Bryan Harris on List Building Strategies That Work


Hey guys and girls, so this is a bonus lesson on my course on the topic of list building and I have an awesome guest with me today. It’s Bryan Harris. Hi Bryan! Hey, thanks for having me, Tim. I’ve been following Bryan’s work for quite a few years and I think in my personal opinion, he’s one of the best experts on the topic of list building.

He has shared a lot of knowledge on the topic on his blog for free. So you can go and read a lot of that. And he also has a premium course on list building, so you might want to check it out if you want to consume content faster.

Okay, so Bryan, let’s start with some kind of credibility. Tell us about your own email list. How long did it take you to get there? How do you think, if you were to start your list today, knowing everything that you know today, how quickly would you build it to the same number? Oh, I don’t know about the second part of that, but I do know about the first part.

We started the company in April of 2013, and started the email list in January of 2014. And we’re now four years or so later, and our list is right at 200,000 unique subscribers on our list.

So it took about four years to get there is right at 200,000. This is pretty huge. Okay, so now let’s talk about some strategies. I like to generally break things into groups. And I think that email list building strategies could be divided into two groups: the ones that you do on your website, like pop-ups, Hello bars, and other stuff; and the ones that you do outside of your website.

For example, I see a lot of people do joint webinars and then share subscribers. So let’s talk about the on-site list building strategies first. Like, I’m sure you have tried pretty much all of them, so tell us about your experience.

What are your most favourite ones? What are your least favourite ones and why? Yeah, I mean, you were just talking to Noah recently, and one of the first things I learned from him was that he was instrumental in getting me started.

One of the things he taught me is to do more of what works. So when it comes to on-site optimization, which is a lot of what… A lot of list building strategies are masqueraded as just optimising your website so that it works.

And that’s obviously if you have traffic to your site, you’re more established and what… not totally the first place to start. So what I do is go to Google Analytics and find out what your most popular pages are, like, what pages have traffic coming to them now.

‘Cause we can optimise a page that has three visitors come into it all day long and it’s not really gonna move the needle at all. So your home page and your top three or four blog posts that are typically SEO-dwell are typically your top five most popular pages.

So those are the three or four most popular blog posts or pages on your site.So what we do is have two different types of optimization techniques for those. Number one for the home page is something called an “upside-down home page.

So you go to VideoFort.com or MichaelHyatt.com or GoinsWriter.com. Those will be three examples of that and you’ll see examples of it. You can also just Google “upside-down home page,” and there’s a guest post I wrote on the Leadpages blog that you can read to get a full-detailed version of it and some templates and whatnot.

But basically the concept is on a typical home page, you come to someone’s home page, and there’s just stuff everywhere. There are category bars, and there are social icons, and there’s “sign up for the free trial,” and here are all our features.

It’s like the first time.. this is the first time me and you ever, like, talked on a video before, Tim. It’d be like the first time we ever had a conversation, and I’d try to tell you my entire life story.

Like, that’s really awkward. If the first time someone comes to your site, you try to just tell them everything about you. So what we’ve done with the upside-down home page is just flip it upside-down.

We put all of your links, and all the navigation, and all the social stuff at the bottom of the page, but give people a single clear call-to-action at the top. And tell them a storey that introduces you but mostly tells them how you can help them and give them an opt-in on that home page they can do.

They can download it in order to join your email list. So you can see some examples of that just by taking… Because what I typically see on pages, you have all the stuff at the top. Usually there are 50 call-to-actions at the top of the page, there are all these different things they can do.

And then a blog post or something like a call-to-action at the bottom. So just flip that upside-down and make the first interaction with you really fluid and really easy with a single clear thing to do. If you can’t go to your home page and in less than five seconds know the single clear thing you want someone to do, you’re losing conversions, you’re losing leads you could potentially sell to.

The second thing is going to your most popular blog post and creating content upgrades, which are just lead magnets for that specific post. So instead of having your universal lead magnet you have all over the site, on the most visited blog post, if you’re ranking really high for some keyword and you don’t have a lead magnet specifically made for that, go and make one.

Put it inside of the blog post in the intro and at the end. And if you won’t put up a time to exit and pop-up on that page that shows before someone goes to leave and introduces that lead magnet to them, we’ve seen those two things alone were working with people.

