Have you ever wondered why one of the most successful businesses on the planet only use emails to promote its products online and don’t have any Facebook or Twitter page?
Believe it or not, Apple ($187 billion in revenue in 2014) doesn’t have any Facebook or Twitter page. They just use good ol’ emails to promote their products online . If a company that generates billions a year focus its online strategy on emails, you should probably too right?
The good news is that building an email list to generate traffic and sales isn’t that complicated when you have the right strategies.
In this post I’m going to show you one of the best ways I know to build an email list fast even if you are just starting out online. I’m going to share with you what I did specifically to get 1,134 email subscribers in just 14 days.
To build an email list fast you just need one thing:
Running contests is my favorite way to grow my business. It’s fun, cost effective and insanely powerful. It’s what Noah Kagan has used to grow Appsumo to 700,000 subscribers and what my good friend Josh Earl also used to get almost 200,000 email address in just 11 days!
If you want results fast, contests are the way to go.
That’s said, let’s see exactly how you can grow your email list rapidly with contest.
To run a successful contest you need to follow this recipe:
- Choose giveaways that make people “sneeze”
- Use a viral plugin to make your contest contagious
- Set up a bulletproof system to get the word out
Let’s see in details each one of these points.
Choose giveaways that make people “sneeze”
In his book, Purple Cow, Seth Godin explains how remarkable products automatically attract influencers and early adopters (sneezers) who then spread the word (sneeze) to the masses.
This concept of sneezing also applies to contests.
If you want to get people to “sneeze” you must find giveaways that are so remarkable that people can’t help but to share them with their friends.
To choose a giveaway(s) that make people sneeze you can:
- Offer something of high value: A good example of this is Tim Ferriss who recently offered 2 mind blowing giveaways on the occasion of his Tim Ferriss TV launch (highly recommended show btw). He offered a personalized motivational video from Arnold Schwarzenegger and a custom Anthem from The Glitch Mob one of the biggest electronic groups in the world.
- Offer something for a period of time: Bryan Harris offered a 10 year subscription to Leadpages. That giveaway allowed him to get 2,239 emails in 10 days.
- Offer a great quantity of something: It’s what Go Pro do. They offer daily giveaways in large quantity.
No matter what giveaway you choose whether it’s something of high value, something you offer for a period of time or in large quantity, it must have a Wow effect. It must be something that’s highly desirable and that’s specific to your audience (please don’t give away cash or ipads they are too common and don’t attract the right people).
Another thing that you must take into account when choosing your giveaway is its shareability.
So let me ask you a question:
How long does a sneeze last?
That’s right, 1 sec. It’s short and powerful.
To make your contest shareable, your promotional message must be like a sneeze, short and powerful. You must be able to explain what you offer in 140 characters or less.
We live in the world of instantaneousness and so people mainly share what’s short and catchy.
So let me recap really quickly:
To choose the right giveaway you must offer something that’s remarkable enough that it will make people sneeze and you must make sure that your message is easily understandable in 140 characters or less.
So here’s what I chose when I ran the contest that brought me 1,134 email subscribers.
I used the quantity factor. I offered 8 best selling books about entrepreneurship and personal finance.
And it was shareable (51 characters only):
Use a viral plugin to make your contest contagious
Most contests don’t become viral for one simple reason:
They are dysfunctional
When you enter a contest your objective is to win right? So why would you share it with your friends like you’re often asked to? I’m sure you love your friends but when it comes to winning giveaways, more friends means more competition and so less chance of winning.
If you want to create a viral contest, you need another system. A system that encourage people to share.
One plugin does a excellent job at that:
Unlike traditional contests, this plugin encourages people to share:
The more people share your contest, the more likely they are to win
Every time they refer a friend to enter your contest, they earn entries, which puts them in a good position to win. Because they have a reason to spread the word, they inevitably share it with their friends. More shares means more entries and more entries means more share, which keep the ball rolling.
The Kingsumo Giveaway plugin is the one that Noah Kagan has used to grow his email list to +700,000 people, it’s the one that Josh Earl used to get almost 200,000 subscribers in 10 days. It’s also the plugin that Bryan Harris and I have used to get thousands of new subscribers in just a few days.
There are other plugins out there that offer the same virality system but you often have to pay a monthly fee to use them. What I like about the Kingsumo giveaway is that it’s a one time payment and you can use it for a lifetime.
Set up a bulletproof system to get the word out
Now that you know what type of giveaways you should offer and what plugin to use to make it become viral, you need a bulletproof system to promote it.
What do I mean by bulletproof ?
Well it means that if you really follow the strategies that I’m about to give you, you will inevitably get at least a few hundreds subscribers. Sounds exciting?
Let’s get right into it!
Here’s the bulletproof system that I used to get 1,134 new email subscribers. I’ve ordered the strategies from the most simple ones to the most advanced:
Email your list to let them know about your contest:
If you already have a list, send them an email to let them know you’re running a contest.
