Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Could Facebook be gone next year, or bigger than ever? Despite all the predictions about Facebook, there are two things that are definitely true about it. First, Facebook’s organic reach has dropped to single digits for most pages. Second, organic reach is never coming back to its earlier levels.
The chart below shows this all too clearly. Though the data in the chart ends at March of 2014, the trend it shows hasn’t shifted much. Hundreds of Facebook and Internet marketing experts have gone so far as to say that Facebook’s organic reach is rapidly approaching zero.
Hopefully that’s not true for your Facebook page, but, regardless, you’ve probably seen steep declines over the last year. And while there are lots of ways to increase the organic reach of your Facebook posts, for this article I’m going sidestep all those tactics and focus solely on how to convert your Facebook fans into email subscribers.
Why convert your Facebook fans into email subscribers?
- You own and control your email list. So long as you follow list-management best practices (i.e., don’t spam your subscribers), no one can take away your list.
- A much higher percentage of your email subscribers will see your email messages than your Facebook fans will see your updates. That’s because while a 10% email open rate is considered low, it’s still about double what most Facebook page owners are seeing now from organic reach.
- Email subscribers buy and spend more. Not only will more people see your messages, but they’ll also buy more. Way more. The Direct Marketing Association measures email marketing’s return on investment (ROI) at 4300 percent. Yes — 4300 percent — that is not a typo. That’s more than 28 times any other return on investment statistic for Facebook, including Facebook advertisers.
So if an email subscriber is worth more than a Facebook like, what does it take to convert your Facebook likes to email subscribers? That’s the purpose of this article.
8 Ways to Use Facebook to Build your Email List
1. Add an email sign up link and form to your Facebook page. This is basically adding an opt-in form to your Facebook page. A user first clicks the “sign up” link in the tab (see below) and is then brought to a page with an opt-in form.
The exact steps of how to add the form will vary depending on your email service provider, but usually this takes about 15 minutes to do. No coding is required — your email service provider knows how important Facebook opt-ins are, so almost all email services make adding a form like this very easy to do.
2. Host a contest or giveaway. Some Facebook marketers have gotten thousands of new subscribers in just a few days with Facebook contests and giveaways. The secret is to offer something especially interesting to your audience. In other words, skip the iPad giveaway — offer something only your ideal subscribers would want. Next, limit the length of the contest to 7 days. Finally, make sure your contest opt-in page is mobile-friendly, and make sure your contest opt-in page looks great.
I’ve run a couple Facebook contests, and have had a very good experience with the online tool Heyo. It can do Facebook contests, promotions, landing pages and lead capture pages. All of them can be set up in less than ten minutes. It integrates nicely with all the major email marketing services and works great on mobile devices. If I sound a little too sold on it, well, I was terrified to do my first Facebook contest, and they made it easy.
3. Gate your content. While “like gates” are no longer allowed on Facebook, you can still gate content behind an email form. “Email gates,” also called “form gates,” don’t let people see content until they’ve entered their email address.
You could offer a standard free report in a PDF as the content behind an email gate. Or you could give your new subscribers access to a coupon code, or even just the full version of a really great blog post. It’s up to you. Or rather, it’s up to your fans: What would they think is valuable enough to swap their email address for?
4. Use Facebook ads. Whether it’s a promoted post, or a custom audience, or any of the other Facebook advertising, give Facebook ads a try. Facebook has basically become an “advertising platform,” as its new competitor Ello calls it. So sometimes, you have to give in and spend a little money. At least now you’re spending the money on your email list. Treat your subscribers right and it should be a very good investment.
5. Include a link in your About section, in the long description. You can add links to any page you want in the long description of your Facebook page. You could include links to the major pages of your site, plus one additional link to a landing page designed to convert Facebook visitors into email subscribers. However you want to use that space, it’s yours. So add some links.
6. Have the primary link to your site go to a landing page that’s designed to capture visitors. I’m referring to the link that’s in the “About” box on your Facebook page. Most pages just send people to the home page of their website, and that’s fine. But it’s a proven list-building best practice to send people to a page specifically designed to capture email addresses.
Adding a customized landing page can increase your opt-ins by three-fold. Do include navigation links to other pages on your site on the landing page. It’s important to give people a way to leave the landing page without too much hassle. Some of them will want to click around and get to know your site before they sign up. That’s okay. You want to direct people to join your list, but not force them to either sign up or leave.
7. Make your Facebook cover photo clickable – and send them to a landing page optimized for opt-in pages. This will take you less than a minute to do (to set up the link; creating the landing page may take longer). All you have to do is.
- Click on your Facebook cover image.
- Click “Edit.”
- In the top description box, enter some promotional copy and then add a link to the page you want to send people to. Don’t worry about making the URL a hyperlink; Facebook will do that for you.
- Click “Done Editing.”
Now, when someone clicks on your cover image, she will see the image on the right, the promotional copy, and then a clickable link that will bring her to your site.
8. Include calls to action to join your email list in your Facebook posts. Add teasers for content that’s available only in your emails, or announce your emails a day or so before they’ll be sent out. Just remember to include a link for people to sign up for your list – otherwise you’re urging them to do something, then making it hard for them. Unfortunately, even adding a few extras clicks makes something seem hard. So give them a way to sign up for your list immediately after you’ve touted your next email.
Those are all the ways I could think of to convert Facebook fans into email subscribers. Did I miss anything? Which techniques have worked best for you? Let us know in the comments.