Do you want to drastically increase the size of your email list?
In this post, Minuca Elena rounded up 25 conversion rate optimization experts to give their best tips for getting more subscribers.
Because email marketing has an average ROI of over 3000%+, just implementing a few of these tips will help you increase your sales!
Ready to grow your email list? Let’s get into it!
Tim Soulo – Ahrefs
I think the best strategy of getting high volume of email signups is to offer something valuable in return.
Guys from The Hoth have a perfect example of exactly that.
Go to their free backlink checker tool and try to run a report.
They will ask you to specify your email address. Which you’ll most likely do, because you want to get that free backlink report.
I’m sure that page brings them tons of new email subscribers every day.
So if you want the kind of subscribers that will look forward to your email, you need to convert them by using the value if your email newsletter.
In other words – offer them a free email course. Five to ten short and actionable emails delivered right to their email address.
This way people will subscribe to get a valuable freebie and they will actually look forward to receiving your emails. Which is your end goal.
I did just that on my personal blog back in the days, by creating a small blogging course that was delivered over email.
This is one of my favorite questions as email marketing is one of my biggest traffic drivers in every website besides SEO and Social Media.
We use a mix of 2 techniques to get subscribers and we handle a database of over 50,000 subscribers from different blogs, increasing by thousands every month.
The first technique is simple and it requires a bit of money on the front end but works wonders. We set up the Facebook pixel in every website and blog we have and create retargeting lists with people visiting for the last 90 days or so.
Once the pixel has caught more than 1,000 visitors we start 2 type of Facebook Ads:
1. One just for promoting similar content to what they read
2. The second one to promote a lead magnet
Both ads are usually running at the same time and we get subscribers in both of them. It’s easy to get people back to your site with a retargeting ad because they already know you and if they read more interesting articles they are prone to subscribe without you asking for it.
The second ad is where most of the leads come through though because that one offers a lead magnet similar to the one you’d offer in your website sidebar or popup and again, sin they already visited your site before they’re very likely to subscribe and leave their email.
While this strategy requires some money, it doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, for a website that has just a few hundred visits per day or less, a $1 ad for promoting content and maybe a $2 ad for the lead magnet are enough. That means you’re spending $3 per day and that’s less than $100 per month. But your list could substantially grow faster with this strategy amounting for hundreds of extra subscribers per month.
If your websites have thousands of visits per day (it probably makes hundreds or thousands of dollars per month) then the content ad could spend something like $3 and the lead magnet ad another $5. That’s still just $8 per day and $240 per month while getting thousands of extra subscribers per month.
This is one of the main strategies we use to grow niche sites to 5,000-10,000 email subscribers in less than 6 months, while other people build them organically and it takes them years (if ever) to reach those numbers.
Obviously, this is always considering you have a budget to spend in your project and maybe for some people this isn’t as fun, especially if they’re beginners so here’s the second strategy we use which is totally free: custom email forms per blog page.
Everybody has several email forms in their websites or blogs located in key locations like sidebar, after post, footer, header bar, popups, etc.
While we have generic email subscription forms in most of our websites especially in the sidebar and after content, we have used another strategy that works 300% better. Using custom email forms in the middle of the content yields a 4-5% Conversion rate against the usual 1% from generic forms.
We use Convertkit to create custom forms for each post and after 2-3 paragraphs we put the custom form with a custom text that is way more appealing than a generic form in the sidebar or popup because it can be manipulated for what the traffic is looking for.
At the end of the day all the users go to the same list (or segment, like Convertkit calls it) but they receive different content based on which post your traffic was reading at the moment of signing up.
You can create different email autoresponder sequences for each interest so the open rate will be much higher and engagement in your site will be improved.
If you have a website with some posts already ranked bringing steady traffic I’d just add custom forms in the content for your top 10 articles and see how it works as that will be the 80/20 of your work and you don’t really need to put a custom form in all of your articles if you have hundreds/thousands of them.
For example, let’s say you have a website about digital marketing, however, you have 5 big categories including social media marketing, email marketing, SEO, Content Marketing and maybe PPC marketing.
