If you haven’t heard of him before, Neil Patel is one of the most influential people online. He’s co-founder of KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and Forbes says he’s one of the top 10 online marketers. If there’s one person to follow, and learn about marketing strategies and tactics, it’s Neil.
If you aren’t following his blog Quick Sprout then you should head over there after reading this article and subscribe. He shares so much amazing information and tells you exactly how he does it, to the point of it almost being too much. Don’t get me wrong, I love being kept up to date with cutting edge growth hacks, but being a small business owner, it's hard to find time to explore new ideas - especially with these amazing posts that keep coming through my inbox multiple times per week!
To save you the trouble of digging through his archive, this article will share 10 hacks that Neil himself uses to quickly grow his email lists. Not all of these will be applicable to your business, and trying to do them all at once is just plain crazy. By choosing one or two that fit with your business and following through with them you’re sure to see results.
What is growth hacking?
Simply put, a growth hack is a proven, often easy to implement, method of seeing growth with your business. For this article we’ll be diving into email list growth hacks, and how you can build that all important band of loyal subscribers. Today, for a small business owner, an email list is the equivalent of a money tree - so if you don’t have a list, you should make it a top priority to start building one.
Traditionally, to try and grow their brand and business, people default to making content. Whether it’s a white paper, a blog post, or a video, content is a cornerstone of your online marketing plan. But if you’re making great stuff and still aren’t attracting leads, it can be very discouraging.
Before getting into these hacks, the first thing you need to find out is what your customers want. If you know that, you’re already off to a great start. The easiest way is to just ask them. But, if you want to be sneaky, you should check out the competition and see what blog topics are getting lots of shares, then make your own spin on it.
With this in place, we can start looking at the top 10 growth hacks that Neil uses.
Hack 1: Optimize your home page
Your home page is where you’re likely to get most of your traffic, and all sorts of things can point people there. Whether it’s social media posts, other sites, email campaigns, or native traffic, your homepage will be getting visitors, and one thing lots of brands struggle with is keeping the messaging consistent.
I’m going to say that again because it’s so important. You need to keep your messaging consistent.
Let me show you some examples
Here’s Unbounce, one of the leaders in landing page creation. As you can see it’s painfully obvious that they help you build landing pages.
Here’s another one from Backlinko. Look it over and see if you can tell what they’re offering:
Getting more traffic. They have it in their headline, sub-headline and call to action.
Get the point? Having consistent messaging on your homepage increases the chances that someone will understand what you’re selling, and then click your offer. It may seem obvious, but spending a little time to focus your messaging can pay dividends in the long run.
Hack 2: Linking to webinars in content
Webinars are a great way to bring in leads, and there are many businesses that solely rely on them. The reason is they are amazing tools is because they are great at both providing value and engaging visitors. ReadyTalk found that 30-40% of webinar attendees are turned into leads. This means they’ve not only signed up for you webinar, but expressed interest in something else, like a demo, or pricing info.
Neil used webinars for his business KISSmetrics to bring in 518,399 visitors and 16,349 leads all from 77 webinars. That’s about 212 people per webinar! Think about how an additional 212 leads would affect your bottom line. They aren’t hard to put together either. You just need to talk through a presentation and answer questions at the end.
Now that you understand how awesome webinars are, this hack is all about getting people to sign up for them.
Sure, having a landing page advertising your webinar is ok and a good place to start, but if you really want to see engagement, you should put a link to sign up for your content. If you keep your messaging consistent, the odds of someone wanting the learn more and sign up is going to be higher if they’re already reading an article of yours. You’ve already gained their trust and are just taking it to the next stage in the funnel.
Blogging establishes trust, and webinars help cement that relationship by providing continued value. You’re showing them you want to give more without seeming like you’re out to make some cash from it. When you have trust, you can make recommendations on products.
Here’s one example from Quality Matters, and how they tactfully put a register link right in a customer success story:
Another great spot to have webinar opt-in pages is at the bottom of your blog posts.
Again, once someone has finished reading something you’ve written and wants more, giving them the option is always a good idea. They’re ripe for the taking, and this example from Uberflip perfectly shows this:
People want to learn from experts, and you don’t need to be an industry big-wig to be an expert.
As Tim Ferris pointed out in the 4 hour work week, being an expert is just knowing more than the average layman, and to make yourself an expert to most people, you simply need to read the top 3 books on the topic. So yes, you can host a webinar.
Hack 3 - Make sign up easy with google accounts
We all know it, the easier something is, the more likely we are to do it. This holds true when signing up for or buying a new product online. The fewer steps and pages it takes someone to sign up, the better it is.
