How to Grow an Email List — 10 Essential Tips

How to grow an email list (graphic of an email and an arrow pointing upwards)

In this post you’ll find 10 key tips on how to grow an email list, increase the readership of your newsletters and ultimately generate more sales via email marketing.

There are two ways to use this resource: you can either watch our video guide to increasing your mailing list size, or for more detail, you can read the whole post.

Let’s kick things off with a key question: why does an email list matter?


Why email lists are important

Even with the wide range of other marketing and advertising options now available — via social media platforms, content marketing, PPC etc. — email marketing remains a highly effective way to generate revenue (arguably the most effective!).

According to inbound marketing experts Hubspot, email marketing provides a return of investment of $36 to every $1 spent on it; and Statista’s research indicates that the number of email users worldwide is set to reach 4.6 billion by 2025.

These figures highlight that every email address you capture has a monetary value — and that email remains a highly popular communication channel.

But how do you actually get your hands on these email addresses?

Let’s find out.


1. Start offline

When people think about building a mailing list, they often assume that this is best done online — by adding ‘join our mailing list’ forms to websites, creating landing pages for online ad campaigns etc.

However, a lot of businesses operate not just online but offline too — and there are plenty of ‘real world’ opportunities for capturing data that can be overlooked.

Capturing email addresses at point of sale
Don’t overlook the data capture opportunities that a brick and mortar store can offer — there are many ways to capture leads at point of sale

For example, you could invite people to join your email list via….

  • paper application forms
  • business card collection
  • competitions
  • phone calls
  • face to face encounters.

So, make a list of any point of contact you have with potential subscribers in the real world — and ensure that each one provides people with an opportunity to join your mailing list offline.

Tip: be mindful of data protection laws

Remember to always collect email addresses in a way that is compliant with data protection laws (GDPR, CCPA etc.). This means ensuring that you are capturing consent properly and not ‘scraping’ addresses.


2. Incentivize data capture

A lot of business owners think that putting a ‘join our mailing list’ form on the side of a website is all they need to do to generate email subscribers.

This sort of call to action is pretty boring though, and rarely results in a particularly good signup rate.

Instead, it’s better to incentivize data capture, by spelling out the key benefits of joining your email list.

Some examples of these benefits would be:

  • access to exclusive content
  • a free trial of an app
  • receiving discount codes.

Turn your call to action into a compelling offer, and you’ll end up with a lead magnet rather than an empty form.


3. Audit your website for data capture opportunities

A website is obviously a great place to add signup forms for your mailing list, particularly if it gets a lot of traffic.

Now, a lot of website owners put an email signup form on their home page and simply leave it at that.

But this ignores the fact that in a lot of cases, the most visited page on a website isn’t actually the home page. Blog posts or video pages regularly get more organic traffic than home pages, for example.

Ultimately, if you don’t have a signup form beside your most popular content, you are missing a big trick — not to mention lots of new subscribers too.

Email list sign-up form accompanying a popular post on a website
Make sure you have an email opt in form accompanying your most popular content

So, check your website statistics carefully to see what your most popular pages are, and make sure you have a signup form on each one of them.

If in doubt, make a signup form visible on every page of your site — for example, you can add them to sidebars and at the bottom of blog posts, or link to them in your site navigation.


4. Consider using popups on your website

Popups can be really effective for driving signups to a mailing list — particularly when they’re tied to a great offer.

They are typically set up so that they appear a certain number of seconds after a user starts reading an article, after they’ve scrolled through a certain percentage of a page, or when they’re about to leave the site.

Example of a pop-up form being used on a website
Example of a pop-up form being used to collect email addresses from website visitors

The only thing to watch out for with popups is that search engines are not always keen on them, and can penalize sites that use them too aggressively. So, if you rely on organic search traffic as your main source of visitors, you may need to tread carefully here.

Google has a resource about how to avoid using popups in a way that damages your search rankings — you can access this here.

Google's guidelines on intrusive popups
Google’s guidelines on intrusive popups

5. Create fantastic blog content

The more traffic you have on your website, the more potential there is for people to see your email signup forms.

And one of the best ways to generate traffic is through high-quality blogging on topics that are related to your business area. Even one popular blog post on your website can end up as a source of thousands of new email subscribers (and by extension new customers!) every year.

Check out our resource on how to create a high-traffic blog for more details on how to blog successfully.

How to create great blog posts that drive traffic

Subscribe on YouTube


6. Add signup opportunities to all your online assets (not just your website)

So far I’ve highlighted a lot of ways that you can generate email leads on your website. But it’s important not to neglect the data capture opportunities that your other online assets can offer you.

Make sure that in addition to your website, you add a mailing list signup link to your company’s email signatures, YouTube videos, webinars, Facebook page, Instagram bio etc., and to any content you produce for other websites.


7. Leverage other people’s lists to grow yours

If you have particularly good relationships with other business owners, you can use these to increase the size of your mailing list.

If the price or the opportunity is right, a business associate may be willing to use their mailing list to encourage people to join yours. They may also be willing to promote your mailing list signup link on their website.


8. Use online ads and squeeze pages

Online ads are a great way to drive email signups. However, it’s important to use them in the right way.

A lot of people use online ads to push consumers to a product page or the home page of a website.

But in a lot of cases, particularly when you’re dealing with a ‘cold’ audience, this is a very ineffective use of ad spend — it can be better to send potential subscribers to a ‘squeeze page’ (also known as a ‘landing page’).

Creating a squeeze page for use with an online ad campaign
Creating a squeeze page that encourages your target audience to subscribe

A squeeze page only contains an offer and a form — there’s no navigation or other content to distract users from signing up to your list. Because of this, squeeze pages tend to be highly effective at capturing email addresses that can then be used to develop business relationships with.


9. Use shorter forms

When building signup forms, it’s tempting to add lots of fields to them in a bid to get as much user data as possible.

However, you’ll probably find that shorter forms convert better — a lot of the time, one-field forms that only capture email addresses work best.

The best way to judge what form length is right for your business is via A/B testing, which involves creating different versions of forms and monitoring the effectiveness of each. You can also use this process to see which aesthetics convert best too.


10. Send engaging content to your email list

The above tips all deal with growing your email list. But it’s important to consider how you can stop it shrinking too, via unsubscribes (or messages being flagged as spam).

The best way to do this is by sending consistently great e-newsletters to your list. Strong content that is of interest to your subscribers will keep them engaged, reduce your unsubscribe rate and make visitors more receptive to your offers.

Video guide to creating a strong newsletter

E-newsletter apps with free plans: GetResponse | AWeber

Additionally, if your newsletters are really interesting, they are more likely to be forwarded to other people, who may then end up joining your list and becoming potential customers too.

A great way to send out valuable content is via autoresponders — a series of marketing emails that your subscribers automatically receive after signing up to your mailing list.

Video guide to autoresponders

Suggested autoresponder apps: GetResponse | AWeber

And that’s it — our top tips on how to grow your email list!

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And, if you have any questions about email marketing campaigns, do leave them in the comments section. We read them all and will do our best to help.

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