35 Steps for Building an Email List With Freemiums

How to build an email list from freemium to RCLP and beyond

Call it what you want, but here at Mequoda we’ve assigned the title Rapid Conversion Landing Page to a landing page that collects an email address and offers a free product (freemium) in exchange. You’ve seen them around herehere, and here.

If you’ve read our content before, attended one of our Intensives, or a Summit, you know we typically cut the syllables in half by affectionately calling it the RCLP most of the time.

We should call it the a super-duper-rapid-email-list-builder if you ask me, but that’s probably why I don’t get invited to the exclusive Mequoda name-a-thons.

In all seriousness, any publisher who is building an email list should have freemiums and RCLPs. When I asked Don what percentage of web-to-email conversions come directly from this page, he said it’s approximately 35% in total, 20% from internal links to the page, and 15% from SEO – free traffic from our best friend Google!

Rapid Conversion Landing Pages are built to entice a user to enter into a low-risk (AKA low-friction) transaction. There’s no big form to fill out, no exchange of credit card information, just one or two fields in a form, typically an email address and a name.

This type of landing page is used when there is no cost to the user (a free offer). The RCLP promotes a single freemium: a giveaway, like a white paper, ebook, or even a knitting pattern.

The RCLP and the freemium are both optimized for search, usually focusing on one or two niche, long-tail keyword phrases.

Our clients are always looking for straightforward answers on how to build an email list, so I’m going to take you from concept to completion here. This is what we do every time we create a new freemium and landing page.

Building an email list step #1:
Choose keywords

1. Research audience interest and keywords using the Google Keyword Planner.

2. Choose two keyword phrases from the GKP, make sure they’re the best ones you can find based on search volume and editorial relevance.


Building an email list step #2:
Decide what content will be most useful

3. Review the most frequently asked questions posted to your online forum.

4. Determine which of your paid products are the best sellers.

5. Examine your magazine cover stories to determine which have the best sell-through.

6. Determine which sessions at your live events are the most popular.

7. Review your direct mail results to determine which teaser lines create the most sales.

8. Review the subject lines of your most successful email marketing campaigns to determine which create the highest open rates.

Building an email list step #3:
Create your freemium

9. Write a title that is 8 to 12 words.

10. Use your primary keyword (the best phrase you could find) in the title.

11. Add the secondary keyword (the second-best phrase you could find) in the subtitle after a colon.

12. Feel free to repurpose content from your website. Some of the best freemiums are simply mash-ups of several epic portal posts.

13. Edit and make sure you didn’t make these mistakes.

14. Include a call to action at the back of the freemium, like an up-sell to a premium product.

15. Include a URL in the footer that links back to the site (or freemium archive).

16. Write the freemium in clear, non-technical language.

17. Design the freemium to be clean and uncluttered.

18. Lay out the freemium to be printed on 8.5 x 11 paper.


Building and email list step #4:
Write your RCLP

19. Write around 1,500 to 2,500 words worth of interesting copy about the freemium so that Google reads it as a valuable, information-packed page.

20. Repurpose copy from the freemium into the RCLP. Use it to construct a list of takeaways from the freemium.

21. Use your keywords several times in the copy, but don’t stuff them in there. We usually aim for a keyword density of 2-3%.

22. Create an OFIE for the top of the page so that a reader can submit their email address immediately. Include the keyword-optimized title of the freemium in every OFIE.

23. Repeat the OFIE throughout the page so that every time you scroll, there is always one above the fold.

24. Design the cover of the freemium so that the title is large enough to be read in a small image/thumbnail on the page. Include the cover image in all the OFIEs on your page.

25. Allow comments on your RCLP and encourage people to use them to write testimonials.

26. Enable social sharing buttons to boost inbound links and social cred.

Once your RCLP has launched:

27. Create a press release and submit it to the best free press release sites, and paid ones if you want.

28. Add the OFIE to the top of your category page (using an ad server like Revive).

29. Add the OFIE to the top of every article in that category (again, something like Revive).

30. Add a text ad into every article in the related category. The copy promotes the freemium and links to the RCLP.

31. Send out an email to your own list promoting the new freemium.

32. Work out an arrangement with your partners for them to promote the freemium and RCLP to their lists.

33. Send out and schedule a campaign of Tweets and posts to Facebook about the new freemium. We recommend 12 unique formulas scheduled for the first 12 days, and then for the next 12 months.

34. Get in touch with industry bloggers and send them the PDF of your freemium. Include a link to the RCLP and a short bulleted list of takeaways to make their job easier.

35. Keep track of everywhere you posted your press release, and all of the sites who wrote about your freemium. Create an ongoing press list from this so that you can focus your efforts more effectively the next time.

One final note is to make sure you’re updating these freemiums at least once a year. Commit to updating one per month. As far as your RCLP goes, make sure that’s updated, too. Even when content seems evergreen, it can look outdated fast with an old year on it.

    Brian A.

    Dear Amanda: While my projects (primarily ebooks) are in the infancy stage (formatting, editing) – this article helps a ton. Very, very good! All the best to you and the staff. Many thanks!


    Dave B.

    Thanks, Amanda! Very helpful. You should make this into a freemium!


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