5 Unique Ways to Quickly Grow Your Email List

Jenna Kutcher 

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March 3, 2021


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I’m back to talk about one of my alllll-time favorite subjects EVER… email lists. I remember when I first heard about starting an email list WAY back in my early JK photography days and I’ll be honest… I wasn’t totally convinced. I thought: Email?? Is that really the next marketing tactic that works?? But a few of my role models in the business world KEPT on preaching about it, and as someone who’s not one to skip out on trying something at least once… I jumped in.

The very first opt-in I created was a profitable pricing guide. I love running numbers, I’m a total nerd when it comes to data and numbers and once I discovered that I actually was making less than minimum wage when I was taking on photo shoots at $50/a piece, I had to share the formulas and my method for landing on prices that would actually move you towards your goals. Now, it definitely wasn’t pretty or fancy by any means, but it’s still something I’m proud of to this day. 

While a lot has changed in my business over the past near-decade, this one thing has remained true: My email list has become the biggest converter for sales in my business. I’m conscious about constantly trying new ways to convince people to opt in and subscribe, and I now know and believe through and through that it’s the most powerful place to connect with my audience.

Why? Because it’s the ONE place I can show up in a one-on-one capacity to just hang out and feel like we’re chatting. Unlike social media where you’re speaking to a crowd of people who may or, more likely, may not see what you’re saying… or even your website where people have to intentionally land there to read what you have to say… email is a place where YOU can pop into the individual inboxes of your audience just to say “hey”, provide value, and connect in a more intimate way.

Aka, it’s the best place to build that know, like, trust factor that I always harp on because people will more likely want to buy from you if they feel like they have some sort of foundation or trusting relationship built with you. And email is JUUUST the place to get the job done. So, whether you’re just hopping on the email list bandwagon — first off, welcome! — or you’ve been growing your list for a while, hit a bit of stagnancy with subscriber growth, and just need a few new ideas to reach more people… let’s talk about some fun and different ways to grow your list, ways that don’t take a ton of time or overhead and that can introduce you to even more of your perfect clientele, so that you can begin showing up for them and building a solid relationship with them inside their inboxes. Let’s do this!

Free Trainings

A lot of times, I see people doing IGTVs or trainings on Facebook live, which is definitely awesome and more casual and off-the-cuff to reach a broader social media audience… However, if that’s the only way you’re showing up to educate online, you’re missing a BIG opportunity to collect an email address. Hosting a training that requires people to opt in, especially when you don’t have anything to pitch or sell, is a really cool way to grow your email list.

I know that a ton of people host free webinars and trainings as a part of a new product launch — heck, we do this too during our launches and it’s a GREAT way to teach a small piece of a larger concept within the paid product, course, or resource. But… for the sake of just growing your list, consider hosting a training when you’re not launching or pitching anything, just to essentially give away value for free and then you can begin sending out helpful resources, tips, and encouragement via email so that when it IS time to launch or sell, they’ll be more primed and prepared to buy in because they have an existing relationship with you.

And, don’t get caught up in trying to deliver ALL the value and ALL the strategy and ALL the takeaways in your training, either. It doesn’t need to be 2 hours or even 1. Really, any sort of free training where you can set it up to capture their email address and deliver at least one tangible takeaway in 20 minutes or less is awesome. After all, it’s free for them and should be a small time buy-in for you, so it shouldn’t be something where you provide all these big bells and whistles and promises. Make it educational and captivating, but also keep it brief and applicable so they can walk away and get a quick win and be encouraged when they start hearing from you in their inbox. 

I always say your free content should introduce your topic or idea and outline the “why” and importance with some quick wins and action steps. Then let your paid content take things a step further and show the how with the step by step roadmap.

A few ideas for simple, free trainings could be:

  • How I create viral-worthy Reel in less than 10 minutes
  • How to plan a week of meals for the whole family in under an hour
  • 3 words or phrases to NEVER use in your headlines and subject lines and why
  • 4 simple techniques you need to know to keep your houseplants alive
  • How to set up your morning for the most productive + positive day

These are all ideas that could be executed in a 10 to 20 minute long training that won’t take the educator in those specific niches a bunch of time to throw together… so think of what value you could easily and quickly deliver, and create a free training around it to build your list!

Run a Challenge

Soooo many people are doing challenges right now, frankly because they WORK. It gives participants the opportunity to join in with a community of people working toward a like-minded goal. One of the coolest models I watched happen in 2020 is a group of people hosting a challenge together and then getting a bunch of guest speakers on them.

Basically, 10 or so people get together and do a 5 or 10 day challenge together, and they all get to share the email addresses of the opt-ins… Of course, you’ll need to include language that makes sure people know what they are signing up for and are okay with being added to all of the email lists for each of the challenge’s hosts. But I found it to be such a cool way to expand your exposure to new audiences and get new subscribers. Plus, the participants will get to hear from a variety of leaders and educators on a particular subject, which is just added value and incentive to want to sign up.

