You Ask, I Answer_ How To Grow an Email List on a Small Budget

Jakub asks, “We have a small budget for marketing, barely more than a few dollars a month. How can we grow our email list?”

Great and very common question. Let’s address what doesn’t work: spamming people. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s walk down the channels available to you. If we think of our email marketing as a product – it is – then we’re really thinking about product marketing. Email is the alternate sale – can’t get someone to buy today? Get their permission to solicit them at a later date.

Given that, review the channels available to us:

  • Email (specifically, other people’s emails)
  • Search
  • Social
  • Referral
  • PPC
  • Display
  • Video
  • Audio

Watch the video for a rundown of each. The display ad service I recommend is StackAdapt.

Can’t see anything? Watch it on YouTube here.

Listen to the audio here:

Download the MP3 audio here.

Disclosure: mentions of StackAdapt are paid affiliate links, and my company, BrainTrust Insights, receives a small commission for referrals.

Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s you ask I answered Jacob asked. I

think it’s pronounced Jacob, we have a small budget for marketing barely more than a few dollars a month. How can we still grow our email list hope this is a great and very common question. First things first, let’s address what doesn’t work just spamming people that don’t do it that it is against the law in most places now and it will be really against the law after May 25 when GDP are takes a full effect and the you can start handing out massive penalties or just nilly soliciting to people who have not asked for it. So don’t do it now that that’s out of the way, let’s walk down the channels that are available to us as marketers email is the alternate sale. I spent four years working in the email marketing industry and it really is the alternate sales. You can’t get somebody to buy something from you today on whatever early on, then get their permission to solicit them at a later date through their email address also email is one of the few digital channels you own, as long as you pay your bills for your hosting service and you pay your bills for your email service that list is yours is not like Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or YouTube or whatever. Those are all rented platforms email is the list that you own for it and can use judiciously as much as you want. So how do we grow subscribers to an email list. They were really eight channels that you can use email

search social referral Pay Per Click display advertising video and audio so email.

It seems odd to have that listed when you’re trying to grow your list, but you can use other people’s emails you can do swaps, so if you know of somebody else who has an email

list an email newsletter, you can ask to contribute content, you can ask to do a co promotion of some kind. You can pay a small amount of money for access to a small list. Obviously, the bigger the list, the

bigger the budget but if as long as it’s the right list or the right audience, it’s it makes good sense. So working away into other people’s emails is is one option to search search marketing particularly organic search if your newsletter page and your blog content and all that stuff is not optimized for email do it. Oh. One other thing I forgot an email think put

your email newsletter in your signature of your email.

You’d be surprised how well that works

on search if you are not blogging. If you’re not creating content if you’re not attracting people to your owned media properties, you’re missing an opportunity to display essentially ads for your newsletter within your own content you see this in on my blog and stuff all over the place, trying to get you on the email list because I want to be able to reach out at a later date. So optimize your content do a lot of SEO, make sure that you know that’s essentially free traffic. Well, it’s not free, but it’s it’s not traffic at a hard dollar cost or hard currency cost. Number three, social media, make connections network participate in in online chats join groups and things but don’t harass people to to, you know, just sign up your email list provide value first and then once you’ve provided good amount of value to whatever group organization or community, you’re part of then you earn the right to ask for people to sign up for your newsletter, a very simple way to do this go on to different q&a forms like core and asked calm and just answers and and and contribute give gift of way Get known and make sure that in your profile and your bio and stuff. There is a link to your email list so do the same thing for your social media to if your Instagram bio and your Twitter bio and your Facebook bio don’t have a link to your email list and that’s a priority for your company, put it in there make sure that people can find their way back to the thing that you care about the most number four is referral traffic. This is public relations. This is outreach. This is byline content. Make sure again whenever you’re submitting content that you have in your little blurb at the end the wrong thing. It will sign up for the authors free email list every however often you’re going to send it so that you’re getting links to your subscription page. By the way, you need to have a really good subscription page but that’s a topic for a different time. If you are not sure where to start for referral traffic. The best place to go. It is help a reporter calm sign up for the three times a day email read through it and respond to

relevant inquiries where you have expertise and can contribute an answer to a journalist

number five. Pay Per Click marketing and number six display marketing for Pay Per Click marketing focus on you know obviously if you’re in the coffee industry, you know, coffee newsletter would be a good example of something that you would want to bid on but more importantly for these two platforms and really for paid social as well retargeting is absolutely essential. You need to be using the services like stack adapt

like Google AdWords retargeting Facebook retargeting and so on so forth and you specifically want to read target people

who have been to your website and possibly you may want to get as granular as people who have visited your subscription page but have not subscribed and that’s a good way to use if you got like 25 bucks a month or something like that you’d want to use the budget just war, though, that type of retargeting and not spend it on any other kind of broad advertising because those people are eminently qualified if they went to your subscription page and they forgot about it or whatever and didn’t subscribe remind them that you want them to do that. Two more channels video

is obviously a channel that you can use create valuable useful helpful videos then make sure you that you apply your newsletter in in the video and in the notes that go with the video so there’s a clickable link out and audio. If you have a podcast. It is having a newsletter call to action, your podcast is a logical intelligent thing to do if you have a little bit more budget, you know, when we say small budget. I’m talking like 50 bucks or 100 bucks or 75 euros a month. If you have more than that. And you may want to look at actual audio ads Spotify has a self serve ad platform now where you can I think it’s like 300 bucks a month us to to run ads platform. So there’s opportunities there as well.

But all these channels work best when you’re doing them together so you can’t just pick one. I mean, you can just pick one, but you’re going to get a multiplier effect by doing things like search and referral and social and blogging and ads and video and email together. The more that you can do these different channels and co promoting cross promote among them, the more impactful your marketing will be and the more likely it is you’ll get people to sign on to your email list. The last thing which is the most important thing is don’t email the email that you send out has to be valuable and has to be worth people’s time to open it, because otherwise. One thing that will happen is that people will sign up for your email read one email and then unsubscribe and then all of your efforts were were pointless right what you need to do is provide 80% of the email should be about value to the reader and then 20%, you can ask for something in return, but you want to really make sure that you’re providing value in the email so that a people don’t unsubscribe and be ideally people refer you to other people and say, Hey, sign up for this newsletter, it’s actually worth reading so many newsletters and so many email marketers really mess that last part up they do all this work to get the and then they burn the list down on the first send because it’s just one gigantic sales message there is a time and a place for promotional sales message, my colleague Gary van der Chuck calls it Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook you give value a lot. And then once every so often you ask for value in return. Don’t ask up front. It’s just like dating you don’t go straight to the marriage you you have a precursor of activities that that lead up to that. So that’s how you build your email list on a few dollars a month. There is no such thing as free right there will be a very low currency needs like the retargeting stuff, but there is no completely free. There is the investment of your time to if you’re spending 40 hours a week trying to do free marketing for your email marketing. That’s 40 hours. You could have been doing something else too. So keep that in mind. Great question. Jacob. Hey, as always, subscribe to the email newsletter in the links below or above depending on whether it’s on LinkedIn, it’s up here if it’s on YouTube. It’s down here but subscribe to the email list, please. And subscribe to the YouTube channel and I’ll talk to you soon. Take care.


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