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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Do you have an older list that you suspect has mostly decayed? Create an engaging opt-in message and send it to your old list encouraging contacts who wish to re-opt-in -- promising to remove all contacts who don't respond. Though it might seem counterintuitive to remove folks from your email lists in order to grow them, emailing only engaged contacts could improve your deliverability and increase the odds of your email getting shared with those outside your current contacts database.

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For example, if you’re selling an eBook, you could offer a free chapter in exchange for their email address. Submitting their email is a low barrier to entry, and they’ll receive a lot of value in return. From there, you can use their email to push them deeper into the sales funnel, especially since they have already shown interest in your product.  

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Offer a reward for customers who buy something from you and show that they checked in at your business on Foursquare using their mobile device. When they do this, they’re telling everyone in their network that they’ve done business with you. Each month, reward the person who gave you the greatest exposure by offering a discount, and asking for their email address.

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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.

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Now, here’s where we do the math. You want to figure out if your funnel is going to be profitable, you need to understand what is “normal.” And I put normal in quotes because for every industry it’s a little bit different. And eventually ,you’re going to have benchmarks for yourself. You’re going to know what your normal is and then you can compare yourself against yourself. But when you’re just getting started, you might not have any stats. So I’m going to give them to you. So in the first box, I’m going to tell you that it’s pretty normal to have somewhere between a 20% to 30% optin rate.

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Just like issuing a dare, offering a challenge motivates people to step up and do things they might not do otherwise; like pour a bucket of ice water over their head. The challenge can include some sort of giveaway or reward for showing up logging in or commenting on posts for a certain number of days or some other type of challenge, but should certainly require an email address to enter.

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People like more choices, so consider creating subscription levels that let people sign up to receive content that’s relevant to them. For example, if you sell widgets and tax advice, provide three options on your opt-in form that allow users to sign up to receive info about widgets, info about tax advice or both. Further customize by allowing them to designate how frequently they’d like to hear from you — weekly, monthly or only when something really special is going on. People may be more likely to sign up for your email list if they have some control over the content they’ll receive.

My name is Jamie Spencer and I have spent the past 5 years building money making blogs. After growing tired of the 9-5, commuting and never seeing my family I decided that I wanted to make some changes and launched my first blog. Since then I have launched lots of successful niche blogs and after selling my survivalist blog I decided to teach other people how to do the same.

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