50 Ways to Grow Your Email List

Increasing both the size and quality of a brand’s email list is often a top priority for marketers, and with good reason.  Not only does the email channel typically show a high ROI when compared to other direct marketing channels, it offers marketers a means to further engage and inform their subscribers.  Additionally, email can be integrated with other channels to augment outreach efforts and enhance overall campaign performance.  

The following recommendations can help increase the number of successful email sign-ups by increasing exposure for the email program and making it easy for email prospects to find and complete the opt-in process.

The Basics: Build a Foundation for Positive Subscriber Experiences

1.       Regardless of which methods you employ to grow your list, make sure that your approach is subscriber-centric and user-friendly.  A primary goal of building an email list should be to create a rewarding and satisfying subscriber experience from the initial opt-in to the re-engagement email and beyond.

2.       Include clear permissioning on all opt-in pages and forms.  Setting expectations with new subscribers is essential for growing an engaged and happy subscriber base.

3.       Leveraging a splash page that focuses on the email opt-in is a great way to grow a subscriber base for major launches, new brand awareness strategies, upcoming key events and any other promotion that depends on building anticipation as well as an email list.

4.       Give prospects an easy way out of the subscription process and back into your website content if they chose not to opt in.  This sounds counterintuitive, but prospects who have a positive brand experience are more likely to opt-in down the line.  Additionally, these same site visitors may choose to opt-in on another page once they have had more time to explore your content.

5.       Create a simplified, mobile-friendly landing page that includes an overview of email program benefits, an opt-in, and basic navigation back to the main website.   This ensures that a greater audience will be easily able to opt-in. 

Nordstrom Email Opt-in Form6.       Make it easy to opt in by including a limited number of required fields that are clearly identified as such.  If your brand strategy requires a high level of data, consider adding a secondary page or section where users are able to volunteer additional information or adjust preferences. 

7.       Keep your opt-in form design simple and intuitive and you’ll see a lower abandonment rate.

8.       Clearly spell out how your email program can benefit your subscribers and customers and set expectations on what kind of messaging they’ll receive.

9.       Offer email-exclusive deals, information and opportunities to increase the value of your email program for subscribers.

10.   Have an optimized triggered welcome email in place to confirm the opt-in and welcome new subscribers to your program.  While this won’t help grow your list, it’s an important step to start things off on the right foot and stave off list attrition!

Bread and Butter:  The Website Opt-in

11.   Make the email opt-in on your home page noticeable and easy to find!  The longer that site visitors have to search for it, the fewer will successfully complete the process.

12.   Put an email opt-in call-out on your content pages or within website headers or sidebars that are consistent across all pages of your website.

15.   Make sure that your website footer includes an email program call-out and/or link to your opt-in page.  This ensures that engaged website visitors will always have the opportunity to subscriber.13.   Include an email opt-in on shopping cart checkout pages, but try not to pre-check the sign-up box.

16.   For sweepstakes and contests, include a benefit statement, clear permissioning and a checkbox to opt-in to receive promotional emails. 

17.   For any sign-up forms for webinars, demos or other online events, call-out your email program and provide a way to opt-in.

Using Email to Drive More Email Opt-Ins

17.   Make sure that your content is worth sharing!  If you have great offers, tips, information, images or content, your subscribers will be more likely to spread the word.

18.   Include a clear, motivating call-out within the email creative that encourages and/or allows your subscribers to forward an email to their friends.

19.   If possible, for all emails that are forwarded through calls to action within the content, add a banner or call-out to the template that includes motivating copy and a link for the friend to sign up to receive emails.

20.   Include an opt-in link in the footer of all commercial emails so friends are able to opt-in even if the email was forwarded through the forwarder’s email client.

21.   Feature a prominent forward-to-a-friend link within your welcome email series to capitalize on new, engaged subscribers.

22.   Consider sending an email that highlights sharable content and/or the multi-channel share features that are available for subscribers to spread the word about your brand, products or offers.

23.   Include a call-out to join your email program on transactional emails for customers who are not subscribed to your email program.

Beyond Digital: Getting the Brick and Mortar Involved

24.   Turn in-store customers into email subscribers by informing shoppers of the benefits of the email program and offering them an option to opt-in at the point of sale.

25.   Take some of the pressure off of your in-store employees to spread the word by including signage and point of purchase call-outs that briefly highlight the benefits of your email program.