Those are the first things we do on any site that gets over just a few thousand visits on the site per month. And that… that’ll take the on site conversion from 1-2% to 8-10% we’ve seen regularly with people.

Yeah, this is great. I totally support these two strategies. Do you think you can apply the upside-down home page to, for example, company blocks? I know it works perfectly for some kinds of personal blogs, like one-man-army blogs.

But what about company blogs, for example, for us, at Ahrefs blog? And another question about… Okay, let me ask another question later. What about the upside-down home page for companies? I’m pulling up your website now. You guys do a pretty good job, so let’s just start with this.

Сompany, individual, there’s no difference – you’re marketing from a person to another person. So whether you’re marketing B2B or B2C, you’re trying to get individuals to do an action.

So in that regard, it’s no different whether you’re Brian Dean selling a course with a one-man army, or if you’re Ahrefs selling software to an entire company. At the end of the day, what you want is for SEOers to sign up for your tool or sign up for your course.

This is the core action. It is the same at the end of the day, whether you’re Brian or whether you’re Ahrefs. So you all do a pretty good job – I’m just looking at the site right now – above the fold call-to-action “Start seven-day trial for seven dollars.

“That’s not going to optimise for email conversions, right. You’re trying to get a sell right off the bat at the top of the page. So that’s not terrible, but you’re not gon na.

You’d get more email signups than you could back then…you went with an email approach and thought it might be something you could test, or maybe you guys have already tested it.

After that, when I’m scrolling down the page, the next thing I see is the tools you get with Ahrefs. So a little sample size, a bunch of numbers bragging about the tool and how powerful it is… Yeah, but that’s a home page.

Click on the blog link at the top. No, I’m not talking about a blog. I’m talking about the home page. Okay, okay, so you’re talking about the whole… Okay, I bet the number one traffic page on your site is Ahrefs.

Of course, yeah. Obviously, people link internally to pages as well, but almost every site you go to, unless you’re having… In the SEO world, it can… It can vary a little bit if you get some really good ones.

.. like Jeff Goins, for instance, he’s a friend of mine, that teaches… he’s a single-guy kind of blog. But if you go to, like, “how to write a book,” he writes number one for that So obviously that gets more traffic than any other page, but number two is his home page.

So for you guys, it can be similar. Maybe it’s three or four, but the home page itself is really important to optimize. So it doesn’t matter whether it’s a company that gets into some nuance of design, you can just have a designer, and the design will end up in a way that fits your design criteria.

But what you want to do is have someone who’s never heard of Ahrefs before, someone that’s never heard of you before has come to the site for the first time, they’re not clicking that orange button and sign up.

It’s just not happening. A returned person might be someone that’s heard of you before, has been in the industry some… But a brand new person – they’re not clicking the button there, just not They’re not going to pay you $7 the first time they’ve ever heard of you.

But they will give you their email address in exchange for a piece of information that will help them. And then you can indoctrinate them into that. So it could be worth using something like the right message to know whether it’s some of these first-time or they’ve been there multiple times and adjust that call to action accordingly.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. About content upgrades, I’m actually a big advocate of the strategy. I used to have a plugin that did content upgrades for WordPress blogs. But the general concern I have about it, and this is a tricky question that I was also asking Noah in our interview, is that you basically offer people a lead magnet.

Yeah, it is like 100% relevant to the article that they landed on and that they’re reading. So there’s a high chance that they will grab it. I know a lot of people for whom the conversions of content upgrades go, like, through the roof.

But how do you keep people engaged from there? Because they got the freebie, they got what they wanted, they don’t really expect any more emails from you. Well, first of all, if they don’t expect any more emails from you, you’re doing the content upgrade wrong.

So one of the things you give them when they download the upgrade is… Hey, let’s just take an example. I’m just gonna go to your blog real quick and pick out a recent post. So, “How to find and fix broken links to reclaim valuable link juice,” I suppose you posted the other day.

So if you’re gonna… Now, I wouldn’t recommend creating the content upgrade when you launch the post. When you see it’s getting you traffic and it’s starting to rank and then go back and create one.

