mailing list – Meta Baeldung Marketing experiences growing Baeldung Fri, 15 Mar 2019 16:08:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Aweber Tactics – Recover Your Unconfirmed Subscribers Sat, 23 Aug 2014 17:40:34 +0000 1. Overview

I’ve been running quite a few email related experiments recently, to improve my overall optin conversion rate and convert more casual readers into email subscribers. And it’s definitly working – I’m seeing record months with 1000+ new email subscribers per month and no sign of slowing down (not if I have something to say about it).

Anyways – here’s a quick tactic I’ve been using on Aweber to nudge some of my unconfirmed subscribers to confirm their subscription.

2. How Many Subscribers Do Not Confirm?

Your readers are human beeing – forgetful and sometimes easily distracted like all of us. So – some of them will optin into your email list and then simply forget to confirm their subscription. That’s just the way things work – nothing you can do about it. Well – almost nothing.

First – let’s see how many of these forgetful readers I have:


Hmm – that’s not goot – that’s a huge number of readers that fall into the forgetful category – 1106 in one month – that’s almost 50%!

One note about that number is that it’s somewhat higher than normal – that’s because I’m running some experiments that send the reader the optin magnet before confirming their email. That’s not ideal of course, but it’s part of the experiment. Nevertheless, 50% is huge.

So – what can we do about it.

3. The Recover Tactic

The obvious solution would be to re-send the confirmation email. Unfortunately Aweber doesn’t have allow for that – so, instead, we’ll export all of these unconfirmed subscribers and re-import them back into the system.

The export is very simple – once you have filtered them as in the image above, there is an “Export CSV” option on the page. However, you can’t re-import them just yet – since they’re already in the system. You cannot delete them either – there is no option to delete an unconfirmed subscriber in Aweber.

What you can do however, is wait – these subscribers are automatically deleted after 30 days.

So – after the 30 days have passed, we can safely re-import the CSV file. The re-import process will send the confirmation email again, and – some of these subscribers will actually confirm.

4. The Results

Finally – the results – I’m seeing a 6-8% conversation rate after import. That’s not great – but, out of 1100 people – that still means ~90 new subscribers for free.

A quick and easy tactic to recover some of your unconfirmed subscribers before they’re lost forever – hope you’ll put it to good use.

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2X Conversions by Showing an Inline Optin to New Visitors Wed, 12 Feb 2014 15:50:37 +0000 1. Overview

In my quest to convert more readers of my blog to engaged subscribers, I am running a lot of experiments.

This one was one of the high impact ones – basically doubling my new daily subscribers.

1.1. The Call To Action

The idea is simple – new readers only will see a small inline call to action at the start of my articles – for example:

Inline Call to Action at the beginning of the article

Inline Call to Action at the beginning of the article

This will go away after the reader views 3 pages of my blog.

1.2. The Optin

The link is part of a Two Step Optin – when it’s clicked, it will show my optin in a popup / overlay:

The Optin in a popup

The Optin in a popup

So the signup can happen right then and there – with no additional page to lower the conversion rate.

And that’s it – clean and simple, and with very nice results.

2. How I did it

To show the link to new visitors only, I used the What Would Seth Godin Do wordpress plugin – which simply uses a cookie to separate new visitors from existing readers – and only show the message to new readers.

The plugin is pretty simple – it allows you to add a custom message before or after the article, and not much more.

For the Two Step Optin, I used a Lead Link – from Leadpages. Using Leadpages – which is a paid product – was easier for me as it enables you to do this out of the box, but it’s definitely not a requirement.

The optin itself is pretty simple, and can be created by hand without to much difficulty. Showing it when the link is clicked can also be done with one of the many wordpress plugins available for wordpress (or, if you are a coder, with javascript).

3. The 2X Results

On to the results – before starting this experiment, I was getting about 13 new email subscribers / day.

First, let’s see how many times the Call To Action link was clicked:

Out of the total number of new visitors in the test period – 9633 – ~58.66% were new (and actually saw the optin).

And, out of these 5650 new visitors – 126 clicked on the CTA – that is a ~2.4% conversion rate.

