9 Unorthodox Ways of Growing Your Newsletter Audience

Mihael D. Cacic

Mihael D. Cacic

Published on

August 24, 2021

The number of email users just passed 4 billion people. That’s more than half of the world’s population. 

While other social networks are following suit, we must agree that there is no better way to distribute content to your audience than email. 

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However, getting your desired newsletter audience isn’t an easy feat. Your target audience’s inboxes are already crowded, and they’re skeptical of subscribing to another newsletter.

Furthermore, the quality of an email marketing database degrades by as much as 22.5% every year. The reason is that subscribers change their emails, unsubscribe, or don’t interact with your emails. 

Therefore, it’s essential to frequently verify your email list, as well as have strategies in place to make up for the lost contacts.

There are broad methods to grow your list, but they are getting too common and outdated. I’ll show you nine unusual ways brands have used without breaking a sweat in this guide.

1. Hosting an Event

Events are a traditional form of marketing. But you can still leverage it in this digital era to get more sign-ups. The oldest method is hosting an offline in-person event. These can be in the form of:

  • Seminars
  • Conferences
  • Educational panels
  • Hackathons
  • Podcasts

In-person events work because the attendants are your brand’s fans already. They are more qualified and just need that extra nudge to make a move.

If doing live events is expensive or unreliable for your brand, you can use webinars. They’re time-effective and less costly. 

Webinars allow you to talk about your brand (or industry) in detail. You also get access to thought leaders that your audience might be dying to hear from.

And by hosting more sessions, you slowly climb up the rank to become an authority. This attracts more listeners and transforms your audience into a community of raving fans.

The best part? People must sign up with their contacts to attend your webinars. You’ll collect emails and send them an appreciation for attending your webinar. This is the first step in your lead nurturing campaign.

2. Collect Emails at Industry Trade shows

Tradeshows build buzz and excitement about an industry. The attendants are enthusiastic about finding the next million-dollar idea or product. 

Such events offer the perfect opportunity to:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Learn more about your industry
  • Network with other professionals
  • Gain leads by collecting emails.

With a compelling product presentation and exhibition, you’ll have people thronging to your show booth. Once you have people’s attention, you’d use this opportunity to get their emails for future contact.  

Don’t use the old notebook way. Some people’s handwriting are scarcely legible. You’ll also have to spend time typing the information into a spreadsheet.

Instead, use tablets. The gadgets make it easy for customers to answer questions about your product as they provide names and emails.

Back in the office, export this data into your email marketing software. Send your new subscribers a welcome note and begin your lead nurturing from there.

This is how Mother Earth Pillows, a pillow company, uses it to get new leads and connect with other companies. According to the founder, Karen Kowal, they attend multiple tradeshows and arm themselves with their secret email capturing weapon, an iPad.  

3. Use a Sign-up Landing Page On Your Social Media Profiles

Having followers on your Facebook business page means people have already connected to your brand. 

They might be lurking on your posts but are interested in what you’re doing. They just need a little bit of encouragement to join your mailing list.

Conversing in the comment section is one way. The other underutilized method is optimizing your social media landing page.

The goal is to strengthen customer-seller relationships by moving your communication to a more private platform. Emails give you a better way to talk to your audience on your terms. You won’t have to worry that the algorithms might distort your reach.

To create a powerful lead-capturing social media landing page, you’ll need a landing page builder like Instapage or Clickfunnels. They have numerous templates which you can customize to your liking.

Add anything that will compel your visitors to sign up. Remove anything that won’t. When that’s done, place a sign-up button right below your profile banner. Anyone who clicks on that link will get to your landing page.

Check out how social media influencer Army Porterfield does it on her Twitter account. She has a short description of her services accompanied by a strong CTA button. Anyone interested will click the link and download her cheat sheets using their emails.

4. Develop a Symbiosis Relationship With Other Brands

Partnerships and collaborations help you penetrate a new audience by expanding your brand awareness. When used well, you can quickly grow your leads list and get better ROI.

Put your competitors at bay for apparent reasons. You’d instead collaborate with brands that target the same audience as you but don’t offer similar services/products. 

For example, if your brand is an email marketing service, you can search for a brand in the email finder niche. They are similar SaaS products offering near-similar services to the same audience.

Once they are interested, you can use the following ideas:

  • Promote one another’s weekly specials via email.
  • Create a special package. For example, a movie theatre and a restaurant may team up to promote a couple’s night. They’ll offer a discount while the customers subscribe to both businesses’ email lists.
  • Mention one another’s email lists on your weekly newsletters and the benefits someone will get if they subscribe.

5. Create a Membership Area

A membership area is a site filled with valuable content only accessible to particular members of your audience. As the owner of the membership area, you’ll have to produce relevant content to keep your customers.

