You’ve heard over and over again that email marketing is one of the most profitable marketing platforms available.
You’ve heard that the “money is in the list” and that it’s important to build an engaged following over email.
After all, you own your email list. You can take those emails with you if anything were to happen. But if Facebook decides to ban you or you get locked out of your Twitter account, game over.
So you can’t afford to ignore email marketing. But maybe you're one of those people searching "how to grow your email list", lost in a sea of information but very little real help.
Well, we put our heads together to come up with 85 ways to do just that.
In fact, we listed every single available way to answer the grow your email list so you don’t have to do any guesswork.
After all, you own your email list. You can take those emails with you if anything were to happen. But if Facebook decides to ban you or you get locked out of your Twitter account, game over. You lose your following.
So you know you can’t afford to ignore your email list. But how do you grow your list from scratch?
Well, Sean, Noah, Wilson and I put our heads together to come up with 85 ways to do just that.
In fact, we listed every single available way to grow your email list so you don’t have to do any guesswork.
This list is gigantic, though. So instead of reading every single method and trying to figure out where to start:
This spreadsheet has every list building strategy, ranking them on the difficulty, cost, and potential impact for each plus a guide to help you choose which strategy to tackle first.
Oh, and before you dive in…
If you can think of a way to grow your email list that we missed, please leave a comment below and we’ll add it to the list with a link to your site to show our appreciation!
Let’s dive in!
If Snapple made a drink for marketers, here’s what the first fact would be:
Companies with 40+ landing pages get 12 times more leads than those with 5 or less.
Mas landing pages, por favor.
Seriously, landing pages are one of the most proven ways to build your list. They’re pages whose sole purpose is to accomplish one action -- be it a purchase, a share or, for our case, a sign up.
When you’re asking for an email address, you’re usually giving something away called a content upgrade. These upgrades can be e-books, guides, videos or any piece of valuable content you don’t generally give away.
These landing pages generally stand out on their own -- they’re not accessible through your main navigation. You use landing pages in very specific ways (some people create a landing page for every banner ad they create).
You can create a landing page a few different ways.
Takes time. Takes know-how. Takes money. If you have the resources to build a custom landing page then more power to you. Laugh at us mere mortals from atop your cushy perches.
For the rest of us, let’s move on.
You can use Welcome Mat to instantly set up a landing page within a few minutes.
Here’s an example of a Welcome Mat landing page. Everything is succinct and to the point: the headline promises a supplement course in exchange for your email address.
All you do is create a page on your website, create a Welcome Mat landing page and then assign the Welcome Mat to that page you created
Viola! Instant landing page without any coding knowledge.
Same school-of-thought as the Welcome Mat but it comes courtesy of your email service provider (ESP).
They’re the more basic of the options as far as landing pages go. What you’re doing is creating a page then embedding a signup form directly into the body of the page.
The biggest advantage to this method is that you’ll be forced to create a list in your ESP that the form will be tied to. That guarantees you’ll be segmenting your list for future campaigns (that’s a good thing).
This is the option you have to pay for, but it also comes with the most flexibility in what kinds of landing pages you can create.
No coding required on these, either. But you do have to pay for these services, so keep that in mind as you choose how to build your landing page.
From January to April 2016, that’s the percent of our entire site’s page views that come from the home page.
The next closest page? 6%.
If I had to guess, that’s how your site looks, too. The majority of your visits most likely come to your home page.
And why shouldn’t they? It’s one of the most important pages on your site. It’s the storefront window into your business. Once they hit your home page, 86% of your visitors are likely to view more about your product or services.
So if your home page is where the action happens, you’ll want to make sure you’re absolutely capturing email addresses while those visitors are curious.
If someone is on your home page, chances are they’ve heard of you and they’re (at the very least) curious about your brand. In most cases, they view you as an authority and want to see how you can help them.
You can build on that curiosity and authority by asking the visitor for their email address right away:
Here’s what Brian Dean of Backlinko does to build his list. The very first thing you see on his home page is an opportunity to sign up for traffic tips.
Since Brian is a freaking wizard at the art of backlinking, this is a powerful ask right away. He’s giving his visitors the opportunity to get his proven SEO and traffic tips.
Since the first fold is the most-viewed section of a page, Brian ensures that 100% of his home page traffic has the chance to sign up.
But maybe you’re happy with your current home page design. Or, like many people, your home page is set and it’d be a huge hassle to redesign and recode your home page.
If that’s the case, there’s an easy solution that takes two minutes to set up and delivers the exact same results -- all without having to change a single thing on your homepage.
It’s called Welcome Mat and it’s going to be your new list-building life saver.
With Welcome Mat, you can turn your home page (or any page) into an instant list-building opportunity. Here’s how Clickminded uses Welcome Mat on their home page:
When you land on their home page you’re instantly bumped up to the Welcome Mat. Now Clickminded doesn’t have to change their home page -- they’ve instantly got a lead-generating page that 100% of visitors see.
Everything on the page is customizable -- the background, headline, subheadline, forms, call to action and even button color. And you can change it all without ever touching a single line of code.
The cool part is you can present this page two ways:
Scrollable: Once the visitors sees this page they can simply scroll past it and see your normal landing page. Once they do that, though, the Welcome Mat disappears and is inaccessible.
Instant Landing Page: If you want to force a choice, however, you can turn this page into an instant landing page. In order to get to your home page, the visitor either gives you their email address or clicks the “No Thanks” button. We’ve seen this option double conversion rates.
Welcome Mat helps you reap all the benefits of a list-building home page without ever actually changing your home page.
If those last two options didn’t entice you, then this one 100% will.
The last option you can try on your home page is something called a Smart Bar. If you don’t want to change your first fold -- or you don’t want to send visitors to a Welcome Mat -- then you can use this extremely unintrusive tool.
A Smart Bar simply sits at the top of a browser no matter where you scroll. Here’s how IzzyStyle used it to build her list:
It looks as natural as anything else on the site and still provides tremendous value.