Now – out of these 126 impressions of the popup Optin form – 109 actually opted in – which is an 87% conversion rate on the Optin itself – not bad.

Overall, the conversion rate is 1.93% – which is higher than my main sidebar conversion rate.

Finally – over the course of 8 days – 109 new subscribers means an average of just over 13 new subscribers / day – thus, doubling the rate with which I’m building my list.

Here are the analytics on the new optin:

Views and Optins - Analytics

Views and Optins – Analytics

4. Conclusion

The conclusion is straightforward – this is an easy strategy to implement and the results are huge.

If you’d like to keep abreast with my upcoming experiments and get high impact strategies like this one – opt into my email list (on your right).

If you read this far, you should follow me on G+:

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Why you really shouldn’t do RSS to Email Tue, 21 Jan 2014 13:58:40 +0000 1. Overview

It’s a crying shame that I didn’t collect emails from the readers of up until a few months ago – email is a powerful tool, and one that I’m starting to appreciate more and more.

Once I did start to collect them, I figured that the logical course of action was to set up an RSS to Email campaign in Mailchimp – and I was done.

I didn’t pay to much attention to the fact that, most of the emails I was receiving from various blogs were not a word for word reproduction of the article. No, instead these were custom written emails talking about the article, giving the reader some context and only linking to the full article, not reproducing it.

What’s more – these emails were part of a narrative – they had a regular schedule / cadence – and most importantly – they were linking to evergreen content, not stuff written 4 hours ago.

So – I decided to learn how to do it intelligently, and I stopped my RSS to Email campaign for good.

2. Results of RSS to Email

First – let’s look over some early results of my RSS to Email campaign running for about 3 months:

  • Average Open Rate: 25 %
  • Average Click Rate: 6 %

This is the raw data for exactly 30 emails campaigns.

3. The New Way = The Old Fashioned Way

A few weeks ago I decided to experiment – put aside the mental unease of writing these custom emails and jump straight in.

Mailchimp - Metrics of a Campaign

Mailchimp – Metrics of a Campaign

I’ll share the numbers here about how my last few email campaigns are converting – how my open rates and more importantly my click rate has improved:

  • Average Open Rate: 40 %
  • Average Click Rate: 13.5 %

This is still early on – so I will keep updating this article as data comes in, but based on these last few campaigns – this is HUGE – the jump I’m seeing in clicks alone is 125%!

4. Conclusion

Growing your email list is the first step of better engaging with your readers.

However – that is really a first step – nothing more, and without crafting and thinking through your message and how you can help your regular readers – there’s little point to having an email list in the first place.

As I learn how to do email better – I can clearly see how the big jumps in conversions – the low hanging fruit (like this one) are going to be harder and harder to come by, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there!

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Asking you to UNSUBSCRIBE Sat, 18 Jan 2014 17:08:38 +0000 respectfully Unsubscribe!]]> 1. Why ask?

As my email list has rapidly grown to over 1000 subscribers, I am working on keeping the list clean, engaged and full of subscribers that are actually getting value from the stuff I put out. The goal of the list is to help developers – pure and simple – however, the fact of the matter is that the stuff I send out is not for everyone – nor do I intend it to be. A big part of that is segmentation – sending the content only to the subscribers who is genuinely interested in that content – and part is setting expectations – being more explicit about why someone should take the time to be on the list in the first place. With all of that in mind, I am putting into practice a simple idea – with the goal of keeping my list clean and providing people that may not be getting the value they should from it – with a WAY OFF – you guessed it:

I am asking people to unsubscribe from my list!

2. Who to ask?

Let me be clear – asking someone to unsubscribe from your email list is not an email you want to send to your engaged subscribers. These are the readers that are actually reading your content regularly, replying to your emails and generally getting some level of value from the stuff you send them. What you want to do – and what I did in both instances I sent out this email – was to identify a segment of the list that is not engaging with your content. Since I am using Mailchimp – I did this by creating a low engagement segment of:

  • readers who have under 3 stars (which – in Mailchimp – represents the level of engagement with your content – meaning opens and clicks)
  • readers who have been on the list for at least one month

This represents about 250 subscribers – so about 25% of my list.

