7 Overlooked Tips & Strategies For Growing Your Email List From Zero To 35k In One Year

By Michal Leszczynski November 2, 2021

Are your sales slow?

Perhaps, social media ads still aren’t bringing much traffic?

Or you’ve tried email marketing, but your list is not growing?

Did you know that email generates 4,200% ROI?

Or, to put it in a cash value – $42 for every $1 spent?

Growing your email list from zero to nearly 35k subscribers is no easy feat – especially if you’re trying to grow it in under a year.

It requires creativity, consistency, and powerful insights into doing it right from the start.

Since you’re already full of ideas and disciplined, we’ll be equipping you with the best email marketing insights used by the top email marketers.

In this guide, we’ll cover these topics:

  • Are you an expert sharing expertise or someone who shares their personal journey?
  • How to leverage other people’s audiences to build your own?
  • How to be different?
  • How to have a growth mindset?
  • What ideas to steal ideas from social media influencers?
  • How to automate your way to success?
  • How to develop an AI-driven hyper-personalized strategy + the importance of customer experience?

Let’s begin!

1. Are You An Expert Sharing Expertise Or Someone Who Shares Their Personal Journey?

The perfect start for building an extensive email list is a newsletter.

If you can’t decide what the content should be, ask yourself two simple questions:

Am I an expert in something?

Could my personal journey inspire others?

Once you have the answer, there are automation methods to help you distribute the content.

Regardless of your business (retailer, artist, agency owner, etc.), newsletter software is designed to help you create highly convertible newsletters.

Investing your time or funds into high-quality, relatable, and engaging content for the newsletter combined with pre-designed automations will bring you subscribers, traffic, and engagement.

This will further help you collect email addresses to promote different products.

To learn from the best, here are two bright star examples in newsletter marketing.

Contrarian thinking – versatile topics under one roof

Codie Sanches created this newsletter as a mixture of lifestyle, business, and entrepreneurial topics.

But that’s not all. She also uses her newsletter for self-expression by writing as she speaks.

She believes that language and tone unique to you are relatable to more people than perfect academic articles.

Finimize – personal finances advisory

Everyone has to deal with finances, either personal or business.

That’s why having a newsletter that will feature tips and tricks on how to deal with these is both educational and valuable to all.

This brings us back to the essence of a successful newsletter:

  • Valuable or educational high-quality content is more likely to get signups.
  • Publishing is up to you; weekly, daily, monthly – just be consistent.
  • Social media are good channels to promote newsletters.

More details on social media and consistency are in chapter 5 ⇩

2. How To Leverage Other People’s Audiences To Build Your Own?

Helping other entrepreneurs with email list building is a form of cross-promotion that should leverage both (yours and theirs) audiences without additional investment.

If we refer to a newsletter, you can promote someone else’s article and ask for the same favor in return.

Similar goes for blog posts. If you own a website or any other available channels (social media, YouTube, podcast, Twitter, etc.), you can publish someone else’s articles and vice versa.

In addition to cross-promotion, there are two bulletproof ways to do leverage audiences:

  • Influencer marketing – not only is influencer marketing thriving still, but there are also huge brands solely built using it, for example, Gymshark.
  • Affiliate marketing –  this type of marketing is booming. It is profitable for businesses and individuals. Many have ensured passive income for sharing affiliate links.

Social media channels, hosting, or participating in podcasts could also help you grow the list.

3. How To Be Different?

Hyper-personalization of messages requires a lot of data.

This goes beyond knowing your receiver’s name and residence.

You can’t do it alone! In this case, you need a partner, a marketing platform based on AI machine learning to provide this data.

Sounds expensive, but in reality, it is not.

Marketing platforms are switching to AI to elevate user and customer experience, increase delivery and open rates, and of course, sell more products.

AI-driven data includes trackers for mouse clicks, scrolling, time spent on your pages (this will help you send messages when a person is most likely to see them, for example, 5 PM), products viewed, etc.

Here’s how hyper-personalization looks in practice:

Very, an online store, not only included the person’s name, but they used weather forecasts in the targeted region to recommend the product.

Sounds easy enough?

Well, Very holds thousands of products, including clothes, home appliances, toys, gardening equipment, etc.

So how does Very know that Nicky needs a jacket?

They use advanced segmentation.

Let’s say Ana visited your website to look at the fall collection.

Your signup form pops up, and you offer 20% off the first purchase for an exchange of email address.

If your platform features advanced segmentation, you can start the trackers (AI trackers) to collect data on time spent on a website, all the jackets she viewed, her location/time zone, her desired size, and color, the length of jackets she selected, waterproof or windproof, sporty elegant.

