Email List Building Techniques

Email List Building Techniques for Serious Bloggers

How we’ve increased email subscription rates by over 400%

Guess what? We’ve increased email subscriptions rates by over 400%. In this post, I’ll going over the steps I’ve taken to achieve that increase. I have also put together a how-to guide to help you put your own resource gallery or document library (part of the strategy) but more on that in a minute.

There’s nothing all that advanced in what I’m going to cover here but it is also not free and it’s not easy. This post is geared for those that want to get serious about building their list and doing it right.

Notice: The $ symbol indicates an affiliate link.

Big changes are paying off in 2015

Back in January, my biggest goal for Hot blog Tips was to get serious about list building. I wanted better stats, more subscribers that actually wanted my content, and to get better at writing that content. I don’t want to make this about me but I will tell you what I did.

Goodbye AWeber

After over eight years with AWeber, I switched to GetResponse.$ I won’t go into a lot of detail why I switched right not (I’ll write about that later) but it had to do with several of the features available with GetResponse that AWeber doesn’t offer.

My switch had nothing to do with AWeber’s service, I was happy with them. AWeber treated me well and I have nothing negative to say about them. It was just time to move on in favor of better tools.

✔ GetResponse has a feature called “Time Travel“. I LOVE this feature because I was able to stop trying to calculate the best time of day to send the emails. Now, if my testing shows 7am is the best time to send, everyone on my list gets their email delivered at 7am their time – not mine. This is HUGE!

✔ GetResponse has taken split testing to a new level. As an example, last week I sent a percentage of my emails to two equal groups of subscribers using two different subject lines. But not all of my subscribers were in the test and that’s where the power comes in…

GetResponse looked at the two competing headlines and then sent the winning subject line (based on open rate or click-through – you decide) and used that winning subject line to email remaining email subscribers. Can you believe that? Just amazing!

✔ I don’t want to make this a GetResponse ad so I’ll write more about GetResponse later BUT I have to mention this: I did NOT have to require every subscriber to re-confirm their subscription in order the move them from AWeber to GetResponse.

importantImportant: If you decide to move your list to GetResponse, make sure you turn off the double opt-in (confirmation requirement) BEFORE you import the list. I lost thousands of subscribers back in 2008 when I moved to AWeber and I don’t want to know that feeling.

If you use my affiliate link$ and need help, get in touch and I’ll do what I can to help. I was scared to death but it worked perfectly. 🙂

Putting Autoresponders to work the right way

I won’t go into a lot of detail here because I have an entire article on it (What are Email Autoresponders and How To Use Them Effectively) but autoresponders have been an important part of my list building strategy.

In that post I go into detail on exactly how I’m using autoresponders to up my “value game as well as increase expectations and interaction. Oh, and I even give a month’s worth of autoresponder examples – the actual emails I use for Success Reads, in the form of… yes, you guessed it – a lead magnet. 🙂

Another pretty big list building investment

Well, it was a big investment for me anyway. My only regret I have in signing up for LeadPages™ is that I didn’t start earlier. LeadPages$ has turned into my most recommended resource.

My favorite feature of LeadPages is what they call LeadBoxes® (examples are on this post). Rather than fill out a form and hit subscribe, you are presented with a light-box pop-up with the opt-inform. I know, that extra step seems like it would hurt more than it helps but it does work. It has a psychological reasoning behind the success but all I care about is that it is working really well.

Lead Magnets aren’t deceptive at all

The term “marketer” doesn’t seem as romantic as is once did (yes, I have romantic feelings when it comes to online business lol) and the term “Internet Marketer” was all but destroyed in the last decade by a surge of greedy lowlifes but trust me when I say you can take lessons from some of their strategies and use the power for good.

Most bloggers know the power in offering a subscriber gift (opt-in bribe) and that is exactly what I am referring to when I talk about a lead magnet – I just like the sexy names better.

Call it what you will but we’ve all heard the negative options about offering a “bribe” in order to gain an email address and the permission to use it. Some think that it attracts a bunch of freebie seekers and waters down our list. Sure, there’s some of that but I cannot think of a better way to show exactly what kind of value we’re capable of providing our subscribers and increase expectations.

A single Subscriber Gift is no longer enough

Now let’s look at the cold hard truth. Slapping up an opt-in form in your sidebar isn’t enough anymore – if it ever was. That is true if you are offering a lead magnet or not.

