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secret suppersDear *|FNAME|*,

Is it really 2012?

If you're like me, you may have experienced a little bump in the road as we turned the corner into January. I came back from a lovely week in Portland with Ira and had a hard time finding my groove at "the office."

Thankfully, that didn't last long. Once I got through the backlog of emails and got caught up client work, I was able to take a look around and make some decisions about what needed to happen at Word Chef in Q1.

Welcome to Secret Supper No. 2

Today I'd like to share some things I've learned recently about building the almighty email list.

Last year, I tried three different on-site lead generators to entice folks to subscribe to my list. The first one was a 5-day eCourse based on my Website Starter Recipe process. The second was a 60-day eCourse called "Rock Your Web Copy" (implemented in October) and the third was just a simple sign-up form (email only) to get weeklyish updates.

Here's a look at the list growth stats over the last 9 months:

mailchimp dashboard

Keep in mind, this is just one of my lists. I've got others specifically for project clients, workshop clients, etc. This list is strictly for lead captures on my website.

The first circled block represents leads imported from doing a series of free webinars. The second block represents leads generated from the voting for the Tastiest Small Biz Brand awards.

In both cases, participants were specifically asked if they'd like me to add them to the list and they were given the option of just getting email updates, or getting the free eCourse, too. 

These additions were pretty substantial bumps to my email list -- even outperforming the guest blogging I did at ProBlogger and Remarkablogger in October.

Also in October, I installed one of those evil pop-up reminders to make sure folks didn't fall through the cracks.

I was convinced that it wasn't enough to have a sign-up reminder at the end of every post (using the WP Greet Box plugin), on my contact form (using the ContactMe plugin), on my Facebook fan page (yep, there's a plugin for that, too) and in the sidebar of my website (to name just a few). So I purchased the premium plugin called Pippity (<-- that's NOT an affiliate link).

Here's how that's influenced things:

pippity snapshot

According to what I gathered from testimonials and other Pippity marketing, this tool averages about 4% in conversions, so I'm doing pretty good at nearly 7%.

In November, I added a sign-up box to the front page of my site, above the fold (to the left of the rotating content slider). I saw a small jump in sign-ups after that, too -- about 5%.

In mid-December, I got a wild hair and decided to turn off Pippity to see if it made a difference in my overall stats. It did.

Not sure if you can see it in the first image above, but I had about a 15% drop in subscriptions that month -- even though I had a nearly 24% increase in unique visitors to my site.

So what have I learned from all of this?
  • The 60-Day eCourse attracted a lot more subscribers than the 5-day eCourse (duh, right? Make a bigger promise, attract a bigger crowd)
  • Evil pop-ups work. I've got mine set so that it doesn't show up until a visitor has visited two pages (and scrolled to the end of that 2nd page)
  • Make your sign-up options visible and place them strategically around your website
  • Webinars and live events are fabulous ways to grow your email list -- at least as good as guest blogging, if not better
  • The quality of your traffic definitely impacts the conversion rate on lead captures
Okay - most of that was stuff I already knew. But I thought it was important to demonstrate for you. 

If your list isn't growing at the speed you'd like it to, take an honest look at your efforts. 

In fact, make sure you analyze your numbers at least monthly.

Have you...
  • Given your visitors every opportunity to subscribe (do you have multiple reminders strategically located to remind them to sign up?)
  • Is your giveaway enticing enough? Maybe you need to offer something bigger and better?
  • Are you capturing leads via live events and webinars? (<-- especially important if you're a service provider)
  • Experimented and tested different ideas? 
  • Are you getting the right kind of traffic to your site? This can usually be fixed by making sure all your messages are aligned -- that your giveaway, your blog posts, your tweets all revolve around the same specific idea.
I'm not done testing, by the way. For January, I swapped out the 60-day eCourse for an option to get up to 7 free eBooks (I'll be utilizing the 60-day course in a future product for sale).

My theory is that most folks don't want to spend their time on an eCourse -- they'd rather just get the book and be done with it. Plus, with different eBooks, I can see which topics are most interesting to my readers. We'll see how this pans out over the coming months.

Other stuff matters, too.

Obviously, I couldn't cover every variable in the space of this email. When it comes to your email list, there's other data that matters, too.

Like, what's your open rate? What's your click through rate? What's your attrition rate?

Are you selling anything? (Are you making any offers?)

How often are you sending? Should you be mailing more? or less?

Your answers will differ from mine, but you need to know what they are, if you want to have a list that helps you grow your business.

What questions about email do you struggle with? Hit reply and let me know.

I'm all ears.


p.s. - If you feel like you don't know what to do, and you want some help, I've got three 1-on-1 coaching slots left for January. Just reply to this email and let me know you need one and I'll be in touch.

p.p.s. - If you thought my logo was different, you're right -- I've updated the Word Chef look-and-feel in order to add a small element of fun to my graphics. More about that in our Next Secret Supper email! 

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