Part 1 left you with a lead magnet, a value-packed piece of content offered in exchange for a visitor’s name and email. Part 2 left you with a landing page, a webpage whose sole job is to promote that lead magnet.
The final piece is the slippery slope of subscription.
You may think your work is over the moment a visitor submits their name and email address. Most do, which is why they lose thousands of would-be subscribers, customers, and clients. We can’t let that happen to you, so today I’m going to reveal the additional steps I follow to…
- Ensure a subscriber actually confirms their subscription
- Ensure a subscriber actually receives my emails
- Ensure a subscriber actually opens and reads my emails
- Create an immediate bond with my new subscribers
- Gather valuable market research
- Turn a single subscription into many, many more
- Turn an unsubscribe into a chance for connection and discovery
Step 1: Confirmation Page
Immediately after submitting their name and email address, your subscriber will be forwarded to a confirmation page. (You may skip this and the next step if you aren’t using double opt-in.)
At this point, there’s a chance you may lose your visitor’s interest— it can happen that fast!—so here are the steps to maximize your chances of confirmation. For an example of some of these tips in action, click here.
- Rebuild Desire: Your visitor wanted your lead magnet for a reason; this is your chance to remind him. Reiterate the benefits of what he’s about to receive. Include new testimonials that overcome any possible hesitancy or objection. Add a surprise bonus. (You don’t want to twist the arm too much, of course; you want people from your target audience and not people scouring the web for freebies.)
- Give Clear Instructions: Tell your visitor precisely what they should do, step by step, to confirm their subscription. Tell them what to look for in their inbox (subject line, from address, etc.). Create a detailed graphic that walks them through the stages of checking their email and clicking to confirm. Create a short video that demonstrates the process. It may add a little work up front, but once it’s in place it will deliver higher conversions for months and years to come.
- Email Arrival: Let your visitor know their confirmation email may take a minute or two to arrive; many will check within seconds, not see anything, and reach out for help. Also, part of your instructions should mention the possibility that their email may have been swallowed up by their spam filter. Tell them to check there before getting help or making a second request.
- Whitelist: To ensure your emails reach your audience, offer instructions on adding your email address to their list of accepted contacts, including steps for each of the major email services. With Gmail’s recent addition of tabbed inboxes, you may also want to walk your subscribers through the process of making your emails appear in their primary tab.
- Support: For those visitors who have questions or concerns, offer a clear and present means of contact. You can also include a link to subscription FAQs.
Step 2: Confirmation Email
As your potential subscriber is perusing your confirmation page, a handy confirmation email is zipping to their inbox. Here is your second chance to keep the momentum going strong.
- Subject Line: Use a clear and compelling subject line, something that highlights the benefits of your offer or refers specifically to the material they just reviewed and requested. Avoid spam-happy words as much as humanly possible (ex: Your Free Goodies!). As with everything you do, track your results and make improvements where needed—a great test to run is comparing subject lines with and without the “first-name” code included.
- Message Body: Much like with your confirmation page, use the body of your email to remind them about the amazing and immediate benefits of the content they’re oh-so-close to owning. You can also remind them of any special bonuses you included on the confirmation page, or you can add the news here, for the first time. Once again, track, track, track your results. Measure your confirmation rate (percentage of requesters who confirm), make intelligent tweaks, and measure again. Repeat.
Step 3: Success Page
After clicking the confirmation link, your visitor will be taken to your success page. Congratulations! You have a new subscriber! Now what?
Strategy 1: The first and most common strategy is to offer your free content for download on the success page. This is what I do. It doesn’t waste time, doesn’t require them to check another email—it instantly delivers what you promised. As before, and as always, offer clear instructions for downloading, using, accessing, or otherwise obtaining your free content.
Strategy 2: Some experts use the success page as an invitation to go deeper. Many, for example, use the success page as a webinar invite. You receive your confirmation email, click to confirm, and are taken to a simple landing page which thanks you for your request and invites you to register for an upcoming event. This is a great way to keep the momentum going when you bring a new subscriber into the fold.
Strategy 3: Others use success pages as sales letters. An effective strategy is offering a one-time/limited-time discount on a program or service that relates directly to your lead magnet; you know they’re interested in the topic, so a related offer is sure to convert well. I prefer to focus on delivering their lead magnet as quickly as possibly, but when done with class and integrity, a special offer can be just the right strategy.
Here are a few extra keys to keep in mind, tips that could work with any strategy, but are geared toward the first.
- Dazzle & Delight: I’ll never forget the night I signed up for Problogger’s newsletter. After confirming my subscription, I was taken to the success page where I found a big ol’ photo of Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income along with a bonus audio interview with the six-figure blogger. I was surprised and pleased. It locked in place a new impression of Problogger, one of high value and quality I hold to this day. Copy Darren’s lead and surprise your subscribers with a little something extra on the success page.
- Share Buttons: Turn a single subscriber into many by placing popular share buttons on your page. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and the like each offer simple codes and plugins that give your new member the ability to share your lead magnet with hundreds or thousands…with a single click.