Instead of just having a single form showing up everywhere where your visitors can learn more about “digital marketing” now you can put a custom form in the articles of each category and change the text so it shows “learn more about social media marketing” or “free email marketing cheat-list” or whatever you’re promoting for that category or post in particular.
Trust me, your CR will be much higher using this technique and also less intrusive as people will feel more related to your lead magnet from the very beginning.
You can apply this technique pretty much with every email service provider, however, some companies don’t let you segment your lists the way we do here easily and they also charge you for duplicated subscribers in different lists. This is why Convertkit works wonders for this strategy.
Mike Allton – The Social Media Hat
While I’ve used a variety of different techniques (popups, CTAs) and tactics (ebooks, workbooks, swipe files), there was one significant adjustment that I made a while back that had a dramatic impact on my email subscriber signup rate.
For several years, I have been using and testing different popup ad types and approaches. Certainly the most effective has been the “Welcome Mat” which greets new visitors as soon as they arrive on the site with a full-screen offer. My first test and offer was for a copy of my Blog Promotionology book which performed OK. It was certainly a valuable and informative resource that a portion of my readers appreciated.
But after 6 – 12 months running that lead generation offer, it occurred to me to take a closer look at my actual web traffic, and the content they were coming to read. It was not about blogging, but rather Facebook.
Not only was my top performing article about Facebook, but 8 / 10 of my most trafficked articles were also about Facebook or social media in general. Which meant that my blogging-related offer was missing the mark. No wonder it wasn’t getting an amazing conversion rate!
So I set out to create a new lead generating offer that would appeal specifically to my inbound audience. I put together an ebook filled with Facebook tips and tricks and resources and put that up as my Welcome Mat. That instantly quadrupled my conversion rate and has led to a dramatic increase in new subscribers over the past year.
Approximately 10,000 new subscribers in 12 months, without any paid advertising or other promotional activities. Simply creating a more targeted resource and offering it to my existing inbound traffic.
Greg Elfrink – Empire Flippers
The best way to get more email subscribers is testing your opt-ins. You can use a tool like VWO or a heat map to see where most of your visitors are hanging out or clicking in. Your opt-in offer will likely do the best in this spot.
Second, test different top of funnel offers. A downloadable ebook might not perform nearly as well as a simple checklist. Also, have dynamic opt-ins that flows with the content the traffic is reading.
If you have a blog post on selling websites, the opt-in offer should continue that conversation. If you have a blog post on buying websites, then that opt-in should continue that conversation instead.
Sean Si – SEO Hacker
Since our SEO Hacker blog mainly caters to our email subscribers, we’ve gone through numerous experiments in order to increase their number.
This is not to disparage any effect that branding and sheer reputation has – these are also effective tools to increase your email subscriber count since you’re relying on your business’ name and reputation.
However, after many experiments that best way we’ve increased our email subscriber count is to make the Submit/Subscribe Button Stand Out.
Aside from the research regarding the effect of the color red and green on the perception of people, trying out what works for your audience will quickly take effect. Run different design experiments on the subscribe button and check what design works best.
Sometimes, the problem with increasing your email subscriber count isn’t with the content but on how your audience perceives your newsletter offer. However, increasing your subscriber count will not bring benefits if your subscribers don’t open your email. So you must work on increasing your email open rate.
Offer them something they won’t want to miss! Grab their attention and give them a solution to their problem….for free! That way you get a loyal subscriber which is worth much more than a one-off sale.
So offer something specific for your audience and then keep them engaged.
Once they have subscribed instead of just churning the same old c**p every week you need to listen to want they want, what their problems are and offer them quality solutions.
Reward loyalty with awesome exclusive content!
Chris Lee – Rank XL
Here’s one tip that can double or triple your conversions overnight. May sound overhyped but it’s true.
Go into your analytics and find your highest traffic pages. Create really valuable, hyper-targeted content upgrades for each of them. In my experience, things like “Download this post as a PDF” doesn’t work as well anymore. If you want those ridiculously high conversion rates, the content upgrade should be so valuable you can sell it if you wanted to.a
That might sound like a ton of work to create, but if you’re able to double or triple the number of subscribers you get, it’s more than worth it in the long run.
