4 Secrets for Successful List Building

What’s the secret to building a list of active, engaged subscribers? Wouldn’t it be helpful to get some tips from someone who has been doing internet marketing successfully for a long time?

Ron Davies runs many email marketing campaigns with AWeber and says these campaigns have been instrumental in his business growth and success. I worked with him personally on optimizing his campaigns and noticed that he has been very successful with building his lists.


I was impressed by the different strategies Ron was using, so we’ll look at Ron’s secrets for building a successful campaign and discuss how you can implement them to build your own engaged list.

Why Do I Need to “Build an Engaged List”?

You have the first hurdle of getting them to want to sign up, then the challenge becomes keeping them happy to stay on your list. Subscribers tend to be more active during the first month they’ve signed up on your list. For example, a study from MarketingSherpa has found that the welcome email is one that most subscribers will read, and yet many marketers neglect using it to engage subscribers.

Subscriber engagement is not something that should be put off as a future concern. You want your subscribers to stay engaged with your company from the moment they sign up.

So What are Ron’s Secrets?

Offer an Incentive to Sign Up

Ron offers incentives such as free videos or reports for signing up to his email lists.

We’ve talked about the pros and cons of incentives before, but incentives can help you build your list when used the right way. You should keep these tips in mind regarding incentives:

  • Keep your incentive relevant to your email campaign
  • Provide value to the subscriber without undermining the value of your emails
  • Use confirmed opt-in to weed out those who signed up just for the incentive

Emphasize the Value of Your Information

Ron makes sure prospects understand his emails are valuable by offering them a “free trial subscription”. This lets them know that the information they will be receiving is worth something, and that later they may even want to pay to keep receiving his messages.

It’s especially important to emphasize the value if you’re offering an incentive, since you want people to know that getting on your mailing list and the free gift are BOTH reasons they should fill out your web form.

Make sure your subscribers know exactly what they are signing up for, and find ways to show off your campaign’s value like:

Work on Building the Relationship

The welcome message is the first email subscribers get after joining. It’s the perfect time to really start working on your relationship with the subscriber.

Ron’s welcome messages provide the information they signed up for again, and usually involve a bonus gift for signing up. This sets it up so the subscriber sees Ron is committed to giving them what they signed up for and also that he cares about building a relationship with them.

Use these tips so subscribers see you care:

Give the Subscriber an Incentive to Stay

Ron convinces subscribers to stay by mentioning that more freebies and tips are on the way. Letting them know there is content they can look forward to will increase their desire to stay on his list.

You’ve given the subscriber an incentive to sign up for your list, but now you need to provide an incentive for them to stay there. If they don’t have an incentive to remain on your mailing list, they’ll unsubscribe after they get their bonus sign up information.

Some incentives to get subscribers to stay:

  • A teaser question that you promise to answer in the next message
  • A list of upcoming topics you plan to cover
  • Contents or sales that are exclusive to subscribers

What Are Your Successful List Building Strategies?

Ron covers a bunch of good ones, but what have you done to get subscribers to sign up (and stay there!)?

19 Comments

  1. Sam

    5/28/2011 9:57 am

    This is a very useful article. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Emit

    5/29/2011 2:25 am

    Thank you, thank you… is all I can say for now. This was and is very informative.

  3. Kevin Pritchard

    5/29/2011 6:04 am

    Thanks for the very informative info on building a list.
    Great stuff as always, and I look forward to more of your great articles.

  4. Ron Davies

    5/30/2011 5:25 pm

    Wow! Nice πŸ™‚

    I was speaking at Ross Goldberg’s SEO Money Machine event on Sanibel Island in Florida and saw this post. Thank you Crystal πŸ™‚

    I couple my Facebook marketing techniques with a weber to list build as well, and just shared with some of the top marketers in the world exactly how to do that.

    Recognition I am receiving as the very best Facebook for business expert in Canada is spilling over into other countries, and creating huge demand for our Facebook training and coaching, which always includes our recommendation that Aweber is the tool of choice for list management and analytics.

    Man, I LOVE my work! (on flight from Miami to Toronto as I write this, lol!)

  5. Michael M

    5/31/2011 8:33 am

    Nice article. πŸ™‚

  6. Aaron Schulman

    5/31/2011 9:27 am

    Great ideas- thanks for sharing Crystal. . .

  7. Melissa Miller

    5/31/2011 10:01 am

    I like to continue to offer free information to help my list with finding REAL work at home opportunities. If I can offer creative and unusual ways to earn money from home that hasn’t been overdone all over the Internet, then I’m offering value to my subscribers and give them a reason to stick around.

  8. Jeff Wilson

    5/31/2011 1:38 pm

    Great Article. I especially like the idea of a bonus gift and teaser questions.

