You hear it time and time again –
The money is in the list.
Essentially, the more subscribers you have, the more leads you’ll generate helping grow income for your business.
When you do email marketing right, you’ll get the biggest return on investment – up to 4,300% ROI.
This is the best type of communication a business can have with potential customers since they can nurture their existing leads and put sales funnels in place to act on autopilot.
But, to get to that point, you need to grow that email list. It’s not enough to only have an opt-in form on your blog or website saying to sign up for your weekly newsletter.
Millennials account for one-quarter of the American population, making twentysomethings digital natives. They crave variety, and they will search for the next coolest thing no matter how long it takes.
As a business wanting to use email marketing to their advantage effectively, you’re going to have to upgrade your email sign-up offers to wow and attract potential customers – even if Millennials aren’t your target audience.
In this guide, we will cover exactly what makes an offer effective, how to create one and the best types of offers to have.
We will also show you the best types of opt-in forms to have and where to place them on your website.
Finally, even though you may have the best offer for your audience, you have to tell them about it, and one of the best mediums out there is social media.
We’ll also dive into promotional strategies for each of the top social media platforms.
Using the right offer to grow your email list
Take a minute and think about what gets you to sign up to a company’s email list. People don’t just give up their email address for nothing.
They want something of value in exchange, and they want something that can help them.
When coming up with your incentive offer, it must address the following:
- The offer helps or solves an immediate problem
- The offer is quick and simple to use
- The offer aligns with your company’s brand and overall message
Let’s break this down more.
1. Offers must provide a solution to only one problem
You might feel that if you offer more as your incentive – think a 2-hour webinar – you’ll get more sign-ups. This is not always true.
Your audience is busy. They don’t want to invest a lot of time into something that they may not want to commit too. If you’re attracting new potential customers that don’t know your brand or products, your optin offer has to stand out like a beacon.
And you do this by pinpointing one problem – an annoying problem, a frustration problem or a difficult problem – and providing a solution to that problem.
2. Offers must be quick and simple
This goes back to offering more. Having a one-sheet guide can be more attractive than a 50-page white paper.
You want your audience to use your offer to help them instantly. If they have to do multiple steps or have certain tools, they won’t use your offer.
Some of the best offers are discounts because they are instantaneous and highly valuable to the potential customer.
3. Offers must align with your company’s brand
Think about the visitor’s journey from finding you to signing up to your email list.
A visitor may have found your post on social media for example. Wherever the link takes them, it should have the same branding and tone as the post on social media.
You don’t want to confuse a potential customer with a brand-new look to your landing pages that aren’t aligned with your brand.
Instead, you want that journey to match their expectations on each link they click and each page they land on (fewer barriers to signing up is better for conversions).
For example, a tweet from Blogging Wizard for its free resource library brings up a landing page with similar images, color and message as seen on social media.
Note: Blogging Wizard recently changed their branding, but it’s still consistent!
Now that we looked at what makes an effective incentive to grow your email list, the next question is how do you create one?
While outsourcing this project is a great option if you don’t have any graphic design experience and if you are bootstrapping your new start-up business, you can easily create a digital download yourself using Google Slides.
Check out my video on how easy it is to create your own digital incentive.
Proven email incentive ideas
Trying to come up with the perfect optin offer can take a lot of trial and error. To help you avoid that problem, let’s look at effective offers from various niches used to grow an email list.
Offering a discount on your products when someone signs up to your newsletter can be effective, even if it’s an obvious choice.
Using a discount can depend on what type of store you have, according to Bigcommerce,
A strategy for implementing discounts will depend on the type of store being run. Ecommerce stores with larger margins can use discount offers to increase sales and meet revenue goals. Smaller businesses should avoid using discounts as a customer acquisition strategy because they have less of a profit margin to work with. Instead, ecommerce store owners should use discount coupons for customer retention.
Adidas is a shoe and athletic clothing company and with a large online presence.
They offer 15% off their products as a way to get viewers on their email list. The optin form is located in the center of their homepage. You have to scroll to view it.
For Adidas, this can indicate interest when a viewer scrolls, making it more likely they will sign up and use their discount.
Grub Hub is the leading online mobile food ordering company that connects hungry people with local eateries.
As a way to grow their email list, they offer a $7 discount as a pop-up when you scroll to the bottom of their homepage.
The free trial
Everyone loves getting something for free so why not offer your product for free for a short time?
There are two ways to do this – you can limit the features during a free trial, or you can give them full access to your product for a short time.
Craftsy is an online resource filled with video tutorials from experts in their creative field.
