Get 8% of Your Blog Readers to Give You Their Email. Here’s How. [+ Case Studies]

email list building tips

Ok, so you just started a blog on molecular gastronomy.

People love your great content filled with recipes, including your latest hit – “Chocolate-covered Strawberries Dipped in Pop Rocks”.

Your friend Jarry (his real name may be Garry) who is a seasoned blogger, suggested that you start collecting email addresses from your visitors.

That sounds like a good idea, but you have no clue where to start.

Start here.

Feeling lazy? Download this email list building checklist with the EXACT steps you should follow to get as much as 8% of your readers converted into email subscribers. Includes seven extra tips not covered anywhere in this article. GIMME!

How familiar are you with the subject of email list building?

 

 

Easy Mode – Just Starting Out

Tip #1:  Use a Feature Box

You know that block at the top of blog post feed, that usually offers a free ebook? That’s a feature box.

Use this space to make your new visitors quickly familiar with the topics you cover in your blog.

Alternatively, you can offer your latest ebook, pdf, checklist or other premium content.

feature box example

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Plugmatter Optin Feature Box or Magic Action Box.

Case Study: “How The Feature Box Increased Our Blog Subscription Rate by 51.7%” from Derek Halpern.

Tip #2: Let Them Know You Have a Newsletter in The Sidebar

Ah, the sidebar. The place where tag clouds, categories and latest blog posts meet.

Why not use this space to prompt your viewers to sign up for your newsletter?

Greatest link builder alive Brian Dean from Backlinko still does this.

sidebar opt-in example

Admittedly, when I asked Brian about the conversion rate for this particular form, he said that..

It’s pretty low. I’d say .025%. Content Upgrades are much better :)

Don’t let the words Content Upgrade confuse you. We’re going to cover it real soon!

Can you do this today? Yes. 

How? Q2W3 Fixed Widget (Sticky Widget) or Optinmonster.

Tip #3: Ask Them to Subscribe At The Bottom of Each Post

The one place where the reader realizes for sure if he liked the article or not is.. the end of the post.

It makes a lot of sense to include an email opt-in there, doesn’t it?

Here’s an example from Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard:

after the post opt-in example

You can see that after the end of the post there’s a usual bio section, but right after it comes an offer to download a checklist specific to the post.

I asked Adam to elaborate on his approach to provide custom checklists for every post, here’s what he had to say:

“Make your offer relevant – this is so important, if someone is wanting to learn about social media, offering a guide on usability won’t work too well, offer them something related to what they’re reading at the time and you’ll notice far better conversion rates.”

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Your email marketing software probably has an opt-in box. Use this as a start.

Tip #4: Pop-ups Still Work

The trick is to use them wisely. Don’t just fire them 2 seconds after your visitor lands on your page.

Exit intent pop-ups, that appear when the visitor is about to close the tab are less intrusive and will provide better results in the long run.

Here’s a world-class pop-up from Brennan Dunn of doubleyourfreelancing.com:

popup example

You just can’t resist clicking that “Send me lesson #1” button.

It does take a lot of design work to produce something like that. So for those of you, who like me, are not friends with Photoshop, here’s a little trick:

Find the blog post that performs better than every other post on your blog. Then set your pop-up to redirect the visitor to this page, once they provide you their email address.

See, you don’t even need to have an ebook or other premium content to offer.

Be sure to remove this pop-up from displaying at the page you’re linking to, otherwise you will look silly :)

Here’s a super detailed step-by-step guide on this specific tip from email1k course (which I recommend to everyone who’s serious about building an email list).

A word of warning from George Mathew of seekdefo:

“Finally don’t overdo email collection boxes. I have seen sites that have optin boxes on the header, footer, sidebar, inside the posts and pop-up boxes that come up not only when I load the site but also if I decide to read another blog post followed by exit intent popups. That’s definitely overkill.”

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Content Upgrades Pro or SumoMe plugin.

Case Study: “Opt-In Pop-Ups: Are They Any Good?” by George Mathew.

Tip #5: Include an Opt-In From On the About Page

Here’s one page that often goes overlooked as a candidate for including email opt-in.

You guessed it, it’s the About page.

