August 10, 2020 | Email Marketing

Email Marketing Tips: 3 Content Types To Help You Start Growing Your Mailing List

A successful email marketing strategy factors in several different variables. But let’s focus on where every great email marketing strategy starts: the content.

Image of a male checking email

Inbox reputation, scheduling, resend strategies, audience segmentation, subject line and preview text optimization...the list of what makes an email marketing strategy worth the effort is lengthy.

It’s no secret, however, that these other factors are ultimately at the mercy of the content itself. If you’re sick of hearing it, we’re sorry—but content truly is king.

Simply put, a good content strategy is often incomplete without a good email marketing strategy to go hand-in-hand. When new users sign up for your mailing list, it’ll be the quality of your content that keeps them from hitting the unsubscribe button. Similarly, the quality of your content can also be what brings new viewers into the fold and there to stay.

As an agency that handles both content and email marketing, we’ve identified three types of email content as particularly valuable for hitting those important key goals: kick-starting a well-rounded email strategy and winning the attention of new subscribers.

3 Email Content Types to Grow Your List & Keep Your Audience Engaged

When you’re thinking about how you can grow your mailing list and keep your existing audience members excited when they see your name in their inbox, you’ll need to make sure they can count on your content to be engaging, actionable, and relevant.

As you build your content plan to meet this challenge, consider working with these three types of email content.

Evergreen Content

Evergreen (or timelessly valuable) content ensures that visitors to your website, social media channels, or other digital platform can get their hands on something helpful, informative, or meaningful to them, regardless of when the piece was originally published.

Balancing your content between more timely, topical pieces and evergreen content will bring you as close to guaranteeing your relevancy as an information source as you can get.

By definition, “evergreen” content brings value to users for an indeterminate amount of time—and combining your content with your email strategy can link these efforts together towards that important goal. Evergreen content and a mailing list essentially have similar reasons for existing: to keep audience members, both new and existing, engaged and coming back for more.

Besides being an effective content marketing strategy, investing in your evergreen content collection means you’ll also have a hefty arsenal of material to pull from for emails whenever you might want to send them.

Need to fill a gap in your email schedule? Pull a few evergreen pieces off of your blog and repackage them in ways you haven’t before. Here are a couple of strategies to get your brainstorm session underway:

The Email Digest

Choose content with similar topics or messaging and include them in an email digest or newsletter.


Give a recently published blog an extra push and re-share it with your audience in case they missed it the first time around.

The Popularity Contest Winner

Notice that some of your email topics get more love than others? Take some related insights from your evergreen content, create an email, and see if that particular topic really does resonate better with your mailing list. 

No matter how busy or behind schedule you might get with your marketing efforts, evergreen content will be there for you when quick ideas & execution is what you need.

Gated Content

At this point, suggesting gated content as a strategy for mailing list growth is a marketing cliche...but it’s a cliche that works. There’s a reason why we’re not the only marketers that recommend tossing in some gated content here and there to bring new audience members into the fold.

“Gating” a piece of content is pretty much what it sounds like: it’s the act of putting your content behind a sort of digital wall that users will need a “key” to access. That key is most commonly a set of contact information: name, occupation, company...and most importantly, email address. You’re making your audience work for your content instead of giving it all away for free. 

Easy, right? Why not just hide all your content behind a gate if you really want to grow your mailing list?

Glad you asked: don’t forget that we live in an age where internet users are pretty wary about giving out their contact information left and right. We can presume that most internet literate people also understand that, when they give out their email, they’re rarely ever signing up just to acquire one piece of content. Their already crowded inboxes will remind them that they’ll have to be in it for more than one message.

There’s also this fact of life to consider: people can be lazy, or at least easily discouraged, when it comes to gated content. While some users might be compelled enough to click on a link to your website, not all of them are going to be compelled enough to give away their information. They’ll see the submission form, think “Yeah, right” and exit the page as quickly as they entered it.

Before you start hiding your content behind email-locked walls, keep this in mind: 

Don’t gate all of your content. In fact, don’t even gate 50% of your content.

You need to have easily accessible content to entice visitors before you ask them to give away their information. Give them a taste of it first. If they enjoyed it, they’ll be hungry for more and more willing to opt into your mailing list.

Consider locking up only the most worthy content.

Your blog post that maybe took you a couple of days to publish? Let that roam free. But your carefully researched eBook that you and your team worked on for weeks? That case study that required multiple client interviews and rounds of review? Or that blog that has always attracted a lot of traffic? Lock it up. Make your audience work for those particularly special pieces.

If the results don’t immediately reach your expectations, don’t fret.

Like we mentioned before, not every web visitor will be interested enough to hand over their email in exchange for your gated content. If your high hopes for growing your mailing list don’t come to fruition off the bat, don’t consider it a failure. Sure, you may not have gotten as many new addresses as you’d like. However, you’re likely to have attracted more qualified users—the ones that were willing to do a little something extra for your content, and might do more in the future in order to convert. Quality over quantity, right? 

Referral Content

Think about how content goes viral. A couple of different actions contribute to a single post going from obscurity to common knowledge.

An Instagram user sees a post. They like the post and share it in a message to their friends. Their friends also like it and share it with their other friends. Instagram responds to this behavior by rewarding the post with a coveted spot on the Discover tab. The algorithm interpreted the likes and shares to mean that this particular post was high-quality, and therefore brought it to other users’ feeds.

...and so on and so on.

Internet virality depends a lot on shares and suggestions—on part of users and the algorithms that control the content we see. In other words, referrals hold a lot of social media power.

Why not try tapping into that same power for your email marketing goals?

I’m not saying your next great email message is going to go viral. But a solid referral strategy, like any one of these three, could definitely help you attract more users for your mailing list:

Think about your content in terms of shareability.

It’s one thing to be interested in an email you saw pop up in your inbox. It’s another thing to get such a kick out of it that you have the urge to forward it to your friends, family, or co-workers. Your email content on its own might be enough to encourage people to share it, but it might be helpful to occasionally slip in some CTAs geared toward that goal, like this holiday-themed email from Harry’s.

Harry's email example

Invite new users to join your community directly in each message.

When your content does get forwarded to those outside your mailing list, let them feel seen. Include a CTA along the lines of what the New York Times has done with it’s Coronavirus Briefing, with a link to help them become a subscriber.

New York Times - email signup

Provide a referral incentive.

Look to popular newsletters from The Hustle and The Skimm for inspiration on this strategy. Both include at the bottom of their daily emails a personal referral link that users are encouraged to forward to others and a note about what can happen when they’ve successfully attracted new subscribers.

The Hustle email example

Skimm email example

Your (New) Audience Awaits

Treat your email marketing strategy as an extension of your content marketing efforts. Ultimately, the two should help you reach a similar goals: to engage existing viewers and reach new ones by way of providing valuable content that piques their interest.

From here, you have a few options: 

  1. Get cracking on your fancy new email marketing strategy.
  2. Gather more email marketing resources over at the Altos Blog.
  3. Start your email marketing with an email—send us a message here if you’d like to chat before getting that new strategy up and running.
Megan O'Keefe

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