20 Simple Ways to Get More Subscribers and Build Your Email List

Illustration by Camille Portales Watering email flowers

Looking for ways to build your email list?

When you spend so much time writing and crafting your email newsletters, it almost feels like it’s all for nothing when only a small handful of people read them. After all, you want to make your time count (and get your emails to as many people as possible)!

But getting interested people to sign up in the first place can be a big challenge, especially for small businesses and community groups that have small audiences to start with.

The MailPoet team recommends aiming for 1-2 new subscribers daily, providing steady growth for your email list. As MailPoet founder Kim Gjerstad says:

“This is what I tell small-to-medium business owners because it’s achievable, and there’s a sense of play and immediacy. Media organizations or groups that have several hundred or thousand visitors per month should aim for more.

Further, Kim stresses that it’s important to actively work on increasing signups to avoid trying to grow your email list in a hurry when you have someone important you want to share, such as a product launch or announcement.

If you feel like you’ve tried everything to grow your email list, this post is for you. It covers simple tips you can start putting in place today to get your email newsletter in front of new subscribers and get in their inbox.

Improve the Quality of Your Emails

1. Create Incredible Content

Before you do anything else to try and grow your email list, review your past email newsletters. Did they provide interesting and engaging information for subscribers?

Your content needs to be top-notch if you want people to stay subscribed, and even share your emails with their friends and colleagues. If your emails are enjoyable to read and offer something that they won’t find elsewhere, they’ll remain a loyal subscriber.

Here’s an example below of Quartz’s “Obsession” email, which focuses on a different topic everyday. It’s fun, engaging, and informative—three ingredients for email success.

2. Ask Subscribers to Share Your Emails

If you don’t ask, how are subscribers going to know you want them to share your emails? To help grow your email list, add social sharing buttons and consider adding a blurb at the bottom of your emails asking for subscribers to share your email with someone in their network who would enjoy your content.

If everyone in your email list encouraged one person to join your list, it would instantly double your subscriber count!

3. Send Your Emails On Time

One of the best ways to keep subscribers and grow your email list is to send out your emails with consistency. That can be tough when you’re busy as you’ll likely have a lot more on your mind than your newsletter.

Automating and scheduling when your emails are sent can take some of the anxiety out of the equation, so you can rest assured that your email newsletter isn’t sitting in your drafts folder when it should be on its way to your subscribers.

That’s why it’s also important to use an email platform like MailPoet that’s intuitive and reliable.

4. Segment Your Email Lists

Segment your email list so you can send more targeted content to specific segments of your audience. Subscribers will be more likely to read your emails and stay subscribed if your content is relevant to their specific interests, helping to grow your email list.

With MailPoet, you can segment subscribers by WordPress user roles, and whether they’ve opened, not opened, clicked or not clicked your email.

Improve Your Subscriber Forms

5. Review Your Signup Form Design

Modern websites need to convey a significant amount of information, and they are often required to do so across multiple formats (desktop, mobile, and so on). This means that you need to be thoughtful about where to place your email signup forms.

Clearly, you don’t want to get in the way of important information, but you don’t want your signup form so out of the way that nobody ever sees it. That’s why the most successful email signup forms are integrated thoughtfully into the overall design — and help grow your email list.

Delicious Brains does a great job of promoting its email newsletter in the header of the homepage. It’s so prominent that you can’t miss it. Plus, the copy, “Developers really like our blog,” grabs your attention.

Want to learn more about improving your signup forms? Check out our definitive blog post on how to make your signup forms work for you.

6. Don’t Ask for Too Much Information

How much information are you asking subscribers for when they sign up? If you’re asking for a phone number, you’ve probably overstepped the mark.

It’s best to stick to the bare essentials and only ask for the information you absolutely need if you want to grow your email list. Often, this means just asking for a name and email, or just an email.

Forms that are longer, or ask for personal information that subscribers don’t want to share, will typically dissuade them from signing up (plus, attention spans aren’t what they once were. I mean, who actually likes filling in forms?).

