A whopping 85% of Americans own a smartphone. What’s that mean for marketing? Email. Aside from SMS messages, email is still the most direct way to reach consumers — yes, even with the prevalence of social media. 99% of email users check their inbox every single day.

Sure, there are the outliers who have some 20,000 odd unread emails, but you can bet that most people at least parse through the subject lines (bolstering open rates is a whole different story, best left for another article).

Beyond just having an email account, people actually like receiving emails from brands they love. According to a 2019 survey, 61% of consumers admitted they preferred brands to slide into their inboxes rather than any other form of communication.

The proof is in the engagement rate. Though the average 22.86% open rate seems low on the surface, it’s actually leagues above Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter’s average engagement rate of less than 0.6%.

The problem is that your newsletters and promotional emails are only as effective as the number of people you actually convince to sign up for your list.

You can have a unicorn 100% open rate, but if only four people are actually receiving your emails, what’s it matter?

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can quickly grow your email list. The main focus should be visibility and incentives.

Put Signup Forms In Prime Real Estate

Put Signup Forms In Prime Real Estate

Signup forms may seem like the most basic method of soliciting subscribers, but it’s actually one of the best ways to get high-quality leads.

People who choose to subscribe are already interested in your business. They’re not a random person you’re hoping to convert.

They’re also already likely to be familiar and interested in newsletters as a whole, which means they’re more apt to not only read your emails, but actually click on them.

With signup forms, it’s all about placement.

People won’t sign up if they don’t know that your list exists.

To get the most eyes on your form, you can place it (or at least a link to the form) in numerous places on your website and beyond. This includes the:

  • Body of your homepage
  • Header
  • Footer
  • Sidebars
  • Navigation
  • Company email signatures
  • About us pages
  • FAQ pages
  • Instagram bio
  • Twitter bio

One of the most effective ways to keep a signup form in prime real estate is to place it in a sticky sidebar.

This way, the content follows the reader as they scroll up and down. There’s no scrolling past it, and navigation is still crisp and easy.

All it takes is a simple, inexpensive WordPress plugin.

Overall, it’s important to think big. Don’t just mention your email list once. Have signup forms in multiple places on the same page.

Think: your header and a sticky sidebar or your navigation and the body of your home page.

You can even utilize a special landing page for your email list that readers can reach via links from other channels like social media or different newsletters (as pictured on Buzzfeed’s website above).

Collect Emails at Checkout

What’s a better lead than someone who’s already purchased one of your products in the past?

Someone who knows your brand is more likely to interact with your marketing messages, which is why it’s a good idea to pool existing customers for your email list.

To do this, collect emails during the checkout process — but there are some best practices.

In order to avoid annoying customers who already have crowded inboxes, ask them to check a box to opt-in (or, at least check a box to opt out) as they’re completing their purchase.

You can also specify different levels of email frequency, so you can send a lot of emails to the most interested users without pushing casual consumers to unsubscribe.

Utilize a Popup Offer

Utilize a Popup Offer

Popups are about as old as the internet. We often think of them as some of the first types of digital advertising.

Today, most of us utilize popup blockers to avoid these sorts of marketing messages (or, more realistically, to avoid that fact they have a tendency to greatly slow down our browsers) but we’re still hit with between 6,000 to 10,000 advertisements a day.

Thankfully, popup blockers only thwart ad networks like Google’s display network. It generally won’t have an impact on your own, internal marketing messages.

In short: popups still work, especially when coupled with an offer (which makes them way more useful to a user rather than an annoyance they can’t click out of fast enough).

You can bolster subscribers by using a popup on a homepage or landing page that encourages visitors to sign up for a discount.

This is a popular tactic for everything from B2B companies — which offer free demos, discounts, and other limited time offers — to B2C retailers (as shown above from the women’s clothing boutique PinkLily).

Remember to utilize clean, concise text that helps foster a little bit of FOMO. People take action when they’re afraid they’re going to miss out.

Try Exit-Intent Popups, Too

We typically think of popups appearing upon entry to a website. The truth is that some of the most effective popups happen when a user plans to exit a page.

It’s the one last hook you have to reel in a person who’s about to bounce — and a great place to promote a special offer in exchange for an email signup.

Exit-intent popups work the same way as regular popups. The difference is that when a user makes a motion to leave a webpage, it will appear with a call to action.

This can be particularly helpful for segmented email campaigns where you want to target hesitant leads.

The one rule of thumb is to make sure it’s unobtrusive as possible. Let them leave with a simple click.

Don’t ever ask more than once. In some cases, businesses using exit-intent popups in their marketing efforts saw a 1,300% increase in conversions.

