This post was originally published on Sumome. Why am I posting it again here? A number of you have reached out lately asking if I have ever used Sumome, and if so, what results I got with the toolset. To provide a quick answer, I got permission to republish the original guest post. I've updated some of the data points, and added in a few extra tips :) Enjoy!
Building an email list should be your number one priority. Period.
The question is, how do you quickly build a list without investing in expensive tools, and giving away burritos to every reader (that one is for you Noah :))?
In this post, I’m going to show you step-by-step how I collected 4,635 email subscribers using the Sumome toolset. The best part, I’m going to show you how I did it with…
A tiny budget.
A laughably small social media following.
And a brand new website.
Whether you're just starting out, or have an established website, this guide will show you how to start collecting more email subscribers...today!
Before we start, a small caveat...
I want to address a question that came up on the original article. Some readers left comments along the lines of "sure Robbie, but you need traffic before you can build a large email list". In most cases, this correct. Not always.
Typically though, it's a 1-2 punch approach. First, you get traffic. Second, you convert that traffic into subscribers.
This article focuses on the second part of the equation - the tool and tactics I used to convert my traffic into email subscribers.
If you want to see how I managed to generate over 400,000 pageviews with 22 blog posts...
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Collecting Thousands of Emails with a Dead-Dead Simple Popup
- Triple Your Conversion Rates with Content Upgrades
- Doubling your conversion rates with A/B testing
- Adding an Unobtrusive Sign-up Reminder
- How to 4x your email subscribers in under 5 minutes
- Keeping Your Offer Front and Center at All Times
- Get Thousands of Social Shares on Autopilot (Across All Devices)
Tactic 1: Collecting Thousands of Emails with a Dead-Simple Popup
List builder is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get started collecting email addresses on your site.
It’s a breeze to use, and in less than 120 days I collected 1,531 email subscribers with the List Builder app –
And achieved an average 5.64% conversion rate –
Since publishing the original case study, the List Builder has continued to collect thousands of subscribers:
Awesome, right? Here’s how you can get the same results.
Click here if you have SumoMe installed already. Otherwise, log into WordPress and select “Add New” from the “Plugins” section in the left navigation menu -
Next, search for the SumoMe plugin -
Click “Install Now”.
Note: If you don’t use WordPress you’ll need to copy the HTML code found here and add it to the section of the website. If you’re not tech-savvy, consult a developer.
Now, when you visit your website you’ll see the SumoMe crown displaying on the right side of the screen –
Click the crown icon and enter your name and email address to create a free account.
Once the account is created you’ll be able to enter the “Sumo Store” and select which apps you want to install –
Select the “List Builder” app –
Once you’ve installed the app, click “open”. If you’re using the free version you’ll see a screen that looks like this -
Click here to turn on List Builder Pro. You'll need to go List Builder Pro which is only $20 bucks a month for what I'm going to show you next. If you are using the free version click here to skip to the “behavior” section.
Instead of going straight to the design tab, you’ll navigate to the “campaigns” tab and click “Add New Campaign”.
Once the campaign is created click the “Popups & A/B Tests” tab –
Click “Add New Popup”.
Next, hit the “Design” tab and choose:
- Form size
- Headline copy
- Set font, background and button colors
I used the “Graph” template…
...to create this popup form in two minutes -
It has collected over 200 emails in 2 weeks and reached a 14.63% conversion rate on May 16th –
Not a fan of the design I was working with? Sumome offers dozens of templates you can use to get a professional looking popup live in minutes:
Pro Tip: I found offering a free eBook with a concrete result gets the highest opt-in rate.
Next, customize the “Success” message on the design section. This is the message people see once they submit their email address.
A great thing to leverage at this moment:
Ask people to connect with you on social media. People are much more likely to take action right after they convert the first time. Here's what mine looked like:
If you are more concerned about keeping all the focus on getting people to click the link in your confirmation email (double opt-in, people!), you can include that messaging in the thank you popup, or set a "success redirect" that sends subscribers to a custom thank you:
Here is what mine looks like now:
Social media profile, confirmation link reminder, product/ offer promotion...You can use the follow up message any way you like. The most important thing is to use it for something. Keep subscribers engaged :)
Next, click on the “behavior” tab. This interface will look identical within both the free and paid versions of List builder.
