Is it possible to build an email list for free? If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, or freelancer, you have probably heard the phrase “The money is on the list”. It might be a bit overused but that’s only because it is true.
When I first started with digital marketing I procrastinated building my list. I thought, since I didn’t buy anything from the emails I received, most people wouldn’t either. (I now know better and wish I had started sooner).
Email marketing is one of the most effective and cheapest forms of online marketing. When compared to social media, it is approximately 10 times more effective and has the lowest cost per conversion among all marketing channels.
Even more importantly, you can make between $2-$3/ month per email subscriber (more on some niches), with zero advertising costs.
For this reason, building your email list is a no brainer but you also don’t want to spend a lot of money of ads while doing it leat alone attempting to buy pre-collected emails.
You want to grow your own email list and grow a relationship with people who actually want to hear from you. But…how to do it for free? In this article, I’ll share the method I’ve been using to build my email list to more than 9,000 subscribers for free and how you can do it too.
How To Build Your Email list for free
In this article I am going a the best formula I’ve found to grow my email list everyday for free. How? Using the power of Facebook, and more specifically, your Facebook profile.
I am going to show you how to create a list-building machine by optimizing your Facebook profile to drive traffic to a simple opt-in page and collect users’ emails.
Pay attention to the following steps!
6 steps to build your free emails list
1. Create your offering (lead magnet)
The first step to building your email list is choosing and creating your ‘lead magnet’. This will be the ‘gift’ you will offer visitor in exchange for their email.
Giving something of value to your potential subscribers is the most effective way to collect their emails. Plus, it will serve as a filter to attract only people who are truly interested in your products or services into your list.
Logically, it must be related to your niche and the products or services you plan on presenting later on.
Let say you are a fitness trainer and your main product is Personalized Coaching. Then you must think about what sort of free offering someone who could buy your product would be interested in. If they will eventually be interested in a training plan, maybe you could offer them a free workout guide or a fitness planner
Or if you are a graphic designer and your main service is a Social Media For Business Package, your lead magnet must be something entrepreneurs or new business owners would need. Like a video series on how to set up their social media accounts or create their first posts.
You see the point (hopefully).
Do not overthink your lead magnet too much since, you won’t be spending any money on ads after all so you can always make an A/B test and see which one works better.
Some criteria to consider when creating your lead magnet are:
- It solves a real problem
- It promises one tangible solution
- It looks easy to digest and implement
- It offers a high degree of perceived value
- It provides quick results
- It demonstrates your authority
Some examples of good lead magnet are:
- E-books: they are the classic lead magnet and have a universal perceived value since people are used to paying for books. You can create one by simply compiling your most popular blog posts into an e-book format with a nice intro and cover.
- Webinars: they are a great way to provide value while showing your authority and building a relationship with your audience. Webinars also have a high conversion rate so you pitch your product.
- Mini-Courses: you can deliver a mini-course through a series of emails or give subscribers access to a membership area. You could include articles, videos, audio recordings, quizzes, and more.
- Checklist: people love a checklist for the sense of security it gives them of being in the right path to their desired result. This type of lead magnet works for many niches plus it’s easy to create and distribute.
- Spreadsheets: Depending on your industry, you can design a spreadsheet that people in your industry would find useful. Include an instruction manual for customizing the spreadsheet, programming calculations, etc.
- Planners: there are already enough places where you can download a free generic planner. However, you can create one designed specifically for people in your industry. Consider offering it as both a free printable download and as a digital PDF file that users can fill in on their computers.
- Guides: they are similar to an ebook but shorter and with a more narrow topic. Guides work great for any niche and you can pack a lot of value that helps you build your authority and gain the trust of your audience.
- Quizzes: People love quizzes and they have a shareable factor that can also help you reach more users. They are also a great way to present your products as a consequence of their quiz result. e.g. ‘your results say you are 89% stressed…get our meditation app to help you relax’.
