Grow Your Email List in 2016

grow-your-email-list-2016We all know the benefits of having an email list by now. It’s a proven way to turn one-time website visitors into repeat readers. Having access to a database of subscribers who have willingly joined your email list gives you a way to send traffic to your site on demand; while also providing a list of contacts you can reach out to directly, whenever you have an announcement to make.

However, when it comes to starting your list sorting out the technical details is the easy part. Getting your visitors to actually submit their email addresses and become subscribers is where the challenge begins. Thankfully, there are a number of different ways you can greatly increase the chances of your visitors joining your email list. One of those approaches is to offer your visitors an incentive that they simply can’t refuse.

These list-growing incentives are called lead magnets. In this article, we will look at some of the different options for creating a lead magnet that offers enough value that your visitors will happily join your email list or newsletter in order to gain access to it.

As you’ll see, growing your email list with a lead magnet needn’t be difficult. With these incentive ideas, no matter how much time or skill you have at your disposal, you’ll soon discover that there are plenty of options available to you for creating an offer your audience won’t be able to turn down.

Tools for Growing Your Email List with Lead Magnets

Before we get to the best types of lead magnets for growing your email list, let’s take a quick look at how you can manage the delivery of your incentive.

The first step in the transaction is displaying the details of the lead magnet to your visitors. This usually takes place in or around the sign-up forms for your email list. Typically, this could be an in-content email optin form, displayed at the end of your posts, or through a lightbox popup form.

I’m sure you’re familiar with this type of email optin form. The message on the form explains the details of the lead magnet or incentive, with an invitation for the reader to enter their email address to gain access to it.

When it comes to adding these forms to your website, your current WordPress theme might include all the functionality you need to get started. If you are using our Divi theme, for example, email sign-up forms are just one of the plugin-replacing features on offer.

However, if you really want to grow your list, then you will need to take a more aggressive approach to collecting those email addresses. One popular option that still works today is to display lightbox popup forms on your site.

Another lesser used option, but one that reportedly converts at a high rate, is the two-step optin form. This type of optin form is only displayed after a user has clicked on a link.

Create a call to action that launches the email optin form.

An example of a two-step optin could involve asking the reader if they want access to a free item and if so, to click on a text link or button. Clicking activates the second step in the process and displays the optin form that allows the user to enter their email address in exchange for the lead magnet.

Alternatively, instead of simply displaying the optin form, you can forward the visitor toa highly optimized squeeze page that is focused on promoting your offer.

The idea behind the higher conversion rates of two-step optins is that the user has already decided they want the freebie. Therefore, when they see the email form, entering their address is just a necessary step they need to complete in order to follow through on their decision to get the lead magnet.

Other benefits of using two-step optins are that you only show a form when the user has expressed an interest, rather than bombarding them with popups and other sign-ups throughout your site. With the two-step optins, you can also ensure that your lead magnets and incentives are highly relevant to the current piece of content your reader is interacting with.

If you do want to use the powerful two-step optins on your WordPress website, then you will need to install an email optin plugin or subscribe to a hosted service. However, if you are already an Elegant Themes member on the Developer or Lifetime Access plans, you have access to the Bloom plugin. This tool gives you the ability to a wide range of email optin forms to your website.

As well as a way to display the optin forms on your website, you will need to use an email marketing service to manage and communicate with your list of subscribers. Depending on your lead magnet and what form it takes, your chosen email marketing service will be able to automate its delivery to each new subscriber.

If you haven’t signed up with an email marketing service yet, here are some essential features to consider when making a decision. However, if you are looking for a good all-rounder with a free pricing plan, you can’t really go wrong with MailChimp.

The Importance of Offering Incentives

One of the key elements in successfully building your email list is finding the right technology to collect the emails of your readers and then add them to your list management service.

However, the most important component is establishing a way to convince your visitors to hand over their precious email addresses. At its most basic, the very offer of being able to join your email list can be incentive enough. If your story is amazing, really resonates with your readers, and they just can’t get enough of what you have to offer, they will join your list to ensure they don’t miss out on any more of your great content.

While I’m sure all of that applies to you and your project, I’m afraid to say, you’re probably not the only website with a unique story your audience will visit today. This means you need to go above and beyond if you want to stand out from the crowd and become one of the handful of trusted email lists or newsletters your visitors choose to join and stay subscribed to.

To be the website that is rewarded with an email address, you need to present your audience with a compelling offer they simply can’t refuse. This might mean creating something of such value that it could be sold, such as an eBook or a service, and then giving it away to your subscribers for free as a lead magnet.

If you really want to grow your list and reap all the benefits associated with doing so, then you will probably need to create multiple incentives. Unless the focus of your website is very specific, one lead magnet might not be targeted enough for the different types of content you are publishing and the varied needs of your audience.

In these cases, a generic, one-size fits all, lead magnet won’t convert as well as more focused offers. For example, if you publish content about WordPress themes and web design tips, you could create a lead magnet for each sub-topic of your site.

