing for your subscribers to find the information you dish out so overwhelming that they lay it aside.
It should be short and address a specific issue.
Ideally, your content upgrade should help make the practice of the strategies contained in your blog post easier.
Think about checklists, swipe files, a blueprint, printables, or a single powerful tip that could be a game-changer for your audience.
Something they can read and put to work in one sitting.
Something that satisfies their need for immediate gratification and instant result.
Whenever you finish writing your killer blog post, ask yourself, “what resource will help my audience carry out these strategies quickly and easily?”
It could be a checklist, a list of tools or plugins, a swipe file, an easy-to-read blueprint, a master technique, a template, or anything that makes it super easy to achieve whatever it is your blog post talks about.
Unlike general lead magnet freebies, content upgrades are specifically created to aid the understanding and practicality of a particular blog post.
Personalization is key when it comes to content upgrades.
This strategy works. It’s proven and tested.
Sleeknote did a case study that explained how they got 28.83% more subscribers in 30 days when they arrived at a working content upgrade strategy after many failed experiments.
Simply invite people you know are interested to join your email list
Bryan Harris named it the “launch team” strategy.
It sounds so simple that it’s easily forgotten.
Kasey Luck grew her email list from 10 to 110 subscribers by sending an email to her LinkedIn contacts asking them to join her newsletter.
Do you know the total time it took to do that?
She used a tool called Yesware that lets you email up to 200 people at a time. It also has the capacity to track open-rates, click-through rates, and email replies.
Kasey said she had an average of 74.3% open rate and a 23.3% click-through rate on the email campaign she sent to her 497 LinkedIn contacts.
That’s an amazing result.
The majority of your contacts might not be on LinkedIn. They could be on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram.
Some of them are interested in what you do and the knowledge you have to offer.
Don’t be shy to ask them to join your email list to receive more of what they want to know.
You’re providing value.
Go for it.
Techniques To Maximize Your Number Of Monthly Email Signups
Strategies go in and out of season when it comes to marketing your lead magnet and content upgrades.
A plain “subscribe to my newsletter” form worked in getting subscribers from 2005 to somewhere around 2012.
Giveaways and lead magnets came in vogue from 2013 to 2017.
From 2017 to the present day, a refined form of lead magnet known as content upgrades has taken over the world of lead generation.
Accompanying this content upgrades to make it convert better are popup boxes and slide-in boxes.
A few years from now, a newer and more efficient lead-capture strategy will be innovated.
We have to keep adapting to stay atop the current digital marketing trends.
That said, there are list building strategies currently working now to maximize email conversions. And they’ll keep working for years to come.
Let’s go over a few tweaks that’ll boost your email signups.
Place a lead magnet at the top of your homepage
For most people, the homepage is the second most visited page on their blog.
Personally, I’ve found my homepage to be the fourth most visited page on my blog.
Here’s the screenshot.
Now, that’s some traffic that shouldn’t go to waste just like that.
Placing a lead magnet at the top of your homepage will convert some of those visitors into subscribers.
Instead of your hero image giving your visitors a blank stare, a call-to-action will turn your homepage into a list building fire hose.
I call this tactic the reverse homepage list-builder mono-barrage.
Okay, that name sounds kind of cheesy, ha-ha. I got to work more on my naming system. You can call it whatever you want as long as you get what I’m trying to say, right?
Look at how the email opt-in on my homepage looks like:
Most people usually like to know more about the author of an interesting blog post they just read.
It’s either they search for you on Google or they go to your homepage.
When your name is typed on Google, your homepage will pop up.
Either way, your new reader will eventually land on your homepage.
Setting up your homepage to maximize conversions by placing a lead magnet at the top is a smart strategy to build your list.
Let it be the first thing that meets the eye.
Awaken curiosity with your content upgrade
Content upgrades that convert like crazy are not the bulky eBooks, neither are they long videos.
All you need do to see your email conversion rate go up is to touchdown on an important psychological flaw in the human mind.
People love to see what’s hidden behind the veil.
Use the element of curiosity to grow your email list at a significant rate.
The idea here is that a sizzling piece of information that’s a part of your blog post and so juicy to be ignored is presented as a content upgrade.
The content upgrade should arouse curiosity and interest so much that anyone who reads the blog post won’t be mentally settled until he gets ahold of that information.
Tim Soulo from Ahrefs wrote a blog post on his personal blog that outlined the lessons he got from an email outreach he sent to Rand Fishkin.
However, he didn’t share the email subject that enabled him to get a response from Rand Fishkin.
He sold it to his readers as a content upgrade in the blog post. Take a look at it below.
