The basic strategy here is that people use their name and email to ‘pay’ for useful, small pieces of content. You’ve probably signed up yourself to get a free mini eBook or whitepaper on a topic that is of interest to you. Rather than just landing on your site and leaving, if you have a compelling piece of content that they will get in exchange for their name and email, then you can get permission to contact them further, and an opportunity to nurture this lead into a customer. The free content they subscribe to becomes a commitment point which is less than a paid product, but more than a casual browser. It gets them into your funnel, and should be an essential part of your overall content marketing strategy.
The level of content should be more detailed than your average blog post, but less than a full on book or information product. A mini PDF report or guide of 10-30 pages is something I’ve used with success in the past, but you’re limited only by your imagination here. Videos, audio downloads, ‘cheat sheets,’ spreadsheets, software, anything that you have that your audience will find valuable. The free content you give away should be genuinely useful to your list. When they read it it should increase their trust. You’ll be proving your credibility in their eyes. Make it useful, and it will get your relationship with your new subscribers off to a great start. You don’t have to create all the content yourself (thankfully), there are several freelance marketplaces where you can post a writing job and there are even specific for content like Clearvoice or MyblogU.
One great way not only to supercharge your list building but also to intelligently segment your market based on interests is to have multiple ‘giveaways’ each targeted to a certain segment of your market. Promote these giveaways with simple, one page landing pages that summarize the offer and contain a signup form so people can join your list and claim their content. Let’s use a cute example that should make this idea obvious. If you were a pet store, you could have a free guide on dog training, one on cat grooming, one on teaching your parrot to speak, etc. You’d promote each free offer with a simple landing page that breaks down the benefits of the free offer, and asks for their name, email address and other details that you want.
Pro tip: the more information you ask for, the fewer subscribers you’ll get, but the higher commitment and quality the leads will most likely be. Apply the tools in your email marketing tool kit and you’ll find that the level of customer knowledge you can gain about your new subscribers at the start can be the difference between winning or losing the relevancy game. You can link to these landing pages from your home page, your blog posts, guest posts and other pieces of content. Promote them on social media, and carefully track their conversation rates. If successful, this is a tremendous way to rapidly grow your email list and intelligently segment based on the interests of your audience.
In addition to dedicated landing pages for each piece of content, there are many other places on your website where you can offer your free piece of content and use it to attract subscribers and grow your list. Subscribing should be as easy and obvious as possible.
List building is a worthy goal of content marketing, and will allow you to use your content to build your audience and add qualified and interested leads to your funnel. Be sure to get the right tool to segment your email list exactly how you want. Follow the tips above to create useful ‘bites’ of content and use them to create an interested and segmented email list that will be a valuable asset to your business.
Nathan Thomas is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with clients in 3 continents. Originally from New Zealand he is now based in Shanghai. Read his tips on email marketing at http://newslettermarketing.io