My email list is one of my most valuable assets. I have tons of email subscribers even though I regularly scrub my list, and I’ve converted many subscribers to paying clients.
I started in the same place as everyone else, though: zero email subscribers.
Whether your list includes 10 subscribers, 100 subscribers, or 1 million subscribers, you probably want more. That’s the nature of marketing. So, how can you increase conversions to build an email list further?
That’s the question I’m going to answer today. I’ll cover several topics, so here’s a list in case you want to skip around:
- How to Get Subscribers by Increasing Your Conversions
- How to Decide How Many Email Subscribers You Should Have
- Why Buy Email Subscribers Isn’t a Good Idea
- How Crazy Egg Tools Can Help You Improve Your Email List
“Conversion” can mean a lot of different things:
- Email subscription
- Requests for sales calls
- Free demo trials
For this article, I’m going to focus on email conversions. You’re collecting leads by inviting people to sign up for your email list.
In most cases, you’ll use a lead magnet or some other incentive to increase email subscribers. A lead magnet can be anything — discount code, free shipping offer, ebook, toolkit, calculator — that your prospect will find valuable.
I’ll cover lead magnets in more detail later, but for now, start brainstorming potential magnets. Think about your audience, product, and business model for reference, then decide what your visitors might find most appealing.
To get more email subscribers, you need an optimized conversion funnel. It might start with a lead magnet, but how you present the magnet will impact conversions. Consequently, you need a more holistic approach than building a lead magnet and hoping people will sign up.
Let’s look at some of the most effective ways to increase your conversions and get more email subscribers fast.
1. Characterize your potential email subscriber
You’ll get more email subscribers if you know your audience well. Develop a buyer persona for each “character” who might be interested in your products or services.
Each buyer persona represents a member of your target audience. You might have just one or two personas, while other businesses might have 10 or more.
For instance, let’s say that you have an e-commerce store where you sell sporting goods. A teenage customer playing high school sports would be a different persona from a middle-aged man who plays pickup basketball on the weekends.
More importantly, you would market to those people differently. Each buyer persona will respond to different products, offers, and messaging.
2. Figure out how your users are navigating your website
You can learn a lot about your website visitors by checking out reports in Google Analytics. A traffic report will show you the sources for all your traffic and what percentage of your total traffic each referral source represents.
Based on this data, you can optimize popular pages with compelling lead capture forms and CTAs. You might also offer a different lead magnet based on the individual page’s content.
Maybe your most popular blog post is a primer on landscape photography. It’s been widely shared on social and gets tons of organic traffic.
You know you’re attracting beginner shutterbugs based on the page content, so you create a lead magnet for beginners who are interested in photography.
You might also use heatmaps on your website to figure out where the clicking activity takes place. Use that information to decide where to put critical elements that result in more email subscribers, such as calls to action for your newsletter.
Once you have a better picture of the flow of traffic through your website, you can optimize key pages for conversions.
For instance, you might learn that the most activity occurs above the fold on your web pages. You’ll know that users don’t like to scroll, so you’ll need to include your email CTA as close to the top of the page as possible.
If nobody’s interacting with your email CTA, maybe you need to make it more distinctive. Test different colors, imagery, and CTA text.
3. Don’t confuse your readers with web forms
Web forms need to be intuitive and easy to fill out. Otherwise, your website visitors won’t bother to fill them out.
Often, marketers unintentionally confuse their readers. For instance, using CAPTCHA to verify human traffic on your site might seem like a good thing, but what if the CAPTCHA is impossible — or even just difficult — to discern?
Additionally, be very clear about why your users are filling out the form. You want more email subscribers, so you’re offering an incentive. Tell your readers in clear language what they can expect.
Let’s say you’re offering a whitepaper as a lead magnet. Tell the reader how the paper will be delivered (e.g. a link on the next screen, a download in an email, etc.). That way, there are no miscommunications.
The new GDPR rules can also be confusing. You have to ask your subscribers whether they want to hear from you apart from your lead magnet. In this video, I explain how GDPR can impact your business and email collection practices.
