5 Essential Tips for Growing a Thriving Email Subscriber List

March 3, 2021

Email content as a marketing tactic is only successful if a brand’s target audience is being reached and actually consuming it, which makes expanding your list of people who have opted to receive your content – subscribers – an essential component of any program.

In this session from our Digital Summit GO event in Jan 2021, email expert (and long-time DS alum speaker) Michael Barber illustrates a number of actionable tips that marketers can take to grow an email subscriber base of more and engaged users.

Tip 1: Start by Optimizing for Organic Email Subscriber Growth (0:30)

Organic growth is the best kind of growth when it comes to building a subscription base for your brand or cause. Organic subscribers are individuals that you don’t have to pay to acquire who have opted into your content on their own.

So how do you do that effectively and consistently? There are a number of tactics that Barber shares, including these and more:

  • Creating a dedicated opt-in page on a website to drive potential subscribers
  • Including an opt-in section on your website’s home page
  • Deploying a pop-up window to enable easy access to sign-up for a newsletter
  • Featuring an opt-in on the site’s navigation bar
  • Placing an opt-in window with article or blog content, itself
  • Utilizing chat-bot newsletter opt-in functionality
  • Developing “toaster units” that pop up on a web page and capture attention
  • Reducing friction for users that are logged in or out of a site to let them subscribe to content

(Watch the video above to get Michael’s full list of organic email growth ideas from the session.)

Tip 2: Paid Subscriber Growth Ideas (7:00)

Unlike organic growth, marketers can run paid subscriber growth campaigns to attract people to their content. Barber offers the following pointers to be considered when embarking on a paid growth campaign:

  • Focus on storytelling before the sell
  • Target people that are similar to your existing subscription base

Tip 3: Churn Those Unengaged Subscribers (9:25)

Barber is an advocate for purging unengaged subscribers to your newsletter content to avoid skewing campaign metrics and also to help optimize mailbox delivery.

After 90 days of unengagement from a subscriber, hit them with a reengagement campaign to try to bring them back into the fold or give them the opportunity to opt-out.

Tip 4: Leverage Third-Party Email Apps (11:00)

To drive the success of your email campaign, enlist the services of third-party email apps, such as Email on Acid, Litmus, Privy, Pivot, or Opt-In Monster, to help you find out how subscribers are engaging with your content and to help drive growth for the campaign.

Tip 5: Test Everything (11:30)

As an email campaign evolves, it is critical to test everything from offers and paid ads to see what is working and what isn’t. Luckily, email campaigns can be adjusted in near real-time and testing is the best way to make strategic decisions.

Closing Thoughts

Barber closes this session with one final piece of advice to marketers: Be human. It is important to remember that our audience is comprised of people and campaigns should be created with empathy and their interests in mind.

We love this session of Michael’s for everyone, but especially for those running marketing efforts for small or medium businesses, as well as associations or nonprofits — the focus of our upcoming Digital Summit at Home events in March and April, respectively. See below for more details.


To hear from experts like Michael on the regular, check out an upcoming Digital Summit event — including our Digital Summit at Home virtual conference on Mar 29-31, crafted just for marketers from small and medium business.

Click the link for more details, and sign up for exclusive update, promotions, and more!

Sign up to get the latest announcements, updates, discounts and more!

By clicking "SIGN ME UP" I acknowledge that I have read and I accept the Digital Summit Privacy Policy