If you’ve been around the marketing space in recent years, you already have this looping through your head on a daily basis… “The money is in the list, the money is in the list, and the money is in the list.”

People have frantically scoured to find ways to increase their email list size and often times it hasn’t been the right way.

Now I’m not going to go through a long list of how not to build your list today, instead I am going to focus on one little aspect.


The reason I want to talk about giveaways is because I see how many times people make the mistake of thinking that giveaways are the best way to build their list. Don’t get me wrong, running giveaways to build your list is a big multiplier for creating awareness and building hype around your brand.

However, if you are going to build your entire list around giveaways, your entire list is going to keep expecting things for FREE. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth!

I have seen a lot of people start new blogs or brands over the years and focus on creating reach with giveaway, after giveaway, after giveaway. Heck, I even did it when we launched RichVibe in 2011. I gave away an iPhone 5 when it just popped onto the scene and then followed it up with another giveaway.

Suddenly we had 20,000 people on our email list and it felt good. Now to a lot of people 20,000 might not be a lot, but remember this was pre Kingsumo Giveaways.

What do you think happened to our email list once we started sending new blog posts their way? Asked them to complete surveys? Asked them to start buying stuff from us?

Yes, people started unsubscribing. Others reported our content as spam. Engagement dropped and I started to get frustrated because people weren’t buying, reading our articles, or completing our surveys.

I realized that list building had more to it than just racking up numbers to show off to the world. It was about building a long-term relationship by consistently adding value to our subscribers, giving them what they wanted to hear, and building a brand around what we were good at – linking consumers with luxury products on a daily basis.

Yes, a lot has changed for RichVibe since 2011, but the model remains the same.

Here are my quick tips for building a solid email list without basing it on Giveaways:

Targeted giveaways are good for exposure

A targeted giveaway is a good strategy to build an email list. What? I’m contradicting myself. No, I’m saying that targeted giveaways for your niche is a good launch strategy for creating buzz around your brand. Take a look at the result that Josh Earl got when he ran a targeted giveaway on his site: Growing my email list 3,418% in 2 weeks.

He specifically targeted developers by providing a license to the Sublime Editor. He’s a developer and decided to run it right down his readers avenue. The majority of his readers are also developers and therefore the engaged audience were consistent with his brands audience.

Engagement rates will be down

As you can see with the results that Josh Earl got, as mentioned above, he also experienced a massive drop in engagement rates after the giveaway was over. A lot of people provide you with their email address simply because they want things for free. When your giveaway is over, don’t get frustrated when a lot of new subscribers start dropping off your list. It’s completely normal, they were only using you to get free stuff. Haha.

Be diverse

If you provide a diverse array of content for your email list, you will constantly keep them engaged. One of my favorite newsletters is written by Ryan Lee. I read every single one of his newsletters and enjoy it because of how personal he gets with them. Yes, he does often list something for sale, but he does it strategically and the entire point of the newsletter isn’t just to sell, but to engage with his subscribers on different emotional levels everyday.

Build trust and provide value

Having an email list is like having access to someones front door of their house. You knock on their door every time you hit send. Therefore you need to make it worth while for them to keep inviting you inside. Once inside, stop talking about yourself and shift your focus to them. See how you can help them, how you can provide value, and how you can start gaining their trust. Like Gary Vaynerchuck says, “Stop hard selling and start focusing on building that trust level. It’s all about the Jab, Jab, Jab and then deliver the right hook.”


I wrote this article today to give you some tips on being wise when building an email list with giveaways. I don’t think a giveaway is bad for business, just be strategic about when you host them. Special holidays or your business’ birthday might be a good pick. However, the most important rule to follow for list building is to nurture and develop your relationship with your audience over time. Have fun.

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