How to Get 100,000 Subscribers in 5 Months (12 Strategies)

Want to know how to build an email list fast? You can see huge results in a very short amount of time by following proven list building strategies. In this guide, we’ll share how to get 100,000 subscribers in 5 months (including 12 strategies from 3 case studies).

You’ve probably heard that email marketing is the #1 way to grow any business online. But did you also know that your email list degrades by approximately 22.5% every year?

You’ll need to be constantly adding fresh email subscribers to your list on a regular basis if you want to keep your list healthy (and not by purchasing an email list– learn why you should never buy an email list here).

In this guide, we’ll share 12 proven list building strategies, from 3 case studies.

Ready to start growing your email list? Let’s go…

Case Study #1: How Groove Doubled their List to 50,000 in 6 Months

Groove is a SaaS company who decided to put a big focus on list building.


They made an important realization that their blog is the single biggest source of new trial signups, and blog subscribers are more than twice as likely to sign up for a trial as non-subscribers.

So, they decided to optimize their blog for email opt ins. Here’s what they did to double their email list to 50K subscribers in just 6 months…

1. Install a Scroll Box

The first thing they did was test adding different optin forms in different places, from pop-ups to buttons embedded within posts.

They wanted to find the best “mix” of different optin types, so that they wouldn’t annoy readers too much.

The first successful optin was a polite slide-in scroll box that appeared when the reader reached the end of a post.

A scroll box is a great way to grow your list without being too pushy.

This optin converted around 1.4%, and they received nearly 2,000 email signups from it.

2. Install a Floating Bar

Next, Groove started experimenting with highly noticeable floating bars, which attach themselves to the top (or bottom) of the reader’s screen and scroll along with them.

A floating bar can be pinned to the top or bottom of your user’s screen, so it is highly noticeable.

Their floating bar converted at just under 1%, also receiving around 2,000 signups.

3. Turn Homepage Upside-Down

After getting their blog posts optimized for email subscriptions with a couple optin forms, they turned their attention to their homepage.

Rather than keeping the traditional top navigation bar, they decided to move the navigation to the bottom of the page. This way, visitors would see their optin form right away, and would have to click on the link at the bottom to actually read the blog.

To add social proof, they included a couple testimonials below the optin form.


As the result of this homepage redesign, they saw their conversions go up from 0.8% to 1.9%, or a 1.1% increase.

Note: They also used cookies to ensure that visitors who already signed up or clicked to “Read the Blog” wouldn’t see this upside-down version of the homepage again.

4. Add Inline Optins

Another thing they did to optimize their blog was to add an inline optin form to their blog posts.

This turned out to be the highest-converting place for them, resulting in about 7,300 downloads.

This inline optin form converted the best for Groove.

5. Host a Giveaway

Finally, they used Rafflecopter to host a giveaway. In the giveaway, they gave visitors the chance to win 13 of their favorite books.

This resulted in 1,500 new subscribers at a whopping 9.8% conversion rate.


Bonus Tip: To increase your conversions, you can embed giveaways like this inside a lightbox popup using OptinMonster’s Canvas theme.

Case Study #2: How The Hustle Got 100,000 Subscribers in 5 Months

The Hustle is a unique email newsletter that pulls the latest news, and condenses it into a short, snarky, daily commentary.


Since their business relies completely on email, they needed to really “hustle” to grow their email list.

In the first 5 months, they grew to about 100,000 subscribers.


This also resulted in growing their web traffic to mast 1 million monthly pageviews.


How did they do it? They used one brilliant strategy:

6. Build a Subscriber Referral Program

To see such massive list growth, the Hustle built a program to reward subscribers for referring their friends.

This program gave their existing subscribers a unique URL that they could share with their friends. The URL went to an optin landing page that looked like this:


To educate their “ambassadors” and encourage them to share, they sent out an automated email to any subscriber who hit the 3-week mark.


In the email, they explained all the prizes for referring a specific number of subscribers. If they get 5 friends to sign up, then they get access to their private community. 20 sign ups gets them a t-shirt. Next is a hoodie, and finally is a free ticket to their convention.

Ambassadors could also log in to see how many subscribers they have referred, so they can track their progress:


All of this was coded using the tips from Tim Ferriss’s post here.

Case Study #3: How Kate McKibbin Got 25,000 Subscribers in Under a Year

Kate McKibbin is a full-time blogger. When she first started out, her business consisted purely of an email newsletter, similar to The Hustle. So of course, she had to make growing her email list a priority.


Here are the strategies she used to grow her list to over 25,000 subscribers in under a year…

7. Add Content Upgrades + 2-Step Optin Technology

The first thing Kate did was to create an irresistible lead magnet. This first lead magnet was “evergreen”, meaning it was one universal lead magnet that most all of her target audience would be interested in.

