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How I Went From Zero to 5,000 Email Subscribers in Six Months And I didn't spend a dime.

By Dmitry Dragilev Edited by Jessica Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

January 2015 this was the traffic for my website and blog:

It was a bit depressing that nobody visited my blog considering I wrote good content. One month later, this was my traffic:

I did not run any ads, promote my content anywhere or change my posting frequency. Instead, I was inspired by this prerecorded webinar by Tim Paige of LeadPages which talks about how the company grew its business from 0 to 15,000 paying customers. Paige reveals his best tactic to get visitors to give their email and buy his product.

I knew I had to test this. I didn't have a budget for ads, all I wanted to do is write awesome content on my blog and get my visitors to purchase my product.

Related: Think Email Is Dying? Get Real. You Just Need a Better Strategy.

I did one thing which attributed for the change in traffic you saw in the graphs above: I added calls to action tailored to what the visitor was reading. For instance, they would leave their email address to get a PDF summary of the article they read, accompanying templates or any materials that were directly related to the post.

As a result, between 5 and 20 percent of visitors started opting in to my email list.

Just by offering a little bonus material in return for their email address, my traffic shot up.

In the first two months, I gained 3,000 subscribers, resulting in 250 clicks to my website when I sent out an email blast.

Here is a step-by-step guide of how I did it:

I picked an article I wrote. For example, here is a piece about a DIY PR strategy for startups.

I thought about the specific material each website visitor would like to have after reading the article. In this particular case, I determined high-quality email template for pitching journalists would be a great giveaway in exchange for an email address. The important thing to highlight here is that this is super targeted to the readers of this particular article --they're reading about doing their own PR and I'm offering them email templates to help them implement what they just learned.

I used LeadPages, a landing page generator, to set up the prompt in the article for readers to download the email template for pitching press.

Besides readers seeing a pop-up asking for their email address, there are also yellow boxes with targeted call to actions sprinkled throughout the article -- one above the fold, one about 20 percent into the article and another one around 75 percent into the article:

Related: Email Automation: Why You Need to Automate and How to Use It

When the reader clicks on this CTA they will see the following popup:

If they choose to provide their email address, they will receive an email from me with the relevant free resource. At the very end of the article I put a giant call to action that looks like this, directing the reader to the exact same process as mentioned above.

It's crucial to make sure your email subscribers double opt-in, meaning they confirm they want to receive future emails from you as well as the materials they just requested.

If they do agree to receive future emails and hit the "confirm" button, they will also get the following email with the materials they requested.

It is very important to make sure they understand what they signed up for and that they unsubscribe immediately if they don't want to receive any future emails from you. This way you'll only have subscribers who are truly interested in what you have to say:

Dmitry here - thanks for opting in, great to have you onboard. You're now officially part of our inside circle of elite growth hackers. :-)

Per your request here you go, enjoy: my most effective email templates to pitch press

Over the next few months, I'm going to send you periodic emails with the very best of my user acquisition tactics. All laid out for you step by step.

If you wish to not receive these just hit the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email.

Also one quick thing:

Reply to this email right now and tell me one thing that you're struggling with.

Even if it's teeny tiny…I want to hear about it.

Not struggling with anything in particular? No worries.

Just hit "reply" and say "Hey" (I love meeting Criminally Prolific subscribers).

I receive a TON of emails every day. I do my best to reply to as many as I can. If I don't respond to you rest assured that I read your email and will respond very soon.



Related: How to Write a Persuasive Email

Fifty percent of the people respond to this autoresponder email. Now I have highly targeted visitors, and I learn their pain points, too.

Targeted calls to action to leave an email address have worked great for me website, resulting, at minimal a 30 percent conversion rate.

Now going a step further, I have an additional call to action, asking people to provide an email address to receive updates when new posts are published. (The process is similar to above.)

I also add a handy little plugin called SumoMe to my blog which popups in the lower right hand corner when the reader is done reading a certain article:

It works just like all the popups above and the conversion rate is about 6 percent of all my visitors converting to email subscribers.

Besides writing on my own blog, I have also started contributing to others sites, like The Next Web, with call to actions (e.g. links to download PDFs).

It's contextual, it's information the readers want to have, why not give it to them at the end of the article?

I have also started writing PDF ebooks and special reports and giving them away in exchange for an email address.

Finally I decided to change the homepage on my website. It used to describe my past work but now it focused on my marketing consulting services.

Fourteen percent of people who visit my homepage leave their email address through this call to action.

Using the calls to action I describe in this article helped me get more than 5,000 addresses in the last six months.

The more people I have on my email list the more people come back to my website every time I email them with a new blog post and the more share articles are shared with their friends and followers. Those new friends and followers come back and sign up to receive emails from me.

By doing this process, I spend $0 on marketing. Instead I write good content and make sure I have a good call to action in each blog post to make sure people leave me their email addresses.

Related: 3 Steps to Maximize Your Mobile Email Marketing

Dmitry Dragilev

Founder @ TopicRanker.com

Dmitry Dragilev has helped 300+ brands like Realtor & HubSpot rank #1 on Google. His company TopicRanker.com finds problems in Google search results and recommends specific keywords you should target for your website.

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