What To Do When Your Audience Is On The WRONG Platform

by Jacob McMillen

Last updated on January 9th, 2018

You’ve been hearing a lot about email lists.

That’s because we marketers love conversions, and email lists are the highest converting platform available. Email users convert at a higher rate than social followers or organic search users, for a number of both obvious and more complex reasons.

But perhaps, you’re sitting there with a 50k-user Facebook following or a high-traffic website, and your audience just isn’t converting.

Your friend with a 500-person email list is making more revenue from his relatively small list than you are from your sizable audience.

You hate to admit it, but it seems like you picked the WRONG platform.

A friend of mine has a 450k fan base on Facebook but makes hardly any revenue from his page. A popular speaker came to me with several million earned in physical book sales and speaking fees, but again, negligible online revenue. A media network owner with 20+ million impressions per month asked me about how to start converting his traffic, because every affiliate offer he’d offered failed miserably.

Now, there are certainly strategies each of these individuals can use to more effectively engage with their audience as-is. But there’s only so much they can do.

Put simply, they built large audiences on the wrong platform.

Fortunately, there’s good news! An audience on the wrong platform is much better than no audience at all.

In fact, a good sized chunk of your existing audience can be converted into a high-converting email list without destroying what you’ve already built.

Here’s a number of ways to make that happen.

1. Ask For Emails

Wow. That wasn’t very creative.

You’d be amazed at how many people I’ve worked with on this exact process who never even bothered to ask for emails.

Have you?

If not, do it right now. If you run a website, start optimizing your website for email collection. Ask visitors to subscribe, whether it’s in your sidebar, a popup, a slide-in box, or even at the end of your posts.

If your audience is primarily based on social media, ask your followers to subscribe and make it super easy for them to do so. You can even get creative with how you ask.

For example, if your audience loves quotes with intriguing image backgrounds, turn one of those into a subscription request.


People eat this stuff up. Trust me. I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

2. Offer Your Audience Something They Want

Once you’ve asked your audience to convert over to your email list, you’ll end up with X% of subscribers. Unfortunately,

X = A Small Number

To increase that number, you should offer your audience something they want. This is typically known as an “optin bribe.”

There are two major myths about optin bribes floating around right now, so I’m going to address them really quick.

Myth #1 = People want free stuff.

In a world where free offers abound, few people are interested in something simply because it’s free. And here’s the kicker: the people simply looking to accumulate free stuff are never going to buy anything from you anyway.

People want great stuff that they like — for free.

Let me repeat that. They don’t want free stuff. They want stuff that they like, free.

I hate to break this to you, but no one is that interested in your PDF on pest control tips. What they might be interested in is a step-by-step DIY manual on eliminating termites form their home, a free inspection/consult in exchange for their email, or a 40% discount on their first engagement with your business.

There is a lot of useless stuff being offered for free, and people wonder why no one is biting.

Give people what they already want. And if you don’t know what that is, ask them!

Myth #2 = Optin bribes are dead.

This is the other myth I see floating around the blogosphere.

“The optin bribe is dead!”

As I mentioned before, everyone has a free offer these days. Here’s one from HubSpot.

how to grow your email list

Would you download this?

If you’re new to marketing, or if this was the first offer you found on the subject, maybe you would.

But 90% of you have already seen 101 free offers on building your email list, and a lot of them had much more compelling titles than “How To Grow You Email List”.

This little free ebook seems rather generic and uninteresting for a site’s optin bribe.

Ready for the surprise twist?

This actually isn’t “HubSpot’s optin bribe.” It’s their optin bribe for a single blog post.

I checked around on other articles in their Marketing category and guess what, the only place I could find this offer was on their article titled “Why Purchasing Email Lists Is Always A Bad Idea”.

Click on the next suggested article, a little piece on the importance of grammar, and we see an entirely new offer.

content upgrades build your email list

What is HubSpot doing here?

Remember how we just talked about giving people stuff they actually want? Well, that’s exactly what HubSpot is doing.

So you’re reading an article on email marketing? Here’s a How-To guide to growing your list.

Reading about how grammar affects marketing? Here’s a free guide to writing specifically for marketers.

This is a technique referred to as Content Upgrades. Instead of having a single optin bribe, you create optin bribes for specific pieces of content — and it works brilliantly.

The optin bribe isn’t dead. It’s simply evolved.

3. Host A Giveaway

A well-promoted giveaway is one of the best possible ways to grow your list fast, particularly with a social audience.

Here’s why.

Social followers have already given you a “Yes.” At some point, they clicked “Like” or “Follow” or something similar to indicate interest in your brand.

By offering them something highly valuable from your brand for free, you can get that second yes — their email address — fairly easily.

There are a couple keys to running a giveaway, however, that you really don’t want to get wrong.

  1. Offer something awe inspiring – the prize needs to be really valuable to drum up enough interest
  2. Get the word out – you need to call in all your favors and pound the pavement to get the word out
  3. Reward entrants for spreading the word – user odds should increase with each entrant they refer

To do #1 right, it should cost you something, and it should sound epic.

A great example was a giveaway from Bryan Harris: “Win LeadPages For A Decade.” That’s pretty epic sounding, and guess what, to buy that on your own, it would have cost you around $3,000 at the time.

Bryan also nailed number #2 by getting LeadPages and a host of relevant parties to share his giveaway with their subscribers. This involves some hustle, but it’s worth the effort.

Finally, Bryan hit #3 by using KingSumo Giveaways to run his content. This app gives entrants the ability to increase their odds of winning by referring new entrants, incentivizing your audience to grow itself for you.

The end result was over 2,000 subscribers in just 10 days. Pretty good.

And if you already have an audience, albeit on the wrong platform, this strategy is your perfect tool to convert users to your new platform — the email list.

A Platform That Converts

If your platform was converting well, you wouldn’t be here.

If, on the other hand, you’ve found your conversions to be a bit lacking, it might be time to start building a new platform that works. Or spending more time on your existing email list.

Start by asking. Offer something your audience wants. Host a giveaway.

You won’t get everyone on your list, but you’ll be surprised at how much better a much smaller email list will convert than your massive social following or traffic figures.

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Jacob McMillen.



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Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen is a website copywriter and content strategist. He helps businesses stop playing around with content marketing and start seeing tangible ROI. Download his free guide: 2 Fail-Proof Marketing Strategies For Businesses On A Budget


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  1. Anonymous says:
    December 14, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Very quickly this web site will be famous amid all blogging and site-building
    users, due to it’s good content

  2. George Michuki says:
    June 24, 2015 at 3:23 am

    A great piece. I personally find bullet 2 quite relevant and original: “Offer Your Audience Something They Want” and an equally well thought interrogation of people’s perception of free things: I like: I am not only interested in “free stuff” but “stuff that I like” and hopefully that way you can capture my interest or buy in. Keep up.

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