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5 Unusual Ways to Leverage Your Audience – Even if It’s Small

  • Peter SandeenPeter Sandeen

“The money is in the list” has become a mantra in the online marketing circles. And though I think the statement is crippled, there’s truth to it.

But it’s overshadowing the other ways you can leverage your list.

Even if you don’t have thousands of subscribers, you can still get tremendous value from them. All you need to do is get a little creative.

Not all of these ideas will fit in with what you do. But if even one of them works well, the results can be impressive.

1. Create Something They Get By Sharing It

When people are already on your list, you shouldn’t ask them to join your list (again) to get a freebie (or “giveaway,” “opt-in bribe,” etc.). Instead, you should ask for something else.

Sharing a link to the freebie’s landing page (where new people can get it by joining your list) in social media is one of the best, easy things you can ask for.

For example, let’s say you have two freebies people can get by subscribing to your list. When people download freebie A (by joining your list), you could tell them about freebie B.

But instead of asking for their email address again for freebie B, give it to them when they share a link in social media to freebie A’s landing page. This way they can take a look at what freebie A is like and decide if sharing the link with their followers makes sense.

But you can also send an email to your list asking them to share something. I recently mentioned a freebie in an email and asked people to share it in Facebook or Twitter to get it. Even though most people had downloaded the freebie previously, the opt-in page was still shared about 100 more times.

Even though the traffic spike from social media is rarely all that remarkable, it’s still better than nothing, which is all you’d get by asking people to re-opt-in.

Whenever you release a new freebie, you can use this tactic to get your existing audience to help with the promotion. When lots of people share the same link, the results can be exponential.

2. Offer Them an Opportunity to Interview You

People are on your list because you’re an expert at something, right?

If they have an audience that would be interested in your expertise, there’s a chance you’d make a great interviewee. But most people won’t ask you for an interview if you don’t tell them that you’re open to it.

You can even add an email to your autoresponder series (if you use one) to tell new subscribers that if they want to interview you, you’re probably going to agree to do it. And if you want them to approach you in some specific way, just tell them.

Sure, many interview requests will come from people who have relatively small audiences. But there are reasons for doing many of those interviews, too:

1.  The interviewer’s audience might grow and eventually your interview might gain a lot of exposure.

2.  If you get just one high-paying client from an interview that took 30 minutes of your time, it’s well worth the effort.

3.  Being a good interviewee is a skill most people don’t have naturally. So, take the opportunities to practice. When the New York Times comes knocking, you want to be ready.

Just be careful not to sound like a self-absorbed try-hard when you tell people that “you’re available for interviews.” 😉

3. Give Them a Chance to Publish Content on Your Site

Many people in your audience are likely to be in the same field as you. So, they might want to create content for your site to attract a few of your readers to their site.

The usual option is guest posts. But it’s not the only possibility.

For example, you could reach out to people whose expertise is complimentary to yours and ask if they’d like to create a free report you publish on your site. They get the credit and the people who find the report valuable will end up on their site looking for more great content.

That said, guest posts are the simpler and often better option. And all you need to do is send an email to your list asking them to write posts for your site.

Remind them of the benefits of guest blogging and tell how they can submit a post for your site (see Mirasee’s guidelines for example). It’s also a good idea to mention what topics you’re interested in. Otherwise, you’ll get some submissions that don’t make any sense.

4. Ask Them to Help You Improve Your Marketing

Everyone in your audience found you somehow for the first time. And they all decided to join your list for some reason.

When you understand how people found you and what compelled them to subscribe, you can focus your marketing efforts on the things that work best.

Sure, if you’ve set up good tracking (with Google Analytics or another similar tool), you might know how people come into contact with you. But unless you’ve spent the time to really dig into your analytics, you probably don’t know what traffic sources create the most engaged, active subscribers (the people most likely to buy what you sell).

So, send an email to your list and ask two questions: “How did you find me?” and “What compelled you to subscribe?”

You might now think, “Very few people will answer those questions.” But that doesn’t matter.

You don’t need a ton of replies to get a good idea of the best traffic sources. And anyway, you’re most interested to find out where your most engaged subscribers came from, and they’re the most likely to respond.

When you find out what are your best traffic sources, you can concentrate your efforts into improving those sources even more.

And when you know what made people join your list, you can emphasize those reasons more to radically improve your conversion rates. In other words, you can give people better reasons for joining your list (and avoid the mistake even Copyblogger, ThinkTraffic, and Derek Halpern fell for).

5. Let Them Tell You What They Want to Buy from You

As your audience grows, you’re likely to get spontaneous emails from people who want your answers to questions they’re struggling with. When you get many enough emails like that, you can see common themes.

Those common themes tell you what you should sell. And when you finally offer something people have been asking for all along, you’re almost guaranteed to make lots of easy sales.

For example, if you run a fitness site and people keep asking you questions about nutrition, maybe you should write an ebook about how nutrition fits in with fitness.

Or if people ask you about body weight training, make a video training program that shows people how body weight training works best.

Or if they’re concerned with how their joints can handle exercise, sell personal training-planning sessions for people with exercise limitations.

You don’t have to wait for people to spontaneously ask you dozens or hundreds of questions. Instead, you can ask them a question: “If you could choose to learn anything about [your area of expertise], what would it be?”

