You probably already know the many buzzwords of online marketing: “social media,” “display advertising,” “search engine optimization,” “remarketing,” “video marketing,” “content marketing” – the list goes on.

We tend to forget how email marketing is the top performing marketing channel across all industries. Recent analyses prove that email is 40 times more efficient at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter while email marketing tends to fall into the background. Despite that, I’ve noticed a tendency to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on social media, where the ROI is minimal compared to sending out emails. And don’t tell me you haven’t done that too.

Large, medium-sized and small businesses all work differently, but they have one thing in common:

They don’t know how to grow their email list effectively.

In this post, I’ll dive into the old online marketing mantra: “the money is in the list.”

In this modern day and age, where social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a source of constant stimulation, ecommerce and websites are still being shut down, despite the visitor’s intention to investigate a potential purchase.

Now, we don’t want that to happen to your site, so here’s what we can do.

With personalized and targeted email marketing, you can re-engage your lost customers and stay top-of-mind. But first, you need to convert your website visitors into email leads which is what I’ll be teaching you in this post.

Want More List Building Strategies?

Growing your email list is TOUGH. To help, we’ve put together a list building toolkit, including 100+ list building strategies (ranked), an email marketing ROI calculator to measure your campaigns’ effectiveness, plus a few other goodies (updated once a month).

Free Downloadable Bonus
Get access to our free list building toolkit and turbocharge your email list today (include resources not included in the blog post).

What is a relevant email lead?

Today, email marketing is not about having a gigantic email list. It is more about having relevant recipients who have been segmented based on the parameters that make sense for your business. If you are selling clothes online, your list should be segmented into women, men, and children as a minimum.

You could also create behaviour-driven segments influenced by how users interact with your brand throughout their customer experience, from clicks in your emails to abandoned carts in your eCommerce site.

A great tool for easily enabling segments if you don’t have the time or development resources to implement tracking yourself is Lytics.

Lytics is a data hub, which means that it aggregates data from all of your connected applications and helps you to create segments using engagement as a parameter. According to DMA, marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.


It is super important to build your email list with potential buyers who have already shown interest in your brand, your service or your products and not purchase lists or leads who have not shown a direct interest in your business. Make sure your new email leads are coming directly from your own website, blog or other sites which have a connection to your brand.

How do you turn your visitors into email leads?

So, the one million dollar question is: how do I build an email list packed with relevant leads?

Here’s how.

1. Twitter Lead Generation Cards

Advertising on Twitter is just like tightrope walking: unfortunately you often end up losing balance. There are tons of different factors to take into consideration if you want to be successful with Lead Cards on Twitter.

First, it is essential to have a call-to-action and a design that will make your tweet stand out from the billions of other tweets.

How do you stand out?

I recommend you start by working towards remarketing with your Twitter advertising. After this, you can expand with keywords and interest based advertising. Finally, you must remember to measure ROI on your new sign-ups, which can by done by segmenting based on where your leads are coming from. Otherwise, you will never know whether your main source of leads is your site, Twitter, or another source.


2. Email Signature

No matter how many employees you have, they should all be promoting your newsletter in their email signatures. The receivers of all these emails are all potential leads ready to be reeled in.

Regardless of whether you are doing B2B or B2C sales, you have probably experienced that calls-to-action are simple options that allow  people to sign up for your mailing list right from your employees’ email signatures. If you are a B2B company, you will write hundreds of emails daily just to potential customers alone!

Imagine this:

You send out 50 emails a day (maybe even more) plus all the emails your colleagues send out. If you’re not trying to convert these people, you’re letting hundreds – if not thousands – of potential leads getting away.

If you are able to create a micro-conversion simply by adding a few lines of text, a sharp call-to-action and something visual in your email signature, it will be worth the hassle! A micro-conversion will typically be when a visitor takes an action such as signing up for your newsletter, downloading a catalog or other similar engagement.

When your visitor actively shows an interest, while not necessarily earning you any money, you are establishing a closer connection between the customer and your brand – and that is where you can create a profit.

If you want to turn your email signature into a lead machine, you should take a look at Wisestamp, which makes it easier for you to add elements to email signatures such as promoting a newsletter or event, scheduling a meeting, your latest tweets, and much more.


3. Encourage subscribers to forward

This is the absolute hardest way to build your email list. You must first be creating as much value as possible to your current subscribers for them to forward your newsletter without hesitating. If you have not implemented the option to forward easily your newsletters yet, now is the time to do it, though! Recipients of those forwards are more likely to subscribe themselves because they got a recommendation from someone they trust. Campaign Monitor has made an excellent

But worry not! I’m here to help.If you have not implemented the option to forward easily your newsletters yet, now is the time to do it, though! Recipients of those forwards are more likely to subscribe themselves because they got a recommendation from someone they trust. Campaign Monitor has made an excellent

If you have not implemented a forwarding option in your newsletters yet, now is the time to do it! Recipients of those forwards are more likely to subscribe themselves because they got a recommendation from someone they trust.

