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How to get 2,239 email subscribers from scratch

The Art of Becoming an Email Sumo

This is a case study from Robbie Richards.

Building an email list should be your number one priority. Period.

The question is, how do you quickly build a list without giving away burritos to every reader?

And in this post, I’m going to show you step-by-step how I collected 2,262 email subscribers in 117 days on the cheap.

The best part, I’m going to show you how I did it with…

Zero budget.

Zero connections.

And a tiny social media following.

Let’s do this!

Tactic 1: Collecting Thousands of Emails with a Dead-Simple Popup

List builder is the quickest and easiest way to get started collecting email addresses on your site.

It’s a breeze to use, and in less than 120 days I collected 1,531 email addresses with the List Builder app

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And achieved a 5.64% conversion rate

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Awesome, right? Here’s how you can get the same results.

Click here if you have SumoMe installed already. Otherwise, log into Wordpress and select “Add New” from the “Plugins” section in the left navigation menu -

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Next, search for the SumoMe plugin -

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Click “Install Now”.

Note: If you don’t use Wordpress you’ll need to copy the HTML code found here and add it to the section of the website. If you’re not tech-savy consult a developer.

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Now, when you visit your website you’ll see the SumoMe crown displaying on the right side of the screen –

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Click the crown icon and enter your name and email address to create a free account.

Once the account is created you’ll be able to enter the “Sumo Store” and select which apps you want to install –

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Select the “List Builder” app –

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Once you’ve installed the app, click “open”. If you’re using the free version you’ll see a screen that looks like this -

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Click here to turn on List Builder Pro. You'll need to go List Builder Pro which is only $20 bucks a month for what I'm going to show you. If you are using the free version click here" to skip to the “behavior” section.

Instead of going straight to the design tab, you’ll navigate to the “campaigns” tab and click “Add New Campaign”.

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Once the campaign is created click the “Popups & A/B Tests” tab –

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Click “Add New Popup”.

Next, hit the “Design” tab and choose:

  • Template
  • Form size
  • Headline copy (make it attention-grabbing)
  • Set font, background and button colors

I used the “Graph” template…

popup 12 create this popup form in two minutes -

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It has collected over 200 emails in 2 weeks and reached a 14.63% conversion rate on May 16th –

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Pro Tip: I found offering a free eBook with a concrete result gets the highest opt-in rate.

Next, customize the “Success” message on the design section. This is the message people see once they submit their email address -

A great thing to leverage at this moment:

Ask people to connect with you on social media. People are much more likely to take action right after they convert the first time. Here's mine:

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Next, click on the “behavior” tab. This interface will look identical within both the free and paid versions of List builder.

You’ll be able to customize the following:

  1. Time trigger (how long after page load until the form displays)
  2. Frequency
  3. Display mode
  4. Subscriber redirects

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I’ve tested a number of different time-based triggers and found popups displaying at 10 seconds have the highest conversion rates.

You’ll also notice I have display frequency set to “0 minutes”.

So, the opt-in form will trigger every time a reader loads a page. This is super aggressive, but it works. You don't have to be as aggressive.

As with everything, be sure to test these settings for yourself.

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The List Builder also lets you choose a “Smart Mode”. This setting gives your popup "exit intent"; readers only see it when they are about to leave the site.

Finally, connect List Builder to your email service provider of choice on the "Services" tab. SumoMe provides one-click API integration with all the major email service providers, including MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, GetResponse, Infusionsoft and more.

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Tactic 2: Triple Your Conversion Rate with Content Upgrades

What’s the best way to accelerate the growth of your email list?

Content upgrades.

A content upgrade a content-specific offering that provides instant value to the reader.

That means that when you create an awesome, detail-rich blog post, you take extra materials like :

  • a video walkthrough
  • step-by-step playbook
  • useful spreadsheet
or anything that will help the reader and offer it to them in return for their email address.

For example, I offer the “Ultimate SEMrush playbook” as a content upgrade on this SEMrush tutorial

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The content upgrade has an average conversion rate of 7.61% (peaking at 16.67% on May 13th) –

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And it has added 186 new subscribers to my email list.

Here's how to create one with SumoMe in 20 seconds:

I simply took this post I wrote last year and converted it into a PDF in 10 seconds using the free Print Friendly and PDF chrome extension –

chrome extension 22

Open the post you want to convert to PDF and click the green chrome extension icon –

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Next, click the PDF button to convert the post. All the links will pass from the post into the PDF. –

First, navigate to the campaign you want to add a content upgrade on and select “Display Rules” from the left navigation –

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Next, choose "On URL Paths..." and put the URL of the page in there. For example I added this one on /competitor-research. You can add it to just 1 page or do it across many of them.

Pro Tip: Head over to Google Analytics and navigate to Behavior >> Site Content >> All Pages and look to see which posts are getting the most pageviews –

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This will uncover popular posts on your site you can quickly turn into a PDF and add as a content upgrade. This should help you get at least 5% conversions to email signups on those pages.

Click here to add content upgrades with List Builder Pro

Tactic 3: Doubling your conversion rates with A/B testing

Having the ability to quickly deploy and target your opt-in forms is great, but what really matters is what converts.

Luckily, SumoMe makes it easy to setup and test multiple form features, including different form designs and triggers.