If you’re already doing what I explained above…
Then you need to be AB testing everything.
The type of opt-in form you use. The call to action (and opt-in incentive). The position and when it’s shown.
And here’s one that most people don’t really test out – your opt-in form stack. The stack is the combo that you’re using together. For instance, for my site, I currently have a full screen take over, header opt-in on the homepage, and a footer opt-in on every page.
The footer opt-in form was my highest converting form.
The stack you choose can affect your overall conversion rate on your site.
James Reynolds – SEO Sherpa
Without any doubt, the most effective strategy I’ve used to win more email subscribers is through post specific opt-in bribes, otherwise known as Content Upgrades.
Content Upgrades are bonus content pieces readers can subscribe to in order to gain additional value from the public content on your blog.
For example, you write a blog post “19 List Building Ideas To Grow a Huge Email List” your content upgrade might be:
- A list-building cheat sheet.
- A resource guide on list-building.
- A video showing how you’ve used the top list building techniques.
Content upgrades are effective because they are hyper-relevant. What’s more, they needn’t be time-consuming or difficult to create. In our example post; “19 List Building Ideas To Grow a Huge Email List” you might just save your best 2 strategies and use them as your content upgrade.
Alternatively, you could just provide a PDF version of your post or a checklist as I did here. This particular content upgrade is very simple, but as you can see from the statistics below, it converts like crazy:
Zac Johnson – Blogging.org
One of my favorite traffic sources is organic search results. Through this method, my sites are getting thousands of visitors daily. However, with search, you are likely getting a ton of users who visit your site and likely never return again. With this in mind, the best way to keep these users coming back for more is to get them on your mailing list.
For this to effectively work, you will need to have some great call to action forms on your site. Exit intent popup windows also work extremely well for this too. No matter what method you use, your call to action needs to be strong.
Don’t just offer ‘a free ebook’ or something too generic, you need to give your audience something they actually want and are ready to take action on.
WordPress tools like OptinMonster make this process extremely easy, and also allows for other lead generation forms and call to actions to be created throughout your site as well. Split testing each of these different methods is key to finding the right mix of content, call to actions and popup forms for your audience.
A perfect example of this is when someone searches for free coupons or discount codes on a site. If they have a popup that tells the user to enter their email to get a free discount code, you know they are doing to do it.
Alita Harvey-Rodriguez – Milk It Academy
If I had a dollar for every time I heard ‘email marketing is dead’, well I’d invest it in my next email campaign and on average my ROI would be $38. Yep, even with the explosion of new technology and the rise of social media, email well and truly still holds its ground and is growing!
It’s all about knowing how to deliver value and how to communicate directly to the hearts and minds of your customers. My top three tips for converting click-throughs into customers are:
1. Don’t send your subscribers through a maze
There needs to be as few steps as possible between a user clicking your call-to-action button and the point of conversion. Send them directly to a product page or dedicated landing page, if they have to go searching they’re going to give up and you’ll lose the lead.
2. Don’t spray and pray…TEST!
Don’t rely on spray and pray tactics! The way your subscribers convert is going to be entirely unique to your competitors. Don’t just run with what you think works best or what’s working ok. Create three or more campaign hypotheses and test. You can test variables such as button placement, color, images, gifs, subject line, offer, content, countdown timers, sending time and so much more. Don’t be fooled by the open rate, look at which variables lead to conversions or order value and refine them from there.
3. Segment your subscribers
Segmenting your list is the number one sure-fire way to drive serious conversions. You need to understand what stage of the customer journey the subscriber is at. Have they just subscribed but never purchased? Have they bought from you before? What products are they looking at? What did they click on last time you emailed them? Use tools like Google Analytics, your click-through reporting, purchase data and more to help you understand what segments you should create!
Ryan Biddulph – Blogging From Paradise
Solving specific subscriber needs boosts conversions.
Forget all hacks, tricks or silly shortcuts.
Conversions response to service, not manipulation. I found just helping my readers solve their blogging problems turned them into eBook customers.
