Many Internet Marketing gurus out there will tell you that of all their marketing assets, their email list is the most highly prized asset.
As they say, the money is in the list.
I testify to that. Since starting my own crowdfunding email newsletter in July this year,my email list has:
-just over 200 email leads
-closed 4 sales worth $398.
-Conversion rate of 1.9%
It wasn't easy building my list, contrary to what the gurus recommended.
In fact, it took lots of hustling around, and networking with people, before the emails started coming in.
These is a breakdown of the traffic sources where my emails originated from:
-Crowdfunded Kit Sample Chapter signup: 25
-Guest Posts: 14
-Kindle eBook: 6
-Organic search (Google): 4
-Direct blog traffic: 12
-Forum threads: 10
-Other unidentified sources: 49
Two important observations:
1.As you can see, the bulk of my signups come from LinkedIn (110), followed by unidentified sources, and the sample chapter landing page.
2.Another important to note is that all 4 of my sales originated from LinkedIn!
Work Smart. Apply the 20/80 Principle
The 20/80 principle states that only 20% of your efforts will yield the majority of results.
In order to minimise wasted time and effort,it made sense for me to focus on getting more email signups from the sources that were driving qualified traffic. In this case, it was LinkedIn.
Used properly, LinkedIn can be a huge source of highly qualified traffic. If Facebook is for status updates, then LinkedIn's the premier professional networking tool for this century we live in!
What I've found to be very powerful about LinkedIn, is that you can get highly qualified traffic through these two techniques:
The Content Marketing route
Join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your niche, and then write EPIC content with a newsletter signup link for those communities.
In this technique, you write great content for you LinkedIn niche community, and hope that they like your content enough that they sign up for your email newsletter.
How to do it:
1.First, write an EPIC article on your blog.
Your EPIC article is a powerful marketing weapon to 'hook'and filter hotly qualified leads.
While you wnat to get as much traffic as possible, you'll want to filter only those people who are highly interested in your niche.
This was my best performing crowdfunding blog post to date, and till now it still is. This article alone was almost singlehandedly responsible for converting much of the traffic into email signups you read earlier on.
It took me about one full week to do research, craft the outline, and edit the article to perfection.
In case you're screaming inside "WHAT?ONE WEEK JUST FOR ONE BLOG POST!?".
Yes. And there is no shortcut around this. If you want to even have the slightest chance of getting visitors to convert into email leads, you should pour lots of effort into crafting QUALITY content.
Trust me. I've done the article-spinning (PLR) route before, and I've found that Google abolutely HATES crappy, low quality articles.
But if you produce awesome content, Google really LOVES you.
Yes, it's painful and tedious to write. But what's 1 week of pain, when you it can bring in $400 to you over and over again?
2.Join LinkedIn communities related to your niche
Simply type in your niche in the search bar, and then click on "Groups about [your niche]"
Linkedin displays a list of all groups in your niche.
You don't need to join ALL groups. Just join those that have at least 1000 members, and look around in the group and see that they have an active community.
You'll want to join groups with active communities because you don't want to be posting the article you worked so hard for, to crickets.
3.Before you post, be a good citizen. Contribute actively to discussions first!
Two reasons why you should do this.
Firstly, you don't want to come across as a sleazy salesman
Secondly,the more you contribute to the discussions, the higher chances you get to be featured as a Top 4 Contributor in the LinkedIn group.
And once your profile appears in that sidebar, your profile traffic (and hence your blog traffic) is almost sure to dramatically increase! 3 days after I started contributing actively to the Crowdsourcing & Crowdfunding Projects group, I suddenly found my face featured in the top contributors sidebar!
And the cool thing is, it really doesn't take you long before you become a Top Contributor. For me, it only took around 20 comments, before I reached that status.
4. Once you have become a Top Contributor, it's now time to post your EPIC article
Simply write a short description of your blog post, and then provide a link back to your blog and watch the traffic magically come in!
Take note: most group administrators will first vet through your article, before they approve it for the community members to see. This can take anywhere between 1-7 days.
-A well written article can be used over and over again on different groups to get email leads
-You can also reuse and repackage the content for additional coverage as a guest post, or even as an ebook.
-You get the benefit of highly targeted exposure in these groups.