Making it as easy as one click has increased the number of leads for big brands like Vimeo, Pinterest, Trello, and it can work for you too.
The reason this type of signup is possible is because a lot of people have Google accounts. With over 59 million active users, and even more on Facebook (with an estimated 1.59 billion users) there is a high chance your leads will have one of these accounts.
It’s no wonder why sites have begun allowing people to sign in with them. One click vs two boxes, typing, and at least one click? The choice is pretty clear to me.
The best part is by implementing this type of sign up you will still get their info and can still send them emails - it’s just less work for you. You can even integrate it directly into your lead boxes:
Hack 4: Host a contest on Facebook
Do you like free stuff? Good, because so does everyone else.
This next hack is all about hosting contests on Facebook. As stated above, there are a lot of people using Facebook, so your potential reach is huge. People also love free stuff, so this is almost a no-brainer if you’re looking to pick up more leads.
The question is, what kind of contest should you hold? A free prize for all new subscribers? Copies of your ebook? A year’s free service for your app. Whatever it is, make sure you’re doing something that people will actually want.
Though doing a single giveaway may seem simple, if you want to do it right it’s a bit more involved. Hubspot says that the best length of contests are either 25 or 60 days long, and the best months to run them are June and November.
Over the duration of your contest, you don’t need to post every day. Try spacing it out, and explaining the benefits of entering, how your (potentially free) product will change their lives, and pepper in some testimonials for good measure.
Keeping track of all of this is no joke, especially if you want to do it well. If you haven't taken a look at the full power of UpViral, we specialize in building powerful word of mouth viral exposure that can make a contest like this truly take off.
As an example of what you can generate, look at Dinesh D’Souza. He’s an author and had a Facebook contest for a free ebook giveaway. The results: 4,501 people viewed the page, and 2,282 entered their email, resulting in nearly a 50% opt-in rate. Not too shabby.
Hack 5: Case studies
The internet is an amazing source of information, but it’s got to the point of information overload. There is lots of great stuff out there, but people only want useful information. Learning from industry experts is extremely valuable, and a great way to garner more traffic, and ultimately, bring in more leads.
The next hack is to put together a case study. They’re not just educational - they can be used for selling as well. Remember, once you have provided value and gained a visitors trust, you can then make recommendations on products.
One example of how to easily create a case study is showing a before and after transformation. Here’s an example from Lead Pages:
The best part is you don’t need to have run experiments to write a case study. You can find one done by someone else, reference the data, and then put your own personal spin on it. Here are some handy tips to writing your own:
Hack 6: Specialize & Separate
This hack, similar to #1 may seem obvious, but not many people actually do it. You know that to be successful, you’ll need to find a niche. John O’Sullivan, author of “is it wise to specialize” says that we’re always tempted to do more, but specializing in on our strengths is the only way to see real growth.
But as your small business grows you’ll inevitably be wearing multiple hats, specifically sales and marketing. Though they may seem similar at first glance, these two hats should not be confused with one another. For growth hacking, you need to break up your sales team from lead generation. Or if you’re running a lean startup, you’ll need to actively change hats.
Marketing and lead generation focuses on turning visitors into leads, who then opt-in and become subscribers. This is usually done by offering free content in exchange for a name and email. This is essential to growing your business, and the main goal is to provide value and earn trust. For any lean startup, focusing on bringing people in is essential.
Sales are concerned for the exchange of good or services for money. Get the difference?
Having different teams, or understanding the different mindsets, helps improve overall customer satisfaction - and THAT is where the real profits lie. The happier a customer is, the longer they’ll stick around.
Hack 7: Master the headline
Headlines are used everywhere when starting a small business. From your website itself to email subjects and ad campaigns, mastering the headline is essential to getting people’s attention long enough to engage with your post.
For people who need a refresher, the key to powerful headlines is using strong verbs. Verbs are “action” words like increase, improve, nurture, attack, focus, etc… What these do in headlines is illicit curiosity, and convince someone to click your call to action. Headlines not only help get clicks, but can help with your search ranking by lowering your bounce rate, and increasing the time spent on a site.
Ted Nicholas believes that 73% of buying decisions are made at the point of headline, and he makes this obviously clear with on his homepage:
No matter your content (ads, blog articles, white papers, webinars) you need to focus on a killer headline with consistent messaging. This is easier said than done, and though we like to get things out quickly, taking the time to ponder and research the best possible headline you can come up with will be worth it.
