I want to let you in on a little secret…
Those big bloggers & marketers out there, they’re all utilizing a super smart tactic.
The process itself isn’t entirely new, but it’s never been more effective.
Surprisingly, it hasn’t been talked about much (until very recently).
Curtains off: it’s time for you to know…
List Building On Steroids
There are quite a few ways to get featured on a popular blog, almost all of which involve building a great relationship with the blogger (or having something unique to offer).
Luckily, to start building that relationship, and to get featured immediately, we have the power of guest posting at our disposal.
This let’s us write awesome content, get exposure, and even gain a fair amount of visitors ready to sign up for our list, all with the support of a popular blog.
The thing is, the destination of a guest post is critical in determining how successful it is.
If you’re experienced in blogging, you know the drill: end your guest post with a link to a landing page rather than your homepage.
It converts better, especially if your landing page highlights the benefits of your mailing list and offers more goodness that directly relates to the guest post that got them there.
Yet, big bloggers are tapping into a list building technique so powerful that it just might change the way you conduct your guest blogging…
The Power Of Webinars
So, what do webinars have to do with this?
First of all, if you’re unfamiliar with a webinar, it’s a live broadcast (either video or audio + slideshows) that airs on a certain date, and attendees have to sign up in advanced to get a “seat”.
The most popular platform for this, by far, is GoToWebinar.
Utilizing webinars to grow your presence online is nothing new, but using “how” they are conducted to explode the growth of your email list definitely seems to be taking off as of late.
So, what exactly is going on?
Recently, big marketers (read: Jon Morrow, Amy Porterfield, Derek Halpern, Johnny B. Truant, Sonia Simone, Lewis Howes, etc) have been getting featured on as many sites as they can get on, but instead of linking back to their blog, they are promoting upcoming webinars.
What is going on here?
What’s the deal with growing your list via a webinar, and more importantly, why does it work so well?
Before we dive into that, let’s take a look at the tool that’s being adopted by all of the big marketers mentioned above, and that also created that sign-up page that you see in the screenshot.
What Has Changed?
Webinars have always been fairly well known about, but because of their “high entry cost”, they have largely been utilized by only bigger bloggers.
Recently though, more and more folks are using webinars to grow their list, and it is in part due to the fact that a new tool has made the sign-up process far more effective and even simpler to set up.
In the past, webinars have been a smart way to build a list, because you could get people to sign up for your list in addition to signing up for the webinar, in order to get notified.
AWeber will also accept emails that GoToWebinar gathers (it violates MailChimp’s TOS to do this), but the process has always been cumbersome and involves chatting with support each and every time you wanted to import those emails.
Now, you can do the whole thing at once, signing up people for both your webinar and your list, with one form.
And marketers have been taking advantage of this BIG time.
In fact, both Jon Morrow’s and Johnny B. Truant’s latest posts on Copyblogger didn’t even mention their site, it linked to their webinar landing page instead.
How is this process now possible?
A new WordPress plugin by Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers called WebinarBridge, which allows you to create landing pages that registers all email signups under both GoToWebinar and your mailing list (via AWeber or MailChimp).
As I mentioned, the above screenshot of Jon Morrow’s webinar was created with this tool, and since he linked to it directly from a Copyblogger guest post, you can imagine how many signups he was able to get.
Derek himself wrote an excellent article on how he gained 1,054 email subscribers in 28 days, yet webinar usage still hasn’t taken off to it’s full potential.
This might change with the growing popularity of webinars and Lewis Howes’ new book on Webinar Marketing 101, but webinars are likely to remain less utilized (and thus more effective) for months to come.
This is due to the high barrier to entry as I mentioned above, and in this case that includes cost.
Before we tackle that issue, let’s dig into why webinar signups work so well for growing a list, especially with the new WebinarBridge tool.
Why Webinar Signups Work
There are 3 important things at work here that make webinars work so well.
Let’s dive right in…
1.) Giving away your email is simply how webinars “work”
Most of the folks that you are going to be targeting with a webinar are largely going to be familiar with the process.
Even if they haven’t joined or hosted a webinar themselves, they likely have heard of them before and will know that giving away your email is just how things work.
You need to submit your email to get the webinar link, and to get notified when it goes live (as a reminder).
Thus, when you are linking people to these webinar landing pages, they already know the deal.
They are primed to enter their email because they know they need to in order to get access to the webinar, this makes things more of a ‘no brainer’ rather than “Is this worth handing my email over for?”
You of course need to notify people that they are getting signed up for your list, but as you can see, that’s not really an issue if you offer it as a “bonus”, just make sure your newsletter is actually worthwhile!
While you might get a few unsubscribes, take it from people like Jon Morrow, you still have their email initially, giving you time to absolutely “wow” them, making the option to unsubscribe never cross their mind.
