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Overlooked Tactics to Grow Your Email List Organically

Liviu Tanase
Liviu Tanase
CEO at ZeroBounce

How are you expanding your list of email subscribers? There are easy ways to do it, and you're probably not taking advantage. Here are some underused tactics to grow your email list for free.

Email is one of the most profitable marketing channels. With an average ROI of $42, it has proven its efficacy over the years. For this reason, millions of companies worldwide have adopted email in their digital marketing strategies. According to a 2018 study by Emarsys, 81% of small and midsize businesses rely on email for customer acquisition.

With such fierce competition, how can you still convince people to subscribe to your emails? Whether you are just starting out or already have a good number of subscribers, here are some solid tactics to help you grow your email list.

1. Send exclusive content.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's surprising to me how many organizations fail to recognize the power of exclusive content. Few things are more captivating to people than the idea of getting something they can't find anywhere else.

Before you send your next email, assess your content and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it original?
  • How does it help my subscribers improve their businesses and their lives?
  • Is there a way I can make it even better?

Of course, creating original content for every newsletter or marketing email takes more time and effort. However, it doesn't have to be hard, and you can take creative approaches to it.

For instance, if you have a blog and want to drive more traffic to it, present your latest post from a fresh angle in your newsletter. Your copy should be different from what you wrote in your blog post and may even introduce a new perspective. Engage readers by explaining how your topic is relevant to them. End with a compelling call to action (CTA) that invites them to read the entire story on your blog.


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Another idea is to make a list of all of the ways your products or services can help your audience. Some services offer a variety of features, and not even their hardcore fans are aware of all the benefits they can receive. Highlighting them one at a time not only allows you to boost sales, but also gives you an array of topics to add to your email content calendar. However, in this case, it's important to focus on the benefit first, not your product or service. Regardless of your topic, make it about your audience – it's the best tactic to grow your email list.

2. Make the most of social media.

In recent years, more businesses have started to leverage their social media audience to grow their email databases. Still, there aren't enough marketing teams making the most of this simple tactic. Some of them believe they don't have enough of a social following to gain new subscribers this way. Others prefer to spend thousands of dollars on different acquisition channels. But why not entice your followers to join your list? It won't take you more than a few minutes a week.

How do you go about doing it? A couple of days before you send out your newsletter, post about it on social media and link to your subscription page. Use an engaging, conversational tone to tell people what your next email is going to be about, then add your CTA and the link. You may want to use a shortened link and customize it to be a CTA itself. You'll be able to track the number of clicks it gets and see how it performs.

Alternatively, whenever someone replies to your emails telling you how much they enjoy your content, ask them for permission to turn their quote into a testimonial. Then use that testimonial as social proof: Add it to your homepage and your subscription page, and make it a social post!

The secret to grow your email list through social media is consistency. Remember to post about your emails every time you're sending something special. Even better, pin a high-engagement post to the top of your social page (Twitter and Facebook allow you to do this easily). That way, whenever someone visits your page, the first thing they'll see is your CTA and subscription page.

3. Add a subscribe button to your email template.

This is a one-time job that can grow your email list without any extra effort on your part. Having a "subscribe to this newsletter" CTA in every email you send makes it easy for people who've been forwarded your emails to get on your list. So, once you've picked your email template, make sure to embed a subscription button or simply link to your subscription page.

To increase conversions, some senders – such as digital marketing specialists Ann Handley and Joe Pulizzi – add their links at the beginning of their emails. If you feel that's too intrusive, you can always add it at the end. 

Don't forget to ask your subscribers to forward your emails to their family, friends and colleagues. Word of mouth is the best kind of marketing, and getting your audience's support is very motivating. Apart from that, every forward helps your email marketing tremendously.

For internet service providers, the engagement you get is an indicator of how people feel about your emails. How many of your subscribers open, click, forward, delete or unsubscribe from them? The better your responses, the better your sender reputation and your chances to reach people's inboxes.

4. Check every new email address in real time.

Every business wants to grow its email list, and the tactics above should help you accomplish your goal. While emails are free and easy to implement, there's something crucial to keep in mind: the quality of the email addresses you gather. Are all of them real and valid? Is it safe to send emails to your new subscribers?

Make the double opt-in a rule.

To ensure you communicate with real people, you can start by using the double opt-in subscription method. Check with your email service provider to see how you can adopt this practice.

When you require people to confirm they wish to be on your email list, you limit the number of fake contacts you collect. Also, the double opt-in results in better engagement. When people go through the two-step verification process to receive emails from you, that's a sign they're truly interested in what you have to offer.

Install an email verification API.

You can add an email verification API to all your subscription forms. The API is a piece of software that checks every email address in real time and prevents typos, bots, and other types of fake and risky email addresses. Installing the API is easy: Find a trustworthy email validation company, ask for your API key, then add that piece of code to your platform.

An active API helps you grow a healthier email list and keep it accurate for longer. You still have to validate your contacts in bulk a few times a year, but there's value in checking them as they subscribe. In email marketing, before your content gets a chance to convert, you have to reach real human beings. It's less about the number of subscribers you have than it is about their validity.

Image Credit: Zephyr18 / Getty Images
Liviu Tanase
Liviu Tanase
business.com Member
See Liviu Tanase's Profile
Liviu Tanase has founded five companies and has participated in three exits creating quadruple digit-returns. As a holder of master’s degrees in Entrepreneurship and Business Administration, he prides himself in developing results-oriented cultures with strong emphasis on boosting productivity, cutting costs, and fostering efficiency. He is the founder and CEO of email validation company ZeroBounce.