4. Offer unique lead magnets
A lead magnet should offer so much value that your target customer can’t resist it. Don’t throw something together in 10 minutes and hope it works.
Start with the buyer personas I talked about earlier. Ideally, you’ll have a lead magnet for each of them.
We’ll go back to my sporting goods e-commerce store example. What kind of lead magnet might your prospects want?
- A teenage basketball player might want a guide to the hottest basketball shoes.
- Middle-aged men who run on the weekends might want a guide to optimum pulse and respiration during cardiovascular exercise.
- Young mothers who want to stay fit could benefit from an illustrated list of quick exercises.
A lead magnet shouldn’t be something you want to create. It should be something your prospect wants to get his or her hands on right now.
Survey other businesses in your industry or niche. Visit their websites and write down the types of lead magnets they offer. You want to create something entirely unique.
5. Optimize your landing pages
Visitors can wind up on your landing pages for a variety of reasons. They might click on an email link, Facebook post, or paid search ad.
The landing page needs to align with the referral source in design and content. For instance, if your Facebook post promises a free calculator download, your landing page better offer the same thing.
Try to mimic the look in both style and function. Using similar colors and shapes will help with recognition and reassure the visitor that he or she is on the right page.
Did you know that companies with 15 or more landing pages get 55 percent more leads than those with 10 or fewer landing pages? Many businesses build just one landing page and assume it will cover all the bases. That’s far from the truth.
To see how your landing pages perform, track various metrics over time. Click-through rates tell you how many people acted on the CTA on your landing page. You can track that data with Google Analytics.
For long-form landing pages, run a scroll map report. You’ll see where visitors lose interest or decide to sign up.
Heat maps and confetti maps can also prove useful. You want to see exactly how people behave on your site so you can deliver what they expect or need. To see an example of all these user behavior reports in action, you can experiment with this demo page.
After you’ve collected sufficient data and have an idea of what changes you would like to make to your site to increase email signups, you can start A/B testing your landing pages so you know which versions of each test produce more email subscribers.
6. Try an exit popup
Another way to boost your number of email subscribers by improving your signup conversion rate is to create an exit popup.The popup only appears when someone tries to leave your website.
You can use the “Create Email” goal and ask people to sign up for your newsletter or you can promote a specific product. When someone buys from you, you collect his or her email address, which results in more subscribers.
Just make sure you use a tick box so customers agree to hear from you for promotional purposes. Stress your lead magnet or other subscription benefits.
You’ve probably seen thousands of exit popups. Here’s an example from Hello Bar:
You can design your exit popup however you want, but it needs to grab your visitors’ attention. As Hello Bar reveals, 98 percent of your visitors will leave your site without doing anything at all. An exit popup gives visitors another chance to convert.
Try using appealing images, rounded CTA buttons, and contrasting colors to garner more attention. You can also ask leading questions to guide your visitor into a conversation in the popup. At the end, present your CTA for an email signup.
Use the CTA button to take visitors to your signup form. If you’re offering a lead magnet, ensure you mention it on the popup.
7. Know how to use your posts with highest traffic
Your blog can become an amazing tool for getting more email subscribers if you know how to use it. Each post creates a new opportunity to convert a consumer.
Blog posts are generally the longest, most SEO-optimized pages on a website. They have lots of text and valuable information — when written correctly — so they attract organic traffic.
At Quicksprout, for instance, we’ve optimized our blog posts to include sidebar CTAs at the exact right spot based on scroll and heat maps.
We’ve used that space to collect email addresses before, but now it’s a CTA for getting me to speak at your event.
We do something similar on the Crazy Egg blog.
And you’ll see a similar CTA at the ends of our blog posts.
Even if you don’t want to add subscribe forms to every post on your website, optimize your top-performing blog posts. Check Google Analytics to make sure you know your stats, then determine where your CTA should go.
