3 Ways To Overcome Slow Email List Growth

Building an email list doesn't have to be complicated. But there can be a period of decline. Learn How To Overcome This Slow Email List Growth.

Hitting plateaus is painful, but it happens to everyone.

I've been producing music for 11 years. There are still times when I start a new track, work on it for a week, and make serious progress. At this point I am a happy camper.

Then grilling.

I get frustrated and try to force myself out because it feels like it's my fault – it's a difficult thing to deal with.

Ok, but how does this relate to email lists?

Building an email list doesn't have to be complicated.

Occasionally, your email list growth may slow down. And if you manage to overcome it, another plateau can hit. It will feel like it's your fault for this to happen.

But it's not your fault You're doing exactly the same thing that got you to 1,000 email subscribers in hopes of reaching 5,000.

If you are currently in a similar situation of slow email list growth or you want to be proactive, this article will help you find things you can do today to overcome it.

Why is my email list growing slowly?

There is no short answer to this question, but it can arise due to one or more factors:

  • The email content is uninteresting
  • A narrow selection of topics covered
  • It is not easy for users to log in
  • You are asking for registrations at the wrong time and place
  • People don't understand the value of the subscription
  • No incentive to subscribe

Here are some ideas that could inspire new options to add to your email list.

How to Overcome the Slow Growth of Email Lists

There are three things you can do today to overcome the slow growth of your email list:

  1. Enhance the content you produce
  2. Improve the way you collect email addresses
  3. Run a newsletter referral program

Enhance the content you produce.

When producing content, you need to follow four rules:

Rule # 1: Make it easier to fly over

An incredible 43% of people admit they skim blog posts. So if you want others to read your articles or newsletters, you need to make sure that it is easy to scan.

Check out this example from flickr. Would you read this

If you want users to read your newsletters or articles, you need to break up key sections with pictures, graphics, headings, bullets, bold or underlined fonts, and more. Make it easy for readers to digest your key points quickly.

Rule 2: Decide who you are creating the content for

Think about it on a higher level: do you produce content for people or search engines?

That decision will have a significant impact on how you do things.

If you're a newsletter company, you probably don't care about SEO as it's not an active sales channel for your company. However, some companies rely on organic traffic to grow their email lists – including AWeber.

Do you remember that list you read?

It's an H2 heading format question, plus a short paragraph and unordered list items.

We used this format because it is the optimal format to become Google Feature Snippets.

Ideally, if someone googled, "Why is my email list growing slowly?" The search engine serves as the answer to the list.

Here is an example of what that looks like:

When you say "How can I be happy?" Google, you will get the following result:

However, writing for people requires different skills.

People will join you and stick with it if you consistently provide them with content that will bring them closer to their goals, educate them, or simply entertain them.

Rule 3: Write with a Mission

Imagine a mission statement that you can incorporate into most of your content. It has to be a mission that you believe in and that will appeal to your ideal audience – ideally other people who believe in that mission.

TheDONUT is a good example. Recently, their CEO spoke to Dimitris Tzortzis (Product Manager at Viral Loops) to explain their mission.

theDONUT aims to provide unbiased reporting. Their daily newsletters contain facts and links to sources that cover these facts from different perspectives.

This is how it looks:

Peter (theDONUT CEO) is human, and as a human, I'm sure he has his own disagreements.

But he wants to build a world where news organizations are less biased and at the same time less biased themselves.

He turned his personal mission into his company's mission, and the audience appreciates and supports it.

Rule 4: Improve the way you collect email addresses

There are tons of ways you can collect more email addresses. But here is a summary of what you should be doing:

  • Create a landing page
  • Use exit-intent popups
  • Offer gated content
  • Organize virtual events

Some of the options seem obvious, but you'll be surprised how much room there is for improvement.

Home pages

By creating a landing page for tracking newsletter subscribers, you can convey more information about the content you send, your mission statement, or anything that gets someone to subscribe.

AWeber has a newsletter on email marketing – FWD: Think. Here is the landing page for that particular newsletter.

In the future, if you want to segment your list to give subscribers personalized information, tagged landing pages are a must.

