36 Useful Strategies for Massive Email List Growth

Email lists, huh?

Whether or not the money is in the list, you can’t deny the importance of gathering emails.

For most marketers and business owners, it’s your main form of direct communication with your readership. You can leverage it to share articles, tell stories, instill a sense of community, sell products, promote events, nurture leads, and just about anything else.

This article is geared towards those that have traffic on their website, but want more opt-ins. I’ll be discussing the options you have for collecting emails, predominantly online, but also a few options for offline success as well.

I won’t be covering strategies for boosting conversion rates. Rather, I’ll be providing all sorts of ways that you can collect more email addresses, many of which you haven’t thought of.

We have a lot to do, let’s get right into this…

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Resources Page

In your main navigation bar or menu, there’s a very good chance you include the home page, about page, and blog, but don’t forget a resources page.

After all, this is the perfect opportunity to showcase all the assets you’ve created. Maybe you have an email course, or an ebook, or a white paper..or even a Keg Weight Calculator like the one BevSpot has below.

Regardless, show these off to visitors and give them the chance to opt-in with their email. You could even provide access to all your free assets in one giant download, or simply create a separate page where all the resources are available once the reader has opted in. That’s a lot of value for the reader.


Resources page with downloadable asset
Opt-In Link in email signature

I send a lot of emails, and I’m sure you do as well.

Everyone has a link in their signature that leads people back to the homepage of their website, but what if you tried something a little different?

If you send out great content to your email list, try advertising it in your email signature. Or if you’d rather not advertise your newsletter, you could subtly promote a useful piece of content instead.

There has to be an incentive for the person to click your link, can you sum up your value proposition in a short sentence or phrase?


Email signature with Call-to-Action


Lead Magnets

A lead magnet can be nearly anything. All they do is incentive a reader to opt-in for a piece of value. Examples include tutorials, email courses, ebooks, whitepapers, templates, guides, cheatsheets, reports, etc.

Just make sure that what you’re providing is relevant to the audience, has a high perceived value, and follows through on its promise. You don’t want people on your email list who feel that they were tricked into giving away their email. that’s a bad way to start a relationship.

As an overarchign themes of this article, it in your best interest to create awesome, useful lead magnets that drive subscribers, because newsletters simply aren’t enticing to readers.

Why would I want to be on your newsletter when I could receive a free download that gives me valuable information or saves me a whole lot of time?


Free ebook for download with email opt-in


Content Upgrades

Content upgrades are extremely valuable in my opinion. It involves creating a stellar piece of content that anyone can view, and also creating a downloadable version that’s even better.

For example, say you write a comprehensive article on how to bake a blueberry pie. This is free, everyone can read it and use it as they like.

But at the bottom of the page, you offer a pdf version of the recipe along with recipes for apple pie and pumpkin pie.

In a sense, the reader can have an upgraded, or value-added, version of the same post for only the cost of their email.

Seems enticing, maybe even mouthwatering!


Content Upgrade for a longer list
Not as enticing as pie, but still a good example. (Source)



Creating a viral giveaway isn’t necessarily easy, especially if you have a small following. But you can’t deny that people love giveaways.

Larger companies down to freelancers have had major success with this list-building strategy. (https://blog.kissmetrics.com/giveaway-accelerate-email-list/).

Two of the major factors in your success include the prize you give away and what incentive you offer for people to spread the giveaway to friends. If you can nail these two elements, you’re going to be able to collect a lot of emails.

First, pick a prize that isn’t too general, nor too specific.

It has to be something that is of relatively significant value to your target audience, but not valuable to just a normal person.

This way, you can grow a list of qualified subscribers, rather than people looking for freebies.

For example, if I decided to run a giveaway and offer a pair of free Beats headphones, I’d probably get a lot of entrants, but most would be unqualified.

On the other hand, if I partnered up with Hootsuite and offered a free year of service to a lucky winner, a majority of the leads would be a far better fit for the content I offer.

Next, create a campaign that encourages sharing. If people don’t share your giveaway to their friends, it’ll be a waste of time.

Provide the proper incentives so that people want to share your message. Perhaps you could give them additional entries for every person they refer to the giveaway?


Harry's Viral Referral Campaign
Harry’s used a viral campaign to encourage people to share and earn more products. (Source)


Social Media bios for a Call to Action

Whenever someone stumbles across your social profile, they have the chance to read your bio.

The phrase or two of room that you get is a perfect opportunity for a call to action as long as you can properly sum up your value proposition.

Why do people follow you? What value do you provide? How does that value correlate with something “more” you can provide your target audience?

In regards to your value proposition and target audience, create an asset that aligns with it, along with a landing page, and link to it from your social profiles.


