List Building Strategies 5 Top Bloggers Use (And How You Can Use Them Too)

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Syed Naimath 2 years ago

Level with me here, you want a bigger list right?

You regularly read advice on how to grow your list, but the actions don’t seem to ‘work’ for you. You know you have something great to offer your audience, but you just can’t seem to grow that audience in the first place. You know you could make it as a top blogger, you just can’t get there.

It’s okay, this is a common problem. But with a little effort, it has a pretty easy solution.

Look at what other people are doing and copy it. A big blog has already gone through the effort of finding what works, that’s why it is a big blog. If you want to start growing your list effectively, it’s time to start copying them. To get you started, here is an analysis of 5 top bloggers and their list building strategies.

  1. Jon Morrow

Jon Morrow is a blogging superstar. In fact, he’s been quoted saying he was the “highest paid blogger ever.” He was getting paid thousands of dollars per article. Seriously. For good reason, he’s incredible at what he does. So it’s really no wonder that he can build an email list effectively.

What Jon Uses

  1. A Feature Box

Firstly, when you come to the homepage you see a feature box. As he’s teaching people how to boost the traffic their blog will get, his incentive – a PDF file of good headline templates and an explanation – is perfect for his audience. On average, these boxes convert at around 10%.

To implement this technique, you can check out a Feature Box plugin here.

Using the Plugmatter Feature Box can be one of your list building strategies

  1. SumoMe

The next noticeable thing for list building is the use of SumoMe, a plugin for WordPress that creates a few opt-in boxes – as a pop-up box, scroll-in box or bar on top of the screen. After looking around the site for a while, it wasn’t clear how SumoMe was being utilised. (Nothing triggered an opt-in.)

But after some more digging and looking into the SumoMe functionality, it appears that Jon has decided to use it simply for their sharing buttons. The sharing button functionality is pretty much irrelevant to list building, but SumoMe overall is very powerful for list building.

To implement this technique, you can check out SumoMe here.


Amazingly, that’s all Jon has on his site. Which probably has you asking, “Then how did Jon build such a huge email list?” Well, if you read his content – you’ll know the answer. It’s guestblogging. He teaches it, uses it and quite simply lives it.

There are a few tools that Jon uses, as mentioned above, but at the core of his success – he’s just writing his way there. There is a lot to be learned from Jon when it comes to this, but that’s not what this article is about. Go check him out if you’re interested in that aspect of list building.

  1. Brian Clark is a site you know of, I’m sure. However, Brian Clark has another interesting little blog called Further. If you’ve never checked it out, it’s basically brain food and self-improvement posts. It’s great to read, but it’s also interesting to analyse what Brian’s done to list build on it.

What Brian Uses

  1. A Landing Page

The first thing you notice when you come to Brian’s site is that it’s a little different. It’s not like other blogs. It takes you straight to a landing page instead. There’s a solid reason behind this too, Brian advertises the blog as a weekly newsletter as opposed to an actual blog.

What does this do for his audience building? Well, it gives them little choice but to sign up to his email list. They can check out the current and past editions of said newsletters too, which are very much like blog posts in structure, but the main focus is on them signing up right away.

This is quite a unique list building technique, but something like LeadPages or another landing page alternative that allows you to customise the template would work well here if you’re interested in it.


  1. A Pop-up Box

After a few moments on the landing page – I was actually scrolling to see if there was more to the page – a pop-up box then appears. It provides a condensed copy of the landing page, an email box and a submit button. There is nothing too technical or persuasive about it overall.

This technique can be implemented using SumoMe. The SumoMe plugin in question is called List Builder.

  1. Above and Below post Opt-in Boxes

Navigating away from the homepage, and on to any of the post pages, results in an opt-in box appearing above and below the post. These boxes are very similar to feature boxes, just designed to be very minimalistic and fluid with the theme.

This technique could be achieved with Feature Box.


Overall, Brian is very minimalistic in his list building techniques and his blog’s design overall. What makes his blog so successful is the way he’s marketing it as a newsletter, which really sells the email list sign up with very little persuasion from him. It’s rather genius when you think about it.

  1. Derek Halpern

Derek Halpern, the wizard behind Social Triggers, is a bit of an internet marketing guru. And when I say a bit, I mean he’s an absolute goliath in the internet marketing scene. So if you’re at all serious about learning to build your list, sit up and pay attention. He knows what works.

What Derek Uses

  1. Authoritative Opt-in Box

The very moment you load up Derek’s site, you get welcomed by the sight of him in a flashy suit. Right off the bat, he’s telling us “I’m successful, I can help you.” Then he follows it up by telling people they’ll learn things like “How to turn Random Traffic Into Loyal Subscribers.”

Everything he’s doing here screams “authority.” He’s setting up the stage for you to trust him because he knows what he’s talking about, right away. Once you’re sold on that, if you need to learn how to market better online – you’ll have absolutely no problem signing up right then and there.

To implement this, Feature Box can create an opt-in box similar to this effect. If none of the templates fit your goal, you can always create your own using their custom template option.

  1. Downloadable Content LeadBoxes

Derek really doesn’t ease up on the punches on his homepage. If you’re not sold by the authority opt-in box, the very next thing you see as you scroll down the page is “A FEW WAYS I CAN HELP” with a bunch of reports of his. All with a download button, which leads to a 2-step LeadBox, below.

You can use this technique by installing LeadPages.


