How to Build an Email List Starting from Zero

Having an email list is the pinnacle aspect of an effective inbound marketing method. Book marketing is one of the best types of inbound marketing out there, and I believe there’s a surprising amount to be learned from book marketers. In my early days of training to be a marketer, I would occupy my spare time with reading from the experts on book marketing: Charlie Hoehn, Ryan Holiday and blogging giants Ramit Sethi, and Tim Ferriss.

From studying what I thought were gurus of online marketing, I started to learn the methodology via osmosis from being on their email lists, analysing their site structure and the content on them.

It all began to fall into place for me when I started working with James Scouller, and his blog the Three Levels of Leadership. I started to see inbound marketing styles as applicable patterns and templates. But those patterns were amiss on James’s blog. With the best interests to help him build and capture a bigger readership. This is exactly why I reached out to him and secured an internship and mentoring with him.

Inspired from the giants

So much was learned when I analysed Charlie Hoehn’s methods on book marketing with Tim Ferriss. I was determined to follow their combined technique – as they were clearly very effective for Tim.

As big fan of Ramit Sethi’s blog (and loyal reader), I saw how effective his methodologies were for gaining subscribers. He made it feel like a privilege for being subscribed to his blog.

I remember the first time I signed up, it had everything I could possibly want to know about money. With a small exchange of my name and email address I was treated to this private vault of everything I need to know about: getting my dream job, negotiating a pay rise, and starting a career as a freelancer.

I saw how effective Ramit’s pop ups were for gaining new subscribers and decided to replicate this for James’s blog.

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I knew these pop ups were fairly easy to build via SumoMe but the basic package is in no way suitable for a leadership coach who works in a space for CEO’s learning to be better leaders.

More importantly we had to offer huge value to anyone visiting his site, and a reason why they should exchange some personal details for something written by him. Luckily with James we found the ideal piece of content. We offered an ebook that was almost the missing chapter of his book. We branded it in a way that was irresistible to readers. So with James, I drew up my first major design brief for some major web changes. And the popup ended up looking like this:

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We were capturing readers but we had to engage them

In first month of the pop up being live we captured 41 subscribers.

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Thinking ahead, I knew we actually had to contribute more value to these readers for the privilege of having their email address.

I toyed around with copying and pasting his newest blogs into an email newsletter but it seemed a little silly to put all this effort in. Luckily as we were using MailChimp, it was very easy to setup an RSS feed of James’s blog into a newsletter and we set it up to go out at 10am GMT the next day the blog went live.

This was working incredibly well. The blog’s email list was growing monthly by one person a day, with next to zero promotion: there was no paid advertising, and we had no guest posts. James was only posting a blog once a month but he was slowly gaining more and more loyal readers. From this list he even got the opportunity to engage with one of his loyal readers from South Africa who wanted to potentially enroll in his leadership training program. Without this list that probably wouldn’t have happened.

Now we were slowly building readers it was time to add a CTA to each and every one of those emails. We knew that James had a great offer for signing up but we wanted to ensure that new subscribers that weren’t owners of his book would be interested in buying a copy. So with each and every email that went out, it featured a subtle call to action reminding them they could buy it anytime they wanted.

It doesn’t have to be hard to build an email list

It’s easy to think of growing a list of loyal readers as an overwhelming project. Look to the best people performing with some of the best techniques and simply replicate what they’re doing while adding your own personal spin. Show you have something valuable in exchange for their personal information, and your readers will find it a privilege to be on your list. As-long-as you keep producing valuable content, you’ll find that your email list grows in the background and you won’t even need to worry about it.

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