Marketers usually have many goals—sometimes too many. And let’s not forget about these Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). As marketers, we can measure so much, but what should we focus on to influence real growth? There are several specific lead indicators that marketers can measure that ultimately influence revenue growth: Website visitors, email subscribers, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, and customers.
Today, we’re talking to Lindsey Morando, director of marketing at Hello Bar, which is dedicated to helping marketers build their email list. In this episode, learn why your community of email subscribers is your most valuable asset as a marketer. You’ll get advice on conversion tactics, as well as how to create lead magnets and content upgrades that turn Website visitors into subscribing fans.
Some of the highlights of the show include:
- Definition of List Building: Creating, building up, and cultivating a community of people who have a common interest that you can support and offer a solution
- People are 40% more likely to sign up for your email list than social media; 73% of companies report that email marketing is their top ROI channel
- Generate traffic to Website to convert visitors into email subscribers; look at SEO efforts, social media, and where your ideal client is to be in front of them
- Traffic Building Tips: Joint training, tutorial videos, and Webinars get people to know, like, and trust you; speak at events to increase brand awareness
- Convert traffic into email subscribers by understanding users and what’s going to get them to take action; see where people are going on your site using analytics
- Pop-ups and lead captures sometimes get a bad rap; it’s because you’re not presenting the right message, at the right time, to the right people
- Content upgrades are a lead capture within a blog post – it’s a pattern interrupt; quizzes, challenges, and games also work well
- When building an email list develop a plan and schedule based on why someone would want to join your list; provide content that brings value to your community
- First email should welcome people, share your story, and introduce you; can include a video or downloadable
- First Email List: Start with people you know; let them know what to expect, what you’re going to share, and what value you’re going to provide with a call to action
Nathan: Marketers can have so many goals—almost too many goals. Let’s not forget about these KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. We, as marketers, can measure so much now and with that in mind, what should you actually focus on to influence real growth? The way that I see it, there are several specific lead indicators that marketers can measure that ultimately, influence revenue growth. Those look something like this; website visitors to email subscribers to marketing qualified leads, to sales qualified leads, and of course, customers. Knowing a funnel like that, building a community of fans that subscribe to receive information from you via email becomes ultra important.
That’s why we’re chatting with Lindsey Morando today on the Actionable Marketing Podcast. Lindsey is the director of marketing at HelloBar. That company is dedicated to helping marketers build their email list and a whole lot more, so Lindsey is the perfect expert to chat with, in this topic of list building.
Today, you’re going to learn why your community of email subscribers is your most valuable asset as a marketer. You’re going to get a ton of advice on conversion tactics, and you’ll learn how to create lead magnets and content upgrades that are going to turn your website visitors into subscribing fans of your content.
I’m Nathan from CoSchedule. Now, let’s get to it with Lindsey.
Hey, Lindsey. Thank you so much for being in the podcast today.
Lindsey: Thanks for having me.
Nathan: This is pretty exciting. HelloBar has been a tool that we’ve been following here in CoSchedule, maybe let’s just start there. Tell me a little bit about HelloBar and some of what you do there.
Lindsey: Yeah, definitely. HelloBar is a lead generation tool. We’ve been owned by Neil Patel since 2011—been around for quite some time. We focus on helping business owners, digital marketers, and e-commerce stores collect more emails and get more sales. Over here, I handle all the marketing. I’m the Director of Marketing. I oversee all of our partnership, our webinars, our training; oversee our team working on social media, email marketing, and blogs. Quite a lot of different marketing efforts. I really focus also on how to make people successful, how to get help our users to really, ultimately, succeed in their businesses because you know, having a tool is one part of the battle, but the other part is to know how to use the tool and know how to be a marketer and be able to be successful in this digital world, these days.
Nathan: Absolutely. One of the things that you had mentioned there, Lindsey, is that you work with email list building. I’d love to pick your brain on that. Just from your perspective, what is list building? How would you define that?
Lindsey: It’s a great question. Because I feel like it’s changed a ton over the years in terms of what people see list building as but really for me, I see it as creating and cultivating a community–actually, building up a community, your tribe of people, people that have a common interest that you can support and provide a solution to. I think, over time—because list building has allowed people in the space to also make a lot of money in their business—sometimes, we think of it more as a transactional thing. But I think those that are doing list building really well and successful with it, think of it kind of like the old days like a Rolodex; this is your community, this is your people, this is your tribe, and it’s really all about building people with a common interest that are interested in what you have to say.