- Free trials: They are one of the better-converting leads magnets. If you have a membership site, software app, or a similar product definitely try this option.
2. Create your opt-in page
After creating your offering, you will need an opt-in page where you can capture visitors’ emails deliver the free lead magnet.
The unique goal of encouraging people to ‘opt-in’ with their emails to receive the offered lead magnet.
Opt-In page are simple and concise but there are some key elements to consider to improve their effectiveness and get you the best conversion rate possible:
1. Lead Magnet
Present your awesome lead magnet it in a way that people can visualize it quickly and get a sense of what they’ll be receiving.
You can use Canva to create a mockup cover and make it look more appealing and tangible. If you prefer someone else to do it for you, you can find someone for $5 on fiverr.
Your headline needs to capture your audience’s attention immediately, make them feel like you know their struggles and can provide an effective solution.
A big percentage of your visitors will make their decision based on yur headlines so..no pressure.
To help you out, here are some ideas on proven headline templates you can use to plug-and-play your own lead magnet headline.
- How to [Result] in [Timeframe] Without [Thing You Hate Doing]
- [Number] Quick Tips to GettingEasy [Result]
- The Fastest Way to [DesiredOutcome]
- The [Number] Biggest MistakesYou Can Make When [Action]
- [Number] Hacks to [Desired Outcome]
- How to 3x [Desired Outcome] With This Little Known Secret
- [Number] Easy Techniques to become [Desired Outcome]
- [Number] Beginner Strategies to [Desired Outcome]
- [Number] Things That All [Specific Audience] Shouldn’t Do
- Discover How You Can [Desired Outcome] in [Timeframe]
- The Ultimate [Type Of Lead Magnet] to [Desired Outcome]
- How to [action verb] a to [Desired Outcome]
If you have any testimonials of previous clients you can include, they are always helpful as social prove. If you don’t have any at the beggining do not worry, you can include them later on as more people recevied and use your lead magnet.
You could also ask some friends or people you know in your niche to check it out and give you their honest opinion. As long as it is a real one is all good.
Include 3 or 4 concise benefits your audience will receive by using your lead magnet. How will it impact their business, what specific problems will they be able to solve, will it free up their time, etc.
5. Introduce yourself
Tell people about your experience, credentials and story. You want to reinforce your authority and expertise but it is also a good idea to share our own journey, struggles and show your personality. People like connecting with people more than with brands.
6. Final Call To Action (CTA)
Take a last chance to invite people to opt-in and receive your life-changing lead magnet.
7. Thank You Page
Finally, on the Thank You Page, allow them to access your Lead Magnet AND Use it as an opportunity to tell start telling them about your paid services or products!
How to Build Your Opt-In Page?
Luckily, you do not need any design or coding skills to build your opt-in page.
You can use one of the many drag-and-drop landing page builders like Clickfunnels, Get Response, Kartra or Unbounce.
They are super easy to use and are designed especially for beginners.
My favorite one and what I recommend to customers is Clickfunnels. You can get a Clickfunnels FREE 14 day trial here.
You can also download my opt-in page template here. See what I did there? It wouldn’t be a list-building article without my own list-building offering.
3. Optimize your Facebook Profile
Now, this is the cool part of this strategy. While using a lead magnet and an opt-in page to collect emails is commonly used, this is the missing piece of this formula that has allowed me to grow my email list and get unlimited daily leads.
I do not need to tell you how huge Facebook is and how much time people spend on it. But when it comes to using Facebook to build your email list, there is a huge unutilized opportunity: Your Facebook Profile.
We have all checked out someone else’s profile after an interaction or after reading a comment they made in a post. The same happens when you do networking inside Facebook groups when you talk with someone new or see a comment that catches your attention.
It is in our innate curiosity to want to know who that person is and other people check your profile too so why not take advantage of it?
In this strategy we are going to turn your Facebook profile into a funnel that will drive people into your opt-in page where you’ll be able to capture their emails.
