How to Grow Your Email List by Over 1000 New Subscribers

By Michaela Ann-Marie

If growing your blog’s email list is one of your priorities for the year ahead, running a free challenge with your community might be your next winning tactic. 

In January of 2014 I launched a 7 Day Creativity Challenge for my blog For the Creators. The challenge encouraged my readers of artists, designers, writers and crafters to get moving with their creative work by signing on for a simple seven day challenge, delivered to their inbox by email each day.

That challenge netted me over 1000 new subscribers to my email list, and a whole lot of social proof and audience engagement along the way. The best thing was that for such a big impact, it was incredibly easy to set up. 

At the heart of the challenge was a simple seven day autoresponder in Mailchimp, an Optimise Press landing page and a Twitter hashtag. This simple method can be reproduced for practically any blog. In fact, I’ve seen it done well across business coaching, health and spirituality, just to name a few.  

Keen to learn what works and run a challenge on your own blog? Here’s my eight steps to creating a successful online challenge.

1. Choose a topic that aligns with your niche

Your challenge needs a topic that’s going to resonate with your audience and encourage them to sign up. Find out what your audience are struggling with most and create a challenge around that. For my audience, it was finding and keeping the motivation to create, so I created the 7 Day Creativity Challenge. What are your audience struggling with most? 

2. Pick a challenge length

Though there are some great longer challenges out there, short and sweet works just as well. In fact since you’re inevitably going to have people drop out along the way, making your challenge shorter in length means more people will complete it. I find five and seven day challenges work best and are easiest to create.

3. Map out each day’s content

Pick a challenge topic for each day’s email. Make each day’s challenge highly actionable and doable within the day. Preferably each challenge should be achievable in 30 minutes or less. Remember people love a challenge, but they also love a challenge they can do. Make your daily challenges actionable, powerful and 100% doable to keep your challenger’s spirits high! 

4. Get some professional graphics designed

Make your challenge look like something people want to be part of by having some professional graphics designed for it. You’ll want a logo, a header image customised with each day’s challenge title for your email autoresponder and a promotional graphic to promote your challenge on social media. These branding elements are something you could easily overlook, but they will work wonders for tying your challenge together and making people want to join you.

5. Create a simple squeeze page inviting people to join the challenge

Create a simple squeeze page using a service like Optimise Press or LeadPages to encourage people to join the challenge. Make sure you have an attention grabbing headline, a brief description of the challenge ensuring you answer the big question ‘what’s in it for me?’ and an opt in box with a big ‘Join Now’ button to collect the all important email addresses. Bonus points if you create a short video encouraging your visitors to join!

6. Tap into the power of social sharing with Twitter hashtags

Choose a Twitter hashtag for your challenge and ask people to share their progress each day in images and words using the hashtag on Twitter. For my 7 Day Creativity Challenge I used the hashtag #creativitychallenge14. 

This hashtag allowed challengers to follow along with the group’s progress, get inspired and feel some accountability. It also helped with sharing and social proof. Make sure you share the hashtag and encourage people to use it in every challenge email.

7. Create the challenge autoresponder in your mail program

Now it’s time to bring together each day’s content and set up an autoreponder in your mail program. I used Mailchimp to create mine, but all the popular email services including Aweber, Infusionsoft and GetResponse have autoresponder functionality.

8. Share your challenge far and wide

Share your challenge across your own social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram using your promotional image from step four.

Promote your challenge in every Facebook Group you are part of that relates to your blog’s niche (within group sharing guidelines of course!)

Encourage your existing email list to sign up for the challenge and ask them to spread the word. As your biggest fans, your current email subscribers can help you spread the word about your challenge far and wide to boost sign ups. Your challenge is also a great freebie for them to take part in.

Help challengers spread the word by encouraging them to share the challenge with a friend via a shareable link in each day’s email and placing social sharing buttons on your confirmation page.

Create a Facebook Ad to promote your challenge. While I didn’t use Facebook Ads for my 7 Day Creativity Challenge, they could be an incredibly powerful tool to boost your results. Why not experiment by adding this powerful promotional tool to the mix?

Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to a highly successful challenge that grows your email list, engages your current audience and spreads the word about you and your blog far and wide.

Michaela Ann-Marie helps women in their first year of blogging to get clear on their message, confident in who they are and connected with the blogging and online business community at her digital home michaelaannmarie.com. Hop on over to say hello and grab your free eBook 7 Essential Tools to Grow Your Email List.

hoto Credit: Flickr here and here.