3. How to ask?

Let’s not look at how exactly to ask readers to unsubscribe – this can be a tricky proposition – you don’t want to be vague and undecided, but you don’t want to be to forceful either. What I did was I crafter two emails – one with softer language and another that used some harder language to get the point across. Email 1: subject = “Please unsubscribe!”

Do You Find My Articles Useful?

Don’t worry if you don’t – I’m writing to let you know is perfectly fine to unsubscribe (see the BIG LINK below)

As you may already know, I’m sending you programming tutorials – once or twice a week. I am mainly writing about Java, Spring, Security and REST, and general web development. If that’s not your cup of team – I understand. So I just want to let you know it’s okay to unsubscribe. If you’re having trouble keeping up with my emails, or you’re just sick of getting them, I’d actually prefer you to unsubscribe — which you can do simply by clicking here:

The Big Unsubscribe Here Link!

P.S. If you’d rather continue to get my articles – you can check out my more recent one – the Big Kahuna of Java 8 Resources (I like to call it that). I am going to continue writing about these topics in 2014 – if you want to make a suggestion about how to improve my content, go ahead and reply to this email. Cheers, Eugen.

As you can see – the language of this first email is softer – while still having the clear purpose of providing readers with an easy one-client way to unsubscribe from my email list. Email 2: subject = “Yes, I’m really asking you to UNSUBSCRIBE!”

Do You Find My Articles Useful – if not you should probably UNSUBSCRIBE!

If you’re like me, and you get to many emails you don’t really care about, then you’ll find this email usefull. YES I’M REALLY ASKING YOU TO UNSUBSCRIBE!

As you may already know, I’m sending you programming tutorials – about twice a week. I am mainly writing about Java, Spring, Security and REST, and general web development. If that’s not your cup of team – I fully understand. So I just want to let you know it’s perfectly OK to unsubscribe. If you’re having trouble keeping up with my emails, or you’re just sick of getting them, I’d actually prefer you to unsubscribe — which you can do simply by clicking here:

The Big Unsubscribe Here Link!

P.S. If you’d rather continue to get my articles – you can check out my more recent one – the Big Kahuna of Java 8 Resources (I like to call it that). I am going to continue writing about these topics in 2014 – if you want to make a suggestion about how to improve my content, go ahead and reply to this email. Cheers, Eugen.

This second email, sent about 2 weeks after the first to the same segment of unengaged readers – is more forceful, and follows the same goal as the first email – getting people who are not interested in my list off of it.

4. Results – Conclusion

Keep in mind that I sent these emails to a targeted segment of unengaged subscribers – who have not opened or clicked through my emails, and who weren’t getting real value out of my content. However, with that in mind – the results were not surprising – the open rates were low for these emails, just as for the rest. First Email:

  • open rate: 12.8%
  • unsubscribes: 1

Second Email:

  • open rate: 12.0%
  • unsubscribers: 3

So – the results are not encouraging, but I am not giving up. In the next “Please Unsubscribe” email I will send, I will ask for feedback about what kind of content they would like to receive. On the upside, I did receive some personal (and positive) replies to these emails from readers who don’t want to unsubscribe from the list.

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Is It Worth having an Email Optin Form at the End of the Page? Fri, 15 Nov 2013 13:48:41 +0000 The Premise

Until very recently, I’ve been using a single Sidebar Email Signup Form on my blog – front and center.

This has been performing relatively well – over the last couple of months, I was able to improve its conversion rate from 0.37% to 1.14% through a series of changes (all documented on this blog).

I recently started using an “End Of Article” second Signup Form on the blog – basically appearing after all of my articles. I was motivated by the well understood idea that the reader usually needs reminding in order to take action.

Before going into details about the experiment, here is the Optin Form I’m currently using:

Signup Form at the Bottom of the Page

Signup Form at the Bottom of the Page

Because the form is positioned at the very end of the page, by the time they get to it, the reader would have already presumably read the whole article. Also, given most of my articles are over 1000 words, the fact that they actually reached the end indicates that they found it useful enough to stick around – or else they would have stopped reading by that point.

So – the premise is that visitors that see this second Signup Form is much more qualified and interested in the content than the visitor who has just landed from Google and happens to see the main form simply because it’s above the fold.