But the real breakthrough which allowed her to ramp up her email list growth was adding content upgrades.

Content upgrades are lead magnets created specifically for a particular blog post. Adding these content upgrades to her blog posts on a regular basis was a game-changer for Kate.

Especially when she paired them with 2-step optins.

2-step optins work by asking the reader to click on a button or a link before they see the optin form. These use the psychology principle known as the Zeigarnik Effect, which states that those who initiate are more likely to finish the process.


Want something similar on your website? Start using OptinMonster to convert website visitors into subscribers and customers.

When combined with content upgrades, 2-step optins can increase your conversions by as much as 785% (without A/B testing)!

8. Promote to Existing Subscribers

Another really smart strategy that Kate used was to repurpose her content upgrades by promoting them to her existing email list.

Since she was creating new lead magnets on a regular basis, she wanted to make sure that her existing subscribers were receiving the benefit from them too.

Keeping your existing subscribers happy is a great way to spread word of mouth, and attract even more email subscribers.

9. Create a Resource Library

Yet another way that she repurposed her content upgrades was by creating a resource library to house them all.

This was simply a page on her website which included all of the links to download each of her various lead magnets. This page was not publicly visible, so only people with the URL could see it.

Then, whenever someone new subscribed to her list, Kate would send them the resource library page to download all of her lead magnets.

Bonus Tip: If you want to keep this page public, so that it has the chance to go “viral” on social media, you can use OptinMonster’s content lock feature to hide the content of the library until someone enters their email address.

10. Update Popular Posts

At the risk of repeating myself, Kate is a very smart lady. She knew that updating her popular blog posts would result in even more email subscribers.

First, go into Google analytics (or your OptinMonster analytics) and find your 10-20 most popular posts over the last 6+ months. These are the posts that get traffic all year round, not just when you first publish them.

Then, add content upgrades to those posts.

For even higher conversions, use a combination of slide-in boxes, inline forms and 2-step optins into the post using page level targeting to display the specific content upgrade offers on specific blog posts.

11. Set Up a Recurring Sharing Schedule

Do you promote your posts on social media after you publish them? What happens after that?

Kate not only promoted her posts once, but over and over again to get more email subscribers.

To do this, she used free tools like Recurpost, BoardBooster (for Pinterest) and Grum (for Instagram) to set up a recurring sharing schedule. This way, her blog posts with their optin offers would be shared to social media at least 2-3 times per week on Facebook and Twitter.

To avoid repeating herself too much, Kate uploaded at least 2-3 different versions of each post to share, mixing up the image, heading, and post description.

12. Link Guest Posts to Your Optins

Lastly, Kate used guest posting to drive additional traffic to her lead magnets.

The key that she found was to link to her optin form from the guest post, either in the byline or in the actual body of the post.

Also, make sure to avoid these 6 guest blogging mistakes that could cost you thousands of subscribers.

That’s it! You’ve now seen 3 case studies with 12 list building strategies to grow your list to 100,000 subscribers in 5 months.

Now it’s your turn. I recommend starting by following the strategies from Case Study #1 to optimize your blog posts with multiple types of optin forms. You should also add an exit-intent popup to all of the pages on your website, because this will boost your optins by an additional 2-4% right off the bat.

From there, you can use the strategies in the other two case studies to double, or even triple, your results.

Enjoyed this guide? You may also want to check out 25 Proven Strategies to Increase Your Blog’s Traffic by 1064%.

Mary Fernandez
Mary Fernandez is a professional blogger. When she’s not at her desk, you can usually find Mary exploring sunny San Diego, CA with her laptop, husband, and three kids in tow.


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  2. As usual, awesome piece Mary! Exactly what I needed. Thanks for sharing. I was wondering, which of the two (pop ups or scrollbox) do you think works best? I heard Google is getting sensitive to sites that uses pop ups.

    1. Thank you, Emmerey! Glad you found Mary’s post useful 🙂

      We actually have a post about how OptinMonster works with Google’s new mobile popup rules here: The New Google Mobile Friendly Rules for Popups (and How They Affect OptinMonster). Basically, you want to make sure your mobile visitors can access the content they want right away, without being immediately blocked by “interstitials.” But you can definitely still use popups! You can find out more details in the linked post.

      Every site and audience is different, so you may want to do some split testing to find out whether popups or scrollboxes work best with your audience. You could also try combining them! For example, if a visitor closes a popup with one offer, you could then later display a scrollbox with a different offer.

      Let us know how it goes, and feel free to get in touch if you need any help 🙂

      1. Very helpful tips! Thanks Keri for the feedback. I will definitely check that out! 🙂

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