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How to Get the First 10,000 Subscribers to Your Email List

Building an email list from scratch is a daunting task, and nobody really talks about how they got their first 1,000, 5,000, or 10,000 subscribers.

If you’re looking to grow your list, there are many strategies that will help you scale your efforts.

No need to sweat it, here’s how to get your first 10,000 subscribers.

Why should you own and manage your own list?

Your email list is your direct line of communication with your customers. Owning your own list means you're protected from the changing rules and regulations on sites like Google and Facebook. Email marketing is a more intimate form of communication - you aren’t just a status update or an ad your customers see once.

You’re developing and maintaining relationships with your customers because they chose to give you their email address. It’s an engaged, personal way to market directly to your customer base.

Decide who to target

You likely already have a target audience in mind, but if you don’t, it’s worth taking the time to clearly identify who you’re looking to reach. This will help you know where to focus your efforts, and how to tailor your messaging to appeal to your target customers.

Audiences can be defined by a few different segmentation factors.


These are the easily identifiable traits like age, gender, religion, income, and level of education.


Traits that have more to do with personality, such as beliefs, values, lifestyles, and life goals fit into this category. These are slightly harder to pinpoint, so careful research is crucial.


Segmenting customers based on the actions they take while interacting with your site is arguably the most useful for ecommerce marketers. It requires more data on your customer's shopping and spending habits, which platforms like Drip can give you direct access to.

The ability to target customers based on these traits allows you to target your customers more directly. For example, behavioural segmentation allows you to use tools like exit intent forms - that only trigger when a customer is about to leave your site.


These customers are targeted based on their geographic location, for deeper segmentation around country, zip code, or state. This is especially important if you’re engaging in seasonal marketing.

Opt-in forms

Once you’ve decided who to target, it’s time to create a place for your audience to give you their email address. This can be accomplished with a site-wide widget or pop-up, a dedicated landing page, or targeted forms on product pages or blogs.

If you’re putting opt-in forms on product pages or across your site, add an incentive like a discount or free gift with purchase to sweeten the deal for your customers.

Consider the user experience as you design your form. Make them easy to use and easy to close. I love this example from Moon Juice.

In the case of a blog, the information you are providing is the incentive. Make it clear to your audience that subscribing to your list gives them access to more of your content and information.

Start a blog

Any ecommerce brand can create useful, engaging content, but there are a few rules to making a blog that actually converts. The key is to remember that your blog isn’t a place to sell to customers directly, and instead make sure that your content dovetails with your products. Done well, a blog will help showcase your knowledge while making your customers more excited to use your products.

Here are a few examples of awesome ecommerce blogs.

Offering a selection of fresh juices and wellness supplements, Press utilizes its blog to teach its customers about the benefits and complexities of nutrition. They offer user testimonials and insider tips as well.

Vinebox - Words on Wines

Offering a selection of wine available online, Vinebox is perfect for everyone from new winos to expert sommeliers. They achieve this with their blog, which offers knowledge on everything wine - from buying to drinking and beyond.

Utilize social media

If you are publishing content, social media can help amplify it and put your content in front of new audiences. There are a few tricks to make this even more effective and achieve the most reach.


Created to give users an easy way to segment social media content by topic, hashtags help put your content in front of new eyes based on what people are searching for. There’s no need to overthink this, but some research into how people are posting about what you’re writing or promoting goes a long way in making sure you’re using the most relevant hashtags.


It’s no surprise, but people love free stuff. Hosting a giveaway on social media can be incredibly effective at bringing new visitors to your site or your content. If you can partner up with a relevant brand, you’ll likely see even more success. Giveaways are also a natural place to ask for customer information in exchange for entry, making them a great way to increase your subscriber count.

Here are a few of our favourite giveaway strategies:

  • Giveaways that require relevant information to enter - ie an email address

  • Utilising social media platforms to drive traffic to your email lists

  • Giveaways that require you to repost or tag friends to be entered

Referral Programs

Your most engaged customers can become your biggest champions if utilised correctly. Similar to social media giveaways that require you to tag friends to enter, a referral program offers customers an incentive if they refer a certain number of their friends to your site.

Remember, your incentive doesn’t always have to be a discount. Free shipping, a special offer, and exclusive access can be just as compelling.

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