If you are just starting out in business, this guide is designed to show you how to start growing an email list of potential clients that you can turn into paying ones. It covers all the basics. (If you are a more seasoned entrepreneur, revisit this blog for more advanced strategy posts.)
One advantage of doing business online is the ability to set up multiple sale funnels that offer opt-in freebies and info, in exchange for the reader joining a mailing list. These highly targeted opt-in offers can grow your list, and are key to your success.
The item or items used for incentives are often called lead magnets. Like magnets, they attract or draw your chosen audience to your offer and mailing list opt-in.
Your opt-in incentives serve as product samples to new leads, showing them the kind of value in store for them if they join your list.
However, you will first need to create an opt-in offer that includes a lead magnet or incentive.
A. Lead Magnet Content Formats
When it comes to choosing an incentive for your offer, you have a wide range of options. Here are a few lead magnet content formats that are used successfully to provide readers with solutions, info, and items they want and need most.
- Cheat Sheets
- Short Reports
- Step-By-Step Guides
- Resource Lists
- Apps, Plugins, Software
- Free Graphics
- Free Trials
When selecting the format of the “solution” or information you provide in the opt-in offer, choose the format that best serves your purpose and solves the problem for your readers. You also need to make sure that your lead magnet is helpful, appealing, and effectively accomplishes the goals you’ve set for the opt-in offer.
B. Create Effective Lead Magnets
Everyone loves to get freebies. However, you can’t offer just any old freebie and expect to get massive signups. While there are people who signup for anything as long as it’s free, these freebie seekers are not your target market. Your target market has very specific characteristics and needs. It’s their qualities, situations, and pain points that you want to highlight in your lead magnet’s description to make the opt-in offer more effective.
In addition to incorporating what you know about your target market, there are other essential elements that can help ensure your lead magnet is doing a good job. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you create the most effective lead magnet possible for your potential customers.
- Quick Usability – Effective lead magnets should be available quickly and easily. This allows the audience to begin implementing the solution or applying the information almost immediately. Quick delivery helps to build trust, which means they’re more likely to respond to your follow up email messages.
- Comprehensible – The offers and lead magnets must be clear and easy for the target audience to understand. Matching your audience and lead magnet with an experience level can help ensure that new subscribers don’t opt-in to an offer that is beyond their experience level or need. Use simple terms/concepts for newbies and use more advanced terms/concepts for advanced learners. This helps cut the frustration level and the unsubscribe rate down to a minimum. Identify who it’s for and who it’s not for.
- Quick Results –The best lead magnets quickly provide a certain degree of relief from specific pain points related to a problem or question. Quick results help to build your authority and expert status on the topic, which prompts your audience to buy paid products and provide you with earned media.
- Targeted – Offers, solutions, and information must be targeted to the audience that you want to sign up for your email list. Use a profile persona (client avatar) to make sure your offers and lead magnets always contain solutions and words that are specific to the audience segment and topic. This helps to keep freebie seekers and confusion to a minimum, as well as keeping your list cleaner.
- Funnel Vision – Whether you do it at the end of the lead magnet document or in a follow up email, give your new subscribers a hint of what action they should take next. Just as a syllabus helps students follow along in school, getting a small glimpse of your sales funnel lineup helps subscribers to follow your suggested recommendations in an orderly fashion. In addition, it helps you to make more sales after an initial signup offer.
- Brand Consistent – It’s important for your opt-in offers to be brand consistent. This means the visual branding and the quality of the items should be the same as your paid products. Keeping the topics, branding, and quality consistent throughout your entire business/sales funnel, makes your audience feel safe whether they are signing up for a freebie or buying your most expensive product. They know what to expect from you and can easily identify your items. This feeling of safety is ultimately turns new subscribers into returning, loyal, and long-term customers.
- Dedicated Opt-in Landing Pages – Your landing pages can be short or long, but each should focus on one topic, solution, and offer. Design the page to introduce the freebie and provide details about the offer’s benefits. Include an opt-in form on the landing page to collect the name and email address, where the item will be delivered.
An effective lead magnet requires that it be something your audience needs, wants, and is simple for them to understand. It should also be highly targeted to your audience.
C. Creating a Compelling Opt-in Offer
Your opt-ins should resonate with your audience and assist you in directing them to take the specific calls to action that you suggest. Here are some points for making your offer compelling:
1-Analyze Your Current Content
The first thing you should do is look at the content you have now. Check the analytics to find out which blog posts are most popular. This content is the perfect place to add a related opt-in offer.
By adding the opt-in offer on these posts, you’ll be able to reach and attract more people in the specific subset of your audience. This practice will ensure that it’s what they need, want, and are interested in right then. That means they’re much more likely to sign up for the opt-in.
2-Target Audience Personas
Don’t yet have enough content to analyze? What you can do is create an audience persona based on the type of person you want to work with and who needs your products.
3-Solve Your Audience’s Problems
Each person who comes to your blog or website via a search has a reason for doing so. They searched for something to solve a problem that they have. If you know where your audience hangs out online, you can survey them to find out which problems are most pressing, so you can choose which one to address. This solution could be in the form of an e-book, a video series, a webinar, or any other type of resource that can help them achieve their goals.
