List building strategies
Project Ignite Podcast by Derek Gehl Listing Building Strategies From Nathalie Lussier
00:00:00 00:00:00
  • Episode  28
  • Nathalie Lussier


Nathalie Lussier has been building websites since she was 12, and I trust her more than anyone with her knowledge on pop ups and email list building because she has the experience to back it up. Nathalie has launched her 30 day challenge to get people out of their comfort zones, building their lists, and improving their business. In this episode we dig deep into Nathalie Lussier’s best list building strategies so you can jumpstart your email marketing.

Transcript: List Building Strategies From Nathalie Lussier

Welcome to the Project Ignite podcast. I’m your host, Derek Gehl, and today’s guest is an award winning entrepreneur that’s been making websites since she was 12 years old, and started her first business right out of college.

She helps entrepreneurs around the world simplify the technology within their business and has a bunch of really cool technology solutions that I absolutely love.

She’s been featured in Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider–the list goes on. She’s also been blogging for over ten years and has a wealth of knowledge in internet marketing. But today we’re going to drill down and focus on one real area of her expertise: list building.

Every online marketer will tell you: the money is in the list.

So hopefully today everyone will walk away with some great list building strategies to apply and build a really impressive list.

Without further ado, I’d like to welcome today’s guest and digital expert Nathalie Lussier to the show.

Nathalie, thank you for being here today.

Thanks so much for having me, Derek. I’m excited to be here, and this is one of my favourite topics.

Good! I could talk about this all day, too.Before we get into the list building, could you share your journey as a digital entrepreneur? How did you get started, and what did your path look like from building websites at 12 to now having a successful software company, and your blog?

I like to joke that because I grow up in a small town in Canada that there wasn’t a lot to do–so I went on the internet to find out about things that I liked. I met a lot of other pre-teens on the internet with similar interests–which happened to be cartoons, for me, at that age–so we built a lot of websites for cartoons.

Eventually, my high school asked me to design their website, and projects keep coming my way as I learned and improved.

I studied software engineering in college, and got to work on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, so I really got my feet wet in the tech space.

Eventually, I got a job offer on Wall Street, but something didn’t quite feel right. So I turned it down and I started a business. I kind of did a 180, because I didn’t want to work with technology anymore. So my business was centred around healthy eating. That’s what I like to call my training business.

I learned so much about marketing and list building–and because I knew so much about the tech stuff, I could build my own website. I started having people ask me for help with their websites and some techy problems, and that slowly evolved into the business that I have today.

It used to be mainly how-to videos, where I would train people, but then we actually developed the software so that you don’t need to learn it, you just need to use the tool.

That’s the company I run with my husband, AmbitionAlly, where we have a bunch of different software tools for WordPress.

How about a quick overview of those tools?

Yeah! So one of our tools is called PopUpAlly. It’s what we like to call the polite pop-up. If you want to list build, adding that pop-up to your website does wonders for getting data from people. It also hasn’t been shown to increase your bounce rate, or lessen the amount of people that come to your website.

The way we’ve designed it, there’s a few cool little things about it. One is called Exit Intent, so the popup only shows when it looks like someone is about to leave–that way, you don’t interrupt the flow of their reading or browsing or anything.

We also have something called WebinarAlly, which essentially lets you run a webinar live on your WordPress without having to spend a ton of money or know any techy stuff. We’re really excited about it, and it’s super affordable, just a $27 one time fee.

What! We’re gonna have to talk about that.

Yes. And the other one is called AccessAlly, which is a membership plugin for WordPress or InfusionSoft. We’re really excited about that one too.

So you said something there that intrigued me when we were talking about popups. I’ve tried pretty much everything in terms of popups but a few of the things you’ve mentioned are really exciting. So this Exit Intent–what factors do you look for that indicate that someone is about to leave your site?

The way we’ve done it is, if it looks like someone’s cursor is about to click the back button or the X, then it looks like they’re about to leave, and that’s when we do the popup. It’s really cool, because you can have a little, “wait! Just before you go–” which has been super effective.

