Giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook have imposed countless rules that limit what you can and can’t do to promote your business. If you repeat content, you’re in trouble. If you “keyword stuff,” you’re in trouble. If you backlink to shady sources, you’re in trouble. If you violate their rules, they penalize you by not displaying your content, moving you down on their results, or banning you entirely.
It’s extremely affordable (starting at $15/month), while incredibly powerful and easy to use. I also find that GetResponse have some of the best newsletter template designs around. Aweber is another good call, but I find their user interface a bit outdated and clunky (plus, their pricing starts at $19/month – not a big deal, but considering they’re not quite as good as GetResponse IMO this pushes the needle in favour of GetResponse even more).
The best part of the platform is it has a free version which one can use to run your own ads with credits from reading and rating ads. The free way to start is to use the ads surfing as a way to learn how to write good ad copy (headline less than 25 characters plus a message less than 60 characters) and good landing pages. Just follow what the 5 star ad writers do and build that into your free credit ads – keep doing this over and over until you are ready to go Pro.  I use the paid Pro version at $19.95 a month which gives me 10 Pro ads which I can deploy without needing credits. Any credits I collect are applied to Credit ads that I run as well.
You might be doing all the right things to generate leads -- landing pages, gated content, contests, and more. The problem might be that the design or copy itself isn't driving the engagement you need. A/B test (also known as "split test") different aspects of your list-building campaigns with different versions of the same content. This includes the call-to-action text, the color of the gated offer, the time of day you're posting to social media, and even where on your website these signup forms are placed. Sometimes a small change can drive hundreds more conversions.

If you take the time to build your email list the right way, you’ll encounter fewer obstacles with your deliverability and you’ll cultivate a strong group of brand advocates who will champion your email program. So when your boss tells you to send an “email blast” to as many people as possible, remind them that the numbers you want to concentrate on are your email engagement numbers, not your list size.
I think what Brian and the testers are missing is that 15k is neither big enough to be impressive nor small enough to be inviting. It’s not a number that works effectively as social proof, and while I can’t test it out myself, I believe, based on evidence for social proof around the web, that DIYthemes would have had much better success with a combined number in the 50k+ range as mentioned above.
A gauntlet could be three emails, five, 10… Whatever works or your niche and business. Figure out what’s best for you through testing. Once they’ve gone through the gauntlet, your leads are added to your regular email list. You should have a consistent schedule, sending around the same time, usually daily (though you may opt for a less frequent schedule).
Couple your sign-up boxes with a clear description of “what’s in it for them.” Let customers know exactly what to expect when signing up, and sell the benefits for being on your email list. This can be as simple as promoting the general advantages of the channel — such as being able to receive information and offers faster and that it’s eco-friendly.
This is especially effective of course if the content you’re sharing is relevant to your own business, and if you’re sharing it to or with a group of your target audience. If you share highly relevant content on Facebook and your target audience clicks on it from your Snip.ly link, chances are they’ll also be interested in your content and opt-in offers. Use Snip.ly to add calls to action to all of the relevant content you share.
The focus of free traffic is to create content and then get people to look at the content. In my early days in Internet Marketing all the gurus talked about keywords and search engine optimization as the holy grail of free traffic. At one level this is easy to do – write your content in a keyword rich way. At the full level, this morphed into a complicated area of backlinks and private blog networks and the like. This very quickly becomes a time sink of effort and expense.
Today’s tools make it easy send more individualized messages. You can use dynamic content to change certain parts of the email based on information you have about your subscribers. For example, you can use dynamic content to show different images based on where your subscriber is located. You can select which lists or segments of lists should see a particular part of an email. Dynamic content allows you to create several versions of the email for different sets of customers based on what you know about them, all from within one campaign.
To incentivize the prospect to sign up, it’s important to offer them some sort of free bonus, like an ebook, access to a webinar, or whatever attractive freebie you can give them that is related to your business. But you shouldn't have to bust your butt to put this bonus together. You could collect together past blog posts into one PDF, for example.
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