By subscribing to her list, visitors can get exclusive deals and 10% off everything forever.
Smart Bar takes a few minutes to install and it leaves the rest of your page open to featuring your products and services.
And no, we’re not talking about VH1’s Pop Up Video series.
A popup is a window that appears in the foreground of your web page. They can be a full page takeover, a mid-screen popup.
They may seem annoying, but they work like crazy. We’ve seen Sumo users harness popups to increase conversions by over 60%!
You don’t have a lot of room to work with in a popup, so you have to get your point across quickly and efficiently. A great headline, a description and a call to action are your carriers for this method.
If someone’s decided to leave your page, then that’s that. There’s nothing you can do to get them to come back.
Or is there?
An exit intent popup is a last-ditch effort to get your visitor to interact with your site. They’re already leaving, so it’s this popup’s job to salvage the situation and collect an email address.
You can see the popup appear as the cursor moves to close the page. You want people to stop and read the box, so your headline needs to be catchy and give them a reason to stay.
You can give away a great deal, an extremely valuable piece of content or anything else you think might prompt a visitor to give their email address. If you nail this, it means you’ve turned a disinterested visitor into a potential customer.
Use a tool like List Builder to easily create a popup on any of your pages.
If you know how long the average person stays on any of your pages, you can create a timed popup to capture their address.
Since visitors usually stay eight seconds on this page, the popup timer is set to five seconds to guarantee the maximum amount of impressions possible. Scroll Box is a great tool to execute this type of popup.
If you put this on a blog post, you can set it to a longer period of time (30+ seconds) to give the reader enough time to be invested in the post.
Since we know only 20% of readers get to the bottom of your page, you can create a popup that appears at a certain section of your page.
You’d see that only 67% of visitors made it 10% through your page. So that means A) You need to write a better introduction or B) You’d want to put your popup at the 8% mark.
Here’s an example of a popup at the 20% mark (where most visitors started dropping off on the guide):
With the percent page read popup you guarantee you’re asking for emails at the most opportune moment.
Chances are you’ve seen these quite a bit on most blogs you visit:
It’s a static email opt in box and it scrolls with you wherever you are on the post. Readers only have two places to look with this tactic:
That’s it. The logic behind this tactic is if the signup box follows you down the page (without interrupting your reading) then you have that implicit, subtle nudge to opt in the entire read.
Not only that, but it’s easily accessible. If you feel like the blog post provides value then you can opt-in for that content upgrade at any point.
It doesn’t have to be a content upgrade, either. It can be a simple ask to sign up for a newsletter:
This sort of ask is enhanced by the article it accompanies. You’re not just asking to sign up for a newsletter. You’re asking to sign up for a newsletter so you get more badass content like the kind they’re reading.
Yup! You can collect email addresses through your products, too. Here’s every strategy available for doing just that.
Any time you’re collecting your customer’s email addresses, you have an opportunity to build your email list.
Have you ever been to Nordstrom or Best Buy and are asked for your email address so you can receive an electronic copy of your receipt?
Those stores then put you on their email lists. Yeah, you’ve probably noticed.
If you have a physical product, give your customers this option to both make their lives a bit easier (paper receipts are a pain) and to build your email list.
People are frequently less hesitant to give up their email address when they’re buying something.
If you have an eCommerce store, you have a great opportunity to ask for email addresses from your customers in the checkout process.
If you’re not collecting your customer’s email addresses, you’re missing an opportunity to get in front of a highly engaged portion of your market.
Think about it - they’re already going through the motions to purchase something from you. Chances are, they would also like to know about discounts, new products and updates through your email list.
Usually you can integrate your cart with your email service provider (like Aweber or MailChimp) to automate the collection and enrollment in autoresponder series.
Sumo customers Malkin & Toad include an email field in their checkout process:
You can include a checkbox so your customer is giving you permission to email them, or just let them know in your call to action what they’ll receive when they enter their email addresses.
Ah, good ol’ fashioned bribery.
Luckily, this strategy is ethical bribery, and it’s really effective. Instead of creating an opt-in offer (or maybe in tandem!), offer a discount or coupon code in exchange for the visitor’s email address.
Simply set up your app to redirect to a page with a coupon code after the customer enters their email address (or send it to them in your autoresponder through email if you want to ensure they confirm their subscription). Here’s how (same instructions apply to List Builder, Welcome Mat, and Scroll Box):
Maybe your products don’t lend themselves well to discounts.
For example, if you have a small profit margin or the discount wouldn’t be enticing enough to draw in much interest.
In this case, you can still reap the benefits of ethical bribery: give a freebie in exchange for the visitor’s email address.
Sumo Jerky has grown their email list by offering free bags of jerky in exchange for an email address:
Free jerky is a high value offer, so it’s a great trade.
Most people make the mistake of waiting until a product is finished and ready to sell before they unveil it.
Don’t be most people.
If you’ve got a product idea, make it work for you before it ever makes a single dollar by pre-selling.
Pre-selling has been around for a while but started picking up traction as SaaS companies rose to the forefront. Since then it’s been a staple for collecting email addresses AND creating hype for a new product.
The cool thing is SaaS folks refined it so anyone with a product can use a pre-sell strategy to build a list.
Pre-selling works like this:
Brainstorm possible products you can create.
Vet those ideas by asking your existing customers what product they’d like best.
Put together the framework for the product they want most.
Create a landing page for that product describing what it is, what it will do and when it’ll be available.
Collect emails (and potentially money) by putting people on a waiting list.
You’d be surprised how many people want to “Be the first to know when this product goes live” or “Get updates on the product.”
It doesn’t take much more than a one-fold landing page to pre-sell something. All you need is a headline that promised a product, a paragraph or two saying what it is and a call to action that asks for an email address.
Being the first person to hear about or have a product is a huge motivator. Turn that motivation into email addresses with pre-selling.
Warning: you need a legit, no-frills product that people really want in order for this to work.
If you don’t, move on to the next tip.
If you do, though, then this tip will be killer.
