Call it what you want: list building, lead generation, customer acquisition… If you’re in business, you need to be building an audience of potential customers that are likely to become paying clients down the line.

Unfortunately, successful list building is time consuming and can often feel overwhelming. This activity naturally falls to the bottom of a busy business owner’s to-do list. Yet, it’s one of the most reliable predictors of revenue growth, because customers are the lifeblood of any business.

Instead of sharing “yet another list of lead generation tips”, I’d like to share some of the habits that successful list builders use to keep growing their audiences year after year.

Habit #1: Start With A Clear List Building Goal

You know list building is important, but let’s really zero in on the people you want to be joining your mailing list: potential customers.

They don’t have to be ready to buy today, but they need to be interested enough in your business offerings and topic. They also have to be motivated to get into action.

Often, new business owners are unclear about what services or products they’ll be selling down the line, so they focus on list building activities that populate their audience with the wrong people. These might be freebie seekers, or in some cases competitors or people who don’t need the type of products you plan to release.

If you’ve been in business for awhile, calculate what each email subscriber is worth to your bottom line. Use that number to inform how many new subscribers you should aim to get in order to reach your revenue goals.

If that number isn’t motivating enough to get you into the daily, successful list building habit, then tie the goal to how many new people your business can help.

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Habit #2: Experiment, Find What Works, and Repeat It

One important habit that successful list builders all have is that they’re not overly attached to their opinions about “what should work” or what methods they like or don’t like.

Instead, they focus on successful list building techniques that work, and they implement and repeat them.

For example, a lot of people hate those annoying popups that ask you to join an email list in exchange for a free gift. But a successful list building will put aside their feelings about popups, experiment with one, and see if it works for their audience and visitors.

What doesn’t work for one audience might work for another.

Or better yet, they’ll seek out a polite popup option, and look at their conversation statistics to split test different opt-in offers.

Successful list builders let the numbers tell the story, instead of coming up with a reason why something won’t work or shouldn’t be worth testing in the first place.

This goes for testing optimized landing pages, trying out new paid advertising methods, and playing with different wording on special offers.

Habit #3: Schedule List Building Events

There are consistent things you can do every day to build your list a little at a time… and then there are those bigger list building events that make a big splash.

These types of list building events can add hundreds of new subscribers to your email list in a day, or thousands in one feel swoop.

Your imagination is key when it comes to designing list building events, and the premise is simple: you give people a time-sensitive reason to join your email list.

You could do that by hosting a live webinar or Facebook Live event, holding a giveaway contest, putting together a series of video interviews with guest experts around a specific topic, or even doing a live chat just for subscribers.

The key elements of a successful list building event are that it needs to have:

  1. A really high desirability factor
  2. A deadline

This gives people a sense of urgency to sign up and also a reason for you to make a little more noise about the whole thing.

Habit #4: Consistent Content Marketing

Unlike scheduling big list building events, which can take a few weeks or even months to plan and coordinate… the habit of creating and publishing content on a regular basis is key for massive list building, too.

There are a few key factors that make developing your editorial calendar and hitting publish regularly so important.

The first is that by publishing regularly (whether it’s a tweet, a blog post, or an Instagram photo) you’re telling the world that you’re alive. That’s really important in the busy digital age, where freshness is a signal that people look for in companies they do business with.

Beyond keeping you top of mind with your existing audience, having a consistent content marketing schedule allows you to stay on the search engines’ good side… and to reach new audiences, too.

You’ll notice that as you continuously publish content, you get a cascade of social media shares and mentions… which helps bring new eyes onto your content and in front of your opt-in offer or polite popup.

Habit #5: Enlist Other People’s Help

Finally, successful list builders don’t try to do it alone, they enlist other people’s help. There are several ways that a business owner can work with others to improve their list building efforts and get more subscribers faster.

The first is to partner with other businesses in complementary industries, either by holding a joint venture webinar as a list building event, or by doing another form of cross-promotion. This allows one business to tap into the list building efforts of another successful business, essentially short-cutting their efforts.

Another way to partner is directly with your subscribers. People tend to spend time and be connected to other people like themselves. So when you ask your existing subscribers to share your best content… they’re likely to help you grow your email list.

How you enlist evangelists from within your community is key: it needs to be a win-win for them to share your material, so make sure you’re giving away some of your best stuff, and it needs to benefit their friends, too. Otherwise, they won’t share.

Which List Building Habit Will You Take On?

If habits are built over time until they become second nature, which of these successful list building habits will you adopt next? Leave a comment below!

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