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3 Underrated ways to grow a newsletter audience

Growing a newsletter audience can be tricky. Today we explore 3 ways you may not have considered to grow an email audience.

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Growing an email audience can be tough

Any email sender will know this, but you're only achieving your email goals if you have an audience to speak to.

The trick to winning in email is also attracting the right audience. If you wind up with a massive audience who doesn't engage with your emails, you'll begin negatively impacting your reputation in the email realm.

Not good.

Channels and trends change all the time. The psychology behind why people sign up for your emails remains. Someone will sign up to your list if they're going to receive something in return (value, information, incentives).

This value can be illustrated in various ways, and we'll cover this in a future article, but you'll mainly need to make sure that you make the entry point to your list as obvious as possible.

Let's look at 5 ways this can be done that you may not have thought of, or may simply not be trying because you may not know where to begin.

We got you.

1. Using strategic DMs to grow your email audience

DMs (Direct Messages) are a controversial thing in many circles. They get a bad rep, mostly because of the somewhat cringy or bot-run DMs often sent on LinkedIn.

They can, however, still be effective (even on LinkedIn), and we often forget that DMs exist on various digital channels.

Let's begin with LinkedIn.

If we consider our Email Advice in Your Inbox, we've grown almost 80% of our newsletter audience through LinkedIn. Yes, all of our posts feature a link to our newsletter in some way, but of the LinkedIn-based sign-ups we receive, almost 75% of those are through DMs.

Yes, this requires a strategy, which we'll cover shortly, but for this to be effective you have to do some leg work. You also can't be apprehensive or simply shy to ask.

Before you ask, you will need to make sure your profile looks good. Pop your newsletter link in your profile and make sure there's enough info to tell visitors what value you add to their network.

If you ask someone to join your list, you can expect them to make sure they're signing up for something that adds value to their inbox.

There are a ton of LinkedIn experts to follow - Here's somewhere to begin finding their newsletters.

On to your DM strategy, here's a framework you can use to do this yourself:

Step 1: Make it a little personalised

Always say hi and make sure you've mentioned their name (this shows you aren't likely some bot, or that your approach isn't generic and lazy):

"Hi [Name]," isn't that hard to type.

Step 2: Offer friendship You want to build a relationship in some way, in as short a timeframe as possible. Let them know it's great to be connected and that you're excited to learn more from them: " It's great to connect! Looking forward to learning more from you here 🙂". It's polite and shows you care about being part of their network. Step 3: Get to it Don't keep them reading for too long. Get to the ask. Here's where you shoot your shot, state the value your emails will bring them and pop them a link: "You're in the [industry] field, and I write emails about [your value]. It would be great to hear what you think of my/our insights in my [frequency] newsletter. If you find this interesting, simply hit this link to join us: [your landing page link]". State your value succinctly and stick to why it matters to them. To get this right, it's going to be crucial to connect with the right types of connections. Use LinkedIn's search filters to get this right. Step 4: Tell them their choice is respected If you let your connections know that signing up is also not okay should they not see the value, you'll illustrate your sincerity, keeping them as part of your network: "If you aren't keen, that's perfectly okay! I'd still love to be connected". Step 5: Greet them well Make your greeting memorable and even quirky, if you wish. Don't be cringy either, but find a good balance. Here's what we often use: "I hope you have the best day, [name] [newsletter link]" Even saying something punny works. Make sure it matches the tone of your message and doesn't push the boundaries.

Tailor your message well and try different iterations of this framework. You can judge your industry and the level of person you're dealing with to make your message resonate better.

Get started.

A glass house with tupilps and daffodils growing, seen through the window panes

Bonus Tips:

  • Keep the message concise and scannable.

  • Proofread carefully before sending (especially names and spelling).

  • Personalise each message as much as possible for better engagement.

  • Track your results and adjust your approach accordingly.

Use good link-tracking software to make sure you're monitoring how effective your strategy is. We recommend the guys at (we use their brilliant tool).

Remember: Don't spam connections. This framework is designed to build relationships and provide value, ultimately leading to a natural signup for those interested in your content.

This strategy isn't limited to LinkedIn. You can apply this framework to various channels, including Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, X and even P2P chat.