Let’s now take a look at the actual conversation rate I’m getting on this form, and see if we can validate the premise for the experiment.

The Results

The data for this new Optin option is as follows:

Visits: 6044

Conversions: 141

Conversion Rate: 2.33%

How can these results be interpreted?

First – the conversion rate for this new Optin is much better then the Main Sidebar Form – more than 2x better. The premise of visitors being more qualified at the end of the page is validated and now has hard numbers behind it.

Then – given the fact that only half of my readers reach the end of the article, but the conversion is double – it basically rounds up very nicely to another 100% increase in signups.

It will be an interesting November!

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How a Simple Visual Tweak improved my Singups by over 750% – Yet Again Fri, 25 Oct 2013 14:11:34 +0000 1. A New Experiment

I said in my last article that I’m no longer expecting an experiment to yield drastic improvements in my Email Signups. I was wrong.

My first experiment – offering a free eBook – resulted in a 625% increase, and my second – a completely new Signup Form – a more modest 125%.

So, my third experiment was simple – I fixed the position of my Email Signup Form (via plugin) when the reader is scrolling down. The idea is straightforward enough – with the form staying on the screen more, the reader will have more of a chance to actually read what it says and choose to sign up. You can of course check out the blog to see it in action.

What I didn’t anticipate was just how much this small change was going to affect my conversion rate – nothing short of a 763% spike in signups.

2. Unexpected Results

The “Before” of this experiment is of course the “After” of my previous article:

Email Signups before fixing the form position

Email Signups before fixing the form position

Now, here is the data after I have made the change:

Email Signups after Fixing Optin

Email Signups after Fixing Optin

And finally, just for the visual impact this always has on my – here’s my Mailchimp:

Mailchimp - October

Mailchimp – October

3. Learning

The key takeaway from this experiment is that a single, uncluttered Call To Action works wonders, especially when the reader will keep eyeballs on it longer.

The “single CTA” point is – for me – also very relevant. Notice that my optin form does not contain any additional, secondary options – such as social buttons or badges. These would give the reader to many alternatives and less valuable ones.

Once a reader does go for one of these alternatives – for example they follow me on Google+ – it’s highly unlikely that they would also go back and signup for Email.

There are of course more “in your face” ways to collect emails – using a popup for example (on my TODO list) – but what’s interesting about these results is that this change does not qualify as “in your face” – just the opposite in fact.

Live and learn.

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How Less Options On My Optin Improved the Conversion Rate Mon, 21 Oct 2013 12:26:54 +0000 1. The New Experiment

In my last experiment, I looked at the results of offering a free eBook and how that affected my conversion rate for email signups. In that experiment, I kept the exact same Optin Form and only changed the copy – adding the eBook as an incentive.

This time, I did things a little bit different – I changed the old Optin with a new one, where I have more or less the same copy but less options (no more social sharing).

The result – a nice 115% increase in signups over the course of a 2 week period. That is less than the 625% bump I got after the last experiment, but then again I was getting almost no signups before that, so I wasn’t expecting anything of that magnitude.

2. The Before and After

Here is how my Signup Form looked before the change:

Email Form with free eBook

Email Form with free eBook

The new Optin form is simpler – the social sharing options are gone – and there is now only one thing you can do – Subscribe:

New Email Optin Form

New Email Optin Form

Notice that, besides some minor modifications, the main Call To Action copy is similar on both Optins. This is mainly so that I can clearly pinpoint any change in my signups to the new design and eliminate other possible influences as much as possible.

Next, notice that the new form is actually collecting more data than the old – I am now asking for the Name of my subscribers as well. It is a well known fact that the more information you ask for, the lower the conversion rate, because less people will actually bother to fill in everything.

But ultimately – the most important change is that the new form presents the reader with less options – the old form contains social buttons for Twitter and Google Plus, as well as a RSS feed link. The new form removes all of these so that the Call to Action is clear and there is no confusion about what I want the reader to do.

3. The Results

First, let’s look at the data from the previous experiment: I had 29 signups over the course of 28 days.

Now, let’s see how the new form changed things:

Email Signups after New Form

Email Signups after New Form

Over the course of 13 days, there were 28 new signups to my email list.