Here’s a simple, yet powerful example from our favourite taco connoisseur Noah Kagan:

about page opt-in

One thing you’re going to need for that is a page specifically dedicated to getting new subscribers. Join newsletter page or a squeeze page.

No worries, we’re totally going to cover it later. (I don’t care, gimme now.)

Can you do this today? Yes!

How? Add a link to the join newsletter page.

Case Study: “Conversion Strategy Results and the One Page You MUST Include an Opt-In Form On” from Pat Flynn.

Tip #6: Put a Link Within the Footer

What’s the one element of the page that repeats from page to page, to page? No, it’s not the menu (we’ll talk about that later).

It’s the footer.

Imagine putting an opt-in link just once, and effectively applying this to every single page on your blog.

Here’s an example from Noah Kagan’s OkDork blog to get you inspired:

footer opt-in

Easy right?

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Just include a link to join newsletter page in your footer.

Tip #7: Add a Bar Across The Top of The Page

Final tip in this beginner’s section – adding a bar across the top of the page.

I bet you see those all the time on blogs these days. Actually, if you’re reading this then you definitely can see one at the top of the page :)

Here’s one example from Kristi Hines of kristihines.com:

hellobar optin

Kristi was generous enough to share the conversion rates for her hellobar. Out of 57,319 impressions 164 people subscribed, so the conversion for this particular opt-in method was 0.29%.

This looks like a small percentage and can make you question whether you should implement this method altogether.

But it’s the combined opt-in rate that counts, and together these methods can easily produce a 2%, 4% or even 8% opt-in rate.

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Go to hellobar.com and follow the instructions.

Case Study: “5 Conversion Rate Optimization Case Studies” from Steven Macdonald.

Bonus Tip: Add Opt-In in Author Byline

Here’s on more thing you can do today to increase your email opt-ins rate.

It’s small and simple, yet almost everybody overlooks this..

You just need to add a link in the author byline, which is displayed before the blog post itself.

This is how it looks on Ogi Djuraskovic‘s Firstguide.com:

byline link

Here’s what Matt Ackerson from petovera, who also uses this technique had to say about it’s effectiveness:

It’s about 0.5% which sounds small, but added up over time and taking into account other conversion opportunities it is worth it.

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Using the Leadpages WP plugin.

Intermediate Mode – I know what I’m doing

Tip #8: Add Newsletter Page to Navigation Menu

menu optin

Here’s a neat example from Chris Ducker, who uses “Start here”, as a button copy. Once the viewer clicks the button, he is redirected to a dedicated page that describes exactly why he should subscribe to his wonderful blog.

Words of wisdom from Chris on taking your list building efforts to a whole new level:

“Offer people a quick win. If you have a tip, tactic or tool that you can share with your audience members that will help them achieve something positive RIGHT NOW, they will love you instantly for you – even if it means opting in to get access to that quick win.”

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Add a new menu item in your WordPress Appearance settings.

Tip #9: Turn Blog Comments Into Email Subscribers

Ana Hoffman successfully uses this approach in her Traffic Generation Cafe blog. Once you leave a comment for the very first time, you’re redirected to this page, that thanks you for commenting and offers..

first time comment redirect

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Create a new thank you page & install comment redirect by Yoast plugin.

Case Study: How to Redirect Your Blog Comments to a Thank You Page from Ramsay Taplin.

Tip #10: Welcome Your New Readers With an Email Gate

What’s the first thing your new readers notice when they come to your blog?

Is it the menu? The top article? Or the sidebar?

Different people start with different sections, does this mean you have to stuff them all with email opt-ins?

What if I told you there’s a better way?

A way that allows you to first expose all your new readers to the newsletter, and only then show them all the good stuff on your blog.

Well, you might have already guessed that this way is called “Welcome Gate”.

If you’re still not sure what this all means, check out this example from Amy Lynn Andrews  of amylynnandrews.com:

blog gate example

I asked Amy to share some advice on email list-building, here’s what she had to say:

“As far as list-building advice, provide value and be different. Make others afraid to unsubscribe because they don’t want to miss what’s coming next. Also, consider your subscribers friends, not numbers in your sales funnel. Then write to them that way.”