If you want to collect more information, either to qualify leads or to help your organization in some way, you have two basic options:

  • Offer users a greater incentive to sign up for your email (the greater the incentive, the more hoops a user is likely to jump through).
  • Gather that information at a later time through some kind of follow up activity.

7. Use a Pop-Up (But Not Right Away)

Pop-ups are a proven way to grab your site visitors’ attention and get them signing up for your newsletter. As the Conversion Conference blog points out,

“[Pop-up] forms are a lot like Justin Bieber: You either love ‘em, or hate ‘em, but lately you see ‘em everywhere—because they still pull in big crowds.”

Pop-ups are most annoying when they instantly display just as you’ve landed on a site—you haven’t had a chance to actually explore the site and decide if you want more of what they offer in your inbox!

So before you deploy a pop-up on your site, consider how you want to implement. Think about how visitors use your site and consider adding a pop-up that appears based on exit intent or some other user behavior.

8. Embed Your Signup Form Across Your Website

If you have a really useful or popular page (you can check this using Google Analytics), then you shouldn’t let that opportunity go to waste if you want to grow your email list. Embedding your email sign-up form within the content could be a savvy move.

If there’s a particular page on your site that gets tons of engaged clicks every day, it’s a good bet some of those users would be interested in signing up for your email newsletter.

WPMU DEV automatically inserts a sign-up form for its newsletter in every blog post:

9. Use Inline Field Labels

Have you ever gone to fill out a form and been confused about what information you’re supposed to enter? It’s a good chance that form was not using inline field labels.

Inline field labels specifically tell a user what to do in a way that appears just inside the box where you’re supposed to type. So, this box will say something like “Enter Your Email Address Here.” It’s so clear that users won’t get confused or turned off by the process.

10. Ensure Your Forms are Mobile-Friendly

These days, over half of the people who visit your website are likely to do so on a mobile device.

You’ve probably spent a lot of time (and a good bit of money) ensuring that your website is mobile friendly. It’s wise to also spend the time and do the testing necessary to ensure that your forms are mobile-friendly, too. This way, even users who visit your website via their smartphones can be persuaded to sign up for your email newsletter.

Offer an Incentive

11. Offer an Ebook or White Paper

One of the most popular means of enticing users to sign up for an email newsletter is to offer them something useful. By far, the most common freebies offered are ebooks and white papers.

There are two important rules of thumb when it comes to offering either of these types of lead magnets:

  • Ensure that your lead magnets are actually useful. Ebooks and white papers need to be worth the price of admission for users—and users will consider their email address as a kind of payment.
  • Put time and care into your lead magnet, whether it’s an ebook or a white paper. Consider hiring a professional writer to ensure the publication is high quality.

12. Offer a Coupon or Discount

The greatest of all motivators when it comes to signing up for a newsletter is pretty simple: money. The opportunity to receive specials and coupons (especially if those specials and coupons are exclusive to your newsletter) is hard to pass up.

And if your coupons are useable, fair, and valuable, people will stay signed up for your email newsletter.

Australian clothing brand Gorman encourages visitors to its site to sign up and get a 10% discount:

13. Offer Other Useful Tools

White papers, ebooks, and discounts aren’t the only objects of use that you can offer to users in order to get them to sign up for a newsletter. There are plenty of other tools you can offer to people in exchange for signing up for your newsletter, including:

  • Templates for emails or web pages.
  • Custom brushes or elements for design software (such as Photoshop).
  • Templates or workarounds for Microsoft Office programs, such as Excel.
  • Customized content based on user preferences.
  • Logos or design elements.
  • Artistic samples (such as samples of your custom jewelry or art, for example).
  • Podcasts.

You get the idea. As long as it’s something that your users are likely to find helpful, it’s a great idea to offer it as an incentive.

14. Tempt with Exclusive Content

In some cases, you won’t even need to offer something tangible. Sometimes, just the promise of exclusive content can be enough to get users to sign up. This, of course, assumes that you have content to offer in the first place. But if you do—and if some of that content is useful enough to warrant the time to sign up—you might be able to drive email newsletter subscribers to sign up in this way.

