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Email List Growth: 19 Tactics to Help Grow Your Email List in 2022

Table of Contents

Email is money. 

But contrary to popular advice, you don't need a massive list to scale your email marketing strategy—you need a quality one.

Compared to other channels, email marketing has one of the highest ROI's around, with an average of $36 made for every $1 spent. 

It's also one of the best ways to connect with your audience—you’re 40 times more likely to acquire new customers through email than Facebook or Twitter.

To build a list of engaged subscribers—the kind who will spend money and buy from you—you can't just dabble in a random smattering of plug-and-play "tactics." 

You need a framework.

In this post, we cut through the noise with a proven 3-step process to start growing your email list the right way, right now.

The 3-Step Process For Growing a Valuable Email List

The whole point of list-building is to capture as many of the right email signups as possible. Your email marketing campaigns will be more effective that way.

Quality of subs > volume.

Keep that in mind as you read through the following ten lead gen tactics. 

By the end, you'll know exactly how to execute an evergreen process that attracts qualified subscribers like a magnet.

Here are the steps:

  • Step 1: Choose a lead gen offer (lead magnet)
  • Step 2: Select lead source (traffic source)
  • Step 3: Set up email capture forms

Combine all three, and you have a repeatable, reliable process to grow your email list.

The process starts with your offer.

Step 1. Offer a valuable incentive

The best way to get signups for your email list is to create a lead gen asset, or 'lead magnet.' 

This is a valuable resource you offer to leads in exchange for their email.

  • If you're an ecom brand, you're looking at discount offers, free shipping, or quiz experiences to attract signups.
  • Free trials, tools, and demos are proven lead magnets to incentivize signups if you're a SaaS company.
  • B2B companies drive signups with demos, industry reports, white papers, and free consult calls to build trust and authority.

Collecting emails is a transaction. When a person visits your site and sees your lead magnet, they’re going to decide whether or not the magnet is valuable enough to justify giving up access to their precious inbox. They’re using the same part of their brain when making purchase decisions. So you have to offer something more important to them than their clean inbox.

Quality attracts quality. 

Whatever you decide to offer your prospects, make sure it's high-quality, valuable, and relevant to their interests.

Here are ten of the highest-performing incentives.

1. Discount codes

Discount codes and coupons work especially well for ecommerce brands, but can work for virtually any type of business—everyone likes to save money.

Create a homepage pop-up that shows to first-time visitors. 

A/B test a dollar amount vs percentage amount in your opt-in copy (i.e. 10% off vs $10 off), and make sure to track signup conversion rate and coupon code usage in your analytics to determine which variation performs best. 

2. Free shipping

If you'd rather not discount your products, you might offer free shipping instead. 

unlock free shipping popup

Free shipping offers are enticing enough for first-time visitors to give you their email, and ideally, make a purchase. Furthermore, free shipping doesn't cut into your profit margins as discounting does.

3. Lead gen quiz

If you offer a wide variety of products, styles, use-cases, or if your product is customizable, consider building an interactive quiz funnel to boost email signups. 

For example, the DTC tea company, Cup and Leaf, boosted email signups on their blog by 528% using a simple quiz funnel. 

Cup and Leaf tea quiz start page

Quizzes are effective because the experience typically reveals something about the user, rewards them with advice, or curates product recommendations based on their preferences. 

Here's how Cup and Leaf set up their quiz.

Cup and leaf quiz welcome page

First, they used Typeform to create the quiz, and asked blog visitors to answer questions about their tea preferences and favorite flavors. 

Example lead gen quiz question

Before revealing the results, users are prompted to enter their email.

Quiz email capture screen

After opting in, the quiz taker is presented with a curated tea recommendation based on their answers in the quiz. 

Quiz completion screen

And they sealed the deal with a 15% off on their first order.

Our advice for lead gen quizzes? Start simple. 

To test this yourself, consider having just one question that matters. You can tie each answer to a different quiz result (e.g., product recommendation or next logical step for your particular business) and use the rest of the questions as fillers to learn more about your audience. 

4. Gated content 

Too many companies create something mediocre to begin with, then think it makes sense to gate it behind an email capture page. This is a mistake. 

Flimsy content reflects poorly on your business, and your users will feel cheated if your gated asset doesn't deliver. Gated content needs to be well-written and informative enough to give the reader the expected payoff. 

