Tools & Tech

Popping the Question: 7 Ways to Grow Your Newsletter List

sovrnmarketing // January 3, 2017


Let’s face it, building your newsletter list can be tough. There are many different ways to do so, but they all take extra time and management.

But! A thriving email list can really throw some gas on the growth of your website. Why?

  • Email is super shareable – Ever forward along an awesome newsletter to a couple friends or coworkers? Me too!
  • Email drives return visitors – Keep your readers coming back for more with a daily, weekly or monthly nudge towards your best new content
  • Email is monetizable – Did you know you can add ads into your emails?

Lucky for you, today we have 7 super easy ways to grow your blog newsletter list using calls-to-action on your website. Let’s get into it.

1. The ever-present sign up

A global signup widget or menu element is the foundation of a strong newsletter list building strategy. It also happens to be the lowest friction way to ask for someone’s email, as there is no pop-up behavior involved at all.

I find it best to stick your call to action (CTA) either just above your top menu navigation bar or just below it. Users are trained to look at the top of the page for clues about the behavior of the website, ensuring that your sign up CTA gets plenty of eyeball and click action.

Instead of plain vanilla text like “Sign up for my emails” or “Get the newsletter”, give readers a hint at what juicy tidbits they will be receiving in their inbox one they subscribe. For a food blog, you might try something like “Subscribe to get a free e-cookbook with our top 10 recipes!” or “Get dinner inspiration in your inbox every day – subscribe!”

Another powerful location for a call to action is at the bottom of each of your articles, just above the comments section. If your reader has made it that far, you just might capture them with a solid call to action.

2. The well-timed call to action

Brand new readers on your site are going to take a little more convincing before they hand over the keys to their inbox. You need to prove that your content so stellar that it is worth a litttttle extra inbox clutter.

Enter: the timed call-to-action pop up.

First, you will need a CTA popup that allows you to toggle settings by page based on time, user actions and other triggers. Here are a few good ones for WordPress:

Good stuff. Now you will need to do a little sleuthing in your Google Analytics account to pull this one off. Ready?

Alright, head over to the “Behavior” tab and click on “Site Content”. Here, we can see all of the pages on your website.

You can see that our top blog posts have an average time on page (the amount of time a reader spend reading that particular article, on average) of about 3 minutes and 19 seconds. However, some blogs are well above or below that average time.

The trick is to select the timing of your pop up based on these averages.

Now, if you set the popup to appear after 30 seconds, your reader has barely had time to read the intro. But 3 minutes or more, and more readers will have moved along to another article or website.

A good rule to go just under half of your average time on page. In this case, I’m gonna go with about 1 minute and 15 seconds.

You can also set up your popup to appear at a specific destination in your post. Maybe right smack in the middle, or after a particularly engaging tidbit, like a video or graphic.

Same rules apply as with tip #1: make it interesting! Tailor copy to the content and the challenges of your readers! Jeff Bullas over at has some good advice on writing killer copy for CTAs.

3. The pre-exit diversion

This one is pretty clever, though I do have to wonder how well it works. We haven’t tested the pre-exit pop up yet, so you guys will have to let me know how it goes.
The idea here is to make one final grab at your readers before they hit that dreaded exit (or back) button with a perfectly timed pop up.

4. The irresistible offer

Get ready to put in a little extra elbow grease, people. But I promise, creating packaged content downloads for your readers is worth the effort.

A daily or weekly email can be an underwhelming offer to commit when you are unsure of the deliverables. But an ebook, cheat sheet or other gated tool is a reason to take action NOW.

Let’s go with another food blog example because I am clearly very hungry while I’m writing this.

You have a really popular pumpkin pie recipe that is getting some major Pinterest action. Now’s your time to strike. Here are just a few offer ideas (but the options are almost endless):

  • Shopping list download
  • Recipe PDF
  • “Save for later” (email recipe to inbox)
  • Fall recipes ebook offer
  • Top 5 pumpkin spice recipes ebook/email

Added bonus, if you find traction with your downloadables, you can start to charge for them! And that’s just one of the many ways you can make money from your blog.

5. The gated video

There are a slew of video tools out there – minus YouTube, unfortunately – that allow you to “gate” your videos, or add a form at any point in the video to capture viewer information. Gating can be especially powerful if you are creating meaty how-to videos that have high engagement with your audience.

Wistia is one of the best video platforms out there, though it comes at a cost. If you are already creating your own video content for your website, it’s well worth the investment. You also get lots of awesome analytics and features.

Another option is JWPlayer, which also has a price tag but enables you to serve video ads before, during or after your video plays.

6. The comment opt-in

Most commenting tools require users to submit their email before commenting. Talk about low hanging fruit! By simply adding a radio tick box to your comment sign up form, you can ask people if they would also like to subscribe to your newsletter – in just one click!

7. The total page takeover

Finally, the most attention-seeking bugger in the bunch: the full page takeover. Also known as the popover.

Disclaimer: use this guy sparingly. If your reader is highly engaged on the page, it is really intrusive to have a giant takeover knock them off track.

That said, you really can’t ignore one of these calls to action, which is why lots of bloggers use them. If you are gonna go the popover route, I suggest an A/B test!

  • Version A: Popular article with popover CTA
  • Version B: Same popular article with popup CTA [either a timed or page location-based CTA is best]
  • Variable: CTA style (popover vs. popup)
  • Constants: Article, CTA copy, design (as much as possible)
  • What to measure:
    • CTA interactions (clicks, closes, submissions)
    • Change in bounce rate
    • Change in time on page

This test will help you understand which style of CTA is the most effective for list growth and give you insight into how different CTAs impact user engagement. You can do a similar A/B test with any type of CTA you please!

No matter what style, or styles, of CTA you choose for your list growth initiative, make sure to always keep testing! What works for one article, or one user, might not work for others.
Happy list building!

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