Today we’re talking about the third ticket to building the audience and revenue you need to make this your break-through year: Action #3: Build Your Digital List.
You might think this isn’t all that important, especially if you’re getting plenty of leads by referral and have a decent close rate.
You would be wrong.
Your digital list—however you decide to use it—is the only direct feed to your audience that YOU own. It’s not subject to LinkedIn’s connection rules or Facebook shutdown. It’s yours to happily—and privately—build the client base of your dreams.
A few ground rules. While you own the list, you don’t “own” your audience. It’s your job to earn—and keep earning—their attention. That means quality content, limited commercials (never, EVER more than 20% of your content. Under 5% is even better for sophisticated brands) and absolutely, positively, zero spam.
I would further say that it’s hard to go wrong if you view your list in the sacred trust category: respect, honor and duty matter.
With that in mind, here are some tips to start growing your list…
1. Offer focused, quality digital content. Know your audience—if you’re just starting, be clear about whom you want to pull in. And create consistent (generally weekly or bi-weekly), reliable, compelling content. How will you know when you’re firing on all cylinders? People you’d like to work with start interacting. They might write you a quick email response, comment on a blog post, retweet or like a post. Don’t use their hiring you/buying your products as your first sign. Engagement first, commerce second.
2. Have a you-can’t-miss-it sign-up on your website. It should be above the fold on each page (in the masthead is perfect) and should visually pull the observer in. Chances are your list sign-up is your “big banana”, the one thing you want visitors to your site to do. We could debate whether to do “pop ups” on your site till the cows come home. I don’t care for ‘em and—even though the stats can be impressive—I rarely recommend them. Why? Because if you’ve got a smart, non-cheesy, non-spammy brand, they just don’t feel right. It interferes with the client’s experience of you AND your site. ‘Nuff said.
3. Sprinkle additional sign-ups across your site. I invite people to sign-up after every post. If they enjoyed reading that one, they might well enjoy having them delivered automatically, right? Look for a balance of invitation, great visuals and white space.
4. Trade something of value. Offer up a free piece of content ONLY available to new subscribers. Whether it’s a PDF download or a quiz or a white paper—make it brand-relevant and good enough to pay for. Because if your free stuff is that good, your paid work must be bad-ass indeed.
5. Market your content. You put a lot of thought into your content—from blog posts to articles to videos. Put some of the same effort into distributing it. Post it on your social media platforms (and on Twitter take the time to use a short URL to increase your re-tweet potential). You’ll drive folks to your site—boosting your SEO AND building your subscriber base (when they can’t resist your giant sign-up bar).
6. Use social share buttons. Make sharing your content easy breezy. A basic WordPress plug-in upped my social shares by almost 50%. Make yours not only a no-brainer, but highly visible.
7. Brand your stuff. Choosing a cool or sexy or, well, unforgettable, name is just smart. Not for the sake of hipness, but to perfectly capture your intent, your brand and your market position. What makes you memorable?
8. Consider multiple lists. I know, it’s hard enough to do one! But sometimes offering more than one list allows you to focus on differing needs amongst your peeps. Case in point: Rochelle TV. My video series brought me an almost entirely new audience—those who prefer the visual over blog posts. Giving them what they want the way they want it has not only increased my list by 20%, it’s increased my revenue AND media hits.
9. Get in the habit of automatic promotion. This means putting a link in your email signature and your social media profiles. Build it into ALL of your promotional material—from your guest blogging byline to your bios across literally every digital platform you occupy. And don’t forget your face-to face interactions—telling your story at business events, being introduced when giving speeches and workshops. Don’t make them work to find you or your best bits.
Building a list isn’t glamorous. It isn’t sexy and some would even say it isn’t fun (I totally disagree with them by the way). But if you are truly committed to building your brand, your idea, your book, your company—it’s essential.
Make it personal, make it real and make it something you are excited about. Because just doing it by (and for) the numbers won’t keep you at it.
What has worked best for you?
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