- Comment Plugin: If you reach the download page of Chris Guillebeau’s free PDFs (creator of The Art of Non-Conformity), you’ll know within seconds that he is an authority and that his material is in high demand. How? Comments. By adding the ability to leave a comment on his success page, Chris has gathered glowing testimonial after glowing testimonial about his work and website. This does more than create a great first impression; it ensures people will actually read his work.
- Social Media Buttons: The best time to welcome a new subscriber into your many worlds is immediately after they’ve joined your list. They’re excited about your brand and ready to dig in, so make it easy on them and add your social media links to the page. A new subscriber quickly becomes a new fan, a new follower, a new connection, a new friend.
Step 4: Success Email
Moments after your subscriber clicks to confirm (and are swept away to your success page), they’ll receive your automatic email confirming their subscription. As the official welcome to your new member, it’s important to design an effective message and not simply toss a few words their way. Below are eight elements to consider.
- Social Proof: Lead with social proof. When I signed up for Dave Navarro’s newsletter (creator of The Launch Coach), I was welcomed into a family of 7,342 other entrepreneurs. Immediately I was impressed with his list size and stature. His credibility as an expert leapt a few notches right then and there, drawing me in and compelling me to pay closer attention. You can do the same. If you already have a large audience, let your new subscribers know about it from day one.
- Connection: It’s cliché, but it’s right–be real. This doesn’t require a tell-all autobiography. Instead, I want you to be a real person and share real stories and real ideas. Lead with tales of how you started or what you’ve done. Give them a sneak peek behind the curtains of your business or your world. (Ashton Kutcher followed this tip brilliantly when he began his now-famous Teen Choice Award’s speech with the truth about his real name.) The more people get a sense that they’re dealing with a human being, like them, and not a faceless corporation, the stronger the bond they’ll form with you.
- Download Link: For subscribers who weren’t able to download or access their lead magnet after confirming, I like to offer a link to the page within the body of my welcome message. This also gives them something to save for their records should they need a copy down the road.
- What’s to Come: The excitement is high minutes after signup, excitement you need to maintain if you want your audience to open and consume your content. One of the best ways to keep it going, and to build anticipation, is to offer details about what’s to come. What are you going to share? What results are they going to achieve? What special treats are just around the corner?
- Market Research: Derek Halpern of Social Triggers ends his welcome message with a simple request: Reply to this email and tell me what you’re struggling with right now. Short, sweet, and business-changing. Push aside all the gadgets and gurus and expert advice and you’re left the simple truth that business, whether online or off, is about solving problems. The closer you come to solving the specific problems of your audience, the more successful you’ll be. This is why a question such as Halpern’s can, by itself, take your business to the next level.
- Share: In one sentence you can explode the growth of your list. “If you know someone who would like to [insert massive benefit], forward them to [link to landing page].” You can also embed linked icons or even create a dedicated Share Page, like this one, to make it easy for your new subscriber to spread the word.
- Follow Me: Once again, invite your subscribers to follow your social pages and profiles. You never know where a particular person invests the bulk of their time online. It could be email, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. To increase the likelihood that they’ll connect and engage with you and your brand, you have to reach them where they live.
- Whitelist: Given the importance of landing your messages in an inbox—and not a spam or promotion folder—it’s a good idea to offer another request to whitelist your email address. You can write a line or two or link to a page with in-depth instructions.
Step 5: Duplicate Page
It’s happened to me before—has it happened to you? I see a great piece of content, sign up to receive it, and get denied: You are already on the list. Reactions range from annoyed to outright anger (I’ve received “pleasant” notes from both types). Fear not! You can turn this negative into a positive with a few minutes of effort.
Many email services allow you to customize your Duplicate Page (the page displayed when someone already subscribed to your list submits their name and address). Here’s mine. As you can see, I explain what happened, offer the lead magnet for download (the thing they wanted to begin with), remind them about adding me to their safe list, and offer a link for more help. Problem solved, visitor satisfied.
Step 6: Unsubscribe Page
Believe it or not, happy customers are often far less helpful (in the long-run) than unhappy customers. A happy customer will visit, buy, and leave, never to be heard from again. But an unhappy customer lets you know, in no uncertain terms, precisely how to improve your business.
Yes, some of their requests are unreasonable or crazy, but many others have value.
If you can look past the critical tone and emotion and find the nugget of truth behind their frustration, you’ll discover room for improvement, an improvement that will not only please your complainer but also other unhappy patrons who chose to keep silent.
What does this have to do with your list? Glad you asked. Chances are that your email service allows you to gather comments from people who unsubscribe. This is a goldmine of market insight.
While some leave because of a bad fit, others have valid reasons that you can and should correct—not enough valuable content, too much of this and not enough of that, etc. The ones who leave will tell you how to keep the ones who don’t happy to stick around for years to come.
Before You Go…
There you have it…how I added thousands of subscribers to my list within a few months (and how I added over 135,000 subscribers to my previous list). With the right steps in place, you too can quickly grow from a crowd in the double digits to an audience of thousands.
And I’m here to help you do it.
Post a comment below with any and all questions you have about growing your list and building a loyal audience that is ready and willing to follow, learn, share, and invest. As always, I’ll reply to each and every one.