Grow your email list in 6 stupid-simple (and free) ways

Tools to grow

At AppSumo, we built the base of our business by growing our email list to more than 750,000 subscribers. And even though AppSumo had thousands upon thousands of email subscribers, my personal blog’s email list had just 12,000. So in 2014, I made it my personal goal to hit 50,000 subscribers on my blog, How to grow your email list can be a challenge.

I tried many different plugins and strategies, each with their own merits. Today I want to share with you the six key tools and strategies you can use to grow your email list. These are the same ones I used to grow my email list 316 percent + in just eight months.

Our AppSumo team has released a suite of free tools we used to grow our email list called SumoMe. It’s what I used heavily on OkDork to grow my email list.

Here are the six stupid-simple (and free) ways to grow your email list:

No. 1: List Builder

Grow Your Email List List BuilderMost sites never actively ask for their readers’ email addresses. List Builder solves that and more. List Builder allows you install a pop-up that finds the best time to show to a reader (less annoying).

It self-tests and self-optimizes so that it shows to visitors at the best time. Best of all, there is no need to know HTML or CSS, so you can test new copy quickly and easily.

Install List Builder in less than 60 seconds via or grab the WordPress plugin.

No 2: Scroll Box

Using “heat maps,” I looked closely at how people view my pages and read the posts on my site. I found that very few people used my sidebar to sign up for emails. Instead, they were focused on reading the post that brought them to the site (duh). As a result, removed my sidebar and installed a Scroll Box.

Grow Your Email List Scroll Box

With Scroll Box, a visitor gets a polite signup box to the right of the page when they’re about 80 percent finished with the post. The conversion rate is much higher than a regular pop-up because the reader (a) obviously enjoys the content and (b) isn’t being bothered before they are finished.

Pro tip: Always mention a specific benefit a visitor will get by signing up for your email list.

No. 3: Smart Bar

Smart Bar is another easy and non-intrusive way to ask people to join your email list. The bar stays out of the way and offers three options: (1) when a visitor scrolls up, (2) scrolls with the page, or (3) always stays at the top.

For many sites, email conversion doubles after installing Smart Bar.


Here’s how Smart Bar looks on

Grow Your Email List Smart Bar

No. 4: Well-placed bonus offers

Throughout 2014, OkDork has focused on providing insanely actionable marketing posts backed by data. A number of guest posts brought thousands of new visitors!

But how to capture the new visitors’ email addresses so I could bring them back for the next post?

Grow Your Email List BonusOne of the most effective strategies was to ask for peoples’ email addresses where their eyeballs were. This is asking for an email address within your content instead of on the outside of your content.

Use Leadpages or Leads to accomplish this strategy.

I’ve found that subscribers who come through a bonus strategy tend to be more engaged and less likely to unsubscribe. While they’re reading your content, offer them an incentive to subscribe.

Set up one bonus on your top three posts. You’ll convert organic search engine traffic into cold, hard email addresses.

No. 5: Home Gate

Grow Your Email List Home Gate The biggest change I made to should have been made years ago. I realized that most of the traffic to the site came directly to my home page. Readers were met with a list of articles and a sidebar full of information.

At the start of the year, I redesigned the homepage to ask for only thing: an email address.

Now my homepage is one of the No. 1 drivers of email signups. (I include a “Read the Blog” link below the fold so frequent visitors can get to the content.)

Here’s a plugin you can use for WordPress.

No. 6: Giveaways

So far, my tips for growing your email list have focused on capturing email addresses from people who are already coming to your site. But what if you want to get more traffic and capture new visitors?

Do giveaways.

Giveaways are one of the most cost-efficient ways to bring in targeted traffic and get new emails. 


Grow Your Email List GiveawayOkDork offered two giveaways this summer: (1) Seth Godin books and (2) Tim Ferris books. Combined, the two giveaways brought in 10,000 email subscribers.

Before you run a giveaway, think about what your audience values and offer it. Not only will you get more targeted traffic, you’ll also decrease your unsubscribes.

Grow your email list and traffic

Use these six strategies to grow your own email list and traffic. Install SumoMe (works on any website) to get free access to List Builder, Scroll Box, and Smart Bar.

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Image by: byzantiumbooks via / CC BY