When I started my business as a holistic nutritionist, there was no one doing regular blogging to build their businesses unless they were really techy. No Facebook pages or private groups. No Instagram, Periscope, or Pinterest. I'm sitting here wondering what the hell I did with all my free time!?
But there was e-mail marketing, which I wasn't doing until 2011. Even then, I wasn't doing it seriously until 2013.
I started tracking my newsletter numbers (along with all my other social media numbers) on March 18, 2013. I had 238 e-mail newsletter subscribers, 211 Facebook likes, and wasn't on Pinterest or Instagram.
As of today (February 23, 2016), I have 3,137 e-mail newsletter subscribers, 1375 Facebook fans, 984 followers on Pinterest, and 760 on Instagram.
The only number that matters is the e-mail newsletter subscribers ...
for reasons which I already talked about ad nauseam in another blog post (click here to read it, plus get a free blog planner with an entire years' worth of blog post ideas!), so I won't repeat it.
In that article, I talked about why the #1 non-negotiable activity to grow your biz is blogging + the newsletters you send from those blogs, but how do you actually get people to opt-in to your newsletter list from those blog posts?
It comes down to 2 things:
1) providing something valuable that they want and be willing to exchange their e-mail address for (also called an opt-in offer or initial free offer) ; and
2) getting new people to the place where you have your initial free offer "living" on your website
For us holistic practitioners, the opt-in offer is most often a PDF of some sort that directly relates to your product or services that are for sale on your website. For my holistic nutrition list, I give them a free 3-day meal plan that is a small sample of my 21 Day Real Food Reset meal plan that they can purchase and instantaneously download on my website.
If you're an essential oil advocate, it could be a short e-book explaining how they can use the most common essential oils to solve problems they experience in their daily life (low energy, not great digestion, muscle tension, kids having tantrums, stress, etc).
If you're a yoga teacher that helps first timers try yoga, it could be a checklist of what they actually need to attend their first class, which makes them feel comfortable that they don't need to spend a whack load of money getting the right clothes or props. Just a mat, maybe a 6 foot piece of thick ribbon for stretching, what clothes are most comfy, and some water.
Now where do you place the attention grabbing buttons or boxes that tells them all about your incredible free gift from you?
Here are 3 places to have calls-to-action on your blog posts to guarantee newsletter list opt-ins, in order from worst to best converting:
1. The sidebar
You don't want to have a sidebar on any of your regular website pages EXCEPT for your blog. Why? Because on other pages, you want people to be able to concentrate on what they're reading, but on your blog you want them to opt-in to your newsletter list or interact with you before they click away.
Tons of people put these opt-in boxes on their sidebars, but I'll be completely honest that mine doesn't convert very well (FYI: a conversion is someone who has visited your site vs. someone who has opted in to your newsletter list). After a combination of over 7,000 views of my sidebars on both my health and my business blog, my opt-in conversion rate is only 0.1%. So is a sidebar opt-in box completely necessary? No, but you never know if those few people could have turned into paying customers.
Other big online biz owners tend to put "resource" blocks in their sidebars, sending people to "best of" blog post summaries with call outs to opt-in then (see an example of Marie Forleo's sidebar below). I bet that converts much higher, so that might be something you want to do instead of the traditional sidebar opt-in box.
2. Bottom of your blog post
Chances are fantastic that if someone read all the way to the end of your blog post on their first visit to your website that they would be interested in joining your e-mail list. You have to catch them on this first visit, especially if they're coming from social media, because the chance of them finding your website again after clicking away is worse than the chances of my 3 1/2 year old son getting all his pee in the toilet when he tries standing like Daddy. In other words, almost 0%.
You've got to collect their e-mail on their first visit before they leave your site forever.
You can do this by putting an opt-in box OR call-to-action right at the bottom of your blog post, like this one from the bottom of my health blogs:
Don't get too fancy with the wording, it has to be completely obvious and literally say something along the lines of "Did you love this article? Click here to sign up".
