3 Ways to Grow Your Emails List (That Actually Work!) (Transcript)

In this week’s podcast, I share three email list growth strategies… and these aren’t just random strategies that sound good. These are the strategies that consistently WORK and have grown my email list to 98,000 subscribers. 

This is a transcript of Work Less, Earn More, Episode 43. Listen to the episode here.

One of the toughest parts of being an entrepreneur and working for yourself is the fact that your income can be really unstable. You can make a killing one month and then the next month you can earn practically nothing. That makes it really hard to budget and it can also be quite stressful. This is how I operated for the first several years of being my own boss. But these days my income is pretty stable. And you know that if you've listened to very many of my income reports. Sure, it fluctuates a little bit from month to month, but it mostly surges above the baseline. Most months, my income is pretty steady. My monthly income rarely dips below a certain level. And that's because of how we've strategically built the business.

How to Preditct Your Profits

I want to teach you how to do this for yourself. I put together a new workshop. It's called How to Predict your Profits for the next 12 months. It's just 15 minutes long, but it walks you through the formula that I use to make profit projections for my company. This is such a game changer. You can use this whether you are years into running your business or if you're just starting out. This workshop will only be available for a limited time. So sign up for it right now by going to gillianperkins.com/predictyourprofits. We will also be sure to include a link in the show notes below, but again, that URL is gillianperkins.com/predictyourprofits. Okay. Well, that's everything I'm going to say about that. Now let's get into the episode.

We became entrepreneurs because more than anything, we want freedom. We want to be in control of our own schedule, income and life. But unfortunately that isn't always the reality of being a business owner. I'm Gillian Perkins, and I'm on a mission to take back entrepreneurship for what it's supposed to be. In every episode, I'll share with you how to get the most out of every hour you work so that you can work less and earn more. Let's get to it. If you were to look at the chart of my email list growth over the entire life of me trying to grow my email list, you would see that for the first three plus years my list grew extremely slowly.

How I grew my email list from 1,000 to 100,000

In fact, after three years of slowly trying to grow my list, I had only about 1,000 subscribers. But at that point I changed my strategies and things really started to change. Things started taking off a lot more quickly. And now in just the past two and a half years, I've gone from 1,000 subscribers to 100,000 email subscribers. We are just crossing that line right now as this episode is released, as I'm recording it, we're still about 1,000 subscribers away. But I know that by the time this episode is released we will be at 100,000 subscribers. And so, I'm really excited to be sharing with you today three email list growth strategies that actually work.

I remember back when I was trying to grow my list, I did a lot of research about how to grow your email list. I even bought a quite expensive online course. I spent $2,000 on an online course that promised to teach me how to grow my list. And both in the free content that I consumed and also in that premium paid course, what I learned were a lot of tactics for increasing my conversion rates. What I mean by that is, these were tactics for making more of the people who visited my website decide to sign up for my email list. Now, tactics for increasing your conversion rate can be really helpful, but they're only helpful if you have significant traffic coming to your website. If you only have 10 people coming to your website each month, then doing something to increase your conversion rate from 5% to 10% isn't going to make your list suddenly start growing a whole lot faster.
What you're going to hear in this episode is tactics for growing your list and increasing your traffic at the same time. And this will make more sense once we get into the strategies. But before we get into those, I just want you to know that if you're trying to grow your email list and it's a struggle, and it's going really slow, and you feel like you're making hardly any progress, that you are not alone. It might feel like everyone else is growing their lists really successfully and you're the only one who's struggling, but that is simply not the case. In fact, most people struggle to grow their email list. I want to make sure that I give you some real tools in this episode that allow you to change that. Okay. So let's get into these strategies. The first strategy I want to mention is the first strategy that really started working for me, which was Pinterest.

