Grow Your Email List: The Number One Tip from Our Fastest Growing Newsletters of 2017

When 2017 came to a close, we were curious: which of our many Paved publishers have grown the most this year?

It wasn’t just a curiosity question, though. Since email lists decay by about 22 percent each year (which is why list pruning is so important), growth isn’t just necessary if you’re looking to expand your monetization strategies—you actually need to grow in order to maintain your list size.

Plus, we’ve found that many advertisers like to return to publishers they’ve worked with in the past once their list has grown, to be able to reach new readers who are interested in their niche.

Every publisher who is looking to monetize should be trying to grow their lists at all times to remain lucrative to advertisers.

So you can see why we were curious about which of our publishers grew the most in 2017. And once we figured out who grew the most, we decided to reach out and figure out exactly how they did it so we can help you grow your email list, too.

Surprisingly, the ones we talked to all had a similar answer. The secret to list growth is unsurprising, but a great reminder to anyone with an email list. What is it?

Give Readers a Reason to Opt In

If you want readers to opt in for your email list, you need to give them a reason to do so. That’s right, it’s that simple.

While our top publishers varied slightly as far as what exactly their lead magnets were, they all said that killer downloads were their most important lead gen strategy.

Colin Whitlock, who runs Pixel Surplus, which was the fastest-growing Paved publisher last year, with over 400 percent growth, said, “we’ve teamed up with a huge variety of talented designers to offer really nice digital products for free. Visitors are asked to subscribe in order to access these products which would normally each retail for $10 or more.”

While you may not be able to define the exact value of the download you’re offering, like Colin can with retail values, you should keep in mind that value is the most important factor in giving readers a reason to opt in.

Not only should your download or newsletter itself have real value to readers, but you should be able to define that value and zero in on it in your marketing efforts if you want to grow your email list.

Mike Moloney of Filtergrade, said simply, “we found out what was most useful to our readers and made sure we offered that to them on the email newsletter.”

Get To Know Your Readers

Finding out what is useful to your readers (or your target readers if you’re just getting started) is the real key to providing value in exchange for an opt-in. How can you do that? Mike suggests starting with your website data.

“Study the searches on your site, talk to users, and read the analytical data to see what is attracting the most attention,” he said. “Then find a way to bring that together with your email newsletter so your readers have a reason to subscribe.”

If you have a smaller list, you might even be able to reach out and simply ask what they’d like to see more of, what they’d like to learn, and which lead magnets provide the most value to them.

That way, you can really hone in on what your target audience is looking for. Once you know your audience, create a lead magnet or find a download idea that provides the value they are looking for.

Colin says it’s important to “push yourself to provide more value than you might be comfortable with.” That’s the sweet spot where you’ll really be able to attract your ideal reader.

Remember, a little bit of investment on the front end can pay off big as you grow your email list.

“There are lots of things you can offer if you’re actively involved in your area of business,” Colin said. “Knowledge in the form of articles, videos and tutorials; an industry specific tool that can be shared cost effectively; or even just your taste if you can curate high quality relevant content that people want.”

Collect Leads

Once you’ve found the perfect idea to incentivize list sign-ups, it’s time to collect leads. Be sure to set up multiple opt-in opportunities on every page of your site, using a tool like Sumo or Leadpages.

You can also include relevant lead magnets in your blog posts, asking for an email in order for readers to download.

Once you have a great reason to opt in, and a way to do it, work on your promotion strategies to drive eyes to your website. Colin suggests working with influential voices in your industry in the hopes that they will share your work, as he does with influential designers.

You can also promote your downloads through social media and platforms that are popular in your niche—Colin says Behance, a platform for creatives, has been a great traffic source for Pixel Surplus.

Follow Through

You can’t give up on your subscribers once they sign up, of course. Both Mike and Colin pointed out that retaining subscribers is also a big part of their respective newsletter strategies.

You need to constantly provide value in the newsletter,” said Mike. “Your readers aren’t going to stick around if all the emails they receive are promotional. They need to be relevant and engaging.”

Focus on continuing the conversation that your readers opted in to in the first place, and set clear expectations from the beginning about how frequently you will be emailing and the types of content you will send.

Not only will your killer content help to keep people from unsubscribing, but it may also turn out to be a promotion strategy in its own way.

“It’s our goal to release content that people need to share, items they don’t want their friends to miss out on.” Colin said

Ready to Grow Your Email List?

With this simple tip from some of our fastest growing publishers of 2017, we hope you can reframe the way you’re trying to grow your email list. Keep it simple and focus on giving readers a reason to opt in, and then following through on your promises to subscribers.

If you want to monetize your growing list, create a Paved profile. By joining the Paved marketplace, you can have advertisers come to you and get paid the same day you send. Sign up for Paved today to see how easy your sponsorship relationships could be.