List Growth 102: Don’t Forget About Everyone Else

December 22, 2014


When it comes to growing your email list, the visitors to your website and offline interactions with your customers are both vital to success. The good news is that there are many excellent ways to turn those customers into new subscribers. On Mad Mimi’s blog, you may have read about list growth strategies like offering quizzes to your online visitors and turning your business card into an invitation to subscribe. There are a ton of great ideas, and you should consider using as many of them as you think make sense.

However, that is where the “list growth” discussion usually ends, and that is why most email marketers are dissatisfied with their list growth results. You’re inviting your website visitors and paying customers to join your email list, but what about everyone else? What about all the people who don’t visit your website? A common response to this question is, “Well, you need to drive even more people to your website and/or hand out even more business cards.” While that is not wrong, it is not the only way to grow your list.

The biggest mistake marketers make when it comes to email list growth is thinking that potential subscribers must to come to them. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to grow your list is to give people the ability to subscribe without making them come to you. This strategy is called “opt-in advertising,” and it works extraordinarily well for businesses of all sizes.

Opt-in advertising is accomplished by displaying an opt-in invitation (for your specific list) to audiences on participating third-party websites and mobile apps, including websites from premium publishers like Time Inc. and Hearst. You probably didn’t know that you can display your signup invitation to targeted audiences on hundreds of websites and mobile apps. And with opt-in advertising, you typically only pay for valid subscriber who elects to sign up for your list.

If you’re saying, “wait, that sounds too good to be true,” it’s not. When done right, opt-in advertising can generate new subscribers who convert to paying customers at the same rate as new signups on your website, but it’s easy to make mistakes. It’s important to know what you’re doing first.

At Opt-Intelligence, we recommend six golden rules, or “The 6 Ts,” of opt-in advertising. Note: If your opt-in advertising provider has a problem with any of these, be wary.

The 6 Ts of opt-in advertising are:

1. Transparency

It’s very important that you know exactly where your opt-in invitation is being shown at all times. You should ask for a source ID with every single subscriber you generate. It is critical that your provider can do it for you and that you can trust them. The main problems you want to avoid are (a) your invitation ending up in the middle of a poor user experience and (b) subscriptions to your list being incentivized by an unscrupulous publisher (for example, “provide your email address for a chance to win an iPad”).

2. Target

Define who will see your invitation. If your business is local, make sure you reach only potential subscribers in the relevant ZIP codes. Decide if you want both males and females and consider what age range is most appropriate. One of the best things about opt-in advertising is that you ONLY pay for a subscriber who WANTS to be on your list. However, it’s still best to target so that you get the highest quality subscribers possible.

3. Tailor

Know your audience, and tailor every aspect of your invitation to that audience. For example, you may want to display a different version of your invitation to males versus females, or people in their 20s versus 50s. Always be clear and concise in your messaging. If you’re honest and straightforward in your copy, you’re more likely to attract subscribers who really want what you have to offer.

4. Test

It’s very important to start off any new list growth campaign slowly. Limit the number of subscribers you will accept per day. A methodical testing phase will give you time to evaluate your results. You’ll most likely need to refine your targeting and tailoring before subscriber performance is similar to what you can achieve with your website.

5. Track

Never stop measuring the performance of all subscribers you generate from all of your list growth initiatives. Tracking is important for opt-in advertising. A source that has been excellent for months or years can suddenly stop working for you. Your opt-in advertising provider may offer automated tracking tools, so be sure to ask. Mad Mimi can also help with all sorts of tools to measure and track engagement from your new subscribers.

6. Tend

None of the above will matter very much if you don’t nurture these new subscribers and figure out the best ways to interact with them. Mad Mimi will be very important on this front, and you should look into all the different ways it can help you.

Opt-in advertising works great if you know what you’re doing and have a solid ESP like Mad Mimi to help you track and nurture your new subscribers. If you follow ‘The 6 Ts,” you’ll be using opt-in advertising like a champ in no time.

Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community