Here are the most common resources shared in membership sites:

  • Courses
  • Scientific papers
  • Video tutorials
  • Downloadable resources
  • Community of experts on a similar niche

Oftentimes, brands create paid membership sites. This is where customers have to pay a subscription fee to access your content.

For example, Carol Tice, from make a living writing, has a membership site called freelance writers den. She charges a fee of $25/month.

But due to the influx of writers who want to join, new membership opens only twice per year. If you’re interested, you’ll have to sign up to join her waitlist. That’s how she’s been able to collect thousands of emails.

Now, as a brand with a goal of growing your leads list, it is not a good idea to start with a paid membership area. Getting emails is more than enough. 

But this isn’t as easy it seems. You first face the first obstacle of creating valuable and attractive content that everyone will want. 

Once you figure that out, the next task is to promote your membership area on social media to attract members. Show the value they’ll get when they join and mention that it’s free.

6. Use Contest Marketing

Humans have an insanely competitive urge. We’re always motivated to win a prize. That’s why the US lottery sold $78 billion worth of lottery tickets in 2012.

Can this idea work when you want to grow your email list? A few years ago, Unbounce researched to prove that it can.

They picked 100 clients who receive combined organic traffic of 3 million visitors per month. They then added contested prizes worth $500 on some of the client’s landing pages.

A month later, they found that landing pages with contested prizes generated 700% more email sign-ups than landing pages that didn’t.

In short, contest marketing works this way. You include a significant prize on your website, communicate about it, and reward shoppers for participating. 

And if they don’t win, you still collect valuable customer contact you will use for future sales-oriented marketing campaigns. 

You will repeat these campaigns regularly so that loyal customers begin to look forward to the contests.

This is an effective way of getting new email subscribers and creating a buzz for your brand. In addition, it helps new subscribers connect your product deeply, which might make them future buyers.

The best part is when your contest goes viral. It could reach a wider audience and attract more participants.

7. Ask your Subscribers for Help

Most of your current email subscribers are loyal fans. They read all your emails, click your affiliate links, and purchase your products.

Since they have friends who likely fall on your target demographic, you can leverage their loyalty to get their friends on your list. A simple “share with a friend” will encourage them to forward your message to people they know. 

If you want to take this to the next level, introduce a more effective referral program.

You will ask your existing subscriber base to refer you in exchange for a reward. It gets everyone excited and ready to take the challenge. 

Using this referral system, the daily newspaper Morning Brew managed to grow its email list from 100,000 to 1.5 million people in 18 months.

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Anyone who would share their emails and bring in a new sub would be awarded branded t-shirts, stickers, and glasses.

8. Host Free Giveaways (But be Strategical)

This seems to be the most seamless method of growing your email list. And it is. With a few hundred dollars, you can buy a product and give it away for free in exchange for emails.

However, the disadvantage of building a list entirely using free giveaways is that you won’t get people interested in what you have to say. You’ll only get emails from people who are interested in your free offers.

It’s the mistake of incentivizing for list growth Jason Zook made. He had to delete an entire list of 25,000 subscribers.

And Seth Godin says you need subscribers who are your tribe. This is a community of fans screaming your name.

Therefore, you have to be strategical before using this option. And for it to work, you must have loyal social media followers since they’re the people you’ll be targeting. 

Start by creating valuable content that sells by itself. This makes your target audience interested. Once they are hooked, you give them a reason to sign up to your list with a free giveaway. 

9. Give One-time Access To Previously Paid Content

Things change quickly. New trends come and ago. 

If you sold hundreds of ebook copies ten years ago, you might not hit the same numbers if you sell it now. 

Same to online courses. A 2010 SEO course is outdated since SEO has changed drastically in the last decade. The strategies that worked back in the day can’t work now.

But you can’t just throw this content into the trash. If they are relevant and have valuable insights, your audience will be more than happy to have them.

Moreover, some content never gets old. At a seminar in 2019, the CEO of Clickfunnels, Russell Brunson said that he has over $750,000 worth of marketing courses he had created in the last 15 years. But for anyone to get these courses, they’ll have to part with at least $100,000.

Now, Instead of selling these resources like Russell, why not give them for free in exchange for emails? 

But there is a catch.

You’ll limit the time the content goes for free. This is your small “evil plan” to make sure people get the content. You’ll limit the time the content goes for free. You don’t lose anything, and you still get emails that you can nurture for future purchases.

It’s Time to Grow Your List

When building a massive email list, you have to go above and beyond what most people do. You can’t rely on lead magnets like free ebooks and expect to go past your subscriber count goal. Use these tips, and you will be surprised with the impact they’ll make on your email marketing campaigns and business success.


Author Bio

Mihael D. Cacic

From 9-5 Mihael D. Cacic is a content strategist at Voila Norbert. And from 5-9, Mihael runs his own conversion-focused content marketing agency, 21writers.

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