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09 MIN.

10 Steps to Grow your Email List with Instagram Marketing

As an Instagram strategist, my first love is the no-longer-just-a-photo-sharing app.

Bella Foxwell

Bella Foxwell

10 Steps to Grow your Email List with Instagram Marketing

Forget Bonnie and Clyde or Sonny and Cher. The best duo around is Instagram and email marketing.

As an Instagram strategist, my first love is the no-longer-just-a-photo-sharing app. However, my business wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful if it wasn’t for email marketing.

They work in tandem, reaching my ideal customers when they’re not scrolling through Instagram or, conversely, avoiding their inbox. It’s a two-pronged approach to cut through the noise of the online world and build deeper, more meaningful relationships.

So, how can you effectively grow your email list with Instagram marketing? Keep reading to find out.

Psst: The first few bullet points focus a lot on the logistics of email marketing and creating your lead magnet. If you do this effectively, using Instagram to grow your email list will be so much easier.

1. Choose your email marketing platform

If you’ve already got an email marketing platform, you can skip straight to the second point. If not, here are some suggestions: 


  • Pro: A very thorough platform for the price with excellent metrics that provide you a huge amount of data. 
  • Con: The robust features can make the learning curve a little steep. However, in my experience ConvertKit’s customer service team is fast to respond and very helpful.
  • Price: Free up to 1,000 subscribers


  • Pro: ActiveCampaign is one of the most powerful email marketing tools available. The automation is fantastic.
  • Con: If you’re after a quick and simple email marketing platform, I would suggest looking at other providers.
  • Price: Starts at $9 for 500 subscribers


  • Pro: One of the simplest, fastest platforms for anyone looking to get started with email marketing. Personalisation is easy and the interface is very intuitive.
  • Con: The platform can be a little clunky to use and the analytics are limited.
  • Price: Starts at $9.99 for 500 subscribers


  • Pro: MailerLite offers a clean and simple interface, along with lots of features that other platforms charge for - including marketing automation.
  • Con: There are some advanced features missing (like full reporting and CRM features). They are strict with their approvals process, so your email sending practices will need to be above board.  
  • Price: Free up to 1,000 subscribers

If you use an all-in-one marketing platform like Kajabi or Kartra, you will get access to their integrated email software. There are pros and cons to this, which you can weigh up as you scale both your business and your email list. 

2. Create your lead magnet

Now that you’ve chosen your email marketing platform, you might be wondering: How do I actually build a list of people to email?

Great question. And the truth is, it’s not enough to add a pop-up to your website or a call-to-action in your Instagram caption that says: Join my email list now for more great offers/info!

People need a very good reason to join your email list. In other words, they need something of value to convince them to hand over their email address. This is what is known as your “lead magnet”. 

If you’re a service provider this could be a guide, template, video, or cheat sheet. If you’re a product-based business/ecommerce brand, this could be an incentive like a discount code. 

To help you create a valuable lead magnet, think about the common questions you get asked. What problem comes up again and again for your ideal customers that could be alleviated with a short-form piece of content?

The key with a lead magnet is to not to pack too much information into them. This might seem counterintuitive, but let me explain. 

If someone hands over their email address in exchange for your free lead magnet, waits excitedly for it to arrive in their inbox, and then clicks on the message only to be faced with a 10-page, info-packed document that takes them 45 minutes to read through, they will be overwhelmed at best. At worst, they will have a negative association with you and your brand. 

You want your lead magnet to provide a quick win. To help your ideal customer in some small, significant way. Do this, and they’ll have a positive association with your brand. And, they’ll be more excited about opening up your emails in the future. 

TIP: If you’re a service provider, coach or consultant, how can your lead magnet serve as a taster for your paid-for services? For example, my freebie (6 rinse-and-repeat Instagram Story prompts & scripts) is part of my online program, Instagram Planning Pro. Once people download it, they get a preview of my teaching style, the resources I provide, and what the inside of the course looks like. This increases the likelihood of them enrolling in the future!

3. To nurture (sequence) or not to nurture?

A nurture sequence is an automated series of emails that someone receives when they subscribe to your email list. So once they’ve downloaded your lead magnet and hit “yes” to hearing from you in the future, they will receive a series of pre-written emails.

This is a great way to build trust with your subscribers straight out of the gate and get them used to receiving (and hopefully opening!) your emails. 

Some business owners swear by them. Others find them a bit contrived. It really depends on the business and the audience, which is why testing is always a smart idea.

For now, I would suggest creating one excellent follow-up email that tells subscribers what they can expect from you and which encourages them to reply. Why? Because this tells their email service provider not to flag your emails as spam.

Here’s a snippet from the email I send out to new email subscribers 24 hours after they download my lead magnet:

I’m chuffed to have you on this email list. I know how precious your inbox is, and that’s why I promise to only email you my very best marketing tips.
I’ll be in touch a few times a month to give you the 411 on Instagram strategy. No misinformation or scaremongering here. Sometimes I might talk about YouTube, too. And occasionally, my corgi Winston. 

🐶 Every inbox needs a royal corgi guard dog, right?!

