Free Email Marketing: 30 Day List Building Challenge Case Study

free email marketingLast summer I had a crazy idea. I wasn’t launching anything, I didn’t need to hustle or sell a bunch of stuff… but I wanted to focus on building my email list, and document my results.

That’s where the idea for the free email marketing training 30 Day List Building Challenge was born. It was really just going to me focusing for a whole month on list building activities, like guest posting, being interviewed, trying my hand at running ads, hosting more webinars, and so on.

But then I realized that I could invite other people to focus on growing their lists with me. I would share what I was doing, and they could give it a try too. I also decided to offer up some prizes to encourage people to participate and share what was working for them, along with sharing the challenge itself.

All of this was free, and it felt good to be able to share and help people who might just be starting out with list building.

30 Day List Building Challenge Round 1

The first time I ran the challenge, I was writing emails to the group as I went along, and I was also trying to do all the activities I was talking about… while traveling abroad and juggling a few holidays, and some email delivery issues from our tech platform.

So while my original goal for my personal challenge was to go from 15,000 subscribers to 30,000 in 30 days… it didn’t happen. Instead I got close to 3,000 new subscribers which brought us up to 18,000.

Not bad. But the interesting thing that came out of the challenge was that I loved running the challenge itself, and seeing other people’s results as they took action too!

So I listened to the people who took part in the first round, who said they wanted more emails (preferably daily) and more videos, too. I liked the idea of making the program even more robust, so I went into the recording studio and shot 30 days of videos in one day, after re-writing and re-organizing all of my ideas.

I also decided that I didn’t want people to miss out on any of the previous days if they joined the challenge late, because each day built upon the next. So we set up the 30 Day List Building Challenge so that you can join it anytime, and get started on Day 1 with each subsequent video and email being unlocked 24 hours later.

From there, we created a free email marketing support group that people could join, and we also created a members-only area so that everything could live in one easy to maintain place.

In this iteration of the 30 Day List Building Challenge, I knew I wanted to encourage people to invite others and to get accountability partners too. So in each video I ask people to share the challenge and to report back to the group. I know that this little tweak is responsible for the challenge’s success and growth, too.

At this point we had built something worth sharing, that was getting people amazing results. Some rebellious list builders were doubling or tripling their lists. Others were adding 1000’s of new subscribers!

Beyond The Original Challenge – More Free Email Marketing Training Added

I wanted to get the word out even more about the challenge, on different platforms other than my social media networks. So I packaged up all the trainings into a Kindle book, that people could buy on Amazon.

This additional educational marketing asset helped us spread the word about the challenge to new audiences who might not read blogs but who are looking to grow their email lists.

We had so many people tell us that they wanted to go through the 30 Day List Building Challenge at their own pace, to get even more accelerated list building results. So that’s when we introduced the 30 Day List Building Fast Track option, which you can decide to upgrade to if you’re serious about building your list fast. You also get some other bonuses when you take the Fast Track option, like other trainings and more easy-to-implement content.

Now the totally free 30 Day List Building Challenge is still available, and the community of rebellious list builders is both supportive and kicking butt. If you haven’t joined us yet, you can do so by clicking here.

I have to say that co-creating this challenge with all the participants has been one of my best and most rewarding business decisions yet. Not only has the 30 Day List Building Challenge helped build my own list to over 26,000 today, but it has helped me to deliver even more useful trainings.

It made me bring my A-game, and so many people have told me that this free email marketing training is better than most paid trainings on the topic of list building.

We’ve even been able to understand what people who want to build their list need more of when it comes to the technical side of things… and we’re building out software tools that are designed to support our crew of 30 Day List Building challengers.

And we’re going to be making these available as both free and paid options, because we understand what it’s like when you’re just getting started – and when you want to have full control over how your website and business works, too. You can grab our free WordPress popup plugin here.

30 Day List Building Challenge Findings

Now since this is the 30 Day List Building Challenge case study, I want to share more findings from all of our testing and research.

I will tell you that most people don’t share these types of numbers or insights for free on their blogs, but I am so grateful to everyone who has joined the challenge taken action, and shared it with their friends, that I want to be transparent here in the hopes that you can apply some of these things to your business.

The Results Of Split Testing Our Opt-in Page

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Since we were offering 30 days of videos for the challenge, we also recorded an introductory video that told people about the challenge. Originally when we launched, we had this video on our opt-in page that told people about the 30 Day List Building Challenge and asked them to opt-in.

When we split tested this original page with a simpler opt-in page that just had a photo of me and a bit of copy asking people to join, we saw a 132% increase in conversions.

So we stopped using the video on our opt-in page, and as of right now our average conversion rate on this opt-in page is 43%.

What Percentage Of Opt-ins Are From Shares Of The Challenge?

Since we have a lot of people sharing the challenge with their friends, we’re also tracking how many people are coming through these links. This isn’t a perfect science since people can link directly to the challenge, but if they use one of the share buttons in our members area then we’re tracking it.

The percentage as of right now stands at: 12%. This might appear like a really small number, but we also have a lot of people joining directly from my website and from social media without the tracking links, too.

How Many People Take Us Up on The Fast Track?

Another question you might be asking yourself is how many people are upgrading to the paid Fast Track option? Since this is still a new offering, we can’t say for sure where our numbers will even out at… but as of this writing we’re averaging a 3-4% conversion rate. This is considered high for most offers, and we’re very grateful that people are seeing the value that we’re providing them.

Opening Up The Challenge To Affiliates

Now that we’re offering a paid Fast Track upgrade option, we’re starting to welcome affiliates who want to promote the challenge to their email lists or friends. Not everyone is going to take us up on the paid version, but even if only a few people do, it can still start to add up.

If you have a targeted list of subscribers or fans who are looking to build their lists more in the next 30 days than they have in the last month… then we’d love to have you on our ambassador list, and get you your own tracking link so you can earn commissions on the sale of the Fast Track and future programs we’re offering, too.

Common Email Marketing Questions

Now I want to answer some of the most common questions I’ve received around the whole topic of list building. So here goes!

Is there a trend of fewer people opting in?

No. Definitely not. See my answer for the next question, I think it will help you see things differently. I know more people are joining my list on a regular basis.

Are people getting numb to opt-in offers?

Potentially. I think people are getting tired of seeing the same stuff delivered in the same way. It’s all about what my friend Kendrick Shope calls doing the common things uncommonly well. If you can get creative, put your heart into your own expression of an opt-in gift, and be confident when you put it out there… then nothing can stop you.

I’m finding that people want more experiences and less plain jane information. They can google information, but if you’ve created an experience into your opt-in, that’s something that can’t be recreated outside as easily.

That’s why my 30 Day List Building Challenge is so successful, and why so many people gush about it. It’s also why I’m so proud that I was able to focus on something like this and do it with high production value to boot.

But you don’t need to start with something perfect. The first time I ran the challenge, I didn’t have videos in each email, and the ones I did have were just me talking over a slide or browser window.

Should you have an opt-in gift or not?

Some people have asked if it’s necessary to offer something in exchange for a name and email to grow their lists. They point to my website and say that I don’t have like a PDF or download that I offer for my main email list.

And while that is true, I do have the 30 Day List Building Challenge, and I had the Website Checkup for many years as well. So while you can get away with not having something to give away as a bribe on your main website, I do recommend having some sort of offer that you can share on social media that’s specific is awesome.

How can you increase your opt-in conversion rate?

This is a biggie! Like you saw in my case study, playing around with different opt-in pages made a big difference in our conversion rates. I was sure that video would work better because that’s just what I was used to using on an opt-in page. But in reality, people were intrigued enough to opt-in without watching a 1.5 minute video.

So what’s going to be the thing that increases conversions for you? It might be something else entirely… like changing your offer, changing the design, or as simple as changing the headline.

The Big 30 Day List Building Challenge Take Away

Now the 30 Day List Building Challenge looks totally different from when I first got the idea for it. It’s taken on a life of its own, it’s responsible for new products, revenue streams, and connections that I wouldn’t have even imagined before starting. All of this came to be because I trusted my intuition, took action, and set something into motion.

But also because I kept going. There’s something to be said for persistence and staying with something that’s working, even if you’re not getting exactly the results that you’re looking and you don’t quite know how it’s all going to pan out.

That’s the essence of the challenge itself, so if you want to grow your list more and you enjoyed this behind the scenes look… then go ahead and sign up for the 30 Day List Building Challenge. It’s free email marketing training just for you. :)

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I’m the founder of a tech startup called AccessAlly, a powerful course and membership platform for coaching industry leaders.

I’m also the creator of the free 30 Day List Building Challenge:

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