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If you are a blogger just starting out, one of the most important things you can do is build an email list. An email list allows you to stay connected with your readers, and it also gives you a way to promote your blog posts and other content. Not only that but building an email list can also help grow your blog’s audience.
However, the biggest challenge you will face when it comes to building an email list is how to turn website visitors into email subscribers.
In this post, I will give you a step-by step plan for how to get your first 1000 email subscribers.
Sign Up for an Email Marketing Service
The first thing you need to do to get your first 1000 email subscribers is to sign up for an email marketing service.
It is important to choose a reputable email marketing service provider. There are a few things to look for when choosing an email marketing service, including a free option, good customer service, and a user-friendly interface.
It is also important to consider pricing, since the amount you spend on various tools in your business really impacts the bottom line.
You may also want to choose an email marketing tool that includes an option to build a landing page, or even better an unlimited number of landing pages.
Finally, it is important to think long term, and make sure that whatever email marketing platform you choose has the potential to grow with your business.
Since I use MailerLite, I am going to use it to illustrate each of these principles.
Pro Tip: If you want to learn more about MailerLite, check out my MailerLite Review.
Starting Email Marketing for Free
The first point in choosing an email marketing service is choosing one with a good free plan. If your business is already established, this is not important. But if you are working toward getting your first 1000 email subscribers and are not bringing in much, if any income, this matters quite a bit.
So, let us look at MailerLite’s free plan. The free plan allows up to 1,000 subscribers. That is plenty to get things humming along with your business.
By the time you have 1,000 subscribers, you should be in a better place to bring in income through your blog, so you can afford to upgrade to a paid plan.
You also have many features in the free plan. Contrast this with the free plan of ConvertKit. ConvertKit’s free plan is limited to 300 subscribers and is missing some crucial basic features such as the ability to set up autoresponders.
You can read my article MailerLite Vs. ConvertKit for more information on the differences between these two email marketing services.
Choosing an Email Marketing Tool with Good Customer Service
Next, it is important to choose an email marketing tool that has good customer support. Sometimes it is hard to know this until you start using a service. In some cases, there are different levels of service based on the type of account you have.
This is understandable, because if you get a service for free, the company is losing money by having you as a “customer.” So, you cannot necessarily expect a high level of customer service on a free email marketing account.
However, you should have enough customer support even in a free plan that can help when you are having some type of technical or other problem.
I currently have multiple MailerLite accounts. Some are free, and some are paid. The good news is, even with the free accounts, I have experienced excellent customer service.
For instance, if I reach out to MailerLite with a question or problem, they respond quickly. They have even gone into my account to look at how I have things set up to make sure I have done things properly.
Pro tip: When you sign up for a free email marketing plan, early on, reach out to their support to test their level of customer service. Please note that I am not talking about sending them multiple emails or making unreasonable demands. But reach out with a question or some other request for assistance to test their responsiveness. I recommend doing this sooner rather than later.
It is best to know right away if customer service from your email marketing provider is poor, so you can switch to a different company if needed.
Choosing an Email Marketing Provider with a Good User Interface
Nowadays most email marketing providers have a good user interface. Ideally, you will have both a drag and drop editor as well as some type of plain text or HTML editing options. There should also be some “clues” for how to do various tasks within the system.
For example, in the screenshots below you can see that in the automations area in MailerLite, when you click on the drop-down menu for Workflow trigger, you can see that there is a little explanation for each of the triggers. This helps you know which trigger to choose.
It is normal to struggle a bit when you first start with a new program, but there should be good documentation to help you through any confusion.
In addition to that, whatever you use should work as intended. I am not talking about occasional bugs when there is a major update. But in general, when you work on your email optin forms, writing emails, setting up automations, etc. things should work flawlessly.
Most likely, any problems that occur when you are new are simply because you are new and do not quite understand how things work. This goes back to the customer support issue.
Compare Pricing Plans
Make sure to compare pricing plans to find the best fit for your budget. One of the biggest issues I had with ConvertKit was that the cost was simply too high. If you have the budget for a higher cost option, go for it! But I have found that MailerLite provides as much, if not more functionality at about half the price.
Consider the Potential Growth of Your Blog or Business
You will want to consider the provider’s ability to grow with your business. As your business grows, you will need more features and functionality from your email marketing provider.
Make sure the provider you choose has a robust platform that can scale with your business. It is helpful if there are different packages with different price points. For instance, you want something you can start with for free, and then upgrade to a paid package when you are ready. As your business grows, you may need even more features.
I prefer to choose an email service provider that has three tiers:
- Paid, that includes more features and more subscribers than the free version
- Pro, that includes more advanced marketing options that you can use as your business grows.
You can see the what comes in the different packages on the MailerLite pricing page.
Create Optin Forms
Once you have selected an email marketing provider, the first thing you need to do to work toward your goal of getting your first 1000 email subscribers is create an optin form.
The bottom line is that without optin forms, you do not have a way to gather email subscribers.
There are many different tools available for optin forms, such as Optin Monster, Thrive Leads, or Kadence Conversions.
