The transformation story I’m about to tell you happened after I watched a list-building webinar with Bryan Harris. In that webinar, he shared 3 effective and off-the-beaten path strategies for growing an email list.
One of the strategies stood out to me the most. It teaches something that anybody, no matter what stage they’re in right now, can do immediately to grow their list. It’s called “tell everyone you know” or “launch team” strategy.
I took this strategy (that I describe in detail below) and added a few tweaks that automated and streamlined the process. I was able to jumpstart my email list and grow from 10 to 110 email subscribers by setting up a semi-automated system in 2 hours. The signups came in the following 36 hours.
My method is highly scalable — you can use it to add 200, 300, or even 500 new email subscribers to your list in the matter of hours.
I’m going to show you exactly how I did it, including my exact email script, the tools I used, plus I added a video tutorial demonstrating the technical part in detail – make sure to read all the way through to catch it.
Asking people to join your email list
Here’s the essence of Bryan’s strategy:
If you were opening a bakery, what would you do on your open night party? You’d invite EVERYONE you know, right?
You need to do the same when you launch an email newsletter.
Even if your grandma is not into the topic of your newsletter (say, the slow-carb diet), she knows 10 people who are, and she’ll tell all of them that her favorite grandson / granddaughter is starting this newsletter. The more people know about your list, the better, because they will start telling other people.
This sounds cool and fun, but there was one little thing I needed to overcome to make it work. Just this one thing, that lies at the CORE of this strategy…
…asking people to do stuff.
That’s something that I really, seriously, struggle with. Maybe you do, too.
While I was fighting with myself trying to overcome this fear, one thought struck me like lightening.
I realized: it will always be hard. When I start creating products and selling them, asking people to buy them will also feel weird. And if I can’t even ask people to join my free email list, what am I doing in this business? I had no choice but to do it.
How to invite everyone you know to join your list
Today, there are so many ways you can invite people to your anything.
- You can call
- You can text
- You can email
- You can message on any kind of social media imaginable
In his webinar, Bryan recommends texting all your recent contacts. That didn’t work very well for me because A) I was abroad at that time, and B) I am not huge on texting, so the most recently-contacted people in my iMessages were my previous coworkers and my landlord (who texted me utility bills every month).
I needed to find another way. (However, the process I describe below can also work for texting if you use a text-automating tool.)
I decided to turn to LinkedIn.
How to grow email list using your existing LinkedIn contacts
Stick around, I’m NOT going to tell you how I spent hours sending direct messages to my contacts on LinkedIn.
I knew I needed a more effective strategy that could SCALE.
So I figured out a way to send a personal email to all my LinkedIn contacts, which resulted in ~110 email subscribers in 36 hours. Total time I spent on the set-up: 2 hours.
Here’s how I did it (including the exact tools, emails scripts, and a step-by-step video tutorial):
I exported a list of my contacts from LinkedIn, which gave me a nice formatted list of 497 people. The exported Excel sheet had their name, email address, and job title. (If you don’t know how to export your connections’ contact info from LinkedIn, watch the video at the end of this post).
Now I needed a (free) tool that would allow me to email people in bulk from my regular Gmail account and personalize each message.
I googled around and chose Yesware.
They have an awesome tool called Mail Merge that lets you email up to 200 people at a time. Each recipient receives an individualized email and doesn’t see other recipients, and you can track opens, clicks, and replies.
That’s exactly what I needed! My LinkedIn export list had people’s names, so I could personalize each email with the first name.
Now I needed write an email copy that would serve a few purposes:
- Re-connect with the person in a natural, casual way.
- Ask recipient to join my newsletter.
- Ask to check out and share my recently-published Huffington Post article.
This is the exact email I ended up sending:
You’ll notice I did a few things in that email:
First, I wanted to make it feel as personal as it was possible when sending emails in bulk. And I really haven’t talked to the overwhelming majority of my LinkedIn contacts in a while, so the first line of my message spoke directly to each recipient.
Second, I added some social proof. My previous job was really cool, so I dropped it in there, as well as my recent Huffington Post article (I also wanted to get shares on the article, so I timed this email for that).
Finally, I made it super easy for people to sign up. I already had a MailChimp account when I sent this email, but I knew that adding 3 more steps to the process (clicking through to a signup form, filling it out, and confirming their email) would decrease the number of signups. Notice how much easier it is to just reply “yes”. Of course, I then had to manually add everyone who said “yes” to my list in MailChimp, but I thought it was worth it.
Using Yesware tool Mail Merge, I set up 3 campaigns (up to 200 people each), and scheduled them to be sent later that day (detailed video tutorial on how to do it is at the end of this post).
I got an average of 74.3% open rate and 23.3% click rate on my emails to 497 people.
Here’s what my inbox looked like:
If you know a bit about email open rates, you’ll know that 75% open rate is unheard of.
A few factors caused such great response:
- I sent this to people who knew me (at least remotely)
- The email felt highly personal
- The subject line I used induced curiosity
I got around 100 email subscribers in the first 36 hours after sending my emails, and around 10 more over the next couple of days.
As you can see, you can repeat this process step by step and triple or quadruple my results depending on how many LinkedIn (or other) contacts you have.
Alright, here you have it. This is how i jumpstarted my email list with Bryan Harris’s modified “launch team” strategy. Spending about 2 hours on this process, I added 100 email subscribers to my list in less than 2 days.
Here are a few things you can do with this strategy (#3 worked best for me):
- Text your friends and other contacts and invite them to your email list (if you have a large list of phone contacts, find a tool that automates texting for you).
- Direct message your friends on Facebook and invite them (I tried this method but it’s hard to automate this process).
- Download your LinkedIn contacts as an Excel sheet and send personalized emails (in bulk) using Yesware.
To help you with strategy #3, I recorded a step-by-step video tutorial, which you can get below:
Now, go act on what you learned! You already have everything you need – a few hundred contacts across your social media accounts, your phone contacts, your extended family and neighbors.
I can’t wait to hear about your results in the comments.