Email marketing isn’t just about numbers. Far from it. In fact, if you focus purely on big numbers, you’re likely to see poor results from your e-shots. Much like your number of Linkedin connections isn’t necessarily an indication of your business acumen, huge subscriber lists aren’t always proof that you have qualified buyers at your doorstep.

If you work in sales or marketing, you’ll know how important it is to get in front of not only decision makers, but decision makers who are likely to buy whatever it is you’re selling. The exact same thing goes for email marketing.

Below, we look at three ways you can encourage qualified subscribers to sign up to your mailings.


We’re big fans of these. An autoresponder is one or a series of automated follow up emails sent after someone joins one of your lists. They’re a great way to build advocacy and segment the genuine prospects in your database, but you need something else… something to keep them coming back for more…

Free stuff!

This can work in two ways. Firstly, offer first time subscribers something in return for them handing you their email address. The key is to offer them something they want. This might be industry specific, or it might be slightly more generic:

  • Free content. Whitepapers, ebooks, ‘lite’ versions of your software. Whatever it might be, ensure it is linked to the one reason they are likely to have come across your website in the first place.
  • Discounts. Offer them an exclusive, subscriber-only deal. If this is enough to make them sign up, they’re on their way to becoming qualified buyers. You want these people on your list.

Secondly, free stuff works brilliantly with autoresponders, as we allude to above. It also helps solve one of the glaring problems with simply giving away free things to all and sundry (i.e. subscribers who accept your offer simply because they want something for nothing). With an autoresponder, you can dilute the free content. Using whitepapers as an example, you could split them into a series, offering each part in subsequent automated emails. This will likely build advocacy and sniff out the qualified subscribers from those who simply signed up to get the freebie straight away.


This is a great way to generate mailing list subscribers. However, don’t fall into the trap of simply giving away a highly desirable item. Most people will want an iPod Touch, for example, but that doesn’t mean they’ll turn into returning customers for your business. Instead, give something away that you already sell. If it’s computer games, make the prize the latest first person shooter. If you’re a design company, make it a free logo. This will ensure those that take part and subscribe have a genuine interest in your business and will probably come back for more.

Happy list building.


Mark is one of mailingmanager's email experts. His contributions to this blog openly share the tricks, tips and best practices he's learned while running multiple e-marketing campaigns.

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