How to grow your email list for free: Tried-and-true tactics, tips, and tricks

The money is in the list—right? As an email marketer, growing and maintaining a healthy email list ensures you’re able to impact more people and convert prospects into loyal customers.

However, growing that list is also one of the most challenging aspects of your email marketing strategy. Sure, you can create killer campaigns filled to the brim with interactive content. But, if new subscribers aren’t seeing and engaging with your emails, then it’s difficult to grow your brand with an effective email marketing strategy.

Even your tried-and-true contacts could disappear. As they opt-out, change email addresses, or move to a competitor—it’s crucial to add fresh subscribers to your list so your engagement rates stay high. In terms of ROI, studies show that email beats out all other digital marketing channels—59% of marketers see a return on email—so it’s important to build a loyal following.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to break your marketing budget to build an email distribution list. If you’re not working on building your list—or it has gone stagnant—we’re here to help. In this post, we’re going to dive into some ideas on how to grow your email list for free.

Why is an email list important?

Before we jump into tactics and tips, it’s important to know why an email list is so crucial to growing your brand. Your list is a great way to inform your subscribers on discounts, updates, and other details that they wouldn’t have otherwise known about.

Email lists are the best way to grow your brand and increase your returns. In fact, you are 6x more likely to receive a higher click-through rate than social media. Additionally, email is 40x more effective to convert new customers than social media.

Why? You have the opportunity to build a personal, 1x1 connection with each subscriber. The modern customer isn’t fooled by retargeting ads on their newsfeeds. Instead, you can build a long-lasting relationship with your customers that continuously converts.

Why should you avoid buying an email list?

You know you need to grow your email list. So, if you’re looking to find a loophole and decide to buy a list instead—we urge you to think again. While it’s a quick way to receive more followers, your email marketing strategy may suffer beyond repair. Here’s why:

  • You will violate GDPR rules.

  • Most email service providers won’t allow you to send emails to a purchased list.

  • People on these lists don’t know you, and therefore are less likely to purchase from you.

  • Your email deliverability and email reputation can be seriously damaged.

The best way to grow your email list is by earning engaged and willing subscribers. Let’s dive into some of those tactics to grow your email list for free.

5 easy ways to grow your email list for free

If you’re just now thinking of ways to grow your email list, don’t worry, it’s never too late to improve your email marketing strategy to build brand awareness and engagement for your company. Here are a few ways you can utilize our tips and tricks to grow your email list for free.

1. Encourage your subscribers to share

If you create entertaining content that delights your subscribers, not only will they be more likely to actively engage with your message, but they could also forward your email to their own network. 

Include ‘email to a friend’ button in every email to encourage subscribers to engage and share your brilliant content. The more your subscriber’s network sees your content, the more likely they will subscribe to your email list as well.

2. Include a sign-up form on your website

As one of your most important digital assets, your website is most likely the first impression a potential subscriber has with your company. Adding a sign-up form on your website is a great way to harness that touchpoint and encourage visitors to stay connected.

Along with the form, include an incentive for your website user to sign up like 10% off their first order or free shipping. Oftentimes, the more you sweeten the pot with a deal, the more someone will be enticed to give up their email address.

Along with the form, include an incentive for your website user to sign up like 10% off their first order or free shipping.

Source: Really Good Emails

3. Collect contacts at events and industry trade shows

While this method may seem a bit archaic, it’s an effective way to take an in-person relationship to the next level. Once you receive their email address, you can begin sending an email nurture series about why your brand is the preferred partner to work with. 

Begin collecting registrations before the event so you can communicate before and after the occasion takes place. To make things even easier, you can include a tablet sign-up form at the event that allows attendees to easily add their contact information into your system.

4. Offer a lead magnet someone can’t refuse

Develop a free whitepaper or eBook and host it on a website landing page that requires visitors to enter their email addresses to receive the content. As an effective lead generation tactic, this gated offer provides your visitors with valuable information that speaks to their needs. In turn, you receive their contact information and permission to send email correspondence. 

If eBooks aren’t your jam, you can also create tools that help your website visitors with their everyday problems. Depending on your business, you can create technology that helps visitors find a restaurant, gives workout reminders or even helps find deals across the internet. The key is to create technology that someone needs and would, therefore, be more than willing to provide their email address to receive it.

If eBooks aren’t your jam, you can also create tools that help your website visitors with their everyday problems.

Source: Emma

5. Capitalize on your social media following

If you have a following on social media, you can reach out to them to join your email list for more up-to-date information about your brand. Consider the following:

  • Run a social media contest that requires followers to sign up for your email list as an entry

  • Promote your lead generation magnets in posts across all channels

  • Include a ‘Sign Up’ call-to-action button on your Facebook’s business page

While email marketing is the best digital marketing channel available, social media provides extra touchpoints to stay at the forefront of your customer’s minds. If they’re following you on your social channels—they’re halfway there to subscribing to your list. 

It’s important to remember that you don’t need to be social-agnostic. Each social platform offers a suite of unique advertising capabilities for businesses to help reach different audiences. Depending on your brand’s goals, consider utilizing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. to grow your email list for free.

Implement these best practices for engaging emails

Now that you understand a few ways to grow your email list for free, it’s also important to utilize your emails to keep all those new subscribers engaged, and hopefully, converting. New subscribers won’t do you any good if your emails aren’t delivering on your promises—in fact—they will do more harm and bring down your engagement levels.

In order to keep your subscribers engaged, consider these email marketing tricks

Create engaging content

Your content needs to make an impact that drives your subscribers to open and click every time you press ‘send.' Instead of sending sales-orientated emails, develop story-telling that takes your subscribers on a journey about how your brand will serve them in the real world. Embrace the human experience and utilize videos, GIFs, quizzes, and more engage your subscribers.

Embrace the human experience and utilize videos, GIFs, quizzes, and more engage your subscribers.

Source: Really Good Emails

Segment and personalize your emails

To send relevant content, you have to segment your emails lists and personalize every message that goes out. In modern times, personalization is more than including your subscriber’s first name in the subject line. Utilize your subscriber’s regional location, past purchase history, and even their gender to ensure they receive the most pertinent information to them. Segmentation and personalization result in a 6x higher transaction rate simply because subscribers want to be treated like they matter.

Segmentation and personalization result in a 6x higher transaction rate simply because subscribers want to be treated like they matter.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Develop mobile-ready communications

More than half of all emails are being opened on a mobile device, which creates a huge opportunity for email marketers to enhance a subscriber’s customer experience. To target subscribers on mobile devices, consider the following:

  • Utilize mobile-friendly templates

  • Create short, witty subject lines and preheader text

  • Use a large font that’s scannable

  • Test images and buttons on multiple devices to ensure readability

  • Craft bold call-to-actions that drive action to mobile-friendly landing pages

Wrap up

Learning how to grow your email list for free with these tips and tricks will help kick your email marketing strategy into high gear. Growing your email list not only ensures you more potential customers to build a relationship with, but it will also keep your deliverability and engagement levels high. To successfully build an email list, you can:

  • Create killer campaigns that keep subscribers sharing your content

  • Utilize lead magnets and forms on your website that users can't refuse

  • Collect contact information at events

  • Persuade your social media followers to take your relationship to the next level

  • Develop content that entertains and delights

Are you ready to start growing your email list? Emma is here to help. Try out a live demo and we’ll walk you through how to develop a strong email marketing presence. 

About the Author

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. With our

More Content by Emma Email

Want to engage your audience and grow your brand? Try Emma's robust easy-to-use product today.