We’ve always been told having a targeted email list is essential in business. With email, there’s no better way to engage with your fans and generate leads – fact!

But as the experienced marketer knows all too well, it’s not enough to place a form on your website saying ‘sign up to receive our updates.’

These days visitors need a damn good reason to sign up, so that kind of offer just won’t cut it.

Readers crave in depth details to solve their problems. They want comprehensive guides that take them through a solution step by step.

That kind of content is invaluable. Readers are more willing to part with their email address if they feel you know what you’re talking about and have the power to make their lives better.

So for that, you need a compelling offer.

Your offer can come in many different forms, but the main premise is to create an opt-in. This is all singing and dancing lead gen content that makes your audience say, ‘I need that in my life!’

You of course need to promote your opt-ins, but to start with, here are a few proven ways to entice visitors to sign up.


White paper or ebook

Ebooks and whitepapers are essentially guides that educate customers about a topic. They work by addressing a specific problem and provide the solution to fix it.

Your aim here is to enhance your credibility and eventually turn that reader into a paying customer by offering information of value.

Although very similar in what they offer, ebooks are more informal and playful than their whitepaper counterparts. Whitepapers are more authoritative and cover more details, facts and figures.

Both provide an excellent opportunity to collect emails. But be sure to carry out thorough research before you settle on a topic so it’s something your target audience really wants to read.

It would be a great shame if you go through all that effort to find you’ve missed the mark.

Include the opt-in on your website where visitors can’t miss it. A side bar or fixed at the top of the page is a good shout. Or you could create a unique landing page and direct visitors from your social channels during the promotion stage.

Podcast or webinar

People like to consume content in different ways. Not everyone will take a chance on downloading a 10 page whitepaper to get the solution they need – no matter how badly they want it.

However, signing up for a podcast or webinar means the listener only has to show up.

Webinars and podcasts are excellent for establishing you as an expert. They’re also particularly fabulous for giving the personal touch. This allows viewers to get a greater sense of your personality, putting a voice and face behind your brand.

As with an ebook or whitepaper, the topic you cover is key. It needs to be something your audience gets revved up about. Something they will anticipate to encourage that initial sign up.

For a webinar, create your opt-in form on a designated landing page and highlight the key benefits for signing up.

Direct people to the landing page from your social channels, or consider creating a sponsored ad on social media. Facebook is a good one for this.

For podcasts, these are effective when you run a weekly or monthly podcast. Cover a specific issue each time and invite authoritative guests to share their thoughts too.

In terms of encouraging sign ups, if you’re offering irresistible tips (and you certainly should be), ask listeners for their email address to receive your latest podcast updates.

Online contest

Everybody loves a contest. But you need to make it brain dead simple for people to sign up. It’s astounding the number of contests I see where entrants are asked to visit countless pages, fill out laborious forms and follow social media accounts.

They make it an excruciating effort. Would you really bother entering if a company made you clamber around the web?


A contest requires two very important things to entice sign ups – a relevant mouth-watering giveaway and an easy sign up procedure.

If you’re going to create a contest and you want people to follow you as well as fill in your form, include the social link under your landing page form so they can follow you in one click.

And don’t overwhelm people with too many form fields. A name and email address is enough to get them onto your email list.

Free tool or resource

This can be rather time consuming to create, but worth it if you get the offering right. A tool or resource could come in the form of an app or software platform you’ve developed.

Of course, it should relate to the products or services you already offer. Say you’re an SEO expert, you could develop a tool that analyses the SEO performance of your audience’s websites.

Or perhaps you’re a personal trainer, you could offer a BMI calculator.

The tool needs to be a high value offer and something your audience would find useful.

All the user needs to do is enter their email address to gain access. Bingo, they’re on your list.

Cheat sheet

A cheat sheet is a quick guide to help people remember specific information. These could be symbols, commands or phrases.

The idea is the user can refer to it when performing a certain task. They should be clear and easy to skim, using visual aids so readers can find a piece of information quickly.

For example, a freelance web developer could offer a html cheat sheet. For a business owner who manages their own website, this kind of information is extremely helpful if they have a basic grasp of using code.

These can be relatively quick to knock together, so a cheat sheet can be a great list building option.

Blog subscription

Another great way is to simply ask readers to subscribe to your blog. In exchange for their email address, they’ll get your latest blog posts straight in their inbox.

A good starting point is to put a subscribe form in your sidebar. But you could also include a prominent subscribe call to action at the bottom of every post.

You could also offer something extra to readers if they subscribe to your blog. For example, get a free guide if they sign up.

And another thing – people are more likely to sign up if they see others have too. It’s a form of social proof that validates your credibility. So show the number of social shares, likes and retweets next to all your posts.



Templates are good because it gives your audience a skeleton to work from and customise for themselves. It also saves valuable time – which is something we all appreciate.

A template can come in the form of a calendar, a spreadsheet a work book – anything the reader can manipulate and tailor from an outline.

As an example from my own profession, I could create a content calendar template for my readers to download. (Something I’ll be offering over the coming weeks!)

This will allow my readers to manage their content marketing more effectively. They’ll be able to enter details such as blog topics, dates for publishing, where the content will be published, content types and content analysis.

They will be able to manage and track all their campaigns in one place. This will keep the process more streamlined and allow them to improve their content strategy based on the results.

You can see how powerful that would be for the busy business owner or marketer.

These are just a few ideas to grow your email list, but you could also capture details by offering exciting data or research, a slideshare presentation or hosting a small event.

There are countless offers you can create to generate sign ups – get creative and start producing content your audience really wants.

You’ll then have many avenues generating sign ups every day, eventually leading you to the sought-after five figure email list many businesses use to successfully sell their stuff.

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