Use your list to build your list!

Here’s what Dan Zarrella says about getting people to share your Twitter updates, based on a study of millions of tweets:

“I found that the phrases “please retweet” and “please rt” led to more retweets”

Or as my parents used to say, “If you don’t A-S-K, you won’t G-E-T!”

Many senders hope existing subscribers will help market and build their email lists for them, by telling friends, family, or colleagues about the wonderful offers or content inside. Unfortunately, sharing email content (unless cats are involved) or helping email marketers isn’t always at the top of everyone’s priority list.  If you do want to grow your list through subscriber recommendations, it helps to ask for two things:

1. The share

Space is precious in your emails, but if there’s an opportunity to ask people to forward your message or share it on social networks, then do so. This might be as simple as a line of text in your footer, or a quick appeal built into the copy:

“Save 50% on winter boots. Tell your friends!”

Many senders include Twitter, Facebook and other social media icons in their emails so people can click to share content. The danger is that these icons aren’t really “asking” for anything. Readers may not even know what they’re for. If you use icons, it helps to add a call-to-action, like “Share this on…”

By the same token, remember to include the same sharing tools and links on landing pages. It also (almost) goes without saying: the more value you can offer in your email, the more likely people are to share or recommend it. You can’t expect people to gush to friends about a newsletter showcasing your new visitor car park policy.

2. The sign-up

People on the receiving end of forwarded or shared email content should be able to easily sign up. Otherwise, it’s a lost opportunity. Check if anyone following an email link can sign-up to your emails from the landing page and be sure that anyone can find their way to a subscription form without first clicking through to an article or promotion. For example, you might want to consider adding a sign-up link to your administrative footer.

Since people may even share a printed copy of your email, it might be worth including a web address somewhere – like – so people can easily type into their smartphone or desktop browser.

You won’t double your list size overnight with these tactics, but every little bit helps. Have you had any success with people sharing your emails? Tell us about it below!

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