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We’ve learned how to personalize our emails, automate messages, use dynamic content, and optimize the design for mobile devices.

But, in order to maximize your email marketing, you’ve got to grow a great list of engaged people to send to.

It’s important to have a great strategy for growing your list as well as the persistence to keep it up. Read on as we share actionable tips that every modern marketer can use to grow a thriving email list.

Chapter 1

Why is an email list important?

Here are two major reasons why modern businesses of all shapes and sizes should focus on building their email lists:

1. Email has a huge reach

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter garner attention for their large user bases, yet email marketing has a much higher reach than both of them combined. Facebook claims to have more than 1.35 billion users and Twitter has more than 270 million users.

However, there are upwards of 4 billion email accounts worldwide, meaning email has a reach 3x greater than Facebook and 15x greater than Twitter.

Both sites use email to send notifications and requests, knowing people rely heavily on email and that it’s an effective way to drive traffic back to their sites.

2. Email is crazy effective

Facebook has progressively reduced the number of people that a brand’s posts can reach in an attempt to drive businesses towards paid advertising options.

In fact, organic reach on Facebook is only 6%, a decline of 49% from peak levels, according to analysis from Ogilvy. This means every that time your business posts a

Facebook update or promotion, less than 6% of your audience will see it.
By comparison, email open rates hover around 30%, making your message 5x more likely to be seen through email than Facebook.

Chapter 2

The formula for success

There’s a simple two-part formula for building your email list:

Basic logic tells us that, no matter how many subscribe opportunities you present to a visitor, it’s unlikely they’ll act without an incentive. And, no matter how good your incentive is, you may have a tough time getting people to subscribe if you don’t make it easy.

Chapter 3

How do I set up an email list?

Email lists can be created by using an email marketing service. When choosing an email marketing service, you want to make sure they’re offering a subscribe button, a landing page, and an embedded form.

All of these features will come in handy when creating email lists. They will even help to grow email lists.

After you have the necessary software, all you need are the subscribers.
If you’re wondering how to rope in subscribers, the first thing you should do is create a valuable incentive.

Chapter 4

Creating a valuable incentive

Marketers have dreamed up numerous incentives over the years to encourage people to join their email lists. It really depends on your product or service, as well as the style of your brand.

For instance, consumer sites can market with catchy phrases and discounts, while financial services companies generally take a more formal and conservative approach. The key is to pick out what makes sense for your business and its audience.

Chapter 5

How do I increase email subscribers?

Have a blog or some helpful eBooks or guides? High-quality content may be all you need.

The folks at Buffer, for example, write helpful posts about social media marketing and productivity. The quality of the content alone is valuable enough to entice 1,000+ people each week to subscribe to their email list.

You can also try the approach that marketing blog KISSmetrics takes and use live webinars as an incentive to capture email addresses. Their webinars are deep dives into popular topics featuring industry experts sharing their success stories.

Here are 3 tips to help you create great content:

1. Use extensive research

The team at Buffer will spend, on average, 6-8 hours writing a single blog post over a period of three days.

2. Tell a story

According to the crew at Groove, telling a story through your content can increase readership by 300%.

3. Make it visual

The brain processes visuals faster than text, and 65% of people are visual learners, so add unique images to drive home your point.

Chapter 6

Discounts and offers

If you sell something online, offering discounts or presenting various other value-added offers can be a great incentive for people to join your email list.

Some examples include:

First-order discounts

The potential to save money on an initial purchase is a great incentive to subscribe, but the discount is also a motivator to buy. So you can build your email list and increase sales at the same time.

Free or express shipping upgrade

Not only is this offer highly relevant (particularly when offered during the checkout process), but the ability to get your hands on a wanted item more quickly is a powerful incentive.

Chapter 7

Early access and exclusive promotions

If you have brand awareness, offering early access and exclusives as an incentive to subscribe to your email list can work miracles and keep costs down.

Fashion retailer Huckberry requires people to create an account and join their mailing list before they can enter the online store. This unorthodox approach, along with beautiful imagery and compelling copy, creates a sense that this is an exclusive community, and people’s desire to be part of it creates an awesome incentive to subscribe. Not sure this will work for you? Try these alternatives:

Early access to new products

We all like to be the first to own something, so offering early access to new products and features can be an excellent incentive to subscribe.

Special discounts and promotions

Special access is an effective way to build your list, so it’s worth trying an exclusive offer as an incentive to subscribe.

Chapter 8

Contests and giveaways

Humans are naturally competitive. Use this to your advantage by running giveaways and contests on your website where people provide their email address for the chance to win something.

Unbounce recently did a study on the effect a contest had on 100 of their customers’ landing pages. They analyzed the results from more than 3 million visitors and found that landing pages with a contest gathered 700% more email subscribers than those without a contest option.

Make the prize unique:

Queensland Tourism’s “Best Job in the World” campaign offered the winner a job touring the Great Barrier Reef and blogging about it for a year. This once-in-a-lifetime prize not only attracted over 34,000 entries, but also secured an estimated $400 million worth of media coverage on CNN, Time, NBC, and more.

So consider things you could offer beyond cash. For example, training sessions with athletes, celebrity meetings, and backstage passes are all great examples of prizes that appeal.

Chapter 9

How do I make my email list grow faster?

Just as there are a number of incentives to offer, there are dozens of ways to make subscribing to your list very simple. So we compiled some of our favorites.

