15 Irresistible Incentives That’ll Attract Subscribers and Grow Your Email List

Filed in Email Marketing, Ultimate Guides & Resources by on April 15, 2015


The money is in the list – I know you’ve heard this a million times.

But it’s true!

You can’t build a successful niche website, or any sustainable online business for that matter, without a thriving email list. And I’m not saying this without proof.

It’s hard to get your website visitors paying for anything online without winning their trust.

They should be confident that whatever you’re recommending or selling is not just another cheap good-for-nothing product designed to make you easy money.

You can’t build such a relationship without having an email list. With people on your list, you can connect with them regularly and build a certain level of trust and credibility with them.

Once your readers start trusting you, you can sell them anything – ANYTHING!

Still not convinced about the importance of email? Here are a few stats for you.....


  • 66% of consumers in the US below the age of 15 made at least one purchase in the last year as a result of an email. (Click here to Tweet this)
  • Almost 88% of US companies believe that the ROI of acquiring new email subscribers is worth the cost. (Click here to Tweet this)


So basically your sales numbers have a direct relationship with email marketing (for which you need an engaged email list).

Which brings me to the real purpose of this post.


(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 34 ways to grow your email list click here or the image below)


What You'll Learn:

  • What you actually need in order to attract email list subscribers.
  • 15 ways to create irresistible email list incentives to grow your subscriber count like crazy.
  • Real examples of bloggers who're successfully using innovative email list bribes to build their businesses.



Why You Still Don’t Have Subscribers?

You probably have a cute little opt-in box in your blog’s sidebar saying “Get Free Email Updates”

Reality check – people are NOT interested in your blog updates.

Offer something valuable, something unique, something irresistible. Something that blows them away with so much value that they’d gladly pay for it.

In simple words, create a mouthwatering incentive for your visitors which,

  • addresses one problem, one roadblock, one show stopper of your target audience and solves it comprehensively.
  • provides immediate and clearly actionable advice.
  • gives key information or crucial knowledge about a certain topic in very limited time.
  • facilitates the readers in achieving their immediate objectives.

The problem, however, with most bloggers is that they can’t come up with an idea that matches all these requirements and stands out from the usual boring email list bribes.


15 Types of Freebies To Attract More Email Sign-Ups

To get people on your list, you need to make sure your freebie stands out from the crowd and instantly convinces your visitors to sign up.

I’ve put together a list of 15 different email list incentives that you can use to get people on your list.

I recommend using multiple freebies as a part of your list building strategy.

Hopefully this’ll get your creative juices flowing and help you come up with your own irresistible freebie.


1. The Expensive Email Course for Free

An email course is one of the best ways to ease your visitors into your email list and give them a good taste of the value that your blog has to offer.

It’s much easier for your subscribers to digest the information shared in an email course since it’s usually spread across several weeks or even months.

However, the topic selection for your email course needs to be spot on in order to create maximum impact.

You need to target a topic that is deep enough to last for a few weeks, and is worthy of the subscribers time.

In my experience, email courses work really well when they address the fundamentals of your niche.

For example, if your blog is about freelance writing, you can create an email course on effective marketing techniques for freelance writers.

To make your course even more tempting, you need to highlight the monetary value it actually has.

Highlight the fact that you’re giving away exclusive knowledge for free which would cost the subscriber thousands of dollars anywhere else.

Neil Patel does this brilliantly while promoting his “SEO and Digital Marketing Email Course”




You can also create an email series by compiling some of the most useful content on your blog and structuring it for emails.

But make sure your course has the right duration. Stretching it too long can turn people off and make it less attractive.


Basic Requirements

High quality content, eye-catching course cover design, email list integration and setting up an auto-responder.

You can try MailChimp or AWeber for configuring your auto-responder by paying a small monthly fee. SendinBlue is another great email marketing solution with a free auto-responder feature for up to 9000 emails/month.


Neil Patel"Email marketing has one of the highest ROIs across  online marketing channels" - Neil Patel (QuickSprout)

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2. An In-Depth eBook

eBooks are the most common email bribes used by almost every other blogger.

Offering a free eBook used to be a much more tempting incentive a couple of years ago. But with so many free eBooks on offer, it’s harder to attract subscribers with them.

But that doesn’t mean they’re useless. In fact, when created intelligently, eBooks can still be a great way to attract subscribers.

