Warning: This is a long-ass read. Don’t have the time to read all the post now? Download it as a PDF here.
This is the most detailed post on email list building ideas you’ll ever come across on the internet. Period.
Just like you, I want to grow my email list. And I want to grow it fast.
So, I went in search of list building ideas. The result is this post.
In this piece, you’re going to learn about 30 proven email list building strategies used by some of the internet marketing gurus – think Brian Dean of Backlinko. Jon Cooper. Neil Patel. amongst others.
You’ll also read about real business owners growing their subscriber lists using these strategies.
- How to read this article
- You must make it insanely easy for people to sign up to your list
- Make your offer highly relevant
- Set your objective
- Put together your lead magnet
- Create a surprise bonus
- Set up your email series
- Final Step: Monitor and optimize
- #1: Content Upgrade
- #2: Use Quiz
- #3: Limit the number of options on a pop-up
- #4: Solve the Social Proof Paradox
- #5: Landing Page Funnel Technique
- #6: Use power words to boost perceived value
- #7: Promote your email list on Twitter
- #8: Turn Blog Commenters into subscribers
- #9: Turn your About us Page to List building machine
- #10: Use Single Opt-in
- #11: Add Link to Subscribe on your Email Signature
- #12: Host Webinars
- #13: Add In-line Opt-in Forms in Key Pages
- #14: Add opt-in form on your 404 page
- #15: Use Pay-per-click
- #16: Use Content Lock
- Final thoughts on email list building ideas
How to read this article
You can read it at once – going through it chronologically to get an overview of everything or use the table of content to jump to any of the ideas that catch your attention.
Our recommendation though is to download the PDF version and use it as a reference. Pick one idea, implement it; then come back to the post for more.
Enter your best email to get the PDF version of the book
Two things you must know before starting your list building campaign
Before we get into the email list building ideas proper, I’d like to prep you first.
Here are two essential things you must put in place before launching your list building campaign.
You must make it insanely easy for people to sign up to your list
Nobody wants to go through hell just to subscribe to your email list. If it’s possible, make it a one-click affair.
The easier you make the whole process; the higher the number of people that would complete the form.
Eliminate unnecessary form fields like phone number, gender, age, among others; except of course in cases where it is absolutely necessary to gather those details.
Asking only for name and email are often enough. Split-test double-opt-in and single opt-in to see which one works best for your audience.
Remember, your aim is to cut-out as many steps as possible from the sign-up process.
Make your offer highly relevant
You’d be surprised with the number of business owners that offer generic ‘bribe’ to their site visitors in exchange for their emails.
The thing is, no one would willingly part with their contact if they know what you’re offering is irrelevant or if it wouldn’t help them solve their problems.
To begin with, you already have an idea of the kind of challenges your audience is seeking solutions for – if you don’t, you may want to do a little bit more research to understand your customers.
Then, put together a quick lead magnet – a checklist, audio recording, webinar, ebook, infographics, or even free giveaways – that addresses their challenges.
The key takeaway here is to focus your offer on proffering solutions to your customers.
Once, you’re set on these two things, you can now move ahead with creating your lead magnet for your email list.
Prepping to start building an email list fast – A handy checklist.
So, these are like the nuts and bolts of every task you need to smash before implementing any of the list building ideas.
Of course, we know building a list can be overwhelming. There are so many things you’ll have to do – so many moving parts that need your attention.
You don’t want to wonder whether you’re missing anything. So, let these handy, well-laid out checklist help you keep track of your progress as you prepare to start your email list building campaign.
Set your objective
What do you aim to achieve with the list building efforts? How many subscribers are you targeting?
Put a figure to your goals; that way you can track and know whether you’re hitting all your milestones.
Put together your lead magnet
Decide what type of ‘bribe’ you’d like to offer in exchange for people’s emails. Some of the best performing lead magnets are:
- A Checklist
- A Cheatsheet
- A Report
- A Resource list
- A Workbook
- Product discount
- Free trial
Create a surprise bonus
This one is optional. However, you want to provide as much value as possible to the new subscriber and also to make them associate your brand with positive feelings.