Here are the main types of gated content to consider producing:

White papers and industry reports: White papers are in-depth reference materials used to demonstrate expertise and establish trust/credibility. They're often written to report on independent research and analysis, explain proprietary tech, or share valuable industry insights. 

For example, the crypto research group, Messari, publishes an annual crypto thesis for the year ahead.

Messari Crypto Theses gated content example

The report is 150+ pages long and packed with incredible research-backed insights to help investors and institutions navigate the complex world of crypto. 

As a rule of thumb, the more valuable the asset, the more contact info you can get away with asking for. Remember, you’re exchanging value for value. 

Guides and playbooks are meant to help your prospects accomplish a goal or get rid of a pain that they're experiencing. These content upgrades are typically shorter than proper e-books, but longer than a typical blog post. 

Backlinko SEO guide

Brian Dean of Backlinko publishes a definitive SEO guide every year to help aspiring and professional SEOs stay on top of current strategies and thinking on search engine optimization.

You can also consider partially-gating deep dive playbooks as we do at Demand Curve.

Demand Curve gated playbook example

Readers who make it to the halfway mark are practically guaranteed to enter an email to gain access to the rest of the playbook.

Swipe files: A swipe file is a curated compilation of resources (e.g., templates, cheat sheets, checklists, inspirational materials) the reader can use as a shortcut to accomplish something faster or easier. 

For example, Digital Marketer has a popular swipe file with over 100 proven email subject lines. 

Digital Marketer Email Subject Line Swipe File example

Optinmonster offers blog visitors a cheatsheet of 69 lead magnet ideas to grow your email list.

Optinmonster lead gen example

Insight: Bundle lower-level content upgrades to create a more valuable whole.

You might position these assets as a tool kit, starter pack, or survival guide to make the offer feel more cohesive, and therefore, more valuable.

Marketing Gift pack email capture
Art of Charm email capture example

5. Sweepstakes and giveaway contests

A common way for businesses to grow their email list is to run a giveaway and generate awareness for that giveaway. 

Magic Spoon giveaway

Insight: The more valuable and intent-specific the item you're giving away, the better the sweepstake usually performs. 

For example, if you're an ecommerce coffee company, don't make your giveaway contest an entry to win a trip to the Bahamas. Instead, make it a lifetime supply of free coffee. That way you'll only attract people who actually like coffee and might realistically become customers.

6. Webinars and free courses

Webinars and courses are either live or recorded video that people have to sign up for in order to attend. 

Webinars are usually 30 minutes to an hour long and are meant to teach or educate attendees on a meaningful topic.

Dr. Axe Facebook Signup CTA
Dr. Axe Reserve Your Spot Webinar signup
Email marketing course lead gen example

7. Email newsletters

The world has enough generic newsletter opt-in forms. So, if you're going to do a newsletter, make sure to tell people exactly what they're going to get by signing up—what's in it for them? 

Then, deliver the goods. 

Marketing Brew does a great job in their daily marketing email newsletter.

Marketing Brew email opt-in form

Notice how clear and concise the copy is. You know exactly what you're in for by signing up.

If the idea of starting a newsletter intimidates you, it shouldn't. A newsletter doesn't have to be long or terribly deep. The key is to send something useful, educational, or entertaining that appeals to your target audience's interests and aligns with your brand/product. 

For example, best-selling author and self-experimenter, Tim Ferriss, has a popular-yet-simple newsletter called 5-Bullet Friday. 

It's a list of five of the most exciting things he stumbles across each week.

Tim Ferriss 5-Bullet Friday popup
5-Bullet Friday email example

Content curation can also work for businesses.

By curating the most valuable tools, news, or resources in your industry, you save subscribers time and position yourself as a credible authority—someone in the know.

For example, Robinhood invites users to sign up for a 3-minute newsletter with fresh takes on financial news. 

Robinhood Snacks newsletter optin

And the popular SEO software tool, Moz, curates ten of the most valuable articles about SEO and digital marketing for their audience in a semi-monthly newsletter called The Moz Top 10.

Moz newsletter optin

Insight: Contrary to common marketing advice, most newsletters don't need to be sent weekly. High cadences force newsletter writers to rush and publish lower quality information. Instead, consider only sending when you truly have value to add. 

At Demand Curve, we send out a newsletter called Growth Tactics. 

Demand Curve newsletter optin form

Once a week, we ask hundreds of top marketers which advanced growth tactics are working for them. Then we share those insights with you.

