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How to grow your email list like a pro

One of the most important things you can do with your blog is use it to grow your email list. Whether you’re new to blogging or a total pro, if you want to make money with your blog, it’s essential to have an email list.

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Why you need an email list

When I’m working with a business owner and I find out they don’t have an email list, I literally want to say, “Oh, bless your heart… you’ve screwed yourself out of so much money.”

Think I’m exaggerating?

There are several reasons you should have an email list.

Reason #1: The money is in the list

You may have heard that phrase thrown around before.

It’s funny because we’re so conditioned to focus our time and energy on social media as a primary way to reach and market to our customers, but email outperforms social media by a landslide.

Email campaigns also offer one of the highest conversion rates (an average of 40X more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined, according to a 2014 study by McKinsey and Company).

Reason #2: Email is more personal

Think of it like this. Email is like having a one-on-one conversation with your reader, whereas social is like having a group conversation. It’s direct communication and it won’t get lost in someone’s newsfeed.

It allows you to give your readers an inside peek, and helps you develop a relationship with your audience. And when readers know, trust, and like you, they will keep reading. They will share your content with their friends. And, most importantly, they will buy from you.

Reason #3: An email list is an asset — YOU own your list

No one can take it away from you. If people stopped using Facebook (Think it can’t happen? See: Myspace), you’d have no audience. Same with Twitter.

Plus, only a small percentage of your audience on Facebook or Twitter (roughly 2%) actually sees anything you post in their newsfeed anyway (unless you’re paying to promote your content).

You’ve already worked hard to earn those followers… why should you have to pay for them to see your posts? No thank you.

But with email lists, it’s a whole different ballgame. Even better, email marketing is a form of advertising that is virtually free. Yet so many people still don’t do it!

Today, we’re going to figure out why you’re not taking full advantage of an email list, and then we’re going to flip it around and show you how you can make the most out of yours, starting today.

6 common reasons you might not have an email list (or aren’t using one effectively)

I’m gonna take a guess and say that most of you fall into one of the following categories:

  • You don’t have an email list because you want to respect your readers’ inboxes. You don’t want to bombard them with emails
  • You’re afraid to put a popup (ohmygodshesaidpopup!) or ask for emails because you don’t want your readers to think you’re being too sales-ey
  • You signed up for MailChimp (or some other email service provider), but you have yet to actually put an opt-in form on your website or thought about how to grow your email list
  • You’ve got opt-in forms on your site and an email list, but you’ve never actually sent an email out to your subscribers
  • You’ve tried to send out a few emails, but the whole process was confusing, took too long, and what the hell are you going to write about anyway?
  • It’s so easy to get discouraged because you hear other bloggers talking about their thousands of subscribers (often like it’s not a big deal), while you’re struggling just to get a couple hundred

Trust me. I get it. I was there once, too.

The consequences of not having an email list (spoiler alert: you’ll lose money)

Many years ago, I started a small organic t-shirt company focused on positive messaging. Deep down, I knew I needed a way to reach out to people to let them know about upcoming sales, new designs, etc.

I had an email list, but I sent out maybe 2-3 emails a year. Seriously — I was so scared to irritate people. I wanted to respect their inbox, and I felt like if I emailed them too much, I’d seem desperate. In fact, when I would collect email addresses at trade shows, I’d even tell people, “Don’t worry — I’ll only email you a couple times a year at most.”

I think about that now, and I cringe — it sounds so insecure. That attitude and insecurity is probably one of the reasons that business ultimately didn’t take off.

But you know what? Every time I did send an email to my small subscriber list, we got sales. Like, lots of them. In fact, our conversion rate was about 10% which is good for retail. So with an email list of 100 people, for each email I sent, we got about 10 orders, most of which were for multiple items. Those single emails would sell more t-shirts in a day than we had sold in a whole month!

What that means is that the people on our list actually wanted to hear from us. That’s why they signed up in the first place. They wanted to buy from us. We just needed to remind them that we were there and that we still had great products for them. Instead, I shied away. I wonder what would have happened had I sent more emails?

Choosing an email service provider

First things first. If you don’t yet have an email list set up, stop what you’re doing right now and set up an account with an email service provider. There are several, but there are 2 that I recommend.

