8 Strategies for Smart Email List Growth

Even as email marketing approaches its 30th birthday, it’s still widely recognized as one of the most essential — and effective — channels for digital marketers. However, before you can begin to maximize email’s ROI, you must build an email list.

With more businesses investing in email marketing, the modern consumer is becoming increasingly protective of their inbox. This means that you must continually offer email content that offers value to your subscribers. You also need to optimize your subscriber acquisition strategy to keep your list growing, and stay ahead of the competition. We’ve put together a few ideas that can be implemented quickly and will increase your chances of converting your anonymous prospects into subscribers.

1. Have a Strong Call To Action

Tell subscribers why they should be signing up for your email list. Offer discounts in exchange for signing up, promote email-only deals, or offer great content like whitepapers in exchange for an email address. People have plenty of reason to be skeptical of any site that wants their email address, so you need to earn their trust, and offer them value in exchange for their information.

2. Collect Email Addresses Offline

If you have a physical store, ask subscribers to join your email list at checkout. Ask for email addresses on sales calls and at networking events. Have forms at trade shows that allow those who are interested to sign up. A grocery store could offer free food or coupons in exchange for a customer’s email address. Get creative and see what you can come up with.

3. Make Mobile Subscribing Easy

We live in an increasingly mobile world, and a significant percentage of your customers are visiting your site from their mobile devices. A recent study by Statista says that the percentage of global web pages served to mobile phones topped 50% for the first time in 2017, and now sits at 52.2%. It’s grown every year since 2009, and shows no signs of slowing. Your acquisition strategy needs to account for this. For example: offering a large downloadable piece of content is a great way to collect subscribers on a PC. It doesn’t make as much sense, though, to a mobile user. Have different calls to action for mobile visitors, and have an opt-in form that utilizes drop-down fields when possible.

4. Have Multiple Opt-in Locations

The bottom of your webpage and your blog are some obvious places to have opt-in forms, but don’t stop there. Include opt-in forms on your social media pages, place them above the fold of your website, and ask people to join your list during online checkout. Not all visitors to your website are going to behave in the same way. There is no one path to a conversion. It’s important to build in multiple places on your site where people can go from browsers into part of your community.

5. Expose Yourself To A Wider Audience

Promote your content through social media groups, where your prospective customers are active. Ask employees and friends to share your content to their social networks. Leverage the following of other thought leaders in your industry by doing a guest blog post or sponsoring an email send. Every share and impression is an opportunity for a new consumer to discover your brand.

6. Simplify Your Opt-In Form

It’s great to have as much information as you can on your customer. However, trying to collect multiple data fields from an opt-in form can really hurt your signup numbers. Ask for only the most necessary fields (i.e., name and email address) and see how it affects your list growth. And consider testing what happens if you don’t gate the content you create. If you give away useful, compelling content, your audience will want to subscribe so they don’t miss whatever you share next.

7. Split Test Your Opt-In Form

Always be testing. Try out different calls to action and opt-in locations to see what is the most effective. Even aspects like the color of your opt-in form can make a significant difference in how customers respond to it. Try multiple options, and see what’s most effective.

8. Turn Subscribers Into Advocates

Adding social share buttons to your email is a great way to get exposed to a new audience by allowing subscribers to share your message. Encourage subscribers to forward your emails to friends by implementing a Refer-a-Friend program. It’s one thing to have a subscriber. It’s quite another to have a loyal brand advocate, who helps spread the word through word of mouth. Consumers inherently trust friend referrals far more than they do advertisements, and the enthusiasm from brand advocates can spread to others.

Growing your email list is a process. It isn’t easy, or quick, but investing the time to do it can be one of the most valuable things you accomplish. Putting out great content and implementing some of the strategies we have outlined above will put you on track to having a great list of subscribers and realizing the outstanding ROI of email marketing.

About the Author

Will Devlin

A 20-year email marketing veteran, Will has focused on marketing strategy and execution for MessageGears since 2014. He has extensive experience on both the retail customer and service side of email marketing, and he’s interested in helping businesses better understand how they can make the most of the work they put into their email campaigns.