Email Marketing

How to Grow Your Subscribers

Have you been struggling to get your email marketing campaigns off the ground? There may be one, or several reasons you can’t seem to make any traction.

Below I have shared a number of methods that will help you build the ultimate email marketing subscriber list and skyrocket your marketing success.

Email Marketing

Written by Peter Day

Use What You Got

Take Advantage of Your Current Subscribers

If you are already leveraging the power of inbox marketing, you are already taking steps in the right direction. But did you know that you can use your current subscribers to help grow your list?

Below I have listed some actions you can take to make this possible.

Take Advantage of Your Current Subscribers

First and foremost, you need to be creating outstanding email content – from the copy, to your images, to the template you use. If your emails aren’t engaging and you offer no value through your campaigns, it is unlikely that anyone will want to share your content.

Most ESP’s (email service providers) come complete with free to use and simple to integrate templates straight out of the gate; with many boasting customizable drag and drop, or custom-designed options.

And if it is email copy you are struggling with, OptinMonster has posted a great guide for writing email copy, filled with actionable insights including crafting the perfect subject line to literary techniques you can use within your content.

Next, you should be adding additional CTA’s within your email content that includes social sharing buttons, and buttons for the purpose of forwarding the email on to their friends or colleagues. You should also include a button to subscribe to your emails, giving the recipients the opportunity to become part of your audience.

If you have found that your current list has become unresponsive, there is a good chance that many of your users have changed their email, or worse, you are ending up in their spam folder. To counter this, and kickstart fresh you should create an appealing email encouraging your users to re-opt-in to your email subscription.

Throughout the email you should explain that you will remove any contacts who don’t follow the opt-in process. Now, while it might appear contradictory to your goal to remove people from your list, it may be a boon in the long run.

By removing users who are unengaged with your campaigns, those who have moved email addresses, and those who’s spam folder you appear in will actually increase your deliverability. The more spam folders you currently appear in, and the less engagement you get – the more likely it is you are going to be sent directly to spam in future campaigns.

Once this process is complete, you will be left with a quality, albeit smaller, list of subscribers that are engaged with what you have to offer. This is the perfect launching pad to kick off your growth as an email marketer.

It is best practice to have it remain easy to unsubscribe from your email list going forward. Not only will this reduce the number of times you are flagged as spam by people who no longer want to see your content – you can conduct an exit survey to find out why they unsubscribed.

This data will allow you to tweak your email marketing strategy for future campaigns, optimizing for success.

Once you are confident you are working with a quality email list, there are several steps you can take to improve their experience – retaining them as a subscriber while making it more likely they will recommend you to their friends.

One practice that has proven itself to be popular is to give your audience more control over the content they see. In some cases, more emails aren’t necessarily better, and your users may feel overwhelmed or spammed by your content.

If you are using exit surveys and discover that users are unsubscribing due to the volume of emails landing in their inbox there are steps you can take to reduce this happening. You can segment your list into different subscription levels, by sending out a survey asking the user how much content they would like to receive from you.

It is better to have a user that is engaged who only receives one email from you per week than a user that ignores ten emails per week, or just unsubscribes/flags you as spam. The end goal is to have a list that is full of engaged users regardless of how large your audience is.

What is An Email Worth?

Value Offer

More and more, people are becoming guarded regarding the data they are willing to share with people and businesses. This means that it is our job to convince the user that it is worth their while parting with their information.

The most common way this is achieved is through a value offer – offering something useful in exchange for the users’ details.

Value Offer

If you have been struggling to grow your email subscriber list, your offer may not be compelling enough for your average user to part with their email address – if you are making any kind of value offer at all.

If you are making a value offer through an opt-in campaign, and it doesn’t seem to be working. It’s time to address the issue.

Is your offer good enough? Are you making it easily visible, and is the subscription process simple? If not, a few easy to implement changes may make all the difference to your success.

Let us assume that you aren’t currently offering any value in exchange for user data, how can you discover what will work? The first step is to check out your competitors that are killing it with their inbox marketing, what are they offering, and would you subscribe to gain access to it?

I suggest subscribing to your competitors for research purposes, not only can you monitor what they are currently doing throughout their campaigns, but it is a great source of inspiration and ideas.

If it appears all your competitors are offering eBooks, then at a bare minimum you need to offer a comparable resource – or do one better and create a superior product. For instance, you could either go more in-depth on similar topics or change the medium altogether.

We love to learn things visually rather than reading walls of text, by creating a short video course or webinar style content you are offering a superior product to your competitors. Not only that, but these are great ways to upsell further products to your audience – boosting conversions.

Once you have created a compelling offer for your users, it’s time to close the deal. Your offer should be prominent on your website/landing pages, and in my experience, it helps if you are totally transparent with your CTA’s.

It should take the user as little interaction as possible to subscribe, so having your opt-in form found next to the value offer on your homepage is a big plus. In the event that a site visitor doesn’t land on your homepage, you need to make sure you are offering the ability to subscribe across every page on your site.

