In 2018, like every year before it, your list is the lifeblood of your email marketing efforts. While your list is not a numbers game, it’s always quality over quantity, growth is an important part. We’ve all seen signup forms on most websites we frequent. Many of us have an inbox full of emails we don’t want or, at the very least, don’t open. That can be avoided if you onboard subscribers to your list in the right way and follow best practices for list growth. Here are the factors to consider to grow your list the in 2018.


Telling you to put a signup form on your homepage is not groundbreaking advice. It’s every other place a potential subscriber may frequent that you need to be considering as well.

Customer Touchpoints

  1. Do you have a blog? Put one there to let your readers subscribe to receive your latest posts in their inbox. It even adds variety to the forms of communication in which you send.
  1. Your Facebook page should also have a signup form. While I don’t need to sell you on the powerhouse Facebook is in terms of active users, driving traffic and more, there are some ways you can maximize your efforts. Promote your signup form on Facebook. According to the blog, the highest traffic on Facebook occurs between 1:00PM-3:00PM, but engagement may be higher in the evenings. Also, Thursdays and Fridays see 18% higher engagement than the rest of the week. Get the biggest bang for your buck and run ads during those times to maximize eyes.
  1. If you have phone support or are ever on the phone to talk to customers, you can simply ask. Even if only to be polite, most people will agree to be added to your list if you ask while they’re on the phone with you. The same applies for chats.
  1. For businesses that have customers coming into a brick and mortar location, there are a couple options to gain new subscribers. If your POS system allows for you to add subscribers to your list, you can offer while you’re ringing a customer up. You can also put a computer or tablet in a place that is easy for customers to access and set up a signup station there. Businesses have also used SMS effectively in this situation. Place a sign in your store telling your customers to text a number with their email address to be added to the list. Why is it so important to get them at that moment? According to eMarketer, 81% of online shoppers who have received an email campaign based on previous shopping habits were more likely to purchase again after receiving a targeted email campaign.
  1. Events are another great opportunity for list growth. Stay connected with your booth attendees or people you network with by adding them to your email list. Be sure you ask or use another method that allows them to opt in.


Like many things in life, timing is everything when growing your list. You want a potential subscriber to see a signup form at the exact moment they’d be most likely to subscribe.

The top 15 ways to grow your email list in 2017 - Timing

  1. Create a popup signup form to appear upon entry to homepage or blog page. Have you ever clicked on an ad for a product or service from Facebook, and shortly after landing on their homepage, have a popup signup form appear with a deal for when you subscribe? It’s effective because you were already intrigued by the product. Getting a discount may make you even more likely to purchase it. According to one case study reported on by the Crazy Egg blog, popups drove 1375% more subscribers than one in the sidebar.
  2. An exit-intent popup is a newer, and more stealth, way to attract subscribers. It’s also more of a hail mary approach. The game is almost over and you’ve got one last shot. There are tools out there that create a popup signup form when a site visitor mouses over to leave your sight. If they’re already leaving, a last-ditch effort can be effective when done right. Don’t sound desperate, but consider why they’re leaving. They may not be ready to convert now, but some solid email campaigns down the road could change that.
  3. Location. Location. Location. The placement on your site is everything. For signup forms, timing is everything. Consider each situation your site visitors may encounter it when creating to form. On your blog page, it may be after they’ve read most of the post and are into your content. It could be on your Contact page because they want to keep in touch with you and have a dialogue. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and don’t forget to consider mobile readers.


Equally as important to how and when someone encounters one of your signup forms is what they say.


  1. Carry your voice through to your signup forms. Your email communications will go a long way to carrying your brand voice through all your engagements with your subscribers, but it starts with the signup form. Here’s one on the Benchmark Blog that we use:
  1. I touched on this briefly earlier, but offering a promotion, exclusive educational resource or another incentive to entice an individual to subscribe is a highly effective tactic. However, make sure it’s something that makes sense to your brand. Don’t devalue yourself but an offer that will not bring in the type of customer you want. The trick will also be keeping them on your list once they’ve cashed in on your incentive, which brings me to my next point…
  1. Deliver on your promise. Whatever you write in your signup form copy, it’s important to back it up with your email campaigns. So, write what will be exciting to a potential subscriber and then make sure it’s even better than they could have expected upon delivery. That means if you say it’s a monthly newsletter, not to send more than once a month. If you said it’s to get additional educational resources, don’t come through with a sales pitch. If you do this, you will reduce list churn and you list will grow as a result.


List segmentation isn’t as much a growth hack as much as it is a list churn reducer, but it will help your list grow nonetheless. Delivering more targeted, personalized content will ensure happy subscribers.

List Segmentation

  1. The signup form on your homepage may be a different one from the one on your blog. It allows your site visitors to decide the type of content they want to receive. You can even allow them to check a box for which list they’d like to subscribe to right there in the signup form. If they’re getting the type of email communications they want, they’re going to stick around.
  1. Create a Preference Center. When someone goes to Unsubscribe, they can be taken to a Preference Center. You can catch them before they get all the way out the door. There, they can choose to opt-in to specific types of content or even the frequency with which they would like to hear from you. They may not want daily or weekly emails, but once a month would keep them around.

List Hygiene

Like segmentation, list hygiene is a long play. It will not result in immediate list growth. In fact, initially, it will be quite the opposite.

  1. Cleaning your list of bounces and serial unopens will help your list growth in the long-run. It will help keep you in good standing with ISPs and give you good deliverability. Those are key factors in running successful email marketing efforts. That means your active subscribers will stay around longer and help your list grow long-term. For example, try cleaning out the subscribers who haven’t opened your monthly newsletter in the past 6 months. After that much time, they’re not likely to start now.
  1. You can also try a re-engagement campaign, after looking to clean your list. You might be able to reactivate those inactive subscribers. One tactic that often works is to tell them you’re going to remove them from the list unless the opt back into receiving your campaigns. Everybody wants what they can’t have!

Here are some additional thoughts and ideas on List Segmentation and Hygiene from a recent Facebook Live. Be sure to Like Benchmark on Facebook to see more Live events in the future: