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The 6-Step Guide to Growing Your Email List

Jill Fanslau
grow your email list

Your mom, best friend, and sister love opening your emails. But you’ll need more than a 3-person fan base to drive serious results with email marketing . . .

You need a highly-engaged email list.

The following 6-step guide will not only show you how to grow your list, but also how to bring in the right subscribers. Think: Subscribers that open your emails, click your links, buy your products or services, and refer other people to you. The best kind to have.

Ready to get started?

Step 1: Build the Perfect Sign Up Form

A sign up form is a digital way to collect email addresses from your website visitors. By submitting their email addresses, website visitors subscribe to your mailing list and get your messages. You can also collect other info about them, like their name, location, or interests on the form. Let’s first look at what this sign up form can look like.

Types of sign up forms
You want your sign up form to appear on a highly-trafficked website page. After all, the more people that see it, the more chances you have that people will subscribe.

There are several types you can choose from:

  1. Static sign up form. These are stationary blocks that you can put on your website’s homepage, in your sidebar, in a blog post, or on a dedicated page for subscribing.
  2. Pop up form. A pop up form will appear over your web page and give you a bit more real estate to convey your value. Most tools will let you set the time before the form pops up as well. Here at AWeber, we recommend 45 seconds, but be sure to test this to see what works best for your audience.
  3. Notification bar form. A notification bar form sits at the very top of your site or blog.
  4. Slide-in form. A slide-in form appears on screen as a user scrolls down a page. It usually moves in from the lower right corner.  


What to write on your sign up form
The first thing you should do on your sign up form is set expectations. Doing so creates a foundation of trust with your subscribers. They know exactly what they’ll get from you. Meanwhile you attract quality subscribers who want to hear from you.

If someone doesn’t like what you promise on the form, they won’t sign up. And that’s okay! You don’t want them on your list because, chances are, they never would have opened your emails anyway.

Answer these 3 questions to set clear expectations on your sign up form:

  1. What content will you send?
    (i.e. your recent blog posts, curated industry news, product promotions, advertisements, data, research)
  2. How often will they hear from you?
    (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly)
  3. Why should they sign up?
    (i.e. benefits of their subscription like education, insider knowledge, coupons, early bird access)


The Skimm does a great job answering all of these questions on their newsletter sign up form:

 

grow your email list subscribe

So does Anne Handley, a bestselling author and the Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs, on her Total Annarchy newsletter sign up form:

grow your email list newsletter

Your call-to-action
This is the part of your sign up form where you ask readers to take a specific action — like subscribing to your email list.

Instead of going with the generic “Sign Up” button, try getting creative. A unique, action-oriented phrase such as “I wanna join the fun!” or “Send me a free ebook” may grab your reader's attention.

No website?
No problem. Create a hosted signup form, which lives on its own. Inside AWeber, you can create a hosted signup form in less than 5 minutes, which is faster than it takes to make boxed mac and cheese (Seriously. We timed it.) Here’s a video of AWeber’s Director of Product Chris Vasquez showing you how easy it is to make a signup form (B.Y.O. mac and cheese).

The hosted signup form has a unique URL that you can share anywhere — like Facebook, Twitter, or even in your email signature. It’s a quick way to start building a subscriber list without a website.

Even if you have a website, it’s not a bad idea to create a hosted signup form anyway. It can come in handy if your website crashes, or you just want a direct link to your form.

Step 2: Create an Enticing Lead Magnet

Do you like free stuff? Of course you do.

You know who else likes free stuff? Everyone.

A lead magnet is a freebie piece of content you create in exchange for subscribers to sign up to your email list (example below!). Think of it as an incentive to get them to hand over their email address. It can convince the right people to subscribe to your list (those who are likely to buy), establish trust, and assist in converting your leads into customers.

Email marketing conversion copywriter, Val Geisler, gives away a free guide to writing high-converting email campaigns on her sign up form:

 

 

grow your email list free guide

Provide value
Your lead magnet doesn’t have to be a free 100-page eBook or a 14-episode video series to get your subscribers to sign up. (Who’s got the time?!)

But it does have to be valuable.

The content should be high-quality, fresh, creative, and useful. If it’s just something your subscribers can find on Google or full of content that your competitors also provide, your readers are less likely to sign up.

A lead magnet can be:

  • A selection of your best blog posts
  • An infographic
  • A video or podcast episode
  • Tools, templates, or checklists 
  • Answers to a list of FAQs on a specific topic
  • A list of must-read content you curated from other industry thought leaders
  • A humorous GIF or video that will make your reader laugh


My point: Create content you love!

If you hate writing, don’t force yourself to start a blog or write an eBook for the sake of your sign up form. Instead, try videos, or a podcast or even a webinar. Infographics can work too! Choose a format you enjoy creating and your audience will enjoy receiving it.

Step 3: Tap Your Connections

Many new email marketers struggle with jumpstarting their list growth.

First thing’s first: Ask your current connections to join your list. That’s right, shout it from the rooftop. Reach out to everyone you know and tell them you’re starting an email newsletter.

  • Contact followers or connections on your social channels (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn)
  • Message people in your email address book
  • Text contacts in your phone
  • Call close family and friends


Sure, your contacts may not be in your target audience, but they might know someone who is. So include a request for them to share the info with a friend who might be interested.

Here’s a fantastic example of how to ask your connections to share your content via email.

Check it out and use it as a template for your own outreach.

Step 4: Include CTAs Everywhere

The more opportunities you give potential subscribers to sign up for your email list, the faster your email list will grow. Putting a sign up form on your website is a good first step, but isn’t enough. Here are some other places to include calls-to-action (CTAs) to subscribe:

Blog posts
Add a CTA to sign up for your email newsletter within each of your blog posts. A hyperlink can work, or you can even embed a signup form using an integration like ConvertFlow or OptinMonster.

