List Building: How to Build an Email List

List Building: How to Build an Email List

Today I’m going to show you how to build your email list (FAST).

In fact:

The strategies in this post helped me grow my list from scratch… to 172,126 subscribers:

Backlinko – Email subscribers

And today I’m going to show you the exact list building strategies that I used to get these results.

Click a section below to be taken right to one of the strategies.

1. Use Content Upgrade Popups


Love ’em or hate ’em, popups work.

For example, a while back I decided to try using a popup.

Here’s what the popup looks like:


That popup form may look simple, but it converts at an impressive 3.42%.

And it took my subscriber numbers from 35/day to 75/day.

In fact, that simple-looking popup added over 3600 new subscribers to my email list in 3 months.


Although I’m happy with those results, I’m excited to tell you that I’ve discovered a way to make popups even more powerful.


By adding The Content Upgrade to the mix.

Never heard of the The Content Upgrade? No worries.

This post will show you how I used The Content Upgrade to increase conversions by 785%.

content upgrade post

(If you want to learn how to build an email list, The Content Upgrade should be high on your list of things to master).

As you saw in that post, page-specific offers convert WAY better than something generic (like “free updates”).

For example:

In my Google Ranking Factors post, I give away a checklist that makes the information from that post much more actionable:

content upgrade example

And then it hit me:

Why would I offer someone something VERY specific with The Content Upgrade…

…and then turn around and make a generic offer in my popup?

That doesn’t make any sense.

So I decided to create a page-specific popup that pitched my Google Ranking Factors checklist.

Page-specific popup

The result?

A 65% increase in conversions vs. the generic offer.

Imagine how many A/B tests you’d have to run to increase conversions by 65% (hint: a lot).

Why would waste time testing button colors when you can do something like this that’s almost guaranteed to generate results right away?

Speaking of a strategy that gets results right away…

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2. Hack Qualaroo To Build Your Email List Fast

Here’s one of the most creative list building strategies I’ve ever seen:

You may already be familiar with Qualaroo, a survey tool that asks live questions to visitors on your website.

Qualaroo Example

While Qualaroo is great at surveying your site’s visitors, you may not know that you can ALSO hack this tool to build your email list.

In fact, The University of Alberta recently used this same hack to boost subscribers by more than 500%.

Here’s how they did it…and how you can do the same thing on your site.

The University was looking to increase conversions on their email updates page, which you can see here:


Instead of using Qualaroo to poll their visitors, they had the tool encourage people to sign up to their email newsletter:

Alberta Qualaroo

In fact, they set it up so you can literally subscribe directly through the Qualaroo form!

Qualaroo Email

Did it work?

In a word: YES!

This Qualaroo form pushed their signups from a sad 1-2/day…

to a respectable 12-15/day without making any other changes to that page.

3. Optimize This Often-Ignored Page and Increase Your List By Up To 25%

I’ve got good news and bad news…

First, the bad news:

If you make people double opt-in to join your list, up to 25% of your subscribers may be falling through the cracks.

confirmation message


Sometimes your “Confirm your subscription” email gets caught in their spam filter.

Sometimes they change their mind.

Sometimes the dog poops on the rug and they forget to confirm.

Now for some good news:

You can significantly boost your subscriber numbers by getting more of your opt-ins to actually confirm their email.

How can you do that?

Optimize your confirmation page.

I’m happy to say that my confirmation page loses VERY few people. Here’s what it looks like:

almost done page

Let’s break down the 3 reasons this page works better than most confirmation pages.

First, I re-iterate the benefits of subscribing.

I quickly remind you why it’s worth going through the trouble of confirming your email.

The second line on the page is:

benefit line

Most people say something like, “in order to subscribe to our newsletter, you need to confirm your email”.

What’s more likely to motivate you to double opt-in?

Free updates, strategies and tips…or subscribing to a newsletter? Thought so.

Second, I include a strong call to action that asks them to confirm right away.

confirm CTA

This is HUGE. If someone doesn’t confirm right away they’re MUCH less likely to ever do it.

In fact, Ramit Sethi actually has a countdown timer on his confirmation page. Awesome.

Ramit Confirmation Page

Third, I visually walk you through the exact steps you need to take in order to confirm your email.

visual steps

Even if you’ve already signed up to a million email lists, the visual cues reinforces what you’re supposed to do.

(It also shows that you’re a helpful person)

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4. Limit The Number of Options

Which sounds better to you?

Making millions from the stock market…

…or being lazy and eating Cheetos on your couch?

I know, it’s a silly question.

I only ask because those are the two options Timothy Sykes offers on his exit intent popup.Timothy SykesYou may have seen other “Powered By Bounce Exchange” popups around the web.

Although each Bounce Exchange popup has a unique design, they have one thing in common:

They make you feel like an idiot for not opting in.

For example, here’s a Bounce Exchange popup from (note the “No thanks, I’m not looking to lose weight” option):

Bounce Exchange Example

You might be asking yourself:

“Why would they give someone a stupid option like that?”

The simple answer to that question: scientific research shows that two options convert MUCH better than one option.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Professor Daniel Mochon of Tulane University uncovered a phenomenon known as “Single Option Aversion“:

Single Option Aversion

Here’s what went down:

Mochon asked 3 groups of research subjects to imagine that they were in the market for a new DVD player.

Mochon gave one group of people information about JUST a Sony DVD player. Here’s what that information looked like:

Single Option Example

He gave a second group information only about a Philips DVD player (that looked similar to the above example).

And a third group received information on both the Sony AND Philips DVD player:

Both Options

What happened?

When presented with JUST the Sony or Philips DVD player information, approximately 10% of subjects said they’d be ready to buy right away.

Here’s the interesting part:

33% of subjects presented with both Philip and Sony DVD player options said that were ready to make a decision right then and there.

That’s 3x more than people that only saw one option.

conversion increase

Bottom line:

Including a second option (even a silly one) will convert more people into email subscribers.

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5. Use This Simple Trick to Solve The “Social Proof Paradox”

There’s one piece of conversion advice that drives me nuts.

