The best ways to grow an email list

You might have heard a statement similar to this one: “If you double your list, you will double your profits.” Whilst an oversimplification, this statement isn’t far from the truth. If you want to grow an email list, you will want to learn about all of the methods that we’ll discuss here.

Be warned though, putting all of your focus on increasing the size of your list is far from a good strategy. You also want to pay attention to all the other aspects of email marketing as well. But that’s for a future article. This time, we’re discussing how you can start growing your list fast.

Learn about content marketing

There’s a reason that 88% of B2B businesses are using content marketing today. Content marketing works. Nothing will get you as much quality traffic (over the long run) as having valuable content that your potential customers enjoy.

There are two main conversion goals that quality content marketing will achieve. The first goal is that your content should influence the reader to convert immediately. Perhaps you have a list of useful tips that nudges the reader to buy your product. A percentage of readers will actually do so right on the spot.

However, most of your conversions will happen through a 2-step process. Your content will get the reader to sign up for your email list, and then you can use email campaigns to nurture them throughout their buyer’s journey.

Don’t wait for the perfect circumstances

The most common mistake we see with businesses is that they put off content marketing for “later”. It’s common to hear things like “Wait, let’s get our website redesigned first” or “We don’t have the perfect writers yet.” 

Here’s the trick – the effect of your content marketing builds up over time. It’s better to start with lower quality content pieces today than postpone for months and years until “all the conditions are in place”.

And if you’re really struggling with getting started, you can always ask for help. DemandZEN can help you both with devising a content strategy, and with getting that content produced. So reach out if you want to get started in an easier way.

don't wait, grow an email list starting today

Find the best ways to motivate and incentivize

There are two major things you need to consider when it comes to motivating people to sign up for your list. The first is that you always have to give them a good reason to sign up.

If you simply put a sign-up form that says “sign up for our newsletter”, you can’t expect much in return. The person needs to know why they should sign up. When it comes to a general newsletter sign-up form, you have to list the benefits.

Explain in clear terms what they get by signing up. What will they learn about or receive once inside your list? Perhaps you send important industry news and updates. Maybe you will send information about cutting edge product features and valuable tips. Maybe you occasionally send discount coupons for your services.

You really need to put some thought into this, and figure out why someone should or would sign up for your list. Then make sure this is well summarized under that sign up-form.

A good “reason why” is just the start, use freebies to supercharge things

When it comes to motivating people to sign up for your list, nothing works as well as “bribing” people with a freebie. This will depend on your unique situation, business and industry, so if you want more specific advice, consider getting in touch. But in general, there are many things you can offer as an incentive for people to sign up.

For example, you might offer a PDF white paper about something important to those in your industry. To get this white paper, they just need to sign up for your list. After they sign up, they automatically receive the white paper in their email.

Another popular trick is to offer a “free 10-day email course”

Try to imagine a course related to your industry. Something that could easily sell on an e-learning platform, for example. Then, find a way to make it into an email course.

The way this works is that the person signs up for your “10-day course”. They get a welcome email, followed by the first lessons, or “day one”. The next day, they get the day 2 lesson, then the day 3 lesson, etc. After the course is over, you’ve won over their trust. Just congratulate them on finishing the course, and inform them that they’ll continue getting your regular newsletters.

Bonus: Freebies work great in tandem with paid advertising

The great thing about freebies is that they work well in almost every channel you can think of. Aside from using them to bribe your website visitors to sign-up, you can use these same freebies to lure completely cold traffic onto your list. You can advertise your freebie in a Facebook ad.

There are many ways to do this, and you will have to experiment before you get it right, but it’s well worth it. If you get the targeting right, you can expect to see excellent results.

Experiment with different sign-up methods

A plain sign-up form on a prominent website location is always a good start. But these days, there are so many additional options. You can have light boxes, slide-ins, post footer boxes, screen footer bars, full-screen offers, and so much more.

The trick is to understand that experimentation is a good thing. For example, you might decide to experiment with a full-screen opt-in that greets new readers. When you start the experiment, you might expect that it will boost your total number of sign-ups. But after testing it for 2 weeks, you find out it has the opposite effect. You actually get more people leaving the site.

In a scenario like this, it might be the case that this sign-up method is wrong for your niche, or it might be that your offer is wrong. So you might decide to change the offer and give it another try. You will either learn that the sign-up method is wrong for you, or you will find a way to boost sign-ups. Either way, keep experimenting and find what works.