On the articles about WordPress themes, you would promote a related sign-up incentive, such as a free guide to choosing a theme. While, on the posts about web design tips, you could offer access to a video course that shares your top web design tips of the year.

Working with sub-lists and groups in MailChimp.

You could even go as far as grouping or segmenting your email subscriber list according to which sub-topic they signed up through. Using grouping and segmentation in this way would allow you to mail out an announcement to your audience with an interest in themes, when, for example, you’ve released a new WordPress theme. The benefit of this is that you would avoid annoying your subscribers who are more interested in what you have to say about web design tips.

Managing the ability to offer and deliver multiple lead magnets might sound complicated. However, with a sophisticated optin form plugin and a suitable email marketing service – such as those mentioned earlier – this is far from the case.

Lead Magnet Delivery Tips

How to deliver your lead magnet – image by Vector Goddess /

While your email marketing service can send out the lead magnet files to the inbox of your new subscribers, this isn’t always the best approach. Instead, including a link in the welcome message that takes the subscriber back to your website, where they can then access the lead magnet is often the better option.

The benefit of this approach is that the subscriber will have to return to your site in order to access the content. This then gives you another opportunity to interact with them. This can include displaying links to other content on your site that they might find useful or showcasing related products and services they might be interested in.

So now that we know why we need a lead magnet, as well as how to capture the addresses and add them to an email marketing service, let’s take a look at the best lead magnet ideas for increasing your sign-up rates.

9 of the Best Lead Magnet Ideas to Grow Your Email List

Here are nine different lead magnet ideas you can use to build your email list. Some you should be able to get started with today; while others will take more time and effort to create.

As you browse the list, think about which format your target audience will appreciate the most and what offer or opportunity you can present them with that they won’t be able to refuse.

1. Tip Sheet or Checklist

Tip sheets and checklist based lead magnets are attractive for a number of reasons. They can be relatively quick to create; while also being easy for your audience to digest. By creating a well-crafted checklist or tip sheet, you can deliver actionable advice or information that makes it easy for your audience to take the next step in their journey.

If your content offers real value, once a visitor has worked their way through the checklist, they should have moved further towards the realization of their goals and will either be happy with their results or be ready to receive more of your expertise. The next step for a happy subscriber could be accessing more of your website content, buying one of your products, hiring your services, or taking you up on whatever else it is you have to offer.

I’m sure you can think of 10 or 20 tips, items, or actions that your audience can complete to help them move closer towards their goals. So why not compile them into a checklist and make it available as an incentive for joining your email list today?

2. An eBook or Digital Document

An eBook or some other form of digital document might not be one of the most original lead magnet ideas when it comes to creating an incentive for your subscribers. However, things are usually popular for a reason and this definitely applies to the humble PDF or eBook based lead magnet.

One the appeals of the eBook is that they are relatively easy to create in terms of the technology required. They’re also very easy to consume for anyone with a computer, smartphone, or tablet. While you could create an eBook from scratch and pack it with original and high-value content, if you really are short on time, you can get started by compiling a collection of your best articles into a single document.

There are WordPress plugins out there that can help you with compiling posts into a PDF or other digital documents. Alternatively, you can take a more manual approach and copy and paste your best content into a single protected post or page on your website that is only available to subscribers.

You probably have some great content that can be tied together into one document, which will help your target audience achieve their goals, so start checking your archives today.

3. Locked Content

Hide part of your posts with a content locker

As well as offering access to restricted posts and even entire sections of your WordPress website, you can also experiment with locking sections of your posts as a lead magnet. This could include locking the rest of a post after the introduction, hiding a key paragraph, or even a downloadable file that is central to your article.

If you’re wondering how to go about locking parts of your posts and pages so that only email subscribers can access them, a good email optin form plugin will take care of this for you. A word of warning, though, this tactic can cause great annoyance amongst your readers so use it sparingly. Only use a locker optin when the protected content offers exceptional value your audience will really appreciate.

4. Free Resources

What resources can you give away? – image by ADE2013 /

As well as offering free eBooks or access to the full version of your content, you can also try offering access to resources as your lead magnet.

If you’re a developer, these resources could be code snippets or even lite versions of your commercial products. From printable workout plans and free stock images, through to templates and Photoshop filters, the list is endless when it comes to offering resources your audience will appreciate as an email list sign-up incentive.

Remember, rather than attaching the files to your welcome email, host the resources on a dedicated page on your website and then link to that page from your introduction email. This will bring new subscribers back to your site, giving you another opportunity to further develop your relationship.

5. Money off Discount Code

H&M offer a money off incentive to grow their list

If you are selling products or services from your site and want to increase sales while also growing your list, offering a discount coupon or money off code as a lead magnet is a win-win for you and your audience. They’ll save money and you’ll make more sales.

The discount coupon could provide free shipping or reduce the total price by the same amount as the sales tax to make the purchase more attractive to your visitors. However you chose to position it, offering a discount on your products or services can provide real value to your subscribers.

