Email subscriber list growth is key to success

You don’t need me to tell you how lucrative a digital marketing channel email marketing is, but I will anyway… 😜

According to those who do global analysis and forecasting (e.g. Statista, the German data giant), email marketing provides an average ROI of more than 30 to 1 (the latest figure states £38 for every £1 invested).

But here’s the rub – an effective email marketing system doesn’t happen by accident; it takes careful design and planning, combined with efficient execution.

At its core, every successful email marketing system has its ‘list’.

The ‘list‘ is the beating heart of the system – without which you have nothing, no list, no nurturing, no sales. Nada.

Common ways in which to grow your email list

Just Google it – ‘How to grow my email list‘ and you’ll get more results than you can physically check out (I just did it and got 1.25 billion results!);

…what you’ll find is a common set of proven strategies for adding more subscribers to your list – these results are likely to include things like…

  • Share your opt-in forms across your socials
  • Add a link to the footer of your emails
  • Put a link to your opt-in on your quotes/invoices
  • Offer free webinars or workshops
  • Create a free checklist or template
  • Craft and drip-feed a free email course
  • Offer a free video training course
  • Start a podcast/guest on other podcasts
  • Create your own free group on a social platform
  • Do regular ‘live’ streams on your preferred social
  • Publish regular blog posts that educate your audience
  • Start a YouTube channel
  • Add an exit-intent opt-in form to your website
  • Publish a newsletter that gives genuine value

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but they’re the most common ways in which people grow their lists.

ConvertKit’s ‘Recommendations’ feature

One of the strategic acquisitions that ConvertKit made to help its customers grow their email lists was the purchase of a company called ‘Sparkloop‘, a recommendations engine.

If you use ConvertKit as your email marketing platform then you get direct access to, what they call their ‘Recommendations‘ feature.

If you use a non-ConvertKit email marketing platform (e.g. Mailchimp, Mailerlite etc.), and you want to use this feature then you need to go via the Sparkloop route (which is more expensive than the ConvertKit route), but still accessible.

To get started, log into ConvertKit and go to the menu option ‘Grow‘ -> ‘Recommendations‘;

Once you click on the ‘Recommendations’ option, you’ll see a screen that includes 4 main options;

  • Recommending me: as you’d imagine, this is where you can see the other people who are recommending you to their audiences.
  • Subscribers: this shows you the subscribers you have attracted from other people’s recommendations.
  • My Recommendations: converse with the first one, this is a list of the other people that you are recommending to your audience.
  • Discover: this is where you can search for other people (and where others can find you) who you can add to your recommendations, aiming to find people who can add complementary value to your list.

You can search for recommendations by using the keywords that match your preferences, for example, if you’re a freelance copywriter who has a target audience of ‘fintech startups‘, then you might want to recommend startup coaches as they would most likely give complementary value to your subscribers.

Don’t just randomly recommend others who are not a good fit, as this will only lead to a high level of unsubscribes further down the line.

When you recommend others using the ‘Recommendations’ feature, ConvertKit pops a form that shows the people you recommend, just after subscribers join your list, and allows them to opt into their lists too, if they wish.

Below is an example of what subscribers see when they join my list;

By default, all recommendations are enabled (the little ticked green boxes), and you can include/exclude by selecting/deselecting each box.

Of course, there’s no need to subscribe to any of them, simply by opting for the ‘Maybe Later‘ option.

How to get yourself recommended by others

Unsurprisingly, when others are considering recommending you to their audiences, they’re going to check out your profile to get an idea of what you do, how active you are with your content, and what services you offer.

This is done via your Creator Profile, another feature of ConvertKit that allows you to showcase you and your business.

If you want to see how I set up my Creator Profile, here’s a post I created to show exactly that;

How I created my Creator Profile using ConvertKit

The more complete and attractive you can make your Creator Profile, the more chance you have of being recommended. You can click here to see what I’ve included in my Creator Profile.

⚡️What to do now…

Head to ConvertKit, log in and select the ‘Recommendations’ feature. Start by looking for people who you can recommend. You’ll often find that when you begin to recommend others, the act will be reciprocated.

Remember that your Creator Profile will be the window through which others will look when considering recommending you to their lists, so get that looking decent to increase your chances.

If you get stuck or want more help, let me know.

John Bellingham
Email marketing strategist for aspirational freelancers.

If we haven’t already done so, let’s connect on LinkedIn.

The Thursday Email Club is a free group where freelancers level up their email marketing game with weekly ‘live’ webinars, workshops, and Q&As.


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John Bellingham
John Bellingham

Starting out as a software engineer over 30 years ago, I began working for large corporates before realising solopreneurship was my 'thing'. I've had many businesses over the years, which have taught me many lessons.

I now spend my time helping other small business owners to implement the strategies and tactics that worked for me, whilst avoiding all my expensive mistakes.

If you're a small business owner who's either starting or running a business, then connect with me and let's have a chat.

I love Formula 1® so that's always a good conversation starter if you need one! 🏁 🏎

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