  1. MailChimp – They have a free plan that’s great for beginners. However, there are limitations with the free plan. You can upgrade to the business plan which starts at $10/month and increases as your subscriber count increases. It’s fine for a beginner, but once you build your list, you’ll probably want something more robust.
  2. Convertkit (affiliate link) – This is the email service I use and it’s amazing. If you plan on automating your emails, creating landing pages, and creating product launches, (which you should), you might want to make the leap to Convertkit now rather than trying to make the switch later. I am an advocate for investing in the best tools early on to help set you up for success. Their plans start at $29/month, but the ease of use, the design of the emails, and the automation makes it worth every penny.

Ok, now that you’ve got your account set up with an email service provider, it’s time to start collecting emails and growing your email list.

Maybe you have zero subscribers. Maybe you have 100. Hell, maybe you even have 10,000. Doesn’t matter. We want to up that.

Click here to get this as a PDF to reference later.

6 places to put an opt-in form that will grow your email list

To collect email addresses, you’ll need to put opt-in forms on your blog so people have a place to sign up. You can create opt-in forms via your email service provider, or via 3rd party apps or plugins. My favorite 3rd party plugin is SumoMe.

Once you create your opt-in forms, you’ll need to put them in various places on your site. Here are the 6 places I recommend putting an opt-in form.

Note: You don’t have to put opt-ins in ALL of these places. Think about your readers and put them where it makes the most sense for them.

#1: A landing page

One way to collect email subscribers is with a landing page. A landing page is simply a single page whose entire purpose in life is to collect an email address. That’s it.

You’ve seen hundreds of them. You’ve probably put your email address on dozens of them. They are usually big and bold and simple. Many have larger than life images that grab your attention, while others get your attention with their stark simplicity — maybe just a few words set up in gorgeous typography, and an eye-catching subscribe button.

Landing pages are designed to be unignorable. That’s why they are so effective.

Let’s say your blog is brand new, and you haven’t quite finished building your website. You can throw up a landing page without too much effort so when visitors land on your page (hence the name landing page), they at least have an opportunity to interact with you or your brand. Visitors get a feel for what you’re about, or what your business does, and if it resonates with them, they give you their email address.

Boom.

And if you’re trying to validate an idea to see if people are interested, you’ll know you have a winner on your hands if if people subscribe from your landing page. Congrats.

If you’re using your home page as your landing page, one strategy is to offer the reader 2 choices: subscribe, or go to the rest of the site. For instance, one button might ask you to subscribe, and the other button might say, “No thanks. Take me to the blog.”

If it fits your niche or your freebie, you can get really clever with these two buttons, and use psychological tactics to ensure readers click the subscribe button by making the other button utterly unappealing.

For instance, a dog trainer might have a landing page that looks like this:

Clever landing pages can be one of the best ways to grow your email list

Even though we KNOW it’s just a marketing ploy, we still don’t want to click the undesirable button.

If you want to take it even further, once they click the button and subscribe to your list, you can set up a “Thank You” page that encourages them to share your landing page with their friends. You can see a great example Tim Ferriss wrote on how Harry’s razors collected 100,000 emails in one week via a great landing page.

#2: Use a lightbox popup form to grow your email list

“OMG she said popup! No — I hate popups! I’d never have one on my site!”

I know, I know. We’ve been trained to think that popups are terrible, evil things, but I’m not talking about the scammy popups that come with flashing text and warning messages that you can’t X out of.

I’m talking about the kind of popup that looks really classy or cool. It fits the theme of your site, and comes with a great offering, such as a discount offer, or a killer freebie (more on that later). In other words, it offers something of value to the reader.

Something like this:

Popup forms can be an effective way to grow your email list
Yes, I crack myself up for using a men’s underwear site when talking about popups.

Or this:

An example of how to grow your list with a valuable opt-in using a pop-up form
This popup on Lewis Howes’s site is nicely done

You can set these popups to appear right when someone lands on your page, once someone has scrolled a certain percentage of the way down, or after a certain amount of time has passed. You can even set up an “exit intent” popup, which only pops up when someone goes to exit your page.

The thing is, like ’em or not, popup opt-ins work. They outperform other opt-in forms which is why so many websites use them. And if you do it right, people won’t hate them. In fact, they’ll GLADLY give you their email because you’ll be giving them something valuable in return for their email address.

PRO TIP: If you use a popup, don’t set it to appear immediately. Use common sense (and courtesy) and put yourself in the mind of your reader.