8. Add social proof to build trust
Social proof has become increasingly important, especially in an age when people don’t like giving out their contact information. There are several forms of social proof:
- Written, spoken, or video testimonials
- Logos of brands you’ve worked with
- Numbers (e.g. “Join 30,000 other subscribers…)
- Quotes from experts and thought leaders
- Reviews from satisfied customers
You don’t have to include it all on your landing pages and near your CTAs, but incorporating one or two types of social proof can help boost conversions. You’ll get more email subscribers because people feel more comfortable now that they know your reputation.
Writing for Instapage, Marcus Johnson says, “The power of social proof is undeniable, and it could be the key to optimizing your next marketing campaign.” He cites Wrike as an excellent example of social proof on a landing page.
You could just as easily incorporate a quote from a satisfied customer or display your average Yelp review. It all depends on what type of social proof will most impact your audience. A/B testing can help identify the best forms of social proof for your site.
How many subscribers do you need? Enough to reach your business goals. In other words, you want to build up as many leads as possible so you have the opportunity to sell more products.
Let’s say you have 100,000 subscribers and an email click-through rate of 5 percent. This means your emails go out to 100,000 people, and 5 percent of them click on your CTA in those emails.
We’ll go on to say that your website has a conversion rate of 2 percent. This means that 5,000 people will click on your email CTA, and 100 of them will buy your product. If your product costs $100, you’ll generate $10,000 in revenue.
This is a simplistic breakdown, but you get the point.
Crunch numbers to figure out what goal you should set for email subscribers. However, remember that you can never have enough. You’ll have to scrub your email list from time to time, which means removing inactive email addresses, to protect your reputation. Email collection will continue through the life of your business until email becomes obsolete.
You should never buy email subscribers. That’s like paying 100 people $10 each to walk into your brick-and-mortar store. They’re going in for the money — not the merchandise. How many do you think will actually buy something?
Buying email subscribers results in a highly unqualified list. Worse, the people on that list don’t really want to hear from you because they never actually signed up for your emails.
“But what if some of them end up buying from me?” you ask. Well, it can happen. But it’s not worth the cost.
When you buy email subscribers, you’re more likely to get on email clients’ blacklists. Gmail and other clients might send your emails to the promotions tab, but they’re more likely to send them straight to spam.
This is because the people who know they didn’t sign up to receive your emails will send your messages to spam. Email clients track this activity and mark your email address as a spammer.
You’ll also get an inflated impression of your total leads. The number of qualified leads diminishes quickly when you’re buying email addresses.
Crazy Egg is a set of conversion rate optimization tools. You can use it to get more email subscribers by optimizing your site for conversions.
Let’s say, for instance, that you don’t know where to put your email signup link or form. Use a heatmap to figure out the areas where website visitors click the most. That will tell you where their attention goes upon arriving on your site so you can set up your email form strategically.
After you’ve run heat maps and other reports, use the data to A/B test your website pages. You can change any element you wish for each test, from colors and fonts to offers and headlines. The more you test, the more refined your email collection process becomes.
Getting more email subscribers requires an optimized conversion process. You have to give website visitors a reason to convert on your offer, whether it’s a lead magnet or a discount.
Incentivizing conversions will help you collect more email addresses. The more, the better. Set a goal for email collection by figuring out how many emails you need to reach your revenue targets for a given time period.
For reference, here is a checklist of my eight tips for getting more email subscribers:
- Characterize your potential email subscribers
- Figure out how your users are navigating your website
- Don’t confuse your readers with complicated web forms
- Offer unique lead magnets
- Optimize your landing pages
- Try an exit popup
- Know how to use your posts with the highest traffic
- Add social proof to build trust
It’s never a good idea to buy email subscribers. It might seem like an effective shortcut, but it can harm your reputation and leave you with very few sales.
Instead, use Crazy Egg tools to figure out how to optimize your conversion funnel and learn how to gain subscribers fast. Where should your signup forms go? How should you format your landing pages? Heat maps, scroll maps, and other reports can show you where the best opportunities lie.
Implement my nine tips on getting more email subscribers so you can boost your sales and keep your business profitable for years to come.