Growing your Email List in 2016

A while ago I wrote lengthy list of all of the ways you can grow your email list. As is always the case in marketing though, things change and practices are updated. That being said, I’ve decided to revamp that list and bring you the updated version of how to build your email list in 2016.

Here are the two fundamental rules for giving your list the boost it needs:

  1. Make signing up irresistible by offering something that your readers really need AND want.
  2. The ABC rule of email marketing = always be collecting.

1. Making it irresistible 

You need to know 2 things to make signing up a necessity. First, you need to know what your readers really want. There might be a difference between what your readers want and what you know they need. Start with giving them what they want, because this way you won’t need to do the additional convincing, and then later on you can deliver what they really need.

To give them what they want, generate a lead collector or lead magnetf in the form a freebie packed with valuable info that you’ll send them in exchange for an email address. This is an absolute must if you want to grow your email list. It’s the rocket that drives signups through the roof. You can separate these things into two groups, primary lead magnets, and content upgrades.

A primary lead magnet lives at the top of your front page. It’s always there, and it is something that’s related to the overall theme of your site. It should be able to motivate someone who wandered onto your page and doesn’t really know your brand or what you write about. A good example of a primary lead magnet is an ebook or a report in one of your main areas of expertise.

A content upgrade is a freebie that is specific to a blog post, and offers additional resource on the topic of the blog post. A good example is a checklist version of the post, a workbook, or a video tutorial on the subject of the post. Because a reader has already invested time in reading your blog post, they are more likely to take one additional step to get even more on the topic, so content upgrades are amazing for growing your email list.

There are so many ways to execute a lead magnet that this topic requires another post that will come later this week.

The second thing you need to know to make signing up irresistible is a little bit of psychology, particularly how FOMO (fear of missing out) works. Throughout your blog / website, consistently make it clear that your email subscribers receive something exclusive, something you never share on your site. You either get itif you’re on the list or you don’t at all. People will immediately feel like they’re missing out, and wouldn’t want to miss the next value-packed email like that.

2. ABC = Always Be Collecting

If you want to grow your email list, you have to always be collecting! There is a plethora of ways and places where you can collect email addresses which was the main focus of the previous list, but for the sake of this post I’ll be mainly focussing on how to collect them specifically from your website.


Before we begin, one note: you might think pop-up windows are annoying, but the statistics show that they convert really, really well, given they are done right. So try them out and use efficient A/B testing to find your optimal conversion driver.

Here are ideas for how you can collect email addresses on your website:

Top of your website / ribbon

This is the primary real estate of your website, so put it to good use. You can have a slim bar across the website with smart call to action, or a full-fledged feature box with the image of the freebie you’re offering in addition to smart copy.

Exit behavior pop-ups

A box (with or without the image of a freebie) that will pop-up when readers navigate their mouse towards the top of the window.

Unobtrusive slide-in forms

A little box in the corner of the screen that slides up upon a certain behavior (for example, when the reader is 60% done with the post). Such pop-up doesn’t interfere with readers’ experience as much, and still reminds them that they can get more if they subscribe.

Content upgrades

Content upgrade is packaged information that’s complementary to the blog post, which readers can only get if they sign up. This is genius, because if a reader already invested time in reading your post, they are so much more likely to want to get that additional info (content upgrade). Just make sure it’s an essential addition to your blog post, so that readers can’t resist it.

About Page

About page is another valuable area of your website, so take the opportunity to utilize it for driving leads and converting readers into subscribers.

What to Include in Your Monthly Email Newsletter


Monthly email newsletters are a common theme of any business. They keep your consumers up to date with the ongoing practices of your practice and help establish one on one relationships that people find valuable. Thee kinds of things are important because it shows that you are investing in them just as they are investing in you and your brand. But how do you create an effective newsletter that keeps people intrigued and wanting to continue their relationship with you? This is a common question that we hear every day and that we encourage businesses to ask themselves. Keeping an email newsletter interesting and effective requires that the content be top grade. Below I’ll expand further upon what that means.

