3 proven methods to make it easier to sign up to your email list

November 20, 2014 jamie@myemma.com

Email is the most effective way to get new customers and stay in touch with existing customers, but still it can feel tough to grow your email list. Before we look at three easy ways to grow your email list, let’s look at how email compares to social media.

According to a McKinsey report earlier this year, email is a significantly more effective acquisition tool than social media—nearly 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined! 91 percent of all US consumers use email daily, and emails drive purchases at 3X the rate of social media. Oh, and the average order value is 17% higher.

Combining this data with previous insights showing 77% of consumers prefer email over other channels, and 75% of people who come to a website and leave have future intentions to return, it becomes clear that email is still the top dog of marketing tools and that your email list is possibly your business’s most important sales asset.

So how do you get started growing your email list and growing your business?

Today I’m going to share just three of the strategies covered in the free 30 day Email1K course to build a revenue-generating email list.

1. Gateways to great content

If you want to make it easy to sign up to your email list, you have to make it extremely easy for your visitors to do just that.

If you’re producing incredible content, getting an email address is only as hard as asking for it, and the absolute best way to ask is through a gateway page.

Noah Kagan's OkDork homepage gateway

Well-built, designed gateways are my favorite way to get new subscribers because they spell out the incentives (high-value content that your reader wants), provide the visitor with a single choice, and provide an instant reward to both parties — the marginal cost to both parties is near-zero. It’s economics and it’s beautiful.

To make a gateway effective, first look at your most trafficked pages. Chances are this will be your homepage or another high-level page like a content landing page. Whatever it is, find ways to turn that page into a gateway that provides each visitor the chance to give you their email address and for you to deliver great content in return.

It might seem risky, but it's not as risky as trying to grow your site and business without email subscribers. You may want to try adding both a gateway on your homepage and on your most valuable content if you’re driving enough traffic across the site and not seeing visitors move between pages. Experiment and see what happens!

If you’re looking for inspiration on content gateways, here are the gateways to three of my favorite pieces of marketing content and the OkDork homepage gateway. Check ‘em out.

2. Pop-ups

Awww, snap! You knew we were gonna talk about these! Pop-ups are a touchy subject for a lot of marketers. Some feel they degrade the brand, others feel they degrade the user experience, and others feel they’re just ugly.

Still, when it comes to adding subscribers to your email list, pop-ups work – like, really really work – so don’t discount their value before trying them. If your goal is to make it easy for someone to sign up for your email list, pop-ups make it easy to say yes. One simple strategy is to offer your most popular article as an incentive to sign up. Many pop-up plugins exist for websites, and some, like List Builder, can take less than 3 minutes to set up.

To help prove how valuable pop-ups are, Ott Niggulis wrote an incredible piece, In Defense of the Email Popup, that you should read. I’m going to paraphrase a few tidbits of data from the article to help make it more clear:

Pop-ups don’t affect bounce rates and do increase subscription rates – [picture] Sure, they’re annoying, but not so much that they drive people away.

Styles: Behavior-based vs. Time-on-site vs. Etc. – All sorts of pop-ups are effective and many sites use more than one. In terms of timing, SumoMe results say that asking someone to opt-in after 5 seconds is most effective, but you need to test what works for your site. (The List Builder app has a smart feature that determines the best time for an opt-in to appear on your site.)

Using opt-out language like “No thanks, I prefer to pay full price for my clothing” works better than more polite language like “No thanks” – 6.00% to 4.81%, respectively, in conversion rate terms.

Asking revisitors to subscribe again after 1 minute away and 1 month away have the same effect – According to AppSumo’s data, you should be asking people to subscribe every chance you get. [picture]

Make sure that your pop-up is contrasted with the content – Most good pop-up plugins darken the content around the signup form to make your call to action (“Sign up!”) exceptionally clear. For example, your form should look like this, not this.

Adding to Ott’s exploration of pop-ups, savvy marketers should look into different types of pop-up opt-ins: incentivized, personalized (for instance, visitors from high-traffic referrer sites), scroll depth, discount tabs, shopping cart abandonment, etc. The possibilities are highly effective and endless.

One style of pop-up that’s worth mentioning in particular is the scroll depth pop-up. Using Scroll Trigger Box or Scroll Box, your signup form only appears after someone has read X% of a page, say, 25%. It’s less intrusive and allows your reader to gauge your content’s quality before you ask them to sign up, but also slightly less effective on its own. For this reason, I recommend combining a 5-second timed opt-in with a 25-50% scroll depth opt-in in order to capture the maximum number of subscribers possible. It’s annoying, but not so much that people stop reading, think “This guy’s a total jerk!”, and leave the page.

If you’re convinced that you should be using pop-ups to help grow your email list, here are a few tools to help get you started:



As a final note, effective as pop-up opt-ins may be, I wouldn’t suggest you abandon your on-page signup form. (You know the one, all alone on your sidebar without a soul in the world paying it any attention.) On-page signup forms are often ignored, but there’s no harm in leaving your readers another opportunity to subscribe.

To maximize the on-page form’s efficacy, try using heat maps (free with SumoMe) to find where people click the most on your landing page(s) and stick your on-page opt-in there. Otherwise, learn about the best locations for your on-page opt-ins from Social Triggers’ blog post on the best places to add email sign ups to build your list.

3. The Comments section

Because you’re writing great content, people are going to want to discuss it. And to discuss it, they’ll often need to enter an email address to bypass spam security. With a reader already entering their email into a form, this is a perfect time to capture a new subscriber!

If you’re using Wordpress, there are plenty of plugins that will help you add a subscription option to your comments section. My personal favorite is Newsletter Sign-Up. To protect against spam bots, be sure to combine any comments-based signup functionality with an email verification tool like DM Confirm Email (Wordpress).

Yoast – a mad-genius Wordpress developer with a mind for growth – also published the code he used to build his own subscription opt-in into his comments field. If you’re the DIY kind of personality and not terribly uncomfortable with code, check it out.

Ready to get started?

Now you can make it easy for every visitor to your website to hear from you in the future. There are no promises of immediate glory – it’s still a grind – but you now have a stacked arsenal of both concepts and tools at your disposal. Use them wisely and remember: when it comes to potential subscribers, it’s always okay to ask – the worst answer you’ll get is “no.” Even if your initial tests start out rough, use the information you gather to optimize your customers’ experience with your needs as a business.

Convinced that email is king of the marketing game? Want to stop reading and get started? Good! Get outta here, get up and running, and let us know how it goes in the comments!

For more email marketing strategies from top experts, visit Email1k.com for a free 30 day course.


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