It’s already hard enough to entice someone to buy an online course. But check out what Ramit Sethi does with his Zero to Launch course:
You can’t just buy his course (currently). He uses copy to entice you, then you sign up to get an email explaining more about the course.
It’s a way of separating out the serious students from the “ho-hum” ones. You can’t just buy this course. You’ve got to sign up for it, and he responds back if he wants you to buy it.
By putting the course behind an email gate, Ramit collects emails for future use and builds up the prestige of his course at the same time.
If you’ve got a product that can generate that kind of want, then this could be a game-changing tip for your business.
Speaking of courses, there’s another way to capture emails on top of making money. The mechanics are the same, but the presentation certainly isn’t -- which makes all the difference.
If you don’t know Joanna Wiebe, take a minute and educate yo’self. She’s a conversion copywriter extraordinaire, and she has a popular copywriting course that, to quote Larry David, is prettyyyy….pretty good.
She also asks for an email address to join the class. But hers is subtly different from Ramit’s page.
With Ramit, you can get the course anytime (provided you get an email back). That’s a gate for prestige-sake.
With Joanna, you have a limited window each month to get the course. So her ask is for you to sign up to make sure can secure a spot.
Both ultimately collect emails. It’s just a different way of presenting the availability.
Settle down. This isn’t a multi thousand person event like what HubSpot puts on every year.
Let’s focus on smaller events. See, the easiest way to collect and manage registrations is through Eventbrite. That’s a universal truth.
You know what they ask for during the registration process? An email address.
You know what happens after a registrant give their email address? It gets automatically passed off to a list in your email service provider.
Pretty. Freaking. Slick.
So your event doesn’t have to be big! You just have to host something that provides value to a community. “Existential Musings on the Plight of Harry Potter If He Played In the NFL?” Hey, people would sign up for it.
And you’d collect their email addresses. You can initially use those to communicate about the event, but you can transition those emails into marketing other products and events of your choice.
Plus you get the added bonus of strengthening the relationships at the event. If you host a killer event then you better believe those attendees will be more likely to interact with you in the future.
A meetup is like an event but on a smaller scale and more frequent. It’s still a community of like-minded people, but these meetups offer the chance to have deeper discussion about certain topics.
There’s a site called Meetup.com that lists all the possible meetups in a given area. Just look how many meetups there are in the Minneapolis, MN area:
In order to join any of these meetups you have to provide an email address:
That email address is passed on to whomever runs the meetup.
Search Meetups.com for any gaps in your specific area or profession. Once you find one, create the group and market it. After a while you’ll see more and more people join, which means more contacts for your list.
Why do most people speak at an event?
Maybe it’s to get notoriety for a cause. Maybe it’s to gain awareness or sell a product. Or maybe it’s because they were paid serious bucks to be there.
But there’s another thing you can do on top of all those things. You can collect email addresses while you’re giving your presentation.
Two big ways come to mind. First, Leadpages has SMS text opt-ins. All you do is assign a keyword to a shortcode (33444) and people can opt-in to a list via their phone.
You can give that number out during your presentation on a slide or verbally and let people opt-in as you talk.
The other way is to throw a URL on a slide. You can create a page on your site and use Welcome Mat’s instant landing page feature to turn that blank page into a landing page.
If you promise a resource during your talk, you can send the audience to that page to instantly download it.
This is a powerful strategy because the social pressure is MASSIVE. Not only do you have an authoritative speaker prompting you to download a free thing, but you’ve got people around you actually opting in.
That combo makes collecting emails at an event a strategy too good to pass up.
Now, this method of growing your email list through your customers isn’t necessarily one I’d recommend.
Well, because *it’s sort of against the rules. *
But we want to make sure to bring you the most comprehensive list of ways to grow your email list on the internet, and that includes some methods that you have to approach with caution.
In this strategy, you’re manually adding the emails of your customers to your email service provider, if your shopping cart platform doesn’t allow you to add a email collection field in your checkout process.
For example, with Etsy you aren’t able to collect email addresses of your customers. With this method, you’d pull their email address from the order page under the Buyer info (like below) and manually import it into your provider:
Be it a sales call, a customer support call or any call, you can ask people to sign up for a newsletter.
Or maybe it’s a course. Or an e-book. If you’ve got a valuable piece of content, just ask people to sign up for it.
It’s as simple as asking this at the end of a call:
“Oh, by the way, you’re on the newsletter list, right? No? Well you get a bunch of free stuff and discounts when we mail out, and it’s no more than once a week. No worries, I can just sign you up here, what’s your email?”
Boom. Just like that, on a call you were already having, you got a signup.
We’re kickin’ it back to some old school hustle with this tip.
Say you’re a marketer at somewhere like Bonnaroo where the cell service is spotty at best. The iPad method of taking down info might not work because you can’t sync up with your form.
So you go old school and whip out the pen and paper for sign ups.
That means tracking people down, maybe offering something and getting their name and email address on that paper. Once you collect those, you can enter them in manually to your ESP.
This is a low-hanging fruit and something that can be done in less than 2 seconds:
Post a link to your landing page, along with a call to action with a value proposition in your Skype status just like you did in your social media bios.
This can capture some of your Skype contacts you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten in front of. Use Snip.ly to Add a Call to Action to Any Link You Share If you’ve never heard of Snip.ly, you share content, and you want to grow your email list, you may be missing out.
Snip.ly is a tool that allows you to add a call to action to everything you share. So if you share an article from the Huffington Post on Twitter your call to action appears at the bottom of the screen.
Yes, even if the content you’re sharing is not from your own website. Boss, right? See how I added a call to action to join my free email course from a guest post I wrote on Thrilling Heroics?
This is especially effective of course if the content you’re sharing is relevant to your own business, and if you’re sharing it to or with a group of your target audience. If you share highly relevant content on Facebook and your target audience clicks on it from your Snip.ly link, chances are they’ll also be interested in your content and opt-in offers. Use Snip.ly to add calls to action to all of the relevant content you share.
How many people do you email on a weekly basis?
