As a marketer, even if you’re a beginner, you almost certainly understand the importance of, and power of, an email list. Nowhere else can you find a truly captive audience you can contact time and time again, and if you treat them right, your subscribers can continue to be a goldmine for many years to come.
The trouble is that most people are missing out on an unbelievable number of subscribers, because they fail to think outside of the Internet.
In this post, we’ll talk about some of the most shockingly simple sources of mailing list subscribers. If you want to add more subscribers to your list without spending a fortune, one of the best things you can do is stop focusing your entire list building efforts online and start seeking subscribers elsewhere.
Remember, not everyone is online 24/7. In fact, not everyone even uses the internet all that much. They may have it in their home. They may use it fairly often to check email or watch Netflix. But how many think of using it to search for information about their favorite hobbies or their most pressing problems. Many do, but certainly not all!
By concentrating some of your efforts offline, you’ll be able to pick up a large number of new subscribers that probably haven’t even heard of your competition, making it much easier to sell to those people.
Additionally, you’ll be able to pick up subscribers who may not be as reluctant to subscribe to an email list, because many will not have been spammed by a list they signed up to (simply because they haven’t signed up to an email list before.)
It may sound daunting at first to think of trying to find subscribers offline, but it’s not as difficult as you think. It was probably pretty scary to think of building a list at all when you first got started in marketing, wasn’t it?
You’re about to learn some of the most surprising sources of free email subscribers, and how to access those sources quickly and easily. You may even build some powerful marketing partnerships in the process!
So let’s get started.
One of the best ways to get more mailing list subscribers is to form partnerships with local businesses (or even businesses in other locations) in order to leverage their marketing power while also benefiting them.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Create a small postcard, business card or flyer that tells people what freebie you’re offering as a signup incentive and include the URL to your squeeze page.
- Approach a local business within your niche, or at least closely tied to it, and tell them you want them to distribute your marketing material.
- In exchange, you can offer to send an email to your subscriber list on their behalf once every so often (bi-weekly, monthly, yearly, whatever you decide on.)
- The business owner can then distribute your material in their shopping bags, on their checkout counters, on their bulletin board, or wherever else you and the owner agree on.
You can both benefit this way; because you get additional subscribers that match your niche, while the business owner gets access to the marketing list, you have already built without building his or her own list.
Partnerships work best if you are using a direct niche connection. For example, if you are selling a workout DVD you created, you’d want to partner with gyms and other similar businesses. However, you don’t necessarily have to have an exact match for the partnership to be beneficial.
For example, you might find success offering your fitness DVD in a woman’s clothing store, a lingerie shop, a tanning salon, or even a hair salon. Think of where your potential customers might shop, but also remember that the business owner will also want to believe your mailing list is a close enough fit to make it beneficial for them.
TIP: If you’re worried about approaching businesses in person, simply create a query letter and send it to local business owners you think would be a good fit and then let them come to you. This way, you’ll feel less like you’re intruding and if they contact you then you can be sure they at least have some interest in your proposal.
One major source of mailing list subscribers that a lot of people tend to overlook is magazine advertising. They tend to think it’s too expensive, or that magazine readers aren’t internet savvy.
First of all, most people are at least partially internet savvy these days. So just about any source of traffic will connect you with a decent number of people who have internet access and know how to make use of it.
But as more and more people use the internet instead of traditional media, magazines are finding it harder and harder to sell advertising and the cost has dropped considerably in many publications.
You can also contact the magazine just before their publishing deadline to see if they have any unsold advertising slots that you might be able to get at a discount. This could save you a significant amount of money.
The great thing about magazines is that they are available in just about any niche you can think about. Even if there isn’t one exactly in your niche, you can always find one that would involve a great potion of your market. (For example, advertising in a fashion magazine if you have a fitness product.)
Local Giveaways & Events
Keep an eye out for local events where you can find people who might be interested in your niche. Conventions in your niche would be ideal, as would swap meets or other events where your potential customers might gather.
Let’s say you’re selling that hypothetical fitness DVD and a large fitness convention comes to town. You could set up a booth at that convention (or even look into sharing a booth with someone else so you don’t have to pay for the whole thing on your own) and hand out your flyers letting people know a little about you and how to join your email list to get your free giveaway report (or whatever else you’re offering.)
Even if you don’t set up a booth, you may be able to walk around and pass out business cards or flyers to visitors. (Just be sure you find out the rules on this. Some conventions won’t allow it, and you’ll only get kicked out by security if you’re caught.)