The secret to creating a highly desirable eBook is keeping it extremely focused and actionable.

Find a topic that is either easily digestible, or is so complex that the average bloggers in your niche don’t know a thing about it.

The easiest way to find such topics is by using Quora.

It’s one of my favorite research forums where people from almost every field of life discuss different topics and brainstorm new ideas.

You can also analyze the leading blogs in your niche and find out their most popular content. This will give you a fair idea of what you audience really wants. Use BuzzSumo to make your job easier.

You can also find some great ideas in this detailed post. Although it primarily focuses on blogging ideas, you use the approach to generate eBook ideas as well.

A prime example of an easily digestible eBook, is Jon Morrow’s headline hacks. He calls it a cheat sheet, but in reality it’s a detailed eBook created in an easily digestible way.




Notice how Jon has narrowed the scope of his eBook to just the headlines. This is the kind of immediate value which gets people interested in a freebie.

Neil Patel’s QuickSprout is, again, another great example to follow.




Basic Requirements

A high quality eBook which focuses on just one topic, created in MS Word, Apple Pages or Open Office Writer and converted into PDF (you can do online conversion here). You can get your eBook cover designed for as low as $5 on Fiverr.


ramsay"Offering a free eBook to email subscribers still converts better than offering nothing" - Ramsay (BlogTyrant)

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3. Eye Opening Checklists

If you’re like me, you hate reading 100 page eBooks and ultimate guides on your laptop or smartphone. And there might be thousands of your potential subscribers who feel the same way.

A great substitute to writing long and boring eBooks, is to create an eye-opening checklist.

Checklists are meant to highlight the most critical elements of your niche and are tempting email list incentives since they give subscribers a lot of actionable value in very little time.

They help the subscribers find flaws in their strategy by listing down the essential elements they need for success.

A great example of an effective checklist is the “Managing Content Marketing – Checklist” by Smart Insights.




Other great examples to follow are Neil Patel’s Ultimate Content Marketing Checklist or the Technical SEO Checklist by WordTracker.

You can create something like that for your niche, convert it into PDF and use it to attract subscribers.

Basic Requirements

In terms of technical requirements, you don’t any specific tools other than the ones I mentioned for creating eBooks.


4. A High Value Webinar

Every other blog is offering text based freebies. Why don’t you take a different route and offer a high value webinar as an email list incentive.

The popularity graph for webinars has been on the rise for the last couple of years and many of the top blogs have started integrating webinars in their overall content strategy.

Instead of asking your subscribers to read a 100 page eBook, take the burden off them and ask them to sit back and relax while you do all the talking in your webinar.

Moz has a great webinar series which it also uses to gain subscribers. Webinars also give you an opportunity to attract subscribers through indirect sources.

For example, you can partner with another blogger and offer a free webinar for their subscribers. During and after the webinar, you can promote your own content and get people on your list (here’s a great post on doing your first webinar.)


Basic Requirements

You can run webinars effectively using Google+ Hangouts on Air.

But to integrate your email lists, social media sharing and other useful webinar features, I recommend using ClickWebinar.

Also make sure your webcam and mic are working fine. Once the webinar is recorded, you can offer it as an email list freebie on your blog.


5. One on One Coaching Sessions

If you’re a freelancer or a niche expert, a great way to get people on your list is to offer free 10-15 minute coaching sessions.

To make it more tempting, and manageable, you can apply a question limit, for example “I’ll Answer 3 of Your Most Burning Niche Questions Live”.

This tactic works particularly well when you’re promoting a particular product or program. It’s not as sustainable as the eBook or webinar freebie, but it gets a lot more attention as compared to the others.

Life and career coaches like Anthony Robbins use one on one coaching sessions for list building very effectively.

You can also use these coaching sessions to note down the burning questions of your audience and find ideas for future blog content or paid products.


Basic Requirements

You can use Skype or Google Hangouts for conducting one on one sessions. Also make sure you record these sessions by using tools like the MP3 Skype Recorder.


adamconnell"The more relevant that your opt-in forms and opt-in bribes are, the better your conversions will be" - Adam Conell (BloggingWizard)

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6. Free Audits and Consultation

Offering free audits and consultation related to user content/products can help you gain tons of subscribers in very quick time.

