8 Unorthodox Ways to Grow Your Email Subscriber List

8 Ways to Grow your email subscribers

Organic search, a winning social media campaign and targeted pay-per-click advertising have all emerged as key players in digital marketing. However, when it comes to reliability and measurable results, email marketing still remains king.

Ninety-one percent of online consumers check email on a daily basis. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has reported email marketing ROI of up to 4300%! There’s no doubt that email marketing is the ideal way to reach your target audience.

However, the quality of an email marketing database will degrade by as much as 25% each year due to address changes, inactive accounts and opt-outs. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your email subscriber list is dynamic and continues to grow.

To grow your email subscriber list, you can use a series of strategic methods designed to entice online visitors to give you their email addresses. And while there are several widely used methods of achieving this goal, such as home page sign-up boxes, we’ve created a list of eight unorthodox ways for you to grow your email subscriber list.

1. Host a Webinar

If you’re looking to collect email addresses of your social media followers, web visitors and others, holding a value-driven webinar can be incredibly effective. While the primary goal of the webinar will  be to give attendees valuable information, the embedded goal will be to capture their email addresses.

You can choose from a variety of webinar tools to make this process easy. These tools request the attendee’s email address before he or she can enter the webinar. Some of the more popular tools are:  Any Meeting, GoToWebinar and WebEx.

If you promise attendees exciting and valuable content, why wouldn’t they want to sign up?

Promoting the webinar via your social media channels, setting up a Facebook event page and advertising the webinar on your website will all help to maximize attendance numbers and get those coveted email addresses.

Unbounce, the leading landing page design platform, have used webinars to grow their business through the use of their branded ‘Unwebinars’. In fact, they credit webinars as their leading customer acquisition channel.

2. Offer an Incentive

People think twice before giving away their email addresses. You need to do something to deserve it.

So, what can you do?

If you’re an e-commerce store, you can offer free shipping on a customer’s first purchase in exchange for his or her email address. If you’re a SaaS company, you can offer an e-book or a guide.

Make sure your content is email-worthy. Don’t ask for an email address and deliver subpar content. Before you send anything, ask yourself: would you give away your email address in exchange for this?

When web designer Chris Spooner enhanced his regular sign-up process by including a collection of free designs, his subscriptions increased tenfold.

3. Take Advantage of QR Technology

If you’re looking to get really fancy, integrating a Quick Response (QR) code into your subscriber list is a great way of engaging with the smartphone generation. What’s a QR code, you ask?

QR code

Try it out – scan this!

QR codes are computer generated images used to connect customers directly with websites without the need of having to type in a URL.

If you have flown recently, you might have used one as a boarding pass to board a plane.

With an estimated 50% of the European population now owning a smartphone or device, scanning a barcode has become second nature.

A simple “scan here to sign up for emails” will work for hot leads. However, if you want to focus on conversion, add value in the form of discounts or free downloads.

The best part of this technique is that it can be used across all channels – from your website and social media pages to in-store posters and business cards.

Just remember to keep it simple as your leads are more than likely on the go and will, therefore, have a shorter attention span than usual.

Blowfish Sushi, a San Francisco restaurant, used a QR code on a poster in the men’s restroom to ask for email sign-ups. It’s a clever tactic as every male in the restaurant is very likely to see this poster at least once during the night. 

4. Ask Existing Subscribers for Help

There’s no better way to grow your email subscriber list than to ask your existing subscribers for help.

In the same way that you win new social media followers through targeting the networks of your existing fans, sending out an email asking your current recipients to promote your business or to direct leads to you can result in an influx of new addresses.

Why?

It’s because friends and acquaintances of the recipient are likely to fall into your target demographic.

Adding a simple ‘Email to a Friend’ function will also encourage recipients to share your content with their friends. In order to make the most of any forwarded emails, make sure you include a ‘Subscribe’ link at the bottom of the email for an effortless opt-in process.