When starting out, do not worry about buying an additional tool to create a signup form. Any email marketing service you use should come with at least a few basic optin forms.
As an example, MailerLite comes with the following optin form options:
- Embedded Signup forms
- Promotion pop-ups
You can read more about what each of those form options means in the article, Collect New Subscribers.
Create a Lead Magnet
If you want to grow your email list, offering a lead magnet can be an effective strategy. A lead magnet is a piece of digital content that is offered in exchange for an individual’s email address.
Lead magnets can be a PDF guide, an email course, or even a discount code.
The key is to make sure that the lead magnet is something that your target audience will find valuable.
Once you have created your lead magnet, you will need to create an optin form where people can sign up to receive it.
This form can be added to your website, blog, or social media pages. You can also promote your lead magnet through email marketing and online ads.
Keep in mind that the goal is to get people to sign up for your email list, so make sure that the offer is relevant and irresistible. If done correctly, offering a lead magnet can be a fantastic way to grow your email list quickly.
Popular Types of Lead Magnets
Here is a basic idea of the types of lead magnets you can create.
Subscribe for Updates
Giving people an opportunity to sign up to be notified when you publish new content is by far the least effective type of lead magnet you can create. I started with this one because it is the easiest one to get started with, and is certainly better than nothing
Especially if you are overwhelmed by the thought of creating lead magnets that require more work, start with a general newsletter one.
Even though it is the least effective way to get email subscribers, it has the lowest barrier to entry in terms of your time and skillset, so start with this, and create something more specific as soon as you can.
Here is a specific example of how this works for me.
On one of my sites, I have a pop up that is nothing more than a sign-up form giving people a chance to subscribe for updates.
My conversion rate on that is about 5% and it took me just a few minutes to set up.
When it comes to “lead magnets” that are nothing more than giving people an opportunity to become email subscribers, the key is giving people an opportunity to indicate areas of interest.
For example, the pop up that I mentioned earlier lets people select the topics they are interested in. By doing so, they self-segment and only get email on topics they most care about.
I also created optin forms for each category on my blog. Those say, “Get notified every time I publish new ___________________ articles.” The blank is for the specific category.
The nice thing about this pop up is that it targets all site visitors and yet only shows to a specific person once every 30 days.
As I said, this is the least effective lead magnet. But especially when you’re trying to get your first 1,000 email subscribers, the most important thing is starting right away. And since this is the easiest option, I recommend doing this first, and then adding other incentives to subscribe to your email list later.
When it comes to using free eBooks to build an email list, it is all about providing value. Your eBook should be packed with useful information that your target audience will find helpful. In exchange for receiving your eBook, you can ask for your readers’ email addresses.
The eBooks you use for building an email list do not have to be long – they can be short and to the point. Just make sure they are packed with quality information.
Cheat sheets are another great way to collect email addresses in exchange for valuable content. A cheat sheet is a quick reference guide that provides tips and strategies that your target audience will find helpful.
Consider what they would find most helpful, and make sure the cheat sheet is easy to understand and use.
Like eBooks, cheat sheets should be packed with quality information that your target audience will find helpful. But unlike eBooks, cheat sheets can be REALLY short – they do not have to be long-form content. Even a page or two is enough!
To use cheat sheets for building an email list, simply create a cheat sheet that covers a topic your target audience is interested in. Then, offer it for free in exchange for an email address.
You can promote your cheat sheet on your website, social media, or via email marketing.
Templates are another great way to offer valuable content in exchange for an email address. For example, create a template for a specific goal or project that your audience is working on.
Think of templates as a “paint by numbers” guide for doing something. Once people finish using the template, they should have a final product that they feel happy with.
A whitepaper is a type of long-form content that is usually between 5 and 20 pages long. They are like eBooks in that they provide valuable information that your target audience will find helpful. However, whitepapers tend to be more comprehensive and detailed than eBooks.
To use whitepapers for building an email list, simply create a whitepaper that covers a topic your target audience is interested in. Then, offer it for free in exchange for an email address.
Courses are another great way to offer valuable content in exchange for an email address. By creating a course, you can give your audience access to valuable information that they can use to improve their lives or businesses.
For example, if you are a business coach, you could create a course on “How to start a successful business.”
When creating a free course as a lead magnet, do not feel like you need to create a long course. You may want to create a longer course in the future that you can sell!
But even if you keep the course short, you should still make sure it is high quality and packed with value.
If you are not sure what kind of course to create, consider surveying your audience to find out what they want to learn. You can also look at other courses in your industry to get an idea of what would be valuable to your audience.
A checklist is a great way to organize and keep track of tasks, both big and small. When creating a checklist to give away to your email subscribers, be sure to include items that will be relevant and useful to them. Some things to consider adding to your checklist include:
- a list of tasks that need to be completed to reach a goal
- a schedule of when certain tasks need to be completed
- a list of resources that can be used to complete the tasks
- a list of reminders for important deadlines or milestones
- a space for notes and comments
Quizzes and Assessments
Giving away free quizzes and assessments is a great way to engage and grow your email list. Here are a few tips on how to create quizzes and assessments that your subscribers will love:
1. Keep it relevant. Make sure the quiz or assessment relates to the content of your email list. This will help ensure that only those who are truly interested in your list’s topic will sign up.