This works particularly well if you’re in a services niche like SEO, web design etc. But even if your blog is in a purely product based niche, you can still offer some kind of free product audits/reviews to attract subscribers.

Just look at this inviting “Free Consultation Offer” by Neil Patel




This kind of freebie not only gets you subscribers easily but also gives you a great opportunity to convert them into leads and paying customers.


Basic Requirements

You can simply use Skype chat sessions or go for more professional solutions like ClickMeeting to schedule meetings and integrate them with your email list and social media accounts.

Such calls also give you the opportunity to promote any existing eBooks or content on your blog that users might find useful.


(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 34 ways to grow your email list click here or the image below)


7. To the Point Cheat Sheets

If you want to create a freebie that gives tons of knowledge and value to your subscribers in a very short time, try creating a cheat sheet.

Cheat sheets are like energy filled capsules that outline the key niche information, eye opening data insights and highly actionable shortcuts to success.

Cheat sheets attract lots of subscribers because they deliver game changing knowledge, while saving hours of valuable time.

For example, this set of cheat sheets will be an instant hit with corporate employees. Similarly, Belinda uses cheat sheets on her copy writing blog to attract subscribers.




Your cheat sheet doesn’t even have to be very good looking either.

It just needs to give your subscribers the value they’re looking for. Just look at this simple, but very effective, cheat sheet Jon Morrow uses on his niche blog GuestBlogging.com




Your cheat sheet can also be a quick and useful resource like this comparison chart of different eCommerce platforms.

It gives the readers a clear idea of the pros and cons of all the services compared.

In short, your cheat sheet should provide immediate value to the reader without taking too much of their time.


Basic Requirements

Technically, cheat sheets are eBooks, so you don’t need anything other than a word processor like MS Word to create them.

If you want to add flowcharts and diagrams to your cheat sheet, you can use online tools like Gliffy. Alternatively, you can use default cheat sheet templates available on Cheatography.


8. The Credible Template

Templates are tried and tested models that can be followed confidently to achieve certain results.

Templates, as freebies, are tempting for your subscribers because they save them from all the hard work and provide a dependable framework that they can use.

If you’ve ever been associated with the IT industry, you’d know that Project Managers create templates for everything from project proposals and monitoring, to audits and reviews.

A great example is the invoice generator template by Shopify which only requires the users to enter their invoice information, and creates a standard invoice on its own template.




The Bidsketch sample proposal template is another good example.

It helps users create winning client proposals with its well-crafted proposal template. Smart Insights also offers comprehensive digital marketing templates to attract subscribers.




The basic idea is to save your subscribers from thinking too much and giving them a ready to use template which they can just download and fill-in-the-blanks.

Basic Requirements

You don’t need anything other than a simple word processor like MS Word or Google Docs to create a template. Convert it into PDF and offer it as a freebie on your blog.


6"Nothing is as potent as a large, targeted, responsive email list of engaged followers" - Jeff Bullas

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9. The Well-Rounded Toolkit

Who doesn’t like free tools and applications (especially when all the tools are top quality)?

The toolkit bribe is one of the most effective ways to get subscribers on your list. But for this to work well, you need to have an existing set of high quality tools, worksheets, eBooks, exclusive content and other stuff that you can package together.

Niche leaders and influencers like Copyblogger and Adam Connell, BloggingWizard, offer exclusive toolkits to their subscribers.




Toolkits are MUCH more valuable than the conventional eBooks and cheat sheets because they offer solutions to a wider range of problems and give your subscribers the necessary tools to solve them.

They also help you strengthen your brand image and connect better with your subscribers.

Loz James, Content Champion, is another one who comes to mind when it comes to offering free toolkits.




Over the last one year, Loz has intelligently branded himself as an expert Podcaster and interviewed some of the leading names in his industry. He offers exclusive podcasts and content marketing tools in his toolkit.


Basic Requirements

You need to have several high value tools to create a really tempting toolkit.

Try creating a combination of eBooks, a few exclusive plugins, worksheets, templates and list specific content. Bundle them together in a ZIP or RAR file (use WinRAR) and offer as a freebie to your blog visitors.


10. The Dependable Blueprint

If you want to help your subscribers achieve a very specific objective and or want them to progress towards a certain milestone, create a well-crafted and highly actionable blueprint for them.

A blueprint is essentially a guideline of how your subscribers can reach a certain goal. It covers a broader strategy and breaks it down into actionable points.