Don't be annoying in the inbox. If you send a message or two and get ghosted, then leave it alone.

Incessant follow-ups are desperate and they don't make good friends.

2. Free "Resource Vaults" with Tiered Access:

This is something that almost any email sender can create in some way.

Most products or services come with an opportunity to provide additional value, information or education.

If you sell a product:

  • You can create resources to show how to get the best out of your product

  • You can build feedback channels or social buyer channels

  • You can entice future discounts and early-release offers

  • You can gate premium "access" or "education"

If you sell a service:

  • You can create channels to access future help or product releases

  • You can build ongoing help guides or service extensions

  • You can gate exclusive "members only" groups

  • You can host sign-up-only webinars or events

Develop a library of valuable resources like templates, checklists, or ebooks. Offer a limited selection for free with email signup. Tier access to exclusive, premium content for those who subscribe to your newsletter.

Though this may take you some time to develop, it carries a ton of value knowing time and expertise have been spent on something that genuinely adds value to someone thinking of signing up to your emails.

Resources also play on the principle of reciprocity. Giving something before expecting something in return carries a lot of relationship value.

Don't underestimate the power of creating. It's why your audience follows you, after all.

Bonus tips: Share your newsletter and the value it adds to the inbox in all of your resources! This is a great way for folks engaging with your content or resources to have access and exposure to your newsletter. Your resource may just be what nudges them to make the decision to join your list.

If you don't ask, you won't receive, will you?

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3. Collaborate and build partnerships

There are tons of newsletter creators or marketers out there who are willing to work together to win.

Shared audiences and collaborating to add mutual value are often slept on outside of the creator space, where this is a boon for email audience growth.

Brands can also leverage this well! Find brands of complimentary products or services, and form an audience-share campaign to promote your collaboration - Double the exposure and double the potential list-growth reward.

You have an opportunity to run mutual ads, social media campaigns or email campaigns to promote your mutual newsletters or emails.

You need to be cautious and make sure that this makes sense for your audience. Not everyone is going to want to have a "crypto" partner selling Bitcoin to their audience.

There are great platforms out there where you can find email senders and marketers willing to collaborate. We use

Lettergrowth to great effect, for example.

There are also a multitude of collaboration opportunities such as referral partnerships. These could take the form of shared products or resources, podcasts or webinars, and even collaborative education sessions.

If you get creative, the opportunities to collaborate and share audiences are limitless.

We've dived into this topic in detail. You can read that here (and grab a few more places to grow your audience through shared exposure.

Here are 3 key takeaways:

Quality over quantity

You don't need a large audience for email success, but you do need the RIGHT audience. Adding a few hundred email addresses to your list that you got from an old spreadsheet ain't going to cut it.

You're wasting your time and effort to appease your ego. You can monetise an engaged audience well if you're smart about it. Always seek the right people to add in.

Partner with the right people

You can dramatically increase your database through audience swaps and cross-promotion with other newsletter owners. But always ask yourself if their audience is who you want to attract.

Will an audience interested in knitting want to read your content about heavy metal song reviews? That's probably a nope (but also a huge generalisation from my side, we admit 👀).

Respect your audience

If someone doesn't want to join, don't badger them. If people unsubscribe, let them. If your audience gives you negative feedback, listen to them.

The trick to database growth is in how well you retain your audience, after all. Make sure you provide your audience with an unsubscribe link at all times, respect how often they've chosen to receive your emails and focus on their feedback.

Growing an audience through shared exposure is a great way to build great relationships and grow your audience through new channels.

3 underrated ways to grow a newsletter audience you'll be using from today

You may already be trying one of these. You may also be a shared audience platform! If you want to be featured in front of our community or would love to give us any feedback, get in touch here.

Give these 3 underrated ways to grow a newsletter audience a try and consider your audience growth strategy carefully.

Your audience will grow with the right focus on adding future value.

Before you go! If you're looking for a place to begin growing, this is for you. Learn the fastest ways to grow your email list today by using the tried and tested Email Database Growth Playbook.

Click here or on the image below to get your FREE copy👇

Preview of The Ultimate Database Growth Guide for Email Marketing by Email Expert Africa

Want to become an email expert? Get our expert email guide today! Click here to find out more

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