How in the world do you differentiate your business with so many competitors?
As more freelancers and coaches open up their online business doors, you might be wondering how you can stand out. It’s only becoming more challenging as time goes on.
You used to be able to post an update on social media and win clients by answering their questions in the comments.
Now there are so many algorithm changes that you’re lucky if a small slice of your audience even sees your posts, much less engages with them.
With more competition and fewer opportunities for engagement on other platforms, it’s time for a better audience-building tactic: list building.
Your email list is a platform you own, meaning you don’t have to worry about third-party changes. You alone control the type of content you send, how often you send it, and how you want to nurture your connections.
It’s one of your only direct lines of communication to your audience.
So yeah… you could say it’s pretty important.
So how can you prioritize list building like a pro?
Let’s first take a look at what NOT to do.
Email marketing tips to improve your list building
What happens when you spend time creating countless email sign-up forms that mention vague “special offers,” only to find that telling subscribers how to get the “latest updates” in your email list doesn’t convert…at all?
You see others doing it on their blogs and websites, but you don’t see their conversion rates.
The truth is that you’ll need more than a generic email sign-up form to entice your visitors to join your email list.
When you do it right, you can grow six-figure or even seven-figure coaching or freelancing businesses.
Your email list is your most private and loyal community, meaning that you’ll want to devote your time and energy to creating offers that convince your audience to stick around.
The rest of this article is devoted to sharing our six list building secrets and breaking down what you need in order to successfully include each one in your email marketing strategy.
I want to start with our personal favorite, which won’t come as a surprise…
Engage your visitors with a personality quiz
Wow, a quiz maker talking about how much they love quizzes for email marketing?
In all fairness, we love quizzes because we’ve seen what they can do for our users, like helping Tonic Site Shop raise their conversion rate to 78% (well above the industry average!) and Amber Lilyestrom generate over 2,500 leads for her course.
Personality quizzes are all the rage right now because they provide an interactive, enjoyable experience for your audience. By taking the quiz, your audience members can learn more about themselves while helping you learn more about them.
You can create a quiz on virtually any topic. It doesn’t matter what niche your coaching or freelancing business is in. You can choose a topic, create personality results, and implement it into your website or blog in a few hours.
By creating personality-infused quiz results, you are able to deeply connect with your audience and give them customized recommendations and resources.
When your audience discovers something new about themselves, it will entice them to dig into more of your content so they can learn more about what you do. This is a huge benefit of quizzes because it brings more of the “human” touch to marketing while still running on autopilot.
It’s fast and easy to increase your conversions and build trust with potential customers when you create your own quiz.
If you want more quiz building resources, you can begin here:
Turn blog traffic into email subscribers with content upgrades
When you read through a blog post, have you ever noticed how content creators will include email sign-up forms that offer a downloadable freebie in exchange for your email address?
This is considered a content upgrade because it offers added value on top of the content you’re already reading on the blog. Content upgrades are one of the best ways to turn your blog visitors into email subscribers.
People who land on your blog and take the time to scroll through your blog posts are showing that they are engaged with what they’re reading. They are much more likely to sign up for your email list than someone who just learned about you or clicks into one page before closing out the tab. This is what makes it such a great email list building strategy.
No matter what you choose to create, you can connect each freebie to an email sign-up form in your email service provider dashboard. Once your freebie is uploaded, you can embed the form code on your blog’s sidebar or place it in your blog post of choice.
I recommend including your content upgrade at least twice in your blog post if it is longer than 1,500 words. Usually, content creators include the content upgrade in the middle and at the end of their blog post to capture the attention of their most engaged readers. You can play around with where you place the email sign-up form in order to increase your opt-ins.
Content upgrades will give you a great head-start on list building, but you’ll need other tactics to massively grow your list as a coach or a freelancer. Hang tight–I have more recommendations coming your way!
Grow your email list with lead magnets
Did you know content upgrades are a type of lead magnet? That’s right!
The biggest difference between these two marketing terms is that content upgrades refer to blog-specific freebies, whereas lead magnets are stand-alone freebies. They can be easily accessed on your website, social media, or a number of other platforms.
When your audience member gives you their email address in exchange for a downloadable freebie, this incentive is called a lead magnet. These lead magnets are often filled with educational information in order to help your audience learn and grow in a topic that relates to your service-based business.
Lead magnets work so well that it can seem like everyone is using them in their list building strategy. While many freelancers and coaches offer lead magnets, it doesn’t mean all of them are valuable.
People can smell a bad offer coming a mile away.
It’s 2019, and your audience is more skilled than ever at assessing the true value of what they’re given. Because of this, you’ll want to create downloadable freebies that your audience will actually use.
Here are a few ways to help your lead magnets stand out:
Give it a catchy or clever title, but make sure it is still clear what your audience is getting
Create its own landing page (like Medley Think created for their quiz)
Include real testimonials and reviews from other email subscribers who have successfully used your lead magnet
Explain exactly what a person will get in exchange for their email address (ex: “5-page guide on how to build a brand in 5 days” vs. “Downloadable guide on how to build a brand”)
In the end, ask yourself what YOU would need in order to feel confident exchanging your email address for a freebie. This is the best gut check you can make before including a lead magnet on your website.