Gain access to their free 7-day trial to access thousands of videos in baking, photography, paper crafts, knitting, cooking and more.
ABC Mouse is an online learning curriculum for children ages 2-7. Parents can enroll in the first month for their children to do learning objectives as a way to foster education at home.
For many parents, this incentive is highly valuable, making it easy to give up their email address on the spot.
Rachael Ray is a TV chef with a big online presence. To increase sales, she makes it easy for her followers to access her recipes by signing up for her email list.
If you don’t have one of her recipe books or you don’t have time to go through her website’s index of recipes, you can easily check your email.
Penguin Random House
Penguin Random House is a publishing company with over 70,000 digital and 15,000 print titles published annually, and over 100,000 eBooks available worldwide.
Penguin Random House entices readers on their website to sign up to their list by offering free popular reads to your inbox.
For the avid reader, this is a great way to get their reading on.
Elf Cosmetics is an affordable cosmetic company for the eyes, lips, and face. Elf has several incentives to get people from the site to their email list.
One effective incentive is free shipping on your first order. The offer is promoted using a top bar which is static when you scroll, making it hard not notice it.
NatureBox is a snack company that’s founded on using high-quality ingredients, and products free from sweeteners, artificial colors, and flavors.
To get people interested in their product and to grow their email list, they offer their “favorite” snack when you sign up to their email list.
For someone who doesn’t know this company, getting a sample of their snacks can introduce them to their product, making it easier for them to buy from them in the future.
The digital download
For many businesses, using a digital download like an eBook or white paper can help someone get to know the company’s values and credibility in their industry.
A white paper is a report or guide that helps a reader understand an issue, make a decision or solve a problem. Usually, white papers are authoritative and come off as a professional document.
This type of incentive is best used for B2B businesses.
Content Marketing Institute
The Content Marketing Institute is a place to learn about content marketing best practices from industry leaders and experts.
To capture readers, they offer a free eBook on their blog. The eBook is filled with content marketing examples to help marketers hone their content strategy.
Leadpages is an online tool that can help grow your email list through effective strategies.
As a way to boost email signups, Leadpages offers a digital bundle filled with training videos and resources to help with someone’s marketing.
They drip content every day for 12 days and at the end, they invite you to their Facebook Advertising training.
Leadpages uses Twitter as one way to promote this incentive.
Duo helps companies keep customer data private in the technology, healthcare, federal and educational industries.
To help companies understand the importance of securing access remotely, they offer a white paper on Securing Remote Access when you sign up to their email list.
This training and knowledge is a way to educate their audience, lowering the barrier to making sales.
Hubspot is an inbound marketing tool to help grow your sales. They help businesses and marketers with effective sales and marketing tips.
Part of their training is understanding your audience and leads. When you have a better understanding of who your customer is, then you should see better conversion rates.
One of their incentives to grow their email list is a template to figure out your audience persona and to segment them for more sales.
This is a simple incentive that has been downloaded by 130,000 businesses. It’s effective because it’s a quick win and solves one problem.
For some businesses, understanding how to use their tool or service can be the biggest challenge.
But, a business can use training videos to not only grow their email list but effectively turn a subscriber into a warm lead.
You can drip out each lesson or you can offer the training video at once.
If you want to do online training, you can use YouTube Live to host your training, or you can use a course hosting platform like Teachable to create your training workshop.
Let’s look at two ways to offer online training.
Shopify is an eCommerce platform for businesses and solopreneurs. One of their incentives is an online training to start a drop shipping store. This training is evergreen and offered on their blog.
Quickbooks is accounting software for businesses, freelancers and solopreneurs.
For a lot of people, understanding a new tool can be a challenge. To eliminate that barrier, Quickbooks has a library of tutorials they offer free weekly webinars.
Want more ideas? Be sure to check out our post on proven lead magnet ideas.
8 optimized spots to place your opt-in form
Now that we covered the type of incentive to help you grow your email list, let’s look at where you can place optin forms for maximum conversions.
The examples below are purely for illustrative purpose – they may not be GDPR compliant.
Placing your optin form on your sidebar or your blog’s sidebar is an eye-catching way to market your business. You can place your optin at the top of the sidebar as Derek Halpern suggests, or down further to attract scrollers as they read your content.
Sendible places a long optin form for an upcoming webinar on their blog’s sidebar.
The color and placement draws a reader’s eye to their form.
At the end of blog posts
People who read your content are starting to invest in your business and brand. To turn them from a reader into a subscriber, you can effectively place an optin form at the end of your blog posts.