You can sign up here.

8. Free tools

Build something your prospects can use and interact with. 

For example, Sumo created a content planner spreadsheet for a popular blog article on how to increase website traffic with SEO content.

Sumo free tool example

They embedded an in-line CTA in the specific section where the author describes how he stayed organized with a handy spreadsheet.

After entering an email, new subscribers can make a copy of the spreadsheet template and start creating their own SEO content plan.

Sumo.com Nat Likes Tea Content Plan

Another example: Growth Tools built a free design tool to make it easier for businesses to turn their written content into attractive lead magnets.

Growth Tools email capture popup

Here's how it works:

Lead Magnet Template explainer

Ultimately, the type of tool you create depends on your business.

  • If you sell fitness products, you might hire a developer to build a custom branded diet calculator or fitness tracking app.
  • If you're in SaaS, you might isolate an individual product feature and let prospects use it for free in exchange for their email. Then, follow up and promote the full paid version. 

Bonus: Consider testing a tripwire offer

Ahrefs breaks the mold with a popular 7-day, 7-dollar trial with full access to all tools and features. 

Ahrefs trial offer screenshot

7 days. 7 dollars. Full access. This is an example of the classic 'tripwire' offer.

In marketing, tripwire offers are powerful micro-commitments that reduce friction for subsequent transactions, typically higher-dollar offers. By spending even a small amount of money, psychologically, the buyer is more likely to purchase again. In his book, Influence, Robert Cialdini refers to this phenomenon as the Commitment and Consistency Principle. 

9. Access to exclusive communities, like Slack groups

Consider starting an exclusive community if you sell an educational product or something with a strong social component. 

Demand Curve Slack group application form

In exchange for an email, subscribers gain access to like-minded community members and a unique way to interact with your business.

DC Slack group growth chat

Join our Slack community and exchange growth insights with 1000's of world-class marketers.

10. Free trials and demos

Free trials and demos are ideal for B2B and B2C SaaS.

If the product is truly remarkable, a portion of users will like it enough and upgrade to a paid plan by the end of the trial.

For example, Constant Contact is a popular email marketing software. The only CTA on their homepage is a free trial sign-up form.

Constant Contact homepage

Another example: Loopio is a request for proposal (RFP) SaaS for growth-focused companies. 

In exchange for an email address, interested visitors can download a free PDF template created to help teams make Go/No-Go decisions for RFP's. 

Loopio free template content upgrade

After submitting the form, the user receives the template with some useful data, a few editable fields, and instructions, and Loopio gains a qualified lead they know will benefit from scheduling a product demo and or outbound sales call.

Step 2. Choose a lead source

We just covered ten lead gen assets you can experiment with to grow your email list. 

Now, you need to choose a lead source—a flow of traffic you can send to your lead magnet.

11. Social media

Organic social is one of the main ways to drive new email signups. 

Here are a few ways to grow your email list using your social media profiles:

Add a CTA to your bios

Link to your lead gen asset in the bio section of your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and any other platforms you're active on. 

Unless you're already driving considerable traffic, we recommend pointing each of your social profiles to one primary opt-in form. That way, you'll get the most learnings in the shortest amount of time, and you won't risk spreading traffic too thin across multiple signup points. 

Here's an example from Marketing Brew.

Marketing Brew social CTAs

Every social CTA points to the same lead gen asset—their newsletter signup page. 

In terms of email capture, having a single funnel lets Marketing Brew focus on conversion rate optimization and lead flow, rather than spreading themselves too thin with multiple lead gen offers and signup flows. 

On the other hand, if you have multiple lead gen offers, consider setting up a Linkin.bio (Instagram) or Linktree (all social media platforms) to make it easier for prospects to find what they're interested in.

For example, Tim Ferriss includes a Linkin.bio in his Instagram profile with links to his newsletter, podcast, blog, books, and socials.

Tim Ferriss Linkn.bio example

Drive traffic with Instagram Stories

If you have an Instagram Business profile and more than 10k followers, you can add a clickable link to your Stories that users can access by swiping up on the story. 

Precision Nutrition Instagram Stories email capture

To make this work, make sure to highlight the benefits of your offer first, then transition to the pitch towards the end of the Story series. The idea is to hook viewers with your content first, then close with a swipe-up CTA to your email opt-in page where potential customers can enter an email to claim your lead gen offer. 

Insight: Use UTM parameters to see which social channels are working best.