  9. Thomas Retterbush

    5/31/2011 4:51 pm

    I have been wanting to build a list and start an email campaign for ever, but I just don’t know where to start. I have several Twitter accounts totalling well over 75,000 followers, but because I don’t require log-in on my website or blogs its going to be hard to get started. I’m finding it hard to find an incentive to offer for people to sign up. It seems like almost everything is available for free online now. Now what?

  10. Asim Bawany

    6/1/2011 12:18 am

    Hey Ron,

    great tips here… since you’ve jumped in, let me ask you…
    when giving your visitors on your facebook page incentives to “like” you, is it ok to ask them to sign up for your list right after they like you in order to receive their freebie? Have you tested this?

  11. Crystal Gouldey

    6/1/2011 9:26 am

    Thanks for all the feedback!

    Thomas- You should start by putting up forms on your website and blogs. There are pros and cons to offering incentives, so just focus on what will make your email campaign unique. With so many Twitter followers, you must be doing something right!

  12. Ron Davies

    6/1/2011 10:34 am

    Hi Thomas,

    I tend to be very pro-active. One of the falling down places of most is failure to call readers to action, failure to incentivize (yes, people can do this incorrectly, but good grief, it is simple lol!- just don’t be misleading, this seems incredibly obvious, but I guess should be pointed out…).

    Incentivizing can be simple. This Aweber Opt-In form has a 54% conversion rate from RAW traffic: http://affiliatealert.com/squeezealert/ AND is is simple.

    Every part of every page should have a PURPOSE. Putting opt-in boxes on blogs is less than purposeful, in my opinion at least (we do 1,200,000 uniques a month for testing)

    A page to harvest and build a list should ONLY be about that. We no longer use Twitter at all. The ROI there has fallen off 78% for high end marketers in the last 18 months. We used to teach it, 3 years ago when most didn’t know what it was, and there was real engagement by those that did.

    Right now, we are 100% in the “Blue Monster” (Facebook- and why our new offline company registered the trademark for Blue Monster Marketing, lol) as we are seeing a lead aquisition cost of about $0.0027 (yes, .27 of a cent.) A typical example of the list building we do there is on our William Levy page. See example pre-like and post-like at http://www.facebook.com/william.levy.page

    As a note, once they do opt in, messages should be no further apart than 2 days, and INUNDATE them with value. If you plan to put offers in front of therm, start right away to train them to open them.

    The email subject should ONLY get the email opened. The body should ONLY get the click. Don’t teach or advise in emails, send them to the page of your blog, etc., and do it there. An email should be a sentence or two to call to action in exchange for the benefit, and a trackable link.

    Happy to help, keep ’em coming!

  13. Sylvia

    6/1/2011 1:19 pm

    Very nice article! This will be very helpful since I’m just starting to build my list! I’m excited πŸ™‚

  14. Ivan Walsh

    6/1/2011 2:05 pm

    Remember to send the emails out on a consistent basis.

    Generate excitement and expectations πŸ™‚

  15. debbie

    6/2/2011 12:59 am

    Hi! thanks alot for feeding me with all those secrets. i’ll go through them one by one until i get the intensity of my email marketing. Keep encouraging!

  16. Patricia

    5/5/2012 10:56 pm

    Ron and Ivan, you both make great points. Ron, of course your welcome page isn’t the first thing new visitors see anymore since the rollout of the new Facebook timeline but you’re both right about consistency. I hear the complaint often that no one is signing up for newsletters but then they’re either inconsistent or the content is lacking and nothing worth subscribing for.

    And teaser questions are so useful. I always suggest ending newsletters, blogs and most content with a question. That way the last thing the reader sees is a request to participate and you’d be surprised how many people will answer a question just because they were asked to.

    Great ideas here!

  17. Anirudh Bahadur

    9/23/2012 10:45 pm

    I am very new to list building. This will definitely help. I am driving PPC traffic to my subscriber page. Only 7 subscribers in one day. Great post by the way.

  18. Dan Hodgins

    2/22/2013 10:59 pm

    Here’s the thing readers of the AWeber blog need to understand about building a list Crystal. It’s not an activity that exists in isolation. You don’t switch it on and off.

    List building is an activity that should be happening at all times and during all interactions both online and offline. Technology can make parts of the process more efficient by enabling people to sign up for your list automatically, but list building is not an activity that can be fully delegated to technology.

    Getting out there, hustling, and telling people to you have something great to send them can still work wonders for growing your list.

    I personally used nothing but in-person asking and a piece of paper to collect email addresses to grow a 200 person email list for a tiny little organic food company. This stuff works, so get out there, have lots of conversations, tell everyone about the great stuff you’re going to send them, and don’t walk away until you have their email address!

  19. Virgil

    4/7/2013 10:50 pm

    Tip # 1 seems to be a given in almost any list of email marketing secrets. But Tip #2 had a lot of good info regarding testimonials, samples and credentials. Some good points to note so as not to forget.