Dwell on their specific problems, related clearly to your niche. Solve the problems through emails. Increase conversions.
Tim Bourquin – After Offers
Being in the email marketing and lead generation space, we know what it takes to get site visitors to convert into email list subscribers. The first thing we do is find relevant websites with high-quality content and traffic.
The next thing we do is set up each site with their own tracking code so they can implement our 100% opt-in form process, which starts after a user signs up to their initial email list.
The last part of the process is giving the end user a few different options and newsletters they can subscribe to with the simple check off of a box.
This sounds simple enough, but it’s actually a very complex process and something we’ve continually tweaked and mastered over the years.
The most important part of this process is making sure we can match up the best interests and mailing lists with the demographic audiences, and making sure it aligns with the interests and content focus on the site.
Alistair Roberts – Media Heroes
The secret to strong email subscriber conversions? Hyper-personalisation. Putting in the effort to strategically segment your email subscribers into unique audiences with concrete needs, desires, and psychological motivators will help you create personalized, localized email marketing campaigns that make people convert.
First, really think about how you want to segment your email subscribers and what will provide the best value for your business. Do you want to segment your subscribers based on demographic data such as age or gender? Do you want to leverage geographic targeting or send location-specific content?
My favorite method is to segment subscribers by their position in the sales funnel, enriched by insights about their website behavior. For example, when targeting brand new subscribers or loyal fans of your brand, you can track which pages they visit and which videos they watch on your website, to gain nuanced insights into their needs and interests. Using this data, you can create stronger email campaigns using dynamic content, tailored to their specific behavior.
Finally, to get a really strong conversion rate, it’s important to test and see which variations of your email’s subject line and content perform best. Like any kind of marketing, constantly testing and refining your email marketing strategy will help you discover what hits the sweet spot for your unique subscribers.
With SEO being the main focus of our company, we realize that business owners are the majority of traffic coming to our site. With this in mind, it’s important to show that you not only provide a service that works, but also understand the market that you are selling to as well.
For us, we’ve found ‘industry reports’ to work extremely well. When someone loads up our site, they will see our best content… but not all of it on the same page. We’ve tested with locked content and popup windows for gaining access to our free reports, and this has worked extremely well.
It’s actually worked so well, that we’ve created unique landing pages with this same content and have run paid traffic back to our site. We can now measure how many site visitors and subscribers we are gaining daily, then looking at our daily spend as well.
Best of all, this is a working method that can be applied to nearly every service and niche market.
George Hartley – SmartrMail
Here are my tips on the best ways to get more email subscriber conversions.
When it comes to getting more sales from your existing email subscribers, by far the best thing you can do is tailor the content to what the subscriber will actually want to buy.
Many people will offer simple tips such as personalization where “Hi there” is replaced with the subscriber’s first name, and while this is something everyone should be doing, it’s still woefully inadequate.
Email marketers need to ensure all the content is relevant to the subscriber’s individual interests. For e-commerce stores, for example, this involves using data gathered from shopping habits to determine what products customers are most likely to want to buy.
Thankfully there are many easy to use tools to achieve this. SmartrMail is a company I founded a few years back now that makes email marketing easy for e-commerce stores. After a store owner installs the app, purchase history and other customer data is analyzed to determine what products should be sent to each email subscriber to generate the greatest number of conversions.
Steve Page – Giant Partners
Here are a few techniques used to grow email subscriber lists.
PDF Versions of resources/guides/infographics
If you are getting a lot of visitors to a page having a related guide or pdf version of the content is a great way to get people to give their email address. You can even make it more enticing by offering bonus content within the pdf not found on the page.
What I like to do is trigger a popup when the person clicks to download the pdf which gets a 75%+ conversion rate when the person actively engages to receive the pdf. This method has been more effective in my experience than popups or slide-ins.
Spin-a-Sale For Ecommerce
The Shopify app Spin-a-sale (https://apps.shopify.com/spin-a-sale) is a great way to grow your email list and get more sales. This creates a spin the wheel game on your website where people can spin a wheel to get a prize. In order to play, you have to enter your email address for a chance to win.