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Use Welcome Gate plugin for WordPress.

Case Study: “How to get your first 100 email subscribers?” from Bryan Harris.

Tip #11: Host a Social Giveaway (With a Viral Component)

There’s a ton of ways out there to organize a giveaway.

But only one of them has an awesome viral engine built in, that will guarantee over 9000 new email subscribers.

That’s the Giveaway app by KingSumo (which is awesome).

We used it here at Sellfy to give away five copies of Sketch. You can see the giveaway page we came up with below:

giveaway landing page

One thing about this plugin is that it produces a beautiful landing page for the giveaway out of the box. Just look at that thing!

giveaway enter email

After you answer correctly on a simple question (by default it’s who is giving away this prize?) you are asked to enter your email address and voila.

giveaway entries

You are redirected to this awesome page where you can see all the info about your entry, including the number of entries and ways to improve your chances to win.

The more you share, the more friends you refer, the more entires you get.

Simple, yet very powerful.

We were able to get over 15,000 new email subscribers this way.

Can you do this today? If it’s the only thing you do today.

How? Figure out the prize relevant for you audience. Install plugin. Go!

Case Study: “The one tool that helped us gain over 200,000 email subscribers” from Noah Kagan.

Tip #12: The Curious Case of Content Upgrade

Gather round, folks.

This is the thing you need to do if you want to get ’em emails.

Stop offering generic free reports or ebooks. Nobody wants them.

What everybody wants instead is premium content directly related to what they are reading RIGHT NOW.

Here’s a quick example from this very blog:

content upgrade example

How to deliver this legendary content?

Step #1: Find a high-traffic page on your site

Step #2: Identify a resource that would make the content better (pdf, checklist, spreadsheet..)

Step #3: Create that resource

Step #4: Add the resource to your site

Step #5: Get more emails than you ever thought possible!

You can also view an example of this technique in this post, where I’m offering a cheatsheet with 22+8 different tips on building an email list.

Tip #13: Squeeze Page (Like a Boss)

The thing about your readers.. is that they’ve seen squeeze pages on dozens of blogs by now.

They are not so easy to impress these days and their email is a secret kept better than nuclear launch codes of some countries.

You need to provide something of REAL value on your squeeze page (duh). AND you need to prove that it has value before people can really see what it is.

The easier way to do that? Include social proof to your squeeze page. 

No need to shy away from things like social sharing buttons and comments section anymore.

Don’t believe me? Here’s what Brian Dean from backlinko has to say about this:

When visitors see your sharing buttons and comments, they’ll think to themselves: “wow, this must be an awesome page”.

In other words, your page WON’T give people that slimy feeling that they get from traditional squeeze pages.

Here’s a blueprint you can use to jump-start your squeeze page revamp (courtesy of Brian):

social squeeze page

Can you do this today? Probably yes.

How? Create a custom page in WordPress and follow the instructions above.

Case Study: “How to Create a Squeeze Page That Converts at 21.7% (Case Study)” from Brian Dean.

Tip #14: Optimise 404 Page to Collect Emails for You

You know the feeling.

You click on a link, anticipating to find that free guide only to see the “404 Page not found error”.

Sounds familiar?

This happens to visitors of your blog too.

I asked James George of Power Blogger to tell us how we can use this dreadful experience and turn it into something beautiful.

“Your 404 page is a great place to squeeze a couple of percent more out of your website. A lot of people come to my website for design freebies and resources, but sometimes they don’t find what they’re looking for, or they go to the wrong place. It happens, no matter how good your site is. Well, why not harness that traffic with a landing page or an opt in form. Offer something that the average visitor will find useful, and ask for their email address in exchange for it.

 

404 page optimization

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Use one of LeadPages 404 page templates.

Case study: “Using Your 404 Page to Your Advantage” from James George.

Advanced Mode – Why didn’t I think of that?

Tip #15: Expanded Guest Posting

Guest posting with links in byline, that lead to landing page on your own site is smart.

You know what’s even smarter?

Expanded guest posting.

To finally nail guest posting and get north of 100 email sign-ups from a single post, you need to follow the yellow brick wall:

Step #1: Build expectation;

Step #2: Leave clues;

Step #3: Provide content upgrade.