Nathan: Makes a lot of sense, so that leads really well into this, and you might have covered some of it, but why would you say, specifically, why is list building important right now more so than ever before?
Lindsey: I could start off of a ton of stats, but I don’t want to bore you too much. I think I just read a stat that people are 40% more likely to sign up for your email list than social media and 73% of companies report that email marketing is their top ROI channel. We know that there’s money in it. But I think there’s one step further that’s actually far more important, and that is—I’ve always said this, I don’t want to be negative by any means—but if social media was to be gone tomorrow, if you’ve built up your following on Facebook and Twitter and all these places, let’s just say it’s gone tomorrow, how are you going to get ahold of those people, how would you talk to those people?
Now, if email was gone tomorrow, you could have exported your email list, you’ve got those people, you’ve got their contact information, you can get ahold of them. I’ve always found email to be the most valuable because it is a direct contact; you’re not relying on algorithms, you’re not relying on, “I don’t know if my method is going to be shown today,” you could actually just pull up a contact in your database and email them directly. I think it’s so valuable because you actually have direct access to it and it’s your community.
Nathan: That’s awesome. Man, we hear that all the time, “Don’t build your house on rented land.” I think everything you just said really reiterates that.
Lindsey: Yeah, totally. I love that.
Nathan: I just want to start from the very beginning on this. When we’re thinking about building an email list, the very first thing that we would need is new anonymous traffic to our websites. How would you recommend that we get some of that traffic so that we can eventually, convert that into our email subscribers?
Lindsey: Yeah, it’s a great question. A golden question because traffic is always keen right now. There’s multiple ways to do it; you could look at SEO efforts, you could look at social media, you could go out and speak. But what I would say where the true money is focus. You need to think about where your ideal client is and then focus on being in front of them there.
If you’ve identified, perhaps that you’re a photographer and your ideal clients are on Instagram, they are on there all day long posting photos, I would really focus my efforts on getting my traffic from Instagram. I’ve seen people build their business alone just off of one social media network. I’d go on there. I’d create my profile, start posting beautiful pictures, connecting with photographers, commenting on their stuff, private messaging people—really creating that and cultivating a community.
I think what’s key, especially if you’re starting from scratch, you don’t have to be everywhere, you don’t have to use every single marketing tactic, you just have to really identify where your ideal client is hanging out, and actually really focus your efforts on getting traffic from a specific channel. Then once you build that, I feel like you can add more to your repertoire. Yeah, I would really focus on looking in those areas, and really starting to think about that ideal client.
Nathan: Absolutely. Something that is interesting there is, let’s say, we’re starting to get this traffic in—I think there are probably a lot of different tactics or techniques we could use, specifically from your perspective at HelloBar. You guys know it works—I was wondering if you could share a few traffic building tips that you’ve seen worked for you or maybe your customers?
Lindsey: Yeah, definitely. I think one of the biggest ones for us is joint training and webinars. That’s worked really well for us. In fact, two years ago, when Neil—one of our co-founders—was selling his course, AMP, he actually had a webinar in his homepage. He did a ton of training.
I really love being able to do trainings because it allows you the space to actually, get in front of your people and they can start to see you and connect with you; there’s always that like, know, and trust factor. If someone is able to meet you, get to know you, they’ll build up some trust for you they’re far more likely to start following what you’re doing. I think one of the best ways to do that is through trainings and workshops. Doing some trainings and workshops, specifically if you’re just starting out, finding some people that may want to partner with you that have perhaps, a bigger audience could be a great tool, that has worked really, really well for us because it allows us to get in front of our audience and actually, have conversations.
A far less traditional in the digital space tool that I really like and still works very well for Neil and our brand here at HelloBar is, actually speaking at networking events, panels, things like that. It starts to increase the brand awareness. When you can talk directly to people and connect—although it’s not the fastest path—it also works really well because people have gotten to know you really well in person, and you’ve been able to connect with them. I’ve seen people drive traffic alone to their website in their business by just going out and speaking even if it’s at your local networking event or Chamber of Commerce, so I’d say definitely, webinars, speaking.