Do you know the good part?
It didn’t take him more than 20 minutes to create this content upgrade.
And it converted more than other content upgrades that required more time and effort to create.
Curiosity turns mere information into a huge success. Every single time.
This is a case of smart work over hard work.
How To Make Your Subscribers Remain Subscribed
By now, you get the idea that the success of a content upgrade is not in its size, but in its value and interest.
A single page with tons of specific information trumps a fluffy monster eBook of 89 pages.
Using those list building techniques, your number of subscribers is sure to rise as the traffic of your blog goes up.
You would’ve maximized your blog for email conversion as traffic flows in. Your blog funnel is well set up to make the most use of the traffic it receives.
Traffic Blueprint For Blogs
...for beginner and intermediate bloggers
After you get those subscribers, how best do you keep them engaged?
Sure, you’re bound to get some unsubscribes along the way.
It’s nothing to feel down about. In fact, it’s a good thing.
Someone unsubscribing from your email list shows that they weren’t really interested and invested in your brand for the long run.
They were never going to be a paying customer anyway, so it’s a relief that they decided to remove themselves from your email list, leaving you with the committed and die-hard followers.
That said, your number of unsubscribes should be kept at a minimum.
Pay attention to the particular email that people tend to tap the unsubscribe link to.
High-quality email marketing software like ConvertKit allows you to know the particular email that a subscriber unsubscribed from.
Make a mental note of those kinds of emails and avoid sending them out.
Here are some ways to retain your subscribers and drastically reduce your unsubscribe rate:
Every email must contain only desired and wanted information
In other words, don’t send out an email just because you feel the need to keep in touch.
Email your subscribers when you have something of value to share with them.
A big part of this is understanding the pain points of your customers.
When they read your emails, they’ve got to feel like you ‘get’ them and you’re speaking to them directly.
This acute understanding of your audience will naturally lead you to address their silent struggle and give them more of what they really want.
You can tell what your subscribers want more of by knowing the lead magnet or content upgrade they signed up for to join your list.
If you have a blog like most, it probably covers a variety of topics, even if it’s a niche blog.
Chances are high that a visitor that subscribed to a content upgrade on one topic might have zero interest on another topic you blog about.
Let’s say you run a fashion website where you talk about men and women’s fashion.
You placed a content upgrade for women’s wear and a different one for male outfits.
Chances are that the women who subscribed to the content upgrade for female wear aren’t interested in hearing about men’s fashion and vice versa.
To keep your male and female audience subscribed, you’ll need to send them emails that are relevant to the content upgrade they opted in to.
And that leads us to our second tip.
Segment your email subscribers
Email segmentation involves sending targeted emails to subscribers that’ll not only be of personalized interest to them but also boost your open and click-through rates.
For the example of the fashion blog, segmenting the male and female subscribers will involve running two different sequences, campaigns or autoresponders for each of them.
All subscribers will receive only emails that are of interest to them.
And they’re likely to stay subscribed this way.
Avoid sending out too many emails
Every day, people are bombarded with emails from different brands fighting to get their attention.
And as the emails come in, many get deleted. Some people go as far as unsubscribing so as to clean up their inbox.
The email inbox has become a sacred place for receiving only valuable information from sought after brands and influencers.
Studies show that the higher the number of emails sent out in a month, the lower the open rate.
It’s best to start out by sending one email per week.
You’ll have more engagements with your subscribers if you communicate with them weekly instead of every day.
Some digital marketers have gotten the best open rates when they sent out emails twice in a month.
Scheduling your emails so they don’t go out too much at a time is a cool way to keep those subscribers.
Balance out promotional emails with overwhelming value
Promotional emails are necessary for your online business to survive.
That’s how the money is made.
When you create that super-duper course that it feels like it’s a disservice not to share with your subscribers, you’ve got to promote it to them via email marketing.
You help people solve their problems and you get paid handsomely for it.
That’s how the business runs.
Who else will you promote your products to if not those in your email list?
They are your most loyal followers, after all. They trust you enough to part with their money for the tempting solution you’re providing.
That said, too much of everything is bad, and that’s especially true for promotional emails.
You’ve probably unsubscribed from a couple of brands that fiercely attacked your inbox with links to different product pages.
Remember how you felt then.
Think back to how you felt sold to, invaded, and even pushed to the wall.
At a time, you forgot when and why you opted to join their email list.
The destiny of your buyer’s journey was already decided. You were going to free yourself from it all with a click to the unsubscribe link.
That’s how your email subscribers are going to feel if you adopt the pushy salesman technique.