“If you want more people to subscribe to your email list, use social proof. Show people how many subscribers you already have.”

That sounds great in theory…

But what if you only have 17 people on your email list? How is that going to boost social proof?

It’s what I call the “Social Proof Paradox”.

You need social proof to get subscribers. But you need subscribers to get social proof.

It’s a classic chicken or the egg problem.

So what’s the solution?


Here’s an example from one of my newsletter sign up pages:

Backlinko Newsletter page testimonial

Here’s another example:

Another testimonial

See that?

You don’t need a 30,000-person email list to demonstrate social proof. A single testimonial is enough.

(In fact, I’ve found that a single glowing testimonial is often more powerful than “I already have 89,541 subscribers”)

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6. Use To Steal Your Competitor’s Best Conversion Tools

What’s the fastest way to find the best conversion tools for YOUR business?

That’s easy:

Use the same tools that your competitors use everyday.

But how?

Well you could try to learn how to build an email list completely on your own…

…or you could look at a competitor site’s source code and try to piece things together yourself.

Source Code

(Good luck with that)

Or you can use this little-known tool called Built With that shows you the EXACT tools your competition uses to build their email list.

How does it work?

First, enter the homepage URL of one of your competitors into the tool:

Built With – Search

The tool will show you competitive information, like links and traffic sources:

Built With – Competitive information

But you want to focus on the “Analytics and Tracking” section:

Built With – Analytics & Tracking section

That box will show you every tool that your competitor’s site uses…including tools that they use for split testing, email marketing and more.

Pretty awesome, right?

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7. Use The LPF Technique to Turn More Blog Traffic Into Subscribers

Quick question:

What’s the #1 page you want someone to visit to when they come to your blog?

If your answer is, “one of my best blog posts”, you’re missing out on HUNDREDS of potential subscribers.

So…what’s the right answer?

You want your visitors to go to pages designed to collect emails. In other words, landing pages.

As you may have read in my recent post, How to Create a Page That Converts at 21.7% (Step-By-Step Case Study), I recently created a Social Squeeze Page on my blog that converts at (you guessed it) 21.7%.

Here’s what the page looks like:

social squeeze page

Problem is:

How do you get your site’s visitors to land on your best-converting landing pages?

It’s actually pretty simple: strategically funnel your blog’s traffic using the Landing Page Funnel (LPF) Technique.

The 2-step LPF technique is very simple.

  1. First, you identify landing pages that convert well on your site.
  2. Second, you design your site to funnel people to those high-converting pages.

Here’s an example of how I use the LPF technique at Backlinko:

As I mentioned, my Social Squeeze Page is the best-converting page on Backlinko. So that’s one high-converting page.

But I also have a newsletter sign up page that converts at around 10%.

newsletter sign up page

So for me, my Social Squeeze Page and my Newsletter page are my top 2 best-performing pages.

Step #1=done.

Next, I added links around my site that point to those two pages.

Like in my site’s top navigation:

navigation link

And a text-based link under the “Popular Articles” section of my sidebar:

Sidebar Links

Michael Hyatt uses the LPF Technique in his blog…

Michael deftly includes a “Subscribe” link at of his blog’s navigation.

subscribe button

It just so happens that this “Subscribe” link takes people to an attractive squeeze page that no doubt converts extremely well:

ebook sign up form

Very smart.

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8. Turn Your LinkedIn Group Into a List Building Fire Hose

A few weeks ago I stumbled on a brilliant list building strategy using the untapped power of LinkedIn.

Here’s what happened…

There’s this group on LinkedIn called the Sports Industry Network:

linkedin group example

Like most LinkedIn groups, the Sports Industry Network sends you a “Welcome to the Group” email after you join.

Here’s the email that they sent to me:

LinkedIn Group Welcome

As you can see, the group asks you to “confirm your membership” to access to exclusive content.

And where does that link in the email lead to?

You guessed it:

A well-designed landing page.

Landing Page


If you run a LinkedIn group, you can easily do the same thing by going to Manage–>Temples–>Welcome Message:

linkedin group welcome message

And add a link to your squeeze page in the welcome message that goes out to new members.

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9. Use These 8 Words to Dramatically Increase The Value Of Your Giveaway

I’m pretty sure you’re with me on this one:

“Featured Download” sounds MUCH more appealing than “Sign up for our newsletter”.

That’s probably why the HubSpot blog uses that exact pitch on their site (and has over 225,ooo subscribers to show for it).

If you read the the HubSpot blog, you may have noticed a banner that slides in from the bottom right-hand corner of the page.

Here’s an example:


And when you click the “Download Now” button, you’re taken to a landing page:


What makes this approach so effective?

The simple answer: traditional pitches like, “Sign up to my list and get a free ebook” don’t get the job done today.

But when you describe your opt-in bribe (like a free ebook) with value terms, it adds rocket fuel to your offer’s perceived value.

Direct mail marketers have used these words for decades to increase the perceived value of their offers…

…and you can do the same.

Here are value terms you can use to make your giveaway more enticing:

  • “Featured”
  • “Exclusive”
  • “Advanced”
  • “Download”
  • “Secrets”
  • “Access”
  • “Special Offer”
  • “Limited Time”

In fact, I use several value terms on my newsletter squeeze page:

Backlinko Newsletter squeeze page – Buzz terms

Even though I don’t give anything tangible away on that page, these value terms bump up the perceived value of my newsletter.

A word of warning: you don’t want to use more than 3 of these in a single offer.

“Exclusive Access to a Featured, Limited Time Download” is a little overboard 🙂

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10. Giveaway a Bonus For YouTube Videos

When it comes to marketing on YouTube, there’s one thing that almost everyone can agree on:

YouTube click through rates are HORRIBLE.

In fact, some estimates put the average YouTube CTR at 0.72%.

Knowing that, how can you get your YouTube viewers to click over to your site and sign up for your email list?

The same thing you’d do on your blog: give something away!

Brandon from Sold With Video is one of the few people on YouTube applying the tried-and-true giveaway formula to YouTube.