This represents a 115% increase in signups as a result of the current experiment.

4. Conclusion

This is another good step towards the end goal – which is a high performing email signup process.

My next experiment is going to be a proper A/B test – pitting several Email Optin forms against each other to see which one performs better.

Stay tuned (by signing up the my email list – go figure).

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Signing up for the Mailing List – the Success Email Sun, 20 Oct 2013 13:44:19 +0000 1. A Generic Success Email

In a previous article, I talked about the standard elements of an email subscription flow:

In this article, I will illustrate how I improved the generic Success Email template provided by default by Mailchimp.

First, let’s analyze the default email:

Original Success Email

Original Success Email

With the subject line:

The Baleldung Posts: Subscription Confirmed

1.1. What’s wrong with the default email?

Let’s start putting this email into context – the immediate value that the user is getting out of signing up for my email list is the free eBook. This is what they’re getting right now.

Of course my goal is to keep providing value to the reader with regular and useful content, but that’s going to come much later, so the eBook is important because it is available NOW.

With this in mind – this email is clearly inconsistent – it mentions nothing about the eBook or why the reader signed up for emails in the first place.

It is also a little redundant – since it doesn’t give the reader any new information – other than the fact that the subscription worked.

2. A Better Success Email

Let’s look at each element of the original email and see how we can improve it.

2.1. The Subject Line and the Title

The default subject line reads:

The Baleldung Posts: Subscription Confirmed

It is exactly the same as the previously discussed Subject of the first Confirmation email – so I’m going to skip to the end on this one:

Here’s your eBook link & thanks for signing up for the mail list!

The default title reads generically:

The Baeldung Posts

Similarly, the title has been already discussed also, so I’m going to skip to the end on this one as well – the final copy for the title:

Tips on Building Web Applications.

2.3. The Main Copy

On to the main copy of this email – by default, it reads:

Your subscription to our list has been confirmed.

So once again we are loosing the opportunity to communicate any useful information to our reader.

What we want to do here is to, first – reward the user for trusting us with their email address. We do this by providing the link to the free eBook.

We can also take this opportunity to set future expectations about the type of communication they can expect:

Thanks for confirming your email address!
Here’s that eBook I promised you about building REST APIs with Spring. I’ll send you an email about something you’ll find interesting every week or two.
Get the eBook (pdf)!

So here we are – the final version of the Successful Registration email:

Final Success Email

Final Success Email

3. Conclusion

This email is an easy one to miss – the logic goes that the reader has already signed up for the email list, so why put in the extra effort.

The reason – mentioned several times throughout this article – is a consistent signup experience – we want to keep all emails that reach our readers consistent and relevant to our own site and our own voice – instead of the generic copy that comes by default.

My next article will discuss the “Almost There” and “Thank You” signup pages – their purpose and their copy.

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Signing up for the Mailing List – the Confirmation Email Tue, 15 Oct 2013 13:13:18 +0000 1. A Generic Confirmation Email

I am on a mission to improve my mailing list – starting with the copy of the main subscription form and now, moving on to the actual emails send to potential new subscribers.

I am using Mailchimp as my email service – but any of the main service providers out there have the same exact options to configure the signup flow.

First – let’s take a look at the main elements of an email subscription flow:

  • the Signup Form
  • the Confirmation Email
  • the Success Email
  • the “Almost There” and the “Thank You” pages
  • tracking the events of the flow (Google Analytics)

In this article, I’m going to be looking at the Confirmation Email specifically. This is the email that a potential subscriber will get when they first put their email into my signup form and hit “Subscribe”.

By default, this email is already configured with some generic copy – and Mailchimp does a decent job of it – but this is the first email your potential subscribe gets from you – generic copy is not going to cut it.

Here’s the email in all it’s generic glory:

Original Confirmation Email

Original Confirmation Email

Finally – the subject line of the email is:

The Baleldung Posts: Please Confirm Subscription

2. A Better Confirmation Email

So what’s wrong with this email?

First – it doesn’t really say anything. This is a chance to impress upon the user why in the world they would like to subscribe to my mailing list – what’s in it for them. Instead all a user can get from this email is what they already know – a moment ago they wanted to subscribe.