By segmenting your email lists, user interaction remains high.

A highly engaged list will generate more email subscribers in the long run simply because people enjoy talking about things that fascinate them.

But until word of mouth makes it, you can use landing pages as a magnet for subscribers and an opportunity to showcase your manifesto.

Pop-ups with exit intent

If you have a blog with no exit intent popup, you may not be able to collect the email addresses of + 5% of your traffic.

Sumo has written an in-depth guide to exit-intent popups, but here are some things that will increase the conversion rate of your popups:

  1. Provide popup in the right context.
  2. Pop-ups are not displayed immediately.
  3. Use a headline with a clear message.
  4. Use the popup to showcase your personality.
  5. Offering something valuable in exchange for an email address.
  6. Match the call to action with the offer.

Gated content

Gated content is an online asset (like e-books, videos, research reports) that requires users to provide their email addresses before they can access it.

Here is an example from Backlinko:

Aside from its obvious use (as an email capture mechanism), gated content can be a valuable tool for getting more information about your subscribers before you even step into your email list.

Virtual events

It has been about a year since the COVID outbreak found its way into our lives. Almost everyone was more reliant on online communication systems – schoolchildren taking online classes, employees operating from home, and musicians playing live concerts without an audience.

Whether you're a SaaS company or a nutrition blog, virtual events are a great way to minimize the cost of reaching out to a wider audience.

Imagine this: You run a music blog and you organize a virtual concert with Beyonce that people can attend in exchange for their email addresses.

Maybe you don't have a few million dollars to pay for a performance, but it's not the point.

The point is, you can organize and host events that people with their PJs can follow from home. Having guests at your virtual event gives you access to their audience, which widens the top of your funnel.

Run a newsletter referral program

Social media and search engine algorithms drown out the voices of millions of creators, writers and journalists. This is why email newsletters are vital. They allow people to easily keep in touch with their audience.

In the past few years, creators and publishers have started using newsletter recommendation programs to achieve their goals inexpensively.

Some of the best-known examples of publishers using referral programs to grow their audiences include:

  • The hustle and bustle
  • Morning Brew
  • TheSkimm
  • The core

The Gist uses a tiered reward system for successful referrals.

Offering multiple rewards ensures that your subscribers will have many goals to achieve. Hence, they will share their referral links more.

If you're wondering what rewards to offer in your newsletter referral program, here's a quick list:

  • Access to private communities
  • Free membership
  • Access to an exclusive newsletter
  • Loot of goods and companies
  • Early access to new product functions
  • Internal currency (Dropbox used the internal currency as a reward for referrals)
  • Travel to meet you and your team

While your choice of referral rewards is only limited by your imagination, there are three things to keep in mind:

  1. Your referral rewards should match what your brand represents.
  2. Choose rewards that enhance the experience of your product.
  3. Only consider a reward system when people are already enjoying your product.

The last point in the list above is very important. This saves you from having to create a referral program that won't benefit your business and keeps you from spending money that you don't have to.

TheDONUT checks all the boxes and offers brand rewards that match the sentiment the company is promoting.

  • 5 references = DONUT Popsocket
  • 10 recommendations = DONUT T-Shirt
  • 15 recommendations = hand-decorated mug

Nothing special, but their readers love it.

If you want to learn more about creating, running, and improving your newsletter referral programs (including choosing rewards), we recommend reading the Actionable Guide to Newsletter Referral Programs.

AWeber and Viral Loops let you create a newsletter referral program that works in the newsletters you send out to your subscribers.

Here's how:

In summary

It is possible that an email list will stop growing at some point. The first thing you need to do is change the way you look at how you do things.

The things you got from A to B may not get you from B to C.

Document the problems you find in your work. Then try to find solutions that align with the mission and current stage of your business.

It's a process that takes time with a lot of trial and error.

However, there are three things you can do today to overcome the slow growth of your email list:

  1. Enhance the content you produce.
  2. Improve the way you collect email addresses.
  3. Run a newsletter referral program.

Combining the points in this article can help you get out of the situation, grow your email list, learn more about your business, and – why not – yourself.

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