8 Ultra-Irresistible Offers To Grow Your Email List

8 Ultra-Irresistible Offers To Grow Your Email List

Email marketing may be one of the oldest channels of digital marketing, but it is still the top lead generation technique used today. In fact, a Custora study shows that customer acquisition via email has quadrupled over the last 4 years.

Sure, all the hype is pointed now at social media marketing, but email marketing is a consistently at the top when it comes to winning customers over. Our friends at Kissmetrics point out with 2.9 BILLION email users; there are 3 times as many email active users as all the social media users combined.

And if you combine all the tweets and posts sent via Facebook and Twitter every day, they would only make up for ONLY 0.2% of all the emails sent daily (check today’s results: 112 Billion!). And that doesn’t even include spam yet. This Mashable mini-infographic below clearly illustrates:


And even when it’s already 40 times more effective than social media with its 3 times purchase potential, it IS still growing…

These numbers are pretty hard to ignore, and must only mean that you MUST grow your email list.

So how do you grow your email list?

One of the best ways to convert your visitors into email subscribers is to offer them something in exchange for their email addresses. 

Because today, promises of “Be notified of new product releases!” just won’t cut it anymore.

We gathered the best practices used by email list building experts and the irresistible opt-in offers that you can also employ to nuke your email list into unstoppable growth.

What Makes an Irresistible Signup Incentive? 

Great incentives help overcome hesitations, and ultimately nudge the user into taking action. 

Your focus should be on creating a tempting offer by giving away something that your visitors will truly value. These can be simple things such as vouchers, free shipping, and discounts. Or you can offer heavy giveaways like free eBooks, webinar access or audio files.

The key is to offer something that will be enough to encourage the visitor to type in their email addresses BUT will also keep them craving for more from you so they won’t unsubscribe as soon as they get the offer.

 It is important to show just how valuable you are and can be in the long run. Free offers are good for building trust and for allowing them a sneak preview of what you can actually do for them.

You can include:

  • A product that’s both helpful and interesting and something that they would usually pay for.
  • An effective solution to a pain point in their business or life.
  • Valuable advice that they won’t typically see strewn about the Internet.

Your incentive should deliver, and should be designed to be more than just a capturer of email addresses.

Here are some excellent ideas for Irresistible Free Offers:

 #1 Free Shipping with a Punch and Other Digital Discount Vouchers 

If you have an e-Commerce store, you need a fat email list, and one of the best ways to achieve it is with percentage off a purchase offer, free shipping or a set dollar discount offer. You can be creative and make a combination of either those three.

In a study conducted by Forrester Consulting for Retailmenot.com, it showed that offering discount codes and online coupons help boost sales:

  • Digital coupons increase brand loyalty by 68%
  • Consumers are eager for online coupons as it affects their purchasing decision by 59%.
  • 38% of online consumers offered digital coupons made 1 to 5 purchases within the last 3 months.
  • In the same survey, it was found that discount offers are highly preferred by 71% of users to be received via email.

With these numbers, you must realize the importance of compelling email offers, and this is what we mean when we say “offer discounts with a punch”.

For example, H&M offers 20% discount on an item if you sign up for their newsletter.


Another apparel store, JayJay’s, offer 10% off on ALL items for a FULL MONTH!

Now this is a really strong offer compared to one-time discounts, and would definitely push the shopper to input that email address.

Other punch-y discount offer ideas:

  • Offer exclusive and free product samples
  • Bigger discount when a user shares the promo on social media
  • Increase the discount offer if the user uses his/her Facebook account to signup ( a great way to access more data than just an email)

#2: Launch Sweepstakes, Giveaways or Contests 

One great way to build your email list is by hosting competitions and sweepstakes. With giveaways, an e-Commerce has a potential to convert 700% of email subscribers, making this method one of the most efficient, according to tests conducted by Unbounce.

Make sure that you’re offering a prize that’s related to your niche or brand. For example, Pipes and Cigars’ sweepstakes featured the $300 worth Gabrieli Briar Pipe as the prize. This is an excellent way to promote their flagship product while collecting email addresses.


Here are a few more nifty tricks:

  • Specific words matter. The same Unbounce research shows that “giveaways” are better than “promotion.”

According to this research, the word “giveaway” produced 50% more conversion than “promotion”, and 27% more conversion than “sweepstake”.

  • Showcase the offered prize with a high quality photo. In the same research involving 100 client websites and 3 million visitors, it showed that visual images improved conversion potential by 22%. Even if the prize is digital like a voucher or a gift card, you should still show a nicely designed image—even a generic one will work.

#3: Make Engaging Interactive Quizzes 

Interactive quizzers are very popular and are used by businesses to generate leads. In fact, it is one of the most effective methods used in viral content marketing these days.

I’ll admit to answering some of these quizzes myself, especially the “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk” interactive quiz featured in the New York Times website (turned out to be the most visited Interactive of 2013). 

Another incredible example is Zenni Optical’s “You’ve Been Framed website quiz that helps customers choose the best eyeglass frames to match their budget and lifestyle. The quiz has generated more than $124,000 in revenue, with 7,000 new email subscribers.

A few notes:

  • Your interactive quiz should be highly relevant to the niche, service or product that you are selling to ensure that the users will find value in it, and also gain insight from your website visitors.
  • Be clear on what the benefits of the quiz are so that the users will be more enticed.
  • You can sweeten the deal with extra incentives such as a sweepstakes entry or a coupon.

 #4: Swipe Files Sharing 

Another popular opt-in offer is swipe file sharing. Swipe files are documents or files that are full of curated content related to a specific niche. They can be great idea or inspiration resources, especially if you find yourself stuck with a deadline looming closely.

Startup Marketing has the Facebook Ads Swipe, a rich resource of topnotch Facebook Ads collected from hundreds of companies—an excellent place to start fo people who are looking for creative ideas, best practices and inspirations for their own ads in Facebook.

Here are other ideas for sharing Swipe Files:

  • Blog post headlines
  • Landing page samples for copies, designs and layouts
  • Outstanding email subject lines
  • Blog post feature graphics, splash banner graphics and ad banner graphics
  • Brochures, flyers and postcards
  • Facebook and Twitter social network posts and updates

Note: To make your own Swipe Files, use nifty tools such as Screenhunter for screen grabs and Evernote for quickly making notes. Both tools are free.

 # 5: Create Definitive Guides or Comprehensive e-Books

In a “State of Inbound” report based on a survey involving 3,570 respondents, it was found that 70% of customer purchasing is spent on products that would educate them about services and products that can help them. Most of them buy information that would help them make better purchasing decisions, instead of relying on sales calls or pitches.

For example, Hubspot—the “inbound marketing lords”—has a massive collection of free e-Books, guides, templates and other resources which are highly detailed and informative.

Some reminders:

  • Make sure that the content of your guides are “evergreen”, which means that the information within will be relevant for a long time, withstanding trends and changes.

# 6: Build Email Courses

Sometimes, a one-stop shop for information can be overwhelming for a lot of people, such as e-Books—some of us fall asleep on the 12th page. This is where short email courses come in. You can shape your content into small chunks by sending out information-rich emails to your subscribers.

An excellent example is Front’s Communication Course: the course involves 52 weeks of continuous content, 1 actionable lesson per week sent to your inbox.

Many times, we are tempted to send overlong posts to our subscribers and most people don’t finish reading them. You can tweak the content slightly into small bite-sized chunks that can be easily digested by your users so you can keep your audience captivated even for a long time—as long as a whole year (52 weeks).

#7: Make a Template, Spreadsheet Calculator or a Handy Checklist

One of the easiest assets you can build and offer as your “free irresistible offer” are Google Doc spreadsheets, calculators or Excel templates. With these, you don’t have to be a spreadsheet expert just to create something useful and unique for your users.

For example, the “Wedding Organizer” by The Smart Bride is a simple but useful organizer for brides. You can create something like this even if you don’t know a lot about macros.

Here are some more ideas:

  • To-do Checklist
  • Weight loss log
  • Personal budget spreadsheet
  • Mortgage or loan calculator
  • Calorie counter


Note: the keys to creating a topnotch spreadsheet template are stunning layout, clear instructions and user-friendly design.

# 8: Develop Downloadable Plugins or Apps

A brand-specific app or plugin is a useful and fun giveaway that your users can surely appreciate.

If you haven’t heard it yet, SumoMe’s toolkit has more than 1.6 million users. The toolkit features cool tools that you can incorporate directly into your site, such as Contact Forms, Heat Maps and Content Analytics. And yes, they are FREE! 

Final Thoughts

You can add more pizzazz to the ideas above by adding logic-binding copy to the description of your giveaway like:

  • “Plus explosive “thought-leader” ideas only shared to subscribers”
  • “Plus weekly EXCLUSIVE inspiration and ideas I only share to email subscribers”
  • “Plus full-access to product only allowed to a LIMITED number of email subscribers”

Little, but powerful, techniques such as these will nuke your giveaways and solidly build your list in no time.

About the author

Paul Manwaring: This is where we share a thoughts, tips and research into the world of marketing, design and business. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


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