The ability to grow and develop email lists is a critical part of the job description for digital marketers, irrespective of the complexity or sophistication of their marketing operations.

Email marketing offers all organisations a direct, efficient way to interact with consumers on a one-to-one basis. For organisations that have more developed capabilities, the email address is also a key tenet in the process of delivering personalised customer experiences.

Developing and maintaining a quality database of email addresses is an issue that has plagued marketers for years, with the issue routinely being selected by the majority of email marketers in our annual Econsultancy Email Census as one of the biggest barriers to effective email messaging.

So it was no surprise at our roundtable-based Digital Cream event in London that this topic, among many others, was discussed at length by email marketers seeking inspiration for their next campaigns. 

Five of these topics, also including keys to relevant engagement and understanding email’s place in the customer journey, were compiled to create the Email Marketing Trends Briefing, sponsored by Pure360, which is freely available to registered Econsultancy users.

Here is a brief overview of some of the methods marketers are using to grow and develop their email lists:

Low-value competitions

An age-old method that has been successful online and offline, providing a low-value incentive in exchange for an email address always has a good chance of gathering in email addresses.

From free socks and money off purchases for retailers to useful whitepapers and webinars in the B2B context, many organisations typically adopt this practice in some form or shape.

This sort of campaign is often used at the beginning of a programme to gain basic information from new subscribers and to re-engage existing subscribers.

But how can this be amplified? The Email Marketing Trends Briefing also proves a case study on how a brand added elements of virality to their email campaign, allowing them to gather 10,000 new subscribers, representing a 56% increase in list growth, as well as engaging with 6,000 existing customers.

Subscribe pop-ups

While it may be considered annoying and a UX faux pas, the pop-up encouraging users to subscribe has been successful in the eyes of some of the marketing professionals representing Britain’s biggest brands.

A leading UK publisher gave credit to this method for the majority of itslist growth and for the 15% of traffic that its collection of newsletters direct to the website.

This method also proved useful for understanding the interests of the user, information that was then used to refine the user experience. Depending on the type of article, the page was issued a variable via a hidden field, which gave an indication of the user’s interests. The marketer stated that forming newsletters based on these variables has significantly increased engagement and retention.

Embedded sign-up forms

A retailer for novelty decorations discussed that he wanted to do a better job of acquiring sign-ups from inbound traffic generated by search, so he opted to embed sign-up forms throughout the website.

While most websites have an unobtrusive sign-up form in the footer of each page, like this:

The reality is, not everyone makes it the bottom of the web page. At Econsultancy. If you are not a registered user, when you come to the site via the blog you probably see this:

So, even if the reader doesn’t read the whole blog post or scroll beyond the author’s bio, they have still been presented with the opportunity to sign-up.

To find out how email marketers are also tackling increasing engaging rates, automation triggers and email’s place in the customer journey, download the FREE Email Marketing Trends Briefing.


Bola Awoniyi

Published 19 May, 2015 by Bola Awoniyi @ Econsultancy

Bola Awoniyi is a Digital Consultant at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (3)


Dirk Jansen, Founder / CEO at Lead Online

Great article, thanks for sharing Bola.

Indeed competitions are a great way to grow databases but you need to be sure that the contest is seeded to a relevant audience, otherwise you'll grow your database but with people who have no interest / association to your brand. The contest platform we've developed is designed to leverage off our client's existing email database and is helping to grow their lists by 5%-12% per campaign.

By getting referrals from existing members and making it optional to join the quality of the database is preserved. The new members are converting at 11%-18% within 4 weeks.

Our model is performance based and all our clients are repeat customers with some including; LivingSocial, Expedia and BrandAlley.

Hope this helps and again thanks for a great article Bola.

over 3 years ago


Mark Bolitho, New Business Director - Ecommerce at more2

Hi Bola
Competition data is almost always worthless, very few (we've experienced 0%) will actually end up as customers.

over 3 years ago

George Cole

George Cole, Digital Marketing Manager at TN

I picked up a tip from Jon Loomer the Facebook pro - that you can gain well-qualified email subscribers via Facebook. If you build a Facebook custom web audience which includes all your website visitors, you can re-target them on Facebook with 2 ads; 1) join our email list and 2)Like our FB page. That way the people you're 'buying' in effect already know who you are and have had a look at your site, and an email sign up (+welcome programme) might be just what they're after. Its certainly working for us and we've been doing it since Jan 2015. #win!

over 3 years ago

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