3 Steps To Gain Hundreds Of New Subscribers With A Lead Generation Machine
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That's a chart of the growth of my email list over the past 5 weeks. As you can see, the list is gaining 100 or more subscribers every week, and it's been growing at that pace for months.
The result is hundreds and hundreds of new community members every month who are reading my articles and considering the various paid recommendations I have to offer (affiliate sales, my book, etc.).
How am I gaining all those new subscribers?
It's due to the lead generation machine that I've constructed over time, and it's a technique that I'm going to walk you through in detail today.
Setting The Stage to Gain New Subscribers
Whether you've published a hundred articles or just ten, the place to start is by reviewing the analytics for those articles (if you're truly just getting started with your blog, it's likely too soon for you to set up a process like this and expect to see any success, so keep blogging).
Take a close look at your existing content and identify the articles that are getting the most ongoing organic traffic - typically Google search traffic - and use that information to determine what topic or topics your target audience is most interested in.
Open Google Analytics and go to Acquisition => All Traffic => Source / Medium and click on google / organic in the table of results to look at only traffic from Google (or Bing or Yahoo if those engines perform better for you). Click on the Secondary Dimension button and then Behavior and Destination Page. This will add the URLs for your content that's getting traffic from Google to report, sorted with the most popular articles at the top.
You can change the date range to cover a longer time period, as well as plot rows of selected articles to see how they're trending.
3 out of my top ten articles for the first six months of 2017 were about Facebook.
For example, when reviewing my own analytics and past article performance, I saw a number of articles continuing to outperform the rest in terms of organic traffic. They all had to do with Facebook. It was logical to assume then that a great portion of the readers coming to my site would be interested in learning even more about Facebook so I selected "Facebook" as my key topic.
Of course, this is highly valuable toward determining future articles to write. As I continue to publish content about Facebook strategies and techniques, my efforts continue to be rewarded with more and more traffic. But what we're going to do today is leverage that interest in a whole new way.
By offering them something of greater value.
Hopefully you're already giving your site visitors a means to sign up for your newsletter or join your email list in some way. Today, we're going to kick that up a notch.
STEP ONE: The Offer
Armed with your newfound knowledge, it's time to create an offer that appeals specifically to those audience members.
The most common technique is to offer an eBook - essentially a longer, more detailed blog post that you've formatted nicely as a PDF file - but there are other options. White Papers and other original research, workbooks, swipe files, templates, presentations... anything that you can think of that would be relevant and desirable to your audience, and which you can share digitally.
Personally, I recommend putting together a resource in eBook format as you'll likely have everything you need to get started. You can use Word, Pages or Google Docs to draft the text and format it, then save it as a PDF. Or, if you'd like it to have a more professional appearance, use Powerpoint, Keynote or Google Slides.
For my Facebook-interested audience I created the Facebook Survival Kit. I put it together using Keynote and a professional template that I purchased. Along with some stock graphics and long weekend, it came together quite nicely. Download a copy for yourself if you'd like to see how it looks:
Once you have your offer finished, it's time to move on to step two and set up how that digital content will be delivered to your new subscribers.
STEP TWO: The Delivery
For this step you will need an email marketing and automation solution. I use MailChimp and will be providing instructions accordingly. If you're using ConvertKit or Aweber or another solution, the technical details will be different but the overall theory is the same. (If you haven't yet procured an email marketing solution, I highly recommend MailChimp to start as it is free to use until you reach 2,000 subscribers.)
Create MailChimp Group
First, you should have one primary list for your email marketing and use groups within that list to differentiate between subscribers. This will keep your costs down and ease your longterm email marketing efforts. Create a new group within your primary list for each new digital offer.
Log into your MailChimp account and click on Lists. Click on the name of your list. Click on Manage Contacts and then click on Groups.
MailChimp's groups exist as groups nested within group categories. You can create whatever categories of groups you wish, and create whatever groups within those categories you want. I've opted to create categories for "downloads" and "webinars" as those are the most common sources of subscribers for me.
