How I Grew My Email List 20% in 20 Days

The Secret to Email Marketing: List Growth!

That’s the title of the first section of The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing. That’s right. Jason and I dedicated an entire section of the book to email list growth. After all, if you don’t have a list of email addresses to send to … nothing else really matters.

Over the past few weeks I’ve made a concerted effort to practice much of what we preach in that section. Simply put: I’ve been pushing hard to grow my email list.

All of these efforts have led to my email list growing by 20% over the past 20 days!

As you can see by the pretty chart above, other than the February-April lull, my email list growth has been pretty steady. All of the sudden, the numbers began shooting up in October.

While this should not come as much of a surprise, in order to grow my email list, I’ve implemented many of the tactics we talk about in The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing. Specifically:

1. Make the opt-in process obvious and easy. Ask website vistors to subscribe. Since re-launching my new website earlier this month, I decided to give the email opt-in form prominent placement. As you can see below, it now sits in the top right of the header on every single page of my website.

Note: Here is how it looks on the homepage.

Thanks in part to this change, my second most-visited page over the past 3 weeks is my email opt-in page.

2. Provide incentive (WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?). When you click on the email banner, you land on the email opt-in page. On this page, I set clear expectations around the content  - both in text as well as the preview link to a past email. I also include several testimonials from current email subscribers. In the next iteration of this landing page, I’ll be providing direct incentive for folks to opt-in (see comments below about the popup).

3. Using technology (QR Codes). I use this QR code on the back of my business card as well as in many presentations I give (see slides 2 and 112). The QR code points to … you guessed it! My email opt-in landing page. I recently included this QR code in a MarketingProfs Pro Seminar – over a dozen new opt-ins as a result. While not a ton, it’s better than nothing.

Try it now. Not working? You can opt-in here

4. Use social media. I’ve been plugging my email opt-in on Twitter, with tweets such as these …

I also have been promoting it on my personal Facebook page.

One thing I’ve been watching closely are my key metrics – opens, click-to-opens, and unsubscribes. Over the past 10+ months, these metrics have remained steady:

  • Open Rate: 38% average with a high of 53% and a low of 28%
  • Click-to-Open Rate: 29%  average with a high of 44% and a low of 15%
  • Unsubscribes: a handful every month

My List Growth Goal for November: 50%

That’s right. You heard it here first. While I’m thrilled that I was able to grow my email list by 20% in the past 20 days, my goal for the month of November is to grow my email list by 50%!

Now, the question is … HOW?

First, I’ll continue to do everything that I’ve mentioned above. However, in addition, I’ll be implementing the following three tactics:

1. Using a popup (also known as BREAKING THE RULES!): Everyone hates popups. I know. I know. I know. So do I. So does Chris Penn. But as Chris recently found out, when he removed the popup, his list growth fell off the cliff.

In the book, Jason and I provide several examples of popups that have been quite effective in growing people’s email lists. So, I’m going to test it. Chel Wolverton is in the process of designing my new popup. Remember: Best practices are those that are best for your audience. Stay tuned.

2. Providing incentive: While I think The Waldow Social Weekly email kicks ass and the content stands on it’s own, I’m going to test providing some incentive. As of now, that incentive looks like a new eBook I published. Again, stay tuned.

3. This blog post: I’m hopeful that this blog post – all about how I’m growing my email list – will help to grow my email list. Makes sense, right?

So again, my goal for November is to grow my email list by 50%! While I realize that sounds awfully aggressive, I’ve always been of the “go big or go home” mindset.

You can help me reach that goal by opting in now to my email list. <–See what I did there?

 

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social

P.S. Have you heard the news? Nick Westergaard and I have started a weekly podcast called The Work Talk Show, where we interview crazy-smart folks about how work gets done. This week’s guest is Ann Handley! Listen to what she has to say about working in virtual teams.


Are you someone who likes to break rules? Are you one of those people who is a bit on the rebellious side? If so, the book that my buddy Jason Falls and I just wrote, The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win, is right up your alley!

In the book, we talk about growing your email list as well as breaking “the rules” of email marketing. Break the rules and grab your copy today, right now. Here –> AVAILABLE NOW!

Reminder: There is no such thing as “best practices” when it comes to email marketing. Best practices are those that are best for your audience.

An Easy Way to Grow Your Email List

In our new book, The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing, Jason Falls and I dedicate an entire section of the book – nearly 40 pages – to what we call the secret to email marketing.

List Growth.


After all, if you don’t have a list of email addresses to send to, not much else matters.

There are dozens hundreds of different ways to grow your list – from adding a clear, obvious way to opt-in on your website to using an airplane cocktail napkin to even asking for an email address when downloading an iPhone app.

Another one that I saw just this morning was asking for an email address during the (free) wi-fi sign up. Check out what my local bagel/coffee shop is doing:

Can’t see the image? View it here.

Easy, right?

Have you seen an easy, creative, and/or unique email opt-in tactic lately? If so, please share in the comment below.

