8 Ways to grow your email list organically (and fast)

Growing an email list is never as easy as we'd like it to be—especially when you’re trying to grow organically. 

Yes, there are other options you can try that are touted as being easier and faster. These include borrowing or buying email lists and sending your emails to the people on those lists. 

Really, though, this is far from the best way to grow your email list. Not only can you annoy and alienate the people on those lists, but you can also end up with higher un-open and unsubscribe rates. When this happens, your efforts are for naught. 

You can put your time, energy, and money to better use by growing your list organically. It’s true that it will take longer than purchasing a list from a third party. However, you can be sure that the people on your list really want to be there. The end result is higher open, click-through, and conversion rates. 

How can you go about growing your email list in a safe, effective manner? We have some tips for you.

8 tips for organic growth 

Growing your email list organically may feel slow, but it doesn’t have to be painstakingly so. Here are some tried and true ways to grow your email list faster, as well as some brands that are proof that it can be done. 

1. Offer incentives to people who subscribe to your list

Free opt-in incentives are a popular way to grow an email list, and it’s popular because it works

Getting something of value simply for subscribing to an email newsletter seems like a great exchange. You get another subscriber and they get something that fills a need or solves a problem for them. 

Some incentive ideas include: 

  • An eBook
  • A PDF report
  • A PDF journal/workbook with prompts
  • An offer to be part of an exclusive Facebook group
  • A video series that inspires and motivates them over the course of a few days
  • A discount on a product or service you provide. 

A great example of this is best-selling author, cancer survivor, and wellness guru, Kris Carr. When you go to her website, you’ll see an opt-in pop up offering a free track from her meditation album. 

Source: Kris Carr

Once you opt-in, you’ll be directed to a new page with an extended offer to get a discount of over 70% on her full meditation album worth around $140.00. 

Source: Pinterest

First, she offers something for free, and then she offers a steep discount on her meditation bundle. Who in her target market wouldn’t want to sign up for this kind of offer?

First, she offers something for free, and then she offers a steep discount on her meditation bundle. Who in her target market wouldn’t want to sign up for this kind of offer?

2. Engage people with personalized offers

You have an idea of what’s appealing to your ideal customer/client. You’ve worked on figuring out who makes up your target market. Therefore, you’re in a position to make offers to your audience that will appeal to them. 

In a 2018 survey, nearly 95% of people polled said they would be more likely to make a purchase if they received a personalized offer, rather than a generic one offered to the masses. 

Source: eMarketer

Take the time to find out what appeals to your target audience, and then, create offers specifically for them. 

3. Make your freebies more enticing than your competitors

While an opt-in offer can interest your target audience, it doesn’t automatically convert them into a subscriber. Some people are simply more discerning than others and are constantly on the lookout for better offers, even if those offers are already free. 

How can you appeal to this portion of the market? You can offer incentives that offer more value than your competitors. 

For example, let’s say you decide to offer a helpful PDF listing a number of ways to accomplish a certain business or personal goal. In doing research for this project, you find out that one (or more) of your competitors already have something similar available to their audience. How can you make your offer more enticing?

First, you can look at the number of ways listed to help the reader. Does your competitor offer 25 tips? Then, you can offer 50. 

Second, look at the quality of the materials being offered. Are they well-written? Do they have a pleasing aesthetic? You can improve the opt-in offer in these ways, too, and in doing so, make your offer more appealing than your competitor. 

4. Make sure your emails contain a sign-up button

It’s easy to forget that everyone who reads your email isn’t going to be on your subscriber list.

There will be times when your emails are so fantastic that your subscribers will forward them to friends, family, and colleagues. 

You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. Add a sign-up button to your emails so that these folks have the opportunity to sign up for more from you if they like what you have to offer. 

5. Ask those on your list to help you spread the word

Trying to grow your email list, especially in the beginning, can be extremely frustrating. It seems like the only people willing to subscribe to your newsletters are your parents, spouse, and best friend. You have to realize, though, that this is actually a really great start. 

If you send out great content to your email list, they’ll get excited about it and want to share it with others. Slowly but surely, your list will start to grow—even though you had very modest beginnings. 

6. Thoroughly utilize social media platforms 

Another way to organically grow your email list is to market your company on social media. 
Social media platforms can be a useful tool when it comes to marketing and building your list.

Make sure that within your profile you have an email opt-in form. This will allow people who find you organically on social media to subscribe. 

Doing this isn’t the only way to use social media to your advantage, though. You can use it to put a spotlight on your brand by posting testimonials/reviews from clients and customers. You can share these reviews yourself, or you can ask your customer/client to share it themselves and tag you in the post. 

According to Social Media Today, 54% of potential customers will visit a company’s website after seeing a positive review on social media. With great reviews, those in your target market will be more likely to check out your social media profile or website, both of which should have an email opt-in form. 

7. Get on the quiz bandwagon

Quizzes are insanely popular these days. There’s a quiz for just about everything because people love taking them. They like learning about their personality, how they learn, or what’s holding them back in business. 

While quizzes are fun to take, what’s even more appealing to people is the information they receive from these tests. Many businesses are able to get people to subscribe to their email list by offering in-depth results straight to the person’s inbox. 

Gretchen Rubin is one such person who is utilizing the power of the quiz. She is a best-selling author of the book The Four Tendencies, which explains that there are underlying reasons pertaining to how and why people complete daily tasks. Her quiz helps people figure out which tendency they have, the insight of which will help them become more productive. 

To take her test, you head over to her website, read about the concept of the four tendencies, and then you see a call to action button that you click on to take the test. 

Source: Gretchen Rubin

After you’ve taken the test, you end up with a page where you can enter your email address to get the results of the test. The page also allows you to choose whether you want to sign up for regular email newsletters. 

Source: Gretchen Rubin

8. Test your email offers with regular A/B testing

We’ve touched on this before, but it bears repeating: You need to perform regular A/B testing

In general, this type of testing will tell you if your subscribers prefer: 

  • One subject line over another
  • A certain type of content 
  • GIFs, videos, and/or images
  • Certain colors/styles
  • Receiving their emails in the morning instead of the evening.

When you’re growing your email list, A/B testing can help you determine which sign up offers appeal to more people in your target market. Some things you can test out: 

  • Subject lines
  • Calls to action
  • Content layouts
  • Overall design
  • Segmentation

A/B testing is so important that the Content Marketing Institute recommends marketers do it at least once per month. 

Wrap up

The best way to grow your email list is organically, as opposed to borrowed or purchased email lists. While it can take longer than the alternatives, organic growth is the sure way to an effective email campaign. 

To review, some of the best ways to grow your email list organically include: 

  • Utilizing social media, particularly to showcase client testimonials
  • Incorporating quizzes into your marketing plan
  • Add a sign-up button to all of your emails
  • Create enticing opt-in incentives. 

Put into practice some or all of the tips outlined today, and though it will take time, you’ll soon start to see improved open and conversion rates. 

We’ve discussed how you can improve conversion rates by growing your list organically. Another way to improve these rates is to avoid common email design pitfalls. Check out this other post discussing how and why to avoid these mistakes. 







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