Further, you can better understand her preferences and recommend specific products that she would love, opposed to, let’s say, skirts.

Hyper-personalization helps you to go the extra mile to show your subscribers and customers that you care and know them.

Being different in a digital world sometimes means being an exceptional service or product provider.

4. How To Have A Growth Mindset?

When we feel overwhelmed, we tend to focus on the things that didn’t work.

We also feel all alone because we forget that there are others who experience down foals and are willing to share their experiences in problem-solving.

Being inspired by successful businesses and people in your niche is time well spent.

Luckily there are communities and groups to help you keep your head high when things get knotty.

Join Entrepreneur on Facebook. You will find helpful tips, success stories, and a community that can answer your questions. 

Other great groups are My First Million – Startups, Investing & Side Hustles, The Hustle, and Indie Hackers.

Admins and members share inspirational stories, share high-quality content on independent entrepreneurship and hassling.

They are very responsive to questions, but the best thing about these groups is that you will hear opinions on the subjects from people worldwide.

Next to joining the communities, there are also actionable tips that might be useful for improving the growth mindset:

  • Take a breather – it’s ok to slow down at times to reflect on things that work and didn’t work.
  • Remember the main goal – staying focused on the goal can help you overcome minor obstacles.
  • Replace if with when – can you hear the difference between: If my list grows to 35k subscribers and when my list grows to 35k subscribers? Just by replacing one word, things change from doubt to hope.
  • Ask others how they feel about things – you never know where ideas will find you. A simple conversation about dissatisfactory service in the supermarket can give you an idea of how to improve your customer care.

Having a growth mindset is looking at the future, being passionate about progress, being open-minded, and always learning.

After all, reading this article shows your willingness to learn something new.

5. What Ideas To Steal From Social Media Influencers?

Being an influencer is a full-time job.

But not to worry, there are things you can steal from them to speed up list building with simple repurposing of content you already use in newsletters and emails.

Note: marketing platforms feature direct social posting, so already created content can be used as posts for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Some even feature smartphone apps for social ads creation.

But before we get into content repurposing, let’s quickly touch base regarding social posting in general.

  • Posting schedule –daily, weekly, or monthly-you decide, but once you do, stick with it. This is important for the audiences; they will expect the content from you. But also, app engines. Frequent posting is better for indexing posts which means more exposure to app users.
  • Engagement with the audience –answering to comments will increase engagement. Creating polls is a great way to learn what your audience prefers, so you can adjust your content.
  • Use of emojis and gifs –humor is always a good thing. It also makes you more human. Audiences respond well to relatable content.
  • Giveaways – everyone loves presents, so why not create a giveaway contest?

And now, let’s talk about repurposing content.

If you want to post your newsletter content on social apps, do the following:

  • To post on Facebook, shorten the content and keep the most actionable part. The good thing about Facebook is that you can include links and lead audiences to core products.
  • To post on Instagram, use the image you already have and post the content in the description box. Don’t forget the hashtags. Instagram is not a good place for linking content, but it’s good for brand awareness.
  • To post on Twitter, use pillar or enticing shorter content in the main tab and post the rest of the article in the comment section. Again, don’t forget the tags.

Or, you can use the same content as Morning Brew, a daily newsletter about world news does.

Here is their Instagram post:

And here is their Facebook post:

6. How To Automate Your Way To Success?

Automation of processes necessary to grow your list should include:

  • Email automation
  • Marketing automation
  • Conversion funnels

These are at the same time indicators of what to look for in a platform before purchasing a plan.

Note: most email marketing platforms feature free trials or plans, so testing them all would be quite straightforward. However, this might slow down the progress in building your list, and transition to different platforms is not always free, especially if you have a list larger than 1000 subscribers.

What email automation features to look for in a platform:

  • Pre-designed templates – contemporary templates for emails and newsletters are made with conversions in mind. The number of pictures and their placement and text boxes align with desktop and mobile phone users, so if you are using a template, make sure you don’t change the original layout.
  • Intuitive email creator – if you decide to start from scratch, drag and drop editor and pre-designed email pathways act like templates.

They keep you organized and are pre-tested for multi-devices, so all left to do is place your images and high-quality content and hit send.

  • Photo editor and integrations with image galleries – when you exponentially grow your list, you’ll have more tasks daily. Not only are you going to send newsletters, but you will also have to start nurturing existing subscribers. Image galleries available from the dashboard will eliminate the extra steps such as finding a free gallery, downloading images, and then uploading them to your platform.
  • A/B testing – preferably, a platform will feature text, headline, and image testing. A/B testing will show you which of the emails you created have better open rates.