Sure, if you’re “All that” you just may be one of the few exceptions but the rest of us mere mortals have to up our game in the value giving department. I don’t like to toot my own horn (at least I don’t like admitting that I like to lol) but tell me I haven’t delivered the best content in my life in 2015. That’s true on this blog, my lists, and even in social media. I’m a superhero with content creation skills!

Okay, back to me. </joking>. So, in case you haven’t noticed, many of my weekly posts have included a free giveaway in the form of a lead magnet. That, my friend, has made a difference that I cannot begin to convey. I was lucky to get a couple of subscriber notices a day (my favorite kind of email) last year. Now those emails come in one or two an hour and seem to be increasing each month.

Isn’t it a lot of extra work creating those guides, e-books, and resource lists? You bet it is – I mean it’s a LOT of work. Did I mention I was serious about list building? This time last year I thought my time was best spent by creating more blog posts. Wow, I’m glad I changed that strategy.

My Ah-ha Moment

It didn’t take long to realize that I was accumulating pure gold in the form of some of my best content AND one of the best subscriber generating techniques I’ve ever had. The problem? I bet you’re already thinking it too, aren’t you?

Yep, all that good was quickly disappearing deeper and deeper below a massive amount of newly created content. I didn’t want my hard work to be left to rely on Google’s good graces on sending quality search traffic to my older content. No, that wouldn’t do at all – I simply work too hard to allow it to fade into the archives.

So my ah-ha moment happened when I was on one of the best sites on the net. I don’t know why it took so long to realize this because I love HubSpot. I love the content they provide in their articles and it’s actually an email I look for. I’ve also enjoyed MANY of their giveaways (lead magnets).

I knew they have kept me on their site longer than anywhere else just reading posts and looking for guides, templates, and a ton of other resources. What I didn’t know, until recently, was they had created a resource library to house all of the cool content they offer in exchange for our information.

Information I am happy to provide because they more than make up for with what I get from their emails and subscriber gifts. I want to be that kind of resource. How about you?

HubSpot Marketing Library

I had to have that library! Not that exact one, obviously, but our own unique resource library build by use for our audience, just modeled from HubSpot.  I spent many hours trying to model that incredible resource gallery as well as the landing pages they are use and the value they provide. I will freely admit I have a LONG way to go as to what can be done with the information being gained but I will get there.

Landing page solution

LeadPages made the second half of that model very easy because they already have a template designed just like the one that HubSpot uses in their huge lead page gallery of Landing Page and Minisite templates.

No duplicate email subscriptions

Another necessary feature LeadPages provides is for those already subscribed. They aren’t added to the list over and over as long as it’s not a separate list and they use the same email address. This is important because we don’t want to frustrate our subscribers with multiple copies of a single email because they downloaded several resources we created for them.

Digital content delivery

Lastly, LeadPages takes care of securely delivering the content and I don’t have to worry about uploading it to my server and creating download links and all of that kind of thing. If I say, “Digital Asset Delivery“, will I sound really smart? It sure makes them smart in my book, no matter what we call it.

As you can see, this post is pretty detailed and I want you to see everything in action. I also have put together a short how-to guide on how to build your own resource library for your website. All you have to do is… you guessed it again – subscribe. 😉


Off TopicOff-Topic / Skippable: I was just on the phone last night with Sheryl Loch explaining that I am not willing to water down my content for the sake of shorter posts. It’s takes as long as it takes and I still have more to offer. 😉

I do hope I’m making it easier to read with my formatting but you should never apologize for your amazing content.

See: Blog Post Length: How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?

Optimizing your 404 Error Pages

NoteSide Note: I’ve mentioned LeadPages a lot in this post and that’s because I really appreciate how easy they have made putting all of this together BUT, if you want to spend the time on it and have the know-how, you can do almost everything I’m doing without paying for a service like LeadPages. There are also other alternatives as well. I’m just not familiar with the other services.

That includes adding a subscriber opt-in to your 404 (404 error page / bad link) pages. LeadPages makes this as simple as pushing a button but the concept is nothing new. I remember back in the day, when the internet was powered by dinosaur coal, Mike Filsaime created a product based entirely on optimizing our 404 pages. Do you remember those days (September 2006)? Memories. 🙂

What in the World is a Welcome Gate

Well, I’ve been avoiding pop-up opt-in boxes (but I reserve the right to change my mind one day) but LeadPages has come up with something a lot cooler than a scrawny little annoying popup for first time visitors. At least it looks better. Keep reading…

LeadPages Welcome Gate screenshot

So when someone visits my home page (, they are greeted with a Welcome Gate before they see my index page. It’s not very intrusive and it’s a simple click to decline the offer and be directed to the home page and I haven’t had a single complaint.

