17 Ways to Get More Subscribers for Your List

ideas for growing your email list

Ah, email subscribers. The holy grail for any small (or otherwise) business owner. If you’re reading this, you probably already know the value of having an email marketing program – the value of owning the contact information of interested prospects.

The Direct Marketing Association put email marketing’s ROI at $40.56 per $1 invested in 2011.

So how can we add more to our lists?

First, let me stress this – your focus in ANY effort to grow your list should be on getting more QUALITY subscribers that are a good match for your business versus just increasing your subscriber number with dead-weight non-interested email addresses. I’ll take 50 quality subscribers over 500 uninterested ones any day (and you should too)

MailChimp’s research shows double opt-in lists have 114% increase in clicks as compare to single opt-in lists.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are 17 ideas for adding more email subscribers to your list.

1 – The Opt-in Box

Make sure you have one. And add it herehere, and here.

How do you get one? Your email marketing service provider can walk you through it – check out MailChimp, Aweber, or others.

2 – Offer Incentive

Offer a free report packed full of value if you’re a service provider. If you sell products, consider a welcome discount for signing up. Other thoughts on effective incentives can be found over here.

3 – Tell People What They Are Missing

Share or tweet on social media to encourage your followers to join your list. Share your incentive, share some feedback or share teasers of emails to come that they’re missing out on.

4 – The Pop-Up

Controversial, but proven to increase subscribers (Visual Website Optimizer found a 50% increase in sign-ups). I personally loathe the pop-up so make sure to consider how much you may be turning off some of your audience before implementing. Can’t say it doesn’t get results though.

Check out Aweber for some examples. It might also work better if you paid attention to timing.

5 – Subscribe via Comment Box

Increasing conversions is all about reducing the number of steps between the visitor and your desired action. If your visitor is already entering their email address somewhere like in a comment box, it only makes sense that adding a check mark to also subscribe to your newsletter would increase conversions.

Are you using WordPress? Check out this plugin to add that capability to your site.

6 – Subscribe via Check-Out Process

Somewhere else your subscriber may already be entering their email address…

Have products or services for sale directly on your site? Consider adding a “Check here to subscribe to my super-awesome-fantastic weekly newsletter” tick box to your process. Don’t have the default be checked though, we want to respect the opt-in process. (Remember – quality over quantity, right?)

7 – Hello Bar

Ramit Sethi, Tim Ferris and these guys at Plastic Jungle have all used the Hello Bar (yes, that’s one I’m using at the top of the screen) to increase their conversion rates, including for email subscriptions.

Want more ideas for using Hello Bar? Check out Hello Bar’s post for ideas.

8 – Have a Physical Store?

Add an email sign-up form to your checkout counter and have your staff mention it during the checkout process. Yes, these addresses will need to be confirmed as part of your double opt-in process (people do make mistakes – or write down fake or friend’s email addresses!).

Consider getting fancy with QR Codes (what’s that? how do you use one? Check out social media examiner’s introductory post on the QR code).

Don’t have a physical store? Consider bringing a sign-up list/QR Code sign to your speaking events, conference and event booth sponsorships, your band’s gigs, etc.

9 – Run a Contest

You probably have heard this one before as a way to grow your audience but let me issue this warning – MAKE IT RELEVANT. Don’t run a contest to win a flat screen TV if your ideal client is an athlete with foot pain. Although that athlete may very well be interested in the flat screen, use your contest to ONLY attract your ideal client – and weed out the non-ideal prospects.

Good example? Give away a sampling of your service or product – you might see lower contest entries but you better believe each entry is an ideal client prospect. Let them know they’ll also be subscribed to your newsletter as part of the entry process (they’ll still have to confirm their subscription because you’re using double-opt-in, right?)

10 – Cross-Promotion

Amp up the contest idea by running a contest-bundle-of-prizes with service providers/businesses who serve your SAME target audience but aren’t your competitors. Consider your partners carefully – in terms of your own positioning and audience match for this technique to be most effective.

