What's in this article?

What we mean by email list
Optimizing and segmenting emails into different campaigns
Use an email marketing platform to organize lists and campaigns
Make sure your subscriber list is compliant and legally sound
19 ways to grow your email list
How to reduce unsubscribes from your email list
Email marketing do’s and don’ts
Work with Kaleidico — full-service marketing agency

Everybody uses email. Well, 92% of the digital population in the US does.

About 82% of Americans use social media, meaning that email marketing has the potential to reach more people than social media alone.

E-newsletters are one of your most powerful and longest-lasting tools for communicating directly with your email base audience.

By collecting email addresses on your website and allowing users to opt-in to receive updates, you can send personalized content and seasonal emails for years to come.

Newsletter marketing is frequently used in retail but can be a successful lead-nurturing strategy for several industries, including financial services such as mortgage lending and real estate.

In this article, I’ll break down newsletters, tactics for collecting more sign-ups, and potential pitfalls and policies you’ll need to be aware of before running a newsletter marketing campaign.

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What we mean by email list

Your email list is a collection of all of the email subscribers your company has gathered from interested visitors and customers from your website or social media channels.

Visitors typically sign up and opt-in to join email lists to receive:

  • Industry updates
  • Product or service discounts
  • Free downloadable content
  • To stay in touch with your company

Successful email marketing campaigns have the highest ROI of any marketing method. According to Constant Contact, email marketing brings in $36 for every $1 spent!

As you can see, the more emails you have in your list, the more opportunities you have to bring in revenue, no matter the industry you work in.

Email marketing is popular across all industries to promote a company’s products or services and bring users back to their website to make future or repeat purchases.

Of all the industries seeing success with email marketing, retail takes the cake. Notice how stores constantly send promotional emails to you once you’ve submitted an email for an online order or in-store purchase.

After retail, financial services is the second most popular industry using email marketing. This can include mortgage lenders, mortgage brokers, and money lending institutions.

For mortgage lenders, email marketing is a way to add several “touchpoints” in their customer’s journey after engaging with their mortgage website.

With every email sent to prospective borrowers, the mortgage broker is influencing and persuading their readers to reach out to begin the mortgage process.

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Optimizing and segmenting emails into different campaigns

As you begin collecting a ton of email addresses through your lead generation strategy, you’ll need to organize them into segmented lists to ensure you’re delivering the most relevant emails to different audiences.

Segmentation is important for building and organizing email lists. Without segmentation, you’ll be blanket-emailing all of your readers the same information.

This will likely result in email opt-outs because you’re no longer delivering personalized or relevant information for each reader.

However, with segmentation, you can group and reorganize your email lists to run multiple campaigns. This ensures that you’re delivering only the most relevant newsletters and content to each audience segment.

The following are a few examples of how you can segment your email list. Remember, the more information you ask from your readers, the more data you’ll have to segment your audience.

Geographic location

Geographic location data ensures you’re not emailing people outside of your area about products or services you can’t provide them.

For example, real estate agents and mortgage lenders may only have licenses or certifications to perform in their state. By sending emails to people outside of their home state, they’re simply wasting their time and annoying readers with irrelevant emails.

Age and gender demographics

Obviously, to get this information from your readers, you’ll need to ask for this information in your contact form on your website.

Knowing your audience’s age and gender can help you understand their income level and life cycle stages. It’ll also help you come up with age and culture-appropriate headline titles and copywriting ideas for your emails.

For example, throwing in pop culture references in your subject titles might not make sense for your older audience, but may get higher engagement from a younger audience.

This information helps you craft more compelling language that resonates in your emails, including trigger words that can really enhance your conversion rates.

Income level

Knowing income level is handy for real estate agents and mortgage brokers to help them realistically size up their readers’ ability to get a loan.

It doesn’t make sense to continue sending emails to people whose income levels don’t meet the thresholds of your loan requirements.

Through segmentation, you can reorganize and weed out email addresses that simply aren’t feasible for your goals.

Education level

Education levels can also help you identify potential customers or clients who fit into your ideal buyer persona.

This information is especially useful for generating large mortgage loans or other loans that depend on a stable income and gainful employment.

Email open rates

Over time, you’ll begin to see which readers always open up their emails and which readers never open their emails.

Using this information, you can create a new segmented list of your readers with the highest open rates, ensuring that every email sent out to this crowd will be opened.

This segmented list is for leads who show a higher intent for purchasing, so you’ll use more persuasive language because these readers are more receptive to your messaging.

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Use an email marketing platform to organize lists and campaigns

Email marketing platforms already have all the built-in tools to help you organize lists and segment them for several different ongoing email campaigns.

There are plenty of solid options available for email marketing, and they pretty much all do the same job, but with a different interface and various levels of integration with other third-party apps.