You know what else I haven’t had from the Welcome Gate? A lot of subscribers. I’ve always said I’ll share both wins and losses and this is one of the losses. For me anyway, the Welcome Gate hasn’t proven itself at all. The conversion rate is slightly above zero. I have a couple of tweaks I want to implement but I’ll probably end up removing in altogether.

LeadPages Welcome Gateway Stats

My biggest secret weapon

The biggest part of my strategy is learning. Seriously, if you’ve been following my for a while, you know I read everything I can get my eyes on; blog posts, great books$, and articles. I also watch quality videos and webinars. I listen to amazing podcasts and audio books$.

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks$

LeadPage’s Training is worth the price of admission. They have regular webinars as well as a wealth of information on their website. The same with GetResponse. GetResponse has a great blog. They also have a very detailed and informative online course (90 days to build up to 10,000 subscribers – max 3 hrs/day –OR– 180 days to build up to 10,000 subscribers max 1.5 hrs/day) that is free for its members.

I don’t stop there either. If you looked into my Feedly RSS subscriptions, you’d see other list building service blogs like IContact, Constant Contact, and AWeber (MailChimp has a blog too but it is a little self-promotional for my tastes). I see no reason to restrict who I learn from to only the services I pay for.

Recapping the Email List Building Techniques for serious bloggers

That’s what we’ve done to increase our subscriber rate by over 400%, increase interaction, and ultimately better serve our readers and subscribers. It’s not a cheap solution and it is taking a lot of work but I’m so happy I made the commitment. How serious are you about building your list?

It starts by creating amazing blog content and followed up with remarkable email content.

Find the right email management service for you. As you know, I love GetResponse but there are many other alternatives out there. Just be certain to use one and avoid saving money with the DIY methods we see out there. I know some will disagree with that but there’s a reason these services exist – because you need them. At least one of them.

Consider in investing in a Lead Generation Platform such as LeadPages. At least eventually. If you’re brand new and uncertain how far you want to take your online business, this might not be the best use of your money right now. If you’re ready to take it to the next level, however, at least check it out.$

Don’t stop at creating a single subscriber gift. It takes some work but it is well worth the effort. After all, we are content creators, right?

Think about e-books, how-to guides, checklists, resource lists, cheat sheets, plugins, creation tools, exclusive videos and templates that your readers will find invaluable.

Seriously, if that last sentence doesn’t get you excited, I just don’t know you. 😉

Read, watch, listen, and learn. There are more incredible ideas and solutions than any one person can absorb so be very intentional and particular on what you allow into your already choked schedule. We still need a life after all.

Finally, don’t crank up the machine and then let the momentum slow by thinking you got a nice start. This kind of work takes a commitment and I cannot stress that enough. It is not easy. I’m just in the beginning stages and I’m working my tail off creating more content (and better, I think) than I have in the last 10 years of blogging. I also haven’t been this excited in the last ten years either.

Recommended Links Mentioned ($ indicates an affiliate link):
☑ The email management and autoresponder service I use and recommend is GetResponse$.
☑ The super the super duper, mind blowing Lead Generation Platform that has me creaming like… ah, I mean the Lead Generation Platform I recommend: LeadPages$.
☑ I listen to and recommend Audible for audio books. Special: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks$.
☑ Great content all over HubSpot.
☑ Find great books on Amazon$.

About Brian Hawkins

Blogging superhero by day and internet super villain by night. Blogger, future online millionaire and an all around great guy.


  1. Wow Brian, you really have made some serious changes. I just started using the Hello Bar for emails and it is a pop up – I have seen instant results in getting new email subscribers.
    I love your lead pages and products page, great idea there. I just have one eBook but see I could add other useful things along the way – you got me thinking 🙂
    Thanks for sharing Brian and have a great weekend.

  2. That’s great to hear Lisa, I’m glad you might have came away with an idea or two. I’m also glad to hear you’re getting results with Hello Bar. I don’t use it myself but it has been around for a long time.

    It takes a lot of additional work creating so many subscriber gifts but it looks like it is paying off. I just made another one today with my latest post. It took as long to create the lead magnet as it did the blog post but it is important that both offer real value. That’s the goal at least. The subscribers will be the real judge in the value they provide.

  3. Thanks for article, many people write but not many write interestingly, on it I very much like to read you, thanks once again, your sight is close to me, in the future I plan to create the blog, and there to write reviews and articles health info

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