  • Recap of Industry News – Your customers are busy running their business and may not be up to date with the latest industry news, so give them a quick rundown of what’s happened in the past month. It shows them you’re in-the-know and up to date with the latest trends, technologies, etc.
  • Case study – If you’ve helped a customer solve a problem of theirs recently, tell the story about it, how you solved it, what tools you used, etc. As long as it contains useful information for your audience (and isn’t just a huge plug for your services), it can be a worthy read that showcases your expertise and how it can help businesses like theirs.
  • Event/Conference Calendar – If your customers are all in the IT industry, then maybe you could include a summary of upcoming events (conferences, awards, etc) that they could potentially attend. This is useful for them, and also shows you’re tuned into the industry.
  • Important Dates – I don’t know a lot about the I.T industry, but are there important dates that people need to know about (I’m thinking like deadlines to submit things to regulatory bodies, or something like that)? If so, include a calendar of those dates to help people remember them.
  • Discounts & promotions – Could you possibly partner up with other companies you have good relationships with to offer exclusive discounts on their products or services to your customers? These discounts and offers can be valuable for your readers, and also help you build stronger relationships with the people whose products you’re offering to your customers.
  • A survey – Depending on how big your email list is, you could ask your audience to complete a survey on the industry and then turn the results and insights from that survey into a blog post or content piece that you can include in a future newsletter.

Marketing Takeaways from the Exponential Growth of Snapchat

Snapchat is the fastest growing social media platform with an estimated 200 million monthly active users that send 700 million photos/videos each day, viewed 500 million times per day, and there’s something marketers can take away from their exponential growth. 


In recent years, Snapchat has become a mainstay in the world of social media and marketing, creating an immersive environment that allows users to interact with their favorite brands and even celebrities in real time. It’s methodology of allowing information to be disposable has done wonders to create products and brands, whether corporate or personal, that are completely humanized and relatable and it’s this precise facet that has made the platform so intriguing to marketers as the app continues to grow. What can we learn while traversing the snap landscape? In order to figure this out we have to first go back and take a look of the marketing strategy of the company itself. To begin with, Snapchat had an ingenious and ultimately unintentional marketing strategy/growth hack as a sexting app when it really wasn’t trying to be one. To quote company founder, Evan Spiegel, “It seems odd that at the beginning of the Internet everyone decided everything should stick around forever. I think our application makes communication a lot more human and natural…Ultimately, no, Snapchat Isn’t About Sexting.”

This was always the way snapchat looked at itself internally, however, conveying and executing this vision and value proposition was never going to be easy in the marketplace of messaging apps. This can also be evidenced by the early feedback Spiegel received from VC firms, who he says told him, “This is the dumbest thing ever…”

To overcome this problem, The initial app brilliantly included subtle ways to egg the masses and general media on to believe its sole existence was to help teenagers sext, such as ‘trying’ to prevent screenshots, making messages expire by default etc.  This led to mainstream media to start an extended firestorm about how its dangerous for teenagers, asking parents to be wary about it, focusing about how it could never guarantee privacy of pictures and so on.

Playing along to this tune gave Snapchat tons of free publicity, not just any publicity but just the kind of publicity that mattered to their core demographic of rebellious teenagers who liked things their parents hated. User adoption in this group took off and true to snapchat’s earlier vision, they were not a sexting only app after all.

The biggest takeaways for any company from this strategy are

1. Understand your core demographic and what appeals to them, both from a product and marketing perspective

2. Marketing is not always about conveying your vision directly to your market

3. Any publicity is negative only if it is perceived to be negative by your core users

4. Getting featured in the mainstream media can be something meticulously planned for, but not always monetarily expensive

5. Growth hack features can take many ways, shapes and forms, not necessarily only the iterative ‘product-market’ fit we commonly read about

The Key Facets of Social Influence.

social influence

In today’s social media world there is a constant battle being fought by companies and individuals to become as influential as possible. The desired result in becoming an entity with major social influence is a big return on investment and drawing new customers to your product. Whether that be tangible product such as a bookcase from Ikea or something abstract such as humor is besides the point. What matters is that the ideas are getting exposure and circulating. But how does one measure their social influence? There are programs out there such as Klout that do exactly that, but figuring out how Klout manages to come up with the score factors in a great many things.

