Have you ever wanted a bigger one?

Woah woah easy, I’m just talking about your email list!

If money’s in the list, are you putting enough effort in growing your email list? Or are you even putting efforts into it at all? Not having an email list and growing is THE thing successful bloggers regret not doing when they started. Even Tim Ferriss admitted being guilty of this as well.

I already hear you say “but what if I don’t have that much traffic?”, read on because I have a few options for you!

Let’s get to it, but first, let’s watch a Gif about how your email list will look after you read this article!

email list


Tools of the Trade

So how do you collect email addresses? One of the best ways to do it is on your own website. If you’re like me, you don’t want to have to code something but would rather like a reliable, easy-to-use tool.

On this website, I use the Bloom Plugin for WordPress that allows me to create most of the email forms & pop-ups I describe in this article. It plugs & syncs directly with MailChimp which saves me a lot of time!

When it comes to content upgrades, I use a WordPress plugin called Content Upgrades Pro. This great plugin allows you to ask for a visitor’s email in exchange for an exclusive downloadable content.

By now you must know that I use MailChimp for everything email-related and I couldn’t live without it.


Which & How to Use

With so many options to chose from and the huge difference between them, it’s easy to understand why so many digital marketers mess it up.

In an attempt to help you gauge how many and how to use those email address collectors, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Put yourself in a first-time and frequent visitor’s shoes
  • Don’t use all of them
  • Make sure to find the good mix between effectiveness and annoyingness (cool word)
  • Always make sure your offer something of value in exchange for email
  • If you want to personalize your emails, ask for the first name and/or company name


As in everything, make sure you A/B test your messages and optimize for conversion at all times!

Now let’s jump into the 10 ways to collect email addresses by decreasing level of intrusiveness (often correlated with effectiveness)

On your Website

1. Welcome Mat

A welcome mat is a full-screen pop-up that covers your screen entirely asking for your email. 

Welcome mat

Even if effective, it’s very intrusive as it takes your whole screen when you land on a specific page blocking you from accessing the content.

Even if I’ve used this kind of email address collection method in the past, I don’t recommend it as the impression it leaves on your visitors won’t necessarily benefit you in the long run.

2. Pop-ups

In my opinion, pop-ups are a better and less-intrusive alternative to welcome mats that still convert pretty well. Also, you have a lot more customization options with pop-ups as email collection tool.

If you use a powerful tool like Bloom you will be able to use different triggers for your pop-ups. Usually, you will have the option to play with pop-up types like:

  • On landing
  • Exit intent (knows when you’re about to exit a page)
  • After clicking on a button
  • After x% of page scrolled
  • After x seconds


With other tools like Opt-in monster you can even have 2-screen popups like Olivier Lambert does. In this case, you present the visitor with a question and 2 options: one “yes” and another one you won’t click because it’s dumb and then ask for the email. This uses a psychological principle that is getting someone to say “yes-yes” before asking for anything to make sure they answer “yes” to the next question, smart stuff!

Here is how mine looks like at the moment:



3. Inline forms

Inline forms are non-intrusive ways to ask visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. They can be located directly inside your content, at the bottom of your content (how I use them at the moment). Close cousins of inline forms are sidebar forms which have the advantage to be visible at all times.

You can also put more than one per page or blog post, which is nice!

An real online form looks like this:


4. Content Upgrades

Another way to collect email addresses is to offer some exclusive (non-available elsewhere) content in exchange for the visitor’s email address.

content upgrades explained

This is one of the single most powerful way to collect blog readers email addresses. But it has to be done in a natural way.

Some digital marketing experts have seen great results when using this strategies:

  • Brian Dean boosted his overall website conversion by 185% using content upgrades
  • Michael Hyatt has mentioned he gets 59,2% email conversion for some article

To do this, I use a WordPress plugin called Content Upgrades Pro that does the job perfectly!


What if I don’t have enough traffic to convert?