That’s the better way to do it, because the only people signing up for it when you first launch it are those already on your list, which can be a content strategy. But if you’re doing it just to collect new email subscribers, wait till you know it’s ranking and then go back and create it.

So let’s just say that post is ranking. If you were to create a lead magnet, maybe you’d create a 30-minute tutorial where Tim actually goes over the Ahrefs site and finds… or goes over someone else’s site and finds broken links.

That’s something I know because I’ve been through multiple courses on SEO. We’re not great at SEO. And I always hear people write these posts and tell me about them, but no one ever does it and lets me watch it.

And it’s a pain in the butt to do broken link building because you have to find them and that’s like a needle in a haystack. So I know for that topic, that’s a pain point of mine. If I were to read that post and it said, “Hey, download a 30-minute tutorial of me actually going out and finding three broken links; you can see how I do it; it’s just ugly, it’s not edited, you just watch me do it,” – I would watch the entire thing! And if also in that pop-up where I enter my email address you say, “And also we’re gonna send you tips on how to continue your broken link building and build an entire SEO strategy every week.

So enter your email below and you get both of those things.” So you packaged your newsletter along with the downloadable as the thing they’re signing up for. If they don’t know you’re signing up for the newsletter, then you’re tricking them into signing up for your newsletter.

When we do it, we do both. They get the downloadable and they get weekly tips on how to continue doing the thing they’re opting in for. So it’s all about just framing it for the person correctly and setting their expectations.

And the second part of that would be what you do to keep people engaged. That’s a… That’s a list question in general, it’s not specific to content upgrades. People say… Yeah, but…

We’ll get to it later, yeah. I love the tip that you should actually set an expectation that people are signing up for your email list and there… that they’re about to get updates. So basically you’re using content upgrade as the first upgrade, the first cool thing that you send them and from there you continue, right? Yeah, and it’s not just telling them.

But here’s the deal: every week we’re spending 20-30-40 hours writing really good content. That’s good stuff! It’s a bonus, it’s a… Like, we look at our newsletter as a product that’s free.

It’s a freemium price, that’s not even freemium, it’s just a free product, right. So it’s like a $1,000 course or a $99 a month Ahrefs service, or whatever the price is, but this is free.

So this is a product you’re actually getting. So I believe it is critical to position it as such to people through your copy. This isn’t just some newsletter around here, this is the Ahrefs’ exclusive newsletter where we share behind-the-scenes stuff about what we’re doing and what’s working.

You get that plus you get a 30-minute tutorial video. Do you want in on that? Like, it’s just… not just telling them but positioning it correctly to show them where they want to be on it. After reading that one, they sent us a copy.

I love that advice, totally love it. And, like, you frame it super-awesome! Okay, so let’s get to the off-site strategies. Tell us what you tried and what you enjoyed and what you didn’t enjoy.

So the number one thing we’d like to do for off-site is partnerships. And partnerships can look a lot of different ways. Many people use Facebook Ads…but that hasn’t been something that’s been successful for us.

We’ve been trying for three years to get Facebook Ads to work. We’ve had moderate success, and other people have done great with them. But the thing that’s worked well for us, and that’s all I can speak to. It’s what’s worked well for us and consistently for clients of ours.

So there are several different types of partnerships. You’ve mentioned partner webinars. We’ve found that to be really effective in almost every industry, especially software. Because they’re very underused in the software industry, they’re used a tonne in the information marketing world, but in many other industries they’re not at all.

So when you think about this, this is another lesson Noah taught me, I’m just gonna reverb… I will just reiterate everything Noah taught me… But number one in trying to market a product is to have a really good product.

Like, focus on that first. Second, when you go to try to market that product, find audiences, find people who have audiences of your potential customers. And give them a reason to talk about you. Okay, so what is a reason I could get, like, would Ahrefs’ audience be potential customers for me? Absolutely! Would my audience be potential customers for you? Absolutely! So if it’s me, and I’m thinking “Alright, I want to grow my list, Ahrefs has got a big audience a super popular blog.

How can I get them to tell their audience about me?” Because it’s like… let’s just dream for a minute. Let’s say you guys tomorrow send an email out with a link to set up “Click this link and join Bryan’s newsletter. It’s amazing!” I would get two to three-four-five thousand subscribers from that.