Our favorite email marketing platforms

ways to grow your email list

At Kaleidico, our favorite email marketing platforms are Drip, named after its ability to create drip campaigns, and MailChimp for automated series of emails

Of course, all email marketing platforms are capable of running drip campaigns, but these are some of our best recommendations.

Constant Contact and Zoho Campaigns are all solid options too and are among the highest-ranking email marketing platforms available, so you really can’t go wrong with any of these choices.

Make sure your subscriber list is compliant and legally sound

Remember to make sure your readers give you their consent to send them email updates, including a newsletter and other content updates.

Include all the necessary checkboxes and legal disclaimers in all of your signup forms, pop-ups, and overlays.

If your readers are not explicitly opting-in to receive additional updates, then you can only send them your newsletter, otherwise, you’ll be spamming them, which is not good.

19 ways to grow your email list

Looking for creative or practical ways to grow your email subscriber list? Here are the best ways to build up your email list.

Let’s review your online lead generation.

1. Make filling out the form absolutely frictionless

Make the signup user’s experience as easy as possible.

The more work something is, the fewer people who will see it through to the end. So can you make it a single field and a single click?

Depending on your needs, that may be enough to get the ball rolling. If you need more info to work your subscriber leads, choose your fields carefully for maximum ROI.

2. Create a lead magnet in exchange for their email address

One of the most enticing offers for readers is giving them a free downloadable piece of content, such as a cheat sheet, whitepaper, or eBook PDF.

But in order to get this free download, they must first submit their email address, so it can be sent to their inbox.

Often it’s worth the effort to reward signups with a whitepaper or freebie of some kind immediately before the user even gets your first value-packed newsletter in their inbox.

Modern website widgets make this a fairly streamlined exchange so that you can offer a download via an emailed link notice or a site download right on the form confirmation.

3. Use a popup form

ways to grow your email list

Popups get a bad rap, and their function is certainly abused, but nothing gets results like a great email signup popup box.

Popups, popovers, light boxes, etc., continue to show up on business websites because they work well. To get the benefit without annoying your users, set a delay of 15 to 45 seconds and a once-per-session popup appearance.

4. Host a free webinar

If you work in real estate or mortgage lending, odds are your prospective customers will have lots of questions about the process.

To capitalize on your audience’s curiosity, host free webinars on YouTube, Instagram, Google Meet, Skype, or any other video chatting service.

To enter the free webinar, readers will need to submit their email addresses to receive the video chat link.

With a contest, options like opinion votes, content submissions, referral discounts, and product or service giveaways are popular. For a webinar, users want a valuable, informative piece of content that solves at least one aspect of their customer problem.

5. Give away a free software tool for signing up

Depending on your industry, you may wish to create a software-based tool that’s desirable to your readers so that they’ll gladly give up their email addresses for it.

Have a neat mortgage calculator tool? Or a ROAS calculator tool? An interactive chart? Don’t just give it away for free! Make your readers submit their email addresses to receive it. Because it’s a perceived value add, your readers won’t think twice to submit their email addresses.

6. Offer a discount or a gift for signing up for the newsletter

This is a popular lead generation tactic in eCommerce — “Sign up for our newsletter to receive 15% off your first order.”

Also known as “content marketing,” blogging is your key to driving traffic from Google searches to your website.

A great written piece of content can stay on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) for years, making content marketing an essential aspect of lead generation and email list building.

Write educational blog articles based on popular search queries that your audience is looking for. For example, a mortgage broker may write a blog called “How to Get Approved for a Conventional Loan as a Millennial” if they wish to target millennials.

When your web visitors finish reading the blog posts, add a call-to-action (CTA) to fill out a contact form to receive more information or to sign up for a newsletter.

8. Create pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Microsft Ads, and more

ways to grow your email list

There’s no shortage of paid media platforms out there. However, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and Microsoft (Bing) Ads are the most popular.

Also, don’t forget about LinkedIn Ads if you plan on marketing B2B, as LinkedIn users show a higher intent for making business deals than other websites.

Creating Google PPC ads will probably require the work of a PPC professional, as the platform is too confusing for beginners.

Facebook Ads are a great place to start as they’re easy to set up and can advertise on Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram.

Once you create the ad, it will direct readers to a special “landing page” that has been optimized and designed for maximum lead conversions, collecting several emails for your lists.

9. Use a call-to-action (CTA) on every page of your website and social media channels

If you want your readers to submit their email addresses—just ask. Because if you don’t ask, they won’t submit them.

Without a call to action such as “sign up for our newsletter” or “contact us!” your readers won’t reach out to you. They’ll continue browsing your website and then leave without ever engaging with you. Don’t ask me why, but it won’t even cross their minds.

This is why every YouTuber has to say “comment, like, and subscribe to our videos” because if they don’t, their videos won’t get any engagement.