2.) Webinars create a sense of urgency, without being artificial or “salesy”
You know I hate those cheesy marketing tactics, but sometimes you have to acknowledge when the “annoying” works.
When it comes to “act now, spots are limited”, it most definitely does work.
The thing is, with webinar software (specifically GoToWebinar), there is a sense of urgency because there is a real limit to the number of people who can sign up.
The thing is, this limit is placed by the webinar software itself, not you.
So, you get to advertise your webinar using the power of scarcity, but you don’t have to be artificial about it: the scarcity is true!
In every post related to an upcoming webinar I’ve seen recently, this limit to the number of seats has been proudly proclaimed (as well as a mention that the past webinar “was filled within _____ hours”.
People don’t want to miss out, and when they see they only have a limited time to get your webinar goodness, they’ll commit rather than wait to act (increasing conversions).
An excellent way to implement the influential nature of scarcity, without sounding like a greaseball salesman.
3.) Readers are already “primed” to act from reading previous information
In every single post I’ve seen announcing a new webinar, especially a guest post for another blog, the original article itself was about the exact material covered in the upcoming webinar.
The key here is to give people a “taste”, letting them know that the main course is coming via the webinar, which is why they should sign up if they enjoyed the post that they just read (also, seats are limited! ;)).
Priming is the process of piquing someone’s interest in a topic, which research has shown makes them more inclined to check out something related.
No surprise there, you see it in action all over, on the web specifically, you’ll notice YouTube’s big emphasis on ‘related videos’, they want to keep you on site as long as possible.
With blogging, you want to prime readers for something related to your mailing list, or in this case, a webinar that is directly tied to your mailing list.
Their interest in the topic covered in your guest post will lead to them being more inclined to learn more from you (if you left a good impression, that is), and extra content in webinar form definitely fits the bill.
Joint Webinar Strategy
Okay, this is some real ninja stuff here.
Even better than guest posting about a webinar is hosting a joint webinar with another blogger.
The idea here is that you incur all of the work and cost (hosting the webinar and setting it up), and the other blogger provides the audience.
I’ve seen Lewis Howes do this to great effect promoting his products, where the joint partner (includes a list of people like Problogger) will get a commission through some affiliate sales offered at the end of the webinar.
The thing is, you probably won’t have to offer even that to get this going: B-list bloggers who you’ve connected with would most likely love to host a webinar with you, especially if you’re doing all the leg work.
Imagine a webinar sign-up page that is getting traffic from a direct broadcast to email subscribers from the partner you’ve teamed up with… that sure beats hoping for visitors from a guest post.
You’re getting guaranteed visitors who are loyal and very targeted.
You can even use guest posting to “break the ice” with a blogger you’d like to team up with, offering an incredible guest post and following up at a later date with a joint webinar suggestion.
Do NOT underestimate this strategy, this is huge for creating wildly successful webinars and tons of sign-ups without any additional marketing, you’re simply leveraging the interest of another blogger’s audience instead.
The Barrier of Entry
Webinars also work well because they aren’t something that every single blogger does; as we’ve seen with the “free e-Book” opt-in strategy, the more people do it, the less effective it becomes (people block it out).
The thing is, you also have to overcome this barrier, and if you want to take advantage of how well this strategy works, you should.
Fortunately, one of the barriers is simply work: the work involved in hosting a webinar (and the “guts” it takes to get yourself out there) is going to be a large contributor to what holds people back, yet it’s good because it can be conquered with hard work and some courage.
You may feel apprehensive about hosting a 30 minute (+) session with potentially hundreds of people, and you might fear the work involved in planning one out, but as you’ve seen from the results and useage of the big marketers, the reward is definitely worth the work (which is why I plan to partake in this strategy for this blog soon).
The other barrier to entry is cost.
While WebinarBridge is something like $97, GoToWebinar itself can costs anywhere between $99-499/month for useage.
Luckily, if the work mentioned above doesn’t phase you, the cost can largely be negated until you find out if it really works that well for you.
That’s because GoToWebinar offers a free 1-month trial on all new accounts (up to 100 seats per webinar), giving you the time to try out this webinar sign-up process at no risk to your wallet.
If you find it to be everything it appears to be, then the cost of GoToWebinar will surely be worth it to your blog’s success (consider it a very smart investment).
Over To You
I know this isn’t my normal type of post.
It’s shorter, and it only covers a single, very specific tactic.
I hope that let’s you know that I wouldn’t consider posting about this unless I seen some incredible promise (and actual usage) of the strategy.
Given the different style of this article (nice to read less than 3000 words, eh? ;)), I really want your feedback.
What do you think of this tactic of using webinars?
Would webinar creation and promotion be worth it for the increased signups for your blog’s list?
Derek has stated that he’s seen 60% conversion rates on webinar landing pages, do you think this would also work for your blog’s niche?
Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!