First, you have to prepare your reader to the fact that there will be a content upgrade offer at the end of the post.

Mentioning that you will be disclosing 3 of your 10 strategies to rank #1 for any keyword (just an example) will leave the reader wondering..

Where are the other 7 strategies?” and “Is he giving us the best?“.

Second, you need to remind the reader throughout the post that the content upgrade is awesome.

If you’re talking about techniques to successfully reach out to industry experts, you can mention something like this..

You’ll be able to download the EXACT templates I used to email these experts (including all the subject lines) at the end of the post.

And finally, you have to provide the content upgrade. Check out this example from Bryan Harris (he taught me this technique) to get a solid understanding of how you’re supposed to close the post.

expanded guest post

Can you do this today? Most likely no.

How? Contact blogs that accept guest posts, write up a post, prepare the content upgrade. Use LeadPages.

Case Study: “Expanded Guest Post: How to 100x the effectiveness of your next guest post” from Bryan Harris.

Tip #16: Organise a Joint Venture Webinar

What if I told you that you could get one year worth of email subscribers in three days? And these subscribers would be highly targeted just-take-my-money kind of people?

You’d say it sounds too good to be true, right?

Well, today I’m going to show you how to do to just that (and it has nothing to do with stealing your competitors email list).

What you’ll be doing instead is organising a Joint Venture Webinar.

joint venture webinar

 

Joseph Michael Nicoletti of learnscrivenerfast.com used this formula many times and taught me four crucial steps you need to complete if you want to save 362 days worth of list-building effort:

Step #1: Identify Who Has Your Audience

Step #2: Start The Conversation

Step #3: The Strategy – A Done-For-You Experience

Step #4: Collecting The Emails

Identifying where your target audience hangs out should be easy, if you know about buzzsumo. Just search for your keyword and the articles with most social shares will pop up at the top.

You’ll then want to reach out to the writers behind these articles via Twitter and pitch them your idea of JV webinar. This can be anything as simple as “Hey any interest in doing a joint Scrivener Webinar for your audience?” 

The pro tip here is to really take care of everything related to the webinar and do it yourself. You want your partner to be able to just sit back and relax, without sweating about the details. This includes organizing the landing pages, thank you and promo pages, hosting the webinar, the replay page and handling all the email communication. The whole package.

If this sounds overwhelming, here’s a webinar outline prepared by Joseph, which he used to launch half a dozen successful JV webinars.

Be sure to checkout the JV webinar case study if you’re curious to learn more.

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Follow the four steps.

Case Study: “How To Get 10X More “Warm” Emails With Joint Ventures” from Joseph Michael Nicoletti.

Tip #17: Teach Them All You Know (Launch an Email Course)

Not one of those autoresponder email courses, no.

A full-blown course with guest experts and a dedicated landing page.

David Kadavy, who is the author of Design for Hackers has launched an email course with the same name.

I’ll let David convince you of the effectiveness of this approach:

Creating an email course brought me anywhere from 5k to 30k subscribers.

Roughly 10% who visit the site sign up for the list. When I sell a product it’s usually about .5%–1% that buy.

Still not convinced?

Here’s another example from Justin Mares (co-author of the brilliant Traction book), who created a Programming for Marketers course:

Our landing page conversion rate is ~40%. Our first-email open rate is ~70%. And ~25% refer a friend after signing up.

And here’s one final example for.. email list building. It’s email1k from Noah Kagan and friends:

email course landing page

If you’re not going to create your own email course, I suggest you at least sign up to his course. It’s really good.

Can you do this today? No.

How? Landing page + email autoresponder sequence.

Tip #18: Teach Them All You Know Part 2 (The Content Vault)

You’ve been running your blog for months now. You have your fair share of contacts in the industry, including copywriters, designers, programmers and other pros.

And you’ve been actively writing content upgrades for every single one of your posts.

That’s a lot of content upgrades. Good job.

Why not combine this info into a neat package that is only available to your email subscribers?

All the behind-the-scene action, insider tips and content upgrades in one place.

Years of experience just waiting to be sinked in.

Here’s an example from Ryan Deiss of digitalmarketer.com, a membership site with tons of actionable advice:

content vault example

Can you do this today? Probably not.