Let’s say they landed on your blog from a Pinterest pinned post. When they land on your post, if the first thing they see is a popup, (when what they wanted to see was your post), then you disrupted that experience — that chance of a good first impression.

You want to GIVE your reader something before you ASK something of them. It’s that simple.

On the flip side, let’s say a reader lands on your page, they’re reading along, and at this point, they are really interested in what you’re saying (because duh!). Then around the 50% mark of your article, a well-designed lightbox appears with a great opt-in offer that’s related to your topic and could help them.

At this point, you’ve already engaged them. So when a well-designed popup appears with a great freebie, they are much more likely to give you their email address.

#3: Add an opt-in form to the bottom of each blog post

I love this one because if someone makes it to the bottom of your post, you already have their attention. They read all the way through, which is exactly what you want.

So why not reward them with something valuable while they are still basking in the glow of excitement that was your blog post? Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but you get my drift. Strike while the iron is hot, so to speak.

Offer them a valuable lead magnet that is congruent with the blog post they just read. (More on that later.)

An example of an opt-in form at bottom of a blog post that can help grow your email list
An example of an opt-in form at the bottom of a blog post.

#4: Install an opt-in bar at the top of your page

I’m not sure what the technical term is, but I just call it an opt-in bar. You’ve probably seen these before. Usually these are set to stay at the top, even when the user scrolls. (They can also be at the bottom of the page).

These are simple and unintrusive, but they work well because even if your reader doesn’t subscribe right away, when they are ready, they don’t have to hunt down a subscribe button. Easy peasy.

An example of an opt-in bar at the top of a webpage - these can be very effective for helping you grow your email list

You can get a free opt-in bar from Hello Bar. They also have a pro version which gives you the option to remove their logo and add other features, but I’ve seen the free version on even some of the most sophisticated sites.

#5: Put a subscribe form on your sidebar

This is probably one of the most popular places to put an email subscription form. It’s unobtrusive, it’s inoffensive, and it’s probably the least effective place to put a subscribe button besides the footer.

I’m not saying not to put one on the sidebar, but you need to think strategically about it. First, if you have one, put it at the top of your sidebar so your reader sees it first.

Next, you need to spice up the copy, and add an incentive. Don’t just say, “Sign up for my newsletter!”

Which brings me to the next place to put an opt-in form.

#6: Put an opt-in in your footer

An opt-in form in the footer of your page is very similar to the sidebar, except it’s probably going to be the least effective option, simply because most people won’t make it to the bottom of your page before signing up. Again, it’s not a bad thing to put one there, but I would also have an opt-in in at least 1 or 2 other places on your page.

Use effective lead magnets (aka freebies) in your list-building strategy

It’s not enough just to put opt-in forms on your site. You need to give your readers something worth opting in for.

You see, most people just throw up a generic opt-in form that says something like, “Sign up for my newsletter to get news and updates.” This is a terrible approach. It makes it all about you, and not about your reader.

Blogger: “Hey, over here! Don’t you want updates on me?”

Me: “No. I don’t even want news and updates on Bradley fucking Cooper unless it has to do with me.

Hell, even the word “news” is depressing these days, and why should I want updates on you just because I landed on your webpage? What’s in it for me?

The key is to give your readers something they want. We want to dangle a shiny beautiful carrot in their faces. Something they can’t help but grab.

Let’s say you have a fashion blog, and you just wrote a post on upcoming fall fashion. You might offer a video or a guide that shows 10 simple (yet gorgeous) ways to wear a scarf. Boom. Quick, easy to implement and understand, and instantly adds value to them by expanding their fashion horizons. (Because who doesn’t want to be that woman who rocks a scarf like Snoop Dogg rocks a mic?)

If you have a mommy blog, your readers might appreciate a list of your top 10 productivity hacks (because y’all moms always seem to be juggling a gazillion things at once).

Checklists are great. If you write a travel blog, a checklist of 10 things to always have on hand in your carry-on bag in case the airline loses your luggage is handy. Especially if you’re me and you fly to Vegas for a girls’ trip to celebrate your best friend’s 40th birthday and you don’t even bring a carry-on bag and the airline loses your luggage and you have to buy all new stuff and the airline only agrees to give you $25 for “new underwear.” THANKS, US AIR.