P.S. I’d love to connect with the email marketing folks at Noah’s Bagels to see how effective this tactic is in growing their email list. If you know someone there, please let me know!

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social

Speaking of growing your email list – the most important aspect of an email marketing campaign – my buddy Jason Falls and I just wrote, The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win.

In this book, we dedicate an entire section to growing your email list. We also talk – quite a bit – about breaking “the rules” of email marketing.

Grow your list, break the rules, and WIN … and grab your copy today.

AVAILABLE NOW!

3 Ways to Find and Engage New Email Subscribers with SMS [Webinar Materials]

Last week, my friend and colleague Justin Mastrangelo and I hosted a webinar, 3 Ways to Find and Engage New Email Subscribers with SMS.

In this less-then-30-minute webinar, we shared:

  1. Ways to use traditional media, events, and foot traffic to grow your email list through text messaging
  2. Tips on using a welcome email series to quickly engage new subscribers
  3. Strategies for using email and SMS together to maximize your campaign’s effectiveness

Webinar Materials – Yours … FREE!

We’ve posted the slides – all 56 of them – to Slideshare. See below.



If you’d like to watch the presentation AND hear what Justin and I had to say, you can view the webinar on YouTube. Due to length restrictions, we had to split them up into 3 parts:

Justin and I had a ton of fun doing this webinar. We hope you took away at least one thing that you plan implementing. If you did … and end up testing it, please share the results with us in the comments below. Also, if you would like either Justin or I to cover a specific email marketing and/or SMS related topic in a future webinar, please also share that in the comments below.

Cheers.
DJ Waldow

——

At the end of the webinar, there is a soft plug for the new book that I co-authored with Jason Falls. In the book, we talk about ways to grow your email list AND break some rules along the way. We even talk a bit about mobile marketing – some of the topics we covered in the webinar In The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win, we share with you all sorts of email marketing “best practices” individuals and companies are breaking each and every day … and still finding success.

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

3 Ways to Find and Engage New Email Subscribers with SMS [WEBINAR]

If you are like most Americans, you likely engage in at least one of these 3 activities (if not all 3) every single day: Email, Facebook, Texting.

If you are a teenager, you may be sending thousands of text messages every month (see: my cousin).

If you are my 2 year-old daughter, you already know how to navigate an iPhone. (True story: Since she was about 20 months old, Eva has been able to unlock my iPhone, find the photos, and navigate (swipe) to the ones she wants to see. Yesterday I showed her how to take pictures with the iPhone. She picked it up in a matter of minutes. Yup.)

If you’ve followed Waldow Social (and/or me) for some time now, you know that I’m an email marketing guy. However, I’m becoming more of an SMS guy as well. With open rates on text messages close to 100%, it’s hard to ignore this powerful channel.

That’s why I’m joining forces with my friend, colleague, and mobile marketing ninja, Justin Mastrangelo on July 19th at 11AM PT (2PM ET) for a webinar titled, 3 Ways to Find and Engage New Email Subscribers with SMS.

Justin and I will uncover how to use SMS (text messaging or “texting”) to … well … find and engage new email subscribers.

In this July 19th webinar, Justin and I will discuss:

  1. Ways to use traditional media, events, and foot traffic to grow your email list through text messaging
  2. Tips on using a welcome email series to quickly engage new subscribers
  3. Strategies for using email and SMS together to maximize your campaign’s effectiveness
You can sign up by clicking the link above, or, if you are most of a button clicker, tap on the button below to register.

When it comes to mobile marketing, Justin is one of the sharpest minds in the industry. Be sure to check out his SMS Marketing software, JA.TXT, and follow him on Twitter to stay in the loop on everything SMS-related (and more)!

See you, virtually of course, on July 19th!

And please spread the word by clicking on the social sharing buttons at the top and bottom of this blog post.

Cheers.
DJ Waldow

——

Did you know? Jason Falls and I just wrote a new book about breaking the rules of email marketing! In the book, we talk about ways to grow your email list AND break some rules along the way. We even talk a bit about mobile marketing – some of the topics that will be covered. In The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win, we share with you all sorts of email marketing “best practices” individuals and companies are breaking each and every day … and still finding success.

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

The Waldow Social Weekly: New Friday Email

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years in the business world, it’s that you need to stop every so often to reflect & reevaluate. During this process, it’s important to stop doing what’s not working and build upon what is. Sometimes it’s about refocusing.

Refocus is exactly what I’m doing with my company, Waldow Social, repositioning it to be more email marketing focused.

It started last month when I began the site redesign process. It continued a few weeks ago with the Waldow Social Elevator Pitch Contest.

This week, I’ve decided that it’s time to mix up my email newsletter. As it turns out, I am not the first to do this. Two good friends, colleagues and mentors of mine – Jay Baer and Chris Penn recently changed up their email updates. Jay and his team at Convince and Convert relaunched its email to be daily, One Social Thing (details in this blog post). Chris Penn overhauled his weekly email newsletter as well. He published a blog post called “Iterate to success” which outlines his process. Even better, Chris asked his readers to publicly post their feedback on a Facebook thread he started.

