UnPack It: Email still works…if you know how to work it.

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Although lots of people seem to be lamenting dwindling email open rates, and discussing the death of email marketing, growing your list still remains a very viable way to build your online business.

An audience you “own” is a far safer bet than relying solely on a social media platform that can ban you without a moment’s notice. Or, change an algorithm that tanks how many followers see your content.

So, how to build your list in this era of email?

Creating a core opt-in that converts website traffic to email opt-ins is the first step. Once you have a solid one in place, it’s time to consider adding content upgrades to the mix.

What’s that you ask?

Content Upgrades are specific downloads that live on a blog post that are much more targeted than your core opt-in. These allow you to entice visitors to opt in on specific posts with more targeted content.

They also provide another way to promote on paid advertising channels like Facebook or Instagram that are not completely gated. They can lead to opt-ins or provide a way to retarget traffic that visits but does not opt-in immediately.

The downside is that they can feel like a somewhat daunting project to get off the ground (as with most things in your business). Having a strategic plan and system can make integrating content upgrades into your marketing plan much easier.

So let’s unpack four stages of content upgrades.

1. Start With One Per Month

There are a lot of moving pieces with content upgrades so start small. Set a goal of creating one per month to start. This will allow you to work out the kinks in your process and ensure you know what you need to create each time.

In addition to the download itself, you’ll also need:

  • a form or button on the post
  • a way to integrate with your autoresponder
  • a delivery email
  • any additional graphics or social to promote the download itself

While this isn’t a massive amount of work, it’s definitely more than your typical blog post.

So plan accordingly and be realistic about the time investment required to get one live.

2. Promote Existing Content Upgrades Regularly

Once you’re comfortable creating one upgrade per month, start adding in promotion. This could be a combination of organic and paid promotion but the goal is to get more eyes on the posts that will help grow your list.

The simplest way to start promoting the posts is with organic social media. So start posting and sharing any content with an upgrade as frequently as your social schedule allows.

Then, add in paid promotion like Facebook ads. Again, you can make this as simple or complicated as you like. I recommend starting with simple traffic ads to get more eyes on the content. Once you see how each one is converting, you can add things like retargeting ads, specific opt in pages, and larger budgets.

3. Be Strategic About Your Library

The first two steps will likely take you a few months. So you’ll get to a point where you have a handful of upgrades on various topics in your business.

Take a step back and look at what you have and what else would be helpful to add that will help you better market your business.

The end goal is to have a set of core downloads that you can use in a variety of posts – without creating endless downloads everytime you turn around. Think about the major services you offer and how your content leads to them.

Consider as well the content pillars you regularly discuss. It may not be possible to have a relevant content upgrade on every single post but if you can get 50 – 75 of them to work with your library of downloads, you’ll be sitting pretty.

And again, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to create all the additional ones you think you need. First, figure out what they are and how many there are. Then, make a plan to get them created. You can always go back and add them to older content once they’re created and live. By now, you also may have systematized the process so much so that doing two new ones per month is not so daunting.

4. Start Leveraging Your Funnels

As you wrap up your content upgrade library, you can start to consider how the downloads tie into any existing funnels. In a perfect world, every time  someone signs up for a sequence, you have several customized emails to follow. Whether that means you have a few pillar sequences that lead to your core offerings is entirely your call.

There’s also no rule that you can’t start by connecting everything to a single welcome sequence, then, as you add new funnels, go back and hook them up where it makes sense.

Be sure to consider the flow of emails people will get when you hook them up to a new sequence. For instance, if you’re repurposing your existing welcome sequence for your main opt-in, be careful of things like “Thank you for requesting my…” since this is a follow-up email and they didn’t specifically request that item. If you need to tweak the wording, consider duplicating the funnel and making minor tweaks before investing the time to start from scratch.

It’s also important to comply with any applicable spam regulations. It needs to be clear that they’re signing up to get the download and other things. [Edit for GDPR if needed]. We want to leverage our content, not skirt the law!

The End Result

This is the slow-and-steady method. Of course, you can always go the quick route and bang this all out in a matter of days or weeks. However, whichever path you choose, you’ll end up with a library of pillar content downloads that strategically encourage more sign ups to your list. You’ll also have automated sequences that welcome them into your world with style.

So, make a plan and get started building your audience today!

An audience you "own" is a far safer bet than relying solely on a social media platform. So, how to build your list in this era of email?

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