Don’t get intimidated by this step. It doesn’t have to be super fancy. It just has to be valuable. In fact, the best carrots (lead magnets) are often ones that are short and tactical. Things that the reader can implement right away.

If you don’t have a freebie that pertains to your blog post, you can always convert your blog post to a PDF in Google Drive, and make that your lead magnet. Just say something like, “Want a copy of this post to print and read on the go? Sign up and I’ll send you a PDF right away!”

It’s that simple!

Beyond the opt-in form: other ways to get more subscribers

There are other ways you grow your email list outside of just your opt-in forms.

  • Encourage sharing — Ask your readers to share your content, both in your posts and in your emails. If they signed up, chances are they’ll know someone who would also be interested in your blog
  • Online contest/giveaway — Host a contest or giveaway that requires someone to opt-in to enter (I recommend KingSumo)
  • Create a free online tool or product and require an email before they can get it — I saw this recently done by a graphic designer. She created a really cool font and gave it away for free, but you had to give your email address to get it.
  • Integrate social media and email
    • Promote your carrot on social (link to a special landing page for your freebie instead of linking to your homepage)
    • Add a call to action button on your Facebook page to get your Facebook fans to sign up
    • Use share links in your emails so others can share your actual email
  • Do you use video? Add a call to action to your videos to encourage subscribers
  • Put a CTA to subscribe on every page of your site
  • Guest blogging — This is one of the best methods for list building. Write a kick ass guest post on a site that has a bigger audience than you. Instead of just linking to your homepage in your byline, create a specific landing page or page on your site with a lead magnet that goes perfectly with your guest post. At the bottom of the post, give them a teaser for your lead magnet and link to the page where they can get it.
  • Co-promotions / JVs — Team up with another blogger in your space and combine your resources! You create one lead magnet, she creates another, and you both promote them both as a package deal (and get new subscribers to each of your lists!)
  • Webinar — Host a webinar and get emails during registration

List-building challenge

Ok, now you know why you need an email list. You have some recommendations on email service providers. You know 6 places you can put opt-in forms on your site. I gave you some examples of lead magnets to use to help maximize your list-building efforts. And lastly, I gave you 10+ other ways you can build your email list.

My challenge to you: post a comment below with:

  1. How many subscribers you currently have right now, at this moment (if it’s zero, that’s fine!)
  2. What method(s) you read here that you haven’t tried (but you’re going to implement)

Bonus points if you check in later and let us all know how much your list has grown.

Good luck!

Click here to get this guide as a PDF to reada again later.

 

6 quick ways to generate 20 blog post topics in under an hour

You know what sucks? That feeling of knowing you need to write a blog post, but you’re all out of blog post ideas and your mind is drawing a big fat blank.

You’re looking in the notebook on your desk where you jot random ideas (some of which make absolutely no sense to you later… like literally, what do those words even mean?), and you’re still not coming up with anything interesting to write about.

Everything you come up with is lame, and you’re desperate because you’ve vowed not to let another week go by without getting a new post up. You’ve been scouring other blogs for inspiration — but they all seem to have their shit together, and you wonder if this whole blog thing is just a big waste of time.

I get it.

Sometimes just coming up with a good topic to write about can be overwhelming, but luckily, there are several places you can look to for ideas and inspiration on those days when you’re just not feeling very creative. And once you have a couple of ideas on what to write about, you can actually turn those into several posts.

Where to find blog post ideas

Comments on your blog — Remember the scene at the end of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy realizes that she’s safe at home, and she says, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.” Well, sometimes if you’re looking for a blog post idea, sometimes you don’t have to go looking any further than your own comments section.

Go take a look at the posts that drew the most comments and re-read them. Comments are a great way to get inside the head of your readers and find out what they really like, don’t like, or are dying to know. Pay particular attention to the questions your readers ask. Chances are if one person wants to know more about something, others do, too.

Comments on other blogs — Just like the comments on your own blog can be useful, comments on other bloggers’ sites can be a wealth of information, too. Find bloggers in your niche and stalk poke around their comments.

I like to scour the comments of blogs that are super popular and have dozens and dozens of comments. I can often find inspiration for a blog topic idea in just a couple of minutes with this technique.

Amazon reviews — This is a great place to get blog post ideas. Find a book that’s in your niche that has a lot of reviews (bad or good). Go check them out.