You’ll be able to customize the following:
1. Time trigger (how long after page load until the form displays)
3. Display mode
4. Subscriber redirects
I’ve tested a number of different time-based triggers and found popups displaying at 10 seconds have the highest conversion rates.
You’ll also notice I have display frequency set to “0 minutes”.
So, the opt-in form will trigger every time a reader loads a page. This is super aggressive, but it works.
You don't have to be as aggressive.
As with everything, be sure to test these settings for yourself.
The List Builder also lets you choose a “Smart Mode”. This setting gives your popup "exit intent"; readers only see it when they are about to leave the site.
Finally, connect List Builder to your email service provider of choice on the "Services" tab. SumoMe provides one-click API integration with all the major email service providers, including MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, GetResponse, Infusionsoft and more.
Tactic 2: Triple Your Conversion Rate with Content Upgrades
What’s the best way to accelerate the growth of your email list?
A content upgrade a content-specific offering that provides instant value to the reader.
That means that when you create an awesome, detail-rich blog post, you take extra materials like :
- a video walkthrough
- step-by-step playbook
- useful spreadsheet
- bonus checklist
...or anything that will help the reader and offer it to them in return for their email address.
For example, I offer the “Ultimate SEMrush playbook” as a content upgrade on this SEMrush tutorial –
The content upgrade has an average conversion rate of 7.61% (peaking at 16.67% on May 13th) –
And it has added 186 new subscribers to my email list.
Here's how to create one with SumoMe in 20 seconds:
I simply took this post I wrote last year and converted it into a PDF in 10 seconds using the free Print Friendly and PDF chrome extension –
Open the post you want to convert to PDF and click the green chrome extension icon –
Next, click the PDF button to convert the post. All the links will pass from the post into the PDF. –
First, navigate to the campaign you want to add a content upgrade on and select “Display Rules” from the left navigation –
Next, choose "On URL Paths..." and put the URL of the page in there. For example I added this one on /competitor-research. You can add it to just 1 page or do it across many of them.
Pro Tip: Head over to Google Analytics and navigate to Behavior >> Site Content >> All Pages and look to see which posts are getting the most pageviews –
This report will reveal the most popular content on your site you can quickly turn into a PDF and add as a content upgrade. This should help you get at least 5% conversions to email signups on those pages.
Click here to add content upgrades with List Builder Pro
Tactic 3: Doubling your conversion rates with A/B testing
Having the ability to quickly deploy and target your opt-in forms is great, but what really matters is what converts.
Luckily, SumoMe makes it easy to setup and test multiple form features, including different form designs and triggers.
Do you think adding an image helps improve email conversions? Let's see -
Or, this one –
Adding an ebook image to the form boosted the conversion rate 110.72% -
All I did was add a small piece of HTML to the form template and I doubled the conversion rate –
Setting up an A/B test only takes a few minutes. You can test anything you want, like:
- button colors
- timing of the popup
- different templates
- headline copy
- and more...
Click on the plus green sign to duplicate your current popup on the current campaign. Then click on the name of the new popup and add this code to the text (HTML allowed) section on the "Design" section:
Enter your email below to download the ebook.
<img src="link to your image here" />
Hit save and you are done.
Start with a simple test. Once you have a test with statistical significance over 95% choose a winner and test another form feature.
Rinse and repeat.
Tactic 4: Adding an Unobtrusive Sign-up Reminder
If you find yourself in that camp and are looking for a less aggressive tactic, or if you want to try something new, there’s a solution called Scroll Box.
Scroll Box is List Builder’s more considerate younger brother. Instead of having a popup display after a certain period of time, you can use the Scroll Box app to display an email opt-in form only after a visitor has read through a specified amount of your post.
If you want to be more aggressive with your list building use a popup and a scroll box. Set the popup to display shortly after page load and the scroll box to slide in when the reader reaches the end of the post.
You can also turn on Yield Tech™ in the "settings" tab so List Builder and Scroll Box won't show on the same page.
You can set the opt-in box to slide in from any corner of the website. It also has the option to slide in from up/down or left/right. You can run some A/B tests to see which slide movements convert best.