For example, at the end of his video about getting more YouTube views, he pitches a free mini-course to help people with YouTube SEO.


And when you click on the yellow “Get Access Now” button you see above, you’re swept away to a squeeze page.


How can you do the same thing?

First, think of a giveaway that viewers of that video might be interested in.

For example, if you had a video about building bigger biceps, you could offer a free Excel spreadsheet that helps people track their workout.

Next, add a card to your video that stands out. This button should link to your opt-in page:

optin from a youtube video

And you’re set.

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11. Use “Readers” or “Visitors” to Generate Social Proof

I already told you about the “Social Proof Paradox” and the dead-simple technique you can use to solve it.

Skipped that one? Go back and check it out. It’s #6 on this list.

What I haven’t told you is that there’s another easy way to make your blog look like a thriving community…

…even if you only have 134 email subscribers.


Feature your blog’s monthly visitors.

If you’re like most people, your total monthly visitor count is larger than your Facebook fans, email subscribers or any other traditional form of social proof.

That’s why you want to feature THAT number on your blog.

Here’s an example that I used to have on my blog:

Monthly Readers

The only time I wouldn’t use this technique is if you’re getting less than 5,000 monthly visitors.

In that case, you want to focus on reader and subscriber testimonials until your traffic climbs to 5000+ monthly uniques.

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12. Pitch Your Email Newsletter to Twitter Followers

You may think that most of your Twitter followers are also on your email list…

…but you’d be wrong.

And if you don’t pitch your email list to your Twitter followers, you’re missing out on some of the easiest subscribers you’ll ever get.

After all, your Twitter followers are people that already like you. That makes your email list an easy sell.

For example:

A while back I tweeted this out:


And that tweet very quickly added a handful of subscribers that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.

Because it’s so easy and effective, I plan on pitching my email list on Twitter, Facebook and LinedIn on a regular basis from now on.

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13. Surprise New Subscribers With a Free Bonus

Have you ever heard this classic business quote?

“It’s 5x cheaper to keep a customer than to gain a brand new one.”

Well it’s the same story with your email list:

It’s MUCH easier to prevent someone from clicking “unsubscribe” than it is to get a new person to fork over their email address.

But how?

That’s easy: give your subscribers an unannounced bonus for signing up.

For example, I used to give new subscribers a free unannounced ebook, “How to Get 25,000 Visitors Per Month” immediately after they confirmed their email:

Ebook Giveaway

Make no mistake:

This ebook was 25 pages of pure awesomeness.

Ebook Excerpt

The content in that ebook was as good — if not better — than anything I’ve published on the blog.

And I’ve received emails from (literally) hundreds of subscribers telling me that they’ve learned a lot from it:

ebook testimonial 1 ebook testimonial Ebook Testimonial 3

Not only do these emails give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside, but they let me know that my ebook is turning casual fans into lifetime subscribers.

(Unfortunately, I let the ebook slip out of date and removed it from the email confirmation page. I may add it again soon)

You can easily set this up yourself:

Just create a high-quality report, ebook or checklist.

Then, give your resource to subscribers right after they sign up.

And — KAPOW! — you’ll make an awesome first impression with everyone that signs up for your list.

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14. Use a Blog Post Teaser

You probably already know that “fear of loss” is a HUGE motivator.

When you’re afraid of missing out on something it lights a fire under your butt that gets you to ACT.

The question is:

How can you leverage fear of loss to build your list?

After all, if someone doesn’t want to sign up today they can always come back and sign up tomorrow.

Well I’d like to tell you about something I tried last week that was a little bit weird…

So, a few ago, I published the first post in a new training series called “How to Increase Conversions (Without A/B Testing)”.

And the first post in that series was called: “How to Create a Page That Converts at 21.7% (Step-By-Step Case Study)“:

social squeeze page post

Because I didn’t have a Content Upgrade ready for that post, I decided to let people know that this was the first post in a new series.

I had an announcement at the beginning…

Blog post series box

…and end of the post:

Blog post Series 2

Those are OptinMonster links. When someone clicks on them, an opt-in box appears that highlights the potential loss of not subscribing:

OptinMonster Popup

So how has this strategy performed?

Well the two links from that one post very quickly added 37 new subscribers to my list.

Not as amazing as The Content Upgrade, but I’ll take 37 extra subscribers any day of the week.

And if you scale this to some of your most popular blog posts, you’re talking dozens of extra subscribers every month.

Not bad at all for a few minutes of work.

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15. Use Weird Call to Actions on Buttons

How many times has this happened to you:

You’re about to enter your email address to get your hands on free report…

…and at the very last second, a voice in your head screams out “Don’t do it!”.

So you click away, never to return.

You’re probably wondering:

“How can I prevent that from happening to my potential subscribers?”

Here’s how:

In fact, my first popup used a button that said “Let’s do this!”

Submit Button

And my homepage button says “Click to Access The Case Study”

Backlinko – Bottom of homepage button

Why don’t I use traditional button copy, like “join” or “submit”?

Two reasons:

1) Words like “submit”, “register” and “join” make you feel like you’re committing to something serious.

Not good.

2) Boring terms make your button blend in with the 256,000 other buttons online that use the same 5 words.

On the other hand, whimsical phrases like “Sounds good!” and “Let’s do this!” stand out and put people at ease.

Pat Flynn does a great job of this at Smart Passive Income. The button for his free ebook says: “Get the Guide”

spi button copy

This type of copy sends the message that you’re about to start something exciting…

…not just sign up for yet another email list.

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16. Turn Blog Comments Into Email Subscribers

Did you know that there’s an easy way to turn blog comments into email subscribers?

Well there is. And it only takes a few minutes to set up.

In fact, it’s is something I’ve recently tested here at Backlinko:

Comment Subscribe

When someone checks that box and leaves a comment, they’re automatically added to my email list.

Although I’ve only had this feature live for a few weeks, it’s already added 214 subscribers to my email list.

Comment Subscriber Count

Why does this work so well?