If you have less traffic to your website don’t worry, the pirate I am has a handful of ways to help you grow your email list!

While one of your goals might be to grow your website’s traffic, it takes a lot of time to get there, and I’ve been there! Here is how to kickstart you email list growth without traffic.

5. In Person

If you’re serious about your blog or company, you will be talking about (pitching) it all the time. If you think you’ve done a good job and that person you’re talking to might be interested, why not offer him/her to join your email list on the spot?

Luckily for us, MailChimp has a handy mobile app that allows you to add subscribers wherever you are!

Mailchimp app collect email

Just like this!


6. Survey

This is something you’re going to learn more about soon as I will try it in the following weeks!

The idea is to conduct a survey about your industry and ask respondents for their email address to send them the results as well as output content of this survey!

Two main pros of doing it:

  • You will get blog post ideas and a clearer view of what your subscribers (and new ones) want
  • You will get their email address and can add them to your email drip workflow


7. Contest

Another great way of collecting email addresses if you have no traffic is by doing a contest. In the registration page, you will be able to ask your participants to opt-in to your newsletter. In my experience, over 25% of participants will opt-in to your email list if done properly.

Here is how I’ve done it for the YP Grocery launch contest:


Read my article on viral contests If you want more info on how to run a contest while collecting email addresses!

Ps: the survey I’ll also be doing is a contest 🙂


8. Reach out and Mail Merge

Sometimes (if not all the time) you have to roll up your sleeves and hustle to get where you want. Somewhere this fall I had an email list of about 50 friends and relative and wanted to make it bigger.

To do so, I sent Facebook messages to nearly all my Facebook friends interested in digital marketing to ask them if they’d like to receive my newsletter. Boom, I had 100 more opt-ins!

Soon after that, I used a Mail Merge to reach out to most of my digital marketing LinkedIn connexions and ask them if they’d like to join my email list. Boom, I had a 400+ members email list!

mail merge template

Don’t hesitate to read my piece on Mail Merge if you’d like to learn more!


9. Advertising

If you can afford it, a little bit of advertising could do wonders for your email list. I’m not suggesting blindly sending people to your homepage in the hope that they will subscribe.

Rather than that, offer them something (like a free ebook) and when they click, send them to a landing page with only one option to get it: leave their email address!

Haven’t tried yet but I will soon as I have heard promising results about that approach!


10. Guest posts & republishing

If you don’t have traffic, why not write or republish articles on a website that do have traffic?

You can do so by either writing guest posts on successful blogs or republish your blog posts and send your readers back to your blog if they want to subscribe!

On medium, here’s the approach I’ve taken is adding an image of what my opt-in looks like and linking to my subscribe landing page, Ahoy pirates!

Oh and by the way, if you want do write guest blogs for my blog, here is how to proceed!.


There are many ways to add subscribers to your ever-growing email list. On your website, some are better than others, and all have a degree of intrusiveness that needs to be considered.

If you don’t have that much traffic, I’ve offered many proven ways to collect email addresses without any traffic. Here is what we’ve seen:

  1. Welcome Mats
  2. The different types and settings of pop-ups
  3. Inline forms like the one just below
  4. Locked content (PDFs, Ebooks, and the likes)
  5. In-person ways of gathering emails
  6. Survey as an email collector
  7. Contest are a very effective way to gather emails as well
  8. Reaching out to your network via Facebook & Mail Merges
  9. Advertising to landing pages & locked content
  10. User other blog’s traffic to grow your list!

Any email collection tools or tips your recommend? Any suggestions on what I use? Hit me up on Twitter or in the comments!

bagan blog

Hack Life, Hack Growth, Hack Travel : Become a Digital Nomad

Join 1000s of smart people who get a head start.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Tu as fait le bon choix !

Tu as fait le bon choix !

Dès ton inscription, tu accèderas à tous les guides, checklists et ressources pour devenir nomade digital qui ne sont pas présents sur ce blog.

Bravo, tu es inscrit!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This