Grow Your Mailing List

7 Steps To Grow Your Business’s Email List: From 0 To 1k Subscribers

Publish Date: 27 Jan 2020

So called marketing experts say “For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can make $44 in revenue”. That is only true if you have enough subscribers on your list!

So… You want to grow your email list. If you are starting from 0 it might take a bit more work but it is more than doable. You already know that the more you encourage people to join your email list the better. In this post, I’ll share my personal plan that got my email list from 0 to 1000 subscribers.

On average your email list naturally degrades by about 25% every year. That is why it’s so important to continuously grow your email subscribers and make up for these lost customers. Email marketing is now considered the best form of advertising online products or services, with people really thinking about whether to sign up or not, the first battle is getting them on… Then it’s all about the sale. Check our our 9 Essential Email Templates That Will Increase Your Sales!


The express train to subscribers

Here is a breakdown of steps I recommend you take to grow your email list:

  1. Create Content Upgrades
  2. Create Sitewide Upgrades
  3. Share Your Content In Different Communities
  4. Create A Landing Page For Your Mailing List
  5. Run A Viral Giveaway Campaign
  6. Reach Out To Other Bloggers In Your Niche For Promotion
  7. Boost Your Results With Facebook Ads

Completing this checklist will see your email list grow quicker than ever before, not all the steps are required but all of them work so please think carefully before skipping anything.


Create content upgrades

The most effective way to entice an audience member into signing up to your email list is through content upgrades. Content upgrades are something you offer your readers as an add-on to your article or video.

The best example of this would be if you included a small guide about how to do something relating to your niche. For instance once you sign up to our email list you will get our free guide to growing your instagram following.

The aim when you start out is to only upgrade your best performing posts. So next time you’re checking your Google analytics go to ‘Behaviour - Site Content - All Pages’ and set the date range from anywhere between 3 and 6 months. Once you’ve identified your top 5-10 most viewed pieces of content or your top viewed product pages, choose one of these examples to upgrade your content:

  • Create a checklist for readers to follow so they can achieve the same results as you
  • Make a cheat-sheet or resource list that they will need
  • Share a worked spreadsheet so they can track their progress

If one of your most popular blog posts is about ‘The best arms workout’ include a pdf download of exercise, sets, and reps so they can check them off as they workout.


Create site wide upgrades

To quickly grow your email list you will need to collect emails from every page on your website in multiple ways.

The ‘Join our newsletter’ message might work, but you need to show people what they are missing. We’ve done some research at Business Minded alongside which currently has over 1 million email subscribers. We covered over 400 million pop-ups and found that:

  • Asking people to join your list doesn’t work
  • Instead you should be giving something of value to your reader in exchange for their email, it’s what we call ‘bait’ so you can later catch the fish.

One of the best examples I’ve come across is by Dana from Minimalist Baker. She attracts readers to sign up for a free Ebook full of her recipes.

Minimalist Baker Landing Page

This was created using Aweber. You can start your 30 day free trial here!

Her recipe book is promoted on every page of the website and is a huge asset to the reader, meaning it is very valuable to all subscribers.

Dana knows her audience enjoys healthy eating and love the recipes on her blog, so a download of her top recipes is a perfect upgrade. You should think about why your audience comes to your site, and what they are looking for. The value sits in things such as:

  • Summaries of your most popular content
  • Exclusive Ebooks or video content for subscribers
  • Or a quick start guide for beginners. You know why people visit your site, help them start what you are teaching. Creating something for ‘newbies’ is always successful

A simple way to implement these upgrades is by creating email opt ins. These are certain types of pop-ups that people either need to fill out or scroll past.

You should be careful how you position these on your site as some people will get annoyed by their presence, so stick to these 3:

  • Click triggers or welcome mats: These appear once someone clicks on your site or views a new page, you can allow them to appear on certain pages or all of them.
  • A scroll box opt in: Once a person clicks on your page this feature will set a delay then scroll down an opt in box, the person can simply scroll back up to get rid of it.
  • Smart bars: These are my favourite as they don’t get in the way of your content, they just hover at the top of the page, simple and stylish.

