5 Ninja Hacks To Get Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers

12 Oct 2016
Alan Martin

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Do you want to build an email list but don’t know where to start?

Have you tried other list building techniques techniques but not had much success?

Building an email list is getting harder because everyone else is doing it too, so the bar is constantly being raised. This means that, as marketers, we need to think outside the box, when it comes to techniques to attract new email subscribers.

In the early days of the web it was enough to simply add a ‘subscribe to our newsletter’ button to your website, then when everyone else was doing that you needed to offer a free E-book or report. Now everyone is dong that too, so you need to go one step further and think of creative ways to stand out.

In this article I’ll be sharing 5 ninja hacks that you can use right now to help you reach your first 1,000 email subscribers. If you already have over 1,000 subscribers and are not using these techniques, you can use these hacks to help you get to the next level.

5 Ninja Hacks

In other articles I’ve written extensively about the importance of email marketing as a business growth strategy. I’m not going to go into that again here, so if you want to read more on this topic, I’d recommend you check out ‘How to Grow Your Email List with Social Media‘ and ‘Getting Started with Email Marketing: From Fans to Customers‘.

One of the most common methods of building an email list is by creating a valuable free Give-Away (AKA a Lead Magnet), that you offer in exchange for an email opt-in. In the UK you are also required to ensure that you inform subscribers that they are signing up to receive future emails from you, so don’t be tempted to miss that bit out.

Whilst that is still a great strategy to follow, especially in combination with a highly targeted Facebook ads campaign, in this article I’m going to be focusing on some less obvious (well, some of them anyway) tactics that you can use to build your list of email subscribers.

Ready, to jump in? Okay, let’s go…

1. Content Upgrades

A Content Upgrade is very similar to a Lead Magnet except it’s a mini version, and integral to the content being shared. Lead Magnets are often stand-alone pieces of content, whereas with Content Upgrades, the give-away adds value to a specific piece of content.

Here’s how it works! For your most popular blog articles, think about additional resources that you could create to supplement the content topic. Think check-lists, worksheets, how-to videos, scripts, swipe-files etc.

You could even use a Content Upgrade to encourage people to sign up for a challenge e.g. “Get your First 100 Email Subscribers in 24hrs” or a short email course, at the same time as they are opting into your list.

Here’s an example of this technique in action in this article by Digital Marketer (scroll down to the ‘Broadcasting on LinkedIn’ section to see the downloadable ’10 Minute Social Media Audit’) and in this article from Hootsuite (see image below). As you can see, many Content Upgrades are positioned within the actual content body, rather than at the end, or as an advert in the side-bar.

Content Upgrade

Ninja Tip!!

You can link the text or an image in the content to another page on or off your website for the opt-in, however if you use a LeadBox by LeadPages (affiliate link) this will open the opt-in box within the same window, allowing you to get the opt-in without diverting people away from the content they are reading.

Remember, you can also mention your Content Upgrade more than once within your blog posts. Try phrasing the copy slightly differently or use a different visual stimulus for the Call-To-Action. On the Chat Marketing blog we typically use a combination of the ‘Call Out Box’ (as seen above) and in-line text links. You can see this technique in action here!

To find out which of your blog articles are the most popular, log into your Google Analytics account and click on the ‘Behaviour’ tab, then select ‘Site Content’. The two pages that will likely be of most interest to you are ‘All Pages’, this will show you the most popular content on your website, and ‘Landing Pages’, which will tell you which pages are being favoured by the search engines.

2. Offline Lead Magnets

Whilst Lead Magnets are normally associated with online marketing, they can be incredibly powerful when taken offline. To illustrate this, let me share a brief story with you!

From time-to-time I am asked to give short talks to various business groups and associations about social media related topics. Anyway, as part of my talk I would normally direct people to where they could sign up for my ‘101 Ninja Facebook Tips’ E-book online.

Out of a group of say 30 people, how many people do you think would actually go to the trouble of downloading the E-book?


About 2  actually!

Contrast this decidedly non-impressive result with when I started to use an off-line Lead Magnet (this was an opt-in form that I would print off in advance and put on the chairs). How many do you think I would get now?

I’ll tell you..

About 28!!

So a complete 180 degree turn-around! Instead of a tiny percentage of the audience, I was now able to get the vast majority of people to sign up for exactly the same thing, only I made it easy for them to do so.

What can you do to make it easy for people to sign up? Well, you could go old-school like I described above or if you get asked to give these kind of talks regularly, LeadPages in their Pro Account have a service called LeadDigits (sorry, this article was not meant to turn into an advert for LeadPages, but I think it is an amazing tool) where you give the audience a number to text and the opt-in is done via SMS.

Offline Lead Magnet

3. Testimonials

What products or services have you bought recently that you were delighted with, that cater to your target audience?

The idea with this ninja hack is that you email the person or company with a short testimonial about your experience using their product or service and the results that you achieved.

Everyone loves receiving this kind of email and will potentially reach out to you to ask if they could share your testimonial publicly. This is a great way to be featured on some high-profile websites and potentially get mentioned in blog posts or on webinars.

Where your testimonial is featured on a website or blog, it is highly likely that there will be a link out to your website. Make sure you have a way of capturing leads once they get there e.g. by using a Lead Magnet on your Home Page.

4. Guest Posts & Podcast Interviews

The strategy here is to identify blogs or podcasts that share your target audience. Through an influencer outreach strategy, you are aiming to be asked to write a guest post to be featured on their blog. This should be an extremely valuable piece of original content which would appeal to the readers of the blog.

At the end of the article or interview you can link out to additional resources (see ‘content upgrades’ above) and/or link to your website within the short bio information.

If you are being interviewed on a podcast, you can direct listeners to where they can obtain additional resources. It is advisable to check this is okay with the podcast host, prior to the interview.

5. Email Signatures

How many emails do you and your team (assuming you are working with others that is) send each day?

Each one of these is an opportunity to attract subscribers on autopilot. The best way to do this is by incorporating your Lead Magnet into your email signature. I use WiseStamp for this, when I’m sending out my day-to-day emails through MacMail.


Okay, so you have just read about 5 ninja hacks to get your first 1,000 subscribers. I hope these provide you with some inspiration, but please leave a comment below and let me know what lesser-known techniques you have tried, that brought you new email subscribers.

Other Articles You Might Like

Getting Started with Email Marketing: From Fans to Customers

How to Grow Your Email List With Social Media

Infusionsoft vs ConvertKit: Why We Switched

The Complete Guide to Email Marketing (Sponsored)

Want to Learn More About Email Marketing?

As LeadPages affiliates, we are delighted to have access to some awesome free training that we can make available to our readers. Click HERE to get hold of the LeadPages Email List Building System training course and let me know what you think in the comments below.

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