C’mon, we’re nothing like that, right?
We’re a bunch of value-adding influencers. We think value, create value and publish value.
And then we add a touch of promotional emails to our products in-between those value bombs.
A nice pace to adopt when sending out promotional email campaigns to your list could be once every 2-6 months.
Test the rhythm and pace with your subscribers and see what works best for you.
How To Boost The Open Rates Of Your Email Campaigns
The true size of your email list is made up of those who open your emails.
Prune your email list
Over time, the gap between the size of your email list and the number of people opening your emails grow wider.
People stop opening your emails for different reasons.
It could be that they changed email addresses or even submitted a secondary email address, one that’s not their main email address.
Inactive subscribers like that lower your open rate, blinding you from seeing the real picture and gaining insightful data from your email campaigns.
And you know what?
The cost is on you.
You’ll end up purchasing higher plans on your email marketing software to accommodate subscribers that just don’t open your emails.
Subscribers that haven’t opened your emails in the past six months should be removed from your list.
Before you do that, you might want to send them a personal email as a final attempt to get their attention.
If they respond, keep them. If they don’t, go ahead and delete it from your list.
Cleaning up your list like this would give you the true, increased open rate and allow you to make informed decisions based on the information you get from your email campaigns.
Shorten your email subject line
A study conducted by Retention Science analyzed the subject lines of over 260 million emails contained in 540 email campaigns.
The findings revealed that subject lines that contained 6-10 words had the highest open rate at 21%.
Subject lines with five or fewer words lined up for the second position with an open rate of 16%.
Long email subject lines that contained 11-15 words recorded the lowest open rate at 14%.
It’s surprising what a little tweak as shortening an email subject line can do to increase open rate.
Personally, I think that long email subject lines aren’t mobile-friendly. They get truncated when read from a mobile device.
Let’s not forget that the rise of mobile users has been so astronomical the last few years to the point that Google developed the concept of mobile-first indexing for ranking websites.
The number of users who access emails from mobile devices has significantly gone up too.
So, that’s a factor.
Another factor is the ease it takes to read a short subject line. Since subject lines that contain 6-10 were seen to have the highest open rate, it seems 7 or 8 words is the perfect length.
While many content marketers keep debating on the perfect length of an email subject line, I’ll encourage you to test it out for yourself.
No one knows your audience as you do.
Use a personal name as your sender name
People do business with people.
Email users want to receive messages from a human being, not an impersonal company.
PinPointe Marketing analyzed various email campaigns and found out that emails sent with personal names rather than company names had an increased open rate of 15%-35%.
The sender’s name determines to a large extent whether or not an email will be opened. 64% of people use the sender’s name as a yardstick to open an email.
If you send emails on behalf of a company, let’s assume your name is Tim and the company where you work is named Swiss.
Instead of leaving the “From” name as “Swiss,” you’ll elicit better engagement from your email if it’s changed to “Tim from Swiss.”
Test out the best day and time to send emails to your subscribers
You’ve probably read somewhere that Tuesday is the best day of the week to send out emails.
It is generally true for others, but there’s a good chance that it might not be the best day for your audience.
Remember that what works for others might not work for you.
I’ll advise that over a period of time, you schedule emails to go out every day of the week. Then check the email with the highest open rate.
By doing that, you figure out exactly what day of the week works for you and your subscribers.
After you must’ve established the best day of the week to send emails to your audience, you can now work on the best time to send emails.
Repeat the process when testing for the best time.
Schedule your emails to go out at different times on the day you got the best open rate.
From experience, some of the best times to send emails are 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.
The idea of testing is to figure out what action produces the most engagement with your emails.
The Exact Email Format I Discovered That Increases Click-Through Rate
Do you know that there’s a way to craft your email to get readers to click through to your blog post, or whatever link is contained in the email?
While testing with my subscribers, I discovered that a particular kind of email had a click-through rate that was above what I normally had.
I noticed this style of writing emails from a popular influencer. Most times, I couldn’t help but click the link contained in his email after reading.
And you know the most amazing part?
The email wasn’t even that long. At first glance, I actually thought that there was little or no effort put into creating it.
But every time, I always clicked through.
I adopted this style of writing emails and had since been getting above the normal click-through results I was used to for each of my emails.
I’ve joined the email list of many bloggers and seen that this style is not widely used. So far, I’ve only seen three bloggers using it. And I’m sure they’re getting sweet results.
When your subscribers know that you have a history of sending them emails that they actually take action on, they’re more likely to open it in the future.
I can send you the exact email format. Get it below to boost your click-through rate.
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