When someone leaves a comment on your blog, it usually means that they enjoyed what they just read.

(Or it means they hated what they just read. But haters aren’t going to sign up anyway, are they 🙂 ?)

In other words, commenters are VERY primed to sign up to your list. They just need a little nudge.

If you’re a WordPress ninja, you can set this up manually.

Turning commenters into subscribers works like a charm, but I’ve saved the best technique for last…

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17. About Page=Squeeze Page

If you’re like most people, you think your about page is a place to tell the world who you are and why you started your blog.

And that’s it.

Well I’ve got news for you:

If you’re not using your about page to ALSO collect emails you’re leaving hundreds (if not thousands) of email subscribers on the table.

After all, your about page is probably one of the most visited pages on your blog (Skeptical? Check your Google Analytics right now).

Like with a blog commenter, someone that takes the time to read your about page is VERY likely to sign up to your list.

That’s why I have not one — but TWO — optin forms on my about page.

One smack dab in the middle of the page:

about page optin

And another at the bottom of the page (with some social proof thrown in):

about page optin2

These two forms convert EXTREMELY well.

In fact, my About Page converts at 9.31%:

About page conversion rate

It converts so well that I actually use the Landing Page Funnel Technique (#7 on this list) to funnel more traffic to my About page:

about page link

Bottom line?

Sprinkle in at least two opt-in forms in your blog’s about page.

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  1. Brian,
    Tim Sykes does a good job with his optin forms and overall marketing strategy. As a former stockbroker, I can tell you shorting penny stocks can work as well!

    1. Scott, he’s a brilliant marketer. I know zero about stocks so I’ll have to take your word on that 🙂

  2. Instead of helping people confirm their email, how about removing the co formation completely. Sure, you will get some bad emails, but over time you will get more real subscribers than you would using a confirm email. (Stole this trick from Neil Patel)

    P.S. great post though! 🙂

    1. Thanks Rob. Single opt-in is definitely something to consider. I’m personally a fan of double optin because (as you said) you get less bad emails. But it’s a decision that depends on the person and business 🙂

  3. Awesome stuff as always Brian and it’s interesting to see the different variations that you have used on this very site – practicing what you preach!

    I’ll admit though, I just can’t bring myself to put a popup form on my site. I know they convert well, I know I’m missing out, but I just find them so damn annoying.

    1. Thanks David. Trust me: I was VERY reluctant to use them at first for that exact reason. But once I saw the conversion increase I realized why they’re so popular.

  4. Great post as usual Brian. Already on top of most of these tips…but had no clue about the single-option aversion study. Definitely going to be something to test. Will definitely share this around because this post is a must-read.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Eugene. I’m actually going to start testing a “dummy” option around the site. Might be the topic of a future post if I find some cool stuff 🙂

  5. Another great post, Brian!

    I haven’t delved into creating an email list/newsletter yet, but that idea is definitely on the back-burner. You provided some pretty cutting edge ideas here!

    I especially like the portion on the “about” page… most people leave this as a wasted opportunity. I see this on a majority of our client sites that the about us page is the second, or third most visited site (behind the homepage) yet most people leave it under-utilized.

    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks Brian 🙂
      These strategies will definitely help you get your email list off the ground in a BIG way. Let me know how they work out for you.

  6. Exactly what I was looking for, Brian. I have started a SEO blog recently and your post will surely help me to implement many things ! 🙂 Your contents are so huge that it’s hard to consume in one sitting ..Read a lot , it’s implementation time now 😉 Keep up the great work buddy !

  7. Brian…That about EPIC..HOLY %@$&!..Thank you

    I do have one question: Where do you get your PDF Designed… I love them 🙂

  8. Wow. Can I just say thank you so much for building one insanely well done blog post instead of feeding us crumbs for 8 months over email or selling us a $29 ebook. Your go-giving will pay off for sure. Solid stuff here!

    1. You’re very welcome, Scott. I was also frustrated with that approach to content “marketing”. It’s actually one of the reasons I started Backlinko 🙂

  9. Brian, this is great stuff as usual. I’m implementing these already (opt-in monster) and great idea about LPF, definitely adding that to our site.

    1. Thanks Evan. The LPF is money. I’m going to even start adding links within content to funnel more people to high-converting pages 🙂

  10. Knocked it out of the park once gain Brian. Good post and some good tips for us to act on the new blog we are getting ready.

  11. The About page strategy has been working wonders for me.

    Action plan:
    1) Collect a testimonial
    2) Beef up confirmation page
    3) New, shiny “submit” button
    4) SumoMe
    Not sure what’s after that…but it’s a rocking start. Thanks for more great conversion ideas!

    1. Thanks AJ. Most people sleep on their about page. Glad to hear that you’re not one of them 🙂
      That’s definitely a great start. You can always come back to the post after you’ve implemented those 4.

  12. Thank you Brian. I’ve read a few of your articles and handy how-to guides. It’s clear you go the extra mile to make sure you “load up” your work with valuable content. I look forward to learning more from you soon!

    1. You’re welcome, Brian. That’s true: I put about 20 hours into every post to make sure 100% of them have that extra mile you’re looking for.

  13. As usual Great strategies to Build Mail List, I just Bookmark this post.Thanks Brian For Your Efforts to get us great Actionable Info, I really appreciate that 🙂

  14. Brian great post as always

    Can you please elaborate on the custom coding for the comment sign ups –> email list in wordpress? Did you just integrate aweber custom code to the “email” field in wordpress comments? Thanks

  15. I can see your blog really is thoroughly optimized for subscribers, and sign-ups. But can you tell us how you are monetizing the site?
    I dont see any ads or services you offer? Do you offer SEO services open to the public or are you just building your own brand with this site?

    1. Dave, I offer a premium business training course called SEO That Works. Registration should open up in early September.

  16. Hi Brian

    You’re definitely onto something with the content upgrade idea. It’s almost like to get the most leverage from every single post now (and therefore get ahead of your competitors), it’s no use just having a generic sign up form at the bottom of each amazing post anymore.