You can make the prizes time sensitive as well so they have to use the discount within a certain time frame which creates urgency and drives sales.
Kelso Kennedy – Chime
The best way to gain more email subscriber conversions is to make sure you’re providing real value for the visitor. Some of the best converting campaigns are around a single download, like a tip sheet, or targeted series, like 5 Tax Thursday posts for accountants, for example.
By providing real value, not just once, but on an on-going basis, and making that clear, is one of the best ways to increase subscribers (and keep them!).
It’s important to send highly personalized emails to as segmented an audience as possible (without going crazy!). The more an email appeals to your reader specifically, the more likely they are to find value in it and convert!
Consider gathering low-hanging information as early as possible, such as when your subscriber opts in. You can then segment based on a variety of things such as their biggest pain point, their location, or the size of their company, which will help make your CTAs more compelling.
Finally, keeping the simplicity of the message is key. If the email is too text heavy, your main message might get lost. Limiting to only one CTA would ensure people would get the point, and hence more likely to convert. Attention spans are short, and as over 80% of emails are opened and read on a mobile phone, it is best to keep the word count to a minimum.
Kurt Phillip – Convertica
How to get more email subscriber conversions? Incentivise incentivise incentivise. Give something away to get their email. If its a coupon code, say it will be delivered to their inbox, if its a Free eBook about “Top 3 Conversion Hacks Every Website can Use”, also get it delivered to their inbox. Someones email is like their mobile number, you need to give away value first instead of just asking them to “Subscribe to our newsletter”, which is ambiguous and doesn’t even get noticed anymore.
Srish Agrawal – Logo Design Team
The world of online marketing and branding is an extremely competitive space, however, it’s also an area we’ve had a lot of success with.
Whether it’s creating infographics, running expert roundups, or designing a new logo for a company, it’s important to always give your audience insight and gaining their trust over time.
This is what we are currently doing through the majority of our blogs and giving users the option to download industry reports and custom designed PDF reports. The benefit here is that not only are we providing value, we are also showcasing off our best design work as well.
Inside each download and report, we also include a free trial or coupon code for users to place a first initial order. Since we can track the progress of these unique coupon codes and trial links, it’s a proven marketing method that has worked time and time so.
So in short… provide your audience with something of value for free, in exchange for them joining your list — but also make sure the conversation keeps going, and also has calls to actions that you can track and measure over time.
Kimberly Giannelli – In The Lights
When starting a business, we all start in the same place—with 0 email subscribers (minus our family and close friends that we force to be subjected to our relentless sales pitches!).
When collecting leads by inviting people to sign up for your email list, one of the best things to consider utilizing is a lead magnet. A lead magnet is any sort of incentive to have people give you their email address. Most often we see a 10 or 20% discount code off your first order, a free shipping offer, some sort of downloadable PDF with templates or helpful information, or something else that your prospect will find valuable.
In determining the rollout of your lead magnet, you need to look at the potential buying profiles of your customer base. Each profile will respond to different products, offers and messaging.
Studying your Google Analytics traffic report is a great way to determine where to place your lead magnet. Perhaps a particular blog post is performing best, or your audience seems to be landing on a particular page of your site. That information will help you to determine the best placement for your lead magnet.
AND PLEASE! Don’t make your customers fill out a confusing web form. You don’t need to make an impossible to read CAPTCHA. It will just frustrate your potential lead and a bad first impression is never a good thing. Be clear with your users why they are filling out the form. Tell them what they can expect, and where and how their incentive will be delivered. That way, there are no chances of miscommunication.
Lastly, you can consider an exit popup- a lead magnet when a customer tried to leave your website. That 20% off code or free shipping offer might be just what they needed to purchase the item they were still on the fence about.
Keith Reinhardt – Fresh Address
Here are 5 tips for getting more email subscriber conversions:
1. Ask Everywhere: This might seem like common sense, but many marketers don’t collect email addresses at every point of interaction. This includes: EVERY page of your website, your social media profiles and email headers, every phone call or in-person interaction, and on every order form.
