Anyone who’s ever followed a marketing expert or taken a webinar knows that an email list is a part of business. While social media platforms come and go, the lowly email is STILL ruler of the marketing world. Most of us still get up every morning and check it. Most of us still get excited when something valuable comes.
The popularity of email means that it’s a necessity for any marketing strategy. And there’s something all marketers swear by… the list. Last year, HubSpot did a roundup of some email statistics and reported that there are 4 billion daily email users, 64% of small businesses use email marketing, and 77% of marketers have seen an INCREASE in engagement via email!
That’s awesome. But it makes building an email list priority 1.
Whether you’ve got no list, a few hundred, or thousands, chances are you want it to keep growing. So in this article, we’ll walk through how to build an email list including some tried and true strategies.
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Secrets of email list building
- Targeted personas. You need to know who you actually want on your list and who you don't.
- Clear value offer. You offer value and follow it up with emails that deliver.
- Built into a sales funnel. If you are building an email list to grow your business, you don't just want people to sign up. Your email campaigns should exist within a sales funnel.
- Great subject lines and solid content. People need to open your emails and then be thankful that they did. Too many companies are spamming and losing their customers' trust with bad email outreach.
- Market segmentation. Not every customer wants the same thing. You can customize the value you give by breaking your subscribers into segments.
How to build an email list (14 strategies)
If you own a website, it's hard to deny the effectiveness of pop-ups. So many studies have shown that pop-ups generate more email signups than any other method on your website.
Although they can feel a bit intrusive, you can set your pop-up settings so that they don't pop up until people have read a good chunk of the content. This way you're getting people who have already gotten some value out of your site.
You can also set how frequently people should see pop-ups if they return to your site often.
There's a reason you're still seeing pop-ups in 2023. They work. And chances are, if you aren't using them, you're missing potential subscribers.
Here are a few tricks to make your pop-ups effective:
- Have a clear offer: “Get our step-by-step guide to getting 10 new clients this week” is so much better than “Want your business to grow?”
- Keep it simple and visually appealing. High contrast and not too much wording.
- Keep the required fields to a minimum. Just a first name and email address is best. If you ask for too much, people are less likely to complete it.
- Deliver something valuable in their inbox the minute they sign up.
The inline opt-in is the pop-up's less annoying cousin. Some people opt for this because it can feel less intrusive, or they might have a pop-up plus inline offers.
An inline opt-in basically lives in the text on your website. As readers are scrolling, they will see a box that offers them something. Or, in some cases, it's as simple as "join our email list."
Inline opt-ins may capture less of your traffic, but chances are these will be the quality leads that really want to hear from you.
3. Header or footer bars
One final way to generate email subscribers from an existing blog or content site is with header or footer bars. These work a lot like the other opt-ins, but they will float above or below the content - usually staying in place as someone scrolls.
All the same tips we talked about above apply. Keep it simple. Offer value.
4. Landing pages
What if you don’t have a website?
The thing is, you don't necessarily need one. It's easy to set up a one-page landing page using a tool like Convertkit or ClickFunnels. These tools let you build your email list without a website, and you can create awesome landing pages and opt-ins that are standalone and hosted.
5. Paid ads
Once you have some way of collecting emails, which we talked about above, paid ads are an option for driving traffic. Even if you just have a Convertkit landing page, you need something for your ads to point to.
Once you have that, you can start to invest in paid advertising. Advertising is a discipline in and of itself, but here are two simple ways to think about it:
- Social media ads: this is where you use a social media platform like Facebook to custom design an audience and get an ad in front of them. Most social media platforms let you choose from all sorts of demographics, including filtering your audience by age, location, interests, and more. For example, on Facebook, you could pay to advertise to people who have liked pages in your niche already.
- Google CPC ads: this is when you advertise with Google, bidding on specific keywords. When people type those keywords into google, your page will come up on top as a sponsored link.
Again, these two options are the most common forms of internet advertising–not the only ones. But in general, any advertising needs to drive people to somewhere they can put their email in.
One super effective and low-lift way to build your list is with a community. You can use a platform like Mighty to build a beautiful community space with discussion boards, messaging, member profiles, and more. Then, you just invite people in!