When you click on Create Groups you will be prompted to create a new Group Category and then one or more Groups within that.
For most digital offers, it's OK if subscribers join multiple groups. In time, that will give you insight into their needs and interests. Therefore, you will want the group membership option to be "As checkboxes." But don't worry, we won't be showing anyone a list of groups to subscribe to. We'll handle subscriptions in a much more elegant way. Type in your category name and group name and click on Save.
Or, alternatively, if you have already created a Group Category that's relevant for your new download, click on View Groups to the right of that category and that will reveal your existing groups as well as an Add Group button below them.
Here, you can see how I've organized my groups and have subscribers joining different groups based on different offers.
As you can see, from May 8 - Aug 19, the Facebook Survival Kit has generated 3,877 new subscribers.
Once you have a new group in place, it's time to set up an autoresponder email.
Create MailChimp Autoresponder
We don't want to use the standard "Welcome" email that MailChimp has in place for new list subscribers since it applies to the entire list, rather than specific groups. In fact, I've disabled the list-wide welcome message and instead have a separate autoresponder series for all new subscribers, regardless of how they subscribed, that begins 1 day after they subscribe. I will have a follow-up article soon that details how I use that autoresponder series but the point here is that you will need a new autoresponder for each new offer so that you can send new subscribers an email immediately with their content.
(To disable or edit that list-wide message, click on your list and go to Signup Forms. Select General and click on Final Welcome Email in the drop down box. Edit it or uncheck "Send a final welcome email" to disable.)
Go to Campaigns and click on Create Campaign. Click on Create an Email and then select Automated. (Note that MailChimp recently integrated Automations into Campaigns so they're all found within the same interface now.)
Click on Subscriber Activity and then on Respond to subscriber updates so that we can create an email that will go out to new members of a specific group.
Type in a meaningful campaign name - I like to use the name of the offer, like, "Facebook Survival Kit." Don't worry, your subscribers won't see this.
Select your list in the drop down box and continue - you'll specify the group in the next step.
Now you are in the automation creation sequence. This screen shows you all of the emails that exist in your automation (MailChimp creates two by default) as well as what "triggers" each successive email. Triggers can be things like joining a list, as well as time-based such as "7 days after last email sent."
Let's review what you can do in the automation builder:
- Click on Edit Workflow Settings to change overall settings.
- Workflow name
- Default email from name and email address
- Send daily report
- Personalize the "To" field with first names of subscribers
- Enable and adjust tracking options
- Click on Edit trigger to change the conditions that sends each email.
- Click on Edit schedule to change when emails can be sent.
- Click on Design Email to work on the template and content of a specific message.
- Click on the arrow to the right of Design Email to delete an email from the sequence.
- Click on Add Email to add another message to your sequence.
Start with Edit Workflow Settings. Most of the options will be the same as your main list and therefore fine as-is. However, do check them over, and I recommend adjusting the following:
- Check "Send activity digest email" - I like getting an email daily that tells me how many new subscribers joined this group and were sent the email.
- Check "Personalize the "To" field
- Make sure that Google Analytics is activated a meaningful campaign name entered.
Next, click on Edit Trigger for the first email. Change the delay to Immediately and change the settings to the group you just created. Click on Update Trigger.
Leave the schedule as-is as we want those emails to go out immediately regardless of when someone signs up. For subsequent emails, if it would be better to send them at specific times or days, this is where you'd adjust that.
Two other settings that you may not need now, but are worth understanding:
SEGMENT - While you likely don't need to use segments in this case, it's good to know that you have the ability to segment subscribers and limit specific emails to specific segments. Segments could be past campaign activity, their location, and many other interesting aspects. One particularly useful technique is to create two different emails - one for people who are completely new to you, and a second for people who have previously subscribed but are new to this group - and use Segments to send the right email to the right type of subscriber. You'll see why this is useful when we get to email design.