How? By optimizing all the now unemployed elements of your profile and using them to your favor.
1. Cover Photo
Your Cover Photo is key to presenting your lead magnet. Is the first thing anyone will see when checking out your profile.
Here you should use the headline from your opt-in page, a button, and your lead magnet mockup.
Facebook images are not ‘clickable’ but that will make the image open and show the description. Here you will write a ‘Call to Action’ and place the link to your opt-in page where they can claim your lead magnet.
2. Profile Photo
When it comes to your profile picture, you don’t need to change much. You do want to keep a picture of yourself that preferably matches the colors on your cover photo.
You do want to modify its description so when people click on it, they see the same message and link as in your cover pic.
3 & 4. Intro Section and Bio Link
Your Intro Section and Bio Link is antoher, otherwise wasted space of your profile.
For your intro section, You can use the same text you placed in your photo descriptions and you can simply put the URL or your opt-in page as your bio link. You can also use a link shortener like Bitly so your URL looks nicer.
5. Featured Photo
Finally, your featured photo is the last weapon you’ll use to take people to your link. Similar to your cover photo, add a headline and button for better results.
In the description, present your“call to action” to claim the free lead magnet.
That’s it! Your Profile is Optimized for free list-building!
Now that you have optimized these 5 key factors, your profile is ready to capture as many profile visitors as possible.
4. Use the power of Facebook Groups
Now you have created your lead magnet, opt-in page and have optimized your profile. All you have to do is engage on Facebook with your potential customers and start creating building your email list with only a few minutes a day.
Facebook groups are a gold-mine for every marketer, entrepreneur, and business owner. There are groups for almost every single niche and industry and people are literally looking for help and willing to receive advice.
All you need to do is interact with them, provide some help, post valuable information and after you have created a connection, send a friend request, and introduce yourself.
You don’t need to sell or convince them of anything. Remember that people like buying but do not like being sold.
The purpose of your interaction is just to establish the connection so they feel compelled to check your profile and it will take care of the rest.
5. Nurture your email list
Now that you have a system to grow your email list, you want. to make sure to build a relationship with them so they get used to hearing from you.
There is no point in building your email list if you are going to send one email a month trying to sell them something. That will not only not work but it will end up hurting your email deliverability and IP score.
After someone opts-in to your Lead Magnet, you MUST follow up with them via email to start creating a relationship and sell them on your products.
If you did a good job on identifying your potential customer needs with your lead magnet then they will also be interested in your services.
Start with a simple 4-5 automated email campaign and you will start turning visitors into paying customers every day
This is how your free list-building formula should look when you are done:
6. Run A/B Tests
Additionally, after you have your free email list builder in place, you can continue to optimize your conversion. You can create a/b test of your opt-in page with different lead magnet, different headlines, colors, etc.
You can do this easily on Clickfunnels. All it takes is to click one button that creates a second version of your page and then sends half the people to each version and compares the results.
Benefits of building your free email list
As mentioned above, email marketing is a highly effective marketing technique in the world. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing sees a 4300% average return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the US.
Similarly, ExactTarget stats shows that every $1 spent on email marketing generates the average return on investment (ROI) of $44.25.
If you are still not convinced, here are re the top benefits of building your email list.
1. Email is Personal
It doesn’t get more personal than a user’s inbox. Contrary to other marketing techniques where you are using a public platform, email is more direct and personal.
You can discuss the issues your customers are facing and help them to solve their very unique problems. That helps to build intimate relationships and create happy customers that can help to grow your business through word of mouth.
2. Email is Purposeful
Subscribing. toan email list in a voluntary act, , a user fills out a form to signup for your email list and confirm their email address.
Someone doing this much work is much more receptive to your message that someone scrolling through Facebook or trying to watch a Youtube video.
3. Email is Targeted
Email software gives you the ability to segment users by the interest they have shown, which one of your emails they have seen, what pages they have visited and much more.
