If you run an online store then I’m going to bet your biggest challenge is how to get more traffic to your website. Because more traffic = more sales. Now there are a bunch of ways to get people back to your site, but one of the very best ways is to send an email to your email list.

The stats don’t lie. A whopping 4.24% of visitors to your online store via email will make a purchase, compared to 2.49% from search results and a pathetic 0.59% of visitors from social media. [Source]

So if growing your email list is key to growing your sales, the next question is:

How do I get people to join my email list, huh?

Good question my friend. And it just so happens I have an answer for you. See, people aren’t just going to join your list for “updates”. It’s weirdly non-specific and not at all enticing – much like being offered “something cool” to get inside that strange man’s van. Most people are going to respectfully decline (and/or back away quickly).

Instead, you’ll need to offer someone the equivalent of a basket of puppies if you want them to hand over their treasured email deets.

Kaley Cuoco Puppies


To help increase the number of people signing up, I’ve pulled together a few opt in ideas to help you grow your email list for your online store.

1. Offer a discount or coupon

This option is probably the most common because a) it’s easy and b) who’s going to say no to a discount?

Although it does have the negative effect of rewarding your new customers at the expense of your existing customers. And if you’re working with tight margins, you may not be able to offer a big enough discount to entice people onto the list.

If you’re not keen on offering a straight discount, why not offer a free gift with their first purchase. If you sold skincare you could offer a bonus headband or face mask, for example. This allows you to provide value without discounting your product.

You can set up an automated email in your email provider to send out the discount code immediately after someone joins your list so they can shop right away.

2. Offer exclusive discounts for your list

Sort of like the above option but you’re not promising an immediate discount. If you like to offer flash sales and specific product promos to your email list, then make sure you tell people that’s what will happen if they join your list.

Anytime anyone asks if you have a sale coming up, direct them to your list and tell them your sales are posted to your list first. Mention this on social media as well as a way to encourage people to join.

3. Have a monthly giveaway

This is what kids boutique Pip & Sox do. Each month they feature a brand on their blog and then offer a giveaway for everyone on their list.

Pip and Sox example of opt in ideas - Nell Casey Creative

You could do the same with a popular product from your range. Include a picture of it on your email sign up box and draw out a winner from your list at the end of each month. This tactic will only cost you the value of the product you give away, plus shipping.

Be aware that some people will join your list just on the chance to win and you may see more unsubscribes as a result. But if you send out interesting/valuable content throughout the rest of the month then those people are more likely to stick around (and eventually buy).

[Just be aware of any state/national rules related to competitions]

4. Create a helpful guide

This is a common opt in giveaway in the marketing world, but it can work just as well for ecommerce brands.

Let’s say you’re a homewares brand. You could create a beautifully designed guide to decorating your home (featuring products from your store). Offer it up for free in exchange for an email address. Remember, when people are buying from you, they’re looking to solve a problem. The more you help them do that, the more likely they are to buy from you.

5. Give away a free ecourse

This is related to the idea above and is another way to get people onto your list and engaged. Create a free course that can be sent out over a series of emails – I find a week to ten days works best. The added bonus of this tactic is people get used to opening emails from you, so when it comes to send sales-focused content, they’re more likely to click that content.

For one client, we created a free course that was all about how to set and create goals. They sold goal-focused stationery so it was related. And it resulted it lots of sign ups AND sales because we really focused on providing value.

6. Offer a free downloadable

You might sell gorgeous prints or paintings. A bonus could be a computer background featuring one of your original designs that people can download. This has the added bonus of literally being in front of their face each and every day.

7. Share your latest updates

You know what, this option works. Maybe not as well as some of the other options up there, but it all comes down to what you offer.

Don’t say “updates” (or worse “our newsletter”). Instead, spell out what people on your list get. Is it early access to pre-orders for new stock? Is behind the scenes info about your brand? Do you publish interesting blog posts and send notifications out to your list?

I’ve used this tactic successfully with clients right before new product launches. Use your social media to build anticipation for your new range, then promise that the first details will go out to anyone on your list by a certain date/time.

Some shopping platforms even allow you to lock down your site and give access only to people with a specific code. This is like the “hip nightclub” tactic of marketing – tell people something’s hard to get into and more people will want to get in.

So what opt in is right for your online store?

This is really going to depend on what your customers are looking for and what you sell. You could test a couple of options by having one offer in a pop up and another in the footer or in your blog section. Someone browsing your blog might be more interested in a free guide or course, whereas someone browsing your store might be more attracted to a discount or a chance to win. It’s all about figuring the mindset of your website visitors, then targeting a specific offer to them.

Whatever you do, just don’t have the “sign up for updates” okay?

Once people are on your list you’ll want to actually have stuff to send them. My Email Automation service is designed to create sales-garnering email content that’s 100% automated = sales while you sleep.