For a consultant or freelancer (or really any type of business), your most important asset online is your e-mail list.
As I noted in a recent article, there are lots of things that are important online: you should have a nice-looking website, you should be active on social media, etc. But nothing is as important as building your e-mail list. In fact, while I don’t recommend it, there are some online businesses that have terrible websites and are quiet on social media but are successful because they have focused on building their e-mail list.
Because your e-mail list is so important, in this article I want to take a look at 5 great ways you can build a bigger e-mail list for your business.
Do You Have a Lead Magnet?
Before we get into the specific methods, I want to remind you that one of the best things you can do to convince people to sign-up for your e-mail list is to have a compelling lead magnet in place. A lead magnet is something that you give away – for free – to people who sign-up for your list.
For example, at Go Beyond Clients, when people sign-up for our list they get a free copy of my e-book How to Go Beyond Clients and Build Passive Income Streams for Your Business.
On my fundraising consulting site, we offer a free e-book called 10 Great Ways to Find New Donors for Your Non-Profit. On the political consulting site I used to run, we offered a guide called How to Get Your Campaign Off the Ground.
Like the guides I offer, a good lead magnet should be a free resource (usually an e-book, whitepaper, or webinar) that you offer to subscribers when they sign up for your list. These should be real, info-packed resources on compelling topics that interest your target customers.
Having one or more strong lead magnets in place is important for all 5 of the strategies below – no matter how you are driving people to subscribe to your list, they’ll be more likely to do so if you have a lead magnet to offer them.
#1: Make Your List the Focus of Your Website
In my view, the most important function of your business website is to get people to sign-up for your e-mail list. All of the work you do to get people to visit your site should be focused on getting them to visit your site and sign-up for your list. Whether you want to sell consulting services or passive income products or both, the best place to sell is to your own list.
If you want to get people to sign-up for your list on your website, you have to ask them to do so. There are three primary places on my websites where I make that ask.
First, on my blog pages I always include a sign-up box on the upper right-hand corner of the page where people can sign-up for the list. Second, I always feature my newsletter or my lead magnet in the main navigation bar of my website. Third, I usually include a pop-up on my site asking people to sign up for the newsletter. I know that some people don’t like pop-ups, but they work… and I think your list is important enough that it makes sense to include pop-ups on your site.
#2: Use Social Media
Another place to direct people to your list is on social media. Generally, this means including lots of links to your website on your social media platforms, so that people have lots of opportunities to go back to your site and sign-up.
You should also post updates on social media about your lead magnets, touting the free e-books and webinars you are offering to people who subscribe to your list. In my experience, the best way to turn a social media follower into a customer or client is by getting them to sign-up for your e-mail list, and then marketing products and services to your list.
#3: Consider Paid Advertising
I’m a firm believer that most people who are selling products and services online should consider paid advertising. This primarily means advertising on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIN, etc.) or via Google’s search advertising programs. All of these advertising channels offer a level of customization that TV and radio could only dream of. For example, on Facebook you can target your ads to people who follow a competitor’s page or to people who live in Miami, are aged 24-40, and have indicated that oil painting is one of their interests.
Many people know that online advertising works, but not many know the REAL secret to online advertising, which is building lead funnels that turn your ad spend into profit. In my businesses, I pay to advertise online, drive people to a page to sign-up for my e-mail list, and then after they sign-up they are immediately presented with an offer to purchase a webinar at a discounted price. If they buy the webinar, they are given the chance to add on another product as well. They are also presented with the webinar offer in my initial follow-up e-mails.
Using a lead funnel like this, you can spend 50 cents per person who clicks on one of your ads on Facebook, and know that you are going to make 52 cents per person who clicks on one of your ads. Meaning that instead of spending money on paid advertising to build your list, you are actually getting paid to build your list (2 cents per subscriber may not sound like much, but remember, these folks are on your list, and you can now sell to them over and over again).
If you want to learn more about how to build funnels like this, check out Russell Brunson’s free book Dot Com Secrets. (affiliate link) I highly recommend it as a launching point for using paid advertising to build your list.
#4: Drive People from All of Your Channels
Your e-mail list should be the primary call to action (CTA) for your website, but it also should be the primary CTA for all of your online channels. This includes your podcast, your social media presence, your YouTube channel, Slideshare, Medium, guest posts… anything you do online.
Everywhere you go online, you should be driving people back to your e-mail sign-up page by offering them your free lead magnet. Make your e-mail list the centerpiece of everything you do online.
#5: Offline Events
Finally, your offline events can be a great way to sign people up for your e-mail list. If you’re participating in a seminar, hosting a workshop, or giving a presentation, be sure to include an e-mail newsletter sign-up sheet at the registration table, or set up a simple URL (like “TheBigBusinessBook.com”) which you can mention at the presentation and ask people to whip out their phones to download your lead magnet on the spot.
No matter what industry you are in, if you want to be successful with selling products and services online, you need to be laser-focused on building a large e-mail list… it’s your business’ #1 online asset!