How to use Pinterest to grow your email list

If you're not already using Pinterest to drive traffic and to grow your list, you might be a little bit confused about how it could help. Maybe you just see Pinterest as this site where you get ideas for recipes or DIY projects that you never get around to. Pinterest is a really interesting platform because it's a search engine, and people go on Pinterest to search for information on all sorts of different topics that they're interested in. And more likely than not whatever you help people with in your business, whatever topic your business is focused around, or niche you're in, there will be content on Pinterest around that topic. Now, this isn't 100% the case for all industries. If you're in a B2B industry, or you sell some sort of commodity, you might find that there isn't content on Pinterest for your specific industry.

But if you're not sure, just head over to pinterest.com and do some quick searches for some topics that you talk about or you help people with and see what comes up. More likely than not, you will find that there's content there in Pinterest and that people are consuming the content. So, how Pinterest can help you grow your email list is this. You can create free opt-in offers, and then you can create pin images. So these are just landscape format images, so they're taller than they are wide. And then you put the image on the page where someone can sign up for your opt-in offer, and then you share that image on Pinterest. The other way you can do this is to share the opt-in offer in a blog post, put the images in the blog post, and then share those images on Pinterest.

Either way what's going to happen is people will find the images on Pinterest, they will click on them, that will send them to your website where they find out about the opt-in offer, and a certain percentage of them will sign up for your opt-in offer and get on your email list. It's a pretty simple strategy, but hundreds of thousands of bloggers, probably millions of bloggers, have used this strategy to get traffic to their blogs and to grow their email list. So it's a strategy that I would highly recommend. Like I said, it's the first strategy that I really started seeing traction with. Now, I do want to let you know that there is a little bit more to the strategy. If you just share the pin from your website onto Pinterest, and that's all you do, then you probably won't see much of any results from it. You need to optimize your images for Pinterest SEO. What that means is, you need to make sure that the image is a good fit for what you are talking about.

You also need to make sure to include the keywords that relate to whatever the content is about and they also tie into the picture. That means that Pinterest will understand what that pin is about, so it will suggest it to people when they search for those topics, and that when people see your pin they'll click on it, and that will give Pinterest feedback that people like your pin so it will promote your pin more. There is more to it than this, for sure. I would highly recommend looking into Pinterest strategies if you aren't already, and you are either beginning stages of growing your email list or you want to increase your blog traffic. There's a lot to be done with a group of boards and regular posting. And there are some automated tools that you can use to get big results on Pinterest without having to spend an enormous amount of time.

When I was heavily using Pinterest to drive a lot of blog traffic myself, and as my primary list growth strategy, I was only spending a couple hours per month and I was getting, I would say, about 20,000 page views per month on my website. And I was earning a couple hundred new email subscribers every month from those page views. This episode isn't going to be a deep dive into everything you need to know to use Pinterest to grow your email list, but I just want you to be aware that it's a strategy that could really help you so you can look into it further on your own. Strategy number two is the strategy that I know you already know I use, and that is, YouTube. YouTube has been this number one thing that has grown my list faster than anything else.

Using YouTube to grow my list

I started my YouTube channel about three years ago at the time of this recording. And when I started my YouTube channel, of course, I was starting at zero. I had no subscribers. I wasn't getting any views. Within the first three months I reached 1,000 subscribers, and then in month four I got another 1,000 subscribers, in month five I got 2,000, in month six I got 4,000, in month seven I got 8,000, in month eight I got 10,000. And from there I've been growing at pretty much about 10,000 subscribers per month. Now these are YouTube subscribers though, not email subscribers. So, how has YouTube helped me grow my email list? Well, it's really quite simple. And it's quite the same as if you were using a blog post to tell people about your opt-in offer. All I do is I include opt-in offers. These are just free offers that people can get if they sign up for my email list, and I share them in my YouTube videos.