If you’re a blogger, entrepreneur or solopreneur, chances are you email a lot of people - likely within the dozens every week (if not every day).
Those people are dozens of people you could be driving to your email list. Replace your boring email signature with a call to action to have people sign up for your email list, like Deena from Bulletproof Writing has done:
This is a simple way to convert people who you otherwise would already be communicating with.
The method above for growing your email list is great for the people you email.
But what about the people who email you?
Well, you can set up a vacation autoresponder to respond to emails with a link back to your landing page.
Write a short email with a call to action sending people to a landing page back to your site. You don’t even have to take this off if you’re not on vacation!
You know what’s crazy?
Almost all of us have the ability to grow our email lists by hundreds today, but 95% of us will choose not to. Because we “don’t want to bug anybody”.
The thing is, you have a huge group of people who know you, probably at least sort of like you and who would (hopefully) be happy to help you out by recommending or sharing your landing page with your opt-in offer or newsletter with friends who are part of your target audience.
These people are your family and friends, and asking them to share or even forward your CTA to one friend or family member who may be interested is not only one of the most effective and lowest hanging fruits out there for growing your email list, but it’s also the fastest track to a super-engaged list.
Surveys are a dual threat in your bag of list-building tricks:
They help you gain insight into your audience’s psychographics and demographics
They collect email addresses
You’ll have to think of a way to provide value in order for someone to take a survey. You can always ask for free on your social media channels, but when was the last time you took a survey just for fun?
You might need to provide an incentive to take the survey. Punch Pizza, an awesome Neapolitan pizza joint in Minneapolis, once offered a free pizza to the first 250 people that took their survey.
The survey was closed 20 minutes after they posted it on Facebook.
I highly recommend using Typeform for your survey needs. Their forms are beautiful and they’re incredibly easy to use.
You can tailor the surveys to provide value to the user like this example. If you want to promote the survey for free, just embed the survey on a blog post and let that act as your call to action.
Instead of using your bio on social media to describe who you are, use that valuable real estate to drive followers to sign up for your email list with a compelling call to action.
You can do this on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest, or wherever you can include a bio.
Protip: Use the word “free” in the URL of your landing page for the most compelling call to action.
On Twitter, you have the ability to “pin” a Tweet to the top of your profile so that it remains static at the top of your page. This is prime real estate on your Twitter profile, as it’s the first Tweet anybody will see when they land on your profile page.
Pin a Tweet with a call to action to get your followers to join your email list, like we’ve done:
You Tweet out content, thoughts, and notifications of new products. There’s no reason you can’t also Tweet out calls to action to join your email list, like Bridget from Money after Graduation does:
Create a value proposition and add a call to action to your Twitter library on Edgar. Edgar will then rotate through the rest of your library and release the Tweet(s) in intervals.
Your email list will be growing without you even having to think about it!
Instagram is still a great platform for driving followers to your email list, with a comparatively high level of engagement.
Create an image of your opt-in offer or content upgrade with a call to action in the caption of your post to sign up for your email list.
Daniel DiPiazza from Rich20Something.com has done this to grow his email list significantly:
Protip: Include text over your image that indicates that the link to your offer or landing page is in your bio. Instagram only allows one link and that’s your bio link. You can also tell your followers to copy and paste your link from your caption, too.
Your Facebook page has one piece of prime real estate with the opportunity for a great call to a action to join your email list:
Your cover image.
Replace the image you’re currently using with a call to action to join your list, keeping the URL short and simple so your followers can easily type it into their browsers.
Include an image of your opt-in offer and your URL.
On your website’s Facebook page, you have the opportunity to have a call to action button:
Use that opportunity to drive visitors to your page and your Facebook fans to a landing page with button copy calling the visitor to “sign up” or “join”.
You can collect emails straight from Facebook -- provided you’ve got an email service provider.
If you do, then you can make a tab on your Facebook page and embed a form to sign up for anything -- newsletters, deals, courses, anything.
GAP uses their page to ask for email signups. It’s a custom page, but you can get something similar using ESPs like Mailchimp, Active Campaign and HubSpot.
It’s easy to assume that your Facebook fans are already on your email list, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Liking a Facebook page is a low-commitment action, so a lot of your Facebook fans are just Facebook fans.
Instead of leaving them to just admire your Facebook page, post a call to action to join your email list - either through your opt-in offer or just a call to join your newsletter with a link to your landing page.
Add that post to your Edgar library so you can get in front of more of your fans. After all, not all of your posts end up in their newsfeeds!
Protip: Include an image of your opt-in offer. Studies show that social media posts - particularly on Facebook - perform a lot better when there is an image.
You use Facebook. I use Facebook. 98% of the people you know use Facebook.
That means that a gigantic portion of your target audience is also using Facebook, and just like there’s a support group for almost everything (can anyone recommend a good gelato addiction support group?) there is also a Facebook group for everything under the sun.
Posting high value posts that link to my opt-in offer is how I grew my list with my initial 200 subscribers, who then helped me grow my list on Unsettle to where it is now (around 9,000).
If done in a value-added way as opposed to spamming, this can be a great way to grow your list with a group of highly engaged members of your target audience.
Always give more than you take and remember to add value before you post your opt-in offer.
Facebook Groups have a ton of benefits for your business, but they can also grow your email list.
Create a private Facebook Group with the entry requirement that you need to be a subscriber of your email list to join.
You can include that criteria in your group description. As your group grows, so will your email list - the larger the number, the more social proof, and the more people will want to be a part of it.
It’s true that Google+ is on its way out, but Google+ Communities can still be active and engaged.
Join some relevant Google+ Communities in your industry or niche and engage with the members and the content for a bit before writing a blurb about your opt-in offer or newsletter and a link to your landing page.
If you're adding value, most members won't mind - and some might even find it useful.
Although the communities on Google+ are more like feeds, it’s still important to give more than you take, just like with Facebook groups. Add value first, and make it so signing up for your email list is a no-brainer.