-Writing EPIC content is a *very very slow process. *
-Getting your email leads to move along your marketing funnel and build trust is even more slower. It took me 2.5 months from the time this EPIC article was posted, till my very first sale converted!
-There is no gurantee that your article will be a big hit. It's a hit and miss affair. Out of 9 EPIC content pieces I've written so far, only one has been very successful. So its always good to do some market research first, and see what topics in your niche that people are interested in.
Other content marketing efforts
I started out using the content marketing approach. While it has certainly paid off in terms of sales, it is simply too inefficient and slow.
I also tried other ways to get email leads. I experimented with Facebook Ads, Reddit, Twitter, Udemy and Kindle ebooks.
But while it was much faster to setup these channels, the results were very poor. I estimate that these non-LinkedIn sources only made up less than 10% of all my email signups.
So applying the 20/80 rule, I decided to stick to LinkedIn, but tried to look for a faster,more efficient and effective way to get email leads.
I just could not stomach myself writing EPIC blog content forever, while my bank savings were quickly depleting (I had quit my previous full time job to do this!)
Enter the LinkedIn Sales Navigator
It was only in November that I discovered LinkedIn had an ULTRA powerful secret weapon that had been staring right at me all these while. It was the LinkedIn Sales Navigator!
Sales Navigator is LinkedIn's powerful tool to help companies and sales professionals find highly targeted leads.
I immediately realised this was a golden oppportunity to build my email list. I had an aim of connecting with at least 1000 people on LinkedIn who were interested in crowdfunding.
Basically, the biggest feature of this tool is the Lead Builder. With Lead Builder, you can create and save prospect lists using focused search filters such as seniority level, company size, interests and years of experience.
The tool is only available if you have upgraded to LinkedIn Premium, which is a paid option at $106/month subscription.
However here's the good news, you can upgrade and try out LinkedIn Premium for FREE for a month. And here's the even better news: You credit card is only charged after the end of the free trial, so you can cancel anytime!
What's very cool about Lead Builder is that besides building a prospecting list, you can have the option to individually connect with every single lead!I decided to connect with these leads instead of adding them to a prospecting list (which would have been double work).
The other reason was because I kinda figured that at the end of my 30 Day free trial, I didn't wish to pay $106/month, and so LinkedIn would deny me access to the prospect list I would have painstakingly built.
All in, it took me about five days to connect with over 1000 people, and to wait for them to accept
Total time taken(including response): 5 days
LinkedIn connect invitations sent: 1000
Responses received: 367
Response rate: 36.7%
How to find contacts using Sales Navigator
1) Sign up for LinkedIn Premium. (https://premium.linkedin.com/)
2)The Sales Navigator link will now appear at the top right. Click on it.
3)Enter a job profession in the lead builder search fields. Note: I found that entering your search term into the keywords field yields much more leads, so use it to your advantage.
4)Mouse over on each contact and click on "Connect"
BONUS PRODUCTIVITY HACK: By default Lead Builder only returns 10 results per page. This is painstakingly slow, because you need to keep clicking on "next" in the pagination scrollbar.
Instead, you can make LinkedIn display up to 100 results per page. To do that copy the URL and then change the "&count=" parameter to 100.
5) In your invitation, don't simply use the default LinkedIn message "I would like to add you to my professional network". Instead personalise your message. I always try to mention something of common interest. This simple act almost always improves your response rates!
You should aim to add around at least 1000 leads. Expect a response rate of about 40% with a personalised message after about 5 days.
If you are lazy or short on time, then you could hire a freelancer to help you to do this instead. Check out elance.com or odesk.com. I've found from experience that you can get those leads found for as cheap as $0.30/lead.
5 days later..
It's time to harvest the fruits of your labor! Many people aren't aware that LinkedIn has a hidden,but very powerful feature. It's called "Export Connections".
Basically it gives you a giant list of everyone's email who is your contact on LinkedIn.
To get all your LinkedIn Connection emails:
1) Click on "Connections"
2) Click the Gear icon
3) Click "Export LinkedIn Connections"
4) Select "Export to Microsoft Outloook (.CSV file), and then click Export button.
Voila! There you have it...the email addresses of all your LinkedIn contacts! These are not just ordinary emails. They are the email addresses of highly qualified leads.
Remember though, these people still have not given you their consent to auto-enroll them into your mailing list. Therefore at most, you should only email them once and that's it. Anything more than once is bordering on unethical.