You can find WordPress plugins for all of these, or Aweber can send you the html code to enter on your website. You can get a 30 day free trial with Aweber by clicking our link.


Share your content in your community

No matter what niche you are in you have a community of people that follow the latest trends. From Facebook to Twitter, then back to Reddit and Tumblr, you can find a group that wants to hear from you.

For example if you are in the dirt bike niche and do monthly newsletters, you could find community sites such as or Or you could join some of the Facebook groups below:

Facebook Groups

You could go even further and check out Slofile and find Slack communities to join.

What should you post in these groups? That is the big question, you don’t want to be that spammy person that only links their own contact. This is what we call counterproductive promotion because people will just ignore you because you look like an advert.

Think about how you can use your content to add value to the group, then focus your posts on that. You don’t need to link to your email list, you just need to get traffic to your site then the opt in pages will do the hard work.

Check out this post from my friend Chris into the Traffic and Copy Facebook group during the time he was growing the Sumo blog.

Facebook Post

The post gathered 57 comments and 27 likes, but the important thing was that it got people excited to follow his journey, so when he asked his followers to check out his website they jumped at the chance.

Your post should be more like a story and follow a solid structure of events, see below for our checklist to a great social media post:

  1. Share your story: How did you first discover the topic you’re building your email list around? Craft a compelling narrative around how you became so passionate about your niche and share it with the community. 
  2. Show a surprising fact about your niche: People love facts. Do some digging and find a little known fact to share with each community.
  3. Challenge yourself: Much like Chris’ example (above), set yourself a challenge and make it public. For example, I might hook people in by being open and sharing the tactics I’m trying along my journey to 1,000+ subscribers.


Create a landing page for your mailing list

Sending traffic to your home page isn’t an optimal way to get conversions onto your email list. Instead, create a landing page that you can send traffic to.

Your landing page can be linked from anywhere and is used to encourage people to give you their email address before seeing your website. There should be no other page option, as your main goal through this landing page is getting people to sign up to the mailing list, not to get traffic to your site.

A few options for creating a landing page are below:

Once you’ve created your landing page, you want to make sure it’s getting as much traffic as possible. To do this you can: 

  • Add links to your social profiles: Your bio link is valuable real estate. Go through every social network you’re active on and replace the bio link with your landing page. 
  • Include a link in your website navigation: Make sure visitors are only ever one click away from the landing page by adding a link to your website’s main navigation.


Run a viral giveaway campaign

This step is where you will see the most growth in your mailing list, running a giveaway is the most effective way to convert people on the fence about subscribing.

Your giveaway should be something ‘better’ or more expensive than your content upgrades, and specific to an activity in your niche. Take a look at this example I’ve put together for a giveaway in the business travel niche.

Email Giveaway

You might not see it straight away, but this email has 3 aspects that will make it successful:

1. Exciting prizes

The first thing you need is a prize (or multiple prizes). And for maximum rewards, your prize should be tailored exactly to your audience. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Products from your niche
  • VIP experiences
  • Travel opportunities
  • Books
  • Consulting calls

So in my example I offered my audience of business travellers a top of the range laptop, carry bag, and accessories for said laptop. No one in there right mind would not signup for that giveaway, even if the chance of winning is slim. The main objective is during step 3 when your entries have to share the competition to social media... That encourages others to join your competition, and hence join your mailing list.

2. A partner to supply the prizes

There are three ways to generate prizes for your giveaway:

  1. You can dig into your own pockets to buy prizes
  2. Giveaway of your product
  3. Partner with other brands to supply prizes

For this giveaway, we’ll focus on option #3. 

Why? Well, working with partners has a few benefits: 

You don’t have to pay for prizes. A partner may also help you promote your giveaway by emailing their list and sharing with their audience across social media.

Get started by brainstorming 20 well-known brands in your niche. Then once you have your list, reach out to each of those brands to see if they’re interested in partnering on your giveaway.

