Last Updated on July 22, 2021 by Jeremy
There is a bit of irony in that we run This Week in Blogging primarily as a weekly newsletter, but for my own personal travel blogs, my newsletters are somewhat lacking.
I could make many excuses for why I simply run these as glorified RSS feeds for new articles, but the simple explanation is that I'm lazy and without having any products on those sites I haven't had enough of a reason to be motivated to try harder.
So I collect emails, send out new articles weekly, and move on.
It wasn't until I discovered Group Leads a few weeks ago that I finally got the spark to motivate me to focus on my newsletter more and it is because this plugin has found a way for me to rapidly increase the size of my newsletter- by converting Facebook group member requests into subscribers!
As I have quite the active Facebook group (12,000 plus at the time of publishing) that grows by over 1,000 members a month, this one really is a game-changer!
Note: We are only featuring limited images in this one because so much of the Group Leads dashboard shows user data. We value the privacy of our readers and apologize if the images appear sparse here!
How Does Group Leads Work?
On the surface, Group Leads looks like a pretty simple Chrome browser extension that logs responses to Facebook Group Membership Questions in a Google Drive sheet as users are approved. This is a great way to curate responses to group questions in an easy-to-navigate place as finding these answers after the initial moderation is not easy.
One of the questions for my local blog's group is “What kind of content would you like to see?” and curating responses into a single sheet allows me to quickly scroll through all of them and see what new users are looking for. If common trends emerge, I know what kind of content to post in our group and even get ideas for new blog posts outright. A win for everyone really!
But the plugin goes one step further by allowing you to sync collected emails with many newsletter services including Mailerlite (our newsletter provider), ConvertKit, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and a whole lot more. When an email is detected in one of the responses and these services are linked, it will automatically add it to your respective mailing list as a newsletter subscriber.
Could you do all of this manually? Of course. But if you have a rapidly growing Facebook group, this is a game-changer in automation that could help save a lot of time that you'd otherwise have copying and pasting emails one by one.
To acquire emails, all you have to do is ask a membership question like “Would you like to join our weekly newsletter? If yes, leave your email below. If no, leave blank.” Once users who include their email are approved, this data is sent to the Google sheet and also gets sent to your newsletter service directly (all within the span of a couple of seconds). We even segment these users into their own “Group Leads” grouping on Mailerlite so we know exactly where they came from as it is always good practice to log how you acquire subscribers.
As my local group is recommended by Facebook and grows by 1,000-2,000 members a month, this browser extension offers a huge potential to convert new group members into newsletter subscribers outside of the social network!
Additional Features in Group Leads and Some Drawbacks
Beyond simply logging question responses and acquiring newsletter leads, Group Leads also has a number of other cool features like being able to directly send new members a private message (only from your personal account for now) as well as automatically posting a welcome message into your group that tags new members. While I am not interested in either of these features, they're cool to have all the same and some may find it valuable for their group.
- Note: Since publishing this article we've been told that Facebook may be a bit suspicious of auto-posts of welcome messages and, depending on frequency, may consider this spam. As such, we would be hesitant on recommending this feature at all.
We also have a warning to give for Group Leads as there are a few noted limitations we've found with this program in our initial testing. Group Leads works by adding question responses to your Google Sheet after a user has been approved. The mechanism for this to work is either 1) manually hitting the accept button for each user (which triggers the program to run) or 2) allowing Group Leads to auto-approve members based on its own set criteria (which runs the program at a set interval that you can change).
This program does not seem to recognize Facebook's auto-approval tool as this bypasses the script running in your browser. As we said above, it only appears to run when you manually accept a member or running on its own, set interval.
Running things manually is easy and gives you the best control, but can be time-consuming if your group grows by dozens or hundreds of members per day. The auto-approval tool mimics the same settings from Facebook but within the app; however, is set to automatically decline users who do not meet your selected entrance criteria outright (Facebook simply keeps them in the queue for manual approval). Disabling this auto-decline feature has been something requested in the support group, but the programmers said it is a limitation they have on Facebook's end so it may be stuck that way for the time being.
- The Group Leads auto-approval tool opens a pop-up on your computer at set intervals and you can watch the program scroll through and approve members when it runs. It is kind of cool to watch as it really just mimics you actually opening and accepting members.