Each won’t be relevant for you; the key is understanding your incentives and choosing the technique that best fits your needs.

Social bar

If your business shares other people’s content via your social media accounts, you’re essentially driving traffic to outside websites. But, by using a social bar, you can curate content while still building your list. A social bar sits over the top of content you’ve shared via your social media channels and promotes signing up to your email list. Use simple copy such as “Subscribe to get similar articles delivered to your inbox” to entice viewers. Need a tool? Try Sniply.

Subscribe landing page

Imagine you wanted to promote your email list to your social media followers or via an ad campaign. Where would you send these people? Create a subscribe landing page and you’ll have a dedicated place to send anyone interested in subscribing to your email list. If you’re using a content management system like WordPress for your website, it’s easy to create a new page, enter some text about why people should subscribe, and add a subscribe form. Alternatively, you can use a landing page builder tool like Unbounce to create the landing page and add in a form.


Pop-ups give you the space to sell a promotion or idea—like subscribing to your email list—while focusing the visitor’s attention. When ConversionXL implemented one, the company saw a 30% increase in email subscribers each month. Keep in mind that they can be a major annoyance when not executed properly, so focus on nailing the pop-up’s message, timing, and targeting. Need a tool? Try AddThis.


A slider is a small box that “slides in” to the bottom corner of your page at a designated interval. It’s a prominent subscribe option that’s not as invasive as a pop-up. It also gives you a lot of room to really sell the benefits of subscribing to your email list. When targeted, sliders are very effective because they allow users to form an opinion about the website before deciding to subscribe. Need a tool? Try Sleeknote.

Feature box

Your blog’s homepage is likely its most visited page, so use it to promote your email list. A feature box is a large call to action below the header but above the posts. You can use a plugin like Plugmatter to incorporate a custom feature box without additional coding or design or, if you’re familiar with coding, you can code it directly into the blog’s template and use the API to send any emails captured directly into your lists.

Scrolling header bar

This small bar sits atop the screen when people are on your website. As people scroll through your site, it remains fixed to the top of their browser window. Does it work? The scrolling header bar is the second biggest source of new subscribers for Buffer, making up roughly 30% of their phenomenal 1,000 new subscribers per week run rate. Try the simple and free Smart Bar. Or, if you’re looking for a paid option with more customization, try Hello Bar.

Pop-up survey

These little surveys pop up in the bottom corner of your website and can be targeted to appear based on specific criteria (such as current page, number of pages viewed, or arrival channel). Then, by asking a question like “You seem interested in our content. Would you like to sign up for the daily email?” you can capture people’s attention and direct them to your subscribe form. When the University of Alberta tested implementing this on their website, they grew their email list by 500%. If you need a tool, try Wufoo.

Signup and checkout forms

Anytime people are buying a product from you is a perfect time to ask them to opt in to your emails. How you do it will depend on your platform. If your online business is built on a platform like Shopify, you can easily add a subscribe tick box to your checkout process for people to opt in to your email list. From here, you can use integration tools like Zapier to make sure all captured email addresses are automatically added to your lists. Check out our integrations for more ecommerce-related options

Chapter 10

Maintaining your subscriber list

After you’ve figured out making an email subscriber list and growing your email subscriber list, you then have to know how to maintain that list. Pulling in new subscribers happens over time, but losing them will occur in an instant if you’re not careful.

You also want to make sure that your mailing list doesn’t contain any dead weight. Not only will that result in wasted emails, but users who aren’t engaging with your emails will drive down your email reputation, resulting in more trips to the spam folder.

For these reasons, you should employ every available technique to keep your mailing list healthy.

Here a few tactics that have been proven to work.

Keep an eye on your bounce rate

Your bounce rate is one of the most critical metrics an email marketer has access to. This will allow you to see which users did not receive your email and the reason why.

Usually, bounces occur because email addresses are no longer active, so the email has nowhere to go and has to “bounce” back. It could also mean that the user has blocked you.

Whatever the reason, you’ll want to cut off the users who are routinely sending back bounce rates, so your mailing list is as clean as possible and your email reputation doesn’t suffer.

You might also want to reach out to users with active bounce rates to see if they have a new email address. If you’re wondering how to build an email list fast, replacing bad email addresses with good ones is a great way to prevent it from shrinking.

Segment your mailing list

A great way to make sure your mailing list stays satisfied and highly engaged is by segmenting it. Even though your mailing list might fall under a particular demographic, there are even more demographics within that demographic.

As an example, you might run an outdoors business and have a mailing list of people who enjoy outdoor activities. However, some of those people are primarily interested in fly fishing and may not care about hunting.

You can find some of your best information for segmenting your list on Facebook. Whether it’s age, location, or interests, Facebook has a lot to offer.

You can also target people who haven’t engaged with your emails lately. In this re-engagement campaign, many marketers have had success bringing subscribers back into the fold by offering discounts. You can also give people an option for remaining a part of the mailing list or opting out.

Source: Really Good Emails

Chapter 11

Start building your list now

Try implementing the methods, tips, and tools you’ve learned in this guide to start growing your email list today. To gain more email marketing knowledge, check out our free resources.

Now that you’re familiar with the basics of mailing lists, you’re ready for some of the more advanced techniques. Here’s what you need to know about keeping your subscribers engaged.

Grow your list like a pro. With modern signup form tools to add to your website or host separately, Campaign Monitor has key tools you need to grow your audience. Get started for free
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