It’s a proven strategy, backed by research from the Social Times, confirming that emails with social sharing buttons increase click-through rates by a colossal 158%.

5. Capture Email Addresses from Engaged Website Visitors

Not all of your website visitors will click on your email sign-up page or see your newsletter sign-up box.  Some of your web visitors will be more engaged than others. If they’re engaged, they’re showing an interest in your brand, which is a perfect opportunity to convert them into email sign-ups.

Pop-ups that cover an entire web page may seem obtrusive, so smaller pop-ups might be a better  alternative. By using pop-up surveys from Qualaroo, you can configure the pop-up based on your users’ website behavior. For example:

  • Show the pop-up if the user is on your web page for more than 10 seconds
  • Only show the pop-up to visitors on “company” pages such as About Us, Mission Statement or Our Team
  • Only show the pop-up to visitors that browse three or more pages
The marketing team at the University of Alberta launched a small pop-up on their website, which increased email signs-ups from 730 to over 5,000 per year.

6. Integrate the Online with the Offline

While all of the above ideas are centered on online activity, one of the most effective techniques you can employ to increase your email subscriber list is to request handwritten addresses on a sign-up sheet. It may sound old-fashioned, but it works.

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, print out an email sign-up sheet with a quick overview of the benefits, and keep it on the counter at all times. Train your staff to encourage every customer to sign up. Within hours, you are guaranteed to have a few new addresses on your list.

Another successful retail point of sale tactic is to design your email sign up form for iPad/tablet usage. Then place the table at the point of sale counter allowing people to easily sign up when they pay or have their purchase packaged.

If you run a B2B business and attend conferences, trade shows and industry events; make sure you have a clipboard and a stash of sign-up sheets on you or use your tablet version of the sign up form to gather new subscribers.

Earthfort is a business that helps with the management of soil biology for agriculture. They get all of their email sign-ups through offline channels. 

7. Create a Drip Campaign

There’s no one out there that doesn’t want to get smarter for free.

We all like to feel smarter, and if we can accomplish this by simply giving our email address, then it’s a no-brainer, right?

A drip campaign is an email series that is automatically sent out (or dripped) over a short period, usually over the course of 7 to 10 days. You sign up to receive valuable information on a specific topic, and the information is sent directly to your inbox.

Creating drip campaigns isn’t as difficult as it sounds. If you have a blog, you can re-purpose the content into the drip campaign. If you have a white paper or an eBook, you can split the chapters into a series of emails to use as drip marketing.

All you need to do is create 1-2 short paragraphs for the email content and drive your readers back to the website.

Kingspoint launched a conversion rate course drip campaign that provides several emails over the course of 10 days.  As a result, their email sign-ups grew by 450%.

8. Put your colleagues to work

Think about other touch points as well when you create your permission acquisition tactic. There are other ways to get subscribers than from a form on your website or in your stores.

Perhaps you have sales reps visiting prospects and customers, a customer service call centre, support hotline, online chat etc. All these touch points can be used to harvest quality subscribers for your distribution lists.

You can create internal sign up forms for your call centres, mobile web site forms for sales reps and links to forms that can be shared on the chat. Before you know it you will have the entire commercial organization working on growing your distribution list.

To further fuel these efforts you can create incentives and competitions for your colleagues and thereby add a sense of team work and an element of gamification to the permission acquisition. The department who generates most permission takes the prize.

What’s Next?

Conventional methods such as homepage sign-up boxes and Hello Bars are all great strategies for capturing email addresses. Combined with unorthodox techniques such as incentives and existing subscriber engagement, they will increase your business’s capacity to grow your subscription list and improve your bottom line.

Armed with these unorthodox methods, you can now grow your email subscriber list at a rate that far exceeds its annual depreciation.

How do you grow your email subscriber list?

Share your tips by leaving a comment below.

Steven is a guest blogger and content strategist at eMarketeer. With a proven track record of successful traffic growth and more than ten years of experience as a professional in the online field Steven’s writing will surely inspire you to improve your marketing.

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