Create a compelling call to action and include a link to your landing page directly in your LinkedIn profile in your “experience” section:
LinkedIn will import the image from the landing page, allowing you to display your call to action in a visual format as well.
This can convert visitors of your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn Groups work much like Facebook Groups, Google+ Communities and any other community based platform.
Join active groups in your industry:
Then, contribute and add value to the group members before sharing your opt-in offer or call to action to join your email list.
You know all those people you’re connected with on Linkedin?
You can grab every single one of their email addresses in 15 seconds.
Count it down:
Viola! In 15 seconds you get a CSV file with name, job title and email address in one neat package.
Here’s what you do:
But don’t add them to a list just yet. Send a personal email asking them if they want to join your list. Adding without permission is a huge no-no, so take the time to follow up with everyone to make sure it’s ok.
Two ways you can build your list from YouTube calls to action.
First, you can add a callout link over top the video:
They’ve got a call to action at the bottom of their video to see more from Callaway. That link leads to a page where they collect email addresses to update subscribers with Callaway info.
Second, they include links in the description of every video:
Talk about overchoice. Still, if you focus on one call to action in your description -- preferably to a newsletter signup -- then you increase your odds of a subscription.
Besides adding a call to action to join your list in your bio, there is another way to drive subscribers from Pinterest.
Create a Pinnable image for your newsletter or landing page and Pin to a relevant board with a link directly to your landing page
Use a tool like Canva to create the image, and collect email addresses from there.
It’s true that Pinterest can be a highly engaged platform and can drive a lot of traffic, and this is even more true with group boards.
Group boards are contributed to by groups of people and tend to have huge followings - usually tens of thousands of people.
How would you like to get your content upgrade, opt-in offer or call to action in front of 30,000+ members of your target audience?
That’s what I’m doing when I contribute my own content to this group board I am part of:
Protip: Use Pingroupie.com to find relevant group boards.
See how the call to action in the group Pinterest board above is to follow the owner of the board and email her to join?
As more people catch on to the power of group boards, and request to contribute to the board, Michelle’s (the owner) following will grow. You can grow your email list too by creating a group board, and instead of asking potential contributors to follow you, make it a prerequisite for the contributors to subscribe to your email list.
And this is deep social monitoring. The kind that can take some time, but has a tremendous 1-to-1 impact.
Here’s how you pull this beast off:
1. Pick Your Blog’s Most Important Keywords
I’m talking about keywords that the majority of your best blogs address. If you’re an SEO agency, you might pick keywords like “rank on first page” or “better SEO.”
2. Find Your Highest-Converting Blog Posts
Pretty straightforward here. Pick out the blog posts that are most successful at converting visitors into subscribers.
3. Set Up A Hootsuite Account
I use Hootsuite, but you can use any other keyword-monitoring tool you like. Once you’re in there, you set up keyword monitoring:
4. Listen and Respond
From there you check in and respond to relevant tweets. I’m just using Twitter but you can certainly use Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or any other medium you want.
Once you see a post that is relevant to your list of blog posts, reply with a link to that post and why it’s helpful.
It’s a grind, but if you’re starting out with no audience or site visitors then this is a great way to leverage built-in audiences.
Be careful with this one, because Reddit can be a sink or swim environment. Redditors can be… well, they can be dicks. Let’s call it like it is.
But, if your opt-in offer is extremely high value (as it should be) and your call to action is compelling and contributory, sometimes you can get away with this. To increase the chances of Reddit success, try commenting on relevant posts and using permission marketing techniques.
For example, after writing the benefits of your website, you want to ask for permission to share the link to your website.
After a few Redditors start asking for the link to your website, you should edit your original post to include a link. Reddit is a great source of high converting traffic, just take a look at the conversion rates and email subscribers from ONE comment that made it to the top.
When Reddit works, it really works and can send thousands of engaged members of your target audience to through your link.
Here’s the thing. Quora ranks.
As in, the questions people ask on Quora can rank just as high (or higher) on search engines than a 3k word blog post you wrote.
People respect great answers on Quora, too. Look how many views an answer from Wilson Hung had in the span of three months:
Just one of his answers was viewed 21,000 times in three months!
2% of that traffic visits his blog. And you better believe that answer had links to a blog post with a content upgrade in it.
Think of Quora as a free, highly-tailored advertising medium. You’re essentially leading people to areas on your site that build your email list.
Most good answers on Quora are long, detailed and rich with knowledge. Find a question that one of your high-converting blog posts can answer and use that information.
Pretty soon, the traffic will roll into your page like it did for Wilson.
If you’ve been building your online business for more than a little while, you’ve probably heard of Slack.
Slack is quickly becoming one of the most popular team communication platforms available, and people are using it within their workflows and to communicate about events and specific topics.
Since Slack hosts large groups of people around a common interest, that makes it a great place where huge portions of your target audience inevitably hang out.
Use a tool like Slack List to find communities around your topic, and then (as usual) add a ton of value and interact with the members before posting a useful piece of content that includes a call to action to join your list, or linking directly to your landing page.
Similar to Reddit and other groups, niche forums can be a treasure trove of members of your target audience.
Find forums in your industry and participate in them, becoming an active member before you post anything about your call to action. If you don’t add value first, you’ll shoot yourself in the foot with angry forum members accusing you of spamming.
Regardless of how active a member you are in the niche forums you’re part of, you can always take advantage of this low-hanging fruit:
Update your forum signature with a call to action to join your email list and a link to your landing page. Almost all forums have the ability to give you a signature.
Protip: The more you post in the forum, the more your signature will appear and the more eyes it will get in front of. Activity level in forums is key.
Most people share content in community sites.
Sites like GrowthHackers, Triberr, FoodGawker, and Rockstar Finance are usually a collection of the most popular content in your industry. But you can also submit either teaser content to your opt-in offer, or your opt-in offer itself.
Don’t spam these websites; obviously your offer should be extremely high value and enticing for your target audience to trade their email addresses for.
Webinars can be a great way to grow your email list and can convert a ton of your traffic and even people who didn’t know about you before hearing about your webinar into email subscribers.