How? Simple Membership WP Plugin.

Case Study: “How I Made $10,000 in 24-hours With My First Product (Case Study)” from Bryan Harris.

Tip #19: Use Twitter Lead Generation Cards

You know how sometimes you write a decent piece of content and people actually care enough to share it with their peers?

Well, if you’re a good sport, like Ryan Hoover, then you’re replying to these people with something like..

twitter reply

But you could do so much more..

You could use this momentum you have to build an email list.

You’re familiar with lead generation cards, right?

Well good news – you can use them without paying OR running any ads.

twitter email card

Admittedly, this is largely a manual effort, but the personal touch does let you convert as much as 60-80% of people who see this.

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Set up lead generation cards for email opt-in.

Case Study: “Grow Your Email List with this Simple Twitter Hack” from Ryan Hoover.

Tip #20: A Well-Hidden LinkedIn Email Hack

Here’s a quick win for those of you have worked hard to get those 500+ connections on LinkedIn.

Why not include all these hard earned contacts to your email list?

Yes, there’s an easy way to do just that.

While logged in LinkedIn, click on Connections, then click the gear settings icon and you’ll find this page with “Export LinkedIn Connections”.

You’re welcome.

LinkedIn export

Now that you have this list, don’t just go ahead and spam them.

Instead, write them a personal email explaining why you’re including them and what your list is about.

Here’s the EXACT word-by-word email that Lyle McKeany (who introduced me to this technique) used to send to his newly created list:

Good Morning!

Some of you might be wondering how you received this email.
Let me explain.You’re receiving this email for one of three reasons:

1. You subscribed to my email list on my blog (thanks!)

2. You filled in your email on the push notifications survey I recently sent out (thanks!)

3. Or, we worked together, went to school together, met at a conference, or any other number of reasons why we are connected on LinkedIn (you should say hi by responding to this email or on Twitter!)

This is the email list I will be using for any blog post I write going forward. I usually write a post every few weeks on Medium and cross-post it to my personal site at lylemckeany.com.

If you’re interested in technology, entrepreneurship, growth marketing, or stories from my past experience as a professional musician and poker player, then stay tuned. I promise not to spam you with lame content.

If you don’t want to hear from me again, no hard feelings, just click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of this email.

Obviously, you don’t need to use this word for word, as your situation might be quite different, but you get the idea..

Can you do this today? Yes.

How? Follow the instructions above.

Case Study: “How To Seed Your Email List (without being a spammy growth hacker)” from Lyle McKeany.

Tip #21: Use Content Upgrade Pop-Ups

You know how pop-ups usually offer generic ebook or straight-on beg you to join the email list?

Yeah, that’s just amateur hour.

Like always, when possible it’s best to deliver content that relates to the reason your reader landed on your blog.

The best way to figure out this reason?

Just look at the content they’re reading RIGHT NOW.

And create a page-specific pop-up that pitches content upgrade you already made.

For this post you’re reading right now, I’d create something like this:

content upgrade popup

Over to You

Now like I said, you really shouldn’t try to use every single one of these techniques, or you’ll come off as shady and too pushy. Experiment with what works best for your audience and kill the channels that don’t perform.

With that being said, make sure to download this email list building checklist with the EXACT steps you should follow to get as much as 8% of your readers converted into email subscribers. Includes seven extra tips not covered anywhere in this article. GIMME!

Let me know if you found any of those tips useful in the comments section below. And if you’ve been collecting emails on your own blog for a while, let me know what is the combination of opt-in strategies that worked for you.

Thank you for reading!
Yuri Burchenya

Yuri is a Content Crafter at Sellfy. He's focused on inbound marketing, copywriting, CRO and growth. You can reach Yuri on Twitter and .

Load comments
  • Brian Dean

    Love this post, Jurij. Lots of actionable info!

  • http://pagesbyjay.com PagesByJay.com

    Great article! I’m going to explore Twitter Cards a bit further. There’s not a whole lot of up-to-date documentation that provides a clear insight into them, and for some reason I can’t access Twitter’s support documentation for them. Most content on Google is recycled and dates the current UI.