In terms of lead gen, UTMs can tell us two things: 

  1. Which lead gen assets are converting best
  2. Which lead sources are contributing the most to your subscriber list

For example, you could create a trackable link using UTM parameters for the opt-in link included in your Instagram bio. That way, you’d know where every subscriber from that platform came from. 

Adjust and optimize for each social channel based on what the data tells you. 

12. Web traffic

Collect emails on your homepage

Zapier homepage

Your homepage has less than 3 seconds to hook visitors. Zapier does this using 3 key pieces before visitors scroll:

  • Header: Explains the product benefit
  • Sub-header: Handles objections
  • Call-to-action: Shows the next step

The CTA makes it obvious what the next step is and removes all unnecessary barriers. 

Here's another example from Mailchimp.

Mailchimp homepage

For the first 2,000 contacts, users can try Mailchimp for free. Once they reach the contact cap, a percentage of users will upgrade to a paid plan.

Capture emails on your blog

If you have a blog that gets traffic, you can turn a percentage of those visitors into subscribers.

For example, Legion features its supplement quiz on the sidebar of every blog post. That way, no matter which article someone comes in on, they're exposed to the "Take the Quiz" CTA, the company's main lead gen asset.

Legion quiz optin sidebar

OptinMonster uses the same sidebar of real estate. Only they feature a newsletter opt-in form.

Optinmonster newsletter signup sidebar

You can also use your blog as an opportunity to develop content-specific lead magnets that add incremental value to top-performing posts.

For instance, if a handful of blog posts are generating the lion's share of organic traffic, you'll capture more signups with specific lead magnets for each of those individual pages than you would with a generic newsletter opt-in.

Here's a simple way to identify your top pages in Google Analytics:

  1. Pull up your GA dashboard
  2. Navigate to Behavior→ Site Content → All Pages and set the date range to display 3-4 months
  3. In this view, you can identify your most trafficked pages
Top Pages in Google Analytics

Within the list, pick out your top-performing blog pages and create content that elaborates on or complements each page. This is what marketers call a 'content upgrade,' a valuable piece of bonus content offered in exchange for a visitor's email address.

For example, if your top blog post is about the keto diet, you might create a downloadable shopping list and offer that as your gated content upgrade.

Insight: Use SEO tools to source content upgrade ideas from your competitors.

  • Step 1: Enter a competitor's URL into ahrefs or SEO tool of choice
  • Step 2: Sort by monthly organic visitors
  • Step 3: Manually check top pages for bespoke content upgrades

Let's borrow another example from Sumo.

First, we entered their URL into ahrefs domain explorer.

Ahrefs domain serach for Sumo.com

After sorting by Traffic, we can see their top page is a list post about copywriting power words readers can use increase conversions. 

Top Sumo pages in Ahrefs

A quick glance at the post, and lo and behold, a power words PDF content upgrade appears.

Sumo.com power words content upgrade

Let's go through the exercise again, only this time for an ecommerce brand, Perfect Keto.

After punching perfectketo.com into ahrefs, we can see that Perfect Keto has a page about ketogenic diet calculators that gets nearly 5k organic visitors per month from people searching for 'keto calculator.'

Keto Calculator URL in Ahrefs

Instead of writing a post about keto calculators and linking out to external resources, Perfect Keto created their own keto calculator tool to drive email signups.

Perfect Keto - Keto Calculator hero

The first section of the page asks visitors to enter their personal data. 

Perfect Keto - Keto Calculator questionnaire

Once they're done, they can enter an email to see their results, along with some other bonuses.

Keto Calculator email capture

13. Guest posts, podcasts, and cross-promotion

Guest podcast

Guest podcasting is when you make a guest appearance on someone else's podcast. Depending on the audience size of the podcast, this can drive a significant amount of traffic to your website. This is usually done via cold outreach, pitching an idea to a podcast host, and then scheduling the interview. Traffic typically arrives through links to the guest’s website in the show notes of the podcast episode.

Guest podcast example


Use a search engine tool like Listen Notes and research relevant podcasts in your industry. Use Cold Outreach and think of ways you can add value to the conversation and the podcaster's audience.

Guest blog posts

A guest blog post is when you offer to write for another website’s blog. Guest-posting is time-consuming, and frankly, inefficient if your main goal is email list growth. Done organically, it simply doesn't scale. 

