3 Effective ways small businesses can grow their email list using social media

A healthy, growing and engaged email list of people who like, trust and need what you do, can go a long way in helping you win more business.

But, how do you actually get new people (and the right type of people) signing up to your email list?

There are lots of fun ways you can do this!

In this blog post, I’m going to focus on one of my favourite methods: using social media to grow your email list.

Why use social media to grow your email list?

The beautiful thing about social media is that almost everyone uses it.

That means, chances are very high, your potential customers use it too.

And before you spend a penny, you can go to the different social media channels to see how many people in your target audience, you could potentially get in front of.

Some of the ways you can target people on social media include:

  • Job titles
  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Interests (What influencers they follow, books they read, organisations they like, events they go to, etc)
  • Demographics (age, relationship status, wealth, etc)

So no matter if you’re targeting B2B, B2C or both – chances are very high you can use social media to find and get in front of your potential customers.

Before you start: Build your foundation!

Ok I know you’re excited to start learning how to grow your email list on social media. But before you do that, it’s important you do the following:

  1. Have a clear idea of who you are targeting (your ideal customers)
  2. Have awesome free content your ideal customers will find interesting

Once you’ve got the foundation set up and you know who to target, with what content, let’s dig in and show you 3 effective ways you can grow your email list using social media.

Oh and by the way, you don’t need to do all of these.

You can start with one or two to begin with and you can always add more later.

1. Facebook & Instagram Ads

Despite the recent Facebook page algorithm changes and the fact that organic reach is almost non-existent for most small businesses on Facebook, if you pay a little bit of money to Facebook and use Facebook Ads, it’s a whole different story.

Facebook works at your pace

Facebook ads, is hands down, one of the most powerful ways of growing your email list.

And, although it does cost some money, it’s probably less than you think.

We have clients paying as little as $1 or $2 per lead (and they are even in the B2B space!). You can get started with a budget as low as $200 to $300 per month and generate a good amount of new email subscribers.

The truth is, with Facebook ads, you can spend as much or as little as you like.

The more you spend, the more people Facebook get you in front of and the more new email subscribers you can generate.

I recommend most clients start with a small budget first. Then test different variations of your audience and your content. Once you find something that works really well and start to get good results, then you can always scale up in the future.

Top tip: It’s not just about the amount of new subscribers you generate, it’s also about the quality of those subscribers. Sometimes it’s worth paying a little bit more per subscriber, if the quality is higher.

Facebook is the largest social media channel

Facebook on it’s own is the largest social media channel and has way more active members than it’s competitors like LinkedIn and Twitter.

Also, remember Facebook own Instagram (another huge social media platform).

Because so many people are using Facebook and/or Instagram, it means this is usually the channel you are most likely to find your ideal customers on.

When advertising using Facebook ads, you can also advertise on Instagram, at the same time.

Facebook is smart

Facebook has a really smart and advanced advertising algorithm.

This means when you start running Facebook lead generation campaigns (to grow your email subscribers), Facebook will automatically optimise your campaign for you – to help you get more leads and subscribers.

They do this by looking at trends in the data, user behaviour and lots of other complex metrics.

They self-optimize your campaigns to show your advert to those that are most likely to convert and become one of your email subscribers. This means you get better results from your Facebook campaign, with less effort.

You still do need to point Facebook in the right direction, split test, etc, but Facebook does a lot of the hard work (and guess work) for you.

None of the other social platforms have an algorithm as advance and as smart as Facebook’s advertising platform.

2. LinkedIn Ads

Another powerful way you can generate leads, especially in the B2B space, is by using LinkedIn ads.

LinkedIn ads work similar to Facebook ads (although they are still a bit behind in terms of user experience, features, etc).

Tap into LinkedIn’s data

The main advantage though, with LinkedIn ads, is that LinkedIn has a lot of powerful B2B data at its disposal. Arguably more than Facebook.

Why? Because when people sign up for LinkedIn, they enter their company information, company size, job title, industry and other business related details.

LinkedIn then allows you to target people based on what kind of information they’ve entered into their profiles.

We’ve run campaigns for small businesses targeting high-net worth individuals on LinkedIn (think CEO’s of really big companies) and they have generated some very powerful new leads & email subscribers as a result.

LinkedIn costs vs Facebook

Expect to pay more for new email subscribers and leads on LinkedIn compared to Facebook. However, don’t let this put you off completely! It’s not just how much you pay per lead and subscriber you need to take into account, it’s also the quality of that lead & subscriber.

In my experience, even though the quantity of subscribers is less and the cost is higher compared to Facebook, the quality is still very high and for some industries it has even better quality than the leads Facebook generates.

LinkedIn’s future

LinkedIn’s paid advertising platform (and LinkedIn in general) is far from perfect. There are still lots of glitches and they do have a long way to go to catch up to the powerful platform that Facebook has built over the years.

Nevertheless, in the last few months, I have seen a trend of more and more people being active on LinkedIn.

So, it’s definitely one to keep an eye on and if you sell something high-end and you’re looking to target businesses, then LinkedIn might be worth exploring & testing.

3. Twitter

When it comes to building an audience and generating email subscribers organically, Twitter has been amazing!

Twitter is easy to learn

If you’re just getting started with growing your email subscribers, Twitter is a nice and easy one to begin with.

The principles to succeed on Twitter are easy to learn and can be mastered relatively quickly.

Why Twitter doesn’t work

One of the biggest reasons Twitter doesn’t work for most small businesses, is because they don’t leverage Twitter’s most powerful feature: conversations!

If all you’re doing is posting social media updates, without actually engaging and talking to people (you know, the ‘social’ part of social media) you’re missing out on huge opportunities!

Twitter is all about engagement

One of the great things about Twitter, is that it’s an open social media platform.

This means that unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, where most people have private accounts or you need to be connected to them, on Twitter most people have public and open accounts. You can find and connect with almost anyone – including your potential customers.

We follow a very simple 2-step process when using Twitter strategically to grow your email list:

  1. Use free tools like Twitter search or Followerwonk to find your potential customers on Twitter
  2. Follow and engage with them

Yep, that’s it!

We’ve used this method to grow our Twitter audience from zero to over 25,000 followers (over 3 years) and on average we generate about 50-100 new targeted email subscribers from Twitter one-to-one conversations. And we spend zero on paid advertising.

What to say when engaging with people on Twitter

When engaging with your potential customers, I recommend you send them a very specific and conversational message and offer them some kind of free content in return for their name & email.

Note: In my company (and for the businesses we work with) we don’t just message everyone with a boring “thanks for following!” or “Buy my services…” message. We only send out specific and targeted messages to those we want to reach out to.

To learn how to do the same, be sure to watch my free Twitter training on “How to generate leads on Twitter without spending a penny on paid ads”.

What to do next after growing your email list?

Once you have new email subscribers, it’s important you follow up with them on a regular basis with your content. You can do this through automatic email sequences and email broadcasts.

Email marketing is without a doubt the number one way to grow your business!

If you want more ideas on how to follow up with your email subscribers, what to say, how often to follow up and so on, then be sure to check out the E-Nailed email marketing course by Andrew and Pete on ATOMIC!



Ashley Davis is a social media consultant that specialises in providing white-label ‘done-for-you’ social media services for creative / digital agencies and their clients.