So let’s break the email down into parts and see how we can carefully craft and improve each of these parts.

2.1. The Subject

Let’s start with the Subject of the email – currently it reads:

The Baleldung Posts: Please Confirm Subscription

This is because in Mailchimp – it’s set up as follows: *|LIST:NAME|*: Please Confirm Subscription

Instead, let’s take this opportunity to be more personal and add put this email into context:

Please confirm that you want that free eBook and other emails from me.

First – this is consistent with my main signup copy – where I specifically the reader than – if they trust me enough to give me their email address, I will give them a free eBook. So why not remind them of that: Remember that book I mentioned – you’re going to get access to it just as soon as you confirm.

Next – it sets clear expectations – always a good idea – it tells the reader that they are indeed going to receive other emails from me.

And finally – I like being personal – so this is just a bit more personal than the original “Please Confirm Subscription” bit.

2.2. The Title

On to the title – right now, it simply says: “The Baeldung Posts“.

Why? Because that’s what I originally named my email list – not knowing that this name is going to end up in the first email I send to subscribers.

But that’s easily fixed – Mailchimp is nothing if not configurable, so instead let’s actually give the reader some valuable information:

Tips on Building Web Applications.

Nice and simple – and exactly what they’re going to get from my blog – articles about building Web Applications – not Posts.

2.3. The Main Copy

This is the final act – the main copy of the email; by default, it reads:

Please Confirm Subscription

Again – this is a lost opportunity. The reader already knows this is a subscription confirmation email – they know how this work, as it’s highly unlikely that this is the first one they see.

So instead of this generic and redundant text, let’s go for something more contextual, and friendly:

Want the eBook and an occasional email from me?
Click below.

And we are done – the email is short and to the point, and hopefully the user will actually read it now, instead of just glossing over it.

2.4. Finally – the improved Confirmation Email

Here we go – after all the careful tuning – this is what the user is going to get now:

Final Confirmation Email

Final Confirmation Email

3. Conclusion

It’s important to keep one thing in mind – when reading any of these elements – the reader needs to be able to answer – “Why am I signing up to this?

If it’s some generic copy that has nothing to do with why they’re actually signing up – then they simply wont.

On the other hand, if it’s clear what the win is for them – if one quick action can lead them to immediate gratification – then maybe they will and you will have gained a new subscriber.

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How Giving an eBook Away Skyrocketed my Mailing List Signups Mon, 14 Oct 2013 09:46:02 +0000 1. The Experiment

I have been thinking of writing a small eBook for quite some time – and my new focus on growing my email list was a great excuse to do just that.

Put two and two together and I wrote the book on Building REST Services with Spring, and am now giving it away to readers that trust me enough to signup to my email list.

Since I don’t like hiding the actual numbers and I like scrolling even less – here’s the end result: my signups jumped a cool 625% after giving the eBook away.

So let’s jump right into it.

2. The Before and After

Here is how my signup form looked like before the eBook:

Email Form with no free eBook

Email Form with no eBook

The copy was generic and entirely untested:

Subscribe to receive email updates or follow us on stuff:

And here’s the new form after adding the eBook:

Email Form with free eBook

Email Form with free eBook


Notice that I am using the exact same widget – the only change is the new copy:

Free eBook on Building REST Services with Spring + regular content about building stuff ( ~1 email a week. )

3. The Results

On to the numbers – first, let’s look at the last 30 days before adding the eBook:

Email Signups Goals BEFORE eBook

Email Signups Goals BEFORE eBook

This comes out to a grand total of 4 signups to the mailing list – impressive, I know.

After the change, the new signup form with the free eBook was live 28 days. Here are the results:

Email Signups Goals AFTER eBook

Email Signups Goals AFTER eBook

Over the 28 days the new form, there were 29 signups to my email list – just over one signup per day. That represents the 625% increase in my email signups I mentioned early on – which is nothing short of cool.

4. The Conclusion

This experiment was a good step towards converting more of the casual visitors of my blog into into regular and engaged readers, getting actual value out of the content I put out.

And finally, it’s good to finally have hard numbers for this – giving an eBook away does wonders for your email signups.

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