Recently I’ve been working with a lot of my clients on building their mailing lists. Everyone has learned that the “money’s in the list” (and it is). From the discussions, it’s clear that the psychology of the email sign-up is not intuitive. List-building is clearly nurture versus nature.
“List-building is nurture versus nature. Learn 6 Mistakes you may be making”
People think that if you put up a box in the upper right hand corner of your blog that says, “Sign up for my newsletter” or other default language, that they’ll pick off 1 out of every 2 visitors and their money-making list will swell to gigantic proportions overnight!
In truth it’s a bit harder than that.
Why don’t people just seek out your opt-in box?
Because people are sick of any extraneous email. They want it gone from their inboxes NOW. They’re thinking, “If you want me to sign up for any of your crap, it better be good crap!”
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s cover several reasons why your list will not grow unless you make some changes.
6 Reasons people are not signing up for you email list
1) You’re not getting enough traffic
At the end of the day, list-building is not a one-on-one battle. You can build a list slowly by referring people you meet at networking events, but it will be very, very slow going. Traffic generation tactics like content marketing, webinars, SEO and guest blogging are great ways to get more (qualified) visitors to your site quickly.
Realize that list-building is a numbers game. In addition to the points you’ll learn about below, you need to have some traffic flow in order to build your list. And by the way, one big event, guest blog post, webinar or public speaking opportunity can lead to hundreds of new subscribers if done correctly.
2) You’re not giving away anything of value
“Subscribe for updates” or “Sign up for my newsletter” won’t cut it unless you’re Beyonce (who has over 3.4 million Twitter followers without ever having tweeted). If you’re Beyonce, people want your updates (Twitter, email or other). If you’re you, they probably don’t.
So figure out what your customers really want. What do they need to know? What things can you teach them? How can you help them take a first step towards fixing their business, solving their dating problems or losing 50 pounds? You don’t have to give away the whole farm but give away something of value in the form of an ebook, webinar, email course or other valuable giveaway.
Put yourself in their shoes. If you (as them) don’t think your giveaway rocks, it’s probably not that attractive. Keep trying.
3) Your language is limp
“The Sales Techniques eReport” is limp. “12 Sales Techniques of Millionaire Salespeople” or “12 Negotiation Techniques To Triple Your Sales” are more exciting (and I’m sure you can come up with even more exciting titles – just make sure they’re true!).
Compel them to get your book or attend your webinar even though they know they’ll start getting more email from you!
4) Your opt-in box is unattractive or boring
The standard, off-the-shelf opt-in boxes rarely get noticed. Unless they have something unique, custom or eye-catching they blend into the scenery of your blog.
It doesn’t have to be obnoxious, bright and flashing, but an attractive box, a picture, clear “call to action” and a unique look will help it to get noticed.
5) Your opt-in box is tucked away in your sidebar
You can call them lazy or forgetful, but if your readers have to scroll back up and find your opt-in box after they read your post, they’re not likely to sign up.
You have to hit them over the head with your opt-in box to get them to sign up! Your opt-in box needs to be right in front of them, at the right time enticing them to register to access your killer content.
6) Your opt-in box is not on all of your posts
Embedding your opt-in box in each post or page it takes time (if you’re putting it on the page versus in the sidebar). But your opt-in box needs to show up on every post, including your older blog posts.
When you update your offer, it needs to apply to your previous posts because people still visit them via search or by using your navigation.
3 Ways (and Tools) To Improve Your Opt-in Rates
Option 1: Pop-up Boxes (effective but annoying):
Using Pop-up Domination
One solution that a lot of people use is to have a pop-up box jump up before the reader accesses the blog content. A popular tool for doing this is Pop-up domination. This technique has been shown to increase sign-up rates by various marketers, but I personally find pop-ups annoying. I also rarely share popped-up pages on social media. So what might you lose with this strategy? If you have a big name and tons of traffic it probably pays off and your gains will likely outweigh your losses. If you’re smaller and trying to grow your readership, it may impede your growth.
Using Aweber or Mail Chimp’s Pop-up Mode
Aweber (a popular email list software) has a setting for pop-ups that you can enable when you set up a new form for an email list. Mailchimp has this as well and calls it “Evil Pop-up”. These options are less advanced than Pop-up Domination but serve the purpose if you want to use pop-ups or pop-overs. Experiment with how each of these work on your site and your email provider may have similar pop-up or pop-over modes available.
Option 2: Sign-up Box Built into your Theme (e.g. just below the header):
Using StudioPress Theme Generate
Another solution being used by some marketers, bloggers and businesses is to include a prominent sign-up box prior to the blog content on the home page. Studiopress has released a theme specifically to enable this technique (called “Generate” as in “generate a list”). It’s definitely less annoying than a pop-up, but it requires a site redesign or theme change to implement. For people who are in a position to update their themes, this is a good solution (and I’m a huge fan of Studiopress – my theme runs on their Genesis framework).
Option 3: Opt-in Box in the same spot on all of your posts
Using Optin Skin
Optin Skin is a new and very elegant solution that solves a lot of these problems and some ones you may not have thought of. Let’s say you decide that you want your opt-in either before or after each blog post (right in the line of sight)? The solution I’ve been using is to create a custom opt-in box with a picture, some compelling language, and a form at the bottom of a post. I would then copy that code and paste it into the same spot on the other posts, including my older posts (replacing other, older calls to action). What a hassle to create this and then have to edit multiple posts!
Optin Skin’s Elegant Solution
Optin Skin is exactly what I and my clients have been looking for. Based on my testing, it’s easy to implement attractive opt-in boxes that can be added to all of your posts in the same spot (above posts, under posts, below the first paragraph or floated right of the second paragraph) or on specific posts or pages (using short code). The beauty of this solution is that when you update an offer, it can change for all of the posts at the same time (new and old). They look pretty nice and you see my example below this post (I created the book cover using another great tool – Box Shot King).
Here are the basics on using Optin Skin
1) Buy and install the Optin Skin plugin
2) Select from 19 different templates
3) Change the colors and the language.
4) Add a picture of your ebook, report or video (I used Powerpoint and a great tool called Box Shot King to make this example that you see in the form at the bottom).
5) Connect it to your email list provider and name.
6) Save it and select the location for the opt-in box.
7) You’re done and there is is at the bottom of this post (in this case I used the short code to put it on this post)!
You can remove the Optin Skin branding as well.
I hope this has helped you think about list-building and that you find these tools helpful.
“3 Cool Tools to Help You With Your Email List-building”
Now go out there and start building your list!
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Tom Treanor is the founder of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He’s the author of the Search Engine Boot Camp, the co-author of Online Business Productivity, and regularly speaks at industry and corporate events. His writing has been featured on the Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, Copyblogger and other leading industry blogs.