Here are some great tips to writing headlines that convert:
Taking a look at the best in the business is a great way to get some ideas of how to do it right. Just look at the work from Brian Clark and the entire Copyblogger team:
And the fifteen-time bestselling author Seth Godin:
Once you’ve mastered strong verbs, try to get a headline as close to eight words as possible, as a report by the Guardian found that headlines with eight words have a 21% higher click-through rate. If you can’t get that done, try to keep it between five and nine words, which the Nielsen Norman Group showed seem to generate higher click-through rates.
Hack 8: Irresistible offer
As a marketer, your goal is to get a series of “yes’s” turning visitors into leads, and leads into subscribers. From them clicking on your content or ad, to clicking to learn more, to clicking to signup, to clicking to give you their credit card number.
That’s a lot of clicks! And if you slip up the last step with your offer you could lose all the momentum you previously gained.
Having an irresistible offer is so important, but when you’re working on it every day it’s sometimes hard to come up with some fresh idea. Luckily you can use the following formula to make sure your offer is on point.
High value offer + persuasion = irresistible
Chris Guillebeau, a best-selling author and amazing entrepreneur, gave a great example of how to define an irresistible offer.
“A compelling offer is like a slice of orange at mile 18. It’s a marriage proposal from the guy or girl you’ve been waiting for your whole life. An offer you can’t refuse is like the $20,000 Bonderman Fellowship offered every year to graduating seniors at the University of Washington”.
If your offer doesn’t compare to those, then it’s not irresistible.
Other ingredients to an irresistible offer are scarcity, relevance, high demand, exclusivity. Taking some time to re-think you offer gives clarity, and lets your customer see the transition from how they are now, to how they will be after using your product.
Let's take a look at some great offers out there right now, starting with Blue Host.
$3.49 per month to run my website? Why not!Michael Hyatt will show you how to shave 10 hours off your work week, from home! All of this for free? Yes, please.
One last hack you can use to make your offer irresistible is to create some perceived value. This could be done by showing the monetary value with a strikethrough and giving it away for free or a heavy discount. The bottom line is if your offer isn’t irresistible, you should consider rethinking it.
Hack 9: Pay with a tweet
Giving away great content for free is always a good idea. Usually, this is done by getting the leads name and email address, but a great way to get exposure on another channel is by using Pay with a tweet. This tool is a great way to leverage existing channels like Facebook and email to get attention on others, like Twitter.
You might have an email list or a blog with a dedicated source of traffic. That’s great, and if you’re ready to start exploring other channels, Pay with a tweet allows you to easily make that jump.
Here’s how it works:
Someone reads an article on your blog and wants to download the bonus you’re offering at the end. Instead of asking for their name and email address you can get them to tweet about it instead.
This may sound complicated, but the tool makes it super easy. You can even pre-write the tweet for them so all they really need to do is click. If they’ve already read your article, found it valuable, and want more info, then getting them to send a pre-written tweet isn’t much of a stretch.
Here’s how it looks in action:
Another use of this nifty tool is by offering bonus material for those who pay with a tweet. You can still get them to opt-in by providing their name and email address, but if they want the extra cherry on top bonus content, they’ll need to tweet about it.
This functionality isn’t limited to twitter. Depending where your ideal customers hang out you can get them to pay with a Facebook post, LinkedIn post, or even Google+.
Hack 10: Hello Bar
You already know that cleaning up your home page and getting your messaging consistent is key to getting more leads, and a great free tool to make your call to action as clear as possible is the Hello Bar.
This is one of my personal favorites, and you’ve probably seen it before on other sites. What’s amazing about it is its simplicity. It grabs attention without being obnoxious and lets visitors know the one thing you want them to do. Unlike blog sidebars which can get unnecessarily cluttered with previous posts, multiple calls to action, and a link to subscribe, the Hello Bar offers one thing.
Here’s how it looks:
You get space to have one concise sentence, and then have a call to action button.
Using it is a breeze, and you don’t need any coding experience. It is easily installed in Wordpress and offers limited customizable colors. The best part about it is that if you have regular traffic to your site, you can count on picking up new subscribers every day, without doing any extra work.
In fact, DIYthemes, which is a marketing blog, threw up a Hello Bar and in 30 days, got an additional 1,180 subscribers. That may be more than you can expect with modest traffic, but more subscriber for no work sounds like a win in my books.
So there you have it!
10 hacks to rapidly grow your email subscriber list used by the master himself - Neil Patel. Trying to undertake all of these at once isn’t a good idea unless you have a full team of people at your disposal.
For most small business owners, start by chooses one or two of these hacks and seriously committing to them. You don’t get anywhere in business by doing something half-assed, so give it the time it deserves and your efforts are sure to pay off with more subscribers.