Matt Ackerson founded AutoGrow (Petovera Inc.) in 2010 as a conversion-focused web design agency. The company has since worked one-on-one with over 500 customers and clients to create their sales funnels. Matt is a graduate of Cornell University. He and AutoGrow have been featured in Techcrunch, Forbes, Inc, Venture Beat, Mashable, and Popular Science among others. He and the team write in-depth articles on digital marketing, sales funnel design, and also offer an advanced funnel training course here on AutoGrow.co
If you’re serious about growing your business, building a healthy email list should be one of your top priorities. When it comes down to it, your list is one of the only online assets that you have 100% control over. Having a solid social media presence is absolutely essential (here’s why), but you’ll always be at the mercy of new and changing algorithms (think Facebook’s Edgerank). And achieving high search engine rankings is great too, but again, you’re at the mercy of changing algorithms and updates.

That’s why it is important to have a Privacy Policy and Terms of Use readily available on your site, and even a disclaimer before they sign up for anything. Not only is this good business practice, it’s also required by Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter … pretty much every major company whose services you will be using to promote your business. Oh, and it is required by most governments.


The focus of free traffic is to create content and then get people to look at the content. In my early days in Internet Marketing all the gurus talked about keywords and search engine optimization as the holy grail of free traffic. At one level this is easy to do – write your content in a keyword rich way. At the full level, this morphed into a complicated area of backlinks and private blog networks and the like. This very quickly becomes a time sink of effort and expense.
These stats spell out huge opportunities for marketers, but some old tactics no longer work. Sending out large email “blasts” to huge subscriber lists is no longer resulting in high open rates. List decay is increasing. A large list doesn’t translate to results. The average open rate for branded emails is a mere 20-40%, and the click-through rate is even less.
It used to be that marketers were set on building the largest email list possible, and many companies continue to boast about their “thousands” of subscribers. In order to stay competitive, marketers have tried tons of tactics to grow their lists, from pop-ups, to coaxing emails from lead gen assets, to running contests on social media that require an email address to sign up.

Include an opt-in field (i.e. checkbox) within your landing page forms to opt users into your list. This gives visibility to your email offerings and provides a value add to customers who have already engaged with your product. It’s important not to pre-check the box (see pre-selected opt-in below)–instead allow potential subscribers to choose whether or not to opt in.


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When you meet people face to face for any reason, ask for their business card. Offer yours. Set a glass bowl on the counter in your store or the reception desk in your office, and ask visitors to drop their cards in it. Offer some incentive to do so — a free product or service, gift card, etc. Use your own business cards to further drum up emails; add an offer on the back of your card that encourages people to sign up to receive your emails.
One of a small business’s best marketing assets is a healthy email list. While proper management and use of your email file will drive revenue immensely, it is often a challenge to create the email list itself. With inbox clutter on the rise and customers becoming more sensitive toward any unwanted communication, marketers should develop their subscriber lists with relevance and care. 
Traffic for list building is a topic that has really frustrated me at the hands of the so-called Internet Marketing gurus. I have heard so many ideas and implemented a mishmash of them. Maybe I should go back to all my notebooks and try to condense everything that has been said and try to distill my own strategic framework out of it all. These are some of the things that stick in my mind:
Thanks for sharing this idea. What I love most about your strategy is that by giving a list-owner a sample of your services, you are creating the opportunity for an honest, heart-felt testimonial about the value of those services. The resulting “plug” will be so much more sincere and valuable because it’s based on true appreciation for the service you have provided. 🙂
He says, “Look at your most trafficked blog posts or other content offers. You can then use Google Search Console to see the actual search queries that have resulted in people landing on those pages. Is there a common theme or objective behind the search queries that have brought visitors to that page? If so, build a content offer that directly addresses the theme or question behind the search queries.”
If you choose a product everybody wants - like an iPad or an Amazon gift card - then you’re risking driving unqualified leads to your list. You don’t want to end up having to pay to have a bunch of unengaged people on your email list who aren’t interested in your topic and who will just unsubscribe the second you send them the next email and they haven’t won the giveaway.
If that’s not enough to convince you to toss interstitials in the bin and never look back, there’s also the fact that users report these interactions as among their most-hated advertising practices (defined as ‘modals’ in this study by the Nielsen Norman Group). On a one to seven scale, modals (interstitials) landed at 5.82 for desktop users and 5.89 for mobile users, beating even autoplaying videos without skip for most-dreaded advertising type.
The live video option on Facebook, for example, can be increasingly used to your advantage, where you can connect with so many people at the same time. While you are at it, you can create a live contest too, through your live video, and get your audience on your email list by asking them to participate by leaving their email in the comment section.

Many marketers are afraid of screwing up, and they let “send fear” take over. It’s important to try personalization beyond just using first names in the body or subject line of the message and have the confidence to test personalization for your brand. If you’re skeptical, use A/B tests to figure out if personalization resonates with your lists. Make sure all fields are mapped to the right things, so that when your campaign goes out, everything appears correctly.
In this situation, your subscriber receives a confirmation “welcome” email or the start of a welcome series once they opt in. This confirms that your recipient wants your email (and did not unknowingly sign up or change their mind). This form of consent decreases the likelihood of anyone being on an email marketing list long-term who does not want to be, but just as importantly verifies to you, the sender, that their email address actually exists. This also helps prevent frequent “typo” and “recycled” spam trap hits.

You can’t begin to personalize your campaigns if all you have is an email address, so work to figure out what data you already have. Do you have information on past purchase behavior, length of time on your email list, customer status, or geography? All of these areas can be leveraged for personalization, which will, in turn, improve list quality. Where does this information live? Is it in your CRM, e-commerce platform, or somewhere else? Integrations can help you combine your email list with outside information.

Solo ads is essentially a method of paying someone to mail to their list for you. I don’t do this very often anymore but it is a very very effective way to jumpstart a list. If you followed along to a previous 30 day challenge I did on my old blog, Business & Blogs, you would have seen me go in to great depth about how I gained almost 1,000 new subscribers through solo ads alone.
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