I used the Scroll Box for 27 days when I first started my blog and managed to collect an extra 70 email addresses -
The conversion rate was 3.2% -
Tactic 5: How to 4x Your Email Subscribers with a Welcome Mat
What if you could build a landing page and 4x your email signups in under 5 minutes?
Too good to be true, right? Not so fast.
Meet Welcome Mat.
This one tool will put your list building on steroids.
Even if you haven't heard of the Welcome Mat before, chances are you've seen it in action many times on some of your favorite sites.
Here's what it looks like on Uber:
And here is another one on Teachable:
Appsumo used this one to triple it's opt-in rate:
What do these sites all have in common?
They display a full-screen call to action before showing anything else to the reader. The minimalist design keeps the reader focused only on the main call to action.
A few months ago I installed the free SumoMe Welcome Mat to show all visitors landing on my home page a full screen call-to-action before they saw anything else.
Here is what it looked like:
And, the results speak for themselves:
The Welcome Mat helped boost my home page sign up rate to 5.64%.
That's a 457% increase!
Adding 744 email subscribers to my list in just a few short months.
Some days see double digit opt-in rates:
Today, almost 1 in 10 people that land on my home page turn into an email subscriber:
Understandably, I'm now using Welcome Mat across most of my blog content. You might have come across this on your travels :)
Ok, great. So where do I start with this?
Some of you might not want to deploy a Welcome Mat across your entire site without first testing it out on a smaller scale. I know I didn't.
So, where is the best place to start?
Your home page.
For most of you, it will be your most powerful list building real estate.
Because it usually gets the most traffic:
A sad story that we can all learn from...
Before I set up my first Welcome Mat, this is where I was sending readers:
A generic page listing multiple articles, with competing sidebar offers.
A dismal 1.2% opt-in rate.
Set up your first Welcome Mat on the home page. This is where you will get the quickest wins.
If you have a piece of content on your site that already gets a steady amount of ongoing traffic, place one there too.
Not sure how to find that content?
Head back over to your Google Analytics account and look under the Behavior >> Site Content >> All Pages report.
As we discussed in tactic #2 above, content upgrades are one of the fastest ways to grow your email list.
So, why not incorporate that strategy with your Welcome Mats to pour jet fuel on your list building efforts.
I am doing this right now on my site.
Instead of using a generic offer like "get my best content", promote content-specific offers to people as soon as they land on your site.
I could use the Welcome Mat below to promote my playbook only on this SEMrush review post:
I know anyone clicking through to that post is very interested in learning more about the SEMrush tool. So, there is a VERY good chance they'd be down to read through my 10,000 word ebook covering 24 ways to use the tool in SEO and PPC campaigns.
Luckily, this strategy is easy to scale using the Welcome Mat targeting feature.
Once you have selected your template and added the messaging, navigate over to the "Display Rules" tab and select which posts you want the Welcome Mat to show on:
Repeat this process for each of your posts, or content categories.
Always be testing...
You knew it was coming :)
The only way to know for sure if something is working, or not, is to test it.
This capability is included for all Sumome PRO members. You'll also get access to dozens of pre-built mobile responsive templates which will help you get up and running right away.
Click the "Mats and A/B Tests" tab and create another Welcome Mat to test. Set each one to display 50% of the time:
You could start by testing the generic "Sign up for great stuff" message against a content upgrade offer.
My money is on the content upgrade :)
Ok, great. But how do the readers access my content?
The call to action inserts itself at the top of your content, making sure not to block any visitors. If readers want to get straight to your content, they simply scroll down and Welcome Mat disappears.
What if building an email list is not my #1 priority?
Shame on you!
Just kidding :)
Depending on your goals, there are countless ways you can use Welcome Mat to drive your bottom line objectives.
- Collecting emails before a product launch
- Promoting a special offer
- Driving traffic to a high-converting affiliate review
- Directing readers to another piece of blog content
Mike Schwartz at Ribbed Tee increased revenue 42% by sending traffic to product pages:
Sujan Patel used Welcome Mat to get 105 pre-launch book downloads:
MaidNHouston is using the Welcome Mat to collect email subscribers AND collect new business with an exclusive 15% off coupon code:
The possibilities are endless.
