It’s not entirely your fault…
It is getting harder to get subscribers these days.
Can you blame them really? Every site has an opt-in form.
Everyone gives you free stuff.
Your inbox is probably exploding at its seams with subscriptions from a million different blogs.
So imagine…the reality is the same for your subscriber.
If you’re finding it hard to grow your list, you may unknowingly be making one or more of these 19 mistakes.
There are mistakes that look simple enough to rectify but just fly under the radar causing more damage than we think they nuld.
And the best part?
It won’t take you long to correct them.
Need some extra hand-holding? Download the guide with 43 hacks to grow your list on an hour or less.
Know what your reader and subscriber touch points are
Before we dive in to the post, let’s have a look at what are key reader and subscriber touch points.
A touch point is every interaction someone has with your site, opt-in freebies, opt-in forms or landing pages.
This is important because it helps us see the pathway that a reader and subscriber takes.
If we optimize the experience they have at each of these touch points, we’ll not only grow but nurture out list and profit from it as well.
The diagram below outlines the passage a subscriber takes. I call this the 5-Step Activation ProcessTM
and go into detail about what these 5-steps are in my course Email Lists SimplifiedTM.
This is obviously a linear and simplistic view of the entire email marketing process.
But understanding and optimizing this process will put you leagues ahead of most of the bloggers and solopreneurs out there.Optimizing subscriber touch points will put you leagues ahead of most of the solopreneurs out thereClick To Tweet.
Now that you have an overview of the process, you can start to plug any gaps that you may have.
#1 You don’t offer an opt-in freebie
Do you feel weird about giving away an opt-in freebie?
Some people do.
And I’ve personally come across a conversation in a Facebook goup where some ladies felt it was wrong to offer a bribe (a.k.a opt-in freebie) for an email address.
It may look like you’re putting a price on the relationship. You give me your email address and I’ll give you my free awesome report. Let’s do a barter.
But look at it this way.
Your opt-in freebie:
- Opens a relationship with a new reader by providing valuable content
- Gives you an opportunity to share your gift or expertise with someone else in an area they might not necessarily be good at.
- Introduces your work to someone who possibly has never heard of you before
It’s the very first step you take in building your list.
That said, opt-in freebies that I do not like are when you tell me there are 27 ways to do X but at the end of the post, you tell me ‘wait there’s another 10 more’ but I have to opt-in to find out what those are.
That’s a major trust breaker and you don’t want to do that.
Sure, there are people who will take your opt-in freebie and unsubscribe right that second.
That sucks. But those aren’t the people you want on your list.
So embrace the opt-in freebie!
When done right, it has the power to send subscribers who end up buying from your and spreading the word about your brand as well as new clients.
#2 Your opt-in freebie has nothing to do with your blog and business
How does this matter?
If they opted in, they opted in right?
If you offer a freebie that has nothing to do with your blog and business, you are going to eventually end up losing your subscribers.If your freebie has nothing to do with your blog + biz, you are going to end up losing subscribersClick To Tweet
That’s because the content you share on your blog and email are going to be very different from the freebie you offered.
The products you offer are also not going to be related to your opt-in freebie.
Your products and content are going to be solving drastically different pain points to the freebie you offered. And when that happens, it’s difficult for your audience to immediately see how your products are relevant to them. You’ll have a harder time selling your trip wires and intro level products.
Your opt-in freebie is the first step in the sales funnel. And when your freebie gels with your products and services it is so much easier to not just grow your list but make a sale as well.
I talk about this in greater detail in this post on the 3 steps to creating a good opt-in freebie – alignment, validation and positioning.
#3 You have no landing pages
You might not get the point of a landing page.
There are no distractions.
Just a simple choice.
A reader either says ‘YES’ and opts-in or ‘NO’ and click outs.
A little harsh? Maybe.
There’s no opportunity for someone to figure out whether they like you first before they part with their email address.
Here’s where social proof such as testimonials and your landing page hook has to carry it’s weight.
An easy way to boost opt-ins is to place a link of your freebie in your Navigation bar. My friend Jennifer of Women Winning Online, puts a link ‘free reports’ right up at the top of her navigation bar and each drop-down links to a landing page. A landing page also makes it easy to promote your opt-in freebie and send traffic to it.
#4 You don’t promote your email list
You’re quick to promote your blog posts but neglect promoting your opt-in freebies.
When you don’t promote your opt-in freebie, no one knows about it. And you should promote your opt-in freebies more than your blog posts.
A good quarter or more of my list came from promoting my opt-in on purely social media.
- Share your freebie landing page on Facebook promo threads
- Make separate pins for your opt-in freebie. Link them to your landing page and promote them on Pinterest.
- Share your landing page URL on social media bios
#5 They have no clue what they are getting by opting in
Your landing page is vague.
Why should someone sign-up for your freebie?
What does it help them do?
What pain point does it solve?
Is it clear within 5 seconds or less what your page does and who it’s for?
Then even if you get lots of traffic to your page, you’re going to get an abysmal rate of sign-ups.