There are several methods of evaluating someone’s chances of being influential, from celebrity status to tracking of social media behavior, and all are highly relevant.  But if we’re looking at this from the viewpoint of the marketer’s ability to engage influencers, then the critical factors actually have to be willingness, expertise and return.

On the willingness front,there needs to be a connection between someone’s behavior (fan counts, followers, Klout score) and their actual interest in engaging with a brand.  As any decent marketer will tell you, past performance is no indication of future results. When it comes to social influence, just because you exhibit influential behavior at one point, say a tweet that gets multiple retweets, doesn’t necessary mean you’ll become a mainstay that can continuously drive return. The key first step is whether you can continuously convince someone to engage and whether they will raise their hand to get involved.

With expertise in mind, influence is a skill like any other.  The more you practice it, the better you are at it. Someone who metrically appears influential and has the willingness to engage still needs to understand how to be effective.  In today’s social media world, this means being authentic and aware of not shilling themselves out and only engaging with brands they actually appreciate.  There’s also the necessity to understand which tools they can use effectively: which platform are they best at creating content for? Youtube? Twitter? A blog?  As platforms evolve, so do the skills necessary to create influence that matters, and that means influence must be measured through people’s ability to get better at being influential.

Finally, there’s the most important component: return.  After willingness and expertise comes the necessity to deliver value.  Tools need to be developed not to just measure someone’s likelihood to influence, but then the result of their specific influence when it occurs.  These measurements can be produced on the group level (these 10,000 people created this return), or the individual level (this one tweet created this much return) but whatever scale it’s at, it can’t be ignored.  The ultimate guidepost is whether someone’s influence actually influences.

Axe Body Spray: A Hilarious Lesson in Good Marketing

Axe Body Spray

With millions of dollars on the table it’s easy to see why we, as marketers, go to such incredible lengths to learn everything we can about the consumer. It’s all about working the right angles to get move product into the hands of the target demographic. It may not always be pretty or politically correct, but hey, if it works, you don’t really see people complaining too often. At least, that’s usually the case. Sometimes it works a little too well though, which it seems was the case with Axe body spray that I recently read about.

I’m sure by 2016 you’re familiar with the hazy cloud that wafts off  of every middle school boy that bathes in Axe body spray. If not, consider yourself lucky. Apparently, in a conversation between author, Martin Linstrom, and Unilever executive, David Cousino, Cousino revealed a hilarious and somewhat shocking secret about what they did to figure out who to target with Axe body spray when it was first developed. To begin with, Unilever broke down men into six separate groups based on how men pursue women. (where do you fit, boys?)

The Predator: That guy who shows up at college house parties years after he’s graduated with the intention of taking advantage of some poor drunk girl. He probably brags about things he may or may not have, doing things he probably hasn’t done, and a luxurious job he probably came up with during all the free time he spends at his parents’ house.

Natural Talent: This guy is sharp as a razor and a pure athlete. He doesn’t need to do much to find a girl that likes him with confidence exuding from every pore.

Marriage Material: Here you have the sweet guy with manners that knows how to be respectful when it counts. He’s also humble and comfortable in his own skin. This is the guy girls want to bring home to the folks.

Always the Friend: Similar to Mr. marriage material, he’s a pretty sweet guy, but he somehow always manages to hit the wall when it comes to his romantic pursuits.

The  Insecure Novice: This guy has no idea what he’s doing when it comes to the ladies. This is your “feels like a bag of sand” man that makes a normal conversation something awkward and uncomfortable. He’s probably most often referred to as a geek or a nerd, or in today’s lingo, a neckbeard.

