Need to know how to build an email list fast? Get big results in little time by following proven list building strategies. In this guide, we’ll share how to get 100,000 subscribers in 5 months even if you’re new to this whole lead generation thing.

You’ve probably heard that email marketing is the #1 way to grow any business online.

But here’s the catch:

Your email list degrades by about 22.5% every year. 😱

This means that you always need to be adding fresh email subscribers to your list if you want to keep your list healthy. And, under no circumstances, ever buy an email list. It’s bad, m’kay? You can learn why you should never buy an email list here.

Honestly, with these 12 proven list building strategies, from 3 case studies, you won’t have to.

Let’s get started growing your email list, right now.

Case Study #1: How Groove Doubled their List to 50,000 in 6 Months

Groove is a SaaS company who decided to put a big focus on list building.

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Groove discovered that their blog is the single biggest source of new trial signups, and learned that blog subscribers overall are more than 2X as likely to sign up for a trial as non-subscribers.

So, they decided to optimize their blog for email optins. Here’s what they did to double their email list to 50K subscribers in just 6 months:

1. Install a Scroll Box

To start with, they tested adding different optin forms in different places, from popups to buttons embedded within posts.

They wanted to find the best “mix” of different optin types so that they wouldn’t annoy readers.

The first successful optin was a polite slide-in scroll box that appeared when the reader reached the end of a post.

a scroll box is a great way to grow your list without being too pushy

This optin converted around 1.4%, and they received nearly 2,000 email signups from it. 👏

2. Install a Floating Bar

Next, Groove started experimenting with highly noticeable floating bars, which attach themselves to the top (or bottom) of the reader’s screen and scroll along with them.

A floating bar can be pinned to the top or bottom of your user's screen, so it is highly noticeable.

Their floating bar converted at just under 1%, also receiving around 2,000 signups.

3. Turn Your Homepage Upside-Down

After getting their blog posts optimized for email subscriptions with a couple of optin forms, Groove turned their attention to their homepage.

Instead of keeping the traditional top navigation bar, they decided to move the navigation to the bottom of the page. This way, visitors would see their optin form right away and would have to click on the link at the bottom to actually read the blog.

To add social proof, they included a couple of testimonials below the optin form.

change up the order of your home page.

As a result of this homepage redesign, they saw their conversions go up from 0.8% to 1.9% – a 1.1% increase.

Note: They also used cookies to ensure that visitors who already signed up or clicked to “Read the Blog” wouldn’t see this upside-down version of the homepage again. Pretty sweet!

4. Add Inline Optins

Groove also optimized their blog by adding an inline optin form to their blog posts.

This turned out to be the highest-converting place for them, resulting in about 7,300 downloads.

This inline optin form converted the best for Groove.

5. Host a Giveaway

Finally, Groove hosted a giveaway. In the giveaway, they gave visitors the chance to win 13 of their favorite books.

This resulted in 1,500 new subscribers at a whopping 9.8% conversion rate.

You can do the same easily—just see this guide to running a successful giveaway.

how to build an email list fast - host a giveaway

Bonus Tip: To increase your conversions, you can embed giveaways like this inside a lightbox popup using OptinMonster’s Canvas theme.

Case Study #2: How The Hustle Got 100,000 Subscribers in 5 Months

The Hustle is a unique email newsletter that pulls the latest news and condenses it into a short, snarky, daily commentary.

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Since their business relies completely on email, they needed to really “hustle” to grow their email list.

And, wow, they did! In the first 5 months, they grew to about 100,000 subscribers.

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This also resulted in growing their web traffic to 1 million monthly pageviews.

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How did they do it? They used one brilliant strategy:

6. Build a Subscriber Referral Program

To see such massive list growth, the Hustle built a program to reward subscribers for referring their friends.

This program gave their existing subscribers a unique URL that they could share with their friends. The URL went to an optin landing page that looked like this:

how to build an email list fast - start a subscriber referral program

To educate their ambassadors and encourage them to share, they sent out an automated email to any subscriber who hit the 3-week mark.

the hustle 3-week subscriber email

In the email, they explained all the prizes for referring a specific number of subscribers. If they get 5 friends to sign up, then they get access to their private community. 20 signups and they’d get a t-shirt. Next is a hoodie, and finally is a free ticket to their convention.