You have to convince your reader that the opt-in is enticing and something they want – something they are actively looking for.You have to convince your reader that the opt-in is something they want, not need. Click To Tweet
You don’t want to be convincing them on the landing that their pain point needs solving.
They need to know that for themselves.
Use words that your target audience would use on the landing page.
Use bullet points to break down the benefits of the freebie.
Provide a mock-up of what they’ll be getting. I use Smart Mock Ups and it’s an excellent way to show off your freebie.
#6 You load the features and miss the benefits
I’ve been guilty of this too.
And it’s easy to just let this slip.
When you’re describing your opt-in freebie, you need to list down everything that it does, what your reader will get or learn. Have a look at this for instance:
- 10 meal planning mistakes to avoid
- A simple productivity calendar
- 5 things your work desk needs
But how do you make it better?
Add the benefits to the back…ask yourself a simple ‘so that‘ to the back of each feature…Here’s how the revised list looks.
- How to avoid 10 meals planning mistakes so that you save hours of time and get back your day
- A simple productivity calendar that keeps tracks of your day so that you have time for your family
- 5 must-have things in your office that will shave hours of your work time.
Sure, I can make it even better but see the difference a little tweak made?
Adding that benefit to the sentence plunks the reader right there in the scene and shows what your freebie does.
Have a look now at how you have described your freebie and see if you are falling into the features trap.
#7 Your opt-in button is boring!
No one’s going to ‘subscribe’ or ‘submit’.
Unless you’re huge and your brand has made a name for itself already, not many are going to click ‘submit’ or ‘join’ on your opt-in form.
These were ok 5 years ago when you could have a form in your side bar with a ‘subscribe for updates’ and still get subscribers with little to no effort. Your ‘call to action’ or CTA has to work harder for you.
Often, a user’s hesitation to take action stems from thinking that an action will be difficult, costly, or time consuming.
Or it’s just plain vague.
They don’t know what’s on the other side of that ‘submit button’.
So the words (copy) that you use on your button should (1) make the action sound effortless and (2) reflect the reader’s thoughts back to them.
Both are written from the perspective of the reader. Have a look at the CTA buttons around your site. What tweaks can you do to make them:
- in first person; and
- sound effortless
#8 Your site lets readers slip through like water
Opt-in blindness is when you see something so many times that you become blind to it…like the side-bar opt-in.
Readers are getting used to seeing opt-in forms in all the usual places that you need to work extra hard to catch their attention.
I’m not sure about yours, but my side-bar opt-in form added maybe 2 subscribers a month.
So I removed it entirely.
I haven’t been too happy with my recent website conversions so I’ve been trying a few tweaks myself.
I added a top bar and exit intent pop-up on my site and more than doubled my daily opt-ins. I talk more about this here.
Experiment with new things around your site.
Make your site as sticky as possible. You want your readers to be there long enough…you want them clicking around to find more of your valuable content so that they turn into a subscriber.
Here are some things you can try:
- Use a related-post plugin like Zemanta or Uprev. I have both on my site.
- Add opt-in forms to your site using plugins like Thrive Leads or pop-up ally
- Make it ridiculously easy to share your posts. I use Social Warfare and this allows you to show the right images for the major social media platforms.
#9 You don’t take an effort to convert traffic from social media
If a pin is going viral, don’t just sit there and be happy about it.
Look at how you can capture some of this traffic and convert them to subscribers.
If the post doesn’t have a content upgrade, add that in.
If a post gets plenty of traffic and you already have a content upgrade but very few sign ups, change up that content upgrade.
Play around with a targeted exit intent pop-up for that post. And if you’ve hit a winner where a post is getting traffic and converting them to subscribers, think of ways to get more traffic to it.
Create additional pin images in different styles.
Create more click to tweets and social media images and share them.
When something is working – do more of it and see your list soar.When something is working - do more of it and see your list soar.Click To Tweet
#10 You hate the pop-up
For some of you, pop-ups are a major no.
I don’t blame you.
Things can get crazy when pop-ups don’t act the way you want them to (believe me, it happens)…but if you take the time to test them out, they can work for your benefit.
If you’re wondering how to test them, here’s how. If you’re on Safari, open a new private window. If you’re on Chrome, open a new incognito window.
This treats you as a new user and you can test your pop-ups. With the new Google rules, there’s also a fine line with what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
But exit intent pop-ups are still A-ok. They catch the reader when they are on their way out, after consuming your information.
The number of subscribers I add to my list daily has more than doubled since adding an exit intent pop-up.
#11 It takes an arm and a leg to get your freebie
Don’t make your subscribers jump through hoops to get your freebie.
Do you really need their last name?
This article from Getresponse states that even asking for a name drastically reduces the chance of your subscriber opting in. Sue from Successful blogging only asks for an email address. Have a look at your opt-in forms.
Are you killing your conversions by asking too much?
#12 Some pages and posts carry more weight than others – but you ignore them
And I don’t mean your homepage.
I spent hours perfecting my homepage. You probably did too.
But think about it.