  1. Authority Representation

Once we go beyond the free reports and continue to scroll, there’s then a section that highlights sites that Derek has been featured on. A few examples like Forbes and Fast Company really do the job of continuing to highlight that authority.

This authority then translates into trust, as noted above. And when people can trust Derek, they’ll be more likely to sign up to his mailing list because they really believe he can help. This is a pretty simple psychology trick, and one that Derek himself has actually written on previously.

This is a pretty easy-to-implement trick. Just take the logos of places you’ve been featured and place them in a relevant spot on your site, to assert your authority.

  1. Footer Opt-in Box

Realistically speaking, if you’re scrolling down a page – you’re going to continue to the bottom. So if Derek is putting in all the effort to represent authority all the way through said page, it makes sense that he would place an opt-in form in the footer too. It captures all the stragglers you’ve convinced.

A very easy and simple technique to put into practice, any opt-in box put into the footer’s widget area would achieve this.


Derek’s not-so-unique formula here is being an authority. Yes, the technology plays a huge role in the way he’s capturing the emails, but what plays the biggest factor here is how he’s representing himself. He’s making himself seen as someone that can teach you something. And people believe it.

The technology itself, as mentioned under each point, is very easy to implement. The difficult part of reproducing Derek’s strategy is representing the same level of authority that he does. However, as a starting point, here are a few things to think about to begin establishing that authority:

  1. Produce great authority-level content.
  2. Get connected with the other authorities in your niche, their vouch will go a long way.
  3. Get your work featured in reputable authority sites.
  4. Write a book and get it published.
  5. Represent your authoritative self.
  1. Noah Kagan

Noah Kagan is an Internet giant. He’s grown two products to over 500,000 users each. Mint is actually standing at over a 1 million users right now. So yeah, he definitely has an idea as to what it is he’s doing. Let’s take a look at what it is he’s using on his marketing blog, OkDork.

What Noah Uses

  1. Authority Feature Box

As soon as you arrive at Noah’s site, you’ll see his face grinning at you. Instantly he’s beginning to establish trust with the reader. But he follows up on this very quickly with “Get access to 85% of my best business hacks” as the title of the feature box.

Now, if you’re not instantly sold by the smiling face and the promise of being given access to his best business hacks, he drops this explanation in just below. “You’ll learn exactly how I started 2 multi-million dollar businesses, grew a 700,000+ email list, and where to find the best tacos in the world.”

To recreate this technique, Feature Box has a number of templates similar – as well as the option to create your own custom template.


  1. LeadBox Below Latest Post

On the very same page as the subtle advertisement above, there’s a much clearer advertisement. It reads “Click here for my Free Viral Content Cheatsheet” and opens up a LeadBox when clicked. If you were an internet marketer, that gift would certainly appeal to you.

This technique wouldn’t be that difficult to recreate, but it really does depend on your blog theme. If you want to view it, you can see it in action here. What you’ll need is LeadPages and some WordPress theme knowledge to create it!

  1. Free Marketing Toolkit Page

In case you hadn’t already opted in from his authority feature box on the front page, Noah makes another appeal for you to sign up for his marketing toolkit. When you click on this page, found in the primary menu of the site, you’ll be brought to another opt-in page.

This page is very simple. It has an explanation of what you’ll get and a couple of testimonials – to ensure he’s continuing to build that authoritative trust with you. If you wanted to recreate a page like this, all you would need is an opt-in form and some nicely written copy.


Overall, Noah’s approach is pretty subtle. You don’t feel like you’re being attacked by opt-in boxes, you don’t feel like he just wants your email – it’s a very casual kind of set-up. It’s very suiting of Noah’s personality in both his writing and his talks.

However, the key selling point that Noah has going for him is the immense value he provides those who do decide to opt-in. He makes it clear that what he has to offer will benefit any entrepreneur. That’s why his products are so successful. Because he truly knows what he’s talking about.

  1. Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a best-selling author, likely best known for his book Tribes, and has a somewhat successful blog. Of course, by somewhat I mean it’s literally one of the most successful blogs on the internet. But it’s not what you might expect upon hearing that, so let’s look into it.

What Seth Uses

  1. Sidebar Opt-in Box

So the first, and only, list building tool on Seth’s blog is a very simple box in the sidebar with the caption “DON’T MISS A THING FREE UPDATES BY EMAIL.” Obviously with a small box and button for the user to enter their email and sign-up just below.

That’s quite literally all he has on his blog in regards to list building. It’s very easy to implement, it comes as standard on every blog platform ever, but it’s clearly not the reason he’s such a successful and famed writer. So what is?

  1. Authority

As we explored with Derek, what really stands out and builds Seth’s list like no other is the authority he brings to the table. He’s written 13 best-selling books. He gives talks all the time. He is practically a household name. He wrote the book on building your following. (Literally!)


So how can you reproduce Seth’s strategy? As we explored above with Derek, there are some ways you can build authority. But building authority like Seth’s doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to emulate his strategy, you’re better off reading his books. He knows it the best.

Now it’s time for you to go build your list. Don’t forget to check out these 5 blogger’s blogs if you ever get stuck for inspiration. They know what they’re doing, and they know why they’re doing it. And it’s working. It can work for you too. Just put in the work.

As always, if you’ve any comments to add – especially if it’s another effective technique – then just drop it in the comment section below. If you enjoyed this post, or believe that someone could benefit from it, please go ahead and share it!

About Syed Naimath

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

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