It’s also nice because then you’re not interrupting anyone while they’re trying to read, because that can be super annoying sometimes.


Okay so let’s jump into your list building strategies. When I look at list building I look at it in two parts: creating offers–because you need to give something away in exchange for that email address–and the second, getting that offer in front of the right people.

Let’s start with the first one. This is something I see people struggle with all the time. They don’t want to give away too much, and they don’t know what to give away, or they wind up attracting the wrong people. So when you’re coaching someone on developing an opt-in offer, where do you start?

I like to reverse engineer what we’re going to be offering for sale. So if I have a particular product that I’m going to be releasing down the road, you can start asking yourself, what problem could I solve for someone before I offer this paid product?

So the opt-in usually covers some kind of solution that you can offer with your opt-in gift–they will solve that one problem, but wind up with another. It’s usually this second problem where your paid product comes in as a solution.

This way, you’re not cannibalising your own sales, but at the same time you’re still providing value, and still solving an actual problem and will begin to trust you. A lot of times people ask me, what’s the best delivery mechanism? I like to say that the delivery method is not as important as the results that people get.

list building strategies
Very cool. Okay. Once we’ve created our offer, where is the best place to display it?

Of course you’ll want to test, you’ll want to find out what works best with your audience–sometimes people develop ad blindness, because they’re so used to seeing ads in a certain place, and you need to work around that.

I’ve found that at the bottom of or in between blog posts. If someone has read your whole post, they’re a lot more likely to want more and opt-in.

What’s even better is if you have different blog post categories, you can cater each opt-in to match those categories to better suite the people reading.

You could also try an opt-in at the top of the site or near your navigation to catch people’s eyes before they really get into the content.

Definitely. And you mentioned ads popping up specific to categories–I’ve looked for that, and I’ve wanted a specific opt-in for each categories. I think that’s a really great strategy, for everyone listening. WordPress categorizes everything, and PopUpAlly does that, which is really awesome.

Let’s talk about two things: first, timing. We have entry popups, delay popups, scrolling pop ups–where do you start?

I love the exit intent popup. It works so well. But then again, it may not work on mobile. In those cases, having a scroll popup makes a lot of sense. I really like the click to open popups as well, because when someone interacts, that means that they are indicating interest.

I’ve done that on my website, where instead of having an embedded opt-in, I had a click to open opt-in, which also increased conversions.

I’m a huge fan of the exit intent, because it’s so polite.

I want to point out something you just said: people want to finish what they’re started. They feel the need to complete.

Two more things in this realm. Number of offers. When someone comes to your website, how many opportunities do you want them to see before they leave?

I have three to five per page, on some of my websites. They’re potentially targeted at different people or different offers.

In the past, I’ve had a little quiz, where people can get a more personal opt-in offer, and you can gather a bit more information about them, too.

The reason I wanted to ask was because I knew you wouldn’t say, just one. People make that mistake all the time: they have one offer.

I’m in the same boat as you, I’ll have three to five on a page. You’re giving them multiple opportunities, but you’re also targeting different people with each ad.

Let’s talk about mobile for a minute. How does mobile affect the performance of popups?

The main thing we’ve realized is that popups definitely do work on mobile, but they need to be formatted and resized differently. People on mobile will still fill stuff out, especially if you have a mobile friendly site.
So the popups are responsive. For everyone listening, your website today should be responsive as it is. If you’re using PopUpAlly, they’re naturally responsive.
Exactly. You can actually decide if you want to remove things at different break points, giving you an tablet version, or a mobile version.
There’s been multiple opinions on this, and I want yours. When you create an opt-in, do you ask for email? First name, and email? How much data?

The more you ask for information, the less likely people are willing to opt-in. If you just ask for email, they’re very likely to fill it out.

Sometimes people like to have the first name, so things can feel a little more personal–and if someone doesn’t want to fill out that field, they can just leave it blank or write something else. I understand that people want to be anonymous sometimes too.

