Consumer surveys consistently report that email marketing is the most trusted form of marketing. Yet many of us are stuck with very few people on our email lists. Michael Hyatt had 115,000 email subscribers at the time he said this, “I have literally built a multi-million dollar business on the strength of my email list. Ninety percent of my income comes from it. Even today, my email list is still my number one business priority—and asset.” People want to be marketed to by brands they trust. Consumers want to get your emails, they want to hear what you have to say. And if you treat them right and care for your list they will respond to your call to actions.

“I have literally built a multi-million dollar business on the strength of my email list. Ninety percent of my income comes from it. Even today, my email list is still my number one business priority—and asset.”

Michael Hyatt

Taking care of your list is easier said that done, but it is mostly about being consistent. This way when you do try to sell them something they will be more likely to listen. Once your list hits a critical mass – which is different for everyone – you will be able to send emails at a great frequency with more opportunities to sell something.

But how do you grow your list and get that critical mass? I have helped many companies do so, and I’m on the same journey. As I write this I have exactly 14 subscribers and one is my mom and another is my wife. I believe that my critical mass is about 5,000 subscribers. And I have set that as my goal, to build my email subscriber list to 5,000 subscribers by the end of 2016. So I sat down and thought about as many ways as I could to get email subscribers. Then I scoured the web looking for more ways. I found a few more and added them to my now growing list. Regularly I’ll keep you posted on my progress to 5,000 email subscribers.

Meanwhile, here are the 15 action steps that I will be implementing to grow my email list.



1. Add a Pop-over Subscription Form.

Popup ads from the turn the century were awful and people hated them. Popover lightboxes are showcased content. They are a part of a website and can easily be closed. Honestly, I would think that people would hate them as much as popup ads, but the conversion rates on these are tremendous. On another website I run I added one of these boxes to the 4 most visited pages on the website and I received approximately 112% increase in my email sign-up conversion rate.

This is not the easiest thing to do. I use WordPress and have access to a couple of plugins that will connect automatically to MailChimp for me to make this a little easier.

2. Write Amazing, Share-Worthy Content.

The idea here is to keep people coming back to your website as a resource for the internet. If your content is well written with the audience in mind they should want to share it. If they share it their friends might sign up for the newsletter. Share-worthiness is also an indicator for SEO; well-shared articles will rank higher in the search results.

This is easier said than done, but note that I really try on these articles. I so research into what I think my audience might be reading (I’m actually preparing an email survey). I look at what people are sharing online and look to create content around those topics as they relate to this blog. It’s my intent to continue doing so.

3. Write Guest Posts and Include a Call to Action to your Newsletter in your Bio

Writing guest posts is a time-honored tradition on the internet. Basically, this is to process of reaching out to popular websites and blog in order to write content on their websites to gain influence and hopefully a little traffic. Most of these sites will include an author bio section where you get to talk about yourself a little. This is a mutually beneficial way to get your name out there. The tactic here is a link to a landing page specific to that website which has several clear calls to action to sign-up for your email list. This page could also include link to other relevant articles on your website.

4. Create an Online Community

So, this isn’t the right solution for everyone. But the concept is to develop an online group focused on a topic related to your business. You need to scour the internet looking for people in your target demographic and ask them to join your group. Facebook and LinkedIn are great places to create these groups. Because you’re leading the group you can set it up any way you wish. I would suggest creating a landing page on your website with many calls to action for email sign-ups. The idea is that you need to start strong on the first day by adding 300 or so people to your group and then every day search out and find 20-30 more people per day. And also, lead the conversation in the group. This will be time-consuming, but the rewards could be great for your email sign-ups, your reputation as a thought leader and your business.

I’ve decided to start a group for small business marketers on LinkedIn. It’s a community of people that help each other with marketing questions and concerns.

5. Make your Email a Feature of your Website, not an Add-on.

Every website should have conversion goals; and an email sign-up should be one of them. If a guy like Michael Hyatt says that his number one revenue stream is his email list, then it needs to be a feature of our website not something you hope people sign up for. That means you need to sell it. Just like someone would try to sell you an upgrade on a product or service. You should be convincing people that you have something interesting to say (see point 2) and then convincing them to give you their very precious email addresses.

This is hard for me. It feels like hard selling, but really it’s just offering a link many times, and making it really easy to sign-up. I’ll be trying tactics I’ve never tried before. But really this is a mindset. I should be measuring the effectiveness of my website based on many things, but Email sign-ups should be something I regularly view as a success of this website.