Depending on the length of the subject your blueprint is covering, it can be anything between 5 to 50 pages.

Usually blueprints are effective if you’re sharing something that you’ve already done yourself and want to teach your subscribers how to replicate your success.

The Definitive Blueprint for Lead Management by HubSpot, and the Content Marketing Blueprint are great examples of how an effective blueprint looks like.

Another good example is the “Step by Step Guide to Starting a Blog” by Matt Banner




Basic Requirement

Like several other incentives on this list, blueprints are also in eBook form so you only need a word processor to create the content, and PDF conversion service to create the final document.


11. The Fascinating Case Study

Do you like telling stories? If yes, offering an engaging and well-crafted case study might just be the email list bribe you should create.

Most case studies are success stories of common people who made it big somehow.

You can take the conventional route and create another success based case study in your niche.

Or, you can take alternate route and create a case study on how someone destined for success messed it up and lost everything.

Most of the times, the negative titles, warning the readers about something, work better than the positive ones.

Whichever route you take, case studies give you a great opportunity to not only attract subscribers, but also tell them in detail how you played your part in someone’s success.

It allows you to take your subscribers backstage and show them the hard yards that you put into your work. This strengthens your brand image and the relationship with your subscribers.

Single Grain, a leading digital agency, uses case studies to attract subscribers.




But if you’re just starting out and do not have any case studies of your own, there are several other ways you can create enticing case studies that your visitors would gladly sign up for.

  • You can interview niche leaders on how they made it big in their niche.
  • You can conduct audio or video sessions with multiple people in your niche, compile their advice and offer it as an email bribe.
  • Pick one successful product launch in your niche, and interview the product owner about the strategies they used to achieve success

There are countless other ways you can create a highly desirable case study. The secret to success, is to create a case study that shows your subscribers how someone achieved the same success your subscribers crave for.

Just see how inviting these case studies look.


quicksproutemail2 quicksproutemail3


Basic Requirements

Depending on the nature of your case study, you can use a simpler word processor like MS Word, Skype chat or Google Hangouts for audio/video interviews (use the Skype recorder I mentioned above).


sujan"It’s 2015 and it’s clear that email marketing still works"
- Sujan Patel

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12. The Stylish Video Course

Visual content consumption is at an all-time high right now. In the age of smartphones, tablets and high speed internet connections, watching HD videos is not the pain it once used to be.

That is why some of the leading global brands are aggressively integrating video in their content marketing strategy.

You can take advantage of this growing trend and really set yourself apart in your niche by creating a high value video course. Video courses not only look stylish, but are also much easier to consume for your subscribers.

A great example is the QuickSprout University which has dozens of video courses on different content marketing topics. Users need to sign up in order to watch these videos.




Your video series doesn’t always have to feature you either.

You can also create video course with a screen cast and keep your voice in the background. You can even go for an animated video series, but that, of course, would require a significant investment.


Basic Requirements

You need to have a high quality camera and mic system in a well lit room.

For video editing you can use Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X on the Mac. Or you could just go to Fiverr or Elance and hire someone to this for you.


13. The High-End Online Tool

Do you really want to WOW your visitors and get tons of subscribers every day?

This might cost a bit more money than the conventional text based freebies, but creating a high-end online tool will guarantee you more subscribers than any other form of email list giveaways.

Not only do they attract subscribers, they also get dozens of backlinks to your website because people all over the web start linking to your tool.

Your tool can be anything that effectively solves a problem of your potential subscribers.

A great example, once again, is QuickSprout.




This tool appears on the homepage of QucikSprout.

It analyzes domains for their SEO strength and identifies potential improvement areas in their overall structure, content and other important elements.

But it requires people to log in with Google, which gives it access to their email addresses. It has attracted thousands of subscribers to Neil’s list and has given him insights on numerous domains.

Shopify also released their own Business Name Generator tool that not only generate business names but also instantly checks domain availability for the suggested names.




Of course, these tools cost a lot of money. So they’re not an ideal example for you if you’re just starting out.

But for companies or established blogs looking for innovative ways to attract subscribers, this is certainly worth trying.


Basic Requirements

You can’t create such tools yourself (unless you’re an application developer of course).

So you’ll need to hire a web developer from oDesk or Elance and get the whole thing created for your blog.