This not only triggers a reader to want to learn more about your business, but it also promotes your tool or service and reminds them why they are there in the first place.
Pagewiz places an attractive optin form at the end of each blog post as a way to capture readers’ emails.
As a way to attract valuable subscribers and potential leads, having your optin form below the fold ensures that they are at least looking at your content and reading your posts.
So, having an optin form placed in the bottom bar can do the trick. The Health Magazine uses the bottom bar to promote their digital bundle of recipes, videos, challenges and more.
In your header
Attract sign-ups as soon as someone lands on your website. You can place an optin form in your header or feature box of your blog page or homepage.
Creative Market promotes their incentive of free products and a discount right in their header.
Within your blog post
An effective way to grow your email list is with content upgrades. These are specific incentives that are based on the content users are reading at the moment.
For example, if a user is reading a post on creating an editorial calendar for their content team, a content upgrade would be a checklist of the steps to create an editorial calendar.
Crazy Egg – a heat map and heat scroll reporting tool – uses content upgrades as a way to grow their email list.
Landing page (with video)
Landing pages are a weapon of choice for businesses.
Why? Because landing pages convert better and they are usually free of distraction and have one call-to-action.
Compare this with a potential customer visiting your blog, viewing your content, your sidebar, your pop-ups, and any of the other barriers that stop them from opting into your list.
And the more landing pages you have, the better at capturing leads. Businesses with more than 40 landing pages get 12 times more leads than those with 5 or fewer.
And you can boost your conversion by 86% if you include video on your landing page.
The best types of video to have on your landing pages are explainer types. These are videos that explain the product or service, making the buyer’s journey shorter.
Zendesk, a customer service software, uses video to sum up exactly what they offer on their landing page.
You don’t need a developer to create a high converting website. Fortunately, you can use a drag & drop landing page tool to help you. Read our landing page builder comparison more details.
As a pop-up on your website
While pop-ups may seem annoying to users, they are very effective in driving more email sign-ups. In fact, pop-ups generate 1375% more sign-ups than any other optin form method.
Two popular types of pop-ups are scroll-triggered ones and those with exit-intent technology.
Tilly is a clothing, shoe and accessory store and as soon as you land on their site, a pop-up form shows up asking for your email address.
Another way to display a pop-up is when a user is about to leave your website. At this moment, you can entice them to stay by offering an incentive before they leave.
Exit Intent technology for the eCommerce industry can boost conversions by 267%.
eCommerce stores often use exit intent to decrease abandoned carts, increase sales, recapture more sales and to increase leads.
FabFitFun is a company that sends out quarterly subscriptions to their customers filled with the latest fitness, wellness, beauty, and fashion products.
To increase leads, they’ve created an eye-catching, full-page optin form that pops up when a user tries to leave their site.
If you want to use this type of pop-up form, OptinMonster is one of the most popular lead generation tools featuring exit-intent technology.
Scroll-trigger optin form on your blog
Sumo found that scroll-triggered optin forms perform 42% better than other forms on a blog.
These types of forms slide in as a user scrolls through a blog post or content on your site.
The surprise movement draws the eye to the form and increases sign-ups. Tailwind is a social media automation tool that uses scroll-triggered optin forms on their blog.
Promotion tactics for list building
Even with the right incentive to offer, and the most optimized place and form to attract leads, we are missing a big puzzle piece in this email marketing strategy. And it’s promotion.
Social media is the perfect platform to get in front of your target audience, grow your brand awareness and increase sign-ups.
Let’s look at the big social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – to reveal marketing tactics for list building.
Twitter promotion strategy
This means there’s room for your business to use Twitter and market your brand and email list.
Let’s go through some proven tactics.
1. Link your website in your bio
When you sign up for Twitter, you have a place to write your bio for your brand. You also have a place to link to your website – or landing page.
NatureBox does this on their Twitter profile.
2. Ask for a share on your sign-up page
A simple yet effective way to get the word out about your incentive is to place social sharing buttons or “click to tweet” on your sign-up page.
Sendible’s webinar sign-up page has a call to action to share their webinar on social media.
You can also add share buttons on your thank you page shown after a visitor signs up for your webinar.
When people sign up for my free course on how to get paid to write online, I ask them to share my free course on Twitter and Facebook, on my thank you page.
And when they tweet my free course, I get notified.
3. Promote your incentive to your followers
Regularly promote your incentive on Twitter. Since the half-life of a tweet is about 24 minutes, you can promote the same incentive every so often.
