A Year of Email List Growth: 2017 in Review

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Grow Your Reader Email List (2)

As 2018 begins with a fresh dose of hope and a year full of possibilities, I’ve been working through my goals for the new year, and looking back on what worked last year and what didn’t. (I’ve also been reading an early copy of Michael Hyatt’s new book, Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals. I highly recommend it!)

One of my favorite studies each new year is a look back at my email list growth for the previous year. I did this in Jan., 2017 and shared the results on this blog post. It was insightful to see which ways of growing my list yielded the highest open and click rates!

For 2017, my goal was to grow my list by 6,000 reader emails. I’ll be honest, this was a less-than-ambitious goal considering I’d added 7,178 emails to my list in 2016. Perhaps I was feeling like I wouldn’t have the same list-building opportunities for 2017, but boy was I wrong! 

By being connected in list-building circles and jumping on every opportunity that was the right fit to reach my target reader, I ended 2017 at 21,561 reader emails! This means that through the year (after all the unsubscribes are taken out of the equation), I added a net total of 14,247 reader emails to my list.

With my numbers going up, my monthly bill from Mailchimp also climbed steeply, so I moved my list to the more cost-effective Mailerlite service. There was a bit of a learning curve and a few growing pains (on my end and theirs), but I’m now happy to say I’m pleased with Mailerlite.

Because of the change in service providers, it’s a bit harder to analyze the growth the same way I did last year. Also, many readers came to me in several different ways. (For example, they might have signed up organically from a link in the back of a book, but later joined as part of a group giveaway, too.)

Here’s a slightly different look at the ways I grew my reader email list in 2017:

• Organic sign-ups: Approximately 405 emails
This is people who sign-up for my mailing list through links in the back of my books, my website, or social media profiles. They didn’t sign-up in exchange for a free book, but I do send them a free book as they start my Welcome Email Sequence. It’s a surprise thank you!

• Sign-ups to receive my free short story that goes after book 5 in my Mountain Dreams Series: 177 emails
This offer is in the back of all my ebooks and has a special page on my website. I don’t promote it anywhere else because it’s helpful to have read that series to appreciate the short story.

Sign-ups to receive a free book. (Book 1 in my Mountain Dreams Series): Approximately 300 emails
This offer is in the front of all my ebooks and also in my bio on Amazon, Bookbub, Goodreads, etc.

Facebook-Icon• Facebook Lead Generation ads for a free book, Book 1 in the Mountain Dreams Series: 3727 emails
I’ve run these throughout most of the year at a low budget, usually between $2-5/day. Lead Gen ads are my favorite for mailing list growth for many reasons, including the fact that it’s great at helping authors narrow down their target audience and find pertinent keywords. I have a 3-email automation sequence that goes out to new sign-ups giving them the free book in email #1. Then email #2 gives the first few pages of book #2 in that series, along with the link to buy. Then email #3 announces my newest release. So I use these ads as a tool for both list growth and book sales.

• Ongoing Instafreebie giveaway for either Book 1 or Book 2 in my Mountain Dreams Series: 1312 emails
I blogged about the Instafreebie giveaway here. I was initially skeptical about how high the open and click rates would be, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

• Group Giveaways: Approximately 4325 emails
I participated in 24 targeted group giveaways, through a variety of platforms. Here’s the breakdown: (4) Ryan Zee, (5) Spirit Filled Ereader, (3) My Book Cave, (3) BookFunnel, (4) Instafreebie, (2) AXP, and (3) other compilations. Some of these giveaways had a cost to join, and some were free. This is the hardest group to estimate the net reader emails added, because many of the emails I receive through these giveaways are already on my list now.

I did something in preparation for these group giveaways that I highly recommend. I felt uncomfortable sending so many group giveaway announcements to my email list, as they’d only signed up to hear about my new releases. So I sent a single email to my list with an invitation to sign-up to receive emails about other authors’ books and group giveaways. This smaller list is now just under 5,000 emails, and I feel much better about sending group promos to this list because they opted in to hear about them! I also use this smaller list for newsletter swaps with other authors.

Sending Email

• Other Mailing List Promos: Approximately 4,000 emails
I participated in 2 LitRing promos where LitRing brings in the traffic, not the participating authors. These aren’t cheap, but often bring in fresh readers and usually have a minimum email guarantee. It’s nice that these don’t require a send to my email list!


I’ve talked about this in the past, but one of the most important things to do as you’re growing your email list is to set-up a Welcome Email Sequence. This helps new subscribers get to know you and teaches them the value of purchasing your books in the future. It also works as a steady stream of sales for your backlist books as you’re growing your email list! (If you’d like in-depth training and examples of an effective Welcome Email Sequence, my mini course is a great place to start!)

Now it’s your turn! Did you reach your email list growth goals for 2017? (You did set a goal, didn’t you?) What’s your goal for 2018?


2 thoughts on “A Year of Email List Growth: 2017 in Review

    Heidi McCahan said:
    January 20, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Thank you, Misty, for sharing your insights. I appreciate your help and encouragement. I’d like to grow my list by 1,000 subscribers this year, so I’m going to continue to use Ryan Zee’s promo opportunities, as well as trying LitRing for the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

      Misty M. Beller responded:
      January 20, 2018 at 11:06 am

      That’s a great goal, Heidi! Sounds like you have a very doable plan to meet it. 🙂


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