What marketing automation features to look for in a platform:

  • Workflow editor or a customer journey map – these are pre-built automation designed to help you navigate through steps taken toward nurturing your audiences. This includes assigning tags, autoresponder messages, time optimization, and abandoned carts messages. 

Conversion funnels features to look for in a platform

To grow your list fast, you will need:

  • Lead magnet funnel
  • Sales funnel

Before we get into details, let’s look at a complete sales funnel example:

As you can see, a funnel is basically a pre-built task manager that helps you convert visitors into subscribers and eventually paying customers.

The lead magnet funnel allows you to run ads to increase traffic. The same goes for landing pages.

Simultaneously you can include popup and signup forms to your landing pages and website to get the leads.

When email addresses are collected, you can start sending automated welcoming emails.

Sales funnels can be automated for e-stores, websites, and landing pages. You can sell products, services, or subscriptions.

Note: make sure your platform of choice integrates with stores. If you still don’t have a website, no biggie, down the road, you can create one – some platforms feature free website builders.

Now that we covered integrations, the automating sales funnels part is relatively straightforward.

You will include selling channels such as pages or sites.

Then you can decide on payment processes.

And then, based on collected data (product viewed, product purchased), you can send automated messages, either nurturing with product recommendations for abandoned carts or post-purchase messages.

7. How To Develop An AI-driven Hyper-personalized Strategy + the importance of customer experience?

It is time to talk about the strategy that will help you nurture existing contacts and precisely target leads.

  • Use qualitative data to nurture subscribers – this data includes products viewed, purchased products, and time spent reading emails, including reviews.

Reviews are your golden ticket in building trust with your brand.

To motivate subscribers to comment and rate your product and services, provide surveys or questionnaires.

  • Smart segmentation – the more groups you create, the better tags you can assign to individual subscribers.

For example, segmenting subscribers into groups such as; females, age 25-35 is still not detailed enough.

However, suppose you additionally segment the same group by, for example, the number of children, pets, favorite travel destinations, etc.. In that case, you can now create relatable and interactive messages to increase open rates.

There are always two sides to growing your list; technical and human.

Never forget that the human side is a priority.

Being tech-savvy without genuine care for each individual subscriber or customer won’t get you far.

Learning from Amazon, customer experience is their No 1 priority. Jeff Bezos started in his garage; he was selling books.

All big companies weren’t built in a day, but their founders had visions and passion.

Their success wouldn’t be possible without customers.

Top-notch customer experience starts with the first interaction with your brand.

If your first message brings value to their lives, they will likely open the next one.

Welcoming messages have the highest open rates, so welcome them with a heartwarming message and, if possible, a little thank you gift (downloadable files, discounts, special offers, etc.)

Ask for their opinion as a follow-up message.

Let’s say that you featured a free e-book in your welcoming email. The follow-up message could be an inquiry about their impressions regarding the book.

Be available to customers and subscribers on social media but also chat boxes on the website.

If you are selling clothes, the chatbox could be more than just do you have a question?

You could provide sizes in inches and centimeters or demonstrate how to measure the body for the perfect fit.

Special occasions, birthdays, and holidays are perfect opportunities to congratulate and make each subscriber feel special.

The more time you spend focused on customer experience, the faster your list grows, the faster you build trust, and, overall, make more sales.

Now you know why you need automation. It saves the precious time that can be used for exceptional customer care.

A quick overview and takeaways:

  • If you are just starting with the newsletter and are reluctant to share expertise, start with sharing your personal entrepreneurial journey.
  • Help others grow and ask for help to grow your own business.
  • Use AI tools for hyper-personalized content.
  • Join communities to get inspiration and learn new things.
  • Set a schedule and post regularly on social media.
  • Select an email marketing platform that features automation, is AI-driven, and will be a good business partner down the road.
  • Customer experience first, technicalities second.

This year will be filled with new achievements, new people, and hard work. Staying focused is the key to ROI, growth, and profits.

Have you tried any of the commonly overlooked tips so far?

How do you build your list?

Let us know in the comments.

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Michal Leszczynski

Michal Leszczynski is immersed in developing, implementing, and coordinating all manner of content marketing projects as the Head of Content Marketing and Partnerships at GetResponse. He has 9-plus years of expertise in online marketing with a Master of Science Degree in Strategic Marketing and Consulting from the University of Birmingham (UK).


  1. Hi Michal,

    It was a very informational article! Email marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing and your article share a lot of tips that will help several marketers make more money. All the tips you shared sounds amazing. I do use some of them in my campaigns, but I really looking forward to trying the rest of them very soon. I loved the section where you shared tips about how to be different. I will definitely be checking this one out!

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