It could be free, meaning that people are incentivized to drop their email to create an account, knowing that they'll get a ton of value inside. You are then growing not only your list, but also your impact, as people in your community can stick around to get the value you have to offer.
7. Ask subs to forward it
This is one of the most overlooked tricks to email list building. Use your existing subscribers.
These are the people who signed up to get your emails. They already know who you are and are interested in what you have to say.
If you want to grow your subscribers from your existing subscribers, you'll need to create so much value in your emails that they forwarded to a friend and say, "You gotta read this!"
But instead of waiting for them to forward, why not ask them? When you create a super valuable email, ask them to forward it to a friend. Add a link to your landing page in the email itself. You can even add a prize or referral link to incentivize your readers to forward emails.
Publishing an eBook might seem like a big lift. But if you have something important to say and you feel like you're the person to say it, why not?
Of course, you can publish an eBook on sites like Amazon. But you might also use it as an opt-in. There are a lot of opt-ins out there. But very few people are offering an eBook. Hopefully, that will make it more exciting for your audience and they'll take it more seriously.
The good news is, your eBook doesn't have to be War and Peace. Even if it's 30 or 40 pages but formatted nicely and super helpful, it will probably work as an opt-in.
Fact: quizzes are probably one of the best email list-building tools out there. If you've ever tried a personality quiz or a "Which Disney princess am I?" quiz, you know you put your email in that thing.
Something about the urgency and curiosity of a quiz moves us from skeptical, rational readers to "Shut up and take my email address!!!"
If you can incorporate a quiz of some sort onto your website, you might have the secret to a great opt-in.
They're becoming less popular, but downloads are still a thing. When you land on a website and see an offer to "download our free guide," you're looking at a download opt-in.
PDF downloads are probably most common. But things like templates, worksheets, calculators, heck even coloring pages, can make great downloads.
Webinars have been the darling of internet marketers for a decade now. And this is because they work super well for email list building.
A webinar gives you the exciting feeling of a live training, especially if it's with a big-name person you follow.
They'll send you a link. And you show up and watch the webinar. Simple as that.
If you’re list-building, can you create a webinar that will be valuable for your potential subscribers? And can you offer it for free, as a lead magnet, to get people to sign up? It can be live or pre-recorded–either one can work great for building an email list.
12. Virtual event
If you're looking for a way to grow your email list, try a live event! Creating a super valuable and exciting live event and publicizing it is a great way to get new people onto your list.
You could do things like interviews or free training. Heck, even a networking or coworking session might do it.
If you can invite your audience to something they might get excited about, and include a sign-up component, you can get them on your list.
13. In-person event
How about running an in-person or hybrid event to build your email list? We often think about email as the realm of internet marketing, but there's no reason why a solid in-person event can't also help you grow.
You need to publicize it and create something people want to show up for. Collect emails as a part of this: either when they sign up to come or once they're at the event.
As you're contemplating how to grow your email list, it's probably occurred to you that there are creators out there with thousands of people on their lists – people who are your ideal clients or customers.
This is where building strategic partnerships can be super valuable. It might be as simple as appearing as a guest on someone's podcast or writing an article for a popular website. Anytime you can capitalize on someone else's audience, you are growth-hacking your own.
The ultimate and best way to do this? It's probably inviting people with large audiences to appear on platforms that you own. Let's say there's an influencer in your space who has 10,000 followers. If you invite that person to appear on a live stream or webinar with you to be interviewed, you've given them a reason to promote it to their list. But any sort of sign-ups would be happening on your end and growing your list.
Partnerships are tried and true. You need to find what works for you and have a mutually beneficial arrangement. But a great partnership can grow your email list quickly.
We hope this article has given you some exciting options for how to grow your email list! You don't need to do all these things. Just executing on one or two of them and figuring out what works for you and your brand will work.
And if you're looking for a great platform to build on, come try Mighty. Mighty Networks is a cultural software platform that lets you mix community, courses, content, and commerce. And our flexible Spaces add live streaming, live events, discussion forums, member profiles, chat and messaging, and more.
Mighty lets you build your email list, but also serve your subscribers a kind of value you won't get anywhere else. Come give it a try! It's free for 14 days, no credit card required.