10 Tips to Grow Your Email List

Did you know that email marketing (which includes growing a solid email list) is actually one of the most profitable ways to grow your business online? Aweber, a popular email marketing platform, conducted a survey of more than 3,000 small businesses and found that for every dollar spent on email marketing there was a $40 return on investment!

What’s more, GoDaddy identified ten reasons why email marketing is beneficial, including mobile growth, fast delivery, easy tracking, and reduction in costs. As a small business owner, that should be music to your ears!

But before you can harness the true power of email marketing, you need a full and robust email list. Let’s look at ten tips to grow your email list—stat!

1. Content is Key

Prioritizing quality content applies to almost everything online, especially blogs and websites. Too bad it’s often overlooked when it comes to email campaigns because it’s just as important! If you write useful and/or interesting content that your audience can benefit from reading, they’ll keep coming back for more.

One of the best ways to create desirable content is to set up an amazing opt-in incentive that’s packed with value; something that people will want to sign up for and that will build trust and curiosity so that they also want to read your emails. When you offer great value, your recipients will be happy to open, read, and click on your emails and might even pass them along to their friends and business networks.

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to get creative with catchy subject lines and awesome preview text for your email marketing. The two should go hand in hand. For example, if the subject line is a question, then the preview text could be the answer.

Subject line: How does your home office compare?

Preview text: Remote workstations revealed

Also, remember to use strong language, for example rather than:

“Our most popular business tips”


“Our hottest business tips of the year!”

2. Keep It Brief

Valuable content doesn’t equal lengthy content. Of course, there are certain situations where a detailed email (or even an e-book) is necessary to provide value for your customers, but people have busy lives and receive massive amounts of email every day. If you want to ensure that your customers are excited to read your emails, then make sure they have the time to do so by keeping your messaging short and sweet.

Take a page from Uber’s handbook and write a brief initial description, combined with a very clear call-to-action. You can easily add a link to your blog for a more detailed explanation for those who want to learn more, but make sure that anyone skimming your email gets the gist of your message without having to work too hard.

3. Keep It Focused

This next tip might take a visionary leap for some very new or very small businesses but remember, your goal is to grow. When it comes to your email list, think big and long-term.

Every business has a target audience in mind, but each target audience is actually made up of smaller marketing personas. The most successful lead-generation campaigns use content specifically tailored to the needs of these different marketing personas.

Marketing personas are created by using raw data (like your website analytics), but also by making educated guesses about your target audience. To start building marketing personas, ask yourself some of the following questions about your target audience:

  • What does a day in their life look like?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What do they value most?
  • What are their goals?
  • Where do they go for information?
  • What experience are they looking for when shopping for my products/services?

Most likely, there will be several different answers to each of these questions, and each of these different answers can be categorized into a persona. Once you have your personas (three to five is a good number) clearly defined, you’ll begin to realize why it’s important to treat each one differently in terms of the content and offers you provide. Then you can craft content that will be better suited to each of their needs. You’ll see that email list start to grow in no time!

4. Make Sure It’s Accessible

You can’t grow an email list if people don’t know how to—or where to—subscribe to it! Your website is most likely the first point of contact for many of the leads who are curious about your business and your offerings. It’s essential to make sure that you have a clearly visible “subscribe” so your visitors can spot it and sign up, easy-peasy.

You can offer several different ways for your audience to opt-in. For example:

If you make it convenient for people to join your email list (and ensure that it works on both desktop and mobile) you’ll increase your chances of having people subscribe.

5. Offer Something Free in Exchange for Email Addresses

Probably one of the best ways to get people to subscribe to your email list is to give them something for free in exchange for their information. The options for (quality) freebies are endless! For instance:

  • a handy downloadable checklist
  • a spreadsheet to help with key business calculations
  • a handy how-to guide that you give away for free
  • a fun quiz where users receive their results after they’ve signed up
  • free courses, e-books, or even a free trial of your service!

The trick with providing a freebie in exchange for signing up for an email list is to make sure:

  1. You’re continuously providing value to your subscribers; quality before quantity
  2. You’re targeting the right people with your free offer—those who are a part of your target audience and will find your content helpful

You don’t want people signing up to get something, only to unsubscribe later. That’s just wasted effort on your part, and you may leave people feeling tricked, which isn’t good for your business’ reputation.

6. Harness the Power of Social Media

As we mentioned previously, one of the best ways to grow your email list is by promoting a lead-generation offer. Well, what better place to promote that offer than on social media?

You can create a Twitter campaign to promote a free resource and make it mandatory for your followers to fill out their basic information including their email address in order to redeem the freebie. The same can be done using Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Make sure to add social sharing buttons to the landing and “thank you” pages as a way to encourage people to share your offers and subscribe to your list.

7. Partner Up

Business is all about networking. The more connections you have, the more sales you’ll probably make. What better way to use the power of networking than by running a promotion geared toward your target audience on a partner website or email newsletter? In addition, you can host a co-marketing offer with a partner (such as a webinar) and ask your partner to promote registration to their audience.

8. Go the Traditional Route

Collecting email addresses at events such as trade shows is still a tried and true method of generating new leads. If your business doesn’t have a specific trade show to attend, you can always host your own events like meetups, conferences, discussions, happy hours, and more.

When using a paper sign-up sheet, make the benefit of your email list very clear. Make sure your potential subscribers understand what’s in it for them. Will they receive special offers? Will they be the first to know about your latest products? Add a sentence or short paragraph at the top of your sign-up form that clearly states why someone should add their email address to your list.

9. Get Involved

The most successful businesses solve problems for their clients. People are more likely to become repeat customers when they feel a product or service helps eliminate or reduce a problem for them, thereby making their life easier and/or more enjoyable.

To position yourself as an expert, look for discussion forums related to your industry (such as those on Quora, Reddit, or industry groups on Facebook or LinkedIn) and begin answering questions that are related to the topic of your lead magnet. Be sure to include a link to your opt-in landing page.

Yes, this can take an investment in time, but it can be worth it! Beware, however—you need to actually provide value and not be spammy or you’ll risk being banned from the forum.

10. Make the Old New Again

Do you have an older list that isn’t converting too well or hasn’t been active for a while? Don’t let those contacts go to waste! Refresh a stale email list with a new opt-in campaign. Design an engaging opt-in message and send it to your old list to prompt contacts to re-subscribe. In addition, promise to remove all contacts who don’t respond. If you email people who are truly engaged, you could improve your deliverability and increase the chances of having your email shared with those outside your current list.

So there you have it, ten easy-to-implement tips that you can start using to increase your business’ email database. You probably won’t see your number of subscribers skyrocket overnight, but if you attack email list-building from as many angles as possible and you keep at it day by day (or week by week), you’re sure to grow your email list with fresh new contacts who are eager to engage with your business.

Did we miss a valuable tip? If you have a different white hat method for growing your email list feel free to leave us a comment. We’d love to hear from you! And as always, if you need help with building your list, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Related Article: What to Do When Your Online Customers Abandon Their Cart

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

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