The Enthusiastic Novice: Finally you have the guy who has no idea what he’s doing, but never stops trying and always tries to improve his game. You’ve got to respect the hustle.

So, after breaking down half of the human population into 6 broad groups, Unilever had to make the decision of which one to pedal their product to. Like any good marketer would do, they chose to go with the insecure novice because out of all of them, these guys probably needed the most help with the ladies, and were the most likely to purchase a product that appeared to mask their nerdy insecurities. Simple logic here isn’t it? “These guys can’t get women, so lets advertise a product that shows guys like them using Axe and being swarmed by perfect 10s.” Love it.

The next step in the equation was making the commercials. The Axe TV ads, as I mentioned/made fun of  above, showed guys being swarmed by women or simply having a lot of women around them, wanting them, simply because they used Axe and were now irresistible. Apparently this method of advertising Axe came after research showed that the ultimate male fantasy is to be irresistible to multiple beautiful women at the same time, a thought that no one had ever come up with before.

All sarcasm aside, what happened next was truly remarkable. Axe became the number 1 selling deodorant brand in a very short span of time. However, every rose has its thorn. Axe actually became so successful so quickly that it became associated with the “Insecure Novices” that it was being advertised to, and they had to backpedal to dig themselves out of the loser rut. On top of this, it also became associated with terrible smelling middle and high schoolers who would drench themselves in the stuff and later have to be taken to the hospital as well as more negative press as some school districts began to crack down on the brands use and ban it.  (I’m seriously wondering how much axe it takes to have to be taken to a hospital.) Moving forward, the brand began to dial it back a bit and started to broaden its target market.

All in all, despite the setbacks, axe has continued to see success as a brand and is a shining example of hilarious but outstanding marketing. As the adage goes: Sex sells. It was true then. It’s true now. And for Axe, it will continue to be true well into the future as they continue to take advantage of mens’ sexual fantasies.



Increasing Your Email Marketing Open Rate

open rate

A few weeks ago I discussed the basics of email marketing campaigns that anyone could use to get started. That’s all well and good, but having a campaign means nothing if people aren’t opening your emails. There are many things that you can do to help your email open rate. Most of these are just a matter of delivering quality writing and content. What exactly does that mean and where should this ‘quality content’ matter most? Great question.

1. From name & email address. This is the first thing that people are going to see when they receive an email from you, so make sure it’s recognizable. Many people are opting to go more casual with this and use their first name @ company for the FROM field. Others will just use the company name which is usually a less desirable method as it creates a less personal experience in many cases. Whichever you decide to go with, make sure that you keep it consistent, familiar, and keep in line with the tone of your email campaigns. For example, don’t use a very casual from field if your email is very professional.

2. Subject line. As has been mentioned, this is like the handshake you give someone when you meet them. Something I read in researching this post was to remember CURVE when looking at a subject line: Curiosity, Urgency, Relevance, Value, Emotion. When you can invoke all of these things, you’ve probably got a winner. As always, A/B Testing multiple subject lines to see which will garner the highest open rate is a great idea.

3. Preheader. A lot of people forget about this, but this is literally the part of the email that someone sees without opening it. What is written here for many people determines whether they will open the email. Make it engaging and eye catching. If it’s not done right or filled with HTML code then it can be really damaging.

4. Delivery time. If I receive an email at 3am, likely I’m asleep and the email will end up just one of a pile of unopened when I eventually wake up. However, if I receive an email at 3pm I might see it come in and open it straight away. There are actually some platforms out there that will collect data and analytics based on your subscriber’s optimal open time and send it automatically at that time. If you can’t access something like this then try using the more simple ‘deliver at local time’ option so that subscribers aren’t receiving your email in the middle of the night.

There are many more things you can do to tweak your emails in the right direction, but these should be your major focus. If you’d like to know more about increasing your open rate you can visit this great list.