Likewise, if you’re not giving CTAs to your readers, they’ll never fill out the contact forms.

10. Offer a weekly or monthly niche-specific newsletter

ways to grow your email list

A wide content net doesn’t necessarily catch the most, or best, email subscribers. That’s why one or more niche-specific newsletters can be a real boon. For instance, health insurance agents may not be as interested in a generic insurance newsletter as they would be in one that covered only health insurance legislative news. That is unique, very specific, and useful.

Personally speaking, I’m subscribed to a number of weekly newsletters from famous authors and thought leaders online, such as James Clear’s “3-2-1 Newsletter” or Timothy Ferriss’s “5-Bullet Friday” newsletter.

And no, I don’t always open up these newsletters, but I do quite often because they’re filled with research, news, thoughts, and insights curated by the authors.

Can you create your own themed newsletter that people will sign up for? What would you put in your newsletter that would make it worth opening?

11. Optimize video descriptions in YouTube videos

Did you know that YouTube allows up to 5,000 characters in the video descriptions below each video? That’s enough space to fit a 2,000-word article in!

If you haven’t optimized your YouTube videos, I advise you to do so and to include links to your website to attract YouTube viewers to your website, where they’ll convert into email subscribers.

Also, did you know that you can timestamp your videos to improve searchability in YouTube and Google searches? Timestamping is when you add specific start points in the video so that people can find the most relevant part of the video for them.

When you timestamp your video, you improve its visibility by adding more keywords and descriptions to help people find the exact spot in your video.

12. Create a lead generation campaign on Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads has multiple types of campaigns you can run, ranging from basic image ads to more targeted “Lead Ads” that can be used to drive newsletter sign-ups.

The beauty of Facebook’s lead ads is that all of the personal information can be populated with a click of a button, making filling out a lead contact form absolutely frictionless.

13. Use kiosks, iPads, notepads, and spokespeople to collect email addresses at physical events

If you’ve ever attended an auto show or a huge expo, you’ve likely seen spokespeople and brand ambassadors holding an iPad to collect visitors’ contact info as they’re talking to them.

Additionally, there might be the low-tech option of having a paper notepad where you can fill out your name, phone number, and email address to receive more information.

Remember, email newsletter sign-ups don’t have to be purely digital, sometimes they can be as old-school as having a pen and a piece of paper on a table at events.

14. Make your email newsletters forward-friendly (and traceable)

Make sure your emails aren’t dying in your users’ inboxes.

Newsletters are meant to be shared with friends and family to extend their reach. Make sure that you’re designing your emails to be as forward-friendly as possible.

For example, add a secondary CTA that says “please share and forward this email to any friends or family that you think can benefit from our newsletter.”

Email marketing widgets make this easy to add these types of features to your newsletters, and even have traceable analytics to see how many times your email was shared, how many times it was opened, and the location where it was opened.

15. Leverage social proof to be more legitimate and convincing

Social proof is necessary to convince your readers that you are legitimate and worth subscribing to.

Don’t be shy about bragging — if your email list has 30,000 subscribers, let other readers know! This social “proof” may convince your readers that your newsletter must be pretty good.

Additionally, social followers, customer statistics, featured clients, or customer testimonials also work to legitimize you and create authority and trust with people you’ve never met before.

16. Host a good old-fashioned giveaway or a contest

Giveaways are the oldest lead generation tactic out there. “Sign up to enter a raffle for a chance to win a free SUV, iPad, $15,000 off rent, etc.”

Giveaways and contests can be held online or in-person at events, and are huge motivators for getting people to give up their email addresses.

Of course, the larger and more desirable the prize, the more email sign-ups you’ll get.

17. Create retargeting ads to show ads only to people who have visited your website before

Did you know that you can create and show ads to only the people who visited your website before? They’re known as “retargeting ads” and they work by playing a token or a tracking cookie in the browser of your web visitors.

Retargeting ads are great at getting people to come back to your website because they use brand recognition and brand recall to get their attention.

Think about it, if you visited a website and then saw an ad for the same website, it’ll be more noticeable to you than other ads on the screen.

Retargeting ads are used frequently in eCommerce, but also for events that require registration. They can also be applied to building up email newsletters by bringing past visitors back to your website for another opportunity to convert them into an email subscriber.

18. Leverage your social media profiles

You should already have claimed social media profiles for your brand on various social networks, so there’s no reason not to leverage that existing reach.

Facebook developers have created a prominent, easy-to-install subscribe button feature that links directly to your email signup form.

For other services, like Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn, use your bio/about me field to share your email signup link.

19. Make email forms eye-catching

Make email forms impossible to miss. Your form should be located  “above the fold” — visible right as the web page loads, without any scrolling or clicking — and designed with high visibility in mind.

That often means a big, beautiful CTA button, bright colors for your button or its content box, and text copy that identifies this as an email opt-in.

