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3 Street Selling Tactics That Boosted My Email Subscribers over 100%

3 Street Selling Tactics That Boosted My Email Subscribers over 100%

By Pat Flynn on

When doing business online, it’s always smart to see how others are finding success. That’s why I follow people like Yaro Starak and Darren Rowse, and it may be the reason you’re following me.

The thing is, we’re so involved in doing everything online, we often fail to realize the successful strategies and tactics that are used offline in the real world that can help us with our online businesses.

I’ve touched on expanding our minds and looking for Shadows of Marketing in the real world before, but this guest post by The Blog Tyrant hits the nail on the head when it comes to using front line, real world examples to help our online marketing efforts, specifically when it comes to growing our email lists.

I really enjoyed this guest post, and I know you will too.

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photo credit: Alex E. Proimos

Don’t worry. Not THAT kind of street selling! What I am talking about is the highly efficient (and sometimes annoying) charity salespeople who walk the streets trying to sign you up for regular direct deposit donations. They work fast and they get results. The methods they use are tested and very deliberate.

In this post I am going to show you three tactics that I borrowed from one street seller that helped me boost my email subscription rate by over 100% across multiple blogs.

1. Giving Makes Selling Easier

One of the most powerful thing that these guys do is give you something as soon as they meet you. The reason for this is not because they want to get their brand name out there or make you feel friendly, it is because they know that it is harder to say no if you have just taken something from someone. Car salesman are the absolute best at this because they give you free test drives in your dream car in order to get you away from the “no” mentality. They won’t even let you go near a piece of paper until you’ve driven the car.

The street salesman that I encountered gave me a neat little bag followed by the comment, “…these are actually pretty cool man. Don’t throw it out.” Immediately the value of the item increased and I noticed my mind shifting from “get out of here” to “I should at least hear him out”. The generosity had paid off.

So how do you give on your website in order to make people more likely to subscribe by email? Some of the options include:

  • Use value-increasing language in pitches
    The interesting thing was that is wasn’t just the bag that made me stick around, it was the fact that he told me it was a good bag. It showed me that he valued the bag and as such I would feel like an absolute jerk if I admitted I wasn’t grateful by walking away. It seems ridiculous now but at the time it was very powerful. Don’t just offer a free ebook, tell people how valuable the ebook is and why it is important to you and so many others. This generates interest but also makes people feel like they are getting a lot.
  • Make it free but remind people
    Pat recently talked about whether giving away free information is bad. My take on that is that free information is excellent and fine so long as you don’t feel bad about reminding people occasionally how valuable the information is. If your website is anything like Pat’s or mine you will be quite used to giving away trade secrets. Start reminding people occasionally with gentle in-post inferences about how much you have given them. Don’t directly say “you’re getting so much jerks” but instead imply it by saying things like “this method has worked so well for me over the years and was the basis for many future successes”. I do this a bit in my article on selling a blog.
  • Ask for something in return
    One way to make the act of giving more visible is by directly asking for something in return. When you do that you are essentially highlighting the fact that you have given something of value. In the case of email subscribers you are asking for their email address so why not highlight that that is the trade off for your free ebook?

Go beyond the free ebook method as your form of giving something away and start helping people to understand how valuable your information really is. If you can go to this next deeper level you will find that people feel compelled to interact with your site in some way and the easiest way is by subscribing by email.

2. Use Social Proof At Problem Moments

So the street salesman had my attention. We’d been talking for a little while now and I could see he was getting ready to go in for the kill. As he broke out the brochure detailing how much money I was going to give he said, “We’ve had 290 people sign up this week for these $30 a month packages. All I need to do is sell 10 people the $5 a month package and we’ve hit our target“. Well played sir.

Well played.

What he had done in that sentence was show me that I wasn’t alone in doing this. He wasn’t just some clever scam artist who was going to steal my credit card details (although he might well still have been!). Other people had done this already. Other people had signed up for more than I was going to sign up for. Now my brain is telling me to do it so it will all be over. Its not that bad.

Social proof is good. Social proof at problem moments is even better. Don’t just put your testimonials all in one place. Put relevant ones at relevant problem points. For example, if you have a sidebar ad you might want to show how many other people are subscribed. If you have an email subscriber landing page you might want to have a testimonial about how easy the whole process is. Ideally you should place a relevant piece of social proof on:

  • the landing page;
  • the subscriber box area;
  • the verification email;
  • the confirmation email; and
  • the email people get when they unsubscribe.

If your social proof can also indicate how easy the process is or how much benefit they will get from a tiny bit of action then you will find that subscription rates skyrocket for the simple reason that you are removing people’s objections.

NOTE: If you can work these problem moments into your blog hot spots you will have a much higher rate of conversion for the simple reason that it gets high exposure.

3. Show Results And Make It Feel Achievable

Out of all of the sales techniques the one that had the deepest effect on me was seeing photos of kids drinking clean water, studying in their new school and eating with their family. At that point compassion welled up inside of me and all other thoughts about objections and money worries faded away.

When I was in the car later on I thought about that moment and realized that I felt quite different to when I see other charity adverts where the kids are all sick and starving. During those commercials I usually feel quite dis-empowered and depressed. But seeing photos of the results of the contributions and how literally a few bucks had changed people’s lives I felt motivated. It was an interesting moment for me.

Applied to your email subscriptions this is a very powerful thing. People are coming to your blog or website because they have a need and they want to solve that need. Your job is to make them feel like your content can solve their problems.

  • Shift from object to person
    Instead of talking about how great your ebook is or how fantastic your content will be once they subscribe you need to talk about what it will mean to the person. How will it affect their life or their business and is it really going to be achievable for them?
  • Personalize the language
    Use language like “my, me, you, your” instead of “this, it, etc.”. This is essentially helping to reinforce the first point because you are getting the person focused on your offering and how it applies to their situation. Don’t focus on the free thing or the actual product, focus on the benefits they get from it.
  • Use before and after
    On my email subscription pages I usually use a before and after of some sort. It doesn’t have to be a picture or anything that complex, just a sentence or two about how your free ebook or free subscription can take your business or health or life from the old way to the new way. Better yet, show them how it has worked for other people.

This one tactic alone is massive. If you make the shift from just talking about features and helping people understand the benefits they will get from signing up you will tap into emotions that really are quite difficult to ignore.


Offline marketers have been around for a lot longer than us online guys and as such they often have some cool things to share. This charity street seller was a perfect example. Show people the results, use social proof at problem moments and give something before you ask for something. Once I applied these three tactics to my different blogs by changing the language or the layout that I used I experienced a huge increase in email subscribers literally overnight.

Do you use anything like this on your blog? Please leave a comment as I am really interested to see what is working/not working for other people out there when it comes to email subscribers and conversions.

The Blog Tyrant has sold several blogs for large sums of money and earns a living by relying solely on the internet. His blog is all about helping you dominate your blog and your blog’s niche and only includes strategies that he has tried on his own websites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to his feed for all the juice.

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