For example, to keep with the theme of this post, I typed “content creation ideas” into Amazon’s search and came across a book called Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content. I chose this book because it currently has 56 reviews, mostly positive.

A quick read of the first several reviews is somewhat revealing. Almost every reviewer had very positive comments on the author’s suggestion of freewriting — writing a first draft without any internal editing. Just getting words down on the page.

Since almost every reviewer mentioned how helpful it was to implement the freewriting technique into their writing practice, then that’s a potential topic idea.

Obviously you don’t want to just regurgitate the same information that the author wrote, but you can certainly do your own research and put your own spin on how to use freewriting to help conquer writer’s block.

Table of Contents sections in books — While you’re there poking around in Amazon, you can also glean a ton of information from the table of contents of books in your niche.

Generally a TOC will have a main topic broken down into several smaller ones. Look for things that would make interesting topics.

Google related searches — When you have a broad topic idea, but you want to nail it down to something more niche specific, Google suggest is a great way to find blog topic ideas.

Just type your topic into Google. You may see some ideas in the dropdown as you’re typing, but what I like to do is hit enter, then scroll all the way to the bottom of the results page and look at the “Searches related to” results.

Let’s say for instance, I had a knitting blog (I have no idea why I thought of that… I’ve never knitted in my life). If I type knitting into Google and scroll down, this is what I get.

Knitting blog topic ideas from Google's related search feature

I started with the hugely broad topic of knitting and I have 6 solid blog post ideas from this (I disregarded the knitting blogs and knitting videos results). Pretty simple!

Google keyword tool — Another good place to find things to write about on your blog. (Thanks, Google!) To access it, you’ll need to set up a Google Adwords account, but you don’t have to actually buy an ad.

Once you set up your account, just go in to your Adwords account, and click on “Search for new keywords…” then type in your keyword and click “Find ideas.”

Find writing ideas for your blog with Google's keyword planner

The results page is jam packed with similar keywords that can be turned into blog topic ideas. For instance, again, with the knitting theme (seriously though, if you ever see me with knitting needles, just take them away before I poke my eye out), we see lots of potential things to write about.

These ad groups can spark ideas, and if you want to get even more ideas, click on one of them and look at all of the keyword strings inside. I see circular knitting needles (you could write a post on what types of needles should be used for which projects), or knitting wool (so you could write about the different kinds of wool, etc).

Looking for blog topics with Google's keyword planner

Generate a month’s worth of blog topics in 5 minutes

If you want more ideas, just change your keyword up a little in any of the above methods, and get even more ideas for what you can write about. I’ve used these techniques to come up with 3-4 blog post ideas (about a month’s worth if you write once a week) in just 5 minutes.

I like to keep a running list of all the ideas (even ones I don’t use) so I can refer back to them in case I’m ever stuck for blog post ideas later.

5 mistakes to avoid when you launch a new product

The time is here — you’re ready to launch a new product on your website.

You’ve spent days, weeks, or even months creating a killer info product that will become your new source of passive income, the Holy Grail of online marketing.

You slaved for another week, setting up your social media plan, drafting an email blast to your subscribers, and now you’re ready to hit the ground running. It’s finally time to launch your sales page.

Ready, set, PUBLISH!

Now that your product page is live, you hit that gloriously scary send button for your email campaign. (Am I the only one that has a brief moment of sheer panic every time I hit send on an email campaign?) You post across your social media accounts and get excited when you see a few likes on your Facebook post. A good sign.

You wait patiently for the PayPal app on your phone to ding, indicating you made your first sale. Ok, so the first sale isn’t happening as quickly as you thought it would, but you know it’s coming.

You hop over to Google Analytics and see that you’ve had 60 hits to your sales page. Awesome! Aaaaannnnny minute you’re going to get a sale.

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Now you’ve received 100 hits on the page. And Still. No. Sale.

This is one of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur. The excitement of creating something that will make you money, shadowed by the reality that no one is buying your product.

This moment though — this moment of sheer disappointment — is what either makes or breaks most entrepreneurs.

Most entrepreneurs would be inclined to assume that no one wanted the product, and fairly quicky move on to the next idea.

However, a small few of us know it’s important to deconstruct the process from start to finish to see where something might have gone wrong, or what could be improved, before writing it off as “another idea that didn’t work.” This is when you should take a step back and look at everything objectively (an absolute must in order to be a successful entrepreneur).