For example, I might make a video about, how to decide what business to start, and then I might make a worksheet to guide people through the process. Then in the video I tell them that they can get the worksheet for free, and I include a link below the video. Often I'll also include a link in the top comment under the video. And so, people learn in the video that they can get the worksheet. Then they click that link, it takes them to that landing page where they can opt-in to get the worksheet, and that adds them to my email list. Not only is YouTube an incredible way to get a lot of visibility for your brand, and grow your audience, and get traffic to your website, but it also is a strategy that converts people onto your email list really well. Let me share with you one example, the best example, of how well this can work.

About a year and a half ago I made a video about how to write a business plan. And that is a pretty popular topic online. I definitely did my keyword research to find this topic. And I also made sure to make, of course, a good quality video on the topic. In the video I share a business plan template, and I actually use the business plan template in the video as I'm explaining to people how to write a business plan. I just walk them through the entire template and how to fill it out, which made the video really easy for me to make, of course, but it also made people see how this tool could help them. That made them really want this free opt in offer. A very high percentage of people after watching the video went on to download that and subscribe to my email list. Specifically, we saw about 13% conversion rates.

What that means is that, for every 100 people who watched the video, 13 of them actually signed for my email list, which is a crazy high conversion rate. I just pulled up that video, and right now it has over 500,000 views on it. That means that one video has added around 60,000 email subscribers to my email list. Now, I just want to clarify though, I mentioned that we're about to hit 100,000. You might think, wow, that one video created 60% of the growth of her email list. But that's actually not the case because as I'm sure you understand, there's churn with email subscribers. You get a subscriber, they stay subscribed for a certain amount of time, and then eventually they unsubscribe. While we have about 100,000 email subscribers right now, we've had, I don't even know how many, at least, I would say, at least, 300,000 people sign up for the email list over these past few years.

Someone will subscribe, and then after a few months they'll unsubscribe. Or even if they don't unsubscribe after a few months, they often stop opening the emails. And at that point we will clean them out of the list so that we can keep our open rates high and keep the list healthy. All that to say, this video has converted really, really well. We've had a huge percentage of the people who watched the video turn into email subscribers, really better than any piece of content I've ever created. And it has had a huge impact on my list growth, but it is still a relatively small percentage of the total growth of the list. If you're relatively unknown online like I was three years ago and you're trying to increase your visibility so people find out about your brand,  that you can start attracting customers and, of course, grow your email list as well, YouTube is the strategy I would recommend really above anything else.

Being a guest on Podcasts to help grow your email list

Of course, it's not for everyone. There are plenty of people out there who just don't like being on camera or they aren't interested in making videos. And, of course, that's totally fine. But if you're willing to be on camera, nothing beats it for quickly growing your audience. Strategy number three is another strategy that is so, so good if your audience is small. It is guest podcasting. This is where you appear as a guest on other people's podcasts. I wouldn't really recommend starting your own podcast as a list growth strategy. It works for some people, but it's a bit of a lottery as we talked about in that recent episode about podcasting and where it fits into the marketing funnel. But being a guest on other people's podcasts, podcasts that already have a large listenership, can allow you to get in front of those people, be introduced to those people and present your opt-in offer to those people.

Regardless of how big or tiny your audience is right now, you can reach a lot of people by being a guest. Now different podcasts will have different rules for what you can and cannot share. Some podcasts don't allow any self promotion at all. Some podcasts will allow you to share with people your website or where they can follow you on social media, but not an opt-in offer. But many podcasts do allow you to share an opt-in offer at the end of the episode. And while with a lot of other types of content like a blog or a YouTube video, the end of the content isn't really a prime place to share an opt-in offer or any sort of offer, really, because not a lot of people make it to the end of the content, podcasts are quite different. Somewhere between 50% and 80% of people listen to podcast episodes all the way through because they're listening while they're doing something else. They're multitasking.

That means it's actually harder for them to stop listening to the episode than to just keep listening while they're doing whatever else they're doing. Most of the time they listen all the way through. Getting the opportunity to share your opt-in offer at the end of an episode is actually a prime place to share it because you're sharing the offer after the listener has been listening to you talk and say interesting things and teach them for 15, 30 or 45 minutes. This listener is now well acquainted with you. They trust you a lot because you were introduced to them by the podcast host who they're already familiar with, so it's almost like a referral. And they've learned things from you and they are starting to really like you. They definitely want more. And so, you'll see a really high conversion rate there as well.

