10 Ways To Grow Your House E-mail List

Ian Lurie

Your house e-mail list – the list of people who subscribe on your web site – is your greatest asset. I surveyed 10 clients’ marketing campaigns over the last year. Their house e-mail lists performed best, even compared to search marketing or print direct mail.

Conversion Rates are higher:

Conversion Rates

And the value per visitor is higher:

Value per Visitor

Yet most clients I work with neglect their house list. They’re afraid to e-mail to that list and make their customers angry, or they simply feel they don’t have the time, or they’re not aware that it’s a gold mine.

Here are a few ways to grow and capitalize upon your house list:

  1. Invite past customers. If you have a huge database of customers who have not said ‘please e-mail me’, and you don’t want to assume, then send them an invitation: A polite e-mail letting them know you’ll be sending special offers and new product news, and asking them to click a link if they’d like to be included.
  2. Bribe people. Nothing works better than a bribe! Offer folks 10% off their next purchase if they subscribe. Give them a gift. Give them early access to deals and products that they otherwise wouldn’t get.
  3. Entertain them. One of my clients sends a link to their favorite cute animal YouTube video each week. Their subscribership has tripled.
  4. Educate. Make 1/2 or more of your e-mails purely informational. People are more likely to subscribe if they know they’ll get good information.
  5. Offer samples. Provide examples of past newsletters and offers on your site, so that folks can check the goods before they subscribe.l
  6. Make it easy. Let visitors subscribe to your newsletter during the checkout process. If you’re a services-based business or organization, let them subscribe when they register for something else, or as part of their login process.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask. When I get a business card in a meeting or at a networking event (shudder – I hate those things) I ask if they’d like to receive my newsletter. I get more subscribers that way than any other.
  8. Facilitate whitelisting. On the ‘thank you’ page for your e-mail subscription process, invite the subscriber to add your newsletter’s e-mail address to their address book. That’ll let your e-mails past most spam filters, and insure that they see it when you send it.
  9. FTAF! Make sure every e-mail has a Forward To A Friend link, so that the addressee can send it on to others.
  10. Provide alternatives. Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, is starting to catch on as an alternative to e-mail. Make your newsletters available in an RSS feed. That lets the more technical folks review your latest news on their timetable.

Don’t neglect your house list! It’s a powerful resource that can make the difference between a good month and a great one. Your customers want to hear from you!

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Great idea. I’m passing this along to our instructors and teachers. While this is a no-brainer for big companies, I think that even small businesses can benefit by thinking about things like this.

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