8 Proven Ways to Get Your First 100 Email Subscribers
Starting from zero? Grow your email list to the morale-boosting 100 subscriber mark using these tried-and-tested strategies
Getting your first 100 email subscribers as a content creator is pivotal. We all start at zero.
Growing your prized list of email subscribers is the first significant milestone you reach on your journey to building a sustainable newsletter business. Before you reach the inflection point of 1,000 subscribers, you must get your first 100 email sign-ups.
Getting your first 100 email subscribers helps your list-building campaign gain traction and build momentum. It validates your strategies and assures you that you are on the right track to building a highly successful newsletter business.
This guide will give you eight proven strategies to get your initial 100 subscribers and more… fast!
1. Use a welcome gate on your website
Another simple yet effective way of getting your first 100 email subscribers is setting up a welcome gate on your website.
A welcome gate is a full-screen CTA that appears before first-time website visitors can access any content on your site. It's like a gate visitors must go through to read your content– hence its name. Since most people who visit a website never return, it’s vital to make the most of the first visit.
Welcome gates convert a significant 10% to 25% of visitors into email subscribers.
Below are a few best practices for creating high-converting welcome gates:
- Display it once - because welcome gates block access to content and cover the entire screen, they are annoying. As a standard practice, show it only once, and only to your first-time visitors. Showing it repeatedly may anger visitors who don’t want to subscribe.
- Don’t redirect users to another page - when a user clicks on a link, they expect to see the content they requested. Taking them to an entirely different page is bad for user experience and kills conversions. Plus, it’s bad for SEO, as Google penalizes such unscrupulous behavior.
- Boost email signups with specific offers - besides the usual newsletter offer, get more people to subscribe by offering them your lead magnet. Experiment and A/B test your lead magnet offers, and settle on the best-performing one. This way you will get the highest number of subscribers as you march towards your first 100.
Here’s an example of our welcome gate here at Beehiiv.
What strikes you immediately is that it’s simple and free from any distractions. It draws visitors' eyes toward the email sign up field. The visitors sign up for the newsletter, or they leave. Another plus is that the sign up form only requires an email address. Demanding more info from readers can lower conversions.
Finally, the “let me read first” link at the bottom allows those who aren’t ready to sign up yet to proceed to the blog content.
2. Capture newsletter signups with pop-ups
Once readers start engaging with your content, set up pop-up sign-up forms on your pages so they opt-in to receive your newsletter.
You will get a handful of subscribers each time people visit your site. Admittedly, popups can irritate, especially if they are not set up correctly. But they work like a charm despite their terrible reputation.
A recent survey by OptiMonk showed the average conversion rate for pop-ups is 11.09%.
Here are a few tips to help you get your popups right:
- Make them unobtrusive - the in-your-face nature of pop-ups is disconcerting enough; don’t make things worse by blocking users’ view so they can’t access the content they are after. Not only will users leave your site immediately, but Google may also penalize your site. Make sure your pop-up is small and doesn’t cover the entire screen.
- Give value first - don’t bombard readers with pop-ups before they interact with your content. Allow users to get valuable insights from your content first. By deploying the pop-up after readers have enjoyed your content, you are more likely to get a signup. That’s because giving value first triggers reciprocity.
- Optimized call-to-action (CTA) - your CTA is vital because it’s the last step to getting a subscriber. First, get your CTA button design right. It must be prominent and use colors that pop out from the rest of the form. Make it simple, clear, and direct, e.g. get weekly marketing tips, not newsletter registration.
Below is an example of an excellent pop-up.
The pop-up is effective because it doesn’t cover the entire screen.
Users can dismiss it easily if they don’t want to subscribe. Also, notice how the form’s heading, “Enjoying this post,” ties in with the reader’s experience, ensuring the reader transitions smoothly from reading to subscribing.
Inserting popups like the one above is a simple 3-step process with Beehiiv.
- Go to Website Settings on any post.
- Navigate to Advanced Email Capture.
- Select Popup
From now onwards, on cue, your first-time visitors will be asked to type in their email details while reading that particular post.
3. Offer readers content upgrades
Another proven strategy for getting email subscribers is content upgrades.
Content upgrades or bonus content are extra resources that supplement a topic discussed in a specific blog post. They enrich readers’ knowledge of the topic.
Because content upgrades are highly specific and dovetail into a particular piece of content, they often have higher conversion rates, as readers seek to complete their knowledge of the subject. The simplest content upgrade you can offer readers as a creator is a PDF version of a long post.