Popups in the header or footer, exit popups, or lightboxes are all great ways to promote your offer and place the opt-in form in front of the user on a site-wide level.

It is also my opinion that, at least at first, you shouldn’t request too many details from the user. While it can make it easier during your campaigns to already have your recipient’s first and last names for personalized fields during mail merging; these are all details that can be collected further down the line when they are already a subscriber.

The simpler you make you opt-in forms for potential subscribers, the more likely they are to subscribe – growing your email list faster than you otherwise would have.

And still, there is more juice to be squeezed from people signing up to your email list. Once someone has opted in as a subscriber you should do one of two things; send them to a landing page thanking them for subscribing or send out a thank you email.

Regardless of how you decide to approach it, this is the best opportunity to engage with a new subscriber almost immediately. Using these methods, you can collect further data from the user, and encourage them to share your opt-in or convert them into sales.

So, how do we do this?

Simple, we give them another value offer. In exchange for them sharing our opt-in form on their social channels, they may receive a one-time discount code for your webstore. Or, if you were giving away an eBook or video course as your initial value offer, you can provide supplementary content in exchange.

KickoffLabs have a great tool you can use to boost conversions using this method that seamlessly integrates with your current lead capture funnels.

Social Media Marketing

Get Social

Social media marketing is exploding, and only seems set to get even bigger as technology becomes cheaper and more accessible. Highly engaging, well thought out social media marketing can increase email subscribers exponentially if done right.

If you have not set up social channels already it may be harder to get these methods off the ground as you will need a small audience, to begin with. However, you should be leveraging social media already – so get to it!

Get Social

If you already have an audience on your social channels, there is ample opportunity for you to grow your email subscriber list and at the same time, boost your social profiles considerably. The way you do this is deceptively simple:

Viral competitions.

So, what is a viral competition? In essence, it is getting users to exchange data and social shares & likes/upvotes (whatever is appropriate for the platform) for the opportunity to win prizes or services.

The more engaging the competition rules, the better; however, it should be noted that this may not be applicable to all niches – but for those that it is, it works wonders.

Typically, social contest relies on the users sharing content your chosen content with their audience, while simultaneously signing up to your email subscriber list as criteria to entry. However, you can take this further, and encourage content submissions from your userbase, tagging your social channels in the process.

If you are interested in setting up a viral competition over social media, here are the steps we recommend you take.

Setup your lead capture channels.

Before you start your competition you will need a way to collect users’ email addresses & possibly monitor their social shares. You will want to design compelling landing pages that contain your opt-in forms, designed to have the user share their data with you.

Not only that, but it might be prudent to set up an autoresponder sequence within your ESP delivering confirmation of competition entry to the user once they have shared their email address.

One great way to monitor shares and leads captured is through a third-party tool like Gleam which provides the user with more chances (entries) to win by monitoring their social shares. For instance, the user will get 1 entry into the competition for sharing their email address, another entry for sharing your content on Twitter, another entry for sharing content on Instagram – and so on.

This makes it extremely easy to monitor your competition and increases the likelihood of viral sharing within your target audience – increasing leads and growing your email subscriber list as well as your social profile.


Before launching your competition, you need to consider the audience you are trying to reach. This will be heavily dependant on your niche, and the goods & services that you offer – but if your prize has too broad of an appeal then it may do more harm than good.

You may end up increasing the size of your email subscriber list significantly, but the quality of your audience will be poor. Remember, it is better to have a smaller, higher-quality audience than a large audience that does not engage with your marketing efforts.

This stage will inform the type of competition you choose to hold, and what the end prize will be. Some niches are easier than others, if you are an online guitar instructor selling online courses – it may be prudent to have your users post a video of themselves playing guitar, tagging you in the process.

This is great as the audience is not only highly relevant but also engaged with what you are doing. It may be harder to determine what will generate the most success for you if you are an online retailer that sells kitchen appliances, as everyone has a kitchen that requires appliances – yet not everyone is looking to replace their white goods.

Competitor research is vital here, see what the most successful business in your industry have done in the past, or are currently doing and model your efforts after them.

So, let’s break down the 3 key elements required for a successful social campaign;

1. Proposition

The proposition is the cornerstone of your viral competition, defining the parameters required for your audience to enter.

There are different ways this is achieved and will depend on your niche;

Video Submissions
Photo Competitions
Text Competitions – Jokes, Short Stories, etc
Sweepstakes – Only required to exchange email/share content to enter.

Or any combination of the above.

No matter what the premise, it must be a medium that is relevant to your audience and be easy enough to enter. If you’re asking for video entries, the premise must be simple enough that it can be easily filmed with readily available equipment, luckily smartphones are prevalent these days and almost everyone has access to a high-quality camera.

If you are running a photo competition, consider asking for photos that people will probably already have in their camera roll, rather than being so specific they would need to go out and take a qualifying picture – the exception to this may be if you run a business for photographers.

