Once the prospect is in the proverbial funnel, you've peaked their awareness. That's the first stage of the funnel. However, getting a prospect aware of you is no simple feat. Depending upon how they've arrived to your website (organically or through a paid ad), those customers might view your funnel differently and your opt-in rates will vary significantly. 
If you’re serious about growing your business, building a healthy email list should be one of your top priorities. When it comes down to it, your list is one of the only online assets that you have 100% control over. Having a solid social media presence is absolutely essential (here’s why), but you’ll always be at the mercy of new and changing algorithms (think Facebook’s Edgerank). And achieving high search engine rankings is great too, but again, you’re at the mercy of changing algorithms and updates.

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So just write 20% to 30% in that first little box. Okay? That’s normal. On the middle box, the offer box where you’re selling that $27 course or workshop, I want you to write 1% to 5% because that’s normal. It is normal for 1% to 5% of people who see this page to buy it. Not 10 percent, not 20, not 30, not 50, right? We think, Oh, if one hundred people see this offer, we’re going to get 10 sales. No, you’re probably not.

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Your email list, on the other hand, is yours, free and clear. Using your website and social media to attract visitors and followers, and then encouraging them to sign up for your email list gives you the opportunity to contact your prospects at any point in the future, with any kind of messaging you want; and you’re not bound by search engine rankings or social media algorithms.

Offline events like trade shows are highly anticipated growth opportunities for professionals in your industry. Demo your latest product at an appropriate conference and collect signups in-person. Once you're back at the office, import these signups into your contact database. Be sure to send these contacts a welcome email that confirms their opt-in to your list. (See #8 in this blog post for tips on sending welcome emails.)

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Sponsor a video contest in which customers create a one-minute video about why they like your business, products or services. Ask them to send the videos to you and post them to your Facebook page. Invite visitors to vote on which video should win a cash or merchandise prize. Include an email opt-in on your Facebook page. Be sure to follow Facebook’s rules regarding contests.

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Pop-up forms provide visitors with a quick, convenient way to share contact information and subscribe to your list while they’re browsing your site, making them a powerful tool for audience growth. They’re easy to add to your site, and they’re proven to work—our research shows that Mailchimp users have seen their list growth rate increase by an average of 50.8% after adding a pop-up form to their site.

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Let’s say you get 5,000 people to see your squeeze page, to see your free offer. Okay? 5,000 people. If we’re going with a 30 percent opt in rate, okay? Because it’s between 20 and 30, let’s just be optimistic. Thirty percent of people opt in. How many people are actually going to get to that second box? 1,500, right? So 1,500 people are actually going to see your offer for that $27 product. Now we said one to five percent will buy.

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The effort you put into building your email list is one of the best investments you can make online. Having access to the inboxes of targeted prospects means you can continue to build and nurture relationships over time, and become a trusted source of valuable industry knowledge. Then, when it’s time for your prospects to buy, you’ll be the first one who comes to mind.

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