Email List Growth: The Organic Way

email-list growth
Why organic email list growth is always best

Email marketing is one of the best sales paths for businesses. For every pound spent, the average business can recoup forty pounds over the lifetime of a customer, and to get the best results from email marketing, you need to have a proper email list growth strategy: one that targets the right audience and identifies their segmentation.

Email list growth is better when it is organic, which means that you don’t buy or rent email addresses. Inorganic growth tends to lead to poor relationships with your subscribers, reputation damage to your mail’s IP address and results from campaigns are lower than could be achieved with an organically grown list.

Inorganic Email List Growth Case Study

While inorganic list growth is easier and quicker to achieve, it can also be expensive for numerous reasons. A US Marketing consultancy for financial service providers decided to buy an email list of 100,000 addresses. As soon as the list was delivered to the company, the business owner realised that at least 5% of the addresses were not within the parameters set, i.e. not of the target audience.

Then the consultancy decided to send a campaign to all the addresses. Out of the 100,000 email addresses, 85% hard bounced. This blocked up the mail server and to get it back working, they had to delete the email addresses.

The email marketing software provider also cut their service because the consultancy had used a bought list.

The list cost $14,000 and led to no returns, further costs in reputation repair and lots of unnecessary work.

In addition to this, email marketing laws within the US state that for every email sent where you don’t have permission to contact the owner, you could face fines of $16,000. Similar fines exist in the UK.

How To Organically Build Your Email List

As inorganic email list building is not sustainable, you have to look at the organic methodology. There are several ways to grow an organic email list, and therefore, you can employ multiple techniques at the same time. Here are some of the best that you can employ:

1. Events

One of the oldest is to sign people up to your email marketing list personally. This is normally done at events, like trade shows, network meetings or client meetings. Email list building at events can quickly build your list, but those signing up should give some form of physical permission for evidence (like sign their name on a subscription sheet).

You might want to consider using a competition or a discount to help attract subscribers to your email marketing list.

2. Website Pop-up

Email subscribers often sign up on a website. Popups are an easy way to highlight your email list and can be created so they activate after several seconds upon website entry, or when the user moves their cursor to leave the website.

The issue with a website popup is that there are limitations of email segmentation. Segmentation helps to target subscribers with offers that are specific and are more successful.

3. Downloadable Content

Subscribers love to get something in return for their details, and downloadable content, whether an ebook, whitepaper or application, can be worth its weight in gold. Marketing experts vary in opinion as to how many pieces of downloadable content you should offer. Hubspot recommends creating at least 15 landing pages as that is when small businesses will start to see a massive return on their investment. However, one piece of downloadable content is better than none.

The advantage of downloadable content is that you can tailor your content, so when a user downloads it, you’ll know what the lead is interested in – and therefore have their segmentation. This leads to better conversion rates and shorter lead times.


Email list building is vital for your small business if you want to sell your products online. The first goal of your marketing campaign should always be to grow your email list. Inorganic growth can be costly and lead to damage of your reputation. However, organic growth can help you achieve your business goals sustainably.

How do you grow your email list? Is your email list growth organic or inorganic?

Let us know in the comments below.