When possible, choose an email form that can be customized to match your website’s branding and colors.

How to reduce unsubscribes from your email list

When was the last time you unsubscribed from a ton of newsletters? Exactly, almost never.

Most people sign up for newsletters and receive emails for years and years! This is great news for you as a marketer

I was surprised to find out that the average unsubscribe rate for email marketing was remarkably low — around 0.17%. Anything higher than 1% is seen as a high unsubscribe rate.

This makes sense, though. Think of all the hundreds, possibly thousands of unread emails in your primary or promotional tabs in your email account from email newsletter sign-ups.

If your email marketing platform shows your unsubscribe rate is higher than 1%, follow these tips to reduce the number of unsubscribes.

Run an opt-in campaign

By running an “opt-in” campaign, you are specifically getting permission to continue sending emails to your readers.

Without this permission, you’ll technically be sending “spam” and if you receive a high amount of spam complaints your email system will receive negative points, potentially blacklisting you and all of your messages sent. Don’t do this!

Instead, use single or double opt-ins when asking for newsletter sign-ups.

Single opt-in

With the single opt-in, as soon as your reader submits their email address, they’ll start receiving your emails.

This is the fastest way to build an email list, however, it’s prone to errors and bad data. For example, if a person enters the wrong email address or has a misspelling, you’ll have no way of knowing and will continue sending emails to the wrong address.

Also, it’s possible that your reader will forget they signed up for your newsletter, which means more unsubscribes and spam messages, potentially.

Double opt-in

The double opt-in is when you send a confirmation email to your reader immediately after they have signed up for your newsletter.

By using the double opt-in, you can confirm their email address is correct, and it also shows a higher intent for your readers, making your email list stronger and more accurate.

Scrub your email list regularly

Routinely update your email lists and remove old or bad accounts every 6 months or so.

By cleaning up your email list, you’ll also improve your deliverability by sending it to people who are more interested in opening your emails.

It will also keep costs down as you deliver emails to fewer people.

Lastly, you will reduce the number of spam complaints by removing email addresses that have not opened up any of your emails in the past.

Email marketing do’s and don’ts

There are rules you have to follow in the email marketing game, otherwise, you’ll quickly be labeled as spam, and possibly break the law, including the CAN-SPAM Act.

Email marketing do’s

In order to have the greatest success in email marketing, follow these best practices and guidelines:

  • Use a trusted email platform (MailChimp, Drip, etc)
  • Routinely update lists and remove old accounts every six months
  • Understand your target audience, the sites they spend time on, their values, etc.
  • Have a website with a landing page that’s optimized for email newsletter sign-ups
  • Make sure your email headers “from” and “to” are not misleading
  • Use subject lines that are factual and not misleading
  • If your email is an ad, it must explicitly be labeled as an “ad” in the email
  • You must include a valid postal address in your email
  • You must include an unsubscribe option and honor those unsubscribe options

Email marketing don’ts

Avoid the following email marketing mistakes to maximize your email marketing’s success rates and to reduce the number of unsubscribes. Oh yeah, and make sure you’re not breaking the law, as previously stated.

  • Buy or rent email lists. It may be illegal at worst, and you’ll also be emailing people who have absolutely no idea who you are. Not good.
  • Send emails using your personal email address (unless you want your personal account to be considered spam)
  • Send emails to people who have not specifically “opted-in,” otherwise you’re spamming them
  • Forget to include a call-to-action (CTA) to encourage readers to take action
  • Don’t send mass emails to your audience without segmenting them first. Otherwise, you’re delivering emails that are not relevant and will get more unsubscribes.
  • Send poorly written or low-quality emails
  • Include attachments in emails. They can scare off people and trip off red flags for the email service provider
  • Use vulgarity or bad language
  • Send out emails that are not optimized for mobile phones. Half of your audience will likely be viewing emails on their phone.
  • Get discouraged by negative feedback from your emails. Not everybody will be happy to receive your emails.

Work with Kaleidico — full-service marketing agency

Kaleidico is a full-service marketing agency specializing in web design & development, lead generation, email marketing, content marketing, and more.

Growing an email subscriber list of 1,000 or even 30,000 users isn’t as impossible as it seems. And it isn’t something that happens just by luck.

There are many tried and true strategies to gain email subscribers and court them for the long-term patronage of your business. Combine what works best for you and your business and chart your progress. Make adjustments as needed.

Have more questions about email marketing?

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About Matthew Dotson
Matthew Dotson is a freelance writer experienced in blog, copy, and technical writing. He covers everything from marketing and digital advertising to technology and senior living. Previously, he worked for a Y Combinator tech startup in the Silicon Valley and traveled the country covering auto shows for Ford Motor Company. Matthew is also a multi-instrumentalist who composes, produces, and records original music. He enjoys photography, videography, fine art, and cinema.

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