4-Educate Your Audience
When you find out their pain points, you’ll know their problems. From there, you can choose what you want to educate your audience about. Providing education about problems and solutions sometimes requires that you agitate the problem so that they want the cure. Your content should be easy to consume, engaging, and actionable.
5-Engage Your Audience
If you have an email list, social media pages, social media groups, or other ways to communicate with your audience, engage with them. In the process, you can glean info to determine what type of lead magnet to create. Ask them questions, survey them, find out what they’re searching for, and then provide the solution.
6-Name the Opt-in
When you create the opt-in, it should be very catchy, attention-grabbing, and specific regarding the problem it solves and who the target audience is. This will make it easier to name and add specific benefits in your copy. For example, “17 Budget Hacks for Saving Mom Money” is very specific. It provides information about what’s inside, without any confusion. It’s also clear, short and to the point.
7-Offers They Can’t Refuse
It’s important that your offer provides exceptional value. Show them what realistic benefits they can expect from your lead magnet solution.
If prospects get a high-quality freebie, put the ideas into action, and see for themselves that you know what you’re talking about, they’re going to be more likely to take the next step to making a purchase.
Remember that the content you create is supposed to move your audience forward from where they are now, to where they want to be. This may require a lot of study about your audience, your products, your services (and anything else you promote), so that you are better able to develop the right opt-in offers. That’s the way to make it an irresistible offer.
D. Developing Multiple Entry Points Onsite
Now that you know how to create a attractive lead magnet, and compelling offer on the landing page, it’s important to know the one more key to help you get more signups – have multiple points of entry.
Having multiple entry points in the funnel provides your audience with many opportunities to sign up for your email list. This means that you can segment your list even more, in order to super target their interests and pain points.
Let’s look at some places you can add an opt-in to get more signups:
- Before, Durning or After Blog Posts — Giving your viewers an option before, during, and after blog posts is a great way to get their attention since they’re on the page anyway.
- In the Side Bar – This is another place for a site wide opt-in offer. Most of your viewers will be a little blind to offers here, so this type of offer should be more general to your overall audience.
- On the About Page – If a visitor to your site wants to learn more about you and sample the quality of your items, offering an opt-in on the about page will increase your sign-ups. Look at your analytics to get some idea about who visits your about page to get ideas, but a good freebie for this page would be a resource list.
- On Custom Landing Pages – You should create a custom landing page for every freebie you create, because it will make it easier to share when you want to, such as to affiliates and joint venture partners. In addition, it helps your audience know what to do, since there’s only one choice.
- In the Footer – Someone who takes the time to scroll all the way down to your footer really wants information about you and your offers. A site-wide freebie in the footer is a great place to get more sign-ups from very interested candidates.
- On the Contact Page – This is a good place to offer additional help to your audience and to help them get to know you better. The freebie here should be something suitable for and targeted to your audience on a more general site-wide basis.
- In a Popup, Slide, or Pop-under – You can set these up now to be specific to the page your audience is visiting, which can help you make the opt-in more targeted than a site-wide opt-in offer. (That’s why it’s important to have more than one opt-in incentive.)
While it may seem like a lot of work, the more places you can show an opt-in offer the better your results will be. The great thing is that you can reuse some of the freebies, if they fit with the content on the page. You have barely 8 seconds to capture and hold your viewers’ attention, but with a good landing page and a relevant offer, you can keep their attention longer and get them onto your list.
E. Best Practices for Your Squeeze Page
Let’s talk a bit about creating your landing or squeeze pages for your opt-in offers. There are a few best practices that you can use for any type of squeeze page, landing page, sales page, or opt-in offer.
Your opt-in squeeze page should be or have:
- Dedicated to One Offer – Don’t confuse your audience by offering more than one opt-in offer per squeeze page. Your squeeze page doesn’t have to be long; in fact, when it comes to opt-ins, a short and simple page is better.
- Dedicated to One Audience – When you set up special landing pages for each offer, you can also set up special landing pages for your audience members. For example, if your audience member comes to your site from a specific place, such as a giveaway or a guest podcast, having a specialized and dedicated landing page will make your offer convert at a higher rate.
- Headlines – Ensure that you capture your target audiences’ attention by using words, phrases, descriptions, and hooks that speak to them or identify them, specifically. If they know the message pertains to them, they’re more likely to click through and read more.
- Testimonials – Add testimonials from people who are in the same target market. Testimonials help people decided whether you’re to be trusted and whether there is a viable solution to make life better or easier. Hint: Ask for testimonials in your follow up emails for every product, service, or freebie that you offer.
- Video & Images – To be effective images should be large, attractive, eye-catching, and stand out on your landing pages. An attractive cover image, an introductory video, and big “download” buttons help improve conversions.
- White Space – It’s also important to include white space. For freebies, making good use of bullets can help get your points across, without putting too much text on the landing page. In addition, each bullet stands out due to the white space around it.
