We’ve all been told that the money is in the list and that we need to use lead magnets to grow our list. The truth is that the money is in an engaged list. And, just putting out great content in the form of a lead magnet (free video, ebook, check list, pdf, coupon, etc) in exchange for an email address doesn’t tell the whole story. After all, how do you get them to find your lead magnet in the first place? Sure, you could advertise your lead magnet and you can post about it on social media, but remember: as the owner of a website it is your goal to not let anyone leave your website without getting their contact information!

As the owner of a website it is your goal to not let anyone leave your website without getting their contact information! Click To Tweet

Here’s the truth: I just deleted over 10,000 email subscribers from my list! Why would I do this when growing a list is so darned hard? Here’s the thing: if your subscribers are not actively engaging with your emails by opening them and clicking on your links, sending emails to these “deadbeats” is actually worse than not emailing them.

All email service providers keep track of your delivery rate, open rate and click through rate. They use these to calculate a “reputation score.” If your reputation score drops below about 90%, fewer and fewer of your emails actually get sent. So it is important that you remove emails from your list, even if the person doesn’t unsubscribe themselves.

The above shows you my reputation score when sending out emails. I do not want to jeopardize that by sending emails to people who do not want to hear from me.That is why you should NEVER buy a list. The people on a purchased (or rented) list did not request to be on your list and that will hurt your reputation.

Because I was doing a product launch, I sent out a lot of emails in March. But by open rate and click through rate went way down, so I deleted anyone from my lists that didn’t open at least 25% of the emails I sent out. I use MailPoet, which shows me exactly how many (and which) emails a subscriber opens. Next to each email subscriber, you see a score like this:

Obviously, if someone isn’t opening any of my emails, I want to stop sending to them, so I deleted them whether or not they unsubscribed. There could be any number of reasons why someone doesn’t open your emails, but most often it is because the email is no longer active. About 25% of business emails change every year, so it is important to keep your list up to date.

By culling my list, I am able to maintain about a 30% open rate and 5% click through rate (both of which are better than the industry standard of 20% and 2 percent respectively).

The point is, when it comes to email marketing, quality is better than quantity.

The point is, when it comes to email marketing, quality is better than quantity. Click To Tweet

But I also know that all marketing is a numbers game, so how do you actually grow an email list in the first place. When you make a sale on your site, it is inevitable that you get a customer’s email address. What you want and need are ways to capture email addresses before a visitor becomes a customer. Here are 9 ways to get new subscribers on a consistent basis to your list:

1. If you have a physical location, ask them for their email at the counter

This can be done with a simple drop box, such as entering a contest, or just to stay on our mailing list to learn about specials. You’ll have to manually enter them, so another choice is to have them text a keyword to a phone number that takes them to a form. For example, “Text VIP to 555-1212 and get 15% off today’s purchase!” I promise you’ll get lot’s of sign ups this way and you’ll collect their cell phone number for text message marketing as well as getting their email address.

2. Create a Facebook Group and ask them for their email as one of the joining questions

When you create a Facebook group, you can ask people up to 3 questions before giving them access to your group. One of those questions can be “What’s your email?” As long as the group is valuable, this is a sure-fire way to add to your email list. I just created a Facebook group specifically for business owners who are looking to grow their online sales, where I do exactly this. You can join at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/490172746093456.

To view the answers to the questions, click on a members name and you will see their profile within your group (not their regular Facebook profile). On the bottom left, you should see Membership Questions > View Answers.

3. Banner Bar Opt-in

An example of a banner bar opt-in occurs on this post using the icegram plugin. You could create an offer to join your email list either site-wide or different offers for different pages. This might be referred to as a notification bar.

4. Exit intent popups

Pop-ups can be annoying for a user, especially when they first arrive on your site and are trying to consumer some information, like reading what is on the page that brought them to your site in the first place. You haven’t given them the chance to build a trust factor with you at all, and even before they can read why they came to your site you throw a pop-up in their face, frustrating them. This of course is poor taste, but AFTER they have had a chance to read your article or product information, and they are ready to leave your site, a pop-up can be just the thing to capture their email. When the visitor moves their mouse to the top of the page like they are ready to leave your site, a pop-up is displayed. this is known as an exit-intent pop-up and it is a great way to capture email addresses.

Here is an example that I used in my recent product launch.

5. Blog Post opt-in

Why not put an opt-in right in the middle of your blog post? Using the “Popup anything” plugin, you could put this right into your content. This could either be a link to a popup , or you could embed a form right into your content.

6. Contests based on shares

How about holding a contest and giving away a prize (or a lead magnet) for the person who shares your content the most? This is similar to what I do on many of my articles by asking that you refer an article with a friend, but you could turn this into a contest.

7. Webinar signups

Webinars have proven to be an effective lead generation tool and even a sales tool, but most people overlook the fact that they are a great way to simply add more subscribers to your list. For example, do you sell food items? Why not hold a webinar where you make a food item during the webinar using your ingredients? People have to register to watch your webinar, and you promote your webinar using social media and/or ads.

8. Trade shows

Good old fashion trade shows are often over-looked as a way of collecting email subscribers. this is similar to having a physical location for your business – hold a drawing and collect emails.

9. Third-party registrations like “Sign Up with Facebook or Google”

You’ve seen the ability to register on a site simply by signing up using Facebook, Google, or Twitter. When you do this, you are proving your email address to the website, so this makes it easy to get new subscribers.

You can easily do this on your WordPress website using a plugin called Nextend (Note: This will not work if you have changed your login page URL for security purposes).


Building your email list should be a top priority for anyone in business today. Lead magnets (ethical bribes or freebies) to get subscribers are critical to get people to sign up for your list, but that is only half the battle. Think of creative ways of letting people know about your lead magnets from email signatures to being a podcast guest to continuously grow your list, even when you have to delete the old, non-responsive emails.

I’m curious – which of these methods are the most likely to get you to enter your email?


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