Ambassadors could also log in to see how many subscribers they have referred, so they could track their progress:

the hustle's ambassadors could track their progress

All of this was coded using tips from Tim Ferriss’s post here.

Case Study #3: How Kate McKibbin Got 25,000 Subscribers in Under a Year

Kate McKibbin is a full-time blogger. When she first started out, her business consisted purely of an email newsletter, similar to The Hustle. So of course, she had to make growing her email list a priority.

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Here are the strategies she used to grow her list to over 25,000 subscribers in under a year:

7. Add Content Upgrades + 2-Step Optin Technology

The first thing Kate did was to create an irresistible lead magnet. This first lead magnet was “evergreen,” meaning it was content that most of her target audience would be interested in and that would stay relevant over time.

But the real breakthrough that allowed her to ramp up her email list growth was adding content upgrades.

Content upgrades are lead magnets created specifically for a particular blog post. Adding content upgrades to her blog posts on a regular basis was a game-changer for Kate.

Especially when she paired them with 2-step optins.

2-step optins work by asking the reader to click on a button or a link before they see the optin form. These use the psychology principle known as the Zeigarnik Effect, which states that folks who start a process are more likely to finish it.

Case Study: How Cosmetic Packaging Now Grew Their Email List by 754% with 2-Step Optins

So, once you click a button saying, “Sure, I’ll sign up,” you’re more likely to follow through with signing up. Simple.

kate mckibbin 2-step optin to increase subscribers

Want something similar on your website? Start using OptinMonster to convert website visitors into subscribers and customers.

When combined with content upgrades, 2-step optins can increase your conversions by as much as 785% (without A/B testing)!

8. Promote to Your Existing Subscribers

Another really smart strategy that Kate used was to repurpose her content upgrades by promoting them to her existing email list.

Since she was creating new lead magnets on a regular basis, she wanted to make sure that her existing subscribers were receiving the benefit from them too.

Keeping your existing subscribers happy is a great way to spread word of mouth, and attract even more email subscribers.

9. Create a Resource Library

Yet another way that she repurposed her content upgrades was by creating a resource library to house them.

This was simply a page on her website which included all of the links to download each of her various lead magnets. This page was not publicly visible, so only people with the URL could see it.

Then, whenever someone new subscribed to her list, Kate would send them the resource library page to download all of her lead magnets.

Bonus Tip: If you want to keep this page public so that it has the chance to go “viral” on social media, you can use OptinMonster’s content lock feature to hide the content of the library until someone enters their email address.

10. Update Your Popular Posts

By now you can tell that Kate’s a very smart lady. She knew that updating her popular blog posts would result in even more email subscribers.

First, go into Google Analytics (or your OptinMonster analytics) and find your 10-20 most popular posts over the last 6+ months. These are the posts that get traffic all year round, not just when you first publish them.

Then, add content upgrades to those posts.

For even higher conversions, use a combination of slide-in boxes, inline forms, and 2-step optins in the post using page-level targeting to display the specific content upgrade offers on specific blog posts.

11. Set Up a Recurring Sharing Schedule

Do you promote your posts on social media after you publish them? What happens after that?

Kate not only promoted her posts once but over and over again to get more email subscribers.

To do this, she used some of these awesome social media tools to set up a recurring sharing schedule. This way, her blog posts with their optin offers would be shared with social media at least 2-3 times per week on Facebook and Twitter.

Kate uploaded at least 2-3 different versions of each post to share, mixing up the image, heading, and post description.

12. Link Guest Posts to Your Optins

Last, Kate used guest posting to drive additional traffic to her lead magnets.

The key that she found was to link to her optin form from the guest post, either in the byline or in the actual body of the post.

Also, make sure to avoid these 6 guest blogging mistakes that could cost you thousands of subscribers.

That’s it! You’ve now seen 3 case studies with 12 list building strategies to grow your list to 100,000 subscribers in 5 months.

Now it’s your turn. We recommend starting by following the strategies from Case Study #1 to optimize your blog posts with multiple types of optin forms. You should also add an exit-intent popup to all of the pages on your website because this will boost your optins by an additional 2-4% right off the bat.

From there, you can use the strategies in the other two case studies to double, or even triple, your results.

Enjoyed this guide? You may also want to check out 25 Proven Strategies to Increase Your Blog’s Traffic by 1064%.