As such, we either recommend using this program in conjunction with manually approving members or have very broad entry criteria like accepting all accounts greater than six or twelve months old (as younger ones primarily often appear to be bots attempting to spam groups). As admission requests grew rapidly in our group, we simply started accepting all member requests with accounts over six months old but moderated postings to ensure spam does not get through that way. That being said, you may have to sit down and think about what logic works best for you as this is indeed a fairly significant limitation in the program.
Keeping that in mind, let's move on to the results of our initial testing!
30% Conversion Rate From Facebook Group to Newsletter
While I was dreaming of getting 1,000-2,000 newsletter subscribers every month, it should be obvious that not everyone is going to opt-in for extra content. A 100% conversion rate is simply not attainable for any opt-in and this is true for Group Leads as well.
After the initial setup, we found we had a roughly 30% conversion rate from Facebook Group requests to newsletter sign-ups. At 1,000 member requests per month, that corresponds to 300 new newsletter subscribers. If our sign-up frequency holds at this current pace, which we have no reason to suspect why it would not, that could equate to 3,600 or more newsletter subscribers each year!
That is not bad for the $97/year fee as that translates to just under 3 cents per subscriber in this specific case- a stellar price for any service let alone for our newsletter. Considering our local blog makes about 5 cents per click on average (via ads and affiliate sales), getting every subscriber to click over to our site just once would likely have a return on investment in just about six months if not sooner.
As blogs generally have a hard time showing direct ROI for most investments, it is pretty amazing to see this one's potential right away in this scenario. Of course, this may not be true for everyone and we should highlight some cases where we may be hesitant- namely smaller groups.
While we adopt the logic of “grow your newsletter at all costs because it is one of the only things you truly own,” paying for premium services like this is often a value proposition.
So if your group only grows by one or two members per day and has a similar opt-in as we saw in ours, you may get roughly 10 newsletter subscribers per month. Is 100 or so newsletter subscribers a year worth a nearly $100 fee? Perhaps for those who may sell a product with bigger profit potential, but we often view a $1 per-person acquisition fee as a bit too high for our blogs and we'd be hesitant unless you simply find the annual fee to be inconsequential to your bottom line.
We cannot answer that question for you as it will truly vary on a case-by-case basis for how much discretionary income you have, the activity of your Facebook group, the profit potential you could have with your mailing list, and other intangibles beyond that.
But one thing is for certain, Group Leads has made me want to prioritize my newsletter for even more ROI potential via an autoresponder series!
Group Leads Motivated Me to Setup an Autoresponder Series
For my travel blogs, I've been collecting email subscribers for years as a means to own my list, but haven't really done much with it other than sending out weekly RSS blasts featuring new articles.
This is great for getting content to our biggest fans, but is really only scratching the surface of what all you can do with email lists. As I have only a nominal number of subscribers, no products, and a full plate of work every week putting more effort into my list was always relegated to the “when I can get to it” category.
With Group Leads significantly increasing my subscription rate, it finally gave me a bit of an incentive to put together an autoresponder series as a means to increase my clicks from these new members. If just one click already puts me ahead, well, there is some serious incentive to push clicks to supercharge that!
The idea for this autoresponder series helps satisfy a problem I've had on my lists for years. That is, to put it bluntly, I only send out new content. The 1,000+ places we've already visited on our local blog don't get their fair shake, and honestly, we're not doing our new subscribers any favors by only sending them new-to-us places as many of those 1,000+ spots may be new-to-them too!
We got around this a bit by having a custom feature we changed monthly with recommendations from older content, but the autoresponder series we are putting together is 10 emails each featuring 10 of our favorite places in an array of categories be it attractions, events, restaurants, bars/breweries, hotels (hello affiliates), and more.
10 emails, featuring 10 articles (or more), sent out over a short period? That offers a lot of opportunities for new readers to check out some of our favorite places and open up the potential to 100+ clicks per person as a result. So that five-cent valuation could, if someone clicked every single link, shoot up to $5!
We'd only need 20 people clicking every single link in this series to pay for Group Leads outright, and considering we pick up that many subscribers in just one day it seems like it would be a very attainable goal in the long run.
So you know what we're doing now- building an autoresponder series!
We'll share how that one goes in a future update, but for now, we're curious- have you tried to convert Facebook group members to newsletter subscribers? Comment below to share how its going!
To pick up a license for Group Leads, click here.