Now, can I get y’all to send that email? Probably not. But how can I get y’all to do something that promotes me in order for me to grow my list and get more leads so that I can sell people? So one way is by doing a partner webinar.

Like, team-up and… just think about a partner webinar is you just teaching someone else’s audience. So obviously, you guys that are watching this video right now are interested in list building. How about me and Ahrefs having a webinar about list building? Or how about this? How about I do an interview with Tim in a free course that he’s releasing and talk about list building, which is what we’re doing right now.

So we’ll pick up two or three hundred subscribers from this interview, and that was intentional. I’m gonna give a few call-to-actions throughout there so it’ll be natural that will lead you back to my stuff so that you can sign up for our newsletter and be on our list and be a lead for us.

So partner webinars are a good way to do that. Another partnership type that’s really popular is guest posting. That is a partnership: you’re partnering with someone else to write on their site. I’ll look at it.

Because I come from a legion-list building world, not an SEO world, I look at guest posting. If done correctly, that’s a great list building event that can then be optimised for SEO if you do that correctly with a strategic link place.

And a lot of people that do guest posting come from the world of “I want to write a guest post on Ahrefs blog so I can get a link that points back to a post.” I’m like: “Just do both!” Because if you do a guest post curricula, if you use something called “the expanded guest post” which is – just google “expand a guest post,” it’ll be a blog post that comes up on our site, you can read about it, – you actually create a content upgrade in that post.

So let’s just paint a scenario real quick. You invite me to the Ahrefs blog to write a post about list building. You guys want to rank for “list building,” an incredibly competitive keyword. You want to buy someone in to write on that topic.

I published the post on your site, I linked back, maybe to an article on my site somewhere, and I created a content upgrade on your site. It’s like, “Hey, come and join this one-hour… Just enter your email address to get it.

“And then… it’s a partnership, it’s two ways, it has to benefit both of us, so I actually emailed my list about that post. So I emailed 200,000 people about the post and sent them back to the Ahrefs site.

They picked up a couple of our signups for it. They included my content upgrade in their post. So I pick up 400 or 500 subscribers from it and then long-term they’ll eventually rank for that keyword.

So it’ll be… A partnership has to be beneficial on both sides. So guest posting is a great way to get noticed. Partner webinars are another way. One thing that’s not used a tonne is lead magnet swaps. This is something we found to be very effective.

And a lead magnet swap is won like this… Let’s just take the guest post example: instead of writing the guest post for Ahrefs, what if they handed us one of their most popular lead magnets? Maybe one yells “lead magnet is a free trial.” Maybe they typically do a 30-day free trial.

As an example, I don’t know if you do trials or not. But let’s say you decided to give us a 90-day free trial, and we took one of our premium products and turned it into, like, we have an entry-level course on list building that’s 300 dollars and we gave that to your audience.

And we both emailed each other’s lists about it. If we promoted that well to our list and just sent one or two emails to our list, we would both pick up hundreds and hundreds of customers from that.

So take one of your most popular lead magnets or maybe even an entry-level product, turn it free, and exchange it with someone that has an audience that’s relative to you. The whole game of partnerships is to find people who have audiences that you want to get in front of and give them a reason to talk about you.

You have to keep the partners’ best interests in place. So our partner tools are another variation of this.This is something that’s much more advanced. You need an engineering team to be able to do it.

But we create every month… we create a new free tool and get a partner to sponsor it, and then we launch the tool. So, as an example, we created a tool called List Goal. If you’re interested in building your list or want to make sure your list is being helped that you go to ListGoal.

..We’ve had about 12,000 people sign up for it in the first 45 days of the tool. So we built the tool, we partnered with another company, they put their name on it, we share the leads, and we both promote the crap out of it.

In the first 30 days, we promoted it at a large event and included it in all of the popular blog posts, email sequences, onboarding sequences, and so on.And we get a thousand or so new subscribers every month from that.

So we’ve created, I think, seven different tools that we partner with people on, and we do that every month. So that’s our… That’s the partnership we’re completely focused on. I don’t want to do any other types of partnerships right now. It’s just partner tools because they work really well.