14. The Call to Arms Manifesto

Sometimes the best way to attract people to your list is by inspiring them with what you stand for and what you believe in.

A loud and clear announcement of your values can often help in attracting like-minded people to your blog and developing a community around it.

This is where manifestos are so useful. By definition, “manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government

A blog manifesto is just that – a bold and clear statement of your intentions with your blog, what you wish to achieve through it, and what values you stand for.

LeavingWorkBehind, by Tom Ewer, was one of the first manifestos I saw when I started blogging. And I still see it as a great example to follow.




Jeff Goins also has a writer’s manifesto aimed at breathing life back into depressed and failing writers.




Basic Requirements

You need to identify certain core values for your blog and your strategy needs to be consistent to those values. There’s no harm in taking the unconventional or controversial route either.

Other than that, MS Word or Google Docs should be enough to help you create a manifesto.


(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 34 ways to grow your email list click here or the image below)


15. The Mind-blowing Resource Freebie

This is where you simply create a freebie that is so full of in-your-face value that no visitor on your blog can bear the temptation to sign up.

You don’t teach anything to your subscribers in this freebie. You simply give them what they desire the most.

A great example of such a freebie is the “1781 Hot Niche Markets” by Stuart on this very blog.




Stuart has done all the hard work for his subscribers and is offering them a ready to use resource to build profitable niche websites in more than 1780 niche markets.

This is the kind of value that no subscriber can deny.

Another great example is the “$10,640 in Blogging Gigs” freebie by Sophie Lizard.




In this resource, Sophie has handpicked 64 blogs that pay $50 to $1000 per post. It is an extremely tempting email bribe for anyone looking for freelance writing gigs.


Basic Requirements

You need to do all the hard work in creating this freebie. You can’t just tell your subscribers how something’s done. You’ll need to do it for them, and offer it as a freebie.

Your resource can be anything from an eBook to a direct discount coupon for a high value product.


You’ve Created a Mouthwatering Freebie….What’s Next?

Phew! That was exhausting.

Now that you’ve done the hard part and created an irresistible email list bribe, you need to identify ways you can promote it and get people to sign up for it.

Stuart did a brilliant post on getting more email list subscribers that goes into the details of how you can use different strategies to promote your freebie. I strongly recommend you take the time to read it.

There’s another detailed post on WPKube about email list building plugins and how they can be configured. I recommend you read that as well.

And last but not the least, you’ll need some traffic on your blog so that people can find your freebie in the first place. For this, go through this post I did here on NicheHacks a few months back.

That is just about it. This is all you need to create a mouthwatering email list freebie, and then attract the right subscribers to it.

As I said at the start, you can’t get people to sign up for your list unless you offer them something so valuable, for free, that they’d be happy paying for it. If you’ve read this post carefully, I’m sure you already have a few ideas for your next irresistible email bribe.

Do you have any other innovative ideas for an irresistible email list incentive? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Jawad Khan
Jawad Khan is a content marketing consultant and a freelance blogger for hire. Follow him on his blog, WritingMyDestiny, Twitter and Google+

Comments (7)

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  1. Theodore says:

    A well laid out post Stuart,
    Indeed, the money is the list but this also depends on the kind of list you built. Offering high valued Incentive is certainly the easiest way to get people into your email list as well but with so many different types of free gifts flying all over the Internet today, it has really become difficult to get them signing in except and only if yours is a top notch.

    This is the main reason why it is advisable for one to take his time before deciding on the kind of incentive he want to offer. Yours need to really stand out if you want people to be enticed by it.

    However, all the different types of incentive you've laid out here are very ok especially the online course. I was among those to opted into Neil Petals list when he launched his advance guide to SEO and content marketing.

    Thanks for sharing man. Enjoy your weekend.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Your freebie should solve your audiences #1 problem and then people will bite your hand off to get it. Random freebies on the other hand will mean low opt in rate.

  2. Most bloggers don't leverage the possibilities that exist to grow their lists. It's great to see you offering them over a dozen ideas they can use and implement on their sites to do this.

    Great resource!

  3. Irene Anum says:

    Many thanks Stu, for this article. Ive gotetn several ideas for an appropriate freebie for my site.

  4. Irene Anum says:

    Many thanks Stu, for this article. Ive gotten
    several ideas for an appropriate freebie for my site.