Grow Your List, Grow Your Business

Ways to Organically Grow Your List

Converting more of the web traffic on your site into subscribers increases both the size of your list and the list quality. By quality, we mean readers who will engage with your content.

The fact is, most people don’t want to offer up their email addresses without a good reason. In order to get them to trust your content, you have to offer up something in return.

Test Your On-Page Subscription Forms

Do you have a landing page setup to gather new subscribers? If not, why? What is a landing page? A landing page is an opt-in form that gets subscribers on your list. It doesn’t have other links to your site, distracting content, articles, etc. Its sole purpose is to get an email address and convert prospects into leads. As a matter of fact, per Interactive Marketing Inc., keeping relevant, focused, important information on a single page can increase conversion by 55%.

That’s not to say other sign-up forms are ineffective.

Here’s a quick checklist to ensure your sign-up forms gain the leads you deserve:

  1. You must have a call-to-action. You have a solid headline that is clear and concise. Provide context.
  2. It should be eye-catching. Colors, fonts, and unique shapes that draw the eye can work well. If your site is mostly red and white in design, try using an orange or bright blue border for your contact form to draw the attention of your viewers.
  3. Know the hot spots on your site and make sure the sign-up forms are where they will be most visible. These heat maps are important.
  4. Only ask for the minimum amount of information you require. If you’re asking them to sign up for your email newsletter and not a physical mailing list, why do you need their address? If you want to get it “out of the way” for future sales, you’re missing the point. First comes trust, then conversions. If you’re asking for an address when they’re not ready to buy, they’ll be less inclined to trust your process.

Run a split test with your current sign up form versus a landing page. See which one gains the most subscribers.

Use Lightboxes

A lightbox is a popup that prompts visitors to sign up for your list. It can happen at the beginning, while they scroll down, after a certain amount of time on a page, or when it looks like they’re about to leave your site.

It’s a wonderful tool, but make sure it’s not over-used. A lightbox shouldn’t pop up every time a current viewer jumps to a new page. If they must keep clicking no, or if you don’t have cookies enabled so you can read that they’re already subscribers, they’ll get annoyed and likely not return.


Offers and incentives such as discounts, coupons, giveaways, and more can really gain the attention of your viewers. Keep in mind that these will be a mix of subscribers. It’s not unusual for a giveaway subscriber to immediately mark your email as spam the moment a contest ends.

I tend to keep the offers and incentives list separate from my main mailing list until they become solid conversions. After they engage with the content, use the discount coupon, become a sale conversion, or opt in to a program I’m offering, they move to a different list. I scrub the offers and incentives list every three months so that I’m less likely to be flagged as spam.

Opt in Content

Opt in content is one of my favorite ways to convert leads. It’s also my most effective one. If you offer up something in exchange for their email address, you’ll be more likely to convert.

What if I have nothing to offer?

You have more to offer than you think you do. Take a look at the most popular post on your site. What additional content can you provide in exchange for their email address?

A free printable? A short video explaining a process? The comments you’ve received on that post could help you create something unique, just for them.

Here are three examples:

  1. A cooking blog has a popular post that has a 5-minute pizza dough. In it, the recipe developer mentions that this versatile recipe can be used to create focaccia, garlic knots, ciabatta, and more. Readers have asked for specifics on cooking and rise times for the other options and he’s replied in comments to their questions. At their request, he’s developing a printable that lays out the rise and bake times, recipe options, and more.
  2. A social media site has a popular post about the importance of scheduling your social media content. Wouldn’t a downloadable social media editorial calendar be perfect?
  3. A woodworker’s beginning woodworking post has thousands of comments. In them, she finds multiple questions about a particular tool she mentions in the post. As a result, she develops a video series highlighting the uses of this tool, how it can be used properly (with the correct safety gear) and why it’s necessary in your woodworking arsenal.

In all three of these examples, the content would be offered on the signup form (or sent to a landing page to opt in). Once they signed up, their content would be sent to their email. It’s best to automate this system as much as possible.

What ways have you used to organically grow your list? Let us know!