I was looking at my opt-in subscribers the other day, looking at the first name field, and I would say about 10% is either all lowercase, or a single letter. So I’m leaning farther and farther towards just asking for email.

I’ve been surveying people in this space and asking about how much data they’re looking for, and more people are saying that they only go for email.


We just covered a ton of stuff there. Let’s switch gears here and get into the process of getting people onto your list. I know that you’ve built your 30 day list building challenge, which is really cool.

When someone creates their opt-in offer, how do you start building that list? What’s your advice?

There’s a lot of things that people can choose to do, and I think that can be overwhelming sometimes. You can do PR, or paid advertising, or social media marketing, or optimizing your site for SEO. There’s so many options.

One thing I like to recommend is thinking about what your strengths are, and how your people like to learn. If you’re a great writer, maybe guest blog posts are the way to go. If you’re a great presenter, maybe you should do a webinar.

That comes down to getting to know your target market better. There may be spaces where they already hang out, and you can just tap into those spaces. This enables you to be more strategic with your time and your opt-ins. Then from there, you can zero in on the specifics.

Nathalie Lussier explains how to start an email list

Let’s zero in. There’s the paid approach, and the free approach. How did you do it?

So I’ll start with my paid strategy. I realized that if you’re sending people to your opt-in page, and you’re paying to get people on your list. Unless you convert really, really well, it can be a bit risky, especially when you’re brand new.

So I like to have someone click through an ad, wind up on an opt-in page, take advantage of the free gift you’re offering, and then right on that thank you page, you give them an opportunity to buy a low price point item but an easy yes.

Maybe that’s a higher end version of the free gift. It takes it up a level. Maybe you gave away a video series, and your upsell is a cheat sheet to skip through the videos if you want to.

There will be people that take you up on that offer, and that will cover the costs of your ads. That’s what we did with a lot of our thirty day challenge and with our WebinarAlly. This way we’re list building and doing it profitably.

You’re not actually trying to make money with that, right?
Exactly. You’re just trying to cover the cost of your ads. The idea is that if you want to start list building, this way, you can afford to run more ads and reach more people for bigger sales down the line.

Something I love about that is maybe that it is only 3% to 5% that will take you up on that low price point upsell, is that those people are indicating out loud to us that they are interested and potentially could be put through the sales funnel a lot faster.

As far as displaying ads for an opt-in, did you find Facebook to be your best platform?

We’ve been experimenting a little bit with Instagram and Pinterest, but I’ve found Facebook to be the best platform. That’s where the majority of our paid advertising is.
I love it when other people test other platforms because I get to ask about results! How do they stand up to Facebook?
I haven’t quite cracked the code to Pinterest yet, but we’ve been able to target better on Instagram. It’s a part of the Facebook advertising program so we can target fans of certain companies. We’re seeing a lot of clicks at a pretty low price.
Thank you for sharing that. Now we’ve talked about paid, so let’s keep talking about this process.

Yes! So back in my early days, I had no budget. I did a lot of guest posting, and built relationships with people in my marketplace.

So the first piece of advice I would give for guest posting is that it’s not always the bigger websites with big audiences that will yield the best results. Sometimes, smaller websites actually have a far more engaged audience and it’s actually easier to guest post on those sites too.

So that was a big a-ha moment for me. Fans might be really dedicated, and may read every post. When you’re considering which sites to guest post on, really consider who reads that blog. You’ll want to branch out to a tangential industry.

When I was focusing on raw food and healthy eating, I wanted to reach out to my industry. But with those people, they were already kind of on my level, and they wouldn’t use my paid programs.

So what I had to do was find websites like fashion blogs, or Mommy blogs, and you could catch a whole new audience.

Getting to know the people in your industry, or in a slightly different industry, that was big. When I did a big launch, I would ask if they wanted to share it, and that got me a great amount of traction.

That was a great crash course on guest posting. One key thing I want to highlight there, which was super valuable, is don’t go after the blogs in your market. That’s huge. You’re totally right, you’d assume that you’d go to blogs already right in your arena, but instead, if you look outside of that–you’ll build an audience.