4. Content upgrade

If you own a blog, where you regularly post quality content that creates value for your visitors, you should definitely consider using the content upgrade to convert your visitors.

A content upgrade is typically based on the precondition of getting new email subscribers. Content upgrades are normally an bonus relating to the content of the blog post. Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko, uses content upgrades in nearly every single blog post, where the readers, in this case, can download a step-by-step guide.

content upgrade

If you use confirmed opt-in in connection to your content upgrade you must consider letting your subscribers know that they will have to confirm their subscription in order to receive additional content.

It is essential for you to re-think your confirmation email strategy in order to avoid losing precious sign-ups. For example, perhaps consider limiting the amount of text. No one wants to read a novel about why they have to confirm their subscription. Remember to use the same call-to-action that triggered them to opt-in to begin with. In this example it would be:

Before you receive your free step-by-step checklist that will show you how to improve conversions using The Content Upgrade, you need to confirm your email right now.

A bonus tip: Get your development team to add a timer to your confirmation page, which can be triggered if the mail has not been confirmed within an hour. This is a great opportunity to insert a personal impression, writing something like “I am so sad…” giving them the possibility to confirm the email yet another time. I have seen examples, where 55-60% respond to this secondary opt-in reminder generating micro-conversions, which you would otherwise miss.

5. Create a free online tool

We know, it probably seems like an impossible task: you only have to create a tool that is relevant to your products, service, or brand. Perhaps your development department either does not exist or is fully booked six-months ahead, which means that your chances to develop a tool for your target group are pretty much zero.

If this is the case, you should take a look at Upwork, a tool that makes it cheap and easy to get started. First, though, you have to know what tool your targeted group needs.

If you are in the line of SEO, it would be a natural move to develop a tool that allows people to keep track of keyword ranking. Then, you have to add a description of how you want the tool to work in Upwork. It is essential for you to define the project from a-to-z just to ensure that people qualified for the job fully understand your idea.

I will recommend you to get rid of the cheapest ones – they promise you a finished tool within a week and an excellent price. It never ends well. Instead, invest a bit more money on the right person and extra time in defining the task accurately.


It is important for the tool to have relevance to your primary target group and their business. Decide how you are going to use the emails you collect through your new free tool beforehand, so you have a strategy prepared when the application launches. Creating your own app is an excellent way to gain your brand some attention while also solving a key problem or task for your target demographic.

6. Facebook followers

If you want to convert your social media followers into leads, there are plenty of ways to do this. On Facebook, for example, you can create an ad, thus making people aware of relevant content. The only thing they have to do to get your super cool and relevant content is to enter their name and email address.

But remember…

If you do choose to go with this option, it is important for you to install a conversion pixel, enabling you to spot the conversion rate of the Facebook ad. You can also do this in conjunction with Campaign Monitor’s Facebook application, where it is easy for you to add a subscribe form straight to your Facebook page. This is just yet another point of contact that gives your customers this opportunity to opt-in.


7. Partner up

I have previously mentioned how vital it is to generate leads directly from your target group as it can be a bit controversial to collect email leads through a third-party service. If you want to try this and be successful, it is important for you to stay in your own segment and target group. Spend time understanding your potential partner’s target group and current customers.

Besides that, you have to make sure both sides benefit – regardless of size differences. After this, you can agree on how you want to create value to the target group you have in common. For example, if you own an e-commerce store, it could be a good idea to offer a discount in collaboration with an external partner.

If you don’t have an online business but have published an e-book or made webinars, this is another opportunity for co-promotion. An example of partnership in the SaaS-business (Software as a Service) is the collaboration between Hubspot and Wistia.


8. Offline micro conversions and branding

This is probably the most simple of all! Let me tell you why…

If you already spend a lot of time on offline organizations, you can easily add micro-conversions into your strategy in the form of email subscriptions. Spend time hosting meetups, conferences, hackathons, learning nights, customer events, open houses etc. Litmus is a great example of companies taking advantages of opportunities like this, like they did with The Email Design Conference.


Aim for the real interests of your target group and think innovatively: how can you build up your brand and gain a number of micro-conversions through these interests? Everyone – large or small – can implement this in his or her business; however, if you are to succeed doing this form of marketing and micro-conversion, you must be consistent.

