Dec 24, 2009

How to grow your email list in 3 easy steps

We get this question a lot: "I just started my business, and I want to use email marketing because it’s cheap, but I don’t have an email list yet. If buying an email list is so bad, how am I supposed to grow my list from zero when nobody’s heard of us?"

My answer? Buy your traffic, not your list:


You’re an expert at something.

That’s why you started your business in the first place. Maybe you got frustrated about a problem, and your business solves it.

Well, write about it. Open up Microsoft Word (or Google Docs or whatever), and write. Give it a personal tone, because it’s faster and easier to write that way. Don’t try to be all professional and corporate. It’ll never get done. And be funny if you can. No fart jokes or anything — just make people smile while they read you. Oh, and make it meaty. You know what’s worse than downloading a big heavy whitepaper? Opening it up to learn it’s 2 friggin’ pages. Write lots of good, useful material. Save it as a PDF.

Give your knowledge away.

Now post that glorious PDF guide to your website or blog. Make it free to download. No, don’t make people register for it. You just started your company, so who the heck are you, and why would I register? Just let people download the awesome guide and read it.

Advertise Yourself.

Throughout your awesome guide, insert full page color ads that tell people you’ve got a really awesome email newsletter too, and point them right back to your list signup form. Full page ads are normally  expensive, but not when it’s your guide. And not when it’s all digital. Go nuts. Try to make the ads  entertaining. The sky’s the limit, because it’s your friggin publication! Or, be low key about it. Whatever.

Buy traffic, not lists

Now here’s the part where you get to spend all this money that’s burning a hole in your pocket: go pay Google for some PPC ads that point to your awesome free guide. You can set a really low budget and gradually increase it later.

But basically, you need to buy traffic for your site, not emails for your lists.