You can literally host a challenge around practically anything… the goal is that you somehow simplify participant’s lives in some way, improve a process, or add more joy to their lives. You could have a self-care challenge, a “show up on IG stories” challenge, a no-spend challenge, a reading challenge… there are endless opportunities and it doesn’t mean you have to teach or lead every single day of the challenge. Use it as an opportunity to show people what’s possible if they do X… if they commit to doing the thing your challenge is built on, what results might they experience?

Again, I see a lot of people doing challenges as a part of their launches which is awesome and definitely smart… but they can ALSO be so very powerful in between launches, when you don’t have anything to offer or sell and just want to build your community!

Here’s a shameless plug for my best performing challenge: The Zero – 250 List Building Challenge. Since you’re listening to a podcast about email list growth, it’s on you’ll be interested in checking out both to grow your list and to see an example of a challenge in action.

Utilize Quizzes

Yup, quizzes are still alive and well and one of the TOP ways to grow email lists. Right now especially, people are sooo into learning about their personality styles, and you can even create one in a fun way to connect results to your products through quizzes.

I’ve been running my “secret sauce” quiz that tells people what their unique value-add is in the entrepreneurship world for several years, and it’s pretty consistently been our top opt-in tool even to this day! And y’all, I have TONS of opt-ins… like we’re probably pushing 100 freebies at this point, no kidding.

There’s just something fun and easy and lighthearted about taking a quiz and learning something new about yourself. People love that stuff, so any way you can give them some insight into their business or personality or style or habits… it’s a powerful way to get their attention and get them to sign up for your list. 

We’ve had over 90,000 people take our secret sauce quiz — it’s REALLY great — and it’s such a fun entrance point into the brand and the results are just killer! 

Now, I know there are some pricey services out there that can build out quizzes and results for you, but if you just want something simple, I promise you don’t need to invest in all of that — at least not for now. To build a simple quiz, start with the end results. I’d suggest coming up with 3 to 4 possible results people could get by taking your quiz. 

A bonus to this strategy is that these different results will help you segment your audience by their interests, meaning you can send them customized messaging aligned with exactly what they want from you. Cool, hey? Next come up with 5 to 10 relevant questions for your subject, with answers to support each one of your quiz’s results. You can build out the quiz itself using a platform like Interact which allows you to start for free! See? Easy AND affordable… and honestly so much fun for everyone.

They have so many different formats for your quiz so you can really get creative from personality quizzes to scored ones where your results are based on the total points, assessment quizzes where they include multiple choice questions with a correct answer. And my favorite thing is that they offer over 800+ quiz templates already built and ready for you to customize with your content which removes any fears of the tech. Simply incorporate your branding, integrate the quiz with your email marketing service provider and you’re ready to go.

Free Templates

Giving away any sort of template like an editing preset or a template for Canva or even some sort of template checklist is something that people can use right away and experience a quick win from. It’s a huge way to leverage people onto your list because people LOVE tools and resources that are easy and quick to use and that get them a result in a short amount of time. And templates do juuuuust that.

I love all kinds of freebies out there, from guides, to blueprints, to how-tos, to action item lists and beyond… BUT, I might have to pick templates as my absolute favorite not only to provide, but also to opt-into myself! There’s something extra-enticing about a template to me because you can get it immediately and use it for your benefit in some way, shape or form right then and there. 

An example of my best performing template freebie is my mobile lightroom presets. Close to 60,000 people have opted in and downloaded this freebie because they like my editing style and this offers quick results for them to edit their photos in a similar way. To get the download, they of course had to hand over their email address and now I get to continue to serve them and occasionally pitch other similar products from my shop or courses.

Exclusive Bonus Content

My sister does this super, super well. She has her blog that on its own provides tons of fabulous content and resources, but then if you sign up for her email list, you get a suite of secret bonus content that’s exclusive only to subscribers. You don’t need to have a blog to do this, either! You could also do it if you have a podcast and just record and send out an unlisted episode ONLY for subscribers to get. Or, if you have a product-based business, you could send out a 5% off one-time coupon code or free shipping code for subscribers only.

There are so many ways to swing it to make your email list THE desirable place to be hanging out. It makes it more exclusive and intimate, like they’re getting invited into something private, and that opportunity can really play on people’s FOMO or at the very least, get them interested in what the secret content might be like.

You can tease this bonus content in your social media posts and stories, and even ask people to DM you or leave a question box for your Insta followers to drop their email addresses if they want in on the exclusive content. You’ll have to manually add those emails to your list, BUT it is a great way to get more people added if you have the bandwidth because it does them the favor of removing the action of them having to go to your website, enter their email, and opt-in manually.

The Big Picture

Okay, folks, that is it! Email lists give me all the happy feels and I could literally talk about them all. day. long. BUT I’ll end it here because these ideas should give you a good start on working on building and adding to your list in fresh and creative ways. I love and have used all of these techniques for growing my own email list and can tell you firsthand that they’re all doable and productive in their own way!

If you’ve been feeling some stagnancy with your list or just don’t know how to get people excited to hop on board, pick just one of these ideas that excites you the most and give it a shot! Share, share, and share it again, and I have no doubts your email list will be moving, groovin’ and growing again in NO time. Go get after it!

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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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