For instance, if you have a business in the pet niche, you could ask your audience to share pictures of their cutest pet moment. It is highly likely their camera roll will have plenty of appropriate pictures for them to post almost immediately.

However, when considering the proposition, you need to be sure that the type of content you are asking people to submit I something that you would be happy to have associated with your brand/business.

2. Prize

Prizes can be as broad or specific to your niche as you would like, however the more widespread the appeal of your prize the less qualified your email subscriber list will end up being. Cash prizes appeal to everyone, but a prize specific to your niche will bring in a much more targeted audience.

An advantage of offering a prize that is niche-specific is that it will probably require a smaller upfront investment. Especially if it is a digital product you have created, you could run a competition where the winners get early access to your latest video training course for free.

And what’s more, if you can offer something unique, that money can’t buy, you will have even more success. Do you have access to industry insiders? Are you a personal trainer with celebrity clients, would any of them be willing to get involved?

Think outside the box, the more unique and appealing your offer the better you will fare.

The last thing you should consider is having multiple prizes, this can be as simple as having a 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place – or it can be more complex.

3. Promotion

Ok, so we have our proposition, and our prize; all that’s left is to promote our offer and start building our email subscriber list, social signals, and brand awareness. The first step you should take is to inform your current email list that you are launching a competition – this will start the ball rolling immediately.

People often forget about the power held within their own email list when trying to grow their subscribers, but it should always be your first port of call. Your current email list has already bought into your brand and therefore much more likely to engage with & be willing to share your content.

Next, you want to promote your offer within your website. You should display it prominently on your home page, and include a header/footer popup on subsequent pages sitewide.

This is a free way to take advantage of any organic traffic you are already receiving – sweeping up as many of their emails as possible.

Finally, let your competition be known through your social channels. Not only can you leverage your organic reach, but you can place paid ads in front of highly targeted audiences to further your success.

Lookalike audiences on Facebook are a method we swear by at Optimize to Convert. A lookalike audience shares many similar attributes as your current users and is an easy way to grab a quick win and gain some traction in any social marketing campaign.

The next step in social promotion is to collaborate with influencers within your niche. Depending on your industry, and how well known your brand is, this can either be really easy or fairly difficult; but, there is no denying the marketing power that influencers hold.

Being mentioned by social influencers can increase your brand’s desirability with your audience, and is an avenue worth exploring throughout all your marketing campaigns.

Best Practices

On-Site Checklist

So, we know what we need to start our campaigns and several opportunities we can explore for building our email subscriber list. I thought it might be worthwhile to have a checklist of best onsite practices to grow your email list without needing any additional promotional efforts.

On-Site Checklist


Ask your audience for feedback, where appropriate you should include forms on your site that enable the user to ask you questions about your business or provide you with feedback. This is a powerful feature that will net you many email addresses that would have otherwise passed you by.

You may also want to integrate an automatic chat tool if it is appropriate, that can answer simple questions and requests user details so they can receive further information if required.

Keep forms simple & to the point

As mentioned toward the beginning of this post, your lead capture forms should remain as simple as they possibly can. While you may be tempted to collect as much information as humanly possible on your users – this is counterproductive in growing your list.

Have no more than three input fields within your lead capture forms, and make sure they are prominently displayed on your website. Additional details can always be collected further down the line.

Social proof

Have customer reviews available on your site, especially if they encourage other users to engage with your content. ‘Social proofing’ is a great way to improve conversions sitewide and isn’t exclusively used to push your email subscriber list.

Adding genuine value from other users to your website can push others to convert that may have otherwise sat on the fence.


All websites should have a blog in my opinion, not only is it an excellent vehicle for boosting organic search metrics, but it is a great way to engage with your audience. If your blog is compelling enough to your readers, you should consider giving them the option to subscribe.

This will give you access to their inbox and keep them coming back to your blog each time you publish new content for them to see.

A/B split testing

Finally, you may be making all the right moves throughout your lead generation campaigns – placing your offers everywhere that you should be, and still not getting the traction you expected.

The problem might be with your landing page copy & creatives.

The remedy for this ailment is split testing, test every variable that you can, and monitor conversions to see what works. Testing headlines, copy, images, button colors & placement, and layouts will allow you to test and optimize for the greatest success.


By actioning on the insights found within this post, you are almost guaranteed to succeed with email marketing. Always keep in mind that building an email subscriber list is a slow burn, and you shouldn’t expect to blow up overnight.

With that said, email marketing is one of the best things you can do for your business; so, stick with it and watch your online empire grow.

Remember, the best time to start building your subscriber list was when you started your business – the second-best time is now. The sooner you start, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits of inbox marketing and take your business to the next level.

Still struggling? Sign up to our newsletter to receive free case studies and actionable insights, just like this post. We also have a free Facebook community that you can join, here, where digital marketers gather to share their successes, tips, business models, and anything in between.

Share the Love

If you found this post useful, please let others know about it by sharing it.