Grow your email list the AppSumo way
Congratulations, you did it! You’ve just launched a website! Now, all you need is people to actually read it (Nana doesn’t count). And the single best way to make that happen is through email.
Everyone is tempted to do their marketing through the new kids on the block, like Instagram and LinkedIn. But the fact of the matter is: email is still the biggest marketing lever you can pull for your business.
Get the right people on your list
When AppSumo started in 2011, it was just Noah Kagan cranking away on his laptop in his mom’s basement. But in the last eight years, the team grew to 15 strong and more than 10xed our revenue (that’s a different story, which you can read about here) using email as our main channel! So, how can you start seeing this kind of success in your email marketing? Get the right people on your email list.
It’s easier said than done, but I’m going to walk you through five tried and true techniques that AppSumo has used to grow our email list over the years.
1. Customer Profiling
Ok, this one is kind of feels like a cop-out because it’s not going to physically collect any emails for you. But hear me out. Before you can even start thinking of how to reach your customers or readers, you first need to figure out who that person is. At AppSumo, we got on calls with our best customers and asked them, “Hey, how did you first hear about us? What are somethings that we’ve done that you liked or didn’t like? Why do people keep laughing when I wear my fedora?” Then once we knew more about these customers, we created customer personas to better understand them and their behaviors.
So if you’re starting a travel blog and want to grow your email list, first brainstorm your ideal subscriber. Are they budget travelers? Do they like adventure? Are they in a predominantly younger or older demographic? Remember: Narrowing down who you’re talking to only makes your messaging more effective.
2. Viral Giveaways
Fun fact: Giveaways were the number one way that AppSumo got to its first 200K subscribers. We use a tool that we built called KingSumo (bonus: there’s a lifetime deal on it!), but there are a ton of other options available to you.
Here are the most important things to nail down when you’re running a giveaway:
- Choose a platform that encourages viral 1-click sharing. Nobody has time for multiple clicks so eliminate additional barriers to entry and make entering a no-brainer!
- Pick prizes that are going to appeal to your ideal customer and repel your non-ideal customer. Why shouldn’t you give away a laptop? Because everyone wants one! Sure, you’ll get a ton of people to enter but then they’ll likely just unsub as soon as they get your first email. Instead, go after people who should already be on your list by picking prizes specific to them. For example, we ran a giveaway back in October designed for digital nomads featuring awesome travel tech gear and got over 25K new and, more importantly, engaged subscribers! Pro tip: If you have a native prize that you can feature (e.g. AppSumo credits), then do it! It doesn’t cost nearly as much for you and encourages more engagement with your site.
- Communicate! Set up an email introducing people to you as soon as they enter so there’s no confusion. Let them know if they won (obviously) and let them know if they didn’t (not so obviously)! Contacting non-winners gives you an awesome opportunity to give out discounts or incentivize in some other way.
3. Custom Pop-ups
Another way to get qualified leads on your email list is through custom pop-ups. By using segmented messaging and strong calls to action, you can convert more site visitors. When someone lands on AppSumo.com for the first time, they are greeted with a popup that says ‘Friends don’t let friends pay full price.’ Immediately, they get a sense of our brand identity and tone, thus, knowing what to expect from us when they fork over their email address.
We also use pop-ups to advertise product webinars that we run — and doing so has resulted in a 2x registration increase AND a 4x new subscriber increase! That means we are giving people who would have normally left the party an opportunity to engage with our content in a way that isn’t purchase related.
The important thing to remember when you’re setting up pop-ups is to talk to your audience in a way that feels familiar, that gives them value, and doesn’t annoy them. Give clear exit paths (don’t make the “x” harder to find than chapstick) and serve popups when they’re relevant or can be useful. For example, any new users that have been on your homepage for 10 seconds get served a ‘Welcome, here’s 10% off’ pop-up that sends the discount to their email. People will gladly give their email in exchange for a discount, and you can all but guarantee that email will be verified since they have to check it to apply the promotion! Win-win for you and your customer.
4. Lead Magnets
That leads us right into lead magnets (or leveraging content for new subscribers). This is another area where pop-ups can come into play! Remember how I humble bragged earlier about 10xing our revenue? Well, our sister company, Sumo.com wrote a growth study about how AppSumo makes more money per employee than Google/Facebook/Apple and we ran that PDF as a gated freebie on our site. This got THOUSANDS of new signups. Plus, I know that if someone is interested in reading 40 pages about how we make money, they’re more likely to be nurtured into a subscriber and purchaser than someone who visits the site cold.
If you have a piece of content that you can repurpose into something actionable and useful for your audience, do it! Gate it behind a pop-up and start your relationship with your customers and subscribers on the right foot by giving them something free and building up goodwill.
5. Influencer Marketing
Another great tactic is influencer marketing. Fun fact: our CEO, Noah Kagan, wrote a guest post on Tim Ferriss’ blog (we have a loose definition of “fun fact”). Tim has a massive audience of entrepreneurs, aka our ideal customer, and this article is the number one driver of organic traffic back to AppSumo — 8 years later! Working a bit of cold outreach into your marketing is a great way to gain visibility and subscribers.
I’d recommend starting out by making a list of the influencers in your space and getting their contacts. Come up with a potential blog post idea and pitch it! The worst case scenario? You meet other people working in your space. The best case scenrio? You get to leverage someone else’s audience to grow yours.
Don’t be vain
Getting your subscribers is important, so make sure you’re doing it the right way. Remember: a big, bloated list is nothing but a vanity metric. Use these tactics to grow sustainably and get the folks on your list that are excited to hear from you! Have any questions about getting your first subs? Leave a comment below!