Customize your email segmentation strategy
Each person who joins your email list has a different set of motivations for giving you their email address. They are in different stages of business and are looking for unique solutions to a variety of problems. With this in mind, why would you send the same email content to everyone?
The way you talk to someone who recently launched their business is different than the person who’s been an entrepreneur for three or more years. The best way to ensure they both get what they need is to create a personalized marketing strategy.
In doing so, you’ll be able to send relevant content to an audience that can’t wait to hear from you. The more you talk directly to them and proactively answer their questions, the more trust you’ll win.
A key part of your personalized marketing strategy is coming up with an email segmentation plan. “Email segmentation” sounds like a fancy marketing term, but when we take it apart, we see that it means the act of creating segments that you can then address separately.
Ultimately, email segmentation saves you from unknowingly saying the wrong thing to the right person.
Instead, you’ll be able to create a strategy that addresses each segment of your audience and gives them personalized recommendations and resources that fit where they are and who they are. This is the secret to list building and list nurturing.
As you think about how you want to segment your subscribers, think about what the most important subsets of your audience are. You can organize them by business stage, lifestyle, personality type (quizzes help with assessing this!), skill level, or interests groups.
The possibilities are endless.
Consider what your core offerings are as a coach or freelancer and what segments of your audience are a great fit for each offering. From there, you can think about the similarities and differences between your ideal clients to guide your email segmentation strategy.
Here’s an example. If you were a systems-focused business coach, you might send first-year entrepreneurs a checklist freebie to help them understand their workflow.
On the other hand, long-time business owners would be more interested in scaling their business, so you might want to send a video training freebie on how to make your systems easy to follow for incoming team members.
Email segmentation is all about addressing the unique needs of each subset of your audience. The more you can anticipate what they need, the more you’ll look like a hero.
Create a welcome email sequence
It’s time to take your new subscribers to BFF status. That’s right. You can become besties with your audience when you have a well-thought-out, engaging email sequence to welcome them in.
Think about if you were to host a dinner party. You wouldn’t just open the door, walk away, and let them find their own way around the house. If you did, your guests probably wouldn’t want to come back.
Instead, you’d open the door, warmly greet them, and introduce them to the people and things they should know. A welcome email sequence does the same by sending a series of introductory emails to your new email subscribers.
In these emails, you’ll talk about:
who you are as a coach or freelancer
what you do
who you serve (aka your ideal clients)
why you are passionate about the work you do
what problems your ideal clients have
what you offer as a solution
You’ll want to use this as an opportunity to let new subscribers learn more about you and show them how much you want to learn about them.
I recommend adding prompts and questions in your welcome email sequence so you can start engaging with people on your email list. Some of these email subscribers may turn into potential leads for your coaching or freelancing business!
While the primary goal of the welcome email sequence isn’t to make sales, you can still mention what you do and how you work with clients. You are running a business, after all.
You can start with three to five emails in your welcome email sequence and adjust over time. Take a peek at your open rates to see if people are dropping off after they get to a certain email. This is a good sign you might want to make tweaks to your email sequence schedule or adjust your subject lines. View it as a fun experiment!
Nurture your email subscribers with ongoing emails
Sure, you have a welcome email sequence in place, but what happens after those automated emails end? Too many freelancers and coaches put all of their efforts into creating an email sequence and forget about what comes next.
Without a plan for what you are going to send after your email sequence, your new email subscriber might (a) assume you “ghosted” them (b) feel jilted or (c) forget about you altogether.
Your welcome email sequence may help you begin to build a relationship, but you need to nurture the connection in order for it to grow. It’s like a plant that needs sunlight and water to flourish.
You can decide how often you want to send emails depending on your business model and how often you want to launch products and services. Most freelancers and coaches choose to send ongoing emails on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.
I recommend emailing your list every week if possible. That way, your audience gets used to seeing your name in their inbox and engaging with your emails. This comes in handy when you launch your next product or service offering. Consistency builds trust, so nurturing your audience with weekly emails is a great strategy.
If you aren’t sure what to email your list about, here are a few ideas:
a list of what resources you are learning from (books, podcasts, etc.)
a review of your newly published blog post with a link to read more
a behind-the-scenes look at what freelance projects you are currently working on
an interactive quiz to assess your audience’s knowledge on a topic or help them understand their personality (we can help!)
a case study from a client who used your recommendation to achieve their desired result
an in-depth transformational coaching client story you have permission to share
a personal story about your work that will connect with ideal clients
- a poll or survey to learn more about what your email subscribers want to learn from you (we can help!)
Yeah, that should keep you pretty busy.
In the meantime, try to think of ONE way you can build your email list this week using these suggestions. What feels like the best fit for you as a coach or freelancer?
If it’s a quiz, you can get started by signing up for an Interact account!
All the cool kids are doing it. (But really. We have proof.)