26.   If you’re already sending email receipts, modify the template to include a call-out for your email program and a link to the opt-in form.

27.   Include an email program plug and benefit statement on printed sales receipts.

28.   If you have a loyalty program in place, ensure that it is tied into your email program.  Allow members to opt-in to receive standard sales emails in addition to loyalty program communications.

29.   Leverage QR codes as a quick way for savvy in-store customers to jump right to your mobile friendly opt-in page.

Out of the Box:  Making Print and Outdoor Media Work Harder

30.   On print advertising pieces in magazines and newspapers, call-out the benefits of the email program and include both the website address and/or a QR code

31.   Promote your email program to customers and prospects on your physical mailing list.  On direct mail pieces, call out the specific benefits of an email subscription or online membership and provide simple, clear instructions on how to opt in.

32.   Plug your email program on printed collateral and brochures.

33.   Highlight the benefits of the email program on advertisements displayed in spaces with a captive audience, like public transportation ads.  Provide a link or QR code that directs visitors to the mobile site or mobile opt-in page.

Making the Most of Each Touch Point: Client Services Capture

34.   Provide your call center with scripts that briefly highlight the email program and allow callers to opt-in to receive promotional messaging.

35.   Add a descriptive link about the email program in the email signatures for client/prospect facing representatives.  This strategy works great for B2B or for brands that leverage one-to-one lifecycle or customer service email programs.

Get Social:  Tying Email to Social Media

Peet's Coffee Facebook Email Opt-in Form36.   If you have a presence on Facebook, create an email opt-in tab that calls out the benefits of the program and allows visitors to join your list.

37.   Do not require Facebook visitors to like your brand before opting in to receive emails.  Across all age groups, email still has a commanding lead on how people would like to receive promotional based messages.  Requiring a “like” and an email address may contribute to page abandonment and the loss of an opportunity to contact the visitor across both channels.

38.   For Facebook, customize the text, image and links that are published to the site when a subscriber shares email content and offers.  Ensure that the messaging that is displayed is engaging and actionable for friends.

39.   Within your social profiles, ensure that website links direct users back to a relevant landing page that contains a benefit statement and opt-in for the email program.  This can be accomplished by updating the footer, header or side bar to contain an email program call-out and opt in form.

40.   Promote the benefits of your email program on the social sites that you have presence on and provide a link to the opt-in page.

41.   Call out specific email exclusive offers on social sites and provide links back to the opt-in page. Ensure that these pages offer navigation back to main content pages to allow visitors to further explore your brand and your site.

Pinned image for MY M&M'S Business Cards42.   On all Pinterest-friendly content, ensure that when the pinned image is clicked on the Pinterest site, users are linked back to a relevant content page that also contains an email program opt-in. 

43.   If your brand is very active on Pinterest or your website sees frequent traffic from the site, ensure that the sidebar, header or footer on all of your content pages contain an easy to locate email opt-in.  Make opting in easy for interested visitors as pinned images can often link to deep site content.

MY M&M'S Landing Page from Pinterest

There’s an App for that?

44.   If you have a mobile app, add an email opt-in option within your app settings, intro screens or content pages.

45.   Already linking to an email account and sending transactional messages?  Include a permissioning statement and checkbox to opt-in to receive promotional emails and extend the opportunity by including an opt-in link within the email content.

Searching for Subscribers: SEM and SEO

46.   Call-out your email program on SEM ads, especially if you have an offer for new subscribers.  Not only will you get more email addresses, you may capture more sales from prospects who are shopping around for savings.

47.   If your brand leverages search ads, include a link to your email program opt-in.

Mixing It Up: Cross-Brand Strategies

48.   If your brand is included in another company’s promotional email, ensure that the landing page includes an opportunity to opt-in to the email program.

49.   If your brand is cross-promoted on another brand’s preference center or opt-in form, make sure that permissioning is very clear or use a double opt-in process.  This can help increase subscriber trust and reduce the chances of spam complaints and opt-outs down the line.

50.   If your brand is involved with, or contributes to altruistic causes and your logo is featured on their site, request that the logo be a live link that directs traffic back to a relevant site page that contains an option to opt-in to the email program.

Still want more insights on how to maximize your subscription rate?  Check out my recent blog postings on how key best practices for the opt-in process play out in the high-stakes landscape of the 2012 presidential election.