2. Make it challenging. Nobody wants to waste their time on a quiz that is too easy. Be sure to include questions that will make your subscribers think.
3. Offer a prize. Offering a prize for the winners of your quiz or assessment is a great way to motivate people to participate. Make sure the prize is something that your subscribers would want.
4. Keep it short. Nobody wants to spend hours taking a quiz or assessment. Be sure to keep your questions concise and to the point.
5. Use an engaging format. People are more likely to participate in a quiz or assessment if it is presented in an engaging way.
Be creative with your questions and format to ensure that people will want to take the time to answer them.
Free Trials of Products or Services
One way to quickly build your email list is to offer free trials of products or services.
This is a great way to entice potential subscribers and give them a taste of what they can expect from you.
Free trials are also a great way to build trust and credibility with your audience. If they see that you are willing to give away your product for free, they are more likely to believe that you must be confident in its quality.
When running a free trial promotion, it is important to have a strong call-to-action (CTA) to convert subscribers into paying customers.
Your CTA should make it clear what the next steps are, and how easy it is to sign up.
Sample Content (like a free chapter of your book)
One of the best ways to build your email list is by offering sample content (like a free chapter of your book).
The great thing about offering a free sample is that if people like the sample, they may go beyond opting into your email list. They may become a customer!
An industry report is a document that contains information about a particular industry. Industry reports can be used to research a new market, understand the competitive landscape of an industry, and make informed decisions about where to invest.
Industry reports are often published by research firms or trade associations, and they can be a valuable resource for businesses of all sizes.
Industry reports are a great way to build an email list.
A content upgrade is some type of freebie that is specific to the post where you promote it. As an example, if you have a blog post on how to lose weight by eating a specific food, your content upgrade could be a PDF with recipes made with that ingredient.
Or, if your blog post is about paying off debt using a particular method, your content upgrade could be a checklist or spreadsheet that helps the person implement the method.
This contrasts with a general lead magnet that works well on about any of your blog posts, or on blog posts in a specific category. Those are still helpful. In fact, most of your lead magnets re more general. But content upgrades convert really well, and therefore are more powerful.
I tend to use content upgrades to grow my email list on posts that are already performing well. With a post that gets a lot of traffic, it is worth taking the time to make a content upgrade.
Create Optin Forms
Once you have created your lead magnet, you need a way for your website visitors to request them and be added to your email list. That is where optin forms come in. An optin form is an essential component of getting email subscribers.
As mentioned above, email marketing tools such as MailerLite include optin forms as an feature. You will first create the optin form using one of the provided templates. Grab the code for the optin form and paste it into your blog posts.
You can also create a landing page that includes the optin form.
When people put in their email address, two things happen. The first thing is that they are automatically added to your email list.
The second thing is that they should automatically receive whatever lead magnet your promised them.
Note that not all free levels of tools automate the delivery of a lead magnet. This is one reason I love the free version of MailerLite – it includes features such as autoresponders that are missing in the free versions of some tools such as ConvertKit and GetResponse.
Consider Using Pop-Ups
When it comes to optin forms, pop-ups are one of the best ways to get email signups. A lot of people hate pop-ups, and I get it. We’ve all experienced pop-ups that get in the way of the blog post we are trying to read, and some of them are hard to get rid of!
The key is to use pop ups sparingly. In the settings for most pop-ups, you can limit the frequency that any website visitor sees them.
Also, make sure that it is easy for people to click out of and close the pop up. We’ve all experienced pop ups where it is hard to find how to close them. That is annoying and frustrating, and not something you want to do to your blog readers.
But when used properly, they are a great way to get more email signups and thereby end up with more subscribers.
Regardless of whether you use a regular optin form or a popup, be sure to include a call to action on the form, encouraging people to join your list.
Publish Quality Content Consistently
Finally, one of the best ways to get new subscribers is to publish content consistently. Think of every piece of content that you publish as a tool to get more email sign ups.
If you include an optin form on every blog post, and you publish content consistently, you will have more people sign up.
Welcome New Email Subscribers
Be sure to welcome new email subscribers, by sending them a welcome email. A welcome email is an email that is sent to new email subscribers after they opt-in to your list.
The purpose of a welcome email is to introduce yourself and your business, and to thank the subscriber for opting-in.
A welcome email should also provide an overview of what the subscriber can expect from future emails, and it may include a special offer or discount.
Welcome emails are a great way to build relationships with new subscribers, and they can help to encourage engagement and loyalty.
Stay in Touch with Your Email Subscribers
There is no point in building an email list if you do not stay in touch with your subscribers. It is important to consistently email your subscribers.
Make personal and meaningful conversation a regular part of all your email communication with your subscribers.
If you follow these steps, in no time you will have a thriving list of email subscribers eager to hear from you and potentially buy your products or services.
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