When you’re just starting out with email marketing, growing your list can feel so slow. If you’re also just starting out with your business in general – versus just adding email marketing to an existing platform, it can feel even slower!

Today, let’s talk about list growth. Everyone wants a bigger list. Why? Well they think it will bring them more money – ultimately that’s what it usually drills down to. More. more. more. Of course I want you to grow your list so that you can grow your business. But the most important thing is that you’re growing the right list. You want to be offering the right things so the right people are signing up. When you’re considering ways to grow your list, always keep that top of mind. Every new tactic that you use to grow your list, think “is this going to help me find my people?”

Grow Your Email List

For example, when you do giveaways, this is especially important. During a giveaway or contest, you might grow your list like crazy. But you don’t need thousands of the wrong people on your list. That just increases your marketing expenses, lowers your metrics and stats, and frustrates you and your readers – especially the ones that don’t want to hear from you. Those are not your people!

One of the best ways to grow your list is to offer something people actually want, in exchange for their email address. This is typically called a lead magnet or signup incentive.

A lead magnet can be a freebie, a discount or any other incentive. Lead magnets can include things like an ebook, a template or guide, or a course etc. It’s something you offer readers in hopes that they will sign up (a lead!). They exchange their email address for whatever you’re offering, and you both hope that what follows is good for everyone!

4 Ways Grow Your Email List

So you’ve signed up for an email marketing software (like MailChimp), and added a couple forms to your website. Now what? If you’ve been plugging away the last couple weeks or months, slowly growing your list at a snail pace, that is about to change.

If you’re ready to devote the time to grow your list, I can’t wait to share today’s tips with you! One of the biggest disappointments with an email list is after signing up for MailChimp, you’re excited about all the possibilities and promises you’ve heard from other people about how powerful email is and then you add forms to your website and… crickets…

Just slapping a “Sign up” form onto your website isn’t the most inviting way to add subscribers. These days, most people need some kind of incentive. You probably do too. Think of the last newsletter you signed up for. How did they get you? They probably had something you wanted! In this post, I’m going to show you four things you can offer in four different ways to grow your list…

>>Looking for what to say on a regular basis? Check out 33 Things to Send To Your Newsletter

If you’re like most of my clients, you’re procrastinating on growing your list simply because you don’t know what to offer. That’s about to change.

1. Free Download – Ebook, worksheet, process, template, spreadsheet etc.

We all love free stuff, don’t we? The key here is to make the freebie super useful to your readers and relevant to your website. Your goal here is to get them to sign up. So show them what you know about your area of expertise – your business or blog.

There are a lot of different buzz words and fun things to call this. Here are some popular ones: worksheet, roadmap, blue print, guide, template etc.

Word of warning: please offer something of value. So many times I see a “worksheet” that is simply 3-4 questions in a text doc exported as a pdf. Sometimes it’s nicely designed. Many times it’s very basic. It leaves you feeling like “really? I had to sign up for something to see this? Seriously?! Unsubscribe.” If you over sell and under deliver, you’ll probably see high unsubscribe rates. Remember, they’re going to judge your future work and products off of this. Don’t oversell it. If you over-deliver here, you’re setting a reputation for over-delivering. So if you offer things for sale, your readers are going to be more likely to value what that is versus thinking it might be crap too.

A great place to start when trying to figure out what to offer is to hop into Google Analytics and see what your top 1-5 posts are. Is there anything you could create based around one of those topics? This would be called a “content upgrade.” What’s really cool about approaching it from this angle is you already have traffic coming to this page. So you’re not starting from scratch. If you were going to write a follow up post to your top trafficked page, what would it look like? Could you turn that into something your users could download?

2. Free Course

Another freebie idea is a short, free email-based course. Using something like MailChimp’s “Automation” features, you can set up a simple 3-7 email series that goes out based on your topic. This is the simplest way to implement a free course. While I used to offer a free template for newsletter signups, now I offer a free 7 day course on content strategy. Sign up here:

 Free Guide: Become your own
Content Strategist with these lessons 

Get quick, actionable advice on how to use content to grow your business.

7 lessons, delivered to your inbox each day.

3. Exclusive Content

Why would anyone want to sign up for your newsletter beyond the freebie? Your signup area is also a good place to tell subscribers what to expect on a weekly or monthly basis. Maybe it’s a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Maybe you get a bit more personal about what you’re doing, or answer questions you get, or extra tips and tricks, favorite resources you’ve found or things you’re reading etc.

This is a good place to remind them they won’t just be seeing a re-hash of the blog or what you’re doing on other social media channels. Maybe you even share business news, stuff you might not just write a blog post about. Remember not to share something you wouldn’t want out there though.

Not ready for a full-blown email newsletter? You could use autoresponders to set up evergreen content that explains what you do, who you are, etc. And then just send out monthly or quarterly updates when you have something to say or a new product that is out etc. You could even do some light discounting.

4. Discounting

Discounting and giveaways are my least preferred method of growing a list. You can see quicker growth this route, but if done wrong you train your customers to expect discounts or grow a list of people who wanted your freebie instead of your business. However, in e-commerce offering a small incentive to tip the customer into buying now can be pretty effective. Try to be strategic when using promo codes or sales to grow your list. Think beyond just $x off or x% off, and consider other things that might add to the experience, without just tossing revenue away. Maybe you have a product that’s a higher perceived value, but that your margins are high on. You could offer a promo code for signups that gives that away for free with any order, or any order over $50 etc. Additionally, when you’re discounting, don’t forget to change things up. Offer something different each month and change your signup promo code and have a “expires x” date. This can also help add a sense of urgency and let your customers know you’re doing new stuff. The last thing you want is them to see the same offer every time they go to your website, that just cuts the price of your product down by $x because that’s the perceived normal value.

I hope this helped you think of some ideas for getting started. Remember, my #1 take away for email marketing is: ADD VALUE. Don’t be noise. Be useful. Would you be excited to see what you’re sending? Great! Not so much? Then don’t send it!

Want more? Check out Why You Should be Building an Email List, 7 MailChimp Hacks You Should Be Using, and Frequency: How Often Should You Send.