    In this context, I guess each post can’t be thought of in isolation, but in terms of a mini content ecosystem that comprises of a great blog post optimised for on-page SEO, an upgrade to that post tailored for that specific content, various on-page email conversion points including an exit pop-up or similar -and then you combine all this with your off page link building and outreach efforts. That could be over 5,000 words of content all in just that one package.

    I can see that in your case, a strategy of writing just one mega-post every month has so much more going on ‘behind the scenes’ than ‘merely’ the post itself.

    It’s kind of like a graceful swan on a lake – but we can’t see its legs going like crazy under the water. (Yes, I have just had a real ale!).

    Good stuff as always.



    1. Hey Loz, that may be the most poetic comment we’ve ever had on the blog (and we’ve had over 6,000). But you’re right: there’s A LOT more behind the scenes/up front work than there was even 2 or 3 years ago. The barrier to entry for growing a blog has doubled in that time. That’s good for hard workers like you and me 🙂

  17. My head is buzzing with some of the new ideas from this list that I now want to implement and test on my site. Some very actionable (and may I add awesome) list building strategies. Great stuff Brian!

  18. Hey Brian
    These are great actionable insights, thanks.
    I thought you might to know I tried to share the article on G+ and i couldn’t scroll down to hit ‘share’ without the window springing up and hiding the button. I’m on Chrome. Try it for yourself.

    1. Hey Ben, glad you liked the post.
      Thanks for the heads up. I’m sending this to my developer to fix right now 🙂

  19. Brian,
    I came over to read this because you invited me after I shared your content. Just curious, do you do those invites personally or outsource and/or automate them somehow? It’s a great idea!

    1. Hey Brittany, I send them out myself with a little help to find people that might be interested in the post 🙂

      1. Well, it’s brilliant. I tried to find that subscriber magnet plugin but didn’t have any luck. Yours worked for me though– just checked the box! =) P.S. Just so you know, I plan on e-stalking you, stealing all of your tricks and using them myself. I’m assuming you won’t mind.

  20. This is really awesome. I started using SumoMe when i saw it on your website and it did not really increase to my satisfaction and that was because i had no bait for people, but with the introduction of squeeze page, i should probably use one of your ebooks as a bait. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Oh, man, Brian, you’re giving too much of this stuff away for free 😉 Did you think to create premium video courses or blog posts?

    1. Thanks Jim. Good question 🙂

      Make no mistake: I give away lots of great stuff, but Backlinko is a business. I actually sell a premium training program called SEO That Works. Registration will open up again in September.

  22. Hi Brian,
    I am a big fan of your’s strategies & all these are awesome. Infuture please post like this more.

  23. Hey Brian,
    One word Awesome. I am one of your happy email subscriber. I just keep waiting to see a mail with your next article. Last night I saw this mail and thought of reading this article as first thing today.
    This just made my day though it took me about a hour to go through detail by detail and also that you exactly wrote 3846 words in this article 😛 ( I dont know why but I had to find it ).
    Anyways a useful article. Sharing it across for other folks.
    Happy Blogging !

  24. Awesome stuff, as always. I would just like to add one thing to improve conversions and build bigger list: use feature box. Derek Halpern from talks a lot about that, and it works like charm.
    Second thing (ok, there are two things I’d like to add :)): use Kevin Roger’s 60-second sales hook formula to increase conversions, right next to the opt-in form.
    The formula is very simple: Identity –> Struggle –> Discovery –> Result –> Call-to-action.
    In Brian’s case, it would go something like:

    “Hi, I’m Brian, entrepreneur and blogger from Cheyenne, WY.
    Ever since I first time heard that you can get free traffic from a thing called Google, I wanted that. But, I had no idea where to start. And what was even worse, every “great” tip I’d receive from an “experts” was a complete BS that only sounds nice, but could never be used by real businesses. Most of those things are considered black-hat now. That’s how “great” those tips were.
    But I wanted free traffic. I wanted to rank higher on Google. That’s why I continued to learn, try, test and fail.
    And after months of doing that, I finally figured out what steps you should take to build high-quality, long-lasting, legitimate backlinks, in order to rank higher on Google.
    Now, I rank all my pages for very competitive search terms, and help clients do the same.
    If you want to how to create quality backlinks to rank your site and boost your business, leave a name and email in the fields on the right side, and click button called “Yes, I want quality backlinks.” I’ll then send you my free eGuide on how you can the exact same thing that me and my clients are doing to promote our businesses.
    See you on the other side.”

    Hope this will be helpful. 🙂

    1. AWESOME comment, Mladen. I really like the whole “mini bio” story in there. I’m going to test that 🙂

  25. I am a subscriber of your blog Brian and I have mastered most of your guide here. I always look forward on your future posts.

  26. Brian… great post… again! I’ve had a look at sumome – looks like a winner – and free??!! Nice. Can you use it with any autoresponder? The one I have access to, SendReach is not on the list. Can you add html code to this?

    1. Thanks Matt. It supports 5 autoresponders right. If it’s not on the list you can reach out to them and ask them to add SendReach. You can add HTML and make completely custom forms (although I use the default because it converts well).

    1. You’re welcome, Justice 🙂

      Actually, I don’t offer any SEO services so I can focus on growing Backlinko.

  27. Hi Brian great post as usual. My main concern with the pop ups is the mobile perspective. I know when I am reading on my handheld and I click through to a website and there’s a pop up there I will leave. Its such a small space.
    What are your thoughts on pop ups for mobile?

    1. Thanks Tammy. Great point: popups are extra annoying on a mobile. I wish there was a way to turn off popups for mobile visitors or at least make the popup responsive. That would be an awesome feature for a popup software product.

  28. Brian,

    If you don’t mine me asking, about how long did it take you to create this post? How do you have time to work on client campaigns?