When I first set up my blog and imported all my previously written ones from Wordpress to SquareSpace, I added on the above picture to each of them. When someone clicks on that, it takes them to my "Join the society" page for health. I set it up this way because the opt-in box that I added that connected directly to my e-mail newsletter software, where they could put their name and e-mail in right there, didn't look the way that I wanted it to, so this was the next best option.
Now I'm using LeadPages, which I'm totally in LOVE with, and just haven't had time to go back to my most popular older blog posts and make these into pop-up opt-in boxes. It's on my never ending to-do list.
3. Content upgrades
This is the newest e-mail opt-in that I've seen in the online business world, and is by FAR the most effective. However, it does take more time. You can decide for yourself whether the couple of extra hours per blog post is worth the extra e-mail subscribers that you'll get.
A "content upgrade" is a bonus opt-in offer that is different from your regular opt-in that I talked about above. You generally customize it to the blog post that it's on, and give lots more in-depth info than is offered in the already value-packed blog post.
For example, the content upgrade below is from this blog post on my health blog. That particular post talked about 3 easy ways to do a life detox, that came to me after reading Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up". For the content upgrade, I offered 50 bonus ways of doing a life detox that could be done in 10 minutes or less.
I also put a call-out higher up in the article to get people to keep reading to the end:
That particular content upgrade was done directly in my e-mail software by designing an opt-in box and embedding it into the blog post, and has a conversion rate of 14.7%.
On my business blog (i.e. this blog that you're reading now!), I use LeadPages opt-in boxes instead that pop up when someone clicks on the button. Here are how two particular content upgrades on my biz blog side are converting:
FYI: the grow your newsletter list fast opt-in is on an older blog post, and was recently moved over from my e-mail newsletter software to LeadPages. My focus over the last half of 2016 is to send new traffic to existing blog posts to grow my newsletter list, as I'm waiting for some big projects to launch and finish in the first half of this year before I can focus on this.
Imagine how fast your newsletter list could grow if you could convert 50%+ of the traffic coming to a particular blog post! If you're blogging weekly, and making sure that you share those blog posts in different places on social media where your ideal client hangs out (especially private Facebook groups), you could most definitely grow your newsletter list by 50 to 100 new people each month, meaning you could build your newsletter list by over 1,000 this year. THIS IS HUGE!
What are you waiting for?
Well, if you're like 90% of holistic practitioners out there, the tech side probably scares the shit out of you. It's what's stopping you from sharing your gift with more people who need your help.
You don't know where to start.
This breaks my heart, especially when I know how to fix it.
With how amazing technology is nowadays, you can totally add all of these things to your own blog and website to start growing your list today. But some of you might feel like you're going to screw something up, make your website implode, and lose the countless hours that you've already spent making a website that, frankly, you don't love.
I've recorded a video showing you exactly how to set up these 3 opt-ins and connecting them to your e-mail marketing software in less than 60 minutes. I show you exactly where to point and click your way to faster e-mail newsletter growth.
This video will show you:
- how to connect your website to your e-mail marketing software
- how to set up your sidebar
- how to add a clickable picture to your blog posts
- how to insert a content upgrade where the bonus gets automatically e-mailed out (i.e. totally hands off for you!
Even if you're able to go from a 2% conversion to a 20% conversion, that's 10 times the amount of people being added to your e-mail list each month!
Or, you could look at it as for every 100 people you add to your e-mail list, and average of 1 to 3 people will purchase ... so you either have to charge a lot more per person OR you can add more people to your e-mail list!
The decision is yours, but with these strategies, why not do both?!
I'm curious: what's your e-mail newsletter goal by the end of the year, and what's your plan to get there?
For example, I want to grow my business e-mail newsletter list to 1,000 by the end of 2016, and I plan on doing this with content upgrades on at least every other blog post, coupled with at least bi-monthly webinars.
How about you? Let me know in the comments below!