Build Your Email List Fast — 2 Ninja Strategies to Improve Your Email Optins

When it comes to how many ways exist to build an email list, I’m a buffet kinda guy.

Quick story…I mean I much prefer a buffet when I’m trying out a new restaurant. I do love a great a-la-carte meal though, especially if I’m familiar with the restaurant and the quality of its cuisine. If its one thing Maria (my wife) can’t stand it’s my indecision when it comes to picking things off of the menu. Usually we end up just getting two different entrees and splitting them… Ah yes, the best of both worlds…

And as a digital entrepreneur, it got me to thinking about the email list building “buffet” vs the digital “a-la-carte” choices when it comes to dishing out free content to my audience, with the primary goal of choosing the best way to build your email list.

Build Your Email List Method #1 — The Content Upgrade

If you’ve been around the internet marketing game for any length of time, you’re probably aware of the “content upgrade” strategy to get email subscriber opt-ins to your list.

For those of you who don’t know what a content upgrade is, it’s basically a call-to-action that you place in the middle or end of your blog post that prompts the reader to download a free guide, a pdf or other piece of digital content related to the topic of the post, in exchange for that coveted piece of information…

Their best email address.

When used strategically, it can be a powerhouse method to effectively grow your list with targeted subscribers interested in a specific topic that you’re educating them about. Some of the top internet marketers and bloggers use it so effectively, like Amy Porterfield from and Pat Flynn of, that it has been hailed as a clear winning strategy to boost your optin rates when placing the call-to-action within your blog posts. Sure, sidebars and home page placements still work, but nothing beats the focus and attention that a hungry reader has along with the urge to click on something extremely relevant to their topic of interest.

To increase your success building an email list, content upgrades work.

I’ve used them a lot on niche sites that I’ve ran in the past and it’s a strategy that has staying power. Also, when you get a targeted list of subscribers you then have the information needed to deliver them the highest value possible along with an attractive targeted offer, whether it’s an affiliate product or service, or even one of your own.

When comparing it to an “A la Carte” menu, content upgrades are the icing on the cake as your readers get to choose which posts they will consume and snatch up your bonus content offer. Like a menu, they choose one item, or post in this case, and if they want more they can go to another post and get a content upgrade from there as well.

So, if content upgrades to build your list are the way to go, why consider anything else?

Enter…membership sites.

Build Your Email List Method #2 -The FREE Membership Offer Model (a.k.a “Freemium Strategy”)

Yes. The #1 coveted passive income model (or, at least one of them)…

The Membership Site.

Membership sites are a great way to generate recurring income and have proven to be one of the best ways to make consistent online income when done correctly…especially when it comes to increasing your “customer lifetime value”. People like Stu McLaren, co-founder of WishList Member, one of the world’s most popular membership platforms for WordPress, know a pretty great deal about what it takes to run a successful membership site.

The key is that you’ve got to have a well defined content strategy that your readers and members will value enough to stay a paid member.

But did you know it is a ninja tactic to build your email list and leverage market automation too? More on that in a bit…

With the endless amounts of membership software, WordPress plugins and such, there are so many ways to incorporate this as a sound strategy if you’re ever considering membership as part of your overall long term game plan to build your email list.

Personally, I use the Rainmaker Platform for this and it’s saved me a lot of headache with plugins and such since everything is built into the platform. (Note Rainmaker is available for a 14-Day Free trial and there are some affiliate links in this post…should you use them there’s no added cost to you, but it does allow me to grab a beer when I hit up the next hot gastropub in town :)

Ok, let’s back up a second. We’re talking about FREE membership, right? So how does that equate to income or help build your email list?

Similar to the content upgrade approach, we’re talkin’ bout focusing on potential leads my friend.

The FREE membership model, or sometimes called “Freemium” model, allows someone to register an account at a free membership level, getting access to specific content related to their interests. Just think about it. Sites like Facebook, Amazon, Google and pretty much anywhere you need to create an account leverage this strategy and they do it like a master.

For example, let’s say you run a site about bodyweight training. To build your email list you could offer a free workout checklist, quick video tips or anything else digitally related and add them into a free member library as protected content only available when you signup as a free member.

Then, once someone registers, they’re added to your email list, and as a result you have the ability to follow up with them just as you would using a “content upgrade” approach when you build your email list in this way.

Using the buffet analogy, they’ll get to “feast” on whatever free content they like once inside the members area and you can notify them whenever you’ve got a new post or other available download for their consumption and use.

What’s even cooler as well as super useful to build your email list? If you’ve got a tool like Rainmaker, tracking what they download is no problem since you can do it all inside of your Rainmaker dashboard.

Here’s a snapshot of a few free member downloads for this site:

How to Build Your Email List: A snapshot of free download tracking using the Rainmaker Platform.
How to Build Your Email List: A snapshot of free download tracking using the Rainmaker Platform.

Ok, now that you know 2 very effective ways to build your email list, what do you do next?

As a business owner your #1 job is to deliver value. That’s right. First and foremost the content you provide must provide a lot of value, and even a splash of entertainment here or there wouldn’t hurt. Not everyone will read your blog posts. And not everyone will want to register for a free membership. But by offering both you’ll definitely be giving your audience more options while increasing your chances to build quality relationships.

So What’s the Best Approach to Build Your Email List?

I don’t believe there is an end all, be all method. Personally, I’m going with the hybrid approach towards free content upgrades and a free membership model.

If you’re using a blogging platform and don’t have a 3rd party plugin or other software as a service to leverage a membership platform to build your email list, then this won’t apply to you.

But, if you’ve ever considered leveraging on page/website marketing automation features to deliver content to your audience that is adaptive and relevant to their interests, then getting onto a hosted solution like the Rainmaker Platform may just be your ticket to creating a customer-focused marketing and sales solution that auto-educates your audience without needing to hard sell them like a lot of other marketers do today.

Wanna feel great while you build your email list as fast as possible? So do I.

What’s your approach to build your email list? Buffet or a la carte style? Or perhaps a combination of both?
 Leave a comment below and tell me what’s cookin!

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