    No need to get more subscribers, if you don’t have time, for them. :0)


    1. Hi Greg, it took me around 20 hours…not counting email outreach promotion. I actually don’t do client work which frees up a lot of time 🙂

  29. This is so so Awesome Brian,
    This is what I call Epic post, you have created a perfect guide for anyone that needs to Double and even quadruple their subscribers base…
    I will be coming back to read this post again, and I will be implementing these strategies one after the other on my blogs.
    Thumbs up Brian.

  30. this was wayy too long. I didn’t get past the second one and i even bookmarked it. (now i’m deleting the bookmark…too long)

    It’s too long Brian. Instead make it bite sized chunks. 3 tips every newsletter.

  31. Hi Brian,

    You were right! I really enjoyed this article very much. I like all of the case studies you use to back up what you have to share.
    This was a very informative and detailed post. I have to say I really like the tips you mentioned on the LPF techniques. They are simple, practical and obviously effective!
    Thanks for getting with me and letting me know about this excellent post Brian!
    Take care…

    1. Really glad to hear that you enjoyed the post, Steven. Keep me posted on how these techniques work for you 🙂

  32. List building.. now that is one tough thing to do. Thanks for sharing new insights to me! Your posts are a must-read for me!

  33. Brian first I’d like tell you that the link on “my Google Ranking Factors post ” is wrong the correct url is ” ” LoL you know it.

    Second I mailed you with one question week a ago and its seems like its not a relevant or right question, Although if you consider please reply.

    Third about this post: As always a great post an epic resource you’d not found any where.

    I suggestion: I think Hellobar” and ManyContacts ( also recommended by Jason Acidre) could make a room in above post.

    1. Thanks Sachin. Fixed the link 🙂
      Yes, those are two great tools for list building. I just didn’t have room for them in the post.

    1. Thanks Mark. Like the other posts there, a lot of work went into this one. So it’s nice to hear you learned some good stuff from it.

  34. Hey Brian.
    I’m a bit late to the party but just found time to read this now. Great resource.

    I’m doing semi-custom in content opt ins and they convert at around 3.4% but I didn’t even think to do custom pop up opt ins too.

    Next on the list I guess.

    Great post as always.

  35. Thanks Brian,

    Content upgrade popups increase abandon rate and as a result, hurting your seo. For me, I don’t care much if I got more subscriber each day. But for the best, there should be gaining without losing. Perhaps put a video in the popup would help?

  36. Always enjoy receiving your updates by inbox. You and Neil are killing it at the moment. Not usually one for popups, but your results speak for themselves. Cheers and Keep up the great work.

    1. Thanks Ryan. I totally get the popup aversion (it took months of convincing to actually try one), but I’ll never go back 🙂

  37. Great tips! Really liked the “15. Use Weird Call to Actions on Buttons” idea. “Join” and “Subscribe” are so old….

  38. #12 – “Because it’s so easy and effective, I plan on pitching my email list on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ on a regular basis from now on.”

    Do you have an app for that? I know Buffer is a popular one, but i’m looking for something that you can create a reservoir of evergreen content and the app will just pull from that on a regular basis, forever.

  39. Very useful content!
    I have tried to access the link to the Site Alerts website, but it seems that the domain is no longer active. I think it is very useful tool for any starting entrepreneur out there, so I am very interested in following this. Does anybody have any idea what happened to them?
    Thank you for providing added value by your articles and keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Olivia. Wow, that’s crazy. I’ll replace that with a similar tool in the post. Feel free to use that instead:

  40. Some brilliant tips here. Email Marketing is a gold mine and a great way of connecting to new visitors. it also helps promote your brand and develop a loyal following.

  41. saying up to the mark would be a small word for you. Whatever you share gives a lot of quality to our knowledge. Its a wonderful list. Right now i am working on the 17 untapped backlink techniques, will start working on it once i am done with it.

  42. Great post Brian. As someone that has stupidly not concentrated on building my list till recently I found this post invaluable to get my list building on the right track. Thank you for this informative and easily understandable post. Bookmarked and shared.

  43. Hey Brian,
    At the start of my online career i used to think that list building has no benefits but after doing some research on the topic and starting with the link building thing i came to knew it’s importance. It’s really necessary for website and blog owners to build lists or they’ll just let their selves down because list building is the game changer when Search Engines and Social Media doesn’t work for you.


  44. Hey Brian. Another crazy good post! Man your content is so good. I had a request from your fans. Would you consider doing a post on http: vs https? Will that change to this new format hurt our backlinks and create 404s? Is it necessary to change? How to go about doing it? etc etc

    Everybody is talking about this new google change and how important it is, but NOBODY is talking actionable steps and what to do.

    You are the man of action and actionable steps. So I wanted to make that humble request for your consideration as I think it would make smashing content for your site.

    Since, this is fresh and a public hunger for that content I think it would generate you a lot of backlinks because of the viral nature.

    I am happy to also ask for a plug for my family’s apparel website in the opener of said post if you think this post suggestion is a good idea. Shameless I know…..LOL! But hey maybe it will get your fans to keep submitting ideas. There might be something here to channel your fan base to get us to help your business. Think it over…..You really have reached Malcolm Gladwell Tribe status. And have done a great job with that. At this point whatever you asked the tribe to do they would deliver for you.

    1. Glad you liked the post, Jim.

      That’s an awesome suggestion and I’ll keep it in mind. I just have to implement it myself first. As you know, I like to publish case studies so it will
      have to wait until I give it a shot myself 🙂

  45. Awesome stuff as always Brian and it’s interesting to see the different variations that you have used on this very site. I like it; thnx for sharing such a good stuff 🙂

  46. Hey Brian,

    Great write up indeed !

    I was thinking to enlarge my subcriber base from a very long time but was not able to due to very less traffic.. But after following the above mentioned techniques, I think it could be a boon for my blog.

    Thanks for delivering such ultimate article. 🙂

  47. Brian , your every post is like a book, I always read your post and try to find a few questions to ask .. but to be honest your posts are that comprehensive that, I don’t find a question to ask because you left nothing unexplained ! I wonder how long you take to prepare a post like this, I probably would take a whole year ! 🙂 Good luck Brian. you are a magician of IM strategies.