One of the great things about attending conventions like this is that you also have the opportunity to meet other businesspeople in your niche with which you can partner, thus potentially locating another source (or sources) of leads.
Incentives online are a good way to get subscribers, but offline freebies can also be a great incentive. For example, a local gym might allow you to pass out free bottles of water that have been re-labeled with your marketing material that have your URL on them.
Yes, it will cost you a bit of money to buy these incentives, but if you’re in a highly targeted area and you buy in bulk, they shouldn’t cost you all that much compared to the cost of acquisition for your typical email subscriber.
Here are some ideas of free items you could give out:
- Bottles of water
Just be sure to tailor the items you give out to your target market, as well as to the location in which you’re handing them out. (For example, hand out water bottles at gyms or the beach, and hand out pens at schools, libraries, and office complexes.)
There are actually places you can advertise for free if you know where to look. Sure, some of them may not be as targeted as you might hope. However, the fact that they are free means you don’t have to worry about this, as your only expense will be a flyer or business card (which you should already have for use with some other methods) or a little time.
Local Saver Papers
Most locales have a saver paper that is full of local ads and coupons. This could be called something like:
- The Thrifty Nickel
- The Thrifty Saver
- The Budget Saver
You get the idea. These local papers can be a goldmine of free or very low cost ads, and if your product even remotely has mass appeal, they can be a great source of free leads. This is especially true if you have a great squeeze page and offer.
Online Classified Ads
Sites like Craigslist can be a good fit, especially if your product can fit into one of their categories and you can keep from having your ad marked as spam by users.
Be sure to include something like “free report” in your title so that people don’t feel misled by your ad. This will draw more negative attention to you. Don’t give people a reason to report you.
You can try putting your ad into “free” under the “for sale” section if you don’t find that your niche fits elsewhere.
If you’d like the offline version of this, simply place ads in your local newspaper.
You’ll need to get permission for this one. Otherwise, you could end up getting banned from your local bookstore, which is no fun for anyone.
But you can get postcard-sized or bookmark-sized ads printed that you can slip inside books that relate to your target market. Just slip the ad inside the front cover of the book. Not only will the eventual buyer see your ad, but potentially dozens of browsers as well.
If you have a product that has mass appeal, hotels and motels can be a great source of subscribers. This is especially true if your product would appeal to travelers.
The best place to locate your ad is inside the nightstand drawer or on the desk inside each room, however you’ll definitely need permission for this from the hotel’s manager.
You could also slip ads under the door or leave them on the counter in the lobby. You should also get permission for this, but a lot of people don’t bother.
This is also for products that have wide appeal, however you could also target establishments that might cater to your target market. For example, if you target young women, restrooms in clothing stores and shopping malls might be a good fit.
To make use of restrooms, simply leave a handful of your marketing material on the counter, ideally a good distance away from the sinks so it isn’t destroyed by water.
Never overlook the power of a simple business card. It may seem old-fashioned, but a business card can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool and it can work more often than you think.
How many times have you met someone new, or even talked to someone you haven’t seen in years, and they asked what you do for a living? If you’re a fairly social person, this probably happens now and then. If not, you could always start a conversation with random people you meet and ask what they do, which will almost always get them to ask you in return.
Boom! Business card!
Simply mention you sell your fitness DVD (or whatever else) and hand them a business card. Remind them that if they aren’t interested, you’d be very grateful if they’d pass your business card onto anyone they know who might be. You never know when you might meet someone who is interested themselves or might even know multiple people who would be!
As a bonus, business cards are handy for placing here and there. You can pin one on bulletin boards, leave one on bathroom counters, slip them into books, and even put stacks on counters anywhere you might find someone who is interested.
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Let’s Wrap Up…
If you’ve been struggling to build your email list, it’s time to start thinking outside of the box. You’re competing with a large number of marketers online, and you may find it difficult to connect with your audience if a lot of those users are subscribed to the mailing lists of a lot of other marketers in your niche. They may be reluctant to sign up to another list, and if they do, you may find they aren’t as responsive.
But if you look offline, you’ll soon find that you’re reaching customers you otherwise couldn’t reach if you focused your efforts solely online.
Remember, not everyone goes online on a regular basis, and not everyone searches for information in your niche online. For example, Mary Jane Smith may have a membership to the local gym, and she may have internet access, but she may never have thought to search for fitness information on the internet before. That would be a subscriber you could never reach by focusing your list building efforts solely online.
But by moving some of your efforts offline, you’ll be able to pick up those additional subscribers, and you’ll have the added benefit of reaching people who may not have even heard of your competition!
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