Where does a first time visitor land when they reach your website?
If you said homepage, think again.
Most visitors click through your blog from Facebook or Social media and land on a blog post or a services page.
Even if they found you via organic search in Google, how likely is that going to be a link to your homepage?
So you need to view your website experience from your visitors’ point of view. List down the pages someone would first land on in your site.
The ‘About’ and ‘Resources’ page are also prime website real estate. Now have a look at all of these pages in detail.
- Are those pages primed to capture readers and turn them into subscribers?
- Do they have opt-in forms?
- Have you promoted your opt-in freebie on those pages?
- Are there share links on those pages?
- Are the share links prominently placed above and below a post?
- Are there sufficient opt-in forms?
#13 You offer no content upgrades
It’s tough. There isn’t enough time to add content upgrades to every post. But here’s what you can do instead.
- Go into your Google Analytics, find your most popular posts (Behaviour > Site Content > All pages) and start by offering a content upgrade on those posts.
- You could also have a content upgrade for each blog category.
- An alternative is to add a content upgrade after you notice that a post is gaining steam on social media.
Use a plugin like Thrive Leads to add opt-in forms at the middle and bottom of your posts to make it really easy for someone to sign up.
#14 You give no directions after they opt-in
Ever opted into something and wonder if you even opted in….did your sign-up go through…why isn’t anything happening?
I bet you have…
It happens more often than you think.
And that’s because there are no clear instructions as to what the new subscriber should do next.
Your thank you page is the first point of contact a subscriber has with you after their opted in. And your ‘thank you’ page serves a purpose.
It has to give clear instructions to the subscriber as to what they need to do.
This is especially important if you’re using double opt-in where the subscriber has to click confirm before you send them your freebie.
Tell them where to get their freebie or when they can expect it in their inbox.
By getting your new subscriber to consume your freebie, you deliver value and start the nurture process.
Looking for more information on how you can personalize your thank you page? Check out my guest post at DYOB here .
#15 You don’t send a welcome email immediately
Welcome emails have the highest open rates (50-60%).
Subscribers are most engaged when they first sign up for your list. They look forward to receiving the value you’ll provide. But they may also be unsure whether you can deliver on your promise.
The experience a subscriber has with your emails in the first couple of weeks will set the tone for the rest of their time on your list.
You’ll be squandering the opportunity to wow them and gain their trust if you miss this opportunity.
Here are some ideas for what you should be sending in your welcome emails:
- Tell them about your “why” for starting your business and your brand story.
- Encourage them to follow you on other social media networks.
- Direct them to your top content and resources.
- Set subscribers’ expectations right from the start. Let them know how frequent your emails will be and when they can expect to hear from you.
- Have a product- or service-based business? How about sending them a trial or discount code?
- Remind them to white-list your emails.
But if you go the extra mile and send a welcome email series – you’ve seriously scored major brownie points!
#16 You love default email templates
Never use a default template. Here are some of such templates:
- The ‘Confirm Your Subscription’ page
- The ‘Welcome’ Email
- The ‘Thank you for subscribing’ page
Likewise, your welcome email has to be personalized and show your subscribers why you’re the right person to be helping them along in this journey.
#17 You don’t have a plan for your existing subscribers
It’s easy to get sucked into the ‘adding more’ to your list mindset.
But the other half a battle is keeping your existing subscribers.
If you don’t have a plan for your subscribers, it’s unlikely you’re going to nurture them.
Start by thinking through on the impact you want to have on your list.
What do your want your subscribers to feel and often will you email them. What types of content will you send?
Open a conversation and ask them to reply back to you. By treating your list right, they become your very own brand advocates. Here are 9 ways you can do that.
Have an email marketing calendar and a plan to create email content.
Once you create a pathway and plan to nurture your list, you’ll be able to retain your most engaged subscribers and eventually profit from your email list.
#18 You think email is only for selling
Yes you can profit from your list.
It is your right to sell to your list, but only after you’ve provided value and earned that trust.
If the only emails you’re sending are sales emails and the only time you show up in their inbox is when you have something for launch, then your subscribers are going to see through it and unsubscribe in droves.
All that list building effort? Back to square 1….
#19 You don’t clean your list
What does this have to do with growing your list?
Oh but it does!
The larger the number of unopens you have, the lower your sender score given by the email delivery providers like Yahoo and Gmail.
I speak more about this in this post.
The more you do nothing about the people don’t open or engage with your emails but are still on your list, the more you’re hurting your chances of your email showing up in the inbox for the people who do read your emails.
And why would you want to pay for these people who aren’t engaging with or opening your emails?
Maybe they’ve moved on and are no longer interested in the content. Or they may have other priorities to deal with.
Let them go.
Don’t let subscribers slip or make them run
Just by making simple changes to these 19 points, you will start to see an increase in list size.
But growing your list is just half the battle.
The other half is making efforts to nurture them, keeping your engaged tribe close and cutting the disengaged subscribers lose.
Maintaining this balance is important to a healthy list.
What point above gave you the ahas and what do you need to work on?