how to get more email subscribers

How To Get More Email Subscribers – Be Smarter Not Spammer

I get it, you want to get more email subscribers for your email list. You've listened to lots of people who have told you to add a pop-up box, pop-overs, pop-unders, welcome mats, welcome gates, and loads of other tools that will get you more opt-ins.

The problem is that there is a time and a place to ask for an email sign-up and usually that's not before someone has read your content. You wouldn't pay for a meal in a nice restaurant until you'd eaten it, so why opt-in when you don't know what the blog owner has to offer?

It's all about keeping a good balance between asking the reader to opt-in and not annoying them. Email marketing is without a doubt the best way to generate an income online, but for that, you need an engaged email list.

Most people find too many pop-ups and opt-in forms annoying. However, I find it frustrating when I read an interesting post and want to get updates but can’t find a way to join the blog owner's list.

There are two completely different mindsets at work in these situations and both are wrong.

Mindset 1 – I Must Get More Email Subscribers at Any Cost

Trying to force people to subscribe is a lose-lose situation; it wastes your time and your readers' time. The end result is fake customer email addresses and low open rates.

You will be able to wave your list around in public though saying, “Look at the size of this email list baby.”

Unfortunately, it won’t impress anyone who's knowledgeable about email marketing.

The size of your list isn't important, it's what you do with that list that will make or break your online business. Get a good conversion rate and you have a business you can be proud of.

I have one particularly small list of fewer than 100 people that generates more money than many lists with 10,000 subscribers, so your list doesn't need to be big, just responsive.

Mindset 2 – I Don’t Want To Upset Anyone

I’ve been there! That was me! I was that insecure fool.

When I first started building a list, I was afraid that if I asked for an email address people wouldn’t like me.

Luckily it didn’t take long to realise that people really don’t mind getting emails from you if you give them good information and provide them with a level of entertainment.

If you spend time and effort creating good quality content then the least you should ask for is a new visitor to subscribe and an existing subscriber to share your content.

Most will be happy to oblige.

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The Solution – Be Smarter Not Spammier

It is possible to use several methods to get a subscriber onboard without getting in their face or turning your blog post into a giant opt-in box and alienating a potential customer. But having a single email opt-in isn't going to work either.

You don't need to bombard people with overt opportunities to opt in, most posts on this blog get between 25 and 35% of new readers opting it. Throughout the blog there are multiple ways that you can get onto my list, none of which are particularly aggressive (I test constantly so you may find some opt-ins more aggressive than normal when you visit!).

How many did you spot at first glance? There should be between 3 and 7 depending on when you arrived on this page.

I would recommend as a general rule of thumb, that you try to have at least 4 on every page you have.

Give people the opportunity to subscribe to the content they want. You know what you target audience wants, give it to them!

Rule #1: Boost Email Subscribers By Tailoring Your Opt-ins To Your Content


At the moment, the only opt-in I have that is blatantly obvious is a welcome mat on the homepage (if you accessed the site by the front door!). This only appears the first time you visit the site as do some of the other opt-in boxes I use. That is a catchall opt-in form. Everywhere else I use a lead magnet tailored to the post they are reading.

So apart from the welcome gate, how else can we generate subscribers without being too in your face?


The hellobar sits along the top of every page offering a reason to subscribe. It’s unobtrusive but gets good results. I often switch this to direct readers to a recent article I've published.

These bars are useful as if someone is looking to opt in, there is a place for them front and centre. They also help to reduce the bounce rate from your site and increase “dwell” time.

Sidebar Ads

Sidebar ads are notoriously poor at getting opt ins. I cringe every time I see one that says, “signup for my newsletter.” Used correctly, you can get between 10 and 20% opt in rate. The one I currently have at the top of the sidebar gets a 15% opt in rate.

In Content Opportunities

In this post I am talking about building a subscriber list so I could easily add a link to a course about list building because it's congruent. I would expect an opt in rate of around 30%, and with split testing, I would hope to increase this further.

This is one of the keys to building a big mailing list.

Regardless of what my post was about, a simple opt-in form in the middle of the page linking to a report would help to grow my list. But this is 2018 and we don't need to just use opt-in boxes any longer.

The 2 step opt-in is much more effective. The reader only has to make a micro commitment to opt in by clicking on the link and doesn't get scared off by a blatant sign-up form.

So if the reader has passed by a few opportunities to join your e-mail list, don't despair, you haven't lost them yet!

End Of Content Opportunities

If someone has read your post and enjoyed it, why not give them the opportunity to opt in in to receive further information?

Let’s say your post talked about “7 Romantic Vacation Destinations,” do you think that a free report outlining “14 Of The World's Most Romantic Yet Affordable Hotels” might be something they would be interested in?

Try to get out of the mindset of just giving one report away. Having separate reports/ guides/infographics/videos etc, tailored to your content will yield better results as you can use a different opt-in form for each post or category.

Email Service Providers

With email service providers like Active Campaign or Convertkit allowing you to use tags rather than lists, you can easily segment subscribers by preference. With just one list, you can send different emails to people depending on which link or form they subscribed with… powerful stuff.

Convertkit is now my email service provider of choice. Look for one with a level of email automation. I would avoid AWeber or MailChimp – check out my review of AC & CK here:

Whatever you do, never, never, never suggest that a reader become a newsletter subscriber unless you want an opt in rate below 2%.

Exit Pop-Ups

I’ve saved the best for last.

Exit pop-ups will increase your opt ins by around 20%. They are unobtrusive and only show to people as they leave your site. The thing is some people love them and some hate them.

The fact is, if you don’t have one in place, you are losing subscribers. I would suggest you base your decision on using them on your current opt in rate. If you are happy, then don't use them. If you feel you need to get more subscribers, then give them a try.

WARNING: If you are are driving social media traffic from Facebook, do remember to turn it off as popups are against their TOS.

To get more email subscribers, just follow the tips above and you'll find your list growing faster than you thought possible.

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  1. brian on March 20, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Mark. What is the social share plugin u r using? I like the scrolling share this bar on bottom

    • Mark Thompson on March 21, 2015 at 7:38 am

      Monarch by elegantvthemes

  2. Dale Reardon on March 21, 2015 at 1:40 am


    I am getting good results with incontent subscribe forms using the Thrive Leads plugin. Let them read some of the content and then they get the subscription form.


  3. George on March 21, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Brilliant site, and been looking around.

    There is a problem i am having. First one is, at the bottom of this post, the banner does not work, server not found.

    Second, used the banner to the right instead, because it looks the same for email marketing, and it goes through to another site, but you can not subscribe. Not sure why, you click the bar and no optin form shows.

    • Mark Thompson on March 22, 2015 at 11:38 am

      George it might have been a temporary glitch everything seems to be working fine from this end

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