ACTION - Once someone is sent an email within an autoresponder, MailChimp can automatically "do" something else, if you'd like. For instance, once someone has received an email, remove them from one group and add them to a different group.
As your list grows and matures, more and more opportunities will present themselves for you to segment your subscribers and create more targeted, automated messaging. but until then, feel free to ignore these options.
Before we move on to the email itself, you'll want to delete the second "Learn more" email as we only need one email for this autoresponder.
Click on Design Email to continue.
Type in a name for your email (any will do) and enter a Subject for the email that recipients will see. This is one of the most critical steps as it will determine whether they open your message. I recommend something like, "Here's the "INSERT NAME" download you requested!"
You can enter Preview Text if you want, or handle that within the text of the email itself. Make sure your name and other settings are correct, then click on Next >.
If you already have one or more branded templates that you've set up, you'll find them under Saved Templates. Choose the template you would normally use.
If not, you can choose a basic layout or one of MailChimp's predesigned themes. Personally, I would recommend choosing the Basic - 1 Column layout, customizing it with your brand logo, colors, links and social profiles in the next step, and saving that as a template for future use. It is important that your email communication look good, but it should also consistently reflect your brand's style and voice.
As you can see, I've selected my existing Brant Template and it has several key elements already in place.
- Top Text - this will be displayed after the subject in most email clients.
- Image Block - the featured image for the content or article.
- Greeting - since not all of my subscribers have provided a first name, I use an IF/THEN statement to greet them.
- Call To Action Button - this button will be linked to the download.
- Standard Footer - all my emails include my name and bio, social links, and more.
Within the body of this message is where you'll thank the subscriber for joining your community and quickly provide them with the content you promised. I like to use Buttons as they're attractive and easy to set up - and impossible to miss. Use the Button Block within MailChimp to add a new button. Under Link to change it to File and you will be able to upload your PDF to MailChimp. MailChimp will then host your PDF and be able to track how often it's clicked.
But wait, there's more!
While you've gotten the important elements of the email squared away, don't waste this opportunity. This email is likely the only email you'll ever send which will approach a 100% Open Rate. I always make sure to point out other resources and articles I've written that the subscriber might not know about, but would be interested in.
You can list articles or set them up as image cards - whatever you'd like to do. I recommend 3 - 4 additional pieces of content.
You can also share a little more about yourself, particularly if you offer coaching or other services that they might want to take advantage of.
Once you feel as though your email is great, don't forget to send yourself a test message and if you can ask a friend to review it, that always helps. You should also add a test email address to your group to verify the autoresponder functionality.
STEP THREE: The Promotion
Now that your offer is done and your delivery is ready and waiting for new subscribers, it's time to let people know about your new resource!
...this is the part where using a page within your site gets a bit tricky. If you want to use MailChimp's embed code to put a form on your own "landing page" or blog post, you'll need to edit the HTML code so that the right Group is pre-selected, then *hide* the group selection option entirely. And while that works, MailChimp's embedded forms do not gracefully handle existing subscribers who might see your latest download and want it.
That's where a landing page or popup service can really shine. Services like Wishpond or SumoMe can make it easier to direct new subscribers AND handle existing subscribers correctly (which is to update their existing profile with the new group membership and send them the PDF).
I like to use Blog Posts to announce new material and then clickable links/buttons that open a SumoMe form for subscribers, but others might like a dedicated landing page, particularly for offers you want to send paid traffic to.
The Blog Post
Either way, start with a page or post on your site that you can send your social followers to and generate additional interest. Let's assume you're going to publish a blog post that introduces your offer, and that you're going to put a link or button within the text for them to click to enter their information.
Using SumoMe, you can start by creating a new popup and either have it appear on click, or appear inline on scroll - it's up to you. (If you haven't already started using SumoMe, sign up for an account and embed a little snippet of code into the header of all your site pages so that you can initiate SumoMe features.)
Log into SumoMe and click on List Builder - this is where you'll find all of the available forms and methods for collecting email addresses and building your list (you will be creating several forms here!).