Both holding a webinar with the intent to sell, as well as list-building webinars are effective. The reason they grow your list so fast is because attendees register for the webinar with their email addresses, growing your list.
Derek Halpern was able to grow his email list by over 1,000 people in 28 days through webinars.
Webinars have a high perceived value, as they are like miniature courses, so they are enticing - they drive more signups than a regular content upgrade.
Protip: Record your webinar and use it later as an opt-in offer.
This might be surprising because podcasts are audio, but being a guest on a popular podcast can drive a ton of email subscribers.
You can gain subscribers by creating a high-value content upgrade for the audience. Mention it at the end of the interview on the host podcast with an easy-to-remember URL to your landing page.
Pitch yourself to the popular podcasts in your industry, creating a content upgrade for each.
You probably listen to podcasts - and maybe you’ve even wanted to be a guest on one - but have you ever considered starting your own?
Starting a podcast can be one of the best ways to grow your email list right now. Podcasts reach a whole new audience you wouldn’t otherwise reach - those who consume content via audio rather than written or visual.
To grow your email list with a podcast, include a call to action in your intro and outro to join an email list, driving the traffic to a landing page.
You can also mention your opt-in offer or content upgrade naturally within your show.
Amy Porterfield uses a content upgrade for every episode she publishes, creating high value, relevant content upgrades that the listener visits the show notes page to opt in for:
This drives her listeners to her email list.
Yep. Craigslist. The only hookups happening in this tip are hookups of the mind.
Craigslist is an awesome place for sharing your services (to build your list) because people are already looking for help.
Head into your respective area and see what people are looking for. If you were a marketer with an email course on SEO you could search out people who need SEO help.
You’d respond with that listing offering up your services and when they write back you could pitch your course.
It’s another grind-level tactic but if you’re just starting out with no list then this can work wonders. Product Hunt Every time you launch a new product, chances are it could be a good fit for Product Hunt. To make sure your product gets accepted by the moderators, make sure you reach out to an influential Product Hunter and get them to submit it on your behalf.
Once you have it submitted, you’ll want to have an attractive value proposition to get drive clicks to your website. If you do it right, Product Hunt can drive thousands of visitors to your website, and it’s a great way for reporters to find out who you are.
It’s what we did every time we released a new Sumo app:
To make the most out of all that traffic, you’ll want to create a custom Welcome Mat to convert the visitors into email subscribers. Here’s an example of our custom Product Hunt Welcome Mat:
Guest posting is hands down one of the best ways to begin to grow your email list. It’s the strategy that almost everyone starts with, for one reason:
Because it works.
My first ever guest post with my personal blog on Fast Company landed me over 600 subscribers and continues to drive email signups to this day, well over a year later.
Grow your email list through guest posting by contributing high-quality, highly relevant articles to popular publications and blogs in your industry.
Create a content upgrade for every guest post for your author bio to maximize the amount of emails you are able to collect. And you should also create a custom Welcome Mat to maximize your conversions from the guest post traffic. Here’s an example from our guest post on Canva:
If you’re honest, chances are you knew that guest posting was an effective way to grow your email list. And there’s probably a reason why you haven’t reaped the guest posting benefits just yet…
You’re a little lazy.
Okay, maybe it’s not 100% laziness, but truth be told, guest posting does take a lot of time and effort, and it can be difficult to figure out whether you should be writing content for your own blog or to be guest posted.
That’s where republishing comes in. Republishing content from your own website on larger publications can be one of the next best ways to grow your email list.
Some of my republished articles have driven over 1300 new email subscribers:
This screenshot was the morning after my republished content went live on Elite Daily, and I’d added an extra 350+ subscribers over the next couple of days.
Find websites that are larger than yours who accept republished content and include a specific call to action or content upgrade in your author bio or (better yet) within the body of the content to drive readers to sign up for your email list.
Medium is a great way to repurpose your long form content. All you have to do is summarize the key points of your long form content into a short summary. At the end of the Medium article, make sure you have a call-to-action so readers can visit your blog for the full in-depth guide.
If I gave you 30% revenue for every person that buys my product that you referred, would you take that deal?
I’d assume so. That’s the whole basis of affiliate marketing. In exchange for a percent of revenue you promote another person’s brand or product.
But most people think that means you have to blindly push a product and demand that your followers buy right away.
Not true. Sometimes a successful affiliate partnership means driving email subscribers. If you add a significant portion of your following to someone’s email list, they should in turn be able to convert those subscribers to customers.
And conversions = $$$ for the affiliate.
Find people who use your product and have a solid fanbase. Reach out to them and ask them to promote any of the tactics you use from this guide in order to build your list.
This is a step in the right direction, but it’s still not even as close to effective as building your own list.
Generally, digital agencies will have their own lists from prior campaigns. They sell those lists and their services together, so you have to pay an agency fee in order to access their list.
Granted, you get the expertise of a digital marketing team on your side. The drawback is you’re still emailing a list that doesn’t know you and didn’t ask to be emailed by you.
Using giveaways to grow your list is not only effective, but it’s also one of the methods that has the highest return for your time.
Simon Cave used giveaways to grow his list by 4,000 subscribers:
Choose a highly relevant product to give away, and not just a product that everybody wants.
If you choose a product everybody wants - like an iPad or an Amazon gift card - then you’re risking driving unqualified leads to your list. You don’t want to end up having to pay to have a bunch of unengaged people on your email list who aren’t interested in your topic and who will just unsubscribe the second you send them the next email and they haven’t won the giveaway.
When you’ve chosen the product to give away, set the giveaway up in a giveaway plugin like Kingsumo, setting the entry option as the requirement to join your email list.
Remember: don’t give your participants too many entry options. Too much choice most often leads to choosing to do nothing at all.
When you’ve posted your giveaway, submit your giveaway to:
Also share your giveaway in any relevant groups you’re part of, on your blog or podcast, and on social media.
The higher value the giveaway, the more entries you will receive, so your list will grow faster.