Here's an example from Julien Marion when he approached a brand for his sleep-focus giveaway:

Example Email

3. A viral loop to promote the giveaway

You can create awesome giveaways in seconds using KingSumo.

KingSumo will generate a unique sharing URL for each entrant; participants are encouraged to share on Twitter and Facebook to increase their entries.

This means your entrants will help to spread the word about your giveaway, creating an awesome viral loop and helping you grow your list. 

You can see the effect this viral loop had on my business travel giveaway I did:

Traveller Giveaway

Over 10,000 entries were a result of people inviting others to join the contest.


Bonus tip: Deliver to all entries

With any giveaway, there will only ever be a small number of winners. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make all entrants feel like winners. You might have noticed in the example email I mentioned “a special surprise.”

As the giveaway was coming to a close, I would follow up to give everyone who entered discount codes for most of the products in the giveaway. So even if you didn’t win, you could still reap the rewards.

You can’t guarantee every partner you work with will be open to sharing discount codes, but this is one way to provide value to every entrant. 

A few more ideas you can try include:

  • A free white paper/additional content (I could have recorded a special video with his best tips for building muscle)
  • A free tool (a meal plan tracker to count your calories)
  • Interviews with well-known people from your niche to share advice (“Lessons from 10 bodybuilding legends”)


Reach out to other influencers in your niche for promotion

If you want to grow your email list fast, you have to know what interests your audience. When you know what keeps your readers up at night, you can boost the results from your efforts immensely.

Most people skip this step because they don’t want to inform the competition about what they are planning, or they think they will embarrass themselves for reaching out for help. My final warning is not to skip this step in the process.

My best results have come from this 3 point process:

  1. Research the biggest blogs in your niche
  2. Discover what their most popular content is
  3. Use related topics to create new content ideas

Once you’ve found 10-15 websites that are in or are close to your niche, you have researched their popular content, and have new article ideas to pitch to them, you need to check some important factors or this will not work.

  • Has the website covered your topic already?

You can simply run a Google search to find out all the articles on the website in question to see if they have used your idea already. Enter into the Google search bar: site:{URL} intitle:{Keyword}

For example if you wanted to search on my website about articles on business you would search: intitle:Productivity

Google Search

  • Do they give credit to contributors?

It’s important to check if each blog gives proper credit to their contributors. If you want to publish guest posts on their site it is essential they give credit back to your website, unless it wouldn’t be worth it for you.

Find some guest posts on their site, and check whether they include an author bio. If they don't, they're not worth writing for.


Pitch for the post

For this next step, you’ll put yourself out there in a major way. We’re going to pitch guest post ideas to the blog sites we earlier researched.

To find the contact information for each blog check if they have a page that says something like: 

  • Write for us
  • Contribute 
  • Guest Posting guidelines 

These pages will usually have the details of who to pitch and how to contact them. If they don’t have a page like this, here’s my secret way to find almost anybody’s contact details:

  • Find the blog’s editor on Twitter
  • Run their username through AllMyTweets
  • Search the results for their email address

Be bold in your approach and don’t take anything less than recognition for your work and link back to your website or landing page. Clearly outline what you plan to offer and what you need in return. You should aim to be featured on 4-5 websites, so if you contact as many as you can and pick the best options once the replies come in.


Boost your results with Facebook ads

By investing some money, you can get in front of your audience quicker than if you have to spend time on free email list building tactics. Several people have had incredible success using Facebook ads to get email subscribers.

Erika Volk added 1,892 new subscribers to her fitness blog in two months, at a cost of $0.26 per subscriber.

Erika Ad

The right Facebook ad targeted to the right audience leads to a lot of subscribers. You can see results for less than $5 per day.

One of the best ways to get email signups from Facebook ads is by retargeting people who have already visited your website and read your content. See how you can Turn Traffic To Conversions: A Guide To Targeted Facebook Ads.


The reality

You can’t afford to neglect your email list. This is where you will up-sell your audience products and services you offer, update them on recent news on your website, and uphold a solid recurring traffic source for your business and website.


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