Email your personal network:
I’m sure you’ve heard this strategy time and time again but sharing your contest with your personal network can give you that first boost you need to kick off your contest.
Your personal network includes your family, friends and colleagues.
Share your contest on social media:
Share your contest on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+.
-For Facebook share it once per week
-For Twitter I would recommend 3 to 4 times a day to make sure you reach most of your followers (every time you tweet only 5% of your followers see it. Tweeting multiple times insures a better coverage)
-For LinkedIn I advise you to write a LinkedIn post about your contest. Publishing a post on LinkedIn is great because it allows you to reach all your network in one simple click. Every time you publish a piece of content there, your whole network gets a notification instantly, which is not the case when you just share an update.
– For Pinterest make sure to create great visuals. I personally use Canva to do that. It’s free and simple to use.
Add a Hello Bar at the top of your site
Hello Bar is a free plugin that you can set up in minutes to promote something on your website.
100 people entered the contest after I set it up on my blog. Not bad when you consider the little effort it requires!
Email people in your niche manually
Contact every blogger and entrepreneur who might be interested in your contest and ask them to help you share it.
Here’s the step-by-step process (it’s quite primitive but it works):
1) Make a research on Google to find blogs that are related to your contest
My contest was about the 8 books that have created the most millionaires in history so I searched keywords like “How to build a business on the side” “How to become a millionaire”.
In the google results, I avoided popular websites like the New York Times, Entrepreneur…to focus only on blogs that were more reachable.
Don’t be afraid to visit page 2,3,4,5 of google. It’s in these pages that you will find bloggers who will be happy to help you.
2) Look for contact information
You can easily find contact information on every blog you find by clicking the link Contact or About. Those links are usually in the menu bar or in the footer of every blog.
3) Create an Excel sheet with every contact information
For my contest I created a simple Excel sheet with a few columns with the name of the blogger, the URL of his/her blog and his/her email address.
4) Email every blogger and entrepreneur manually
I contacted every bloggers and entrepreneurs one by one and made sure to customize each email with their name.
I used 3 tools to send my emails:
Sidekick: a free tool to know who open your email, when and what link they click
The Samuel. L Jackson Marketing Hack: A hack to send quick email.
In all, I contacted almost 300 people manually using that exact step-by-step process. Many of them actually helped me share the contest.
Cold emailing will usually get you anywhere from 10% to 20% of response.
Send emails to everyone who commented on your blog
People who comment on your blog are already engaged with your business so why not shooting them an email to let them know you’re running a contest?
If you use WordPress this is super-simple to do. Just go to your dashboard, click Comments on the sidebar and you will find every email address of people who commented on your blog.
Email people who mentioned what you are offering
In my case I offered 8 books, so it was easy to find people who made reviews of these books on the web and contact them afterwards. You can do the same for your own contest.
For example if you offer beauty products you can find women who made a tutorial about these products, if you offer a pack of video games you can find gamers who recorded some videos of these games…
Submit your contest on the right sites
I’ve submitted my giveaways to many sites but most of them are junk. The ones that you will find below are the ones that brought me the most traffic and participants:
- Hackers News
- Online Sweepstakes (that one alone brought me 132 people)
- Any Luck Day
- Win Prizes Online
Spend $100 on Facebook ad
Facebook ad can be a great way to reach more people easily. After setting up my ad in minutes, more that 250 people entered the contest.
If you’ve never set up an ad before take a look at this awesome tutorial by Noah:
Build relationships with people and sites that have a large community
This applies to contests but to the growth of any business in general:
“Your net worth is directly related to your network” (Tweet that)
You must build relationship everyday with other bloggers, entrepreneurs, freelancers…
There are many ways you can do it:
- Interview them
- Share their content on social media (don’t forget to @ them)
- Guest posts
- Give them what they want (review their podcast, comment on their blog, link to their site…)
- Offer their products as giveaways
- Help them promote their products as an affiliate
If your relationship is sincere, they will help you in return.
That’s exactly what I did with the Penny Hoarder. By mentioning their awesome post and helping them find partners, they shared my contest on Facebook (+660,000 likes) and Twitter (+21,000 followers), which brought a lot of new entries.
Get influencers to share your contest
This last strategy is my secret weapon. It’s the most powerful trick of all. It allowed me to get influencers to share my contest even though I didn’t know them. This strategy alone brought me hundreds of new subscribers in just a few days.
Want to know what it’s?
Download my ultimate technique to get influencers to share your contest
Note: I want to thank those who inspired me and help me spread the word during this contest: Noah, Josh, Bryan, Carolyn, The Penny Hoarder team, Kendra, Jaime, John, Barbara, Nick, Pauline, Rasmus, Carrie, Gina, Jeremy, Tamar, Ada, Jeff, Betsy, Vinod, Christophe, Kalen, Emily, Jon, Eric, Tre, Zina, Ben, Carlos, Melissa, Mike, Benny, Jesse, Laura and many many more!