How to Build Your List FAST (Without Copying Anyone Else)

[Note: This is a guest post from Nathalie Lussier, who is daring herself to double her list in 30 days through the 30 Day List Building Challenge.]

A smart marketer might look around to see what’s currently “hot” and working for others building an email list… but usually, by the time this person creates a new opt-in bribe or giveaway, things have shifted again and readers aren’t tripping over themselves to sign up.

Trying to follow what successful marketers are doing is frustrating because you always end up with “me too” list building tactics that don’t help you stand out from the crowd. Not to mention that by the time you learn about what’s working for other marketers, the market is shifting again, and the tactic isn’t as effective anymore.

But there’s a better way. Imagine coming up with list building ideas and strategies that are fresh and that get people talking—so much so that they even share your opt-in pages with their friends and colleagues.

That’s exactly what’s possible when you give yourself the challenge of pushing the list building envelope in your industry. Let me show you how I did it, and how you can come up with your own unique and creative ideas, too.

Decide On Your List Building Strategy

When it comes to list building strategies, there are different approaches that work better for different people and businesses.

There’s the “slow and steady” route that depends on a constant flow of traffic through SEO or advertising. This means you’re showing your opt-in offer to new people every day and slowly building your list.

Then there’s the “short burst” method, where you orchestrate a campaign to drive new list growth over a focused period of time. Maybe you’ll do something with a joint venture partner, do a timed event, or get a lot of press all at once.

Both of these list building methods have their merits. It’s just a matter of how much time you have to dedicate to building your list versus delivering products and services for your customers.

Below you’ll find my take on both of these strategies.

1. The Website Checkup Tool Example


In the “slow and steady” way, I designed an opt-in process that gives people personalized advice based on what their website could use some improvement on. It’s a customized follow-up sequence based on their site’s three areas that need the most improvement. This is an evergreen opt-in, meaning that anyone can take this website assessment and get feedback anytime.

I link to it through “ads” on my own website that link to my opt-in page, at the end of guest posts, and on my social media sites on a regular basis. This drives traffic to the opt-in offer. But that’s only half the equation.

The other half is the built-in sharing that I encourage people to do on the checkup results page. After they receive their customized results on the website checkup tool they can easily share the feedback they received—and it’s fun for them as well.

Then, I follow up with people based on the top three things their website could use some help with, through an automated series of training emails that contain a combination of video tutorials and written instructions. This also leads into my sales funnel, by offering the person to go deeper on any one of the areas their site needs help with at the end of the free training series I send them.

2. The 30 Day List Building Challenge

30-day-screenshotTo contrast the evergreen “slow and steady” method, I’m currently hosting a timed contest and challenge called the 30 Day List Building Challenge. This is a focused short burst of list building activity, and I’m putting myself on the line by daring myself to double my list in 30 days.

The way I designed this challenge is two-fold: first, it’s a contest where people can win prizes for participating and sharing it with others, and second, I’ll be delivering free training videos, checklists, and case studies to the list building as well.

The idea for this project came about because I was going to focus on growing my list for the summer months, but I realized it would be great to share what I learned along the way about what worked and what didn’t work.

The challenge itself has helped me add thousands of new subscribers to my email list, but it’s not something that would work every day. There’s a reason it’s so effective: it has a start date and an end date, and that drives engagement immediately.

Designing Your Own Irresistible Opt-in Bribe

Now you’ve seen two examples of creative opt-in strategies, but taking them as is will not yield the best results. You need to add your own spin or innovate the existing offers in your market.

Think through your ideal customers’ most pressing needs and see how you can solve these problems for them. Chances are that people want ways to save time, money, or get another type of concrete result in their life.

Take a look at the existing opt-in offers and even paid products in your market, and see how you can create a blue ocean strategy by coming up with a different way of presenting your email list offer. Think of different delivery methods, language, design, personality, all of these make a big difference.

Find a way that’ll entice them to spread the word—whether that’s through a contest, sharing individualized results or another method entirely.

As you’re planning this, make sure to determine how your freebie will fit into your own sales funnel—what backend offers can you include as part of the process?

If you have a particularly clever, fun, or different way of getting people to join your list… leave a comment below! I’d love to check it out, jump on your list, and help you spread the word, too!

About the author: Nathalie Lussier is a business strategist and digital visionary behind the Off The Charts web show, and she’s daring herself to double her list in 30 days through the 30 Day List Building Challenge. Join her here and win prizes; it’s fun and free.