Add a Card to Your YouTube Videos

Add a Card to Your YouTube Videos

In order to get the most email list signups, you need to utilize all of your channels. This includes social channels like YouTube.

In particular, YouTube has made it easy for users to promote links within their videos by using a “card.” This card, which can be added in the creator studio, can be placed anywhere within your video to insert an actionable hyperlink.

Typically, we see this in the form of end cards, which are used to promote additional YouTube videos by the same creator; however, you can definitely use this feature to rack up email subscribers.

As it stands, YouTube reaches more adults aged 18 to 49 during prime time than any cable network, and most of these users are mobile.

In other words: even if you don’t use a card in your video, it’s still a powerful marketing tool. Remember to also put a signup link in your video description.

Add A Signup Button on Facebook

Like a YouTube card does for your YouTube video, a Facebook button can put a link to your signup form in a prominent place on your Facebook Page.

This is as simple as just adding the button on the backend (you can check out Facebook’s tutorial here.

It only takes a couple clicks). The button appears right at the top of the page near the Like and Message buttons, to the right of your profile picture and name.

Lock Up Premium Content

Lock Up Premium Content

By now, users often have a lot of ways to get around paywalls. Typically, browsing incognito is enough to do the trick; however, when credit card information isn’t involved, people are way more apt to subscribe to access premium gated content because of the convenience. If an email is all that stands in their way, what do they have to lose?

This is a tried and true method that has been utilized by major publishers like The Telegraph, Bloomberg, and even Cosmopolitan.

Though most eventually require users to purchase a subscription, a free account allows them additional content they wouldn’t get otherwise. In the B2B world, we’re looking less at soliciting paid content subscribers and more at collecting emails for exclusive subscriber-only tutorials (like the example above), ebooks, webinars, and videos.

The more useful the content is to your target audience, the more likely at least partially gating access will push them to subscribe.

Run A Sweepstakes

There’s nary a soul on this planet who doesn’t like winning prizes. In fact, sweepstakes have a conversion rate of about 34% and around 54% of users share contests and giveaways with their contacts after they enter.

For this reason, sweepstakes are an excellent way to rack up email subscribers and push your form in front of more eyes than would see it otherwise.

Since emails are a relatively low-stakes form of entry to begin with, you don’t even need a particularly expensive prize.

For the best approach, utilize as many channels as possible. You can even solicit signups via Instagram Stories by using the questions sticker to ask users to submit their email address for entry.

Unfortunately, if you have a large following, this will require you to manually enter addresses to add them to your list, so it may not be the best option unless you have a lot of time on your hands. Otherwise, you can always use a form on a landing page.

Use a QR Code on Printed Material

Use a QR Code on Printed Material

If you’re running the type of business that has printed material (think: product packaging, catalogues, pamphlets, or newspaper and magazine advertisements), you can use this avenue to solicit email subscribers.

Yes, in 2021, even the physical has a chance to go digital with QR codes. This option is particularly effective now that iPhones have a native QR code reader in the camera app.

This strategy requires you to make a landing page for an email list signup form, but a quick Google can bring up a number of free options for generating your actual code (for example, Flowcode or the Android app QR Code Generator).

If you’re unsure, HowToGeek’stutorial is super helpful. Just get the code, link it to the landing page, and have your designer place it somewhere on your printed material.

Bonus points if it’s attached to a sweepstakes that will actually encourage people to whip out their phones.

For example, the Detroit Red Wings, an NHL team, used a QR code on the programs they passed out at each of their games (pictured above).

This linked to an instructional video, but could just as easily link to a signup form.

At the End of the Day, Good Content Matters

The truth is that you could make every effort to bolster your email list subscriptions through offers, popup ads, and however else you might push a signup form in front of consumers, but you won’t find success unless your newsletter content is something people want to read.

All in all, the best way to boost your email list to have really, really good content.

The more people find value in what you do, the more they’ll want to stay in touch. What’s that mean exactly?

Well, it looks different depending on the business. While retailers might find success promoting sales and product demos, other businesses might excite subscribers with case studies, tutorials, and meaningful editorials.

One of the best ways to create value is through personalization.

There’s no one size fits all solution for an email list. Subscribers all have different interests, which is why so many businesses have found success by crafting targeted newsletters.

For example, Buzzfeed has a specific newsletter for it’s pet’s section (as mentioned earlier), just as The New York Times has a specific newsletter for it’s cooking section. This isn’t just for publishers, though.

B2B businesses and retailers can adopt this model by touting certain product lines to certain users.

Overall, something as simple as list segmentation can increase conversion rates by more than 200%.

Not to mention that the more users enjoy your content, the more they’re going to tell their friends to subscribe.

Good Reads


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