One way to achieve that is by giving your new subscribers an unannounced gift. They’d be pleasantly surprised getting the gift and you would have taken a step closer to having a potential loyal customer.
Set up your email series
Your email series includes both the welcome message plus autoresponder sequence.
The Welcome email is the first message new signups will get from you. Use it to set the tone for the rest of your messaging. Let them know what to expect from you and make it abundantly clear they will be hearing from you soon.
Your Autoresponder sequence is your salesman on a drip – your goal is to move the new sign-up to a point where they would buy from you.
Final Step: Monitor and optimize
If you want to milk as much sign-ups as you can from your list building efforts. You may want to pay closer attention to what’s working and iterate them. While also optimizing what’s not working so well.
Key areas you may want to text:
Split-test the opt-in form. Some of the elements you can test are the copy, call to action, button placement, and color.
Split-test Landing pages.
Identify major sources of traffic and double down on them.
15 Incredibly Effective Email List Building Ideas to Grow Your List Fast
Now, you can grow your email list fast with these proven list building ideas. We’ve also shared examples of businesses, online experts, and marketers using the same strategies.
#1: Content Upgrade
Content upgrades work. Time to make it work for you too.
But, you may wonder, what is content upgrade?
I love how Mary Fernandez, defined it:
A content upgrade is a lead magnet (or opt-in bribe) created specifically for a particular blog post or page.
It’s basically about creating additional resources to go with a blog post. However, you’ll hide it behind an opt-in form.
So, any reader that wants those extra content would have to provide their email.
The cool thing about content upgrades is that subscribers are usually warm leads. They are interested in your content. And they want more.
Sleeknote shared a detailed case study about their result using content upgrades.
#2: Use Quiz
I love this idea for two reasons:
One, it helps to keep bounce rate down. It’s engaging. Get’s visitors on your website to interact with your content while also increasing their dwell time.
Two, it’s a great, fun, non-intrusive way to build your email list. A simple trick to do this would be requesting users to enter their email address at the end of the quiz to see their results.
BuzzFeed is a popular website relying on quizzes to grow user engagement. Here’s another company using trivial quiz to get more email sign-ups.
Kroll Ontrack is an online security firm; they used a quiz to grow their email list. So, regardless of your niche, a quiz is an excellent way to build your email list.
To create a quiz for your website, you may want to use this responsive Thrive Quiz Builder“
#3: Limit the number of options on a pop-up
The conventional idea is to have only one call-to-action on a sign-up form. However, recent studies have shown that when users are presented with only one option – they’re likely not going to sign up.
On the other hand, when a consumer is presented with two options, they are likely to choose from the options.
This observation was made by Daniel Mochon in a paper he titled Single Option Aversion.
So, to increase your sign-ups you may want to consider providing a second option for users to choose from.
Bit Ninja does this so well with their exit intent popup. You’ll see on the image instead of just one call-to-action, you have two.
And if you notice, one CTA stood out – that’s the one you were supposed to click. The second CTA is faint, and a psychological prop to take the desired action.
#4: Solve the Social Proof Paradox
This strategy was shared by Brian Dean. And it deftly solved one of the core problems you’re likely going to face building your email list.
That of Trust.
You need people to trust you. That’s the only way, they are going to give you their contact.
And one way of getting people to trust you is through social proof.
Now, the paradox is you need to display the number of subscribers you already have. to get people to trust you, what if you’re just starting from scratch with no significant subscribers?
What if you have only 100 people in your list? What do you do?
According to Dean, instead of showing the number of people in your list – use testimonials.
Show case the feedback you got from your list about how helpful your emails were.
#5: Landing Page Funnel Technique
On your website, you’ll realize some pages convert better than others.
The LPF technique allows you to direct all traffic on your site to those high converting pages.
You’ll need to create site-wide offers that funnel traffic back to your high converting pages.
A simple way to do that would be strategically placing links on your pages that links back to your high converting page.
Mathew Woodward uses this strategy to funnel traffic to his high converting seo strategy page.
And if you carefully go through each page on his website, you’d see links strategically positioned to take you back to the SEO strategy page.
