In this Social Media era we have all heard the same thing—”Email is dead”. This could not be further from the truth! Even with the growth of social messaging and chat apps, email is a part of most people’s daily life online. In 2020, the number of global email users grew to four billion, and is set to grow to 4.6 billion by 2025 (Statista). On top of having massive numbers of frequent email users, email also has a higher ROI when compared to other channels such as social media or PPC ads. On average, for every one dollar spent in email, there is a $42 return.
On top of this, email is a preferred communication channel, with the majority of adults wishing to receive communication from brands through email. Email also allows you to be completely in control of your messaging, your timing, design, and in tough times email remains a reliable channel for continued interactions with your customers.
Add in the impact of the end of third-party cookies in other marketing channels, and email’s potential to take the driver’s seat in marketing channels means it is safe to say email is not going anywhere anytime soon. It is also safe to say that the strength of an email program lies in the quality of your list. So how do you increase your email subscribers?
How Do I Grow My Email List?
Growing your email list is more involved than simply getting random email addresses and beginning to send to them. You want to gather subscribers who are invested in your brand, who are expecting emails from you, and who are planning to engage with the messages you send them. Where do you start?
Optimize Your Homepage
First and foremost, the first item you will want to check off your list is adding an email sign up form to the homepage of your website. This may seem obvious, but it is surprising how many marketers are missing out on newsletter sign- ups due to not having a sign-up form on their homepage, or having one that is not easily visible.
Best practices say to have your email sign-up in the footer of your homepage. But why stop there? Combining a simple sign-up form in the sidebar of your homepage with a sticky floating bar on your webpage gives users even more opportunity to sign up for your email list.
Use a Lightbox Pop-Up
Okay, okay—I can see the people in the back starting to leave. Yes. A pop-up when used incorrectly is quite possibly the most annoying marketing tactic out there. Especially when you cannot find a way to close said pop-up. When used correctly however, a pop-up can be a great way to catch subscribers’ attention and lead to more email sign-ups.
Lightbox Pop-Up Best Practices
- Target the right users by excluding current subscribers, and add conditions based on time on site to show a pop-up only to those who have expressed an interest in your brand.
- Before you implement a lightbox, first take note of baseline KPI’s. Once the lightbox is implemented, monitor those same metrics and watch for any discrepancies, especially in conversion rates.
- Check your mobile view! Mobile users are more prevalent than ever, and a pop-up that is not properly sized for mobile can lead to a page bounce.
- Offer an incentive! This can be done either through a percentage off for signing up or by simply describing the benefit of signing up for your email program.
Utilize Discounts & Deals (Wisely)
Sometimes a discount or exclusive offer is just the incentive needed to win over a new subscriber. A 10% off code for newsletter sign-ups could be well worth the percentage off in the long run if this discount is bringing in valuable subscribers. This does come with some risk, as you do not want to devalue your brand with easy promo codes that can be shared person to person.
To ensure email engagement, only allow access to the promotion through the opening of your welcome message. If possible, create unique codes for each subscriber that are automatically generated and only available for one time use. With these simple precautions, a discount offering can be a great way to increase your number of email subscribers.
Use Social Media to your Advantage
Even though it sometimes seems like social media and email marketing are pitted against each other, the two powers combined can lead to a more holistic marketing strategy.
Facebook has introduced call-to-action buttons for business pages. These buttons are easy to see at the top of your Facebook page, and are visible without having to scroll. All you have to do is add a button with a link to your sign-up form and watch the subscribers start rolling in.
If you are using YouTube as part of your content strategy, adding cards to your videos promoting email sign-ups can also help bring in new subscribers. These cards pop up in the right hand corner of your video and will allow those interested in your brand to sign up for email when your brand is top of mind.
Instagram can also be used to entice people to sign up through promoting newsletter sign-ups in your bio, through the use of swipe-ups, and even through the promotion of contests, giveaways, and events. Instagram can also be a great place to promote gated content (which we will get to in a moment).
Utilize Evergreen Content (That You Already Have!)
A key part of a content strategy is utilizing that content to bring more potential customers to your brand. This content can be used to bring more subscribers to your email list through:
- Gated Content
Gated content is any type of content that viewers can only access after exchanging their information. Essentially, this content is hidden behind a sign-up form. This content does not require a monetary exchange to view, simply an exchange of personal information in the form of an email address or phone number.
The key point in creating a successful gated content strategy is providing value. Look at your current blog and see which pages are creating the most interest. Test putting those pages behind a sign-up form and see how it goes. If this strategy does not seem to work for you, then simply add a lightbox pop-up or sign-up form to this blog page to achieve a similar effect.
- Content Upgrades
Content upgrades are a great way to utilize content you may already be creating. Such as, show notes for a podcast or a downloadable checklist that accompanies your most popular blog post.
Content upgrades can sometimes be less forceful than gated content, as you have already proved yourself as a brand by providing valuable information. Users who are already showing interest will be more likely to give their email address in trade for whatever additional content you have to offer.
Wouldn’t Purchasing a List Be So Much Easier?
At first glance, purchasing email addresses seems like the easiest option when wanting to grow your email list quickly. But the consequences of purchasing a list can be long lasting. While email is an easy way to build trust with subscribers when done correctly, it is also an easy way to burn a new subscriber when that trust is not honored.
Aside from having lasting effects on your reputation as a sender in the eyes of your subscribers, this reputation can also be damaged with mailbox providers, such as Gmail, Microsoft or Yahoo. Mailbox providers have their own way of tracking list purchasers through pristine spam traps. These are email addresses that are real and controlled by the provider, making it difficult to find and remove from your list.
When one of these traps is sent to, it is an automatic flag to that mailbox provider that you are not following best practices with email, and can come with penalties such as sending your messages to the spam folder or blocking your messages entirely.
It is also important to watch other quick means of gathering lists, such as affiliates or sweepstakes. Anything with a very large incentive or without explicit permissions can lead to an email list full of subscribers who are either not going to open your email, or who will open and submit a spam complaint as they were unaware they were signing up for a lasting email relationship.
Happy List Growing!
With these best practices, you will be well on your way to creating a stellar email list. Even with a checklist of things to do, the key point in creating a lasting relationship with your subscribers is seeing them for who they really are—real people just like you. Thinking of what you would want to experience in an email relationship is the first step to a successful program.