Even if you aren’t selling products yourself, it’s still possible to leverage this tactic. If you are able to come to an agreement with a vendor that is related to the topic of your website, you could attempt to negotiate a discount code for your audience.

Again, this is a win-win as the vendor gets more business, your audience saves money, and you grow your list. If you can combine the discount code with an affiliate relationship with your vendor, then you can even generate some revenue for yourself too.

6. Email Course or Series

Create an auto-responder powered online course – image by solar22 /

Thanks to the power of a good email marketing service, it’s never been easier to create a series of emails that are sent out to new subscribers at pre-defined intervals. This technology gives you a simple and automated way to deliver an email course or sequence of emails that teach or introduce your subscribers to a new concept or idea.

If you want to try this type of lead magnet, look for an email marketing service that offers an auto-responder feature. After that, it’s simply a case of creating the sequence of email messages. These messages will then be drip-fed to your new subscribers, at a rate of your choice. Just remember to finish off the sequence, or even each individual email, with a strong call to action for the reader to take.

Appropriate calls to action could include asking the reader to complete a task, visit a specific article on your site, or upgrade to one of your premium products or services.

You aren’t restricted to using auto-responder capabilities to deliver an email course. You could leverage this technology to deliver a video course or provide access to a sequence of content you’ve already published on your blog or elsewhere. If you think creatively, you’ve probably already produced content you can repurpose and organize into a sequence that can be delivered over a set period to your new subscribers.

7. Free Trials

Moz uses a free trial as a lead magnet

Another popular option you’ve probably encountered is offering a free trial of a product or service. If your service or product is hosted then it shouldn’t be too hard to grant access for a temporary period. Examples of this include online apps or SaaS products.

Membership programs or online courses are also great candidates for free trials. The best WordPress membership plugins and LMS tools make it easy to automate the management of temporary access. Even if your product or service is delivered offline, such as a tasting box or group class, you can still make use of this type of lead magnet to grow your list.

8. Access to a Webinar or Other Event

Host a webinar or offline event – image by Vector Goddess /

Webinars are a great way to reach multiple people at once, no matter where in the world they are located. If you have information to share, then a webinar or other online event can be an effective way to disseminate it.

Another great aspect of webinars is that they can be reused after the event by hosting them as a recorded archive. Therefore, as long as the content remains relevant, you can offer the recording of the webinar as an email incentive long after the live event took place.

We’ve covered the best ways to go about hosting a webinar in the past. Once a visitor has subscribed to your list, the invitation to register for the event can be automatically sent out to them by your email marketing service.

If physical meetups make more sense for your audience and business plan, then they too can be leveraged in the same way as an online event.

9. Your Time

Should you trade your time for subscribers? – image by iNueng /

Trading against your free time can be anathema to anyone making money online or those attempting to operate at scale. However, if the lifetime value each new subscriber represents to you justifies it, or you really do want to go above and beyond when it comes to rewarding your subscribers, then offering some kind of personalized incentive can be the way to go.

The form this type of incentive takes is up to you. It can be as simple as promising to answer one question from each new subscriber via email, through to more time intensive offers. This can include options such as a one-to-one coaching call, direct help with a project, or tailored advice and guidance.

If you are selling a high-value service or product, then getting on a call with a member of your target audience could lead to a direct sale or client acquisition. Just remember that if you are offering your time as a sign-up incentive, don’t go in with the hard sell from the outset.

How to Choose the Right Lead Magnet for Your Audience

I hope that this list of lead magnet ideas didn’t overwhelm you. Some of these options will be suitable for your project; while others won’t. Furthermore, there might be ideas here that are beyond the scope of your project or your abilities.

However, you should have the time and aptitude to create at least one or two of these options. Even if you don’t have the time or resources to create a compelling lead magnet today, you can still make the opportunity of joining your email as attractive as possible, without giving anything away.

You can start growing your list by emphasizing how much value your content offers and that by joining your newsletter, your readers will never miss another post again. A good email optin plugin will provide you with the tools to split test your forms and find out which design and wording results in the highest conversion rates.

If you are ready to start growing your list with lead magnets, when it comes to deciding which type is the best choice for your audience think about what type of help or assistance your audience would value the most. Then determine which type of lead magnet is the best way to deliver that value.

For example, if you feel your audience would respond to a financial incentive then a discount code could be the best option. While on the other hand, if they would appreciate you sharing your expertise with them, then access to an eBook, webinar, or even one-to-one coaching could produce the best results.

Consider how you can help your audience the most, what you have the ability to create, and how much time you are willing to invest. This will help you find the right lead magnet for your project.

You might be tempted to over-promise and under deliver. After all, once you have the email address, the quality of your lead magnet doesn’t matter. However, let me stop you there. Unsubscribing from a list can be easier than joining and a good email marketing service provider won’t look favorably on any reports of false advertising or users being duped into subscribing.

If you are trying to build a brand or a long term business, over promising and over delivering is the best way forward.

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