Here is Duo’s tweet on offering a free trial to their followers.
To increase email sign-ups, invest in a social media automation tool like Buffer or Hootsuite.
4. Use hashtags and tags
Twitter users typically make use of a lot of hashtags and tagging. Hashtags can be used to reach a new audience while tagging focuses on one profiler for attention.
Based on your business industry topic, you can find relatable hashtags to promote your business and lead magnets.
You can use Hashtagify to find the top Twitter and Instagram popular hashtags and influencers.
Here is the result for home decor.
With the result, you can tailor your tweet with these hashtags and tag influencers or others in your industry to get the word out.
5. Run a contest or giveaway
Contests and giveaways can grow your email list effectively since they are aimed at your social media followers.
For example, Stine Hardware was able to attract 1500 new email leads using a social contest.
Based on your end goal you can have different entry methods for your contest. Some examples include:
- Refer friends for more entry points
- Like your Facebook page
- Watch a video on your product
- And more
Rafflecopter is a free and reputable choice to host your contest but based on your needs you may want to try other social media contest tools.
6. Promote future discounts
Build anticipation and excitement by promoting future discounts and other incentives before they occur. Ask followers to sign up to your email list so they don’t miss out on these upcoming deals.
This is what Southern Home Kitchen has done in the past.
7. Invest in Twitter Ads
Twitter is a valuable platform to invest in advertising. According to a Twitter report, up to 93% of those who follow SMB’s will purchase from them.
That’s a huge rate and shows that using paid ads can work.
For list building, you can choose the Lead Generation campaign to start collecting leads.
Facebook promotion strategy
Facebook is one of the top social media platforms for businesses. There are over 2 billion monthly users, with 25 to 34 year old’s making up over 29% of its core demographic.
Let’s look at the best ways to effectively promote your incentive idea.
1. Customize your Facebook Page header (with video)
Facebook has enabled video on your Facebook page cover. This allows businesses to showcase their brand creatively.
This attracts users’ eyes to that place making it more likely for a user to click on the “learn more” or “sign up” button under your cover video.
Vint & York – vintage eyeglasses collection – uses video in their Facebook cover image and promotes their email list under it.
2. Pin your lead magnet
An effective way to let your Facebook followers know you have great offerings is to pin your lead magnet on your feed.
How do you pin your lead magnet?
Find the post you want to pin and click on the three dots in the right-hand corner. A drop-down menu will show up. Just click on “Pin to Top of Page.”
3. Add a call-to-action
Your Facebook page is customizable from the template you chose to what you want to display.
To enable a CTA, click on the edit button underneath your Facebook page header.
From here choose the button you want to use. I chose learn more about your business. From here you add the link you want to be associated with your CTA button.
You can place a link to a landing page or your blog if you use a pop-up form.
4. Invest in Facebook Ads
While you can grow your email list organically, to make an impact, try Facebook Ads.
Here is what Becky Burgess of Splash Owl Media says:
Many of my clients desire to grow their email lists when they come to me for Facebook Ads. Some have an upcoming course launch, product launch, or want to filter people in quickly, so they have a base to advertise to continuously. In these instances, there are two routes I like to take for list growth: Creating a Lead Gen Campaign (solely list growth) or a Conversion Campaign (Static Landing Page or Funnel).
Here are some effective tips for your Facebook ads.
Targeting: Target people who already love what you provide. This is what I like to call your “stalker research.” Go on their Facebook Profiles and look at other, niche-related Pages they’ve “Liked,” who are they following, what books do they read, etc. Write out 3-5 Target audiences you think would benefit from your opt-in/freebie.
Graphic vs. Video: We’ve all probably heard “Video converts better than static images.” This is true. After several of my own tests, a video does, in fact, convert (on average) a lot better than a static image. My recommendation is to get comfortable in front of the camera, don’t read from a script, share simple tips to just compliment your opt-in (do give it all away). This video to a cold audience should be less than 3 minutes.
If you’re set on using a static image, showcase your incentive idea but blur it out. If you use text on the image (which I recommend) remember to stay within Facebook’s 20% Rule. Although Facebook no longer declines ads with too much text, they do restrict your reach which means you’ll pay more per conversion. You can use this tool to help check your text before you create your ad.
General Ad Setup: I like to break the ad out into sections, each moving part has a purpose, and if one isn’t working well, the entire ad fails. Here are the different purposes of each part:
The graphic stops the lead from scrolling; the headline peaks their interest, and the copy pushes them to take a specific action.
