Not too long ago, I asked more than 30 online marketers how they got their first 1,000 subscribers and what they would do if they had to start all over again and grow their email list as efficiently as possible.
Although there were a lot of unique responses, some people used similar tactics to scale their growth.
Here are some insights on how bloggers and influencers grow their audience from scratch.
1. Use an Opt-In Page to Give Away Something of Value
Using an opt-in page to give away something of value was one of the most popular ways that people used to grow their list. The key to making this work is to really understand what your target audience considers valuable and being able to provide it to them.
- Tariehk Geter from OSI Affiliate gave away free website and email templates to grow a list of over 10,000 subscribers. He used SEO to rank those landing pages in the search engines to drive targeted traffic to those pages.
- John Nemo, the author of the best selling book LinkedIn Riches, gave away copies of his book for free.
In these examples, people gave away something that had real monetary value for free. While it’s not necessary to do that, the item that you give away should provide enough value to your target audience that they are willing to give you their email to get it.
2. Create Content Consistently
One thing I’ve noticed is that many successful blogs don’t have opt-in forms all over the page. While more opt-in forms can help email opt-in rates, you can still be successful without having too many of them.
- Jason Acidre didn’t have a squeeze page of freemium PDF download when he started blogging. He just focused on creating high-quality articles and guides consistently to get his first 1,000 subscribers.
- Bill Gassett from Maximum Real Estate Exposure is one of the top 10 RE/MAX real estate agents in New England. He used blogging and social media to grow his blog and has just one opt-in box at the bottom of each blog post.
What Bill has focused on is creating content for his target audience, which is people looking to get tips for buying and selling homes. Consistent content creation has allowed him to grow his audience and become a top real estate agent.
3. Consider Optimizing for Conversion as You Grow
As your blog traffic grows, consider optimizing for conversion if you want to increase the growth rate of your email list.
- Andy Crestodina, founder of Orbit Media, increased his email opt-in rate by 1,400 percent by optimizing for conversion. Making the opt-in form more prominent and adding social proof are a couple of steps he took to achieve these results.
- Janice Wald from Mostly Blogging created several different landing pages to target various audience segments and interests.
- Jeff Bullas said that Sumo’s Welcome Mat really exploded his list growth.
4. Use Guest Posting & Direct Readers to a Landing Page
Guest blogging works really well and many successful influencers and bloggers have used it to grow their business. A guest post on a popular site can give you instant access to thousands of targeted prospects.
- Aaron Agius, co-founder of Louder Online, says guest posting on popular sites in his industry really accelerated the growth of his business.
- Ross Simmonds also focused heavily on guest posting as well as promoting his content on social media and communities.
Sending that traffic to a targeted landing page improves results even further. I actually got most of my first 1,000 subscribers from guest posting and directing visitors to a landing page to download a related PDF.
5. Paid Ads Can Be a Good Way to Accelerate Growth
Want to grow fast? Try paid ads.
- Facebook ads can be a good way to grow your list quickly if you have a good offer and specific ad targeting, according to Larry Kim. You can get your first 1,000 subscribers quickly if you have a few thousand bucks to spend.
- Sean Si from SEO-Hacker used Facebook ads and retargeting to grow an email list of over 2,300 in one month for his book, “CEO at 22”. His target market is Filipinos who want to start their own business.
6. Social Media Can Be a Powerful Traffic Driver
Being consistently active on social media should also help grow your subscribers.
- Marc Guberti used Twitter to drive traffic to his landing page and get his first 1,000 subscribers. He scheduled several tweets to go out each day and did so consistently.
- Mike Kawula, founder of Social Quant, also used a similar strategy to grow his email list. Staying active on Twitter and driving traffic to a landing page providing a valuable PDF is how he grew his list.
- Joshua Earl got his first 5,000 subscribers from Twitter by following other targeted accounts and tweeting other people’s content. He grew his account to over 50,000 followers and would occasionally tweet out his landing page, which resulted in dozens of sign ups.
7. Use SEO to Drive Traffic to a Landing Page
Another way to gain subscribers is by using SEO to drive traffic to a landing page.
- Anna Bennett is a Pinterest marketing expert and consultant and she used SEO to drive traffic to her home page, which contains an opt-in box offering massive value to her target audience. She also includes an opt-in form at the bottom of each blog post.
- Adam White, founder of Guest Post Tracker, focused on creating a few high-quality blog posts and using SEO to drive traffic to those articles. He also added content upgrades to those posts to drive up the conversion rates.
Other Tactics & Takeaways to Get 1,000 Subscribers
Some other tactics that people mentioned were video marketing on YouTube, email outreach, blog commenting, and virtual summits. While the tactics that people used varied, the formula to success seemed pretty consistent and can be summarized as follows:
- Create a landing page and offer something valuable: The more valuable your offer, the higher your email opt-in rate will be.
- Drive targeted traffic to that landing page: Social media, SEO, guest blogging, and PPC are popular tactics for driving traffic to your landing page.
- Optimize for conversions once you have traffic: Once you have traffic, optimize for conversion to accelerate list growth.
- Be consistent: Perhaps the most important step is to be consistent. Create quality content consistently and promote them regularly and your list will keep growing.