In a saturated world of content, it’s the useful stuff that stands out. So if you want to collect emails…
Build a useful tool.
That’s one way HubSpot has managed to get a bajillion (roughly) emails in the span of a few years. One of their most successful tools is the Website Grader:
The landing page is incredibly straightforward. It asks how strong your website is and prompts for a URL and email address. That’s it.
But it works like crazy.
The grader ranks your overall performance, mobile presence, SEO power and site security. Those are big areas people obsess about, so a tool that analyzes all those things for the cost of an email address is a big thing.
Building a useful tool like this can rake in the email addresses. Find a need your audience has and address it with a tool.
Email courses can grow your list very quickly.
Email courses are similar to offering a product, but instead you’re teaching something. You can either create an email course as an opt-in offer like Traffic1M, or you can create it as a paid product like Gina has with her email course to help people become freelance writers.
Email courses have a high perceived value (as courses in general usually are) so people are usually willing to part with their email addresses to be part of them.
Think of something complex or involved that you’d like to teach your audience that would provide value to them. Chunk it out into an email course in your autoresponder series to be dripped out.
Then, post the first day or lesson as free, ungated content on your blog or podcast, and then have people sign up for the rest of the course if they want the material.
As far as opt-in offers go, email challenges can be some of the most powerful offers to grow your list like a weed.
Not only are they very engaging for your new subscribers, but through the challenge you’re helping them achieve a goal or a desired outcome, so you’re providing massive value to your audience. Check out how Jen and Jadah from Simple Green Smoothies do this with their 30-day green smoothie challenge:
Not only do challenges grow your email list by being a rock-solid opt-in offer, they are usually something that people want to involve their friends in.
When you set up your challenge, ask your subscribers to invite a friend in your introductory email. Remind them that goals are almost always met more easily when you’re doing it with a friend.
Be honest. How many quizzes have you taken on Buzzfeed? Or even those ones that pop up on Facebook asking “What Color Watermelon Would You Be On Mars?”
Quizzes provoke curiosity. It comes down to narrative psychology -- the school of thought where we organize our life into stories that describe our personas.
It’s a strong phenomenon, and quizzes tap directly into that psychology.
That’s why you can use quizzes to capture emails.
The most popular option is a company called Qzzr. With them, you can easily create a quiz and embed it on your site or share it on Facebook.
Visitors have to enter their email address to see their results. Joe Hollerup from Internet Marketing Inc. claims his quiz “...has generated over 26,000 leads and $1 million in revenue.”
Granted, those are lofty goals for most of us. But the proof is there: quizzes will help you generate leads.
If you already have a butt-ton of resources at your disposal, consider aggregating them all in one place -- a Resource Library, if you will.
HubSpot (of course) does this exact thing. They take all their best gated resources and put them in one place:
A visitor has to opt-in in order to receive any of these resources. But put aside the list-building advantages and you’ll see two other benefits here:
SEO Increase: If you search “marketing resources” you’ll see HubSpot at the top. This one page sees hundreds of thousands of visits because it’s a one-stop-shop for resources.
Visitor Ease: The library is appealing because you don’t have to waste time searching for resources. Everything you need is in one spot.
So this page disguised as a one-stop-shop for every marketing resource is, in reality, a repository for every list-building opportunity they’ve got.
Calm down. I’m not talking about a massive George R.R. Martin 900 page tome.
I’m talking about books that are 50-150 pages. They don’t have to be long to be valuable. One of my favorite books in this range is Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown’s book Startup Growth Engines.
It sells for $2 on Amazon and it’s worth far more than that. All they did was compile their favorite growth case studies and put them in a book.
Conservatively, let’s say 1,000 people bought that book (though the number is most likely higher). Do you think growth experts like Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown created a book to make $2,000?
Probably not. While the side revenue is nice, something this valuable can be used as a list-building resource.
Giving away something you normally attach a monetary value to creates a strong motivation to act. Not only are you waving the price, but you (should) have social proof like reviews and sales to strengthen your message.
Create a book with monetary value. Then give it away for emails.
Full disclosure: I hate this tactic.
I’m not a fan of stopping someone from reading an informative blog post. That just seems needless.
But, in the spirit of fair and balanced journalism, I’m going to include it just so you know it’s an option.
You can use a Wordpress plugin like Bloom to gate your blog post. You can set it anywhere on your page, locking as much of your blog post as you want.
You have to enter your email address if you want to read the rest of the post. If you write an absolute killer of a post then maybe people will want to give up their email to read on.
But seeing as 80% of people don’t even make it to the bottom of your post, I’d say the chances are slim on this tactic working.
People are making dresses out of recycled pop bottles. Can you believe that?
It’s a whole new world of reuse and repurpose, so why not jump on board with your content?
It’s easier than you think. Just take a page from Neil Patel’s playbook. He went through his site and turned 47 of his articles into infographics. The result?
“Within the two-year period, we’ve generated 2,512,596 visitors and 41,142 backlinks from 3,741 unique domains, all from those 47 infographics.
If you decided that you want to buy 2,512,596 visitors, it would cost you $125,629.80 if you paid 5 cents a visitor. If you bought 41,142 links from a service like Sponsored Reviews at a rate of $20 a link, you would have spent $822,840. And that wouldn’t even give you high quality links. We naturally got our links from sites like Huffington Post and Forbes.”
It’s the same content you’ve already created, just in a different format. That new, repurposed content -- be it a video, infographic, e-book or anything else -- can live on your site and generate signups through increased site visits.
Evergreen content is content that will stay relevant and fresh for a long period of time.
It’s your best content. The stuff that everyone keeps coming back to time and time again. For us, it’s this guide.
This kind of content drives signups two ways. First, people find the content so valuable that they sign up for future articles. This is harder to rely on, but it happens nonetheless.
Second, marketers gate these pieces of content. Check out what Jeff Goins did:
This is quite the enticing offer. It’s an e-book on how to build a huge blog readership (and how to live off that). It’s a great piece of content -- one that remains timeless a.k.a. Evergreen.