6.  Use Content Upgrades within your Blog Posts

This is the practice of using your content and knowledge to your advantage. It is a simple proposition, offer additional content in exchange for an email newsletter sign-up.

This is new for me, I’ve never done it before, but I have read that it is an extremely popular idea and works very well. So, I’m trying it for the first time with this post. I have a plugin that allows me to only offer this content after you enter your information on the page linked below in the button. These 15 items are things that I plan to implement to get to my goal of 5,000 subscribers. The bonus 25 items are all great ideas, but not necessarily applicable to my current situation, but could be for you. So, head on over and sign-up.


7.  Make High Traffic Pages all about Signing up for the Newsletter

This strategy looks into what pages on your website are gaining the most traffic (the top 4-5 pages to start) and developing a strategy for each of those pages that specifically drives tries to convert visitors into subscribers. This could be tailoring the message of a pop-over to match the content on the page.

I have done this before; I have a blog where the category pages are some of the most trafficked pages on the site and I made the pop-over match the content and my sign-up conversions on those pages went through the roof. I plan to do something similar on this website.

8.  Use Calls to Action within your Blog Posts

This is a pretty basic concept that simply put is just a link to your newsletter sign-up form within the text of your blog posts. That way someone coming from search or from a social media share could easily jump to your form and sign-up.

I’ll be going back to some of my old posts and putting a link to my newsletter sign-up page. I’m not expecting too much by way of sign-ups from this tactic but I guess I could be surprised as I’ve seen this on several lists of suggestions.

9.  Add Sign-up Links to your Social Media Bios

This, also, is a very basic idea, but not many people think about it. Many people will view your social media profiles and it would be easy to create a link to your website for your newsletter sign-up.

My social profiles are pretty new for this website and it wouldn’t be difficult at all to create a link back to my website for people to sign-up for my newsletter.

10. Add a Sign-up Link to your Email Signature

This is very straightforward but might require a bit more of a sell. A simple ‘Sign-up for my newsletter’ link probably won’t cut it. But something more of a harder sell, ‘Get updates, and the latest information about our industry, Sign-Up for our newsletter’.

This goes without saying that it would be very simple to accomplish.

11.  Build up your Website’s SEO

This is something everyone should be doing anyway, but it goes without saying that if you are receiving more traffic – more eyeballs will be viewing your email sign-up calls to action.

For me, this is a constant reality, I am working to increase the amount of traffic that I receive from search engines. As of the time this writing I have had just one single visit from a search engine which is to be expected with as new as this site is and for as little content as it has.

12.  Add a ‘Reasons to Sign Up’ page on your Website

Create a page on your website that’s sole purpose is to tell the visitor why they should sign-up for your newsletter. Create a list of reasons, create a video, use client testimonials, quotes from your industry. Really this is anything you think would convince someone to join your newsletter.

I, honestly, had never thought of this idea before I researched this topic, but I will be implementing it. I will probably create a list of reasons and support them with industry quotes. The link will be on every page and in the upper righthand corner of the website.

13. Ask Clients when you Talk on the Phone

This is a mindset change. If you truly believe what you are sending to people is important it is an easy ask to get them on your list. In my experience, people find it difficult to say no to that question.

14.  Include a Subscriber Testimonial Next to your Opt-in Form.

Near your opt-in form include a testimonial. If you have one about how a client or customer was helped by the information you include in your list by all means use that, but it doesn’t have to be about the email list itself.

I have a few client testimonials and I will be using them throughout the site and I will use them in conjunction with the opt-in forms.

15.  Create Opt-in Landing Pages for Social Media Traffic.

Make a landing page that is specific to each specific social media profile that tells about the type of content you will be sharing on your social profiles. For Pinterest add some of your favorite pin and boards, for Facebook let your visitors know what to expect and include a like box. I think this is especially important for Instagram as you only get one link out of your profile.

I plan on doing this for each of my social profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

These 15 items are pretty actionable steps. I really think that if I could do them it would help me get to 5,000 new subscribers by the end of 2016. How about you? How many people do you have on your list? What is your goal for 2016 (don’t have one – Set one here in the comments)? Is there any other way that you’ve tried with success to get new subscribers?

And don’t forget to get the bonus!