How to Build an Email List Fast, Pt. 5: Offer something for free


Today I’ll tell you what really calls your audience for action and will get them to subscribe to your lists in no time. Until now, you will have gained a broad understanding of how to build your email list fast using various sources such as social media channels or discussion boards. 


The magic word “free”

People love to receive discounts, freebies or any other kinds of rewards especially if they had to make an action in the first place. This action could be e.g. purchasing of your product, filling out a survey or signing up to your newsletter. It’s just how we are programmed. If someone offers us something for free, we feel obliged to accept it and pay back the debt in some way or another.

Salespeople have been using this trick for ages. They offer us something for free, e.g. a sample of a product, not only to let you test it out but more importantly, to facilitate your decision making process. A free cinema ticket, gym session, cheese sample in a supermarket or a car test drive – all of these products and services have one word in common – the word free.

The person receiving the free sample starts to feel that he or she has to even out, repay the debt or otherwise they’ll feel they are doing someone wrong. This attitude in turn increases the chances that you or I will act according to the salesperson’s intention.

Now that you know how we are programmed, you should be able to make use of this fact in the process of building your email list effectively. The only question that you may have on your mind now is what kind of products should you be offering for free. That’s exactly what I’m going to tell you about right now.


1. Webinars

Webinars and online meetings are a great method of connecting and narrowing between your brand and your audience. These types of meetings generally aim at discussing the topics that are found interesting or important by one’s clients and prospects. Through these meetings you get to clear the doubts of your prospects, which in turn can mean removing potential obstacles preventing them from devoting to your brand.

You may be thinking however: That’s great! But what should I be talking about?. Start by asking your audience through a survey about the topics of their interest and areas they find puzzling. If you find this isn’t enough, then start monitoring social media channels, discussion boards and the web in general to find what kinds of questions are being raised in your industry. That should give you a broad understanding of what problems people have and what questions remain yet to be answered.

When organizing a webinar, you should consider partnering up with potential speakers and companies operating in the same industry as yours. If successful, you may be able to join your forces and promote the webinar to both audiences. That should successfully increase your reach, brand awareness and add credibility to the webinar.

You can find out more about partnerships in my previous post.

Once you have decided to organize a webinar, remember about integrating your sign up forms so that people accessing the meeting will also get the chance to join your newsletter list. This gives you an opportunity to stay in touch long after the webinar and continue providing valuable content to your audience which can in turn strengthen the bonding that you share.

Img. 1 Webinar invite from GetResponse

Img. 1 Webinar invite from GetResponse


2. eBooks, whitepapers, infographics

Free eBooks, whitepapers and infographics are effective motivators than can help you increase the size of your mailing list. By publishing these kinds of materials you’re not only educating your audience, but also making it easier for them to gain knowledge by compiling it in a single file that can be easily found and – most importantly – trusted.

If you already have a blog and have been producing reports for your readers in the past, this task may turn out to be easier as all you’ll have to do is to put the information together and add a few more words of comments and updated data. If, on the other hand, you haven’t done anything like this before, start by searching out the most commonly asked questions and topics and then choose the topic of your publication accordingly.

When sharing your materials, remember to ask your audience to leave their details with you as a form of “payment” for the freebies they are about to receive. By integrating a sign up form with your download link you’ll get the chance to keep your audience updated about upcoming publications and other great offers.

There is a number of different ways of sharing this kind of documents. The easiest way to do so is to add a sign-up form on your landing page, which has been designed specifically for that purpose. Upon filling out the form, the newly subscribed person should receive an automatically sent autoresponder containing the relevant download link.

A sign-up form prepared in such a way should be placed on landing pages and social media channels always emphasizing the benefit the subscriber is about to get for leaving his email address with you.

Img. 2 Landing page containing a sign up form and a free resource

Img. 2 Landing page containing a sign up form and a free resource

3. Free tools

Another interesting approach that will help you build your email list in no time is to offer free tools, add-ons or other resources (e.g. email templates, sign-up forms, etc.) for which your audience has to “pay” by leaving their email address or a phone number with you.

This method is most commonly used by online services or platforms, which instead of providing the new features only inside of their own system make them available also for people that aren’t their clients. By offering a free solution you get to strengthen your brand awareness amongst new audiences who may have not been interested in your offer earlier.

When designing such a solution, it is useful to make it easy for the audience to share it and spread the word e.g. on social media channels. This should increase your further reach and improve the effectiveness of your future marketing campaigns.


4. One-to-one sessions

Although this may sound a bit archaic, even the most tech savvy Internet users want human contact from time to time. We do like the efficiency and the ease of purchasing products or services online, but there are also times we need someone to ensure us about our decision.

This is especially important if users plan to make a purchase which involves more decision-making and a higher financial investment than your regular chocolate bar or a can of coke. It’s similar if there are more people involved in the decision making process who have to all agree on one single solution. Some examples of such products or services could be a car, software or an IT system.

In order to facilitate your clients’ decision making process, you should ensure that contact with you is easy and pleasant. Consider implementing such forms of contact as live chat, skype, online form, social media, email address or a phone line.

On top of providing different means of contacting, you may think about scheduling a few hours on a regular basis when your clients can reach out to you. Through the use of different solutions such as ClickMeeting they can catch you online whenever you’re there. Just make sure to promote the availability hours on your websites and social media channels.

This type of communication is very useful especially for your new prospects and clients who still may have doubts as to how to fully use your products and services and need more reassuring. By offering personal contact you can clear these doubts, provide expert insight and learn something more about your target audience.

In order to build your email list using these methods make sure to integrate your online meeting sign up forms with the ones leading to your newsletter subscription. Also, don’t forget to properly train your Customer Service Team to collect as much data about your audience (in particular email address) as possible at every point of contact they make.

Img. 3 Ask an Expert service by GetResponse

Img. 3 Ask an Expert service by GetResponse

5. Offline meetings

We’ve already discussed how effective for increasing your brand awareness can offline meetings such as trade shows or discussion panels be. This being said, we still often forget how useful these kinds of meetings may be in terms of generating new leads and website traffic.

Similarly to organizing webinars, discussion panels and conferences allow you to get closer to your audience and build a lasting bond which can turn into loyalty. This way your almost virtual brand can turn into a physical one for some of the subscribers who tend to prefer dealing with the offline shopping. You’re adding a friendly, human image with which people can identify themselves.

Think about all the needs your audience may have, monitor the discussion boards and social media channels. Once you know the preferences and needs of the people you are dealing with, offer something from your heart, something that will be of value to them.

Even an opportunity to get to know you and listen to you talk may turn out to be a great purchase decision facilitator. Instead of having to be transferred between hundreds of different lines and departments, they finally get to see whom they are signing the contract with. For some, this means much more than a price discount or a free delivery.

Img. 4 Conference invitation

Img. 4 Conference invitation

This was the 5th part of the – How to Build an Email List Fast – series. I hope you enjoyed it and have not gotten an even broader understanding of the different methods and channels that can work to your benefit when building your list of subscribers.

If you know of any other clever ways of generating leads, which we haven’t covered so far just let us know. We’d love to hear your feedback!