If you’re just starting out or wondering how to turn your page to a high converting landing page, you may want to take a look at this beginner’s guide to a landing page.
#6: Use power words to boost perceived value
Words are powerful. Using the right words in the right place can see you bump up your conversion rate.
MatchOffice.com, a real estate website ran an A/B test to find the best words for the call-to-action on their product pages.
Users are expected to click on the CTA to request additional information via email on pricing.
The two CTA variant tested:
Original CTA – Order information and prices
Test CTA – Get information and prices
Here’s what they learned:
The second CTA resulted in a 14.79% increase in conversion.
#7: Promote your email list on Twitter
Not enough people are doing this – using twitter to grow their email list.
Jose Rosado does a pretty good work of promoting his email subscription on twitter.
The trick though, is that you must be consistent in posting valuable content. Then, once in a day, ask your followers to subscribe to your list.
#8: Turn Blog Commenters into subscribers
A low-hanging list building strategy you can use without much effort. If your website is running on WordPress, all you have to do is go to the settings, select subscribe blog comments to list, and save.
#9: Turn your About us Page to List building machine
Your About us page is not only to tell about who you are and what you do.
You can turn it into another lead generation page for your business.
At least, that’s what Chris Drucker did with his. On his About page not only did he tell his story, share his value proposition; he had a prominent one-step opt-in form on the page.
#10: Use Single Opt-in
Single opt-in minimizes friction for users to subscribe to you list as against double opt-in that requires extra steps.
Of course, you might notice a drop in quality of sign-ups; which is an understandable trade-off.
However, according to a report by GetResponse, marketers using single opt-in see a 20-40 percent faster list growth compared to double opt-in.
#11: Add Link to Subscribe on your Email Signature
Your email signature is a prime real estate you can utilize to grow your list. Think of all the emails you, colleagues, and perhaps employees send out in a day.
Adding a link to your subscriber list on your signature can help you reach more people you wouldn’t have otherwise.
#12: Host Webinars
There are two ways you can use webinars to grow your list – either host a webinar or use the webinar as a lead magnet.
Maria Coz, the Webinar Rockstar grew her email list by 600 subscribers in 48 hours using webinar.
And Elna Cain, in her monthly blog report said she gained 370 new subscribers after hosting her first webinar.
#13: Add In-line Opt-in Forms in Key Pages
Sleek, non-intrusive opt-in forms embedded on posts and pages are excellent ways to gain new subscribers.
Strategically place the opt-in form to break up your content without distracting readers.
#14: Add opt-in form on your 404 page
Your 404 page doesn’t have to be the usual boring run-in-mill page often found online.
Turn it into an email list generating machine by reimagining it, redesigning it, and adding opt-in forms for visitors to sign up to your list.
New Museum does a pretty good work of trying to encourage their users to subscribe to their list.
#15: Use Pay-per-click
Paid ad is the fastest way to grow your email list. Run a Facebook ad and direct the traffic to your opt-in page.
Unfortunately, most small business owners ignore this platform. They’d rather wait for people to sign up on their own.
Mary Fernandez used paid ads to grow her new blog list in 43 days to 532 subscribers and just spending only $227.05.
#16: Use Content Lock
Now, the idea is to restrict access to some of your content. Only subscribers get to read it.
So, if a user wants to consume the content, they’d first have to unlock it. And the only way to unlock the content is by signing up to your list.
Brian Dean deftly implements this strategy on his blog. As you scroll through his feed, you’ll see several articles locked from non-subscribers.
This strategy works wonders to grow your list; especially if you have content users are dying to get their hands on.
Final thoughts on email list building ideas
You have in your hands right now the exact strategies used by expert online marketers to grow their email list.
To use any of the strategies, we’d recommend implementing one idea; then give it enough time -say 30 days so you can have significant data to make a decision.
Monitor the results. Test different elements and optimize where necessary. The goals remember, is to identify the ideas that work best for you.
So, there you have it. Have you used any of the email list building idea? What were your results? Do you have ones you’ve implemented which are not listed here, can you share with us in the comments?