I think the other thing that worked really well for us recently is a video, especially because we are a SaaS product. There’s a lot of tutorials, and showing people what’s happening within the product. That tended to work really well is, actually creating tutorial videos on YouTube and sending people from YouTube over to our website.
I think no matter what, whether you’re starting or you’re immediate or advanced, the biggest thing, again, is just really honing in and focusing in on that one area. If you’re going to do webinars, do webinars really great. Really focus your efforts on doing some joint trainings, creating a webinar that people are really excited about. If you’re going to do YouTube, really take some time to think about your customer and what they want to hear about on YouTube that’s going to get them excited, and then get them to go into your website. It’s really important there to focus in and develop a strategy around that.
Nathan: I think that’s amazing advice, Lindsey. Let’s just talk about this then for a second. Let’s say that we’ve gotten this traffic, we’ve done some of the speaking, we maybe have done a webinar, we’ve done some of the YouTube stuff, we’re starting to get traffic to our website or blog, how would you recommend some of the first steps to convert that traffic into actual email subscribers?
Lindsey: Yeah, that’s a great question. I love it because I think often times, and I fall into this trap too, focus so much on getting the traffic and then it’s like, “Well, what’s next?” so there’s a next step in the journey. I’ll tell you a little bit about our approach at HelloBar—it’s really quite simple. First, it’s really understanding your users. If you’re thinking about getting your users to convert on your site, you have to understand them a bit more, and you have to think about what’s going to actually get them to take the action step that you want to take.
First and foremost, I would say, “What’s your goal for this site? Where do you want to get them to?” Let’s take, for example, HelloBar. We want to get them to sign up for a free trial and then we’re thinking about, “Okay. That’s our ultimate goal.” so the first step, think about your ultimate goal, “Where do you want to get people to?”
Second step is, see where people are going on your site. If you have Google Analytics set up, take again or see where the top traffic pages people are hitting on your site, what action steps they’re taking on the site. Once you know your goal, and you know what people are doing on your site then you can start to think about, “Okay. I know that a lot of people are going to this blog post and they’re spending two minutes on there. That could be a great opportunity for me to capture their email address or send them a free trial.” because that’s my goal—to send them a free trial.
Starting the way that we take into account when we’re working with a client is to look at their traffic. We’ll look at what’s happening on their top traffic pages and then we’ll put a lead capture HelloBar pop-up on there. If somebody has a top blog traffic page, but it’s getting a lot of people leaving really quickly, we’ll put a page to take over upon exit. Meaning, that when someone hits the URL bar, the page takeover takes over and tries to capture their information. If the homepage is a place and people are staying on there for a while, we’ll put one of our top bars on there.
Really understanding what’s happening on the website, what people are doing, what their behavior is, and then most importantly, what can you offer them? What can you say to them that’s going to get them to say, “Yes, I definitely want this. I’m going to put my email address.” that’s, I would say, is one of the most important things.
A lot of times, I think that pop-ups and lead captures and everything get a bad rap in the industry because people are like, “Oh, those are annoying. There is another one again.” But a lot of times it’s just because you’re not presenting the right message, at the right time to people. If you’ve ever been on a site and you’re trying to think about buying shoes maybe, they’re a little expensive, but then you go to leave and then there’s a 15% off savings, “Yeah. I’ll enter my email address for that and get the shoes too because they hit me right when I was about to go. Now, you’ve thrown me over the top.”
I think, thinking about your user after you know where they’re coming from, what your goal is, and ask yourself, “What are they seeking?” and put that solution in front of them in a really easy, seamless way where they can’t say no. That’s the approach that I would take to lead capture is, understanding what’s happening on your site, where the highest traffic page is, where people are going, putting some sort of lead capture form on there with something really enticing so that you can get them to your ultimate goal in the end.
Nathan: I love that example of the 15% upon exit. I was wondering if you have any other examples like that? I think we’ve all heard of content upgrades and that sort of thing. If you could share a little bit of information on that, I think everyone would really appreciate it.