As I said, I have a ton of respect for both Jay and Chris. While their respective email newsletters could not be more opposite, they are delivering content that their subscribers want. I’d encourage you to sign up for them both right now – Convince and Convert’s One Social Thing and Chris Penn’s Almost Timely Newsletter.

My personal redesign process broke down into two steps.

Step #1: Surveying My Subscribers

One of the main reasons for the change to my email newsletter is that I wasn’t really enjoying writing the “semi-regular” email. It became a chore. I avoided it. If I am not excited how can I expect my subscribers to be? The quality of the email content was suffering and the number of emails delivered per month was decreasing. I was not fulfilling on my promise to my subscribers. Bad form.

I decided to practice what I preach – to do what I tell my clients to do.  - I sent out a multiple choice email survey to my subscribers with the following 3 questions:

  1. FORMAT: How do you prefer to see the emails displayed?
  2. CONTENT: What type of content would you like to see in the Waldow Social Email Updates?
  3. FREQUENCY: How often would you like me to send email updates?

Note: I use Infusionsoft to send my email marketing messages. They are a client as well.

The first email went out to my entire list on a Monday with a subject line of “Waldow Social: 2 Minutes of Your Time – (Pretty) Please.” That email generated a 37% open rate. Of those who opened, 48% completed the survey. 18% of the total delivered completed the survey. Not bad, but I knew that some folks ignored or outright deleted the email. Actually, one person opted out!

Two days later, I sent a second email (remail) with the same survey to those who didn’t click on the survey link the first time around. I changed the subject line to “Waldow Social: 3 Questions.” The content of this email was the same as the first; however, I added a paragraph in red at the top explaining why some folks may be seeing this email twice (they had opened and not clicked the link OR opened without enabling images).

The open rate on the 2nd email was 29%. Of those who opened, 28% completed the survey. 10% of the total delivered completed the survey. Assuming my math is correct, my overall open rate was 62%. Yes, some of the folks who opened the first email (but did not click) may have opened the second email making this open rate a bit of an overestimate. However, most importantly, my overall survey completion percentage was 24%. Considering it was 18% after the first email. The remail increased total survey responses by 33%.

Nearly 33% completed the survey. Not bad.

Below are the results:

Step #2: Relaunch Based on Survey Results

As you can see from the survey results, a few things stand out.

  • FORMAT: My subscribers don’t want to see a ton of images in my emails, nor do they want a mostly-text email. Instead, they want something in the middle – HTML-light.
  • CONTENT: There was a clear winner here. Nearly 70% of those who responded said “articles & blog posts related to email marketing that DJ thinks are share-worthy.”
  • FREQUENCY: Not surprisingly, nobody wanted me to send them email every single day. Ha! However, “twice a month” and “once a week” tied.

My subscribers spoke. I listened. Thanks to their feedback, as of today, I’m relaunching my email updates as The Waldow Social Weekly. As it says on the opt-in form, The Waldow Social Weekly is a weekly recap of the best of best email marketing content, delivered on Friday, directly to your inbox. Below is a mocked up screenshot of what you can expect to see on a weekly basis (the top half of the email):

So, what do you think? Does the new format, content, and frequency match what my subscribers asked for? I’d love to hear your feedback. Feel free to drop a comment below or send me a tweet.

I’ve also redesigned my welcome email. In order to see that, you’ll have to subscribe now.

And more more time … SUBSCRIBE TO THE WALDOW SOCIAL WEEKLY NOW!

Cheers
DJ Waldow

Sephora’s Beauty Roulette: A Creative Email List Building Tactic

You can have the most compelling email creative and copy, the best subject line, the highest inbox deliverability; however, if you don’t have an email list to send to … well … you have nothing.

That’s one of the reasons I’m such a huge fan & advocate for list building techniques and tips. Last month, I gave a presentation titled, List Building: The Secret to Email Marketing at Social Fresh Charlotte. In this deck, I provided 13 list building tactics that email marketers should consider.

Shortly after Charlotte, my friend and Social Fresh president, Jason Keath, shared this super-creative email list building technique from Sephora with me last week. The landing page has some dynamic aspects to it, so I figured it would be best to show you via a screencast (thanks, Screenr!). Check it out below.


If you are having trouble seeing this for some reason, you can also view on my Screenr page.

In the screencast, I mentioned the follow up email that Sephora promised to send me. I was not able to capture it during the screencast, so I Skitch’d it & dropped it below so you can see what it looks like. Not bad, huh? (Who said email was dead? Certainly not the Facebook Exec Team, right Jay Baer?)

Sephora's Beauty Roulette Email Follow Up

I’d love to hear form the Sephora team about how effective this was in growing their email list. Even more interesting to me would be how this list performed going forward. Were these subscribers more or less engaged compared to other sources? How many have used their codes at checkout? If this information is not proprietary, I’d love for someone from Sephora to weigh in (even percentages would be helpful!).

I loved this email list building tactic. What did you think?

Cheers,
DJ Waldow