Call to action in Twitter Bio


Pinned Tweet or Pin a post to your Facebook Page

Similar to adding a call to action to the bio in your URL, try offering a piece of value in your pinned post.

You can do this on both Facebook and Twitter, and since these top posts are arguably more prominent than your bio (since they are larger) it could be a great opportunity to promote your latest downloadable asset.


Pinned Tweet call-to-action


Exit intent Popups

It’s sad when people leave your website, but it’s inevitable.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to set up an exit intent pop-up.

Next time a visitor tries to leave, they’ll be hit with a pop-up similar to the example below.

It’s a last ditch effort to grab an email before they say goodbye (potentially forever) so offer a lot of value so you can get them on your email list and continue the conversation.


Exit intent pop-up


Scroll based pop-up

Your most engaged readers are the ones you want on your email list.

These individuals find your content valuable, they want to learn more from you.

Based on this thinking, scroll based pop-ups are a valuable list-building tactic.

The reason being is that the reader is engaged enough to scroll down your webpage. They want more content from you.

If they decide to scroll down 30% (you can set it at whatever you like) then the pop-up will appear. If the content was that entertaining or informational, there is a greater chance that they will be willing to opt-in for even more useful information.


Scroll-based pop-up on SocialMediaExaminer.com


Landing pages or Squeeze Pages

These web pages are dedicated to just one thing. Converting visitors at the highest rate possible.

That is literally all they do. Some tips to build an effective one:

  • Make it simple, no distractions or unnecessary elements such as navigation
  • Offer a whole lot of value in the perspective of the reader by using excellent copy
  • Make it as easy as possible for the reader to convert (ie. collect as little information as possible, prominent buttons)

Wordstream has a useful article that dives deeper into landing pages if you would like to learn more.

If you can drive traffic to a landing page, it will most likely be your highest converting strategy for building your email list.

What’s the greatest resource or asset you can give away?


Landing page example from Salesforce


Full Screen CTA’s (Welcome mats)

Working off of the landing page category, the welcome mat (the name comes from Sumo) is great because it can display a landing page on any webpage you want, even every page on your website.

This means that anyone who visits your site will be presented with the offer, making it one of the more popular methods for collecting emails. 

One of the major arguments with this feature is that it is a bit intrusive to visitors.

Just as they land on your site, the offer is presented, covering their entire screen. This can get annoying quickly so use with caution, but it will convert at a high rate.


Landing mat example

Floating header bar

Trying to stay “top” of mind? 

Instead of having an annoying popup that causes visitors to bounce from your site, try a form field that floats at the top of your website.

Not only is this a lot less intrusive, but it also follows the user as they scroll through your pages. This means that it is always available for them to opt-in.

Furthermore, they can always click the little “x” to get rid of it.

Check out Hello Bar, among various other tools that offer this type of email grabber.


Hello Bar offers floating header bars.


Contact form/blog comments/checkout page subscribe checkbox

For blog comments, contact forms, and checkout pages you have the ability to include a checkbox where users can subscribe to your list.

This is a great unobtrusive opportunity to encourage signups with users that are already engaged with your website.

They are either contacting you, commenting on a post, or buying something from you. This means they are a whole lot more receptive to joining your list, especially when we compare this with the classic pop-up, “Join my newsletter”.

Try out something like “Check this box to receive exclusive updates/tips/coupons…


Contact form with checkbox to subscribe.


Guest post LeadBoxes Link

Next time you write for a different website than your own, include something about your newsletter or a special offer, giveaway, etc. in your author bio.

Two reasons to do this: you can either link back to a landing page with the free “thing” or you could use a tool like LeadBoxes from LeadPages so that a form pops up within the page.

I didn’t even know this feature existed until I did some research for this article, but this is a friction-less way of encouraging signups on another person’s website. 

Here’s a short explanation of how it works:


Information on what Leadboxes can do within a guest bio to increase email opt-ins with an offer.
Courtesy of LeadPages.


Include “Share with friends” in your newsletter

How valuable is your newsletter (weekly tips, monthly report)?

Do your subscribers love it too?

If so, ask them to share it with friends, or simply include a call-to-action at the bottom of your email blasts.

One of my favorite newsletters is Opportunity Overload. Check out how they politely encourage their readers to share:


Include "Share with friends" to increase the sharing of your valuable newsletter.
And yes, I have shared it with friends…


Free tool or piece of software

If you really want to separate yourself from others, step your game up.

Here’s an idea: give away free software.

Okay, that sounds a bit radical. But it doesn’t sound so crazy when you realize just how many companies do it.

Just look at Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer and Hubspot’s Website Grader do.

They’re useful and collect emails. People link back to them because they’re free and helpful, so traffic follows. (this means more emails for you)

Try hiring a freelancer off Upwork to create a tool for you.