2. Relay the Value: People volunteer their email address in exchange for something. Be sure you clearly explain what value you are offering through email. If you provide expert commentary, let them know. Also, people really love deals! If you’re sending subscribers info on discounts and promotions, lead with that!
3. Streamline the Sign-Up Process: Make registering easy by asking for a limited amount of information up front. You can get the rest later as your relationship grows. Also, make sure to leave enough space in your input box for long email addresses. Otherwise, you are causing unnecessary typos & frustration. A study by FreshAddress found that:
The average email address is 21.9 characters long.
But to accommodate 95% of addresses, you’ll want to design a form field 31 characters long.
4. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity: When is 1,000 new email subscribers not really 1,000 new email subscribers? When your list is full of typos, junk, and disposable addresses! Figure out a way to catch the common errors people make when entering email addresses (e.g. “hotmial.com” instead of “hotmail..com”). FreshAddress offers an API that can automatically catch and correct typos and other misspellings. Even having a second page that displays what the user typed and asks them “is everything correct?” helps tremendously.
5. Confirm! Confirm every email address you collect. Ideally, by a promptly deployed email message. Getting an opt-in click on this confirmation email is the holy grail for email marketers.
Zygimantas Jacikevicius – Wise Team
Here are some of the best ways you can get more email conversions:
• Have a catchy subject line – one of the hardest things is to get people to open your email in the first place, you can have amazing copy written inside, but if it has a dull subject line not many people will open your email in the first place. We found that two types of subject lines work best – one that incites action and another that is generally vague enough to spark curiosity.
• Have a clear call to action – at the end of your value proposition have a clear call to action of what you want the recipient to do, this has a positive effect on conversions, for instance, if do you want them to download something, have a button that says download now, if you want them to contact you, have a button that directs them to a landing page where they can contact you.
• Personalize it as much as possible – we are all sick and tired of generic marketing emails, try to stand out as much as possible by using language you would use writing to a friend, try to be less salesy and more sincere, try to personalize it as much as possible, use their name, try to adapt the content to something they would be interested in.
Artëm Klimkin – Links Hero
I come from the Oversubscribed and Small Giants (these are two amazing books) type of mentality where “more” is not really a goal.
If you are a small (ish) business, maybe all you need is 1000 true fans?
After all, getting “more and more” subscribers has its CONs:
- List responsiveness goes down
- The database is kind of expensive to maintain
- Deliverability can suffer (emails bouncing, folks unsubscribing and flagging your emails as spam)
- And so on…
Using gimmicks is not really an option as well.
Yes, you can have an exit popup set up and maybe it will even increase your conversion rate… To only hit the wall when the exact same person unsubscribes from your list the next day.
What to do?
Just give away quality premium info for free without getting people to subscribe. Content is king but, please, also think about the packaging – if things look ugly people won’t buy into them.
Think of it this way…
Subscription is basically a conversion. And conversion takes a bunch of touch points – people need to be familiar with you before they leave their email in return for whatever you got (it better be something amazing). You won’t necessarily get “more” conversions that way but the quality of the leads you will get will be on another level.
I played with this strategy up to a point when people had to ask me about including them on my list! (and it works to an extent)
I agree, it is too extreme so you can just follow these steps instead:
- Setup FB’s remarketing pixel
- Retarget people that have already visited your website (say, some extremely successful page)
- Drive this traffic to your squeeze page
- Optimize the campaign (~$1 spent per email address is a good rule of thumb)
Pro Tip: the absolute majority of people will never sign up…but you can always retarget them via Facebook and GDN itself.
Danielle Read – Read City Writing
Offering potential email subscribers a valuable reason to sign up to your list is crucial.
Long gone are the days of ‘sign up to our newsletter’ opt-ins. Because let’s face it. No one cares about your newsletter. They want to know you’ll be sharing information that will actually add value to their lives. Whether that’s a free download upon sign up, a discount code or access to a secret online store.
Make the incentive to join your list truly valuable and you’ll be growing it in no time. Your opt-in, or lead magnet should have a whole lot effort poured into it. Something that people would actually want to buy. give it away for free, and you’ve got some pretty big fans coming your way.
Thank you so much to all the experts that contributed to this expert roundup!
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