How to drive organic traffic to your email list

If driving organic traffic were a simple step-by-step process, all of our email lists would be filled with more subscribers than we know what to do with. But unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Driving traffic to a website is one thing, but then making sure that website is email-optimized and set up to increase conversions is a whole other thing entirely. 

So, what is the best way to get the word out about your email list? How can you make sure the people who are looking for the value you provide actually receive it? And, how do you make sure not o get lost in the mix of everyone else also hoping to grab the attention of subscribers?

Set up your website for email conversion success

First things first: You need a place to send your future subscribers. Just like inviting someone over to your house for the first time, you want to be a polite and thoughtful host who has already thought of everything they need to be comfortable. 

Creating an email-optimized website simply means that your site is designed with the intention to convert website visitors to email subscribers. That means your end goal is to encourage web viewers to sign up for your email list. Looking for some landing page inspiration? Here are eight creative design examples of landing pages that convert.

From using a sign-up form in the footer to launching a pop-up on the home page, there are many ways to go about collecting email addresses. While there’s no magic formula, testing can help you figure out the content and format your audience prefers. 

If you don’t already have a website, no sweat! Emma offers a hosted sign-up form option, so you’ll always have a place for your customers to land. 

How to drive organic traffic

Okay, now that your website is ready for visitors, it’s time to talk about driving organic traffic. 

How do we define organic traffic? Omnicovert defines it as, “visitors that land on your website as a result of unpaid (‘organic’) search results.”

These are free tactics—those that won’t hit your advertising budget—but you can go about it in many different ways. 

1. Leverage your social media platforms. 

It’s no secret that social media is an extremely popular way for brands to get the word out about their products and values, but this tool becomes even more powerful when leveraged to draw attention to other parts of your strategy, like your email list. 

Social media can attract some of the most loyal followers, so it’s a great place to make sure your brand supporters know all the ways they can follow along with your brand and receive communications and updates from your team. 

Pro tip: While sending a tweet asking, “Do you subscribe to our email list?” could be effective, it’s important to communicate the value a user will gain from your email list. Give them an incentive to sign up (Even better if it’s exclusive for social media followers), and they’ll be more likely to follow-through.

2. Create valuable pieces of content. 

Content is one of the absolute best tools you have at your disposal when it comes to email marketing. When you consider content marketing, maybe blogs or articles come to mind, but, in reality, it encompasses those plus so much more. Content can be executed so many different ways, and it’s best to get creative and lean into your strengths.

Tap into the customer journey and consider the content your buyers need at each decision-making point. Do they need an infographic to understand the solution your product provides? Do they need a video featuring customer testimonials? Do they need a how-to guide that walks them through the process of using your product? The possibilities are endless. 

But when it comes to using content to drive organic traffic to your email list, you want to make sure you’re capturing an email address in exchange for providing value. One way to do this is by creating gated content. Usually, this is executed by a landing page or sign-up form that serves as a “gate” in front of the content. Once a user gives their information, the content is fully viewable. 

3. Sharing and referrals

Another great way to grow your list organically is to leverage the subscriber audience you already have. Ask your current subscribers to share your newsletter or emails with their friends who they think would also enjoy your content. You can even offer an incentive for your readers who forward your emails to friends or share about it via word-of-mouth. This is an effective way to find engaged and long-term subscribers because they’re hearing from their friends who they not only share common interests with, but also trust their recommendations. 

4. Optimize your content for search engines

This may feel a little bit like playing the long game when it comes to growing your email list, but optimizing your content for search engines is the best way to increase organic traffic with the content you already have. When your email sign-up form is easy-to-find and visitors understand the benefit of signing up for your list, increased traffic will also mean an increase in subscribers. 

5. Invite guest writers.

Choose someone who your target audience would enjoy hearing from, then invite them to guest post on your blog and/or newsletter. Like we mentioned before, you could gate this content, or you could make it exclusive to your email list. For example, we love it when our friend Ann Handley guest writes for us because we know she has really important things to say about marketing, and our audience listens to her. 

Ann also has her own newsletter that has quite a following, so when her subscribers find out she’s written for us, they may also want to subscribe to our newsletter for content they already know they love. 

Guest posting also goes the other way—You should be looking for new places to share your content. Keep an eye out for similar newsletters or publications who may be looking for contributors and will link to your newsletter sign-up page. 

6. Host a webinar.

Another way to make sure your brand is included in the right conversations and providing thought leadership in your industry is to host a webinar. By inviting a variety of people (who bring their own following) and perspectives, you’ll create a cross-promotional resource that will not only provide value to your viewers, but also help you gain more email subscribers for your list. Ask for their email address when they register for the webinar, and give attendees the option to opt-in for your regular emails. 

7. Go to industry events. 

You may be thinking, “Why would I go to an in-person event to grow my email list?,” but it’s actually one of our favorite tactics. Meeting someone face-to-face is a great way to establish trust and rapport, as well as communicate the value of joining the email list. 

When Emma attends events, we usually end up talking to a few people who have never heard of us before and want to know more. While we also have printed product materials at our booth, we encourage visitors to sign up for our email list for more strategy tips and tricks. It’s a great way to continue the conversation and continue to familiarize new subscribers with our brand. 

What not to do

Okay, now that we’ve covered some of the best ways to drive organic traffic to your email list, it’s also worth mentioning some other tactics that you shouldn’t use. For example, it may seem tempting (and an easy fix!) to purchase an email list, but this is something you should always avoid, no matter what. Purchasing a list is a surefire way to create more of a headache for yourself in the future, so just stick to the organic methods we mentioned!

Something else that sometimes gets lost in the excitement of accruing new subscribers is permission and privacy. Regardless of the organic method you use to drive traffic to your email list, make sure your subscribers have properly opted-in to your email list and you have full permission to send them emails. 

If you need to brush up on permissions and privacy, a great place to start is the GDPR

Wrap up

By now, you have some ideas of how you can begin to increase organic traffic to build your email list. The best part about beginning a strategy like this is that it’s low-risk, since all of your tactics are free, and it can ebb and flow with your plans over time. Be sure to test to see what works best for you and your audience, then use that as a foundation to continue to scale your efforts and grow your email list. 



About the Author

Kaitlin Wernet is a content specialist on Emma's marketing team. When she's not restraining herself from using too many exclamation points or grabbing one more La Croix from the office kitchen, she can be found working on her first book or planning her next big travel adventure.

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