For more help, Becky has a Facebook Ads Toolkit to help you in every step of your campaign process.
Instagram promotion strategy
Instagram is becoming a powerhouse for engagement and visual content. Instagram has over 800 million monthly users with 59% of the users from the States and under 30.
And 31% of their users make over $75,000 a year. This is a platform that shouldn’t go unnoticed in your list building strategy.
Let’s look at Instagram tactics to grow your list.
1. Link to your lead magnet
In your Instagram bio, you can add a link to a landing page and use emojis to draw attention to your offer.
For example, vegan and cruelty-free makeup Lime Crime uses eye-catching emojis in their Instagram bio.
When you click on the link, you are taken to a popping landing page with an animation of a rose on fire and sign-up form.
Instagram limits you to one bio link, so if you want to add more, you’ll need to use one of these Instagram bio link tools. While it does mean an extra click before visitors get to your landing page, it will allow you to link to other important pages on your website.
2. Link to your offer in your posts
Instagram only gives you one clickable link in the app, and it’s the link in your bio. We want to help you turn that link into more visits, signups, conversions, and revenue for your business! With Linkin.bio, you can now add links to any of the Instagram posts you’ve published through Later, which helps direct your Instagram audience to the right content or products on your site. You can also link to multiple websites and pages, all without changing the link in your bio.
3. Add a clickable link to your Instagram stories
Instagram stories rolled out clickable links a while back, and it’s currently available for those with an Instagram business account.
Instagram stories allow a user to post a photo or video but aren’t able to be viewed after 24 hours. While this is a short window of time, you can use this strategically to market your incentive and grow your email list.
For example, Natalie Franke of Rising Tide was able to generate 530 email subscribers using Instagram Stories.
Check out this post from Social Media Examiner on how to add a link to your Instagram Story.
4. Run a giveaway
Giveaways or sweepstakes are one of the easiest tactics to grow not only your followers on social media but also your email list.
To attract people to your sweepstakes, do the following:
- Post on your feed
- Create an Instagram Story around your offer
- Promote it in your bio
ModCloth is vintage-style clothing for women. On their Instagram bio, they linked to their latest giveaway.
Pinterest promotion strategy
Out of all the social media promotion strategies mentioned in this post, Pinterest is the only one categorized as a visual search engine.
This means businesses should be flocking to Pinterest to grow their brand and list.
Let’s look at some list building strategies using Pinterest.
1. Use Pinterest SEO to help pinners find your content
A roundabout strategy for list building is to conquer SEO on Pinterest.
Why? Because you need Pinterest to show your content to as many users as possible and you use keywords to make this happen.
Currently, it’s fairly easy to find related keywords for your industry – just use Pinterest!
Type in your keyword and Pinterest will give you related suggestions to help you narrow down your search request.
For example, if I type in “Bbq grill” the first result is an infographic from Coupons.
Pinterest believes the content from Coupons is the best answer to my search question. When I click over, I can view the article. Coupons is also using this pin to help them grow their email list with a pop-up form.
Where do you place these keywords?
- In your pin description
- In your profile title
- In your profile bio
- In your board names
- In your board descriptions
2. Add your lead magnet in your bio
An easy way to build your email list is to add your landing page link in your bio. Pinterest only gives you one live link, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a non-clickable link in your bio.
Penguin Random House’s Pinterest bio has a link to their email subscription page in their bio, making it easy for pinners to sign up.
3. Add a CTA to your Pin graphic
Pinterest is a visual platform. This means most users are looking at your pins and not at your descriptions. Use this real estate to add a CTA – call-to-action – to grow your email list.
Kayla of Ivory Mix has a stock photo subscription business and uses her Pinterest graphics to market her content upgrades as a list building tactic.
4. Pin your landing page
Get the word out on Pinterest of your latest discounts, guides or trials by making a pin for your landing page.
Since landing pages usually are free of distractions – no menu or social sharing buttons – how can you pin your landing page?
If you have the Pinterest Save Button Chrome Extension, you can easily pin anything from your website that has an image.
Or, you can manually upload your pin graphic on the Pinterest platform and link your graphic to your landing page.
Simply upload your image, set your description and add your link.
Wrapping it up
Growing your email list should be a top priority to generate leads and sales. With the right incentive idea in the right area of your site, you can start attracting leads.
And when you add a strong social media promotion strategy, you’ll have no problem growing your list.
Once your list building strategy is in place, you’ll need to work on increasing your website’s traffic to get more people on your list. But don’t forget about crafting click-worthy email subject lines to make sure your subscribers open your emails.