Even if it costs $300 to get a simple tool made, as long as you generate 300 leads, you’re acquiring new subscribers at a relatively cheap rate.

Plus, the tool will last for a very long time to come, unlike building your list with paid traffic alone.


Website Grader from HubSpot.


Cross Promote with another blogger or company

Try to get creative here.

Who in your industry or a related industry wants to collect emails as well? Everyone.

Could you collaborate, cross promote, feature each other?

Perhaps you could co-host a webinar and share the leads generated. That’s what GetUplift and Sprout Social are doing for this webinar:


Cross promote with other people in your industry to increase leads.



Speaking of webinars…

Just about all the big players use webinars to get more email subscribers, maybe you could try them out too?

It’ll cost you money if you’re collecting the leads rather than offering a webinar to the audience you already have.

Regardless, it’s a great way to get yourself in front of your target audience, offer some solid value, and pitch an offer.

Furthermore, you can market to all these leads after the webinar, as they’ll be part of your email list.


Landing page for a webinar.


Paid Ads

Can you acquire new subscribers for lower than the lifetime value of the average subscriber?

For example, let’s say that the average subscriber on your list offers a lifetime value of $2.50.

As long as you can acquire new subscribers for under $2.50, you’ll be making a profit in the long run.

Using social media and PPC you can get your offers in front of the desired target audience, offering free content downloads such as ebooks, whitepapers, and other useful information.


Paid Facebook Video Ad


Time based pop-ups

Similar to the scroll box, time based pop-ups are great for taking advantage of website visitors that are actively engaging with your content.

Think about it, who is more likely to subscribe?

a.) A visitor who bounces from your site in under 5 seconds

b.) A visitor who spends a minute on your website?


Setting up a time-based pop-up with Sumo.


Entry pop-ups

Talk about intrusive.

But they work. And they are also pretty self-explanatory. Obviously they aren’t quite as annoying as the full page landing mats, but they are up there in terms of intrusiveness.

Just be sure that your offer has an extremely high perceived value.


Entry pop-ups show up when someone lands on your website.


Inline calls to action

An inline call to action is a whole lot less intrusive than pop-ups. In fact, they appear as either links or banners within your posts.

If the reader chooses to click through, they can. If not, they won’t be bothered in the slightest.


Inline call to action


Feature box

This prominent email collection tactic involves asking for an email on your home page.

Although it’s a relatively aggressive strategy, it will be one of the most high performing call to actions on your website.

If well designed and offering an awesome amount of value, I see no problem with having one on your homepage.


Feature box on home page


Sidebar Form

Just one more place to put a form…

Easy to see, unobtrusive, but also often neglected by visitors. Don’t expect the best conversion rates with this tactic, but you also won’t have to worry about annoying website visitors.


Sidebar email form to opt-in



Homepage as landing page

This is similar to the feature box, but includes the entire page. It’s similar to a welcome mat, only permanent.

Although many companies do use this format for their homepage, it seems to be most often used by influencers.


Homepage as landing page


Cliffhanger Technique

Here’s an idea: Make a list of 100 “whatevers” and write a blog post about it.

But…only include 50 of the items on the list, and force visitors to opt-in to receive the rest.

Slightly cruel, but if the content is that valuable, they’ll want it.

It’s your job to make the content valuable enough that visitors would be willing to part with their email address.

This is very similar to content upgrades but there’s one major difference:

A little thing called loss aversion.


Loss aversion definition from Wikipedia.


Surveys, such as Qualaroo

Use survey software ask visitors engaging questions, qualify them as a lead, and collect emails.

Similar to how Drift and other bots ask for your email if no human is available, this tool can attract attention from your website visitors and hopefully snag a couple emails in the process.

I managed to stumble across this idea from Brian Dean’s article on list building.


Qualaroo in action on a website.


LinkedIn Groups/Facebook Groups/Forums/Communities

Communities and groups can be a dangerous place to post articles, not to mention posting call-to-actions for downloadable content on your website. This is a surefire way to piss some people off.

So don’t do it…at least not directly.

Here’s an ethical hack for you:

First, have a tremendous amount of value. Either a crazy long and informative piece of content, a tool, a free product, something that get’s people saying “Cool, I’m in” right off the bat.

Next, offer this to people, but don’t direct them to your website. Either ask for their email in the comments, tell them to shoot you an email if they are interested, or tell them to fill out a Google form.

This is a very simple and more trustworthy way of going about this. 

People hate spam, and they are fully aware of all the spam posted in groups. I’ve tried it before myself, and it worked quite well. (Plus I didn’t piss anyone off which is always good.)