This allows you to deliver them highly relevant offers to get better results.
4. You Own Your Email List
Contrary to other platforms like social media or search engines, you do not own your followers or control their algorithms.
You are another user of their services and they can change their policies or even block your accounts overnight. It is not common if you follow the rules, but it is always a risk worth remembering.
But you own your email list. Having a mailing list means guaranteed access to the inbox of thousands of users, at least until they stop using the email address.
5. More People Use Email Several Times a Day
Every internet user has at least one email account and professionals check their email 15 times per day, or every 37 minutes on average.
This is precisely why every smart business in the world has an email list and why they are willing to spend thousands of dollars on social media campaigns to get people to sign up for their email lists.
Because they understand that email marketing is the best long-term investment with a much higher return. Because people will continue to get their message at a very low cost for a longer period of time.
Why buying an email list is a bad idea
We can all agree that an email list is one of the best assets any business can have but not all lists are the same.
Building your own email list with targeted people that want to hear from you is very different from buying a cheap email list online. However, many entrepreneurs and marketers are tempted to do so.
However, not only will it not work but it can seriously harm your email marketing program
Here are the reasons why buying email lists can be the end of your email marketing efforts.
1. You’ll violate the rules of consent under GDPR.
Most email marketers around the world are legally required to allow recipients to opt out of emails they no longer want to receive.
But with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) now governing all email correspondence across Europe, adding an opt-out option to your email template no longer cuts it.
Under this act, you must have explicit consent from your contacts to send them emails. Explicit, in this case, means the checkbox a person must click to opt-in to an email subscription isn’t pre-checked when they see it on your website.
And when you buy your email lists, the people on it haven’t been given this option — making you non-compliant with GDPR before you send your first email.
2. Reputable email software services don’t let use bought emails lists.
If you are doing email marketing you are most likely, using email marketing software. any reputable email software will require that you use opt-in email lists.
And yes, you want to use a reputable email software since the other option is those that typically suffer poor deliverability. It is just a lot of trouble to get into and no light at the end of the tunnel.
3. Good email address lists aren’t for sale.
Would you sell your legitimately collected email list? Probably not. The truth is, if an email list is for sale it is because it has been proved non-responsive or unworthy for marketing outreach.
While bought email lists might’ve had value at some point, they’ve likely been spammed to the ends of the earth by now. Otherwise, the company selling will be using it to generate profits for themselves.
4. People on a purchased or rented list don’t know you.
Most email lists for sale or rent are often scraped from other websites, which, we can all agree, is an unlawful way to get email contacts.
But even if the email addresses you’re looking to purchase were earned legitimately through people “opting-in., those people agreed on receiving emails from another company, not from you.
This means they do not recall having a prior relationship with you and will probably mark you as “spam” when you arrive in their inboxes.
5. You’ll harm your email deliverability and IP reputation.
Your deliverability and IP reputation will determine if your emails go into a user’s inbox or straight into the spam folder.
If you purchase a list, you have no way of confirming how often those email addresses have been emailed, whether the email addresses on that list have been scrubbed for hard bounces to prevent identifying you as a spammer, or from where those email addresses originated.
6. Low open rates and even lower conversions.
People who don’t recall interacting with you or signing up for your email will not be interested in opening your emails and even less in buying from you.
Email marketing is about building a relationship with someone who has agreed on it. You can not force anyone to buy from you and having their emails won’t change that.
Growing an email list for free | Takeaway
There is no doubt that building your own email list is the one of the best marketing practices you can implement for your business.
Big companies are aware of the power of a legitimately-collected email list and are willing to spend millions of dollars in advertising to build their.
But you do not need to have a huge marketing budget to build your own list and start future-proofing your business.
With the formula shown in this article, you can expand your email list constantly with just a few minutes a day. Do not procrastinate on building your list and do not let it just seat there.
You need to keep your list nurtured and engaged or otherwise is the same as not having a list at all.