Here are a few tips on how to maximize email signups using a content upgrade:
- Make it relevant - your bonus content must be super relevant to your blog post topic. The more relevant your upgrade, the higher the chances of getting readers to sign up for it. If there’s a disconnect between your article and content upgrade, you will lose both credibility and email signups.
- Produce immediate wins - a powerful upgrade has actionable advice that helps readers get instant wins connected to the article they’ve been reading. Seeing the potential instant value, most readers sign up straight away.
- Boost signups with inline call to actions (CTAs) - garner more subscribers by teasing readers with CTAs as they read your posts. An inline CTA is a signup form that’s added to the body of a blog post. For the best results, make your inline CTAs contextual. Insert them in places where you discuss points connected to your upgrade.
- Focus on your best posts - creating excellent content upgrades takes time and financial investment. Therefore, only create bonus content for high-performing blog posts.
- Make it congruent - your content upgrade must be in harmony with your business goals. Don’t use the same content upgrade for many blog posts because they will be incompatible. For congruence, create separate topic-specific upgrades for different posts. Bonus points if you segment your content upgrade email lists and match them with specific product offerings.
The perfect content upgrade
Take a look at this content upgrade offer from OptinMonster.
What makes this bonus content offer effective?
First, it uses an inline CTA just after the introduction. It’s right in the reader's eye line. This boosts conversions as more readers will download the resource than if they placed it on the sidebar, for example. It’s also hyper-relevant, as it offers readers a convenient cheatsheet with a downloadable list of the power words discussed in the post.
4. Create an attractive lead magnet
Fourth, create a lead magnet to give readers in exchange for their email addresses.
A lead magnet or signup offer is a free resource you offer to readers as an incentive for them to sign in to your email marketing list. Examples of proven lead magnets include:
- Ebooks or mini guides
- Cheat sheets
- Training videos
- Free trials or product samples
This list is not exhaustive. No matter which type of lead magnet you want to use to entice your audience to subscribe, see that it’s:
- Relevant - people won’t give your lead magnet resource a second look if they think it won’t address their needs. To get their attention, and convince them to type their details into your form, tease them with something that scratches their itch.
- Specific - generic lead magnets aren’t appealing. For best results, hone in on a specific audience’s needs. Better to have several lead magnet offers for specific audience segments rather than a bumper generic one for everyone.
- Value-packed - effective signup resources have a high perceived value. For potential subscribers to sign up for your lead magnet, they must deem it valuable. Pack it with so much actionable information people wouldn’t hesitate to pay for.
- Aligned - powerful lead magnets align with your business goals. They are focused resources that are linked to specific products or services you offer. The more lead magnets you create for specific customer segments, the more subscribers you will get.
This Smartblogger offer is a brilliant case study of a potent lead magnet.
Most bloggers and content creators, the target audience of this blog, struggle with creating impactful headlines. So this is a relevant lead magnet that addresses a real pain point for creators. They offer a cheatsheet, which gives the readers the impression that it has hacks that’ll simplify headline writing.
Tip: Shorter, concise, and simple lead magnets often outperform longer, more complex ones. Test and see what works for you.
So far we’ve covered list-building strategies you can execute on your site. Next, let’s look at off-site tactics.
5. Guest post on niche websites
Next, guest post on niche websites to build your email list.
Guest blogging or guest posting is writing a blog post for another website to drive traffic to your site.
To get the most subscribers from your guest posting campaign:
- Focus on niche sites - to get high-quality subscribers, only write for niche blogs whose reader profile matches yours. Writing for generic or blogs unrelated to your blog topic will produce inferior quality leads. Such people won't be interested in your products or services and will eventually unsubscribe from your email list.
- Use dedicated landing pages - have separate landing pages for different guest post campaigns. By making tailor made offers for each guest post you write, you will get more visitors to say yes to your offers.
- Optimize your author bio - to get people to follow you from the host site, you must optimize your author bio. Link to your lead magnet landing page on your bio. Also, drive action by using the active voice in your CTA.
Here’s Henneke Duistermaat’s author bio, taken from her guest post for Copyblogger.
Her post is about how to write emails that get clicked and read.
Clicking the bio link takes readers to this landing page.
This landing page hits all the right notes because it’s a dedicated landing page. It doesn’t have any navigation or links that’ll distract readers and take them elsewhere. This keeps readers focused on the lead magnet offer and increases the chances of getting subscriptions.
The writing course lead magnet connects directly to her blog topic about how to write powerful emails. So, everything aligns.
