7 List Building Case Studies By Experts To Grow Your Email List

5 min read 2 Responses
Syed Naimath 2 years ago

One of the primary goals of a large percentage of websites and blogs is to build their email list. Whether your website is geared toward selling your own products, or is an affiliate advertiser – a list of subscribers are part of your audience, potential customers, and loyal readers.

In this article we’ll look at 7 list building case studies that can help grow your subscriber list. Scroll away!

Case study #1 : More is better

More is better

Stuart Walker and his team at nichehacks.com performed a simple experiment, at the end of which their subscription rate increased by 147.5% in just 30 days.

They started with only a 100-150 subscribers in early 2014. Then they began performing one small change at a time, the aim being to build their email list. By April they had 280 subscribers, so they continued doing so. In the next 2 months, the subscribers jumped to just under 700 per month.

The website changes were simple. Adding 1 additional opt-in box brought in some additional subscribers. Adding even more optins, in various locations on the website, brought in a far more subscribers.

Nichehacks.com shows how in the case of optins, more is better. You can view nichehacks case study here.

Case study #2: Ask aggressively

Ask aggressively

Noah Kagan of AppSumo.com, in his Copyblogger blog post, explains an experiment he did in the early days of his website. Initially, Noah just did not want to bother people with emails. Lists were the furthest thing from his mind, until his subscribers started requesting more info.

Noah realized building subscriber lists was an important part of owning and running a website. He decided to make an aggressive effort towards having a bigger list.

It worked. Using several such techniques, Noah found his subscription rates skyrocketed. Here’s what he did:

  1. Added a sign up form at the end of his articles, offering something for free.
  2. Installed a home page lock-gate. To be able to view the content, the site visitor has to provide their email address.
  3. Offering more within the content. An example may be an article that is a top 7 list, but you can receive another 7 just for signing up.

Noah found these to show substantial results. Here’s Noah’s article on Copyblogger.

Case study #3: The 30 day list building challenge

The 30 day list building challenge

A simple list building challenge created by Nathalie Lussier. She challenged herself to do nothing but building her subscriber list, for 30 days. Selling products and other such tasks take a backseat.

What Nathalie didn’t plan for when posting this on her blog, was the number of bloggers who wanted to join in on the 30 day challenge. The case study turned into an “Iron Blogger Marathon.”

In doing so, Nathalie did not reach the goal of 15,000 new subscribers, but she did get 3,000 new subscribers. Other bloggers also made big strides in their subscription rates.

From Nathalie’s experiment, it could indeed do what it set out to do. Read Nathalie’s words about it here.

Case study #4: Exit pop-up list building case study

Exit pop-up list building cas

Matthew Woodward notes how pop-ups on websites can help build lists, if done properly. His case study consisted of finding out why some helped gain subscription sign-ups, while others just annoyed the visitor.

What Matthew found in this case study was – to develop creative touches. When a visitor is about to leave your website, the pop-up ought to provide something that is so tempting, that a majority of visitors should buckle and provide their email.

Matthew cites masterful pop-up technicians who use this technique on their websites. You can see for yourself by visiting Matthew’s blog here.

Case study #5: The overlay case study

The overlay case study

In the last case study, Matthew speaks about pop-ups, and in this one, Justin Rondeau performed another experiment on pop-ups. Justin wrote about these studies on econsultancy.com‘s blog.

Studying different systems of overlay techniques, Justin shows the results from a series of tests. He studied A/B testing on:

The results of these list building case studies are surprising. Before viewing the results of each A/B test, we recommend that you predict the winner. I will admit that I  was correct only about one of them.

Using overlays are a proven list building technique. Go ahead, read Justin’s article to know how best to use overlays.

Case study #6: The skyscraper case study

The skyscraper case study

Brian Dean’s (backlinko.com) famous, thorough case study about increasing search traffic can’t be left out.

The study focuses on the content of other top-rated websites and blogs. Brian found the articles receiving the best attention on those websites, and he planned on how to make them bigger and better.

For example, an article on the 10 Biggest Skyscrapers, getting many views and shares. Brian’s idea meant writing a similar article, on the 50 Tallest Skyscrapers. He’d use similar keywords and phrases and would essentially climb and expand the other article.

So how can you use this in list-building?

Search engines will send more traffic to your site, and using the previous case studies, you can capture the emails from the huge amount of traffic that comes to read your content.

Go read Brian’s article at Backlinko here.

Case study #7: Launch eBooks to your social fans

Ahfaz Ahmed List Building Case Study

Ahfaz Ahmed launched a free eBook to his fans on Facebook. He ended up getting 200 subscribers in 48 hours.

The case study shows how easily you can convert your audience who are not in your email list by providing a free incentive.

Content upgrades are good but now they aren’t enough to convert visitors and when your website traffic is low, using content upgrades or using traditional list building methods will not bring significant results.

The steps used by Ahfaz to launch an eBook were very simple:

  1. Create a highly valuable eBook your audience would love to read.
  2. Start promoting your eBook before launching it
  3. Launch your eBook and make the conversion journey as smooth as possible.

He got around 360 pageviews within 48 hours of launch and managed to get 200 subscribers with a conversion rate of 51%.

The benefits of launching an eBook to your social fans are:

  1. They already follow you and read your content. That makes it easy to convert them.
  2. You don’t have to spend any money on ads.
  3. Your list growth will depend on the number of followers. So, the higher followers you have, more people will subscribe to download your eBook.

Using free incentives like an eBook on social media can help you explode your list growth. Go ahead and read this list building case study.

Final Thoughts

Building a subscriber list is so very important, in and of itself. Also because subscribers who convert to customers, can refer more customers. Gladly, the people in this list have carried out experiments with list building, so that you can learn from them.

Try the techniques they shared and if you find great results, please do share your experience with us.

About Syed Naimath

Serial Entrepreneur. Co-Founder and Marketing Lead at @Plugmatter and @Foundora.

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  • Anupam Rajey

    Hey Syed,

    Thanks for sharing these useful case studies. I also agree that more is better when it comes to optins. The more email list building locations one has on the website, the quicker one will build an email list. I personally grew my email list quickly by offering a gated offer and a content upgrade.

  • http://www.boldandzesty.com Kasey Luck

    wow, love this roundup — thanks Syed!

    I’ve seen Nathalie’s 30 day list building challenge — she produced some great content there, so no wonder she got 3K subs. Also, Noah Kagan is the beast when it comes to email marketing — love learning from him.

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