If collecting email subscribers isn't your thing, no problem. Welcome Mat can be used to support any business goal.
How to create a Welcome Mat in under 5 minutes, for free
Ready to create your own call to action Welcome Mat? Here's what you need to do:
First, if you haven’t already, install Welcome Mat on your site (it’s 100% free to get started).
Second, activate Welcome Mat in the Sumo Store.
Third, create a campaign:
Fourth, add your messaging.
Fifth, sit back, relax and let Welcome Mat take care of business.
Prefer video? Watch this short overview:
Tactic 6: Keep Your Offer Front and Center at All Times
Hello Smart Bar. The Smart Bar is a handy SumoMe app that places a bar on the top or bottom of your website that you can use to capture emails –
I’ve managed to collect 293 email addresses in the last 100 days with the Smart Bar –
At a conversion rate of 0.64% -
Not impressed by those numbers? Me either.
The Smart Bar allows you to configure the header bar a number of ways, including:
CTAs that link to targeted landings pages –
I'm using it drive traffic to relevant affiliate offers.
This one shows on my SEMrush review, as well as this seo tools expert roundup.
I'm also using it to promote Sumome:
But, these could be used to promote product pages, giveaway contests, squeeze pages or other content on your blog. It's a great way to channel more traffic to your highest converting landing pages.
Smart Bar even doubles as a tool to grow your social audiences:
Sales, social media fans, emails…configure the Smart Bar to meet your specific business goals.
Setting Up Your Smart Bar
Add the Smart Bar from the Sumo Store. Go to the “Design” section of the app –
In the “behavior” section I choose to show the Smart Bar at the top of the page at all times. This makes the header scroll with the page as people read the content.
I did this so I could give the reader an opportunity to opt-in at all times.
Pro Tip: Take advantage of the Smart Bar “Success” message and ask subscribers to follow you on a select social media channel –
Or, remind them to click the link in their confirmation email.
You can also set up A/B tests and target Smart Bars to specific content and device types just as you did with the other form types.
Tactic 7: Get Thousands of Social Shares on Autopilot (Across All Devices)
Now, you might be thinking, “Robbie! This is a post about email marketing, why are you talking about sharing?!”
But here’s the secret. The more people share your content, the more visitors you get to your site, and the more potentials for signups you get.
Easy sharing = more traffic = more opt-in exposure = more email subscribers.
Now WordPress and other sites will give you some default sharing buttons… but they’re ugly. No one wants to click those dinky little Tweet or Like buttons!
Instead, just open up SumoMe and install the Share app. Since installing it on my blog, the social engagement has skyrocketed.
Two of my blog posts have combined for 10,100 social shares –
This helped drive 31,698 social media referral visits to my site -
And you might be thinking “sure, but social traffic doesn’t convert.” Well think again!
In the last 30 days, Twitter traffic alone has added 68 new subscribers to my email list –
It’s a beautiful cycle!
Pro Tip: Share also provides valuable analytics.
You’ll be able to view which channels are generating the most social engagement…
And, track which specific posts are most popular among your readers –
Case studies and expert roundups are by far my most popular content when it comes to social engagement.
I think I’ll do more of that :)
Setting up Share
Once you have the Share app installed from the SumoMe store, navigate over to the “Layout” tab and select the areas you want to show the share icons –
Pro Tip: In the settings tab set the browser width to 1440 pixels. This will make the social share icons display along the bottom of the screen when visiting your site on a web browser –
Next, select the different social accounts you want to feature on your Share bar –
To keep it clean, I only include maximum six channels. Those I’m actively engaged on.
I also enabled Smart Mode so the most popular social networks (based on share count) are always placed at the top –
High visible share count = more social proof = more people will share it.
Finally, in the “Services” tab be sure to set your Twitter handle (do not include the ‘@’ symbol).
This will append your Twitter handle to the end of all the tweets generated by your Share bar.
Here's what you should do next:
I just walked you through the exact process I used to collect 2,984 emails, and how you can duplicate it using 5 SumoMe apps.
If you haven't done so already, grab a free SumoMe account (or log into your existing one), make these changes in less than 10 minutes, and accelerate the growth of your email list.
Hope that was helpful guys! A bog thanks to Brian Dean and Nat Eliason for reviewing the original article.