- Color – When choosing colors for landing pages, you want to match your website and business branding so that no matter how they come to the landing page, the visitors know it’s yours.
- Invoke Scarcity – Even though you’re giving something away, make sure that your audience knows that you won’t be giving it away forever. You want them to act now, rather than 6 months down the line.
- Keep it Simple — Don’t ask for too much information. Normally, email address and name are enough. You can always send them a survey and follow up to get more info. In general, the more information you ask for on the form, the fewer people will sign up.
- Emphasize Value – When you add copy, focus on the value the freebie has to the audience you want to attract. Tell them what’s in it for them so that their focus is on that, and not the fact that they need to provide their email address.
- Relevant Button Text – Get more creative than “download” and “sign up.” Instead, go longer and tell them what the results are of clicking the button, such as “Yes, I want to increase my income,” or “Download the Success Blueprint Now.”
- Include Stats – When putting copy on the page, think about stats that will help your audience decide to convert.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your squeeze page even when promoting a free offer to get people to subscribe to your list. It’s still important to treat the opt-in as you would any product you suggest.
F. Effective Follow Up Strategies
While your email follow-up series is separate from your opt-in, if you want to grow your list quickly, keeping subscribers is as important as getting them to subscribe. The way to ensure subscribers stick with you is to set up a follow-up series based on the opt-in they subscribed to.
Here are some points to remember:
- Thanks and Delivery – You’ll need to send subscribers to a thank-you page immediately after purchase. You can have a “tripwire” or upsell on that page, for those visitors who are ready to buy (or are more aware of your brand). Also send them a thank you email, reminding them of how to download the freebie. Give good instructions so that they know how to get their item. It’s best to not give them the freebie on the thank-you page. Instead make them check their email to get it, and that will put them into the habit of opening your emails.
- Create a Series of Emails – Develop an email series designed to educate your audience and guide them to the next step in your sales funnel. Talk about their topic related problems, and work up to providing the paid solutions.
- Keep Emails Relevant – When creating the autoresponder messages, it’s important to think about how the person entered your list, what they downloaded, and what their pain points are so that you can stay pertinent.
- Email Balance – Once they’re on your list, you can also add one time offers into the mix of educational emails. A good practice is to promote something after every three (or so) informative emails.
Following up is imperative because it’s what’s going to keep them signed up so that you grow your list as more and more people sign up. You’ll have fewer unsubscribes if you’re providing interesting, relevant, and useful information on a regular basis.
G. Wrap-up Review
Now it’s time to put everything together. Setting up highly targeted opt-in offers, with multiple points of entry to your mailing list, is the fastest way to grow your list. Let’s go through the process to help you grow your list, quickly.
You can use private label rights content, content you create, content you pay to have created, or a combination of any of the three. This helps to ensure that you fill your online real-estate with information that your audience needs to know.
2-Create Your Opt-in Offers
Look at the most popular content, based on analytics, and determine what type of content could make it just a little bit more understandable or useful to your viewers.
3-Make a Landing Page for Your Offer
Help your audience make the choice to download your opt-in offer by creating a dedicated landing page for each offer. This will make it easier to add your offers to other areas on your site, so that your audience has many ways to obtain the freebies and get on your email list.
4-Make Thank You / Download Pages
Don’t forget to make use of the thank you or download page. You can put an upsell on a freebie download page.
5-Develop an Autoresponder Series for Each Freebie
Take the time to create 7 to 10 emails to thank your audience for subscribing to your list, remind them how to grab the freebie, and consume it. Educate them further about their pain points and your solutions. This is the time to show your subscribers what to expect from you by giving them examples of your knowledge and integrity.
6-Match Offers with Relevant Content
Once you’ve created an offer add it to the related content on your website. For example, if you have a blog about meal planning, you could provide a content upgrade (freebie offer) such as a free 3-day meal plan based on the reader’s goals.
7-Place Your Offers in Multiple Places
It’s important to have multiple points of entry for your audience to get on your email list. The more offers you can add in multiple places on your site, the faster you will build your list. While you can technically add offers in any areas you want, it’s best to use a “related topic” strategy, so that the offer will be more meaningful and useful to people who land on that page/post. This makes it more likely that those interested in the topic will opt-in.
8-Make the Offers Stand Out
Wherever you place your offers, whether via anchor text, in between paragraphs of a blog post, under or over a blog post, in a pop-up or so forth make the offer stand out. Use color, bold text, graphics, outlines, and images to make the free offer stand out.
9-Promote Your Content
The final key to getting more subscribers to your list is to ensure that you promote the content that you create. Share every new blog post. Share the content with the people already on your email list. Ask people to share for you too.
Finally, it’s imperative that you do what you say you will do. When people sign up for your email list, they are expecting to receive the information you promised. Let go of your fear of sending emails to your list, because you have knowledge and information that they need and want. It’s the entire reason for building your list in the first place.
Download this Fast Track Guide as a PDF, plus the accompanying worksheet and checklist in our free Resource Library HERE.