However, if you have an opportunity to write a guest post for one of the most trafficked, authoritative blogs in your niche, it's likely worth putting the time and effort in to create something great—the traffic is worth it, and the backlink can help support your SEO rankings. But for most other blogs, it's better to save your time and try other lead sources. 

Cross-promotion

You'll grow your list faster if you have help.

Cross-promotions are win-win situations. Every business wants to grow their list, so why not work together in a way that lets both parties benefit?

A few ideas to consider:

  • Run a joint giveaway: Partner with an adjacent company in your space and use a giveaway tool like Gleam to promote a viral giveaway contest.
  • Run a joint webinar: If you're a SaaS company, you might partner with a marketing agency or complementary tool and co-host a webinar that educates the shared audience on the problem(s) your tool is meant to help solve.
  • Run a special event: Partner with peers in your space and host a special sales event, increasing brand exposure, signups, and purchases.

Example: Natural Stacks

Natural Stacks sells open-source health supplements direct-to-consumer. 

Inspired by Amazon's 'Prime Day,' they decided to create their own annual deals event called Stacks Day.

Every year, Natural Stacks partners with adjacent brands in the DTC consumables space to create a limited supply of heavily-discounted product bundles (stacks).

Stacks Day promoted bundle example

Participating brands promote the event to their email lists in advance, giving subscribers early access to the deals if they sign up for the Stacks Day VIP list.

Stacks Day VIP early access

Partnering brands benefit from the exposure to Natural Stacks' audience. And when the event is over, Natural Stacks promotes all partnering brands to their entire list with discounts and special offers.

Stacks Day follow-up promotion

14. Email referrals

Gain more email subscribers leveraging the list you already have. 

If you already have an engaged list of subscribers who open your emails and look forward to what you have to say, consider giving them an incentive to forward and share your newsletter with people in their network. 

At Demand Curve, we give subscribers full access to our back-catalog of growth tactics when they refer to friends to the newsletter.

Demand Curve newsletter referral

Morning Brew ups the ante with free rewards tiers. The more referrals you make, the more swag you can unlock.

Morning Brew newsletter referral

Another way to get referrals is through partnerships. Partnerships refer to mutually beneficial relationships that a business might form with other businesses within their industry.

To use a typical B2B example, a design firm that builds websites for law firms might partner with another company that does SEO. By doing so, both businesses benefit from referrals created by the relationship. 

15. Tap online communities, forums, and discussion groups

These are interactive platforms where users can post content, discuss it, and even vote on content, including:

  • Reddit
  • Quora
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Product Hunt
  • Hacker News
  • Growth Hackers
  • Relevant Slack groups (find them on Standuply or /r/SlackHangouts on Reddit)

Like guest posting, this approach doesn't scale very well. But if you're starting from scratch, it's worth considering. 

To get started, join online communities in your industry and become an active participant. Over time, you’ll build new relationships that you can then use for content distribution and list growth.

But like social media groups, don’t overtly promote your content. For example, Reddit’s guidelines advise a 9:1 ratio, in which “only 1 out of every 10 of your submissions should be your own content.” Add value first, then share your content.

Sign up or apply to join the ones where your target audience might be—then repurpose your content for sharing in them. Remember to be mindful of each community’s rules and culture; you should avoid coming off as sales-y or overly promotional.

16. Drive traffic with paid ads

Paid promotion is the fastest way to drive email signups. 

Paid advertising can be used as a top-of-funnel strategy to promote a cheap or free lead magnet in return for a person's email. 

For example, Canva ran this Facebook ad for a 30-day free trial. 

canva Facebook ad example

This ad does a great job of speaking to the product's value, and it's rare to see such a lengthy free trial with all Pro features unlocked. This makes the offer desirable. And if Canva is putting ad spend behind it, we can assume it's working pretty well.

Here's an example of a post Ahrefs boosted on their Facebook page. 

Ahrefs sponsored Facebook post example

Different ads channels work for different businesses. Here are a few tips to consider if you're thinking about paid promotion:

  • Facebook and Instagram ads are your best bet if you have a decently-converted offer or lead magnet. The targeting is exceptional, and the channel scales well.
  • Google ads are better suited for generating direct purchases. 
  • Pinterest ads are worth considering if your audience is primarily women and your product is highly visual. 
  • TikTok ads are worth considering if you have deep creative resources and/or sell broadly-appealing products.

Insight: For any of the channels above, use custom lookalike audiences to find more people like your existing subscribers. 