How do you approach these websites to get them to say yes to your post?

A lot of times, sites will have a “write for us!” or some editorial guidelines, and if it has those–it’s kind of a slam dunk. Just follow the instructions.

Sometimes, they won’t openly say that they take guest posts. So I like to send a personal email, I’ll pitch a few different ideas–sometimes they’ll ask for the whole post, but usually they want to make sure the topic fits–so I like to pick a few different topics and outline my post.

It’s really beneficial to look through their website and get to know what they like to publish. Usually, I do a little research and try to fill in the blanks with my posts in terms of things they haven’t covered yet.

In your email, keep it very light and conversational. It’s so easy to just assume they’ll say no, and have that come through in your email. So be light, assume the best, and understand that there’s lots of value in writing a guest article.

Fantastic. Any more in the free vein of strategies?

Yes! I think that doing webinars is really nice because it’s a live event and people like to share events that are happening in real time.

I used to do live recipe demos, and people loved them. It was just a live stream at the time, but you could try a Google Hangout, or a Meerkat or a Periscope. People will stop what they’re doing to watch you.

And people will be really likely to spread the word and that’s huge.

I would love to hear about how you did this–you started with live recipes on your initial blog; how did you start? Was that out of your comfort zone?

It absolutely was. I took a public speaking class in college, and it was so terrible. If you’ve never done a webinar, you can totally do slides or show your screen instead. I will say that it’s a bit easier to be alone, by yourself, in front of your camera, than it is to be in front of an audience of live people.

Most people watching are also there to cheer you on–they’re on your side, and they’re interested. You can connect on that human level, and people really enjoy that. It’s a really cool experience, and it does get easier! But don’t watch your recordings if you’re not comfortable with it. Just publish it and move on.

I still hate seeing myself on camera and I’ve been doing this for 16 years.

But you’re right, that human element makes that relationship so much stronger. You connect on a far deeper level which is huge.

We’re running out of time here, unfortunately. Before we wrap up, where can people find out more about you, and tell us more about your thirty day challenge. I think it’s a fantastic idea and that it’s going to help get a lot of our listeners out of their comfort zones.

Yeah! It’s a totally free challenge, just go to and what it is is a daily email with a mini-video with one action item for thirty days. You can track your progress, and it moves you through the process. We have a Facebook group that goes along with it, too, so we can support you throughout the 30 days.

We’ve seen tons of growth in people when you focus on building your list like that. I highly recommend it. We’ve had 25,000 people go through it so far, and they all absolutely love it. is my personal blog, and my podcast is on there too.

If you’re a WordPress user, I highly recommend checking out the PopUpAlly plugin. Nathalie is a formally trained software developer and I think she has probably done more testing than anyone on WordPress PopUps.

I also bet that you have standards of code and best practices that you live up to.

You’re totally right. We actually have two full time developers.

Yes. Anything like that needs to be rock-solid, or it can make you vulnerable. It’s important to buy plugins from reputable companies like Nathalie’s.

Thank you so much for sharing your list building strategies, Nathalie.

Thank you, Derek! This was awesome.
To everyone listening, there was so, so much that we just went through. You’ll have to listen to this a few times because there was simply so much information to apply. If you’re not getting the results you want on your list, check out Nathalie’s 30 day challenge. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone. It comes from the insecurities of not wanting to put yourself out there.

I honestly think we delivered a ton of great information today, so I hope you’ll head over and subscribe on iTunes or leave us a quick review. Head over to for all of your links, shownotes, and our transcript. That’s a wrap! See you next time.

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  1. Wow. I really would likt to thank u Derek & ofcourse Nathalie 4 the superb ‘tons of info’ via wordpress Pop-upAlly, free-ads & turn-off wld-be exits to wld-be closers or better repeated sales. There again thanxs a thousand times guys.
    Yr Malaysian fan
    Kefli Broker

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