Bonus Strategy: Facebook Ads

There you have three strategies that you can use to grow your email list. These are strategies that work really well even if your list is really tiny, even if you're unknown online right now. Strategies that can really leverage your growth, can get you the traffic you need to share those opt-in offers and to get people on your email list. There is one more strategy I want to share. This is just a bonus strategy before we wrap this up. Now this is a strategy that is a little bit more advanced. It's certainly not for everyone. I wouldn't recommend this strategy to someone who is in the first stage of business growth and their idea isn't validated at all, they're not bringing in any revenue. But if your idea has been validated, people want what you have to offer and you are starting to bring in some money, then this can be a good strategy to try out.

The strategy is using Facebook Ads and a tripwire offer to grow your list for free. Now, I know that that might sound confusing because Facebook Ads aren't free, right? They cost money. But they can become effectively free if you use the strategy. How it works is, you run Facebook Ads for a free offer. Let's use my free business plan as an example. I would run ads that share the free business plan with people. When someone clicks on the ad, then they're taken to the opt-in page, they sign up for the free business plan, and then they are directed to a thank you page. But on the thank you page I share a paid offer with them. For the next 15 minutes they get a limited time special offer. Now they can get my business planning workshop for just $25 instead of its normal full price of $100.

Now, what this does is it means that as I'm getting opt-ins, a certain percentage of the people who opt in for the free offer will purchase the paid offer. I'll be spending money to get those free opt-ins, but I'll be making some money at the same time. To give you a little example, let's say that the free opt-ins were costing me $1.25 each, so every 20 opt-ins I get would cost me $25. If I had a 5% conversion rate on that paid offer, then for every 20 people who opted in I'd be making a sale. So, I'd be spending $25 and I'd be earning $25. And what this does, is it allows me to grow my email list for free. I got 20 new email subscribers and I broke even. It's not a money-making strategy right there, it's a list growth strategy. But not only are you growing your list for free, you're also acquiring new customers. And this is a big part of business strategy. How do we acquire new customers?

Many businesses are willing to pay, that is lose money, in order to acquire new customers. They actually want to spend money to get someone to buy something from them even if they're not making money in the process, because it is easier to sell to someone who has bought from you in the past. Because they've already extended themselves. Now they have a new level of trust for you. They've tried your product. They know that your products are good now. And so, they'll be more likely to purchase something else from you in the future than someone who's never bought anything from you would be. If you can use this strategy to break even and grow your list for free and acquire customers in the process, that is fantastic. Honestly though, even if you don't break even, even if you're losing a little bit of money on this type of campaign, it can still be a strategic move for your business because it is growing your list, it's growing your audience, and it's acquiring these customers who can buy from you in the future.

Connect with me

All right. Well, that brings us to the end of this episode. Thank you so much for joining me. I hope that you found these list growth strategies incredibly helpful. I'll be back again next week with another episode. Until then, take care, stay focused, and here's to your success. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of work less, earn more. Now here's what I want you to do next. Take a screenshot of the episode you're listening to right now and share it on Instagram stories. And when you do, make sure you tag me @gillianzperkins so I can see that you're listening.

Sharing on stories is going to help more people find this podcast so that they too can learn how to work less, earn more, and take back their lives. And if you really love the show, then head over to Apple podcasts and leave a review to give it a boost. Not only will this help the show out, but it's also going to give you the chance to win a 12-month membership at Startup Society. Each week I'll be picking one winner. To enter, all you need to do is post a review on Apple Podcasts and be sure to include your Instagram handle so we can send you a DM if you win. Okay, now let's wrap this up. I'm Gillian Perkins, and until next week, stay focused and take action.

Sean McMullin