It’s actually kind of hard to do. There’s not a lot of competition on them. So I would encourage you to experiment with a few things. I’m giving you four ideas. So your tools will be the most difficult; lead magnet swap would be one of the easier ones; guest posting and partner webinars – those will be four partnership strategies, and there are lots of other variations as well.

That’s something for us we have found to be cheap to almost free to do, extremely effective. You get an immediate result from it and it’s something you can do over and over again. The last example I’ll leave you with is ConvertKit, our partner with ListGoal.

Convertkit in, let’s see… I think it was 2016. Nathan started the year right around. I think it was, like, $10,000 to $20,000 MRR. Over the course of 2016, they did 142 partner webinars. There are 142!That’s one, basically, every other day or a little faster than that, I guess, or no.

Yeah, one every two to three days. I did a partner webinar. And they’ve gone from $10,000 MMR to just over a million dollars a month MMR.So it’s 1 million dollars in recurring revenue every month.

And what they did to get there was a partner webinar, 142 partner webinars in one year. The guy that led that was Darrell Vesterfelt and just did it over and over and over and over and over again. I made a system out of it and just kept doing what worked.

So I would encourage you to experiment with a couple partnerships, find the one that works for you, and just keep doing it. Wow, 100 webinars! Let me just ask one follow-up question about that. Because I think I tried to offer, like, a few people that have some audience to do a webinar about Ahrefs.

And I think I was turned down. So I was probably doing something wrong, and probably that something wrong was about being a win-win for everyone. So, for example, if I do a webinar about Ahrefs for your list, what would make you want to do it? Like, what’s your win there? Well, one thing I’ll say off the bat is that a lot of software companies really suck at partnerships.

They’re like… I had someone, I won’t name names, at a software company come to me and say they would give me a free year of their software, the premium software, to do a partner webinar and to promote it with their audience.

But I’ll need to get 1,500 people to register for it. And I started doing the math and that was $600. Like, why would I ever do that? That makes no sense at all.

Why don’t I just do a webinar for my own list for my own product and make $20,000 versus making $600 to promote your product?! Like, a little bit just makes no sense at all. So I would look at it.

….The first thing I would do for you, Tim, this one thing I would encourage anyone the first time they’re doing something, is go talk to someone who’s done that before. So, I would say, go talk to Daryl, go talk to Nathan, and talk to them about partner webinars for software companies. That’d be step number one.

And always do that. Try to find a coach that is the ultimate fast-forward button in any business. It’s to find someone who’s done it, pay them money, or get really close to them so they’ll tell you or give you advice on how to do it.

That just speeds up everything. So it’ll be number one. Number two would be, yeah, you have to make it a win for them. So if your perfect partner is Brian Dean, it’s like SEO-SEO, or Matthew Barby, or some of these, like Tommy Griffith, any of these SEO guys that are teaching the infospace, probably other software companies as well, but those guys are prime.

Because they don’t have a competing product at all but they have, like, your perfect audience. So the question is not how you pitch to me, it’s how you pitch to Brian. How you pitch to Brian is what does Brian want? First of all, I would say partner webinars are one of the bigger asks that you can make of someone.

So if the first time you ever talk to someone, you’re asking them for something, you’ve gone wrong. So you have to have an existing relationship with someone to do this, especially an advanced partnership.

So I look at… Let’s actually rewind all the way to the beginning of the partnership conversation. I would make a list of 100 people. So we talked about what audiences you want to get in front of, like, you have a reason to talk about you.

First, you need to start with who you want to work with. Like in a dream world, you could click… You could wave your magic wand and have 100 people doing webinars, guest posts, or any other variation of the partnership you want to do.

Who would they be? Who would those people be? Spend three hours writing them down. It’s probably… You’re going to get through that number thirty or forty pretty easily, but by the time you get to, like, number sixty, you’re really scratching your head.

But spend the time to figure out who they are and then divide that list into three sections: People you know — so, who are the people you’ve had a conversation with, at least on webcam or in person, preferably in person, with whom have you previously spoken?

Who do you kind of know – so I put us probably in the kind-of-know category, like, we’ve talked, we emailed, like, this probably brings our relationship a little further but would probably still be in the kind-of-know category.