Plus, Henneke uses the power of social proof at the top by showcasing all the renowned sites that have featured her. This shows readers she’s the real deal. Many of them will sign up because her impressive profile sways them.
6. Drive signups with paid social media ads
Getting organic traffic and sign-ups via SEO strategies is getting tougher.
Besides, SEO takes months before you see results.
For quick sign-ups, combine organic SEO campaigns with paid social media advertising. Drive traffic to your lead magnet landing pages with Facebook ads or Twitter ads, for instance.
The best part?
Social media advertising platforms have hyper-specific targeting capabilities. You can target people who fit your customer avatar perfectly, down to the smallest details. You get high-quality subscribers and leads.
Here are some quick tips on how to grow your email list with social media ads:
- Promote your best posts - don’t waste your advertising dollars by driving traffic to mediocre content. To maximize email opt-ins, drive traffic to your best and proven articles that are optimized for conversions through inline CTAs.
- Dedicate landing pages - run different ads for different offers hosted on dedicated landing pages. For example, run one ad campaign for your newsletter landing page and another for your lead magnet offer. By having dedicated landing pages and offers, you will have more people signing up because you have focused offers.
- Use the right social platform - advertise on platforms frequented by your ideal customers. Such traffic will convert better than visitors from a popular channel whose users don’t suit your customer avatar.
7. Get signups through your social media
You don’t always have to pay to play to get email subscribers using social media.
Do you have a strong social media presence? Turn your influence into a sleek email subscriber growth engine. Grow your newsletter subscribers with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or whichever platform you use.
- Optimize your bios - your social media account bio occupies prime space above the fold of your page. It’s prominent. Users don’t have to scroll to see it. Encourage users to sign up for your newsletter or lead magnet by linking to them in your bio. It’s a simple hack that can get you many subscribers on autopilot.
- Promote your best content - get your best content seen and clicked by promoting it in your social media updates. Once your followers click through to your blog posts or landing pages, they’ll opt into your optimized sign-up offers.
- Run a giveaway - we all love free stuff, don’t we? Leverage this tendency by running a giveaway or contest for your social media followers. The key to a successful giveaway is a valuable prize. To maximize conversions and the organic reach of your contest, ask users to spread the word about the contest to take part, e,g. Retweet to enter on Twitter. Also, boost reach through a trendy hashtag.
As an example, here TSM Growth promotes its free writing course on the brand’s Twitter page.
One click and followers land on this page:
Followers get the free course the brand promised.
That’s how you do it.
If you play your cards right, your on-site and off-site strategies will get you a decent number of newsletter subscribers and move you closer to that morale-boosting 100-subscriber mark.
8. Get high-quality subscribers fast through Referrals
Finally, consolidate your efforts by using the subscribers you already have as a launchpad to get more.
By using the highly-effective beehiiv newsletter referral program.
Here’s how it works. You grow your audience by rewarding your subscribers for sharing your newsletter with people in their circles. Because of the power of social connections, people are more likely to sign up in droves since the newsletter endorsement comes from someone they trust.
Referrals produce fast and scalable subscriber growth.
This strategy assumes that you create super duper content worth sharing. I’m sure you know that as a newsletter writer.
Besides topnotch content, the success of your referral engine hinges on the quality of your incentives. You can reward readers who share your newsletter with friends in two ways:
- Digital rewards such as tokens, community access, and exclusive content.
- Physical rewards like sports games tickets and swag items such as stickers, coffee mugs, AirPods cases, etc.
Launching your referral subscriber growth engine is easy.
Just add your rewards and milestones and you are all set.
How Beehive can help you get your first 100 subscribers and more
Beehive can come in handy on your journey to getting your first 100 email subscribers.
Here are the many ways our all-in-one newsletter platform can help you get to the milestone much faster than you imagined.
- Automated welcome emails for you to roll out the red carpet to new subscribers, so they stay on your email list.
- Embedded signup forms to help you create many sign-up forms such as full width, fixed width, and inline CTAs.
- Website and blog hosting for you to enjoy the convenience of managing your website, blog, and newsletter list-building campaigns in one place.
- Analytics dashboard for you to see your total number of subscribers, active/inactive subscribers, free versus paid subscribers, and more.
- Referral program for rewarding your current subscribers for sharing your newsletter with their friends, so you drive more subscriptions.
- Author bio feature for you to create, optimize and display your bio in your newsletter, blog posts, and social media handles.
- Add your social media accounts so you can grow subscriptions via social media.
In short, we are more than a newsletter. We help you integrate all your digital marketing efforts in one place.
Take your newsletter and list-building a few notches higher with a proven platform.