But you can’t access it without giving your email address. That’s the beauty of evergreen content. It’s so good that people don’t mind signing up to get it.
Find your content that’s consistently visited and promote the heck out of it. If you need ideas for promoting that content, check out these 130 ways to get more traffic.
Sign up bonuses are everywhere.
You see them on DraftKings to deposit money:
And you see them used as a way to get upgrades:
Those are bigger versions of bonuses. DraftKings is literally giving you more money, while Leadpages is giving you a bunch of products.
But you don’t have to give away big bonuses in order to grow your list.
Remember, bonuses are content upgrades on steroids. It’s like having multiple content upgrades combine into one awesome perk.
So it can be something as little as a checklist, an .mp3 file of you explaining something and offering your visitors the chance to ask you one question of their choice. Those things don’t take a ton of time or effort, but they provide value to your visitors as bonuses.
Same vein as the discount newsletter, except your offer this go around is exclusive content.
If you’ve got a strong readership, you can create a signup opportunity where you offer an exclusive piece of content once a week to those subscribers.
The content could be:
Basically anything valuable that your readers would love. The exclusivity is key here. The more you make those subscribers feel like they’re getting something exclusive, the higher subscribe rate you’ll get.
Exclusivity is a strong motivator. Especially when you couple that with awesome product discounts.
Fry’s has a newsletter specifically dedicated to offering product discounts. You’ll routinely see their crazy deals on places like Slickdeals...only to find that you have to have the email code to claim the deal.
A 3 on the page but a 10 in the offer
The only way you get that discount code is if you join their newsletter. Even if you can’t offer crazy deals like 50% off, you can still offer a 5-10% occasional deal to entice visitors to signup.
Have you ever heard of a blog swap?
It’s where instead of just guest posting, where you have to create new content both for your own blog and for the host blog, you pair with the host blogger to guest post on your blog as well.
This strategy for list building is sort of like that, except you’re swapping email lists instead. Pair up with somebody who has a similar size list as you, and email each other’s lists a call to action to join for your opt-in offer.
Make sure you’re pairing with somebody either in a complementary niche or the same niche but who aren’t competitors. Drive each other’s email subscribers to a landing page with your opt-in offer.
Again, this one falls into the “I don’t really believe in this method” list. But hey, fair and balanced, right?
Salesforce and US Data Corporation are just a few of the companies that sell email lists that fit your needs. You can segment down to the exact audience you want -- even if you wanted single men aged 45 living in Boise, Idaho who like outdoor sports.
You can purchase those lists. But I don’t recommend that.
Your deliverability rates will take a dive -- taking your account credibility along with it
Good email service providers won’t let you send to those lists
The unsubscribe rates are high because they don’t even know you
On top of paying a good chunk of change for these email addresses, it’s not a strategy I’d recommend using.
You know that saying “One step forward, two steps back?”
Let’s repurpose it for email marketing: “One subscriber, two unsubscribes.”
Here’s what I mean. Sometimes gaining a subscriber can actually lead to unsubscribes. And it’s all because of non-segmented lists.
Segmenting your list essentially means dividing your subscribers into groups. Those groups can range from where they opted in and their buy intent, all the way to demographics and psychographics.
But here’s the danger of non-segmented lists. MailChimp ran a study on the effects of segmenting your list by interest groups:
It’s that last stat you should pay attention to. Segmenting your list by interest groups can lead to almost a 25% decrease in unsubscribes.
Sometimes before you grow your list you’ve got to stop the bleeding.
The easiest way to do this is to create individual lists for each opt-in point on your site. If they opt-in on the blog, they go to the blog list. HubSpot has a way of event segmenting what kind of blog news you get:
You can subscribe for marketing, sales or agency news straight to your inbox. So before you hit “Send” on your next email, think about who you’re sending your message to by segmenting your list.
Your existing subscribers can be a great driver of future subscribers. After all, they are your current fans. They (presumably) are subscribed to your email list for a reason.
There are two ways you can ask your current subscribers for referrals.
When you’re emailing your list, you should always have a call to action at the end of each email.
What do you want your email subscribers to do? What action do you want them to take after reading your email? If they’ve already read your email, they’ve likely established some action-taking momentum, so you have their attention.
Use it to ask them to send your email signup landing page to a friend who they think will benefit from your emails. You can do this as a P.S. after the body of your email, or ask within the body.
Protip: Give your subscriber specific instructions on how to do this. Ask them to send their friends the landing page (and give them the link) rather than forward them the email, as you want to be able to collect their email addresses.
As part of your autoresponder series, you can create an email that requests that your subscribers refer one or two friends who they think would benefit from the information you’re providing in your emails.
Use a subject line like “Quick Question” and then just ask!
For example, Wilson Hung would send an email with a content upgrade and ask his subscribers to forward the email to a friend. Here’s what the email would look like:
The only thing his subscribers had to do was click on the hyperlink which open up a pre-populated email which they can then send to a friend:
These subscribers who are willing to refer your business in return for a freebie are highly interested in what you have to offer. By doing this, you can automatically identify your most engaged subscribers so you can send targeted emails to convert them into paying customers.
Your subscribers want to help you, and they’re obviously benefitting from the information you’re providing. Chances are they’ll be happy to spread the word to a friend.
This method takes a lot longer than the above alternatives, but you’ll get a much higher response rate by following up personally with your subscribers.
If you still have a small list of under 100 or 200 people, ask your existing subscribers to recommend one person to your list - reaching out to them personally via email.
This also gives you the opportunity to build a deeper relationship with your subscribers.
Not everybody will respond and follow through, but you’ll see a much higher conversion rate.
You can’t afford to ignore your email list.
And now, you have no excuses. We’ve given you every single list building strategy under the sun, and even packaged it into a neat little spreadsheet that will help you figure out EXACTLY where to start:
So grab the spreadsheet, let it help you choose a strategy, and dig in.
And don’t forget to let us know in the comments section below of any strategies we missed!