  48. Really impressive link building guide that helps me to improve the current link building process of my own website. I will follow your steps and guides for my projects. thanks for this useful resource.

  49. Hey Brian.
    This is amazing stuff! Thank you so much. I’ve learned so much in the last hour. I have a question for you. You use Aweber as your email service right? What do you use to make such nice looking sign-up forms/popups on various areas/pages of your site? Is it LeadPages? I find that Awebers sign-up forms are not very good.

  50. Now I understand the effectiveness of using a proper statement on the popup optin form.
    i just say “subscribe to my list” & leave it all to the user to subscribe or not.
    Now I had to rewrite something Interesting making user feel they are missing something if they not going to subscribe!

  51. Brian,

    What is the effectiveness of the popup on sales conversions?

    This is an older study:

    But I think I’ve seen similar ones finding that users absolutley hate popups. Some will just throw an email in there to get them to go away. Others “x” out of them before they load and never come back.

    And, even if they do get on a list, supposedly, they turn into “dead weight”.


    1. Hi David, you raise a good point. To my knowledge there’s no data on that as of yet. My feeling is this: a mediocre lead is better than no lead at all. If a business has issues converting targeted people to sales, then the sales process needs to improve.

  52. I agree with the testimonials, especially videos, because they’re truly convincing and give you authority as well. Pop-ups are two-sided for me. On one hand, they’re great for getting user emails for subscriptions. On the other, some folks just find them annoying. An enjoyable and informative post nonetheless. Thanks, Brian!

  53. Awesome stuff. I am using aweber and optimise press at the moment. What software would you recommend to create capture pages like the ones you’ve showcased above? I might of missed it if you mentioned it.. Will definitely test the pop-up opt-in.

  54. Thanks a lot for this post…
    “Subscribe bonus for new subscribers” – always works perfectly.
    Will give a shot to another methods too.

  55. Your tip about CTA’s really hit the spot. I’ve been noticing that some of our competitors are using wordy yet highly specific buttons like ‘Get My Free Consultation Now!’ or ‘See Other Works From ____’. I was skeptic at first, but reading your logic behind it, it makes sense. I’m looking forward to implementing this on my own sites. Thank you, Brian.

  56. Excellent post as always Brian. You mentioned a downloadable eBook, How to Get 25,000 Visitors Per Month after subscribing. I may have lost that email. Would it be possible for you to post the download link here please? I’d love to have a read of that e-book. Thanks in advance.

    1. Thanks Angelo. I’m actually revising the ebook. I’ll send it out to everyone in the Backlinko community when the next edition comes out.

  57. Hi Brian,
    Got a quick question: let’s say I have a website, and I’ve got a a main mailing list, that people can subscribe to ONLY via my sidebar opt-in form.
    And let’s say I implement your “content upgrade” strategy on a particular post, by including an opt-in form at the end of the post. If people sign up via that opt-in form, they will get a beautiful PDF file that summarizes that post.
    What should I do to make sure that people who sign up thru that post-specific opt-in form will automatically be added to the main sidebar list?


    1. Hi Frank, that depends on which email provider you use. I recommend reaching out to them with a link to this post and ask them how to set it up.

  58. Brian, there’s one tip you forgot to add that you CONSISTENTLY nail: author engagement. For proof, I dare all readers to scroll down the comments section and see how many comments get a Brian Dean reply. Hint: all of them. Including this one, I bet.

    I’m sure it’s a pain in the backside, but it’s very rare, and very effective to building a true “tribe.”

    1. Chad, you’re 110% right. Engagement is key and something most bloggers are “too busy” to take the time to do. I’m not sure what could be more important than engaging with your readers. That’s why I make it a top priority.

  59. Hello Brian,
    I read your post on Jon Morrow’s blog and then landed here. This is such an exhaustive post. And it is going to take exhaustive efforts to implement. We haven’t tried page level popups. In fact, I disabled all popups because they didn’t seem to function well with mobile users. But that has affected our conversions.

    Looking forward to giving SumoMe a trial. And also looking forward to your newsletter.


  60. Hi Brian,
    Excellent post! This happened to be my introduction to your content. Can you share which tool you used for the confirmation page, which pops up after clicking for the PDF checklist? (I saw that you use Max Blog Press, but I think that was an answer to a related, but different question.) Thanks.

  61. Very very good stuff Brian. I read the post all the way trough the end and be sure I’ll be implementing some tweeks on my sites right now. I’m a subscriber too

  62. This is honestly one of the best articles I’ve read all year on increasing opt-in rates. And my attention span these days is quite brief. With such a busy schedule, I don’t have time to read junk. Thanks for the great tips!

  63. Wow….this was a well explained detailed study, and I totally agree with you pop up boxes or slider for subscriptions do work but don’t you think at the same time they do irritate the visitors and I think first impression is the last impression.

  64. Hi Brian!
    As I see I miss several list items on my blog… want to implement immediately!
    One question though – with the yellow box subscription after the first paragraph I subscribe and get the pdf opened at the same window…. and the whole article is lost of sight&
    Is anyway to avoid this with Leadboxes?
    And i want to try 1 more option – with timed popup leadboxes or exit leadboxes to see what I get ))
    Thanks a lot! Your blog is a real treasure!!!!

    1. Sounds good, Alena. These should definitely help. I’m not sure that can be helped when using Leadboxes…but I could be wrong.

  65. Love the share about Max Blog Press Subscribers Magnet Brian and the post as a whole. Your usual top-notch quality in action.

  66. Nowadays there are various free plugins that do what subscriber magnet does and then some. Just thought I’d let everybody know. Great tips and refreshing compared to all the other same ole stuff out there 😉

  67. I thoroughly enjoyed the post. It is a lot to absorb at once but I will be reviewing the information later and take the appropriate actions necessary. It was an opener for me on the very many and simple strategies existing to help with traffic and interactions. I love your site and have signed up for your newsletters


  68. Hey Brian,
    Love this post! Been using it as a bible for our list building planning. Just out of curiosity, what tool did you use for the custom “Tweet This List Building Technique” buttons?

