10 opt-in email hooks to build your mailing list

email hooks

Email digital marketing is hugely powerful, but its effectiveness depends on the quality of your mailing list. One highly effective way to build your mailing list is to offer what’s known as an “opt-in email hooks” or a “lead magnet” to motivate people to give you their email addresses. An example of this is when a company offers you a discount in return for signing up to its mailing list.

An opt-in bribe needs to make things easy for both you and the customer. Think about what they want and what would motivate them to sign up to your email list. Also consider what you are in a position to offer: what resources, advice and expertise could you make available? How much discount are you prepared to give? What could you offer your people that would turn them from visitors to your website into valued customers?

Here are 10 email hooks you can offer – and how to make them work for you


Sending out a regular newsletter is a great way to build interest in your brand, providing news, insights, offers and more. Many people will happily part with their email address if you offer to send them a regular newsletter, especially if you highlight the perks it will include.


This is one of the most common and effective opt-in bribes, and it’s especially good for winning new customers. There’s a good reason so many websites will have a pop-up offering a discount in return for providing an email address: it works. 

Free shipping

This is another easy and effective opt-in bribe: many people decide not to make a purchase when they see the cost of shipping. You can capture these customers and gain their email addresses by offering free shipping in return for opting in to receive emails from you. 


You’ve probably had brands offer you and your friends discounts or freebies in return for referrals: you provide your friend’s details and you and your friend get a reward. It’s simple and very attractive – and it gets your customers to do some of your marketing for you.


These have become a very popular offering from instagrammers, many of whom create downloadable eBooks on how to replicate their success – but they can work for a wide range of businesses. Put together some useful content that shares your tips and expertise, and offer it as a free download in return for signing up to receive emails from you.

Recipe book

If you are selling a food or drink related product, a recipe book is a great idea. It’s something lots of people will be interested in: it’s useful, they’ll hopefully come back to it again and again, and the content can be used to sell your products – for example, by recommending your ingredients or equipment. Create a downloadable recipe book and offer it in return for signing up to receive emails from you.

Video tutorial

As with an eBook, this is a way to gain email addresses in return for your expertise. It may sound intimidating, but most video tutorials can be made using your mobile phone. As well as presenting useful information, a video tutorial enables you to present yourself as the human face of your business and build a sense of connection with your customers. Stuck for content? Consider presenting the tips and advice you included in your blog posts or eBook.

Online courses

If you’re already writing blog posts and eBooks or creating video tutorials, a natural next step is to put it all together into an online course that people sign up to by providing their email addresses. You could present this as “gated content” on your site – that is, content housed in part of your site only subscribers have access to.

Access to a webinar

This is the next step up from a video tutorial: host a live webinar on a topic that’s of interest to your potential customers and offer access in return for email sign up. This may sound like a lot of work, but it can be a powerful marketing tool. Consider inviting several suitable experts to appear in the webinar, and include a live Q&A for maximum engagement.

Priority access 

Customers love to be first in the queue for sales and new product launches, so encourage people to sign up to your mailing list by offering to tell them first about these things. You can offer priority access so that they get early access to whatever you’re offering.


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