And then people you don’t know – people you kind of know but maybe you never talked to before, you just kind of follow from a distance. And for the log, just throw out the first two sections, get rid of the don’t-know people, get rid of the kind-of-know people and just focus on the people you know.

For me, I have about nine close friends, probably five really close friends in this industry. It’s like they kind of do similar stuff to me. I’m going blurry here. I don’t know… So, anytime I go to pitch something like the ListGoal, a tool we created, like, I know Nathan, he slept at my house before.

So, like, I know him, we text probably once a month or every other week or something to kind of keep in touch with each other, a few other friends that are in the same boat. Like, when I’m going to do a partnership, I start with them.

That is easy. So I start with people I know and have a really close relationship with. That lets you kind of figure out your pitch a little bit and figure out what works. Because you’re not going to…

They’re not going to say no to you if you only go half way.They’ll do it because they like you. And that’s what you want to start with. Start with that easy, low-hanging fruit.

For people that are maybe in a little earlier on or don’t have quite the brand recognition of you guys, Tim, start with people that are in the same demographic of you. So if you have 500 subscribers on your list, don’t pitch someone with 100,000 subscribers unless you know them well.

Stick with people that are at your level or maybe one rung above you. If you don’t have anyone you know at all, start with people you kind of know. Maybe you’re in a course with someone, maybe you’re in the drip community for the ESP that you have.

You’re like… You kind of see them around a little bit, but you have never really talked to them before. Find somebody that’s in that same category. So, first start with people you know and make it a win for them.

And then have a long-term plan for the people you kind of know and people that you don’t know at all. So for those people I don’t know at all, I’ll literally start by sharing a success I’ve had from using their product.

So for you guys, Tim, if I were trying to work, like, to form a tool partnership with you guys, I would probably start by talking with you. Just start a conversation if we haven’t talked in a year.

And I’d probably share some wins I’ve had from your tool. I’m a subscriber of Ahrefs, and I found this really cool technique recently that I’m sure every SEOer knows but I’ve never known and I kind of stumbled upon it.

I would just start by sharing that with you and what it’s done for me. Like, I discovered – and every SEOer watching this will laugh at me – that when I run my site through Ahrefs and I just go.

….I think it’s called Best by Links. On the left sidebar, you know this is, like, every SEOer should be pitching that. Because every site I’ve ever been to outside of one has massive issues with this.

Their number one post that has the most links ranks for nothing. Go track, go to the biggest site you know and go plug their thing in Ahrefs and look for Best by links. I found one. I’ll mention his name because we’re friends with Michael Hyatt. They have like 2,500 links to michaelhyatt.

com/platform. I think it is and somebody can fact-check me by going to Ahrefs but in that ballpark. With 2,500 links to that page, everybody knows how hard it is. I think it’s 2,500 unique domains. I could be wrong on that, but it is a lot, and they rank for nothing.

So literally, if you’re trying to optimise that site, you could write new content, you don’t need to build links, you don’t even need to write stuff. You just need to go find a post you have for “platform,” probably, I’m guessing, 301 redirect, or just take that information and copy and paste it and put it on the “platform” page.

And you will rank for “platform” pretty quickly as long as it’s halfway-related content. We started doing that on our site. Well, I mean we’re gon na stop writing new blog posts. Let’s just go back and.

….We’ve got… Let’s go back and just make those posts rank. So if I were trying to pitch you, I would just share that. Like, “Tim, dude, I use y’all’s tool. I think this is the best feature in the entire tool for established websites, because none of them know what their most linked-to pages are and almost none of the pages rank for stuff.

“This is the easiest thing to ever do for SEO. So I would start with just sharing and then start the conversation. You’re gon na ask what I’m not gon na ask. I’m gon na ask what you’re up to. And then through that I’ll share in some natural form like we just did that we’re doing tool partnerships.

And I found that when asking for a tool partnership, people usually just ask for some kind of… So what they’re doing is like, “Man, I’d love to do one of those with you.” – “Cool, let’s go do it.

“For a partner webinar, you have to know what the win is for your partner. So for Brian, for instance, money is probably not gon na be the pitch for him, like, it probably isn’t. But what he does do is what he does every year, Brian.