  69. Awesome strategies Brian!

    I’ve a question: Should I delete the non-active subscribers – maybe the subscribers who didn’t open last 20/30 emails?

    How to remove junk/non-active subscribers?

    Please suggest some rules for this.


  70. “Sometimes the dog poops on the rug and they forget to confirm.”
    Brian, you are too hilarious. You made me laugh throughout the post by this single line.

  71. Wow – amazingly in depth post on list building! I am having a real focus on this (just installed my lead magnet which is doing well) but there is a tonne of things I still need to focus on. Thanks for the tips.

  72. its like a bomb went off on my phone when I read this article! I’ve been struggling with my conversions and definitely going to try the content upgrade since its been on my mind. I thought I was crazy to think it might work but your numbers prove I’m sane 🙂

  73. pure awesomeness Brian, I found you blog thanks to quicksprout and I have been reading every post and update ever since!! best actionable content’ ive found on the web so far

  74. Excellent stuff. I used some of the strategies on my blog, and am thinking I should implement some more strategies listed here. Great blod post.

  75. Wow, I’ve got a lot to learn Brian and I’m sure grateful that you’re sharing your knowledge. I’ve signed up for your newsletter and I’m ready to have my mind blown!

  76. wow that was a lot to take in on a Friday night but great great content. I’m going to read through this tomorrow and definitely use some of these strategies. Great Post 🙂

  77. Some really fantastic marketing strategies here. Pop-ups do come across as very annoying and rude but it’s true that they do work really, really well. Perhaps surprisingly email converts better than any other channel such as facebook or twitter and pop-ups have been proven to collect the most email address of visitors.

  78. Thank you Brian. Been reading you for a couple of weeks now. A lot of people speak quite highly of you.

    I have been using SEO techniques to help my local business to great success, but I love learning new tools and tips that I could possibly implement in my business SEO.

    And this has a lot. WOW.

    I truly appreciate the About Me page and turning it into a lead gen landing page. I think I am going to have to try that.

    Best, Jae

  79. Great article Brian!

    Could you please share the plugin that you use to insert the “Tweet This List Building Technique”?

  80. Hi Brian!
    As I see I miss several list items on my blog… want to implement immediately!
    One question though – with the yellow box subscription after the first paragraph I subscribe and get the pdf opened at the same window…. and the whole article is lost of sight&
    Is anyway to avoid this with Leadboxes?
    Thanks a lot! Your blog is a real treasure!!!!

  81. Hello Brian,

    you are writing a lot about pop ups for building the list. I agree with you and do the same. However, from January 10, Google promises to start punishing the mobile sites with pop ups. In your opinion, how it will affect ecommerce sites and pop up providers?

  82. Very informative article as always, i have been lazy to do a lot of things even reading this post but i am glad i did today and i am full of ideas right now that i can’t wait to get back to implementing them to improving my subscriber list. Thanks for sharing.

  83. Brian. You talk about how all these variables matter in getting this article to rank #1 for “list building” and how competitors have way more links than you, but then you also consider your DA and your PA together, you have almost the highest score out of the top 10 rankings; and when you consider you are more topical authority, then that explains why Hugpages (all purpose site) is not ranking higher. Maybe its not all as complicated as you suggest.

  84. Hey Brian! Big fan here!
    I was wondering if you have any advice / opinion on how “onload” animations are affecting your SEO / SERP?
    Those would be the animations that lets say, as you scroll down, the content reveals with certain animation (fade, slide, etc), or is it better to just use static pages?
    I hear lots of mixed opinions and even tho animations are pleasing for the visitors eyes, I’ve read that the GoogleBot can’t properly crawl the website, therefore you don’t get any juice for the internal links you are using.

    I had on my website animations like that, that made it look better, but removed them coz of conspriacy. Fans are asking me why… I would love to know whether it’s true or not.

    Thank you very much and keep up the Great Work!

    P.S. You can remove my previous comment, I pressed Enter by mistake and it posted while not being finished.

  85. HEHA!! YOU HAVE DONE MAN !! hats off to your dedication , Saw your video today and at lastly searched in googled ! Yes you have ranked on 1st position !
    Thanks Brian Keep Motivating us , You are inspiration to Us ! <3

  86. Hey Brian
    I was watching ur videos which u left 2 weeks ago seo case study as u said list building keyword ranked out 1 in your video.
    as soon as I completed ur video I searched again “list bulding” on google ur post was 2nd in search results.

    You are the true seo guy I watch every video to be frank I still not subscribe ur youtube channel and I will do it now

    you are my inspiration and please share more “new case search results” on youtube

    thank you bro 🙂

  87. Hey Brian! Big fan here of you!
    I was watching your video which title was How to Rank #1 in Google [New Step-by-Step Case Study. it was an awesome video for bloggers. Thank You deer

  88. Hi Brian,

    This is a great list, thanks a lot for sharing it.

    I completely agree with your first point about popups to promote content upgrades; I’ve found this to be particularly effective versus standard sidebar opt-ins or even in-content forms.

    The funny thing is though, I’ve tested various content upgrades in the popups from 108-page professionally-formatted eBooks to five-minute, easy-to-digest checklists, and the shorter content that takes a fraction of the time to produce continues to win hands down in terms of the number of email subscribers gained.

    I’m just wondering if you’ve found the same with your content upgrades?

    Thanks again,


  89. Great Read! I have already started to implement a few. How can I add the subscribe to email checkbox in a comments? Been looking for weeks!

  90. So much info that you give Brian. I’ve binged your YouTube vids all night! Just Bookmarked so much. Very Appreciative and I know this will help as well. 🖒

  91. Thanks Brian Dean! I’m the part of your pop-up strategy when I signed-up. I learnt a lot from your articles and these email list building strategies is really going to help me in my blog. Thank you again!

  92. I’ve never seen anyone explain a topic so well with the help of illustrations. It made things easy to understand. Also, I was looking for someone to explain email marketing to me in details. Thank you for the post.

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