Ultimately, paid promotion can dramatically accelerate your list-building efforts, but it only works if your lead magnet has proved it can convert traffic into email subscribers. 

Remember, quality attracts quality.

17. Offline lead generation

The majority of your list-building results are going to come from online sources. 

However, offline growth tactics are worth exploring if you have a brick and mortar business, a local small business, or a startup in the traction stage and need to onboard users by any means necessary. 

Here are a few examples/ideas to get you going: 

  • Business cards: Include an easy-to-remember link or QR code that directs people to an email signup page. 
  • Point-of-sales: If you have a retail presence, invite customers to sign up for a rewards program or newsletter.
  • Conferences and live events: If you're speaking, collect attendees' emails and contact information using a physical sign-in sheet. If you're attending, treat the event as a networking opportunity—bring some business cards. 
  • Local Meetups: Meetups are small groups of people who assemble over a shared interest, profession, passion, or hobby. Consider hosting a Meetup in your area. By hosting, you get to set the agenda and create an experience for the specific audience you're trying to target.

Lastly, sometimes you just need to get out there and approach your customers in the real world, organized event or not.

Some examples:

  • Uber took to the streets and handed out referral codes to recruit users.
  • Snapchat went to the mall and handed out flyers. 
  • Tinder founders pitched their dating app to USC frats and sororities.
  • The founding team at Square patronized local businesses and convinced merchants to start using the product and share valuable feedback.

The essence of this tactic is about interacting with real people in the real world in the places they spend time. 

Step 3. Set up email capture forms

The lead gen asset is the carrot. Once someone bites, you need a way to grab their email. 

Love'em or hate'em, the most effective way to do this is with pop-ups.

18. Pop-ups

Improve Your motional Intelligence in Just 7 Days

Pop-ups are the main way to acquire leads and grow your list. 

This type of email signup form pops up on the website page after someone visits. The timing of when it pops up might be based on the amount of time users spend on your page or some behavioral trigger.

Pop-ups copy

First, a few thoughts on how to write these email capture elements well:

Pop-ups copy breakdown

Perfect your header

Studies show that 55% of visitors spend only 15 seconds or less on your website, which means you need to capture their attention right from the get-go.

Header copy needs to include a tangible benefit for the visitor. Instead of explaining what people get when they sign up, show them the outcome. This is a basic tenet of good copywriting, and it applies equally to email capture.

For example, change the copy “Sign up to get my free 7-day course” to “Improve your emotional intelligence in just 7 days.”

Add social proof

When a lead sees other people—people like them—leaving glowing testimonials for your product, there’s a higher chance they’ll convert.

For example, include a testimonial with a photo of a person who fits your target audience. Help people see themselves in your marketing material:

  • If you’re in martech, get a testimonial from a Head of Growth or VP of marketing.
  • If you’re a direct-to-consumer fitness brand, try getting a testimonial from a well-known athlete.

Change your call to action (CTA)

Write CTA copy that is value-driven. People are more likely to enter their email and click the call to action button if it provides value.

You're inviting people to opt-in to the community you've build with your brand.  So which CTA sounds more appealing?

to:

Subscribing often feels very impersonal, but it doesn't have to. 

Tweak your CTA copy to sound like a friendly invitation, not a cold instruction.

Use these examples as templates for your own pop ups.

Dynamic popups

If you want to take popups a step further, try this: use dynamic popups to meet visitors at their current stage in the buyer's journey. Most marketing messaging tools offer the ability to target individuals with customized popups.

For example, split your audience into three segments and show a different popup that resonates with each:

  1. First-time traffic: For first-time visitors who haven’t subscribed yet, provide a discount, a giveaway, or exclusive content gated by an email capture.
  2. Returning subscribers: For those who haven’t purchased and are coming back to browse again, make your lead gen asset a subscriber-only discount to encourage a purchase. Include a countdown timer to create urgency.
  3. Customers: For existing customers, feature new products and greet people with a "welcome back" message to let them know they are now part of the family.

Insight: Increase popup conversion using the 60% rule

While they're often thought of as intrusive, popups convert 3% of site visitors, on average.

And strategic, high-performing popups can reach ~10% conversion.

To make higher-converting, less intrusive popups, try the 60% Rule:

  • Open your website's analytics and see the average time spent on a specific page you'd like to use a popup on.
  • Set your popup to appear after 60% of the average time spent on your specific page. So if the average time spent on a page is 50 seconds, set your popup to appear 30 seconds after visitors land on that page.