….I’m talking about Brian Dean of Backlinko.com, if anybody that’s listening doesn’t know I’m talking about. Brian performs this exhaustive task once a year…Moz does this, but it isn’t as exhaustive as Brian’s.

He analyzes–I believe it was a million or ten million pages last year–and runs the ranking factor study on it.Moz did one with, like, 10,000. Brian did one with a million. I think last year he may have gone to ten million. I could be wrong with that.

But I know he teams up with SEMrush on that. I don’t know if he teams up with y’all on that. Yeah, he teams up with us as well. Alright, good. So, like, I would go and be like, “How can we give you more data? How can we make your stuff better?” That’s what he wants. He wants really good content.

How could we possibly give you…Could we give every customer that buys your course a year of our product or something? I would find a way to find some unique way to give Brian what he wants, which is… He wants more customers, but it is his number one driver.

And that’s gon na be… that’s gon na come out of conversations with them. You have to talk to humans and have conversations with them. Another category for a more established business is all of your customers.

Like, people in the people-you-know category — you might not know their names, but they know you, and they pay you $100 to $200 or $300 a month for your service. Like, who are your existing customers? Go talk to them, be like, “Hey, you use Ahrefs, you have an audience that’s related to ours, we’d love to team up into a partnership with you.

We’ll give you money and we’ll give you free Ahrefs for life if you get certain benchmarks or something. And it activates total wins for them—you get a bunch of new customers. So it comes down to you having conversations with people, figuring out what they want, and giving them that.

A lot of great advice! I’m glad I don’t have to take notes because we’re recording this. You even shared an SEO tip in a video about list building, so it’s all… I would want to ask you, like, 20 more questions on all this.

….Yeah, it’s a good topic, but we’re running out of time. So we have one last question to cover and this is the question that we started discussing before about keeping your list engaged. Because you did the upside-down homepage, you did the content upgrades, you swept the audience, you swept the lead magnets, you did all that stuff.

Like, how do… Again, the issue is that you’re using all these different methods to put people on your list. Some downloaded your freebie, some saw your upside-down welcome page, some came from a joint webinar with someone.

How do you, like, make your list engaged while not putting a lot of your time there? Because, for example, segmenting every person who came from can take a long time.Like, what is your advice here? So consider the entire, or nearly the entire, scope of your business, such as your customer acquisition channels in three stages.

List building is all about attracting leads. That’s what we’ve been talking about. That’s what this entire section is about. Then you have to teach and build a relationship with them. You’re never going to get some.

.. I won’t say never because this does happen. But the conversion percentages are really low. If a random stranger approaches you on the street and asks, “Hey, what do you do?” it’s like, “Oh, I help people get more customers.”

” Okay, cool, have a good day. ” Like, it very rarely goes from, “I just met you for the first time ever. I’m gon na give you seven dollars a month.” Which is what’s on y’all’s home page.

That practically never happens the first visit. So first you have to attract them and you have to capture them as a lead. So you can actually have a conversation with them because someone comes to your side to meet you in person.

And you don’t have a way to talk to them anymore? They’re not coming back, they’re going to forget you exist. You are the centre of your world and in your business, like, you think about it all day.

I think about it when we’re talking and then I kind of forget you exist and then randomly remember you, like, maybe once a month. Maybe, if you’re lucky. But everybody else, like, encounters you and then leaves.

So you have to attract them and capture them. The second thing you have to do is teach them and primarily build a relationship with them. That’s what y’all do really well with… What you do on your blog is build a relationship.

And then the third piece is monetizing. Then you can actually make money from someone. Once you’ve attracted them, you have a relationship with them, you can solve a problem for them. They’re obviously on your list, so they want their problem solved by giving you more traffic via SEO.

And now you can actually monetize them. So what we’re talking about specifically is how you teach them to have a relationship with someone. So just in life, how do you do it? Like, I have friends that I keep up with and friends that I don’t keep up with.

Like, I have a friend named Amy Collins who was the best at being one of the groomsmen in my wedding. She was a friend I grew up with for a long time, so she’s standing on my side in our wedding or whatever.

