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The 6 Best Ways to Grow Your Email List

Business marketers agree that growing your email list is critical to success. In a poll earlier this year by Ascend2, a whopping 96 percent said email list growth was somewhat or very important to the overall success of their marketing programs. But six out of 10 marketers in that survey admit their email lists are growing slowly, while one-fourth say they’re losing just as many email subscribers as they gain.

What are the biggest obstacles to growing your email list? Marketers in the survey cited the following:

  • Content relevance/value: 44 percent
  • List growth expertise: 43 percent
  • Email list hygiene/accuracy: 40 percent
  • Strategy effectiveness: 39 percent
  • Externally sourced list quality: 23 percent
  • Social audience conversion: 19 percent
  • Spam regulatory compliance: 17 percent
  • Unsubscribe rate: 12 percent

Let’s take a closer look at these issues and how you can overcome them.

  1. Content relevance: Paying attention to your website and list analytics will help here. Carefully track what areas of your website get the most visitors, what topics in email subject lines generate the most opens and what links in your email newsletters get the most clicks. By tracking this information, you’ll soon see what customers care about most, so you can create more content relevant to their interests.
  2. List growth expertise: Feeling at a loss for what to do to grow your email list? Outsourcing this task to an outside service or consultant can be a smart way to go. Even if you can’t afford to work with an outside expert on a regular basis, you could get a jump-start from someone who can show you how to keep your email list growing.
  3. Email list hygiene/accuracy: Today, most email marketing service providers automate list hygiene in terms of keeping addresses up to date. However, to improve your results, go one step further and assess which addresses interact with your emails and how. This can help you segment your list so that, for example, you can send certain types of emails to customers who buy all the time, and different emails to those who have been inactive for six months.
  4. Unsubscribe rate: You can lessen unsubscribes not only by providing more relevant content and segmenting your lists as discussed above, but also by offering a variety of subscription options. Instead of just straight “unsubscribe” as the only choice, take unsubscribers to a landing page that lets them manage the frequency of emails, such as once a month, once a week or only for special occasions such as an annual sale. This gives customers a feeling of control that will make them more likely to stay on your email list.

The top methods survey respondents cite for getting subscribers were 1) getting website visitors to sign up for emails and 2) requiring registration or contact info to access certain areas of the site or to download content. Here’s how you can make these work for you:

  1. Make it simple: Ask for subscriptions on every page of your website. Put the newsletter signup field above the fold, not only on the home page but on every page! Make it easy for visitors to sign up.
  2. Don’t ask for too much: The majority of companies in the survey asked for just two pieces of contact information on their registration or download forms. Requesting only a name and email address, vs. a job title, employer name and phone number, will ease visitors’ fears that they’ll start getting tons of sales calls if they download a white paper from your website.

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Author information

Karen Axelton

Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at