Does your sales staff attend trade fairs and conferences? Have them gather email leads through competitions, free material or discounts. Some of the most relevant leads you will ever collect are from potential customers at trade fairs.

9. Start a niche site

It is an underestimated trick to start a niche site which doesn’t necessarily reflect on your brand. Of course, the site must still be relevant to your primary target group’s needs and interests, despite being separate from your main product. For example, if you own a webshop selling bikes and accessories, you could start a niche site packed with video guides on how to fix a flat tire and execute cool bike tricks.

You can also collect leads through content upgrades on this site in tandem with your main site. Sidebar is a brilliant example of a niche site which sends out the top 5 design links being shared online despite the owner also running Patternify.


10. Sign up wall

This can be a very intimidating method that can seriously effect your sign-ups, but it does work for some business models..

Currently Gilt is operating with a signup wall, which forces you to either enter your email address or log in before you are able to even look at their products. Please note that the main difference between this and a pop-up is that there is no close button on a sign up wall. If you want to move on, you must log in or sign up.

Unless you are completely in control of key numbers and have set up an advanced split test measuring different parameters, we do not recommend this method. The signup wall is a very complex option that can do very well with the right business model, but for most of us, it just ends with an exceptionally high bounce rate.

11. Use slide-ins and pop-ups

Pop-ups and slide-ins are the most effective way to collect relevant email leads directly from your own site. You have the opportunity to convert visitors to emails, which you can then use to market your brand, products or services.

Unfortunately, pop-ups do not have the best online marketing reputation, simply because they have not been used correctly for a long time. This is why it is essential for your pop-ups and slide-ins to be built with the right targeting, ensuring they will be non-intrusive.


At Sleeknote, we recommend the form to be shown after 7 seconds. You do have the option to define this slide-in time yourself, and you can run an A/B split-test, showing what timing and position proves to be most effective for you and your target demographics

Pop-up – exit intent or timing
We’ve noticed that there are increasing amounts of companies using pop-ups as an incredibly effective lead generation tool. There are different options enabling you to customize the pop-up depending on temper, target group and business. That being said, there are definitely a few options that you should consider: exit intent is the talk of the town.  

Exit intent

Exit intent pop-ups allow you to display a message or opt-in when the visitor is going to leave your site. This functionality is already supported in Sleeknote, where you will be given the opportunity to either time the appearance of your pop-over or set it to exit intent.

Want More List Building Strategies?

Growing your email list is TOUGH. To help, we’ve put together a list building toolkit, including 100+ list building strategies (ranked), an email marketing ROI calculator to measure your campaigns’ effectiveness, plus a few other goodies (updated once a month).

Free Downloadable Bonus
Get access to our free list building toolkit and turbocharge your email list today (include resources not included in the blog post).

Emil Kristensen
Emil is the CMO and co-founder of Sleeknote. When he’s not busy with writing awesome content and building the Sleeknote brand, he spends his time reading and watching vlogs on YouTube (big fan Gary V). Fun fact: between the co-founders he is the fencing champ.

You might also like these...

  1. Great tips Emil, thanks for sharing.

    Split testing is extremely important and I think testing is something that many people/businesses had forgotten about for so long and now coming back to.

    My challenge is in content creation, coming up with new content and keeping myself motivated and on task. Maybe I need to think of a different niche 🙂

    Thanks again,

  2. Very useful article! If brands are looking out for long-term customers then this is a must read article.

    This perfectly describes how a brand can collect email database just by following simple techniques or ways. One of the main point made is to include the sign-up link in the Facebook short description, Twitter bio & even Google+ about section. I think we shouldn’t forget that one of the key aspect of marketing is Email Marketing. And with brand pages in place, one can easily collect email ids for further use.

  3. Thanks for this logical and detailed post, Emil – a real treasury which I shall keep for guidance.

  4. FANTASTIC post! Full of insights and actionable information. Also — the best, most meaningful and evocative description of “list building” I’ve ever seen.

    Well done!

  5. Great tips Emil! And thanks for the WiseStamp mention 😉

  6. Hi Emil, great stuff , thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  7. Great round up Emil. I would say it’s mainly depend on your product which email list growing strategy works better. For example, Facebook ads are very effective for E-commerce businesses. Earlier a lot focused on guest posting – I’ve seen a good ROI on it.

    Webinars are hands down far more effective than guest posting and you don’t need to slave away creating new content from scratch every time. Quite the opposite – you actually create one pillar presentation and refine and hone it over time, like a keynote speaker or a comedian with one killer set.

  8. FANTASTIC article! Full of great insights and actionable information. Also — the best, most meaningful and evocative description of “epic content” I’ve ever seen. The links to examples were a bonus.

    Well done!

  9. Let try it


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *