Marketing / Content Marketing

5 proven powerful ways to grow your email list

Jake Johnson

Updated: Jan 31, 2022 · 4 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

email marketing concept

Most small businesses live and die by their email lists. So, naturally, growing that list is a priority. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. A lot of business owners put the basic blocks in place: a website and landing pages with lead capture forms, a blog you can subscribe to, and an e-book or whitepaper to give away in exchange for an email address.

Those are solid efforts, but if you want to kick your list growth into hyperdrive, you have to get creative. Here are five proven ways to grow your email list.

Content upgrades

Content upgrades are smaller pieces of content that can have a big impact. They are generally tied specifically to the context of a blog post and highly actionable. 

Doing a how-to post on a technical subject? Create a checklist that readers can download in exchange for an email address. Published a post on how to write better emails? Make a pack of email templates that your readers can put to use right away. Have a body of work already published related to a topic you’re currently discussing? Package those posts into a PDF and offer that up for further reading and study.

When done right, content upgrades can significantly increase your conversion rates. For instance, reported a 785 percent increase in conversions in one day by simply putting content upgrades to work for them.

Networking events and conferences

Everyone loves a good networking event or conference. But awkwardly standing around, clumsily introducing yourself to strangers after having one to many gin and tonics is not (always) an effective way to leverage said events.


The usual flinch is to tell these random strangers what you do. But a better approach is to redirect the conversation to find out the challenges they’re facing. Then, if appropriate, you can talk about how your business solves similar problems. Mention that you have written about these solutions, ask if you can send them some articles or an e-book you’ve written, and get permission to opt them into your mailing list.

This positions you as a valuable resource instead of just another person trying to sell your services. So they may not be ready to purchase at the event, but when they are, you’ll be top of mind.

Customer incentives

Often business owners are so focused on creating more leads that they neglect the goldmine sitting right underneath them—their current customer base.

Here’s a tactic to both reward your existing customers and to create leads in one fell swoop. Create an e-book, webinar, or some other lead magnet. Then, create a promotion for your customers that rewards them for sharing that content with their contacts.

Leveraging your sales and support teams

Your sales and support teams are in constant communication with your prospects and customers. Often these are missed opportunities to opt these folks into your email list.

Many existing customers, for whatever reason, are not on your list. Perhaps they came in straight from a phone call, or maybe somewhere along the line, they opted out. A customer service call is a great opportunity to opt them in. The upside is they have regular exposure to your brand, and now you can increase incremental sales by offering them upsells and cross-sells.

Conversely, there will be times your sales team will talk with prospects that aren’t on your list. Make it part of their regular practice to ask for an opt-in. If the prospect becomes a customer, you can cross and upsell. If they don’t buy now, you have the opportunity to nurture them until they are ready.

Co-marketing with complimentary brands

You most likely are in contact with or aware of brands that compliment what you offer. Extend an invitation to work on a content asset together that allows you to share leads.

We did this with our partner Wistia by creating a comprehensive micro-site on video marketing for small businesses. We marketed to each our prospective lists and then had an opt-in option for both brands’ email lists. The result was thousands of leads each we wouldn’t have had exposure to otherwise.

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