If you’ve had hundreds, or thousands of views on your sales page, and not a single sale (or only a few sales… the ones from your mom don’t count), the issue isn’t necessarily with your product. There are several potential mistakes you might be making on your sales page so I’m going to talk about the most common reasons why you may be lacking in sales when you launch a new product.

1: Nobody wants your product

Notice I didn’t say that your product isn’t a good product. I just said that there’s no demand for it. So many of us skip the step of validating our idea to make sure it could be profitable before we spend our valuable time creating it.

Sometimes validating your idea is simply a matter of a Google search. If other people are selling a product like yours successfully, it means there’s demand for it. Other times you have to dig a little deeper, but before creating your product, always make sure that there’s an audience who actually wants what you’re selling.

If you’re getting lots of hits to your sales page, and likes on your social promo posts, then that’s a good indication that your product is at least interesting, but you can’t rely on social numbers alone. You need to talk to your audience. Go where they hang out and ask them if this is something they would buy.

2: Your price is too high… or too low

I caught you by surprise with the “too low” part, huh? Well, having a price that’s too low can be just as detrimental to sales as pricing that’s too high.

Let’s say you created an ebook, and you’re charging $5 for it. $5 is almost free. If I land on a page for a $5 information product, I’d assume I’d be getting something with a value only slightly better than free. Therefore, it probably isn’t worth the time and trouble for me to find my wallet, take out my credit card, enter those numbers, my billing address, etc. You get the idea.

However, if I saw an ebook that I wanted, and the price was $10, or even $20, I’d actually be more willing to pull out my credit card and buy it, because I would see it as having more perceived value. Something worth me taking the time to actually go through the process of buying it. Crazy, huh?

Your time is valuable, your work is valuable, so don’t be afraid to assign the appropriate value to your product.

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, by one of my favorite artists:

“Look, it’s my misery that I have to paint this kind of painting, it’s your misery that you have to love it, and the price of the misery is thirteen hundred and fifty dollars.” ~Mark Rothko

Just as you want to validate your product, you also want to do research to see what others are charging for similar products in your niche. This will give you a good gauge of what people are willing to pay. This will give you a baseline price to start with.

You are the ultimate judge on what you believe your product is worth. Don’t base your pricing simply on metrics like “# of pages in an ebook.” I’ve seen ebooks with just 10 pages or so sell successfully for $20 all the way up to $99. Set your price and adjust accordingly based on audience feedback.

3: Your sales copy isn’t hooking the readers

Ok, on to the actual sales page copy. This is important, because it’s where most of us go wrong.

We write copy that is compelling to us, but not necessarily the reader. Our natural inclination is to talk about ourselves and our product, when instead, we should be talking about them.

Your readers are on your sales page because they are looking for something to solve their problem. When they are in potential buying mode, they only care about themselves, so make the whole page about them.

For instance, let’s say you’re shopping, and you find an awesome new boutique with the cutest clothes. You go inside, find the best outfit, and as you are headed to the fitting room, the salesperson is talking to you about why they opened the store, how long it took them to get everything set up, etc.

At that moment, all you really want to do is go try this killer dress on to see how fabulous it looks on you. It’s not that you don’t care about what they have to say… it’s just that you care more about how awesome you’re going to look in that dress!

Lead with something that will make them think, “Oh my gosh, she totally understands me”. Hook them right up front, not halfway down the page. More about them, less about you.

Another thing we often do is focus on the features, but not necessarily the benefits. Benefits are what sells a product. Benefits explain how the product will make your life better.

Here’s another example: Let’s say you’re shopping (I’m sensing a pattern here…) and you find a pair of amazing Jimmy Choos. I mean, these shoes are so fabulous, they give you heart palpitations.

If we were to describe the features, we might say:

  • Made in Italy
  • Peep toe
  • Leather Sole
  • Patent Leather upper

…yawn… Those features (which I pulled straight from the website where I found these shoes) would not entice me one single bit to buy these babies.

What if, instead, they just had a big page, with a large image of the shoes, and the copy:

Sexy peep-toe stilettos will make your legs look fucking fabulous.
Men will want to do you, and women will want to be you.