11 – Give Away Something For Free

No, not your incentive. Give away something else for free. No, not a contest. Give something free away to anyone interested not just a few winners. Free….minus the cost of submitting an email address. It could be a webinar (like Alicia Cowan’s on the new Facebook Timeline) or an eBook (like 52 Headline Hacks), or a tool (like LKR’s new one for Facebook Timeline Covers)

Of course, all related to your business and ideal audience.

12 – Guest Post

Guest posting is a great way to get in front of a bigger sampling of your ideal audience. To get the most email subscribers out of your guest post, make good use of your About the Author bio box. Use a sentence to encourage readers to sign up for your awesome list or describe your incentive. Include a link to that exact place where they can sign up /download that free report/sign up for that webinar, etc..

Oh, and definitely make sure your guest post is awesome on its own.

13 – Run an Adwords Campaign

First do some keyword research to see if your incentive/newsletter is a good match for search queries, then use a free credit (search “Google Adwords free credit” for some guidance) to run an Adwords campaign to send eyeballs in front of your opt-in box. (Have a highly converting post for email subscribers? Consider using that as part of your campaign. How would you know which post was highly converting? You’d have Google Analytics goals set up, of course)

14 – Fan-gating

With the new Facebook Timeline, fan-gating isn’t what is used to be but you can still use your Facebook page to convert fans or potential fans into email susbcribers.

Do you have an app or tab from your old Facebook business page that you used to use as a default landing tab to build subscribers? You can still (sort of) do this – by making sure all of the links you have to like you on Facebook go directly to the address of that app and not your general page (example – here’s a link to the email sign-up form on my Facebook page).

More ideas on how to use the new Facebook Timeline to increase subscribers? Check out Aweber’s post on list building with Facebook Timeline.

15 – Offer your incentive to the owner of a bigger (but still relevant) list

Or create something JUST FOR THEIR AUDIENCE as a special treat. Sometimes these offers are so good it wouldn’t need to be a paid advertisement. Depends on how the owners runs his or her list.

16 – Affiliate program

Do you know the exact value that an email subscriber is for your business? If you do, you could consider an affiliate program. The incentive/sign-up costs the subscriber nothing but you would pay out to the affiliate per subscriber based on your advanced monetary understanding of your email marketing program. If you’re paying out less than the value of your email subscriber, that’s a win, my friend. Make sure you really do know your numbers on this one though.

Looking for more on affiliate marketing? Check out Problogger for an introduction to affiliate marketing.

17 – Ask Your Current Email Subscribers for Help

You could segment this ask to your most loyal (highest open rate / longest subscriber / highest click rate / etc.) subscribers or you could ask your whole list: did this help you? Do you think this is awesome? Do me a favor – share it with someone you think would benefit from this! Marie Forleo does a great job of asking for the share with her weekly video series.

And of course, make it easy to for those forwards to join your list – at the bottom of your email make sure there are instructions for non-subscribers with an appropriate sign-up link. Aweber gives an example in this post.

Your Turn

How about you? Do you have any other ideas for growing your email list with quality subscribers? Did you find this post useful? Let me know in the comments!

Image: Archipoch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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12 Responses so far.

  1. Great tips… I’m already using a few but have a few more that I would like to try. :)

  2. Great insights here.

    Gaining subscribers is a challenge for a lot of people and I think this is a list that really frames up key opportunities nicely. MailChimp has a lot of great tools if you use them for your newsletter. They’ll give you a short link and a page hosted directly on their site connected to your mailing list. Definitely worth checking out! THanks for the insights – Great list!

  3. Marcy says:

    Thanks for the post. I have been really wondering where to find a comment box subscriber plugin. You answered that long awaited question for me!

  4. Sally Mayor says:

    Really useful post, thank you, lots of things I’d never thought of doing.

  5. Gary Chesnut says:

    Getting new subscribers can be a daunting challenge for someone that is new to IM. It’s always good to have new ideas in the marketing “toolbox”.

  6. Jason says:

    Great post. I’ve done most of these things and no one will subscribe :( Do you think it just takes more time?

  7. Lucy Parsons says:

    Thanks Liz! A great list of tips. I’ve already added the sign-up checkbox to my blog. I also wrote a guest post on this subject here: http://www.marketyourcreativity.com/2014/05/9-ways-to-grow-an-email-list-for-your-etsy-shop/

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