How to Grow an Opt-In Email List for Free

Creating your own list of email contacts who have opted in to receive content from you does more than satisfy legal requirements and safeguard your brand’s reputation. It enables you to expand your list through genuine relationships with new customers.

1. Create gated assets so there’s a reason for people to give you their email address

Webinars, ebooks, and templates, for example, are all excellent examples of long-form, premium content assets that people may find valuable enough to provide their email address. The more gated assets you have behind landing pages, the better — a broader variety of content will help you attract a broader audience.

2. Create useful tools

If ebooks aren’t your thing, consider creating tools instead. These tools may be valuable enough to some of your website visitors that they will exchange their email address in exchange for a free demo of the product you developed. Then, in your initial email, inquire about their impressions of the tool. It’s an ideal icebreaker.

3. Promote those gated assets on your marketing channels

Now that you’ve acquired some gated assets capable of capturing email addresses, devote significant time to ensuring that the world is aware of them. You have a variety of channels at your disposal — social media, pay-per-click advertising, and email are all popular. However, none will provide the long-term benefits that your blog will. Consider the following scenario:

You promote your new gated assets by blogging about topics related to the content assets you’ve created and including CTAs that direct readers to the asset’s landing page in each of those blog posts.

Now, let’s assume that your blog posts receive approximately 100 views per month and that your visitor-to-lead conversion rate on the blog is approximately 2%. This means that each month, you’d receive two leads from a single blog post.

Then, suppose you publish 30 blog posts per month. That equates to 60 leads per month — two from each blog post. Now repeat this process for a year. Your first month’s blogging efforts will continue to generate leads throughout the year. This means that by the end of a 12-month period, you’ll be receiving 4,680 opt-in contacts per month as a result of the compounding effects of blogging — not just 720 opt-in contacts (60 leads*12 months).

4. Run creative email marketing campaigns

The majority of people do not consider email to be a channel for generating leads or contacts. However, because recipients forward helpful emails to colleagues and friends, you can actually grow your database by simply making it easy for recipients to forward or share email content. Include calls-to-action in your emails that prompt recipients to share, especially with your most useful assets.

5. Include sharing buttons in your emails

Consider including share buttons in your emails so that recipients can forward the ones they enjoyed the most to friends and colleagues they believe will enjoy them as well.

Create a few distinct buttons on your email template: separate social media buttons that generate pre-written social posts linking to a webpage version of your email, and a “Email to a Friend” button that instantly transfers the email into a compose window so your contacts can forward it. Simply include an opt-in button in your email so that each new viewer can subscribe to future emails from you if they enjoy what they see.

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