What this sales page for Jimmy Choo shoes can teach you about what mistakes to avoid when you launch a new product
I wear a size 8 in case anyone’s feeling generous. (Image courtesy of Raffaello Network)

Those 3 things (fabulous legs, sex appeal, and being girl-crushed on) are benefits. Benefits sell products. Features are fine and all, but they don’t necessarily help me, the buyer. Benefits, however, are what makes us go, “I have to have that!”

So make a list of both features and benefits, and highlight the benefits throughout your sales page. You can put features in there as a bulleted list if it’s appropriate, things such as the number of pages, whether you’ve got checklists or worksheets included with the ebook, etc. The benefits would be things like, “I’ll show you how to do x like a pro in y number of days” type of thing.

You also want to make sure the focus is always on them. Don’t make your sales page all about me, me, me. One thing that might help is to ask yourself where your audience is at before they have your product, and where they’ll be after your product, and connect those dots for them in your sales copy.

4: You have too many distractions on your sales page

Another mistake I often see bloggers make is that they have too many distractions on their sales page. The sidebar is there, with all of its “shiny objects”, there are ads on the page, and at the bottom, there are sharing links, with calls to action asking them to share, etc.

When you’re trying to sell someone something, you want ZERO distractions on your page. Your only CTA should be the buy button for your product.

You want ZERO distractions on your sales page. Your only CTA should be the BUY button.Click To Tweet

Take away your sidebar — you don’t want your reader getting distracted by your Pinterest widget. You want them fully focused on the product you’re selling.

And for crying out loud, lose the 3rd party ads on your sales page. Seriously — this page is all about your product. Do not give people a reason to click away to someone else’s website entirely.

As far as having social shares on your sales page — I recommend that you remove those, too.

First, they’re usually at the bottom where your buy button is located. That’s too many CTAs at the bottom of your page.

Second, if someone is planning to buy, they aren’t going to share with their friends at that moment. If someone isn’t planning to buy, chances are, they aren’t going to share it with their friends, either. So the share buttons are a waste of space and an unnecessary distraction on this page.

What I would recommend is putting share buttons on the sales confirmation page that they land on after they buy. This makes much more sense. They just bought, so they’re still excited.

You could say something like, “Thank you for buying my [insert badass product name here]! I know you can’t wait to get started on it, but real quick, would you mind taking a few seconds to share this with your friends who would also enjoy it? Thanks again!”

Doesn’t that make more sense?

So eliminate the distractions on your sales page. Have only one CTA, which is to buy your product.

5: Tech glitches and overall user experience

As awesome as the tools we use to help sell our products are, the fact remains that sometimes things break. There are bugs in the plugins we use, compatibility issues, the rest of our tools aren’t supported, etc.

Before making any sales page live to the public, it’s essential that you test the entire process first.

If you’re using WordPress (which is my platform of choice), then you can publish a page or post in “private” mode so you can test everything. Just go to the box above the publish button, and click “edit” next to where it says “Visibility: Public”, and switch it to private. Then hit Publish. This will allow you to see it in fully-published mode as long as you’re logged in to WordPress.

Test your sales button(s). Go through the entire purchase process, and actually buy your product. Did everything check out ok? Did you get a confirmation email (if your process is set up to send one)? If your product is digital, did your digital delivery system send you the actual product or link for you to download it?

Launch day certainly isn’t the time you want to find out that something’s not working. Test it on different browsers, test it on mobile, test, test, test!

In addition, how complicated was the entire process? In other words, are there too many steps for you to go through as a buyer? If your buyer has to jump through too many hoops to get your product, it becomes a pain in the ass, and you may lose them midway through the actual buying process.

Ideally, the buyer simply has to click one button, which takes them directly to the checkout page. Boom, boom, done. Make it stupid simple for them to buy your product.

Recap: things to remember when you launch a new product

  • Validate your product idea, so you don’t waste valuable time creating something that no one wants
  • Scope out similar products in your field to get an idea of what people are willing to pay, but price based on value, not just number of pages or modules, or what everyone else is doing. Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth!
  • Step into the stilettos of your readers, and write sales copy that resonates with what they want or the problem they need solved. Focus on benefits — how will your product help them or make them better?
  • Remove all distractions on your page, and have one clear, concise call to action for the reader to buy your product
  • Test for tech glitches, and make sure the entire purchase process is smooth and painless

What mistakes have you made when launching a new product that we can learn from? Go ahead and share so we can all commiserate in the comments.