You can ask them to reply to you with their answers via email. Or you can set up a survey with some preset options (just don’t forget to include the “other” option, so people can make suggestions you didn’t anticipate).

The survey makes analyzing results faster, but doesn’t encourage people to give answers that differ from the preset options. So, if you don’t have a good gut feeling of what people want from you, stick to asking for email replies.

Leverage vs. Growth

These tactics don’t substitute list growth. They just help you make the most of your list even before it’s really big (and they work better when your list gets larger).

The first of the ideas can result in more subscribers, but you need some other way to grow your list consistently. Whether it’s speaking, advertising, joint venture promotions, guest blogging, or another reliable way to attract new people to your list, you should start with just one tactic.

Many people try to use too many different tactics and don’t learn any of them well enough. So, ease up on the social media, blogging, and SEO and focus on a traffic tactic that works consistently 😉

Just don’t forget to also make the most of the list you’ve already built. If you don’t, you’re wasting your time attracting hundreds or thousands of new subscribers.

Over to You

Questions, comments, thoughts? Share them below.

22 thoughts on 5 Unusual Ways to Leverage Your Audience – Even if It’s Small


Awesome! 🙂 Great post. Very often people focus on growing the list rather than leveraging the potential value of the people on the list.
Thanks and keep blogging 🙂

Peter Sandeen

Hi Shailesh,

Thanks 🙂 And yep, it’s very, very common to obsess about the number of subscribers and forget to do something with the list you already have. Hence, this post 🙂


Ann Leslie

Many thanks for this list. Very original ideas here , I especially idea 1.

Peter Sandeen

Hi Ann,

Thank you, glad to hear that 🙂



There came lot of blogs blogging about blogging and i lost interest in this email and also checking any blog. Just thought of firepole today and look at it, this is the second post with great stuffs to digest.

Peter you’re the man. I once offered seminar participants to interview me. You can’t guess how it all turned into. Massive sales from interviewers.

Peter Sandeen

Hey Michelle,

That’s great (the sales I mean). Have to consider that idea; might work in many different situations 🙂


Lanre Solarin

Hi Peter,
As simple as this post looks, it really makes a lot of sense. My best takeaways are 1 and 5.
I’ve got a small list (yep, I admit it), but I guess this is something I can implement now.

I’d like to add that another way to get more value from your list is to encourage them to give you testimonials. And not directly.
For example, being that I’m in the Personal Development niche (amongst other niches), positive thinking to be precise, one of my emails was on giving compliments. At the end was simply a statement that went like, “If you like my emails so far, do something good to me by replying this email and sending me a compliment :).” I got lots….Of course this can only work if your emails add value anyway :).

There are other methods I’ve used as well. There’s always a potential testimonial in every reply a subscriber sends to you.

Keep up the good work! And please, stop dodging icebergs :).

Peter Sandeen

Hey Lanre,

That’s a great idea! 🙂

Okay, I’ll just crash into the next one… 😀 (Really, though, the sea is still covered in ice, so first have to get the boat back into the water.)


Lanre Solarin

Lol! Classic :-).


Excellent, as always, Peter! You are helping my brain wrap around the core of things I’ve never understood until now.

Kiitos! 🙂

Peter Sandeen

Hi Katharine,

Thank you, very nice to hear I could help.

Ole hyvä 🙂


Birdy Diamond

Fantastic ideas – remembering to Ask is so important, and that’s a lot of what you’re emphasizing here.

And I also adore the notion of not asking people to constantly re-sign to the list, but ask them to help in other ways. Very thoughtful and respectful of those who’ve taken the time to sign up.

Thank’ee’s for sharing your wisdom! 🙂 :>O<:

Peter Sandeen

Hi Birdy,

Thank you 🙂 And yep, a lot of the emphasis was meant to be on remembering to ask.

As for the re-sign-up… It’s not always super easy, and that’s why most people don’t do it at all. Even I’ve been slacking on it :/


Jane Leonard

Great post. Very often people focus on growing the list rather than leveraging the potential value of the people on the list.

Peter Sandeen

Hey Jane,

Thank you 🙂 And yep, that’s a really common mistake…


Marcy McKay

Oh, Peter. I feel like I already know you because I listened to your “Landing Page” tutorial that Danny Iny has posted in the ABM Techology Center. This post was very out-of-the box thinking and one that I’ll definitely refer back to again. Thanks.

Peter Sandeen

Hey Marcy,

Thank you, very nice to hear that 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions.



Thanks for sharing this, very helpful.

carlos rodriguez

As always, Peter, I find what you’ve written great and I learn a lot from it.
Thanks a lot!

Peter Sandeen

Hey Carlos,

Thanks, glad to hear that 🙂


Scott @ Kawntent

From the consumer’s side, getting to know the people in a company makes you more personally involved. When a company grows, you feel a bit happy too because you helped them improve. People are also more willing to share about it, because of the excellent customer service. Great customer service will give customers hope for a company with bad products to improve, especially since they listen. But bad customer service will always shoo away customers, no matter how good your product is.

Peter Sandeen

Hey Scott,

Yep, you’re definitely right 🙂 I’ve written quite a bit actually about customer service some time ago… And the premise was the same.


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