Before normal email list activity resumes - let’s get back to the question I asked at the top.

What’s the hardest part for you about Instagram?

You may (or may not be!) surprised to know that this email garners a HUGE amount of replies!

4. Batch draft 4-8 weeks of emails

Before you start drafting any content, decide how often you want to email your list and why. 

I recommend emailing at 1x per week. This is a good drumbeat of communication to keep your audience in the loop about exciting news but also - and arguably more importantly - provide them value without always selling.

Of course you should talk about your offers with your email list. But if you only ever email them asking for the sale, your open rates and level of subscribers will take a hit. 

So make an email content plan. Theming your emails is a great way to give you some structure and get your audience excited whenever they see your email pop into their inbox. For example:

  • Week 1) Provide value (tips/education)
  • Week 2) Success story (client/customer)
  • Week 3) New offer/service/product
  • Week 4) Personal (company/brand updates)

Once you’ve got your content plan sorted, the next step is to batch write 1-2 months’ worth of emails. This might feel like a lot of work, but putting a few hours aside to write 8 emails will save you so much time (and energy) for the next couple of months. 

And, it means that you won’t fall out of the habit of contacting your list, letting weeks and months go by without sending a single email.

5. Write excellent emails

There’s no point batching a load of emails if no one is going to open them. To ensure that this happens - and they don’t end up in spam or being deleted altogether - you’ll want to hone your email writing skills.

So, how can you become a great email writer? Here’s my best advice based on years of writing emails for a variety of businesses from tech companies to wedding planners to photographers.

  1. Don’t make your emails too long. Different studies suggest different lengths, but the consensus seems to be: the briefer the better i.e. 150 words or less. This doesn’t mean your emails always have to be this short - test different variations on your audience to see which ones generate the most click-throughs and/or replies.
  2. Speaking of length - keep paragraphs short and easily readable. Much like your Instagram captions, you don’t want to give people big chunks of text to wade through - they simple won’t read them
  3. Tell a story. If you can weave in a personal anecdote or humanise your message somehow - do it. This will set your emails apart from the rest
  4. Include a TLDR (too long, didn’t read) brief summary at the end of the email for anyone that prefers to scroll quickly through emails. This means that skim readers won’t miss the good stuff
  5. Don’t include too many images within your email - 1-2 is fine. Any more than this and some email service providers will flag your email as spam
  6. Make your subject line intriguing. This is arguably the most important part of your email, so focus on this above everything else. I use this headline tool to nail my subject lines
  7. Don’t forget about the preview text! This line (or two) of text is a teaser that gives people more info about the email. It’s your second chance to increase open rates
  8. Make the content exclusive. If you want people to remain loyal subscribers of your email list, then give them something they can’t find on your Instagram account. In other words, don’t just repurpose your Instagram content inside your emails. People will soon get wind of this and be more likely to hit unsubscribe
  9. Always, always, always include a call-to-action, even if that’s simply asking your reader a question at the end of the message. If you can make your emails a dialogue between you and your subscribers (and encourage them to hit reply), then you know you’re doing something right!

6. Set your goal

If you want to stay accountable and maintain a regular cadence of emails, then it’s important to set a goal. Without this, there will be no motivation to stay in touch with your subscribers and you won’t reap the benefits of email marketing. 

Set realistic goals, especially in the beginning. If you’re brand new to email marketing, how many subscribers would you like to get (via Instagram) over the next 8 weeks? 

Having a target - e.g. increasing your subscribers by 100 over the next 8 weeks - will give you an indication of how many times per week you should talk about the lead magnet and what type of content you’ll share to promote it. 

And don’t forget about other measures of success too, like open rates. It’s all very well sending out regular emails but if no-one’s reading them, you might as well be shouting into the void.

According to Campaign Monitor, these were the average email marketing statistics for 2020 across all industries:

  • Open rate: 18.0%
  • Click-through rate: 2.6%
  • Click-to-open rate: 14.1%
  • Unsubscribe rate: 0.1%

7. Test your lead magnet

Once you’ve got your glitzy lead magnet created, the next step is to test it. Share it with your existing audience and measure the conversions. 

Share it in a Facebook group, promote it on Instagram Stories or - if you do happen to have an email list already - send it to your subscribers. Monitor the click-through rate and the number of people that complete the opt-in form.

If you can, test this for at least a couple of weeks and ask for feedback. Do people find it useful? Are they getting results? Positive feedback is something you can use to entice others to download the lead magnet in the future.

And, don’t forget to ask people if there’s any part of the lead magnet that’s tripping them up. You want to get any questions and/or issues solved before you start promoting your lead magnet more widely.

8. Promote your lead magnet regularly

Now that you’re the proud owner of a brilliant lead magnet, it’s time to tell the world all about it!

Promoting this lead magnet should become a regular part of your marketing strategy. Since we’re talking about Instagram specifically, this means communicating the benefits of this asset once a week.

I’ll use my free guide - 6 rinse-and-repeat Instagram Story ideas to skyrocket your engagement - as an example. This e-book is packed full of prompts and scripts to take the guesswork out of what to post on Stories. 