Lindsey: Yeah, definitely. Other great examples that have worked well for us—quizzes. Quizzes work really well. Gamification. People love games. We found really great success with that.
Content upgrade, so content upgrades are basically a lead capture within a blog post. We have a content upgrade within HelloBar that’s in beta test. We’ll put that in paragraph number like two so that it’s still up on the top, that way people don’t have to scroll to see it. The content upgrade is kind of like a pattern interrupt. It’s just like a square block that says, “Download this guide or a cheat sheet.” Click on it, and you put in your contact information and then the guide downloads. It’s really great for those people that have blog posts that have a ton of traffic because we’re noticing more and more people aren’t reading the full blog post.
If you noticed, maybe in your Analytics that someone’s not spending a ton of time on a blog page, but you have a lot of traffic there, put a content upgrade, that way you don’t lose the opportunity to get their information. What we like to put for content upgrade is a unique offer for that particular blog post. Maybe the blog post is about summer fashion, and then they’re going to get the summer fashion quick guide, and then they put in the email address, and then it downloads instantly, so that’s a content upgrade. They’ve worked really well for us on and a ton of blog post, so I’d say those are great.
The quizzes are amazing. I noticed for e-commerce, we find great success with free shipping or just a percentage saving. I know it’s not anything crazy or over the top, but people are there on your e-commerce site to buy, so just make it easier for them to buy.
In terms of email list building and lead captures–for that, challenges are really great. I can’t remember the gal’s names, but they own a smoothie company, and they used to do a 14-day smoothie challenge, and it worked really, really well for their lead capture. Thinking again, “Why people are coming to your site? What do they need?” and trying through your actual lead magnet and lead capture to make them successful. If they can start to see results through what you’re giving them, they’re far more likely to keep following you. The smoothie challenge allowed them to feel healthier and better in 14 days, and then they’re like, “I want to keep this going. I’m going to buy the next product.” They took a chunk of what their program was, gave it to people for free, and then people were like, “Wow, this is amazing. I need more of this.”
Nathan: That’s awesome advice, Lindsey. I can tell you too, with the blog content upgrade stuff, that’s something that we do at CoSchedule here. We just kind of built that content upgrade giveaway to ourselves. It’s really fun to hear that you guys are doing it because I get people who asks us all the time, “How do I do something like that?” It’s just fun to hear that that has been successful for more people than just us.
Lindsey: Yeah, definitely.
Nathan: Lindsey, as we start to get started, and we’re thinking about all these different tactics that you just mentioned like exit intents, the content upgrade system, two paragraphs into like a blog post, what are some of the best practices when it comes to building the email list? Generally speaking, what might you recommend there?
Lindsey: Yeah, I love that. First, I would definitely develop a plan and ask yourself, “Why would someone want to join my email list?” One of the things that’s super important is you need to treat your email list like its own tribe. Giving your email list special offers that maybe nobody else gets or really thinking about how can you make it different than all of your other channels. I really would start with developing a plan, asking ourselves, “What am I going to provide content-wise that’s going to make people open my emails every single week?” really coming up with a schedule. Marie Forleo is a great example. She always has Marie TV that comes out once a week. It’s always in video form with an email. You know what to expect. She’s very consistent, and it’s amazing.
I would really ask yourself, “What content am I going to provide that’s going to bring great value to my community that’s different than my other channel? How often am I going to share?” and really put together a content calendar so that you have a plan of attack for your email list. A great example is this little boutique in San Diego. She always sends a note on the same day, every week, and she has an outfit of the week. I walk by her store every day, so literally, when I get the outfit of the week I’m like, “Uh-oh, time to pop in again, I got her email.” it reminds me. When she has sales, she only does it for her email list. She’ll tell her email list, “You have to show this email to get the 20% savings when you come in.” if I wasn’t on her email list, I wouldn’t get it. It gives me an incentive to continue to open her emails because I’m thinking, “Oh, what’s going on this week? Do we get any savings? What’s the outfit of the week?” Again, really planning it out, structuring it, being consistent, providing really great value to your readers.
One of the biggest things I’ve heard years ago that I think is really important is, “Don’t just show up when you have something to sell.” really show up all the time consistently, giving your people what they need, and what’s going to allow them to be successful.