Do you think adding an image helps improve email conversions? Let's see -

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Or, this one –

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Adding an ebook image to the form boosted the conversion rate 110.72% -

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All I did was add a small piece of HTML to the form template and I doubled the conversion rate –

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Setting up an A/B test only takes a few minutes. You can do test anything you want, like:

  • button colors
  • timing of the popup
  • different templates
  • headline copy
  • and more...
Here's how to replicate the test from above:

Click on the plus green sign to duplicate your current popup on your current campaign. Then click on the name of your new popup and add this code to the text (HTML allowed) section on the "Design" section:

Enter your email below to download the ebook.
<img src="link to your image here" />
Hit save and you are done.

Start with a simple test. Once you have a test with statistical significance over 95% choose a winner and test another form feature.

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Rinse and repeat.

Click here to add A/B testing on List Builder Pro

Tactic 4: Adding an Unobtrusive Sign-up Reminder

If you find yourself in that camp and are looking for a less aggressive tactic, or if you want to try something new, there’s a solution called Scroll Box.

Scroll Box is List Builder’s more considerate younger brother. Instead of having a popup display after a certain period of time, you can use the Scroll Box app to display an email opt-in form only after a visitor has read through a specified amount of your post.

If you want to be more aggressive with your list building use a popup and a scroll box. Set the popup to display shortly after page load and the scroll box to slide in when the reader reaches the end of the post.

You can also turn on Yield Tech™ in the "settings" tab so List Builder and Scroll Box won't show on the same page.

scroll box 44

You can set the opt-in box to slide in from any corner of the website. It also has the option to slide in from up/down or left/right. You can run some A/B tests to see which slide movements convert best.

I used the Scroll Box for 27 days when I first started my blog and managed to collect an extra 70 email addresses-

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The conversion rate was 3.2% -

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Click here to enable templates and A/B testing with Scroll Box Pro

Tactic 5: Stay front and center at all times

Hello Smart Bar. The Smart Bar is a handy SumoMe app that places a bar on the top or bottom of your website that you can use to capture emails –

I’ve managed to collect 293 email addresses in the last 100 days with the Smart Bar –

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At a conversion rate of 0.64% -

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The Smart Bar allows you to configure the header bar a number of ways, including:

CTAs that link to targeted landings pages –

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These could be product pages, giveaway contests or to your squeeze pages. This is a great way to direct traffic to your highest-converting pages.

It even doubles as a tool to grow your social audiences. In fact, this feature helped me get 1,048 new followers in 30 days -

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Sales, social media fans, emails…configure the Smart Bar to meet your specific business goals.

Setting Up Your Smart Bar

Add the Smart Bar from the Sumo Store. Go to the “Design” section of the app –

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In the “behavior” section I choose to show the Smart Bar at the top of the page at all times. This makes the header scroll with the page as people read the content.

smart bar 58

I did this so I could give the reader an opportunity to opt-in at all times.

Pro Tip: Take advantage of the Smart Bar “Success” message and ask subscribers to follow you on a select social media channel –

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Or, remind them to click the link in their confirmation email.

You can also set up A/B tests and target Smart Bars to specific content and device types just as you did with the other form types.

Click here to enable templates and A/B testing with Smart Bar Pro

Tactic 6: Get thousands of social media shares on autopilot

Now, you might be thinking, “Robbie! This is a post about email marketing, why are you talking about sharing?!”

But here’s the secret. The more people share your content, the more visitors you get to your site, and the more potentials for signups you get.

Easy sharing = more traffic = more opt-in exposure = more email subscribers.

Now WordPress and other sites will give you some default sharing buttons… but they’re ugly. No one wants to click those dinky little Tweet or Like buttons!

Instead, just open up SumoMe and install the Share app. Since installing it on my blog, the social engagement has skyrocketed.

Two of my blog posts have combined for 10,100 social shares

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This helped drive 19,128 social media referral visits to my site -

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And you might be thinking “sure, but social traffic doesn’t convert.” Well think again!

In the last 30 days, Twitter traffic alone has added 68 new subscribers to my email list –

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It’s a beautiful cycle!

Pro Tip: Share also provides valuable analytics.

You’ll be able to view which channels are generating the most social engagement…

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And, track which specific posts are most popular among your readers –

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Case studies and expert roundups are by far my most popular content when it comes to social engagement.

I think I’ll do more of that :)

Setting up Share

Once you have the Share app installed from the SumoMe store, navigate over to the “Layout” tab and select the areas you want to show the share icons –

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Pro Tip: In the settings tab set the browser width to 1440 pixels. This will make the social share icons display along the bottom of the screen when visiting your site on a web browser –

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Next, select the different social accounts you want to feature on your Share bar –

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To keep it clean, I only include maximum six channels. Those I’m actively engaged on.

I also enabled Smart Mode so the most popular social networks (based on share count) are always placed at the top –

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High visible share count = more social proof = more people will share it.

Finally, in the “Services” tab be sure to set your Twitter handle (do not include the ‘@’ symbol).

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This will append your Twitter handle to the end of all the tweets generated by your Share bar –

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Here's what you should do next:

I just walked you through the exact process I used to collect 2,239 email subscribers in 117 days, and how you can duplicate it using 5 SumoMe apps.

Now I want you to login to your SumoMe, make these changes in the less than 10 minutes and significantly grow your email list too. Click here to login to SumoMe!

Thanks Brian Dean for reviewing this article.

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