And I wish our relationship was still as strong as it was, but it’s not. Like, I moved away. We live seven hours away, but I text her probably once a month. If I wanted that relationship to be stronger, you know what I would do? I would text her more often.

I would pick up the phone and talk to her. So, how do you build a relationship with anyone? How do you have a better marriage? You talk to your wife more, you talk to your husband more, you share more stuff.

Like, if you want your relationship with anyone to go away, just stop talking to him – it’ll go away. And then you’ll see me a year from now, and you’ll try to pick up where you left off, but it will never be the same if you don’t talk to them.

Like, we have some friends we went to church with forever and they’ve moved away. They were one of our closest friends for the last eight years, and that relationship is just over. It’s not completely over, but it’ll never be the same again.

We’re not gonna see each other two or three times a week, we just won’t. Like, it’s just not happening anymore and you have to be fine with that. So, on the business side, how do you build a relationship with someone?

They’ve joined the list, they’ve had enough interest and this is where you have to be psychologically. Someone had enough interest to say, “Please, email me more.” Think about that: who wants more email? No one! But this person, at least for that one point in time, wanted you to email them.

So they have a lot of interest in what you’re doing. Now, what you have to do is just continue to build the relationship with them by teaching them and by helping them. So what do we do? We used to do what most people do, which is.

….We would just write some kind of one-off blog post, so we’d publish every week. We’d pick a new topic, whatever that was. I would write about it and I’d publish it.

And there was not a lot of rhyme or reason to it, but if it sounded cool and it sounded topical, I just wrote and published it. I think there’s a lot of merit in that at different stages of business.

However, what we do now is, and you asked about this and our prep questions, we tell a story. We don’t tell our story, no one cares about your story. What people care about is their story. They care about themselves, what the problem is, and how you can fix it and make their lives better. That’s what they care about.

So what we do is divide up… We used to do it every month. Now we do it two months at a time. So every eight weeks we do a series. And we’ll pick a topic that people are interested in right now for this month, this being filmed.

We’re doing email… oh no, we’re doing sales funnels. So we’re picking the aim of the track to teach and monetize. We’re doing the aim section right now. We usually pick one of the topics, one of those big topics, and then pick one subtopic of that and just talk about that for eight weeks.

So we have, like, week one we always do this, week two we always do this, and all the way through week eight. We have a specific plan where we produce content for those people. And the only thing that goes up publicly on the blog for that is week eight when we publish a blog post.

But the other seven weeks are all private stuff on the email list. You only get it if you own an email list. And we launched a tool in that section, wrote a blog post about it, did some email series, and did a live challenge.

So if like this month, I think it’s week six, we do our live challenges. And our live challenge is just like, “Hey, we’ve been talking about sales funnels for the last month. And I know everybody just likes that. It’s been fun. You may be sick of the topic. Well, I’m not going to talk about it anymore.

We’re going to do a webinar tomorrow. We’re not going to be selling anything, but on the webinar tomorrow I’m gonna make a sales funnel from scratch while you watch. So for Ahrefs, “Tomorrow I’m gonna show you how to get those posts on your site that have a bunch of links to them, I’m gonna show you how to get them to actually rank for stuff.

Because they are the easiest thing ever to rank, no one even tracks that. ” I’ve literally never seen an SEO person talk about that, but I don’t camp out on the SEO blog, so someone probably has.

But in my layman research, I’ve never seen one talk about that. So tomorrow we’re gonna do that. I’m gonna break down our own blog and tell you where we sucked, where we totally missed the boat, and we’re going to fix it while you watch it.

People adore it; it’s fantastic, and it’s excellent content for the blog post, which will be published in a few weeks.So we just have an eight-week schedule. Each week is kind of… templated out, we know the type of content to produce, and we just write it.

So we do a series on a topic that ends in an epic blog post that we can rank for SEO and have traffic for the long term. So we just have a content plan that serves the list and teaches them to build a relationship with them.

That’s what you get to focus on. Amazing! Thank you, Bryan. That was super awesome. I’m sure people are now overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge, and I’m sure many people will watch it twice.

At least, I think I am going to watch this again to actually make notes of the things I could do to grow our email list and make it better. So thank you; it was awesome.

Thanks, Tim.


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