Here’s an example of AWeber’s embedded signup form on our blog that appears at the bottom of every story (with our enticing lead magnet offer!):

grow your email list marketing tips

Try different placements within your blog posts like after the second paragraph, or in the middle of the article or even at the end. Each time you change placements, measure which one drives the most subscriptions. You can also test CTAs. Once you find your sweet spot, stick to it!

Social channels
Social posts don’t reach all of your followers (Thanks a lot, algorithms.) That’s why it’s important to get your social media audience on your email list. Your messages get delivered directly to their inboxes. Email allows you to control the flow of communication.

So how to do you get them to sign up? Pin a post with the link to sign up to your email list on your social profiles. Really Good Emails has a pinned Tweet to their email newsletter on their Twitter field.

grow your email list really good emails

You could also put an image of your newsletter in your Instagram Story and ask your followers to click the link in your bio. Or, if you have a verified account (blue checkmark next to your name), you can ask them to “swipe up” to join your email list. The popular DIY home decorating site Young House Love uses this exact technique.

Guest posts
Guest writing is a great way to reach an audience you otherwise might not have had the chance to. You not only provide value to a new audience, but you also have the opportunity to find subscribers who might become some of your best customers. Just be sure to include a CTA in the text for visitors to sign up for your email newsletter.

On the go
Whether you’re at a conference or a networking event, or you’re behind the counter at your actual storefront, you can add new subscribers via mobile sign up forms.

For instance, AWeber’s Atom app allows you to add names and email addresses to your list quickly and easily — even without a wireless connection. So when you meet a new subscriber, you can hand them your mobile device and let them enter their information into the sign up form. Or you can set up a tablet with the Atom app on your checkout counter and encourage customers to sign up to your email list for special offers and announcements.

Step 5: Send Awesome Emails

You can get 1,000+ people to sign up for your email list, but if you’re not sending them valuable, creative content, they won’t stick around. And if everyone unsubscribes after all the work you did to get them to sign up, your long-term growth strategy will be stunted.

The number of emails flooding inboxes these days is staggering. According to Radicati, the average person will get 121 emails per day (which is roughly 44,000 emails per year). That’s a lot to read. So how do you ensure your emails are the brightest in the inbox?

Send emails with great copy and design
So what are the best emails made of? Captivating copy, engaging visuals, and a clear call-to-action, right? Good job! However there’s still more you can do to improve.

Provide actionable, helpful emails that’s free of errors and make sure they’re easy to read! I’m not suggesting that bad design mutes stellar copy, but striking a balance between the two is key when creating a quality email newsletter.

Here’s a great mix of the two from Later:

Later includes helpful content in their email like the “How to Use Instagram Stories Templates” guide, which is highlighted by the catchy design. The text, and short copy is also easy to read.

Give readers the exact content they want Segmentation is an excellent way to make your email newsletters more effective and to grow your customer base. According to the DMA, segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue.

Segmentation gives you the ability to break down your list into subsets of subscribers who show interest in specific topics, without annoying subscribers who have no interest in them. When you show people content they want to read, you’ll see email engagement soar. When we’ve used segmentation with our AWeber lists, we’ve seen open rates and click-through rates increase by 50%!

Here are 3 ways to do it:

  1. When subscribers sign up for your mailing list. Subscribers can receive different emails based off the selections they make on your sign up form. For example, a personal trainer could ask their subscriber to choose their level of strength training: beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Once the subscriber makes a selection, they’ll be segmented into emails that align with their training experience and preferences. The language, workouts, and tips in each message should be tailored to the subscriber’s personal training level.
  2. When subscribers click a link in your email. Send targeted content to subscribers who click on a link within a message. For example, let’s say your primary source of revenue from your food blog is digital meal plans. You can ask your subscriber in your Welcome email if they want gluten-free recipes or not. If the subscriber clicks “gluten-free,” your email marketing provider can automatically deliver an email series just about gluten-free foods to only that tagged segment.
  3. When subscribers open (or don’t open) your email. Tracking who opens your emails can help you optimize your email campaign. You can send your subscribers reminders to check certain messages if they still haven’t opened it. Or you can remind them that they should take advantage of specific offers within a message.


Step 6: Sign Up for a Trusted Email Marketing Provider

Ready to start growing your list? You can also sign up with an email marketing provider. AWeber has created a sleek platform that makes growing your list and sending smart email campaigns easy. Email marketing providers like AWeber offer:

  • powerful, easy-to-use email automation
  • beautiful, mobile-friendly email templates with drag and drop controla sign up form builder
  • access to every feature for one price
  • 24/7 award-winning customer service


So, what are you going to do with all these new email subscribers?

 

Image Credits
Feature Image: Unsplash/Farrel Nobel
Image 1: Via The Skimm
Image 2: Via Anne Handley
Image 3: Via Val Geisler
Image 4: Via AWeber
Image 5: Via Really Good Emails
Image 5: Via Young House Love
Image 6: Via Later

 

Author Information

Jill Fanslau

Jill is a content expert who has a unique blend of journalism and marketing experience. Over the past 10+ years, she’s written and edited articles for publications like the National Geographic Society, Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines, and the Huffington Post. She’s also created custom content campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands like BMW, the North Face, and Smartwater.

Now, as the Content Marketing Manager for AWeber, one of the world’s leading email marketing and automation platforms, Jill combines her knowledge of traditional publishing and modern media to create innovative marketing campaigns, educational content, and digital products.