Nathan: I love that approach. Literally, planning out how you’re going to do it using content calendar for that. It makes me wonder, Lindsey, too—let’s say I got that person to subscribe—I’m kind of wondering, what you might have seen that works really well for that first email? What should a first email look like? Do you email them right after they subscribe? How do we get some of that value in that first one? How can we make that as effective as possible?
Lindsey: That’s a great question especially now because people are used to typing thing like, “Welcome,” autoresponder series. There’s a whole kind of structure where each time, welcoming people, sharing your story, introducing them to you. I would definitely say an introduction to you, letting them know what they can expect, and it’s funny you bring this up because we’ve been talking about this week about how can we enhance our welcome series even better, and one of the things that I saw that ConvertKit did, that I really loved, is they did a message from the person that was going to be like the account manager in the first email. I think they used this app Bonjoro. It was like an email video, it was like, “Hey, Lindsey. Welcome to ConvertKit, super excited to have you here.” it was so cool.
I think how the app works is it pops up on your phone, and you’re able to record a quick video, and hit send. Even if you can’t do something like that— as customized—I would say even a video introduction so that they can see your face, they can get to know your brand a little bit better. I would even say in the first email, giving them some sort of downloadable that’s going to help make them successful. If you hadn’t given them a lead magnet floor or if you’re in e-commerce maybe get them a savings right away to just say, “Thank you for being a part of our community and a part of our email list.” Just really starting to help them get to know you, get to know the brand, a quick video message, or a quick introduction to your story alongside something that’s going to actually make them successful initially, right off the get-go, so that they’re like, “Wow, this person is really amazing. They’re giving to me. They’re trying to make me successful from the beginning.”
Nathan: I love it. It’s like building a relationship and providing value all at the same time right from the get-go to set expectations.
Lindsey: Yeah, totally.
Nathan: Lindsey, one last question for you here. Let’s just say, I’m looking for new ways to build up my email list, or maybe I’m just here and I’m just starting out and I’m just learning these stuff from you for the first time, where would you recommend beginning this process? Where should I start? What should my first steps be?
Lindsey: It’s such a good question. I remember when I built my first email list—that was five or six years ago on my own business, for my own business—here’s where I would start, I would start with the people you know. I would send a note out to all your friends and family, to your Facebook friends, to your Instagram friends, asking them if they would be interested in being a part of your community letting them know what to expect, what you’re going to be sharing, what value you’re going to be providing.
Don’t just go and add everyone in—I see that has happened multiple times—don’t just add everyone in but ask them, and the reason why is because it’s so much easier to start with people you know. I think my first five people were my mom, dad, brother, and then a few friends. Just ask them to be a part of it. Then you start to have a community to talk to, so you get to practice. I would really start with there, with the people you know. One, because it gets you to practice, and then it also gets you to feel confident. It’s really hard when you have an email list of five people or one person to feel really confident about starting to send a weekly newsletter.
I remember when I started to send my first one, I’m like, “I feel like a fraud. I have five people on this list, and I’m acting like I’ve got all these values to provide.” it’s just kind of a big confidence piece. I would start there, and then from there, I would really figure out your channel, “What is going to be your list building channel? What are you going to focus on to start?”
One of the things I find is that when we’re doing social media, often times—and I coach people around this a lot—we forget to give people a call to action like, “Sign up for my email list,” a few times a week or, “Sign up for this free lead magnet.” If you ever pick one channel to focus on once you’ve got your base core list and have one lead magnet, one free offer that you think is going to be super exciting for people to join, I would start there. I would really just focus on sharing that a couple times a week, letting people know that they can join it. The smoothie gals that I shared earlier, they did that. They started with the 14-day challenge and that’s what they really focused on. Like, “Join our 14-day challenge.” they had it very automated, it was very easy. That was kind of always what they were talking about.
I would focus on a channel, focus on one lead magnet, and just start pushing that out. Then from there, you can refine that lead magnet, make it even better, see what people are asking for and just continue to promote that so that you get in the groove of it, and then from there as you move forward, you can start to add a new lead magnets and new channels. But if I was just starting, I’ll start with the people I know, get consistent with emailing them and then start with one channel, push out something that could be a free offer to get people excited in all my email list and just start building from there.