- My Goal - select Collect Emails
- Form Type - select Click Trigger Popup
- Design - select a template that suits your brand and style, then customize the fields and appearance
- Visibility - copy the embed code for your popup & paste into your blog post
- Success - paste in a URL for your custom Thank You page
- Connect to Email Service - connect your MailChimp account and select your list & group
The Design step is worth taking your time. You will want your popup to be succinct, yet effective. Since it's activated in the midst of a blog post about the offer, you don't have to go into much detail on the form. Just make it clear that they're going to get your content emailed to them and require as few fields as absolutely necessary - ideally just First Name & Email.
Once you've published your blog post, make sure that you work your way through my entire Blog Promotion Checklist to ensure maximum reach and visibility.
Beyond that blog post, your site is filled with other posts and pages that new visitors are pouring into, particularly those top-ranked pieces of content we identified earlier. That ongoing organic traffic is exactly what we hope to capture, but your new blog post will likely go unnoticed unless we take additional action.
Here's where you have a number of options.
- Consider putting additional text and links within key articles directing readers to the new blog post.
- Insert the same embedded Click Trigger Popup within key articles.
- Activate an Exit Intent popup site-wide.
- Activate a Welcome Mat site-wide.
- Activate a Smart Bar site-wide.
Since I like to cover all my bases, I've implemented all 5 techniques.
Techniques 3, 4 and 5 are all different forms within the SumoMe List Builder. You'll find them under 2. Form Type when creating a new form.
To create an Exit Intent, select Popup and adjust the Visibility to use "User Leaves" in Manual Mode.
You will also want to adjust the Display Rules for each of those techniques. Popups and Welcome Mats should be set to display on Desktop Devices only, whereas Smart Bars are for Mobile Devices. This ensures that your site won't be penalized by Google for showing too large interstitials to mobile users.
Once activated, you'll ensure that new site visitors, regardless of how they've entered your site, will be made aware of your offer.
BONUS STEP: Paid Promotion
Businesses selling services and information products tend to have a longer buying cycle, which makes getting interested prospects on your list and in your funnel imperative. Your new offer is ideally suited for this!
And for most businesses, Facebook Ads are an inexpensive and effective way to introduce your offer to new audiences.
The key is to find options within Facebook's targeting that will allow you to determine a highly selected and relevant audience.
For instance, my Facebook Survival Kit is obviously highly relevant to people who are using Facebook for professional reasons. A targeting aspect that I selected was "Facebook Page Admin" - anyone who owns a Facebook Page is certainly doing so for business reasons - and added additional demographic and geographic selectors.
As you can see, I spent $80, reached 256,412 people, and drive 12,763 clicks through to my article. That resulted in gaining hundreds of new subscribers, not to mention significant branding.
Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube all offer similar paid options. Google, on the other hand, can get your content in front of people who are actively searching for that information, so that's another route you can consider.
In the end, you'll have a tidy lead generation machine place. As you continue to publish new related content, your organic reach and traffic will grow and so, too, will your subscription rate.
Since a portion of your site visitors are returning it is certainly a good idea to consider creating new offers and funnels periodically. Fresh content and resources will keep your readers interested and engaged, as well as offer you additional opportunities to learn about your prospects.
Each time an individual signs up to receive an offer, that should tell you something about them. Beyond being interested in the topic, if you've positioned the resource well, it should indicate that they have an issue for which they're looking for a solution.
The more offers and downloads you can match with prospects, the more you'll know about their needs and situation, putting you in a better position to monetize those new subscribers.
Now, I realize these "3 steps" were filled with quite a few additional tasks and options. Take your time and work through them. Ask questions as you go. Each time you work through this process you'll get more familiar with the tools and it will all get easier.
Trust me. Now that I've created half a dozen or more offers and content upgrades, the tech behind it all no longer concerns me, leaving me free to focus on delivering the best possible resources to my readers.
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By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, award-winning Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."Follow @Mike_Allton