5 Unorthodox Ways to Build a Huge Email List

Image credit: Muhammad Ribkhan

“Social media ads are expensive,” they say. “SEO is dead.”

But email marketing? It’s very much alive and kicking.

But okay, I get it. We all know that email is where the real money is. But when you hear about marketers growing their list subscribers into the hundreds of thousands, and even getting to the point where they have to “cull” their lists, it’s easy to wonder if there isn’t some black magic alchemy at work here.

And if there isn’t, anyone who grows their list beyond 500 is surely paying lots of $$$ for it, right?

Actually, no. There are free ways to grow your email list into the thousands. It’s just that sometimes — if your budget is small — you have to be a little… unorthodox.

Can you do that for me?

If so, let’s take a look at what you need to do…

1. Create a content upgrade pop-up

Funny story about pop-ups: There was a time when people hated them, but now they love them again.

That said, they’ll still hate them if you do them wrong.

Pop-ups have an average conversion rate of 9%, but if your pop-up appears too early, it’s not going to be effective. There’s been some research into this, and the best time to strike with a pop-up is after 60 seconds. By this point, anyone still on your page is clearly interested in your content and thus might be interested in your offer.

However, where many of us go really wrong is with the generic offer.

Think about it: If I’ve got a customer reading my article about lead magnets, wouldn’t it make sense for me to present them with a pop-up that offers them even more tips on the subject in exchange for their email address?

As opposed to a cheesy generic offer that’s got nothing to do with lead magnets?

This is called a content upgrade pop-up. It’s when you tease them with some cool info on your blog, before offering to fill in the gaps with, say, an eBook. It beats a generic offer hands down.

2. Optimize your confirmation page

Those double opt-in pages are pretty damn pesky, and the thing is that so many of us don’t give them a second thought.

But the other thing is, you could be losing an insane amount of subscribers who are slipping through the net that is your double opt-in page.

Picture it: you sign up for something on the commute to work and get told you’ll need to click the link in a confirmation email to confirm your subscription.

Problem is, you then head to the office, totally forget about that thing you just signed up for, and because the confirmation email ends up in your spam folder, you never hear from them again.

The best thing to do is to create a confirmation page and nail it. Here are some tips:

  • Reiterate the benefits — why are they subscribing? Put the benefits in front of them again
  • Include a compelling CTA — tell them “you need to confirm your email right away.” That’s an order, captain! Create a sense of urgency
  • Set their expectations — tell them exactly what needs to happen next with the confirmation email so that they simply cannot miss it!

3. Do what the competition is doing

Orthodoxy says you should be a good little marketer who grows your list into the thousands all off the back of your own sweat, toil and moxie. Be a self-made man or woman!

But orthodoxy kind of sucks.

It’s much better to take the left-hand path and use a tool called BuiltWith to show you exactly what tools your rivals are using to build their lists.

With this tool, you simply copy and past your rivals’ URL into it, head on over to the Analytics and Tracking part and take a look at the cool tools they’re using to grow their lists.

And don’t stick to your rivals — see what tools the best marketers are using, too!

4. Send visitors to your squeeze page (not your blog)

Ask most bloggers who are struggling to build a big email list where most of their traffic goes and they’ll probably say their blog.

Well, duh, right?

Problem is, if you want to build an email list, your blog is the wrong page to send people to! Well, unless you have your popup game all nailed.

Why is it the wrong page? Because you need to get people to your high-converting pages — in other words your squeeze page where you collect email addresses.

To this end, you can build your social media campaigns around driving traffic to your squeeze page.

Add lots of links on your website that takes people to your squeeze page, too. Add “hooky” anchor text that begs to be clicked on.

5. Leverage YouTube videos

Lastly, it seems that many of us can agree that YouTube click-through rates are pretty bad — less than 1%!

So why would you want to leverage them to build a huge email list?

First, video marketing is huge. People watch almost 5 billion videos on YouTube each day. YouTube is also the second biggest search engine after Google. This means you’re almost guaranteed an audience.

Second, if you give something awesome away on your video, you can build your list massively.

How so? People love free stuff, and all you’ve have to do is make a video you know will be popular, add a card and include a “Get Access Now” button that takes people to your squeeze page.

So, these are 5 unorthodox ways to grow your email list. It’s all about thinking outside the box, doing the things your competition isn’t doing and — in some cases — doing what they are doing!

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Aljaz Fajmut is a digital marketer, internet entrepreneur, and the founder of Nightwatch, a next-generation search visibility tool. Check out his Nightwatch blog and follow him on Twitter @aljazfajmut.

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