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Hey all, I posted this over at r/entrepreneur and it was removed – not sure why since I truly think the post is valuable but, we shall see… Maybe my original title was too “click-baity” (*5 tactics I used in the past 2 weeks to grow my email list by 24,900%*)
Does this belong in this sub? I think so since technically the site I’m building is 50% affiliate links.
We were discussing email list building in a private group and sharing our successes for the week. I shared my results from the past 2 weeks and several people thought I had found some sort of secret sauce or way to cheat so they asked me to do a full write up. I’m sharing part of that post with you today.
Basically, they didn’t believe that I was able to grow my list from 8 to 1897 (and growing) in just two weeks – But I did and I did it by focusing on 5 main things. I’ll share them below and hopefully you find them useful.
TL;DR I grew my email list by 24,900% by being human and thinking like my target audience.
Here are the five things I focused on in the past 2 weeks to grow my email list (hint: it’s all about being a real person and providing some value):
###1. Forums & Groups
I have been a member of some great forums and groups for writers (think Reddit, Facebook, KBoards, etc.). Normally I just lurk and read the advice that everyone else provides. But over the past three months I have made a concerted effort to share my knowledge with others — when/where I can.
Since my target audience doesn’t hang out on r/entrepreneur or r/juststart you might notice that I haven’t been around here very much. That’s intentional since I am trying to focus on my group (that doesn’t mean that I don’t come hang out, it just means that it’s not my primary focus).
I try and provide REAL value. I answer questions. I ask good questions. I stimulate discussion. I share some of the great resources I uncover. I give feedback when people ask and occasionally I pepper in what it is I’m doing or how I came across whatever it was that I shared.
Because of this I find many people say they are interested in hearing more about this “resource directory” I’m building so I drop the link. There are lots of lurkers out there and I’ll see several more signups from this than the number of people in the discussion.
*Takeaway: Find your audience. Join their tribe. Provide some value **first**, then tell them what you’re doing.*
###2. Social Media
I like to compare social media to standing on a street corner with a megaphone – most people just ignore you since across the street are 3 others doing the same thing. It’s a hard nut to crack for me but I’ve added it to my strategy anyway.
I think this goes without saying but I have posted stuff about my site on Twitter and Facebook. It’s difficult to really provide value on social media unless you have a lot of time. I don’t have time so my strategy with social media (for better or worse) is mostly push & share.
What that means is I follow and like a lot of the people who are part of my target audience. Then I share stuff that I see that I think they will like. Every so often I’ll drop a question or a link to my site and tell people they can get more information if they join the list.
I’m looking to hit this a lot more in the coming weeks but the strategy won’t change much. I’ll still share great stuff and then schedule posts throughout the day. Not very novel but it seems to be working.
Albeit this is one of the lower converting types of traffic and I haven’t seen many people from social media actually sign up – but they do like to enter contests (see below)!
*Takeaway: Social takes time but you can still reach your target audience. Sometimes you have to share other people’s content to get them to notice you then you can interact with them.*
###3. Team up with Influencers
It doesn’t take long to find some of the bigger “players” in the writing and self-publishing field (that’s my target group). I have uncovered some new influencers that have their own following that I didn’t even know existed (sometimes they’re the folks that create the awesome stuff I find).
Most of them are more than willing to help you out if you offer them something of value as well. Like it or not these people have the WIIFM mentality as well. If you can come to the table with something they want then they will be willing to reciprocate.
Want an example? I contacted several people who had mentioned they had a problem trying to get a handle on a resource list or submission process to control the amount of services and “spam” (their words) on their forums. I messaged them and let them know that I had a similar problem and that I had come up with a solution that might help them out — I said they could send all their requests to me and I would aggregate them for them.
This way it takes the burden from them, gives me more resources (or at least a contact) and solves the problem. A few of these influencers will be featuring my site in their groups/forums once we go live and several of them have already started sending people to my landing page.
*Takeaway: Even people “in power” & “with power” have problems. If you can provide a win-win solution then they will almost always be willing to help out — and send people your way.*
###4. Reach out to the people/products I feature
This was one that I almost overlooked before it smacked me in the face one day.
I know if you mention someone else’s blog or product in a post, you should reach out to them and let them know you like their stuff and you’re going to give them a link. Usually this results in a few shares or a mention on social media (and if you’re lucky you might get a link back). However my brain blocked this out until I realized that my entire site is basically one big backlink pool for these people. I should let them know they’re being featured.
I started reaching out and it’s had some great results. Here’s the best part: when I let some of them know that they’re product/service is being featured on my site I’ve found a few of them have offered up some free stuff that I can give away in the coming weeks. So I’ll have some signed books, free courses, free software and other great stuff that I can use in my “contest” phase.
On top of that, since this is a user-ranked site I’ve found that many of them are more than willing to share with their followers & email lists in order to get them to vote-up their resource when we go live. It makes sense that this is going to help them out quite a bit in the future and it’s already helping me (and will continue).
*Takeaway: Spread the love. If you mention someone don’t think they’ll find it on their own. Sometimes you have to let them know that you like their stuff before they’ll notice you.*
###5. Contests & Giveaways
If you haven’t yet seen the power of a giveaway yet, you might be in for a fantastic surprise. Some people have been using giveaways to grow their lists by 5K subscribers each week. You want more than that? It’s possible.
It’s all about what you’re willing to give away. If you want a bunch of folks on your list then you can try giving away an iPad. But I wouldn’t recommend that type of growth unless your site/product has mass appeal. You don’t just want people on your list, you want TARGETED people on your list — whatever that might mean for you.
My site appeals to writers, authors, indies and self-publishers. That means I need to pick prizes that appeal to only those types of people. To start I decided to give away 10 of the most recommended books on writing craft and in the future I’ll give away some of the stuff I mentioned above as well as some great writing and book marketing courses.
There are quite a few apps, plugins and hosted services for hosting giveaways (I know, I have 7 of them in that category already) I chose to go with Gleam.io since it was very nice looking, offered quite a few options and really was the easiest for me to use. You should check them out since you can build a free contest just to test it.
Because of the power of this method, I’ve decided to do monthly giveaways after we go live to continue to grow the list and keep people talking about me.
*Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to give some stuff away in exchange for an email. Make sure whatever it is speaks to your audience.*
###What I didn’t do (hint: I wasn’t a douchebag — I hope):
– I didn’t add people without asking their permission
– I didn’t spam forums and groups without providing some sort of value OR establishing myself first
– I didn’t mass-email the people/products I featured. I sent over 250 individual emails in one week (I’m lucky I didn’t get flagged as spam myself). I have many more email/tweets/FB messages to send. I added personality and I added details that you can’t “automate” so they knew it was personal.
– I didn’t sit back and HOPE — I went out and actively built my list.
That’s it, you might see that there wasn’t anything special about what I did. Maybe you learned something or maybe you were reminded of something you learned already but forgot about. Hopefully it was helpful.
You can do this too. It’s not hard but it takes time and you have to change the way you think. You give first and many will reciprocate.
###Final Important takeaway: provide value and help people.
Do you have any additional tips or ideas for how I could have done even better?
EDIT: even with editing I still had a typo!