List Building 101: 5 Effective Tactics To Rapidly Grow Your Email Subscribers

You want to grow your email list.

Everyone is saying how important it is to build your list and how it can benefit your blog (and business).

But you’re not sure how to move the needle and get the number of signups you want.

You’re not alone and the great news is that in this post you’ll learn how to rapidly accelerate the growth of your email list.

All of the tactics you’ll learn below are actionable and just one of them has the potential to give your sign ups a 40% boost, probably a lot more.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

List Building 101: 5 Effective Tactics To Rapidly Grow Your Email SubscribersClick To Tweet

1. Create a lead magnet to encourage sign ups

If your email list isn’t growing as fast as you’d hoped, try creating an exclusive piece of content (or lead magnet) which is focused around solving the key problem you want to help your readers with.

Fortunately, you don’t have to write an entire ebook to make this work, you could try one of the following:

  • Checklists
  • Expanded blog posts
  • Email courses
  • Video courses
  • Infographics
  • Swipe files
  • Curated resources.

On one of my websites, I’d been dragging my heels with a lead magnet. So one weekend, I pushed myself to get something put together and here’s the difference it made to sign ups:

Encourage Sign Ups Graph

Put together your own lead magnet and see how well this works for you.

When you focus on solving the key problem(s) your audience is facing and tailor your copy to be as benefit-driven as possible, you’ll love how well this works.

2. Add opt-in forms to key locations on your blog

Most blogs have an opt-in form in their sidebar, but you’ll need more than that to grow your email list.

The reason why this is so powerful is because it makes it extremely easy for people to subscribe.

So where else can you add an opt-in form?

Other than your sidebar, you could try:

  • After posts
  • Popovers
  • Slide-ins
  • Feature boxes
  • In-content

Tools to help you add opt-in forms with ease

Knowing where to place opt-in forms is one thing, but you need a tool to help you.

There are email providers which give you embed code for opt-in forms, but these are extremely limited and time-consuming.

Below I’ve put together a quick list of tools you can get started with right away:

Add almost every type of opt-in form and test them with Thrive Leads

Grow Your Email Subscribers With Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads is a feature packed WordPress plugin – the Swiss army knife of list building tools.

You can use it to add after post, popovers, slide-ins, feature boxes, in-content, content locks and more opt-in form types.

It comes complete with powerful split testing functionality to boost your conversions and a wide range of templates.

You can use any email provider which supports HTML forms, or you can use one of the API integrations which support popular providers such as GetResponse.

Manage opt-in forms for multiple sites from a single dashboard with OptinMonster

Optin Monster

OptinMonster started off as a WordPress plugin, but has since evolved into a fully-fledged cloud app that can do so much more.

You can use this platform to add lightbox popovers, after post, notification bars, slide-ins, sidebar opt-ins and more.

It comes with the option to generate a code snippet which can be added to any HTML sites, or you can use the dedicated WordPress plugin.

All of your opt-in forms are managed from a single location so making tweaks, deploying split tests or monitoring your progress is very easily.

Add various opt-in forms to your site with SumoMe


SumoMe is a collection of apps that you can install to your website and use to grow your traffic.

A number of these apps are focused on list building:

  • List Builder – Display popovers anywhere on your site.
  • Scroll Box – Triggers an opt-in form when users scroll down.
  • Smart Bar – Adds a notification bar style opt-in form to the top of your site, it can also be used as a general call to action to drive traffic to landing pages.
  • Welcome Mat – This app adds a full page opt-in to specific pages on your site, declining your offer causes the opt-in to disappear.

You can use SumoMe with HTML websites or integrate with WordPress via their dedicated plugin.

3. Add content upgrades to your most visited posts

Brian Dean used this technique to increase his email sign ups by 785% and I’m not surprised why.

I’ve had similar success using it on my own blog.

So what is a content upgrade?

You offer your readers a post specific bonus that is completely tailored to the blog post they’re reading at the time.

For example, if I was to publish a post on meditation techniques, I could offer a PDF download of the post with 4 tips not included in the original post.

There are plenty of other types of content upgrades you can use:

  • Straight up PDF versions of your content
  • Expanded blog posts that include extra tips not covered in your post
  • Checklists outlining the steps of your post
  • List of helpful tools that complement your original post

How do content upgrades work?

Most bloggers provide a clickable link within their content that looks something like this:

Content Upgrades

When the link has been clicked, you’ll see something like this:

Content Upgrades Example

Note: the above examples are screenshots from one of my posts on Blogging Wizard, find it here.

This approach builds email subscription right into the consumption of your content.

How to identify which pages to add content upgrades to

This one is fairly straight forward.

Just open up your go-to analytics platform, and view the most visited posts on your blog.

Pick the top 5/10 posts, add them to a spreadsheet and order them by category.

You could create unique content upgrades for each post, but if you have a few posts covering a similar topic you could offer the same content upgrade on each one.

Tools to help you get started

There are a bunch of tools and WordPress plugins you can use to make list building easy:

  • Thrive Leads – We talked about this one earlier, if you use WordPress this is great because it enables you to keep all of your opt-in forms together rather than installing multiple plugins.
  • Content Upgrades – This is a free WordPress plugin that has all the features you’ll need to offer content upgrades.
  • OptinMonster – This is a cloud-based app which can work on any HTML based site. You can monitor your progress on multiple sites in your dashboard, and use it to power all sorts of opt-in types. Using OptinMonster’s MonsterLeads feature you can display your own content upgrades.

4. Display category targeted opt-in forms

One of the keys to increasing your conversion rates is to present an offer that is relevant to the topic your reader is interested in while they’re on your site.

So if someone wants to learn more about writing tips, they’re a lot less likely to download a lead magnet involving social media tips.

The downside to this is that it does involve creating multiple lead magnets for key topics on your site, but to save time you could potentially use the content upgrades we discussed in the previous section.

Tools and resources to help you

If you use a tool like Thrive Leads to add opt-in forms, it’s fairly straight forward to specify which opt-in forms are displayed across which categories.

Tools & Resources

You can even specify individual pages and more.

If you’re using a WordPress plugin that doesn’t support page level targeting, all is not lost.

There are plugins that allow you to setup dynamic widgets which only display on particular categories; this post from WP Superstars shows how to do this step-by-step.

5. Guest post to build your email list

When I first started contributing to other blogs I just linked to my homepage and/or my social accounts. I wasn’t concerned too much with my list; my #1 goal was building awareness for my blog and myself as a marketer.

Now I’m kicking myself knowing just how many subscribers I could have cost myself.


I tried something different for one of my guest posts – I linked to a landing page where I offered a lead magnet.

The results were surprising, that one guest post sent me 120+ subscribers.

Not bad for a single post right?

It does require that you contribute to blogs that have an engaged audience; the easiest way to identify these blogs is to look at their comments.

Then just link to a landing page in your author bio, it could look something like this:

About The Author

Try this with your next guest post and see how well it works, but remember that if it doesn’t pay off the first time you try it, consider a different blog or a lead magnet that’s more in-line with the topics you’re contributing.

Over to you

We’ve talked through a bunch of super effective list building techniques.

Just using one of these can have a substantially accelerate the growth of your email list. And if you find you don’t have the time, this is another one of those blogging/marketing tasks that can be outsourced (along with 26 others covered in this huge post by Will Blunt).

Do you have any techniques to add? Let us know what they are and how well they’re working for you in the comments below.

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Adam Connell

Adam Connell is the founder of Blogging Wizard and Funnel Overload. Adam helps small businesses get more customers online.

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