At that point, readers have shown interest in your content but are nearing the end of their session. Prompting them with a relevant and valuable incentive in exchange for their email will feel like a fair exchange.

Bonus: When designing your popups, ensure the copy, call-to-action, and incentive are directly relevant to the page the visitor is currently on. You can rephrase the headers that appear on the page as a hook in the popup.

We've just covered the main type of popup and how to use it for best results.

Now, let's move on to a few other popup variations we recommend testing in your lead gen strategy.

Welcome mat

This type of opt-in form appears a few moments after someone visits your website for the first time. Typically, a welcome mat will appear after a few seconds and take up the entire page, offering some sort of lead magnet that encourages website visitors to subscribe. 

Neil Patel welcome mat example

Exit intent

This type of opt-in form pops up on the screen when the web browser indicates that the person is going to leave the website (i.e., when their mouse scrolls to the URL section of their web browser). This can be a highly effective way to catch a website visitor's attention with a special offer or discount before they go elsewhere. 

Basic Outfitters exit intent popup example

Slide-in form

This type of form shows up after spending a few moments on a page or scrolling to a certain point. It comes from the bottom left or right and stays on the page until the website visitor either subscribes or intentionally exits out of it.

Baremetrics slide-in form example

Gamification

Gamified pop-ups like spin-the-wheel add a fun sense of novelty to an otherwise basic pop-up experience. 

Legion gamification popup example

19. In-line forms and scroll bars

In-line form

This form can include a lead magnet offer, or it can be a simple and basic "subscribe now" CTA. The defining quality of an inline opt-in form is that it's in the middle of the page somewhere, often in the middle of a blog post or landing page. 

Neil Patel in-line form example

Basic subscribe CTA

This type of opt-in form is much more basic than a pop-up. Rather than showing up on the screen because of some sort of behavioral activity, this form simply rests on the screen, usually somewhere near the header or footer of the website.

Basic subscribe CTA example

Scroll boxes and floating bars

These types of opt-in forms float at the top or the side of the page as the visitor scrolls. It usually only leaves once the visitor either subscribers or intentionally exits out of it.

Neil Patel floating bar example

Bonus: Grow your email list faster with lead generation tools

Lead generation tools can help grow your email list faster.

Here are a few different types of lead gen tools, plus a few examples of each.

Customer relationship manager (CRM)

A CRM helps you manage leads. Early on, say, if you're a solo entrepreneur, you might be able to get by with Google Sheets. But past a certain point, you'll likely need software to help stay organized. CRMs let you keep track of where leads are in your funnel. Here are some examples of CRMs:

Email service provider (ESP)

An ESP is one of the most basic lead generation tools for your email marketing efforts. This type of tool allows you to scale your email marketing by sending out large quantities of emails. Most ESPs today offer opt-in forms for collecting leads on your website, basic lead management, and email segmentation. If you aren't using one already, consider signing up with one of these reputable ESP's:

Landing page builder

Providing a remarkable landing page experience will help improve your email subscriber conversion rate. Here are some tried and true options:

Lead capture tool

Last, you'll need a tool that enables you to set up email capture mechanisms on your website. Many of the tools we mentioned above already come packaged with basic pop-up functionality. If you're looking for a standalone email capture tool, these are great options:

Putting it all together

Growing an email list is a straightforward process if you follow these three steps:

  1. First, decide on an offer: Give people a reason to sign up for your email list. Your opt-in offer should be something remarkable and extremely valuable. It can be a downloadable resource, exclusive or early access to an event or a community, or it might be an entrance to a giveaway. It could be a free trial or a tool they can use. Whatever the case, test different offers to determine what works best for drawing your target audience in and converting them into email subscribers.
  2. Next, pick your traffic source(s): When you convert new subscribers from your ideal market, pay attention to where they came from. If you have one main lead magnet for your business, make sure to promote it via link or CTA on the platforms you have a presence on. And make sure to treat each channel independently, being mindful about presenting the offer in a way that fits the context of the platform.
  3. Last, set up email capture forms and popups: The header, copy, and CTA you use will determine how many people sign up. If your copy doesn’t resonate with your ideal market, then you’re not going to generate very many leads (or, at least, not the kind of leads you want). For that reason, you should frequently test new copy and lead capture mechanisms to see what works best to convert the most people on your offers.

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