5 List-Building Tips for Reaching More Qualified Customers

5 List-Building Tips for Reaching More Qualified Customers

List building is well worth the time and effort. In fact, it’s the single best way to find qualified customers and to drive more sales.

But list building is also hard. Maybe that’s why most of the companies I speak to are either looking for shortcuts (like buying a list) or having a hard time executing on list building.

For example, I speak with owners and CEOs weekly who say their websites are akin to a business card — just an afterthought digital presence where prospects can see where you’re located and what you do.

This line of thinking threatens your business.

If you’re in the group that sees a corporate website as “just a business card,” I’m here to tell you: You’re missing out on a huge opportunity to develop a pipeline that’s creating new business each and every day.
OK, so let’s assume for a moment that you agree a website is more than a business card. What should you focus on to maximize its value? Design and layout matter. SEO matters, too, both on-site optimization and off-site link building. You need an About Us page, a Contact page and a Services page — check, check and check. And you need content that your target audience finds valuable.

But nothing matters more than capturing email addresses and building a killer list.

As I said, building a list is much harder than buying one. But it’s not impossible. It’s not even that challenging if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. And the payoff is huge. A business card-style website punts on the chance to build qualified leads. A website that’s strategically aligned to your business goals and that drives new contacts goes for it in a big way.

Don’t fall into the “spray, pray and hope” approach described in my previous post on this topic. Build the website your business deserves, build a list of qualified leads, and see your business take a huge next step.

Don’t know where to start? I’m here to help. Here are 5 list-building tips for using your website to reach qualified leads:

1. Add a Sidebar Subscription

Almost all website designs include a widget area in the sidebar. Yours should include a subscription portal where visitors can join your list. But don’t just slap a portal to the sidebar that says: “Join Our List.” Nobody wants to just join a list. They want value. So describe the value a visitor gets after joining the list. If your business automates systems to save companies time and money, use this space to let them know: “Get time- and money-saving automation tips sent straight to your inbox.” It’s also helpful to make an offer. Create a high-value PDF report that your new subscribers get for free upon joining, something like: “The 10 Automation Opportunities Your Business is Missing Out On.” That’s valuable. And far more enticing to a visitor. Anything less is a waste of virtual real estate space — not to mention a waste of opportunity. And one last thing: If you don’t have a sidebar in your site’s design, you can often add the same portal to the header or footer area.

2. Create a Popup Subscription

I hear you: You hate the popup subscription portal, right? I do, too. But these popup portals (when well crafted) are the single most effective list-building tool you can add to your site. And it’s not a matter of choosing a popup over a sidebar widget — or vice versa. You need both. You want to give your visitors as many opportunities as possible to join your list. Different visitors see your site in different ways. Some may not even glance at the sidebar, for example. A popup makes sure they have the opportunity. And, as mentioned in No. 1, make sure your popup portal articulates the value you have in store for subscribers. Consider using the offer approach, and test out different offers to see which converts best.

3. Use an Exit Subscription

This is going to sound like overkill, but you need to ask visitors to sign up for your list one more time before they go. Think of it this way: You’re in business because you think you have highly valuable products or services that would benefit your visitors. The sidebar widget is a way to say: “Hey, we can help you.” The popup portal is a way to say: “Listen, we can really, really help your business.” And the exit subscription opportunity is like grabbing your visitor by the shoulder as they walk away and saying, “LET US HELP YOUR BUSINESS!” You can craft an exit subscription that only appears if a visitor has clicked through a certain number of pages or taken certain actions. These are visitors who are clearly interested in your content and what you have to offer. And if you just let them leave, they may never find their way back to your site again. Give them this last opportunity to stay in touch.

4. Replace Your Email Signature

This is an old trick — at least as old as email. Unfortunately, many businesses aren’t taking advantage of the email signature invitation to join a mailing list. You can tweak the same offer you’re using in your website subscription widgets for use in your email signature, and it will help your list skyrocket with subscribers. You can even change your email signature each quarter to feature your most popular new pieces of content — available directly if only the reader subscribes. The companies that settle for simple contact information in their email signature are missing out on a huge opportunity.

5. Gate Some Content

There are rumors that search engines frown on gated content. But this is a hugely effective method for building your email list as well as your social media following. It’s also a great way to separate interested buyers from the proverbial tire kickers who waste your time. But note how I said gate “some” content. Create highly valuable content that walks a visitor through the buying stages. Make sure it’s highly valuable so that the reader feels that it was worth going through the registration process. You can tease this highly valuable, gated content via your still-valuable, freely accessible content. For example, at the end of a post on a specific automation strategy, tease the PDF report that I mentioned earlier: “The 10 Automation Opportunities Your Business is Missing Out On.” You already have a reader who’s interested automation. Ask them to take the next step — and make sure that next step helps you build your list.

How can you start building your list today?

Good news and bad news here. First the bad news: You’ll need to invest time planning, researching, writing and designing content offers for each of the prospective buying stages: awareness, consideration and decision.

Now the good news: A number of available products and services can help you promote your content offers once established and ready for execution. In fact, each is easy to signup for, set up and quickly configure on your website.

Use these tools and, in a matter of minutes, your website can be a list-building machine that helps prospects learn more about your business.

See below for a list of products I recommend. These are the tools I’ve used to successfully start and exponentially grow lists for my own businesses.

Each of the services listed above also integrates with most email and marketing automation software, content management systems and customer relationship management solutions.

And here are several services you can use to integrate your list-building strategy:

As I said: This is hard work, but it’s certainly not impossible. If you have questions as you get started (or anywhere on your journey), reach out to me directly using our Contact page.