15. Host an Online Webinar

Webinars are really popular right now. Everyone is eager to learn, and webinars provide a great way to accomplish that from the comfort of your favorite armchair.

Webinars offer a particularly potent way to collect email addresses for your newsletter. But there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Ensure your webinar offers useful information; any webinar you put on should stand on its own merits.
  • Keep your direct sales pitches to a minimum during your webinar.
  • Archive your webinars so that they’re available after the recording date; this way, you can continue to collect email addresses into the future.

If there’s a demand for your expertise, webinars are a great way to generate email subscriptions. You might want to consider using Facebook Live or recording a live Instagram Story for simple webinars. For webinars with exclusive content, Google Hangouts and YouTube Live let you set viewing to private.

Make Design Changes to Your Website

16. Offer Inline Downloads

Your website is a wonderful tool for recruiting new subscribers to your email lists. But not all users will come to your site with the intention of creating a whole new relationship with your brand or business. Sometimes they need a little push. That’s where inline downloads can be a great tool to help grow your email list.

If you publish a blog post or have a popular page about a particularly complex topic or technique, offer inline downloads that complement the content in the article. The value of your download will be instantly recognizable for users who have come to your site looking to learn about a particular topic, and they’ll be open to your download offer.

17. Display Feature Boxes on Popular Pages

Feature boxes are a great way to call out what you have to offer—and they can help your services, tools, or newsletter stand out from the rest of your content. Feature boxes should be prominent and relatively rare—you don’t want them to blend in with the rest of your content!

Entrepreneurial site Foundr uses feature boxes throughout its site in an effort to capture emails:

18. Ask Blog Commenters to Sign Up

It’s likely that your blog is a fantastic resource for new email subscribers, especially if you’re encouraging commenting. This is because commenters can easily be converted into subscribers just by adding a small checkbox to your standard commenting form — in turn helping to grow your email list.

This technique works because most commenting forms already require a user’s email address as a required field. It’s a small task, then, to create a checkbox for users to opt-in to your newsletter.

Use Social Media

19. Add a Call-to-Action on Your Facebook Business Page

Add a “Sign Up” button to your Facebook business page. It only takes a few seconds to add one, and is a simple way to encourage new signups.

If you have a landing page for your email newsletter, you can enter the URL for that page. Then, when subscribers click the button to sign up, they will be redirected to your landing page.

Below, you can see that I’ve added a “Sign Up” button to my Facebook business page. It’s hard to miss when you land on the page, providing an easy way to encourage new subscribers to join your email list.

20. Add “End Cards” to Your YouTube Videos

Consider adding “end cards” to your YouTube videos. Using cards and end screens enables you to encourage your viewers to take action when they finish watching one of your videos.

You can also include links to relevant content and landing pages in your videos’ captions.

Bonus

There are two more methods I recommend you check out:

Capturing Emails Pre-Launch

If you don’t actually have a website yet, you might be wondering how you can start collecting emails to grow your email list. There are quite a few tried and true methods you can use, including using a “coming soon” page and email (and phone) outreach to existing contacts.

For more, check out Start Capturing Emails Before Launching Your Website.

Offline Strategies for Getting Emails

If you run a bricks and mortar store or have some other physical location where you’re regularly interacting with your subscribers in real life, there are plenty of opportunities for getting more emails.

For one, you could simply put a sign-up form and pen on your store counter and ask people to sign up.

Other strategies include conferences, local Meetups, and mentioning your newsletter in your email signature. There’s a professional solution just for signature signups.

You can read more in Get Subscribers Offline.

Increasing Sign Ups to Grow Your Email List

These are just some of the ways you can grow your email list to get more people reading your newsletter. Hopefully, you’ve come across some strategies you haven’t tried yet that you can start implementing today.

The most important takeaway is this: you need to make it really easy for people to subscribe to your email list. This means prominently displaying your signup form on your site, not asking for too much personal information, and promoting your email newsletter every chance you get. And make sure your content is amazing so that subscribers will look forward to seeing your email in their inbox.