It helps business owners show up regularly on Stories with strategic, purposeful content. Before people use the guide, they aren’t sure why their Story views are so up-and-down. They’re uncertain as to whether they’re sharing the right things on Stories. And they’re certainly not getting any engagement or conversions off the back of them.

How does this change once they download the guide? Let me count the ways…

  1. Confident about how often to post Instagram Stories (it’s not as often as they think!)
  2. Clear about why structure is so important, and how to implement it effectively
  3. No more procrastinating or overthinking their Story ideas - they know exactly what to share and when
  4. Increased views and engagement 
  5. Better relationships with followers who value the content and storytelling
  6. More conversions!

See what I did there? I clearly communicated the transformation and benefits of the guide, giving people a reason to willingly hand over their email address. I recommend you do the same. Jot down this information to use within your promotional content. 

Then, you can spin the topic of your lead magnet multiple different ways. For example:

  1. How to get more Instagram Story views (CTA: Download the guide)
  2. Do’s and don’ts of Instagram Stories (CTA: Download the guide)
  3. Testimonial from someone who uses the guide (CTA: Download the guide)
  4. Before-and-after using the Story ideas included in the guide (CTA: Download the guide)
  5. Confidence on Instagram Stories (CTA: Download the guide)
  6. Straight-up promotion of the guide and its benefits (CTA: Download the guide)

These ideas are presented as grid content (carousel posts/Reels) and through - you guessed it! - Instagram Stories.

Leading into the call-to-action (download) with value i.e. tips and tricks, how to’s, tutorials, myth busting is a great way to give your audience something before asking for something in return. It also means they’ll be more likely to opt-in and download the freebie when you ask them to do so.

9. Be smart with Instagram Story stickers

When promoting your lead magnet on Instagram, here’s one thing you don’t want to do: expect people to listen to your calls-to-action to download.

Some people will. But not many. That’s because 1) there are a lot of lead magnets created and shared online, and 2) people simply don’t like leaving Instagram without a very good reason. You need to make it really easy for people to opt-in. You want them on that lead magnet landing page in as few scrolls and clicks as possible. Low barrier to entry = more email subscribers. 

How do you achieve that on Instagram? With a little help from my favorite feature: Instagram Story stickers.

Instagram Story stickers allow you to take control of your conversions. You’re not going to leave it to chance that people will click on the link in your bio and leave Instagram to get their hands on your lead magnet. You’re going to maximise the success rate of email subscriptions. 

Here’s what I mean (the text below is what I would use on photos/colored backgrounds within Stories):

  • Story slide 1) Have you ever wondered why your Instagram Story views aren’t improving?
  • Story slide 2) Here’s 3 tips to help fix that.
  • Story slide 3) 1. Make sure every Story has a beginning, middle and end
  • Story slide 4) 2. Use stickers to increase interaction 
  • Story slide 5) 3. Don’t make them too long
  • Story slide 6) Would you like your next few weeks of Stories planned out for you? Hit the poll sticker [Yes! | omg I do] and I’ll get this sent straight to your inbox.

See how in that final slide I make it super easy for people to say “yes” to the guide? They don’t need to leave Instagram. They can continue swiping through Stories and simply hit a sticker if they’re interested. 

Then, I can look through the results of the poll and send a direct message to everyone who interacted. I either a) send them a link straight to the lead magnet opt-in form or - more typically - b) I will ask for their email address and add their details in myself. 

If I go with option b, I check whether they’re happy for me to also add them to my email list. To comply with GDPR laws, getting that consent is really important. 

Not only does the use of stickers increase lead magnet downloads - it also opens the door for 1:1 conversations in the DMs. You can keep track of who has registered interest in your services before (even if it’s just your free entry level offer at this stage) and follow up with them to see how they found the freebie and if they have any questions you can help with.

This proactive engagement makes a huge difference to conversions on Instagram. After all, business is all about relationship building and that all starts with conversation.

10. Make your lead magnet (or incentive) your CTA

I touched on this in Step #7, but as often as possible make your lead magnet (or incentive if you’re a product-based business) your call-to-action (CTA).

That means that when you go Live on Instagram or host a workshop (solo or collaboratively) or feature on a podcast, tell people to go download your lead magnet (and give them a clear reason why they should!). 

This is a great way to generate more email subscribers because you’re not asking for anything. Instead you’re providing value while at the same time growing your email list.


Are you excited to start growing your email list with Instagram marketing? I hope so! 

With these tips you’re now equipped to set up your email marketing platform, develop your irresistible lead magnet, and grow your email list with Instagram marketing.

Email is such an important part of any business and will help you deepen relationships and convert more prospects into customers - of that I am sure. Just remember: email regularly and make it worth people’s while. We all know the pain of an inbox clogged with fluffy emails!

the writer
Bella Foxwell

Bella Foxwell

Copywriter @Iconosquare

Hey! I'm Bella. Super curious about any new feature released on social media platforms. I do have a preference for Instagram, even though each platform has its specificity ;)

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