Organize contests

Contests are very effective at boosting your subscription rates. Once in a while, organize a free giveaway or a limited time discount for your premium products. A cool way of reaching people outside of your current subscribers is obliging the contest participants to subscribe to your list and share the contest via social media.

If you do this, you should also consider doing quality targeting. If you advertise this contest to random people who don’t care about your products at all, it won’t go too well. So you want to advertise the contest using a combination of precise targeting and re-targeting.

A cool way of reaching people besides your subscribers is to oblige the contest participants to subscribe to your list and share the contest via social media.

Encourage sharing

One of the best ways to promote yourself is through word of mouth. Add a call to action for subscribers. Get them to share what you offer or promote on their social media accounts. Let them interact with their friends and family and do the bidding for you. An easy way to do this is including social share ribbons or an “email to friend” button in your emails.

Never buy an email list

There’s a trend nowadays for marketers to buy an email list in hopes that it will grow their business. However, those dreams are nearly always shattered. Purchasing an unverified email list is a destructive choice we recommend to nobody.

Purchased lists come with unverified data and email accounts. You can’t know for sure how many of those emails are inactive. Furthermore, you can’t be certain of how many of the people on the list are even slightly interested in what you have to say, or sell.

buying an email list - big mistake

Not to mention the probability of ending up labeled as a spammer is drastically increased if you do business with a purchased email list. And once you find yourself labeled as a spammer, it’s tough to regain your domain reputation.

Steer clear from spending your money on pre-designed email lists. Instead, focus on organically growing your email list. It will do wonders for your business in the long run.

Work to keep your subscribers happy

You’ve probably heard something like this in business: “It’s much more profitable to keep an existing customer happy than to win over new customers.”. This logic also applies to your email lists.

Putting all of your focus on getting new people into your lists might actually backfire to where it stuns your list growth. How so? It’s quite simple. If you’re losing current subscribers at the same rate that you add new people, you’re not actually growing!

And to take this even further, consider quality as a metric. The “size of your list” isn’t measured in the number of emails on your list. Your true list size is measured in the number of valuable subscribers. You know, the kind of people who open your emails, click on your links and convert to paying customers.

It is crucial to have this mind shift and change how you measure growth. But how do you do all of this anyway? What determines whether people engage with and love the emails you send out?

The quality of the content you send to subscribers controls the click rates and open rates. And the click and open rates control (to a degree) the quality of the relationship you have with subscribers.

Your true list size is measured in the number of valuable subscribers who open your emails and click on your links.

Stay relevant and engaging

Newsletters are a great way of establishing yourself as a thought leader and an authority in your field. Pack your newsletters with great content and deliver it to your subscribers. You will instantly improve your reputation, engagement, and retention.

The best way to do this is to actually track and study what happens. Read your email reports. Learn which kind of emails get opened more frequently. Which topics get subscribers engaged, and then which ones fail. Study the open rates, the click rates, as well as things like email forwards.

Invest some time to learn what your subscribers want to read about, and then deliver more of it. Find out which kinds of emails they prefer, and then do more of that. Do they prefer the longer emails or the super-short ones that link to a blog post? Having a “deep understanding” of what your list wants is the key to growth.

Reinvigorate stale email subscribers

If you’re tracking the pulse of your email list, you should also notice that some subscribers have gone “stale”. They’re still technically subscribed, but they just do not open your emails anymore. If you’re using a quality ESP solution, you should be able to identify and segment out these people.

Once you segment them out, you want to create a re-engagement campaign. Perhaps offer them a special freebie to entice them back into engaging. Perhaps send them a sincere email noticing their disinterest and asking if there’s anything you can do. If your ESP allows it, you can even build a special survey just for them. But again, this works best in combination with an incentive of some sorts.

If they still remain dormant, it’s time to say goodbye and remove them from your list.

Be patient, it takes time to grow an email list

Whether we’re talking about getting or keeping people on your list, know that this is a skill that takes time to master. Also, know this: even the “masters” are continually experimenting and analyzing to see what works and what doesn’t. If all of this seems overwhelming to you, consider outsourcing some of it to a professional team.

The team at DemandZEN can help make growing your email list a lot easier. Our combined experience in all fields of digital marketing is a benefit to you. So if you need help and want to see faster progress, just get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you and see how we can help your business thrive.