Air on the side of caution with this one, and if you feel that you can’t offer enough value, don’t even bother trying. Your reputation is worth more than a couple email subscribers.


Facebook group search for relevant groups



You can add call-to-actions both in the video notes or in the video itself with annotations. If you’re video is engaging and the call to action makes sense, perhaps this could drive solid traffic to a landing page.



YouTube Annotations as a call-to-action



About Us page

The “About Us” page is a great opportunity for two reasons:

  • It’s all about you, which people expect and generally like
  • It’s one of the most visited pages on your website

Take advantage of all the traffic by selling yourself to people.

Give them a reason to be interested in you, and urge them to take a step forward in the relationship by signing up to your newsletter.

Just remember that the visitor is saying to themselves: “What value can this person provide me?”

If your elevator pitch is on point, you should be good.


Newsletter opt-in on About page


Direct mail

Know where your target audience lives?

That sounded creepy, but try sending postcards to them. Include a simple URL which brings them to a special landing page with the call to action you mentioned on the post card.

Personally, I haven’t tried this, but it’s certainly a more creative idea to test out, especially for local businesses.


Use direct mail to grow email list.



People want personalized information.

“What should I do?” “How can I make more money?” “What is the best food for me to eat?”

If you collect information from people via a quiz, you can provide answers personalized to them and their situation.

Personalized assessments are a lot more valuable than general advice, so people are more willing to provide their email address.

Furthermore, based on a visitor’s answers, you can better qualify leads.

What personalized advice can you provide?


Quizzes to generate leads.



It seems that every ecommerce store I stumble upon has an immediate pop-up asking for my email address in return for 15% off my first order.

Although it’s not altogether original, it works. I’ve tried it myself and it’s an easy way to get people on your email list and immediately encourage them to make a purchase.

This is perfect for in-the-moment purchase decisions such as clothing and accessories.

But this strategy doesn’t apply to only your website.

If you have a physical location, ask for every single customer’s email address, even if you only offer them 5% off their order.

The opportunity to connect with them in the future, and let them know about your products, makes the discount worth it for you.


Email opt-in leads to a discount.


Podcast guest

Similar to guest posting, offer to be a guest on relevant podcasts in your industry.

Often, the host of the podcast will let you talk about special offers or resources that you can offer to their listeners.

This is a perfect opportunity to pitch a free resource.

Then, the host of the show will place the link to your downloadable asset (or whatever you choose to offer) in the show notes for listeners to check out for themselves.

Perfect opportunity to send them to a landing page.


Podcast guest notes can include a call-to-action


Link on Main Navigation

The main navigation bar on your website can be a great place for a link to your most popular free resource.

Not only will it be prominent, but it won’t be intrusive to website visitors.

When people land on your homepage, they tend to browse the navigation bar, so if your call to action is strong enough, this can be a great option for your best asset.

The more you give, the more you get…


Link to free resource in main navigation bar.


Opt-In Text Messaging

You probably won’t use this tactic very often, but I recommend trying it  at least once if the right opportunity should arise.

To be honest, I’ve tried this before and it was a waste of money. But it didn’t fit the circumstances and I failed to promote it enough. My own fault.

On the other hand, it could be a great tactic for in person events like conferences or meetups where you have the opportunity to speak and let people know about a special offer.

You can set up a campaign like this using Constant Contact. First, you would request that the audience send a keyword to a phone number.

Then, the lead will be prompted with a request for their email address so that you can send them whatever it is that you were offering.

Once they provide it, you can email them the asset, enter them in the giveaway, etc.


Have people text in for an offer and ask for email.



I just threw a lot at you. In fact this post is over 3,500 words…

Here’s what I encourage you to do:

  1. Download the PDF version which lists out all these tactics 
  2. Think about the industry you are in, what you can offer, and how you can use your value proposition to capture emails both in person and online
  3. Start implementing and testing to determine which performs best

One last thing to note: Most of the strategies listed in this article appear as a trade-off:

More intrusive with a higher conversion rate


Less intrusive but with a lower conversion rate.

I promise you that there are ways to separate yourself.

This often comes in the form of creating epic content to earn more traffic, or simply being more creative to leverage your target audience’s interests.

I’m not suggesting this is easy, just that’s it’s most certainly possible.

Sometimes it won’t work out as intended. Just time to test something new!

Build, test, optimize, try again…

If you can think of other strategies, I’d be happy to hear them in the comments.

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Henry Foster
Henry Foster has built massive social followings, started and sold a tiny ecommerce business, and writes about social media and content marketing. If he isn't currently working on a project, he's most likely brainstorming the next.

Henry Foster

Henry Foster has built massive social followings, started and sold a tiny ecommerce business, and writes about social media and content marketing. If he isn't currently working on a project, he's most likely brainstorming the next.