6 Simple Steps How To Use Instagram To Build A Big Email List

Author: Chris Cantell

Instagram is becoming more and more popular in the present day. The social media platform now has a billion monthly users, and is expected to continue its exponential rise! According to Statista.com, More than 60% of users of Instagram in the US are adults and that typically visit the site daily.

71% of the US population in the age bracket of 18-29 have an Instagram account. That is staggering. Nothing in the history of the world has gained such traction in such a short time span as Instagram and it’s growing at a huge rate!

Statistic: Distribution of Instagram users worldwide as of July 2019, by age and gender | Statista

Due to the potential market gains of Instagram, particularly targeting the younger generation, many businesses and brands now have Instagram accounts. Nonprofits, too, use Instagram to show their followers daily updates through their Stories, and post photographs of their programs and activities. In Bloomerang’s Nonprofit Social Media Benchmark Survey, 44% of nonprofits surveyed said they were on Instagram!

In the years to come, Instagram is only set to grow more. It’s a social media powerhouse – so you should start learning how to use it best for your business!

I Have Instagram, Why Should I Build An Email List?

Use Instagram To Get Your Followers Email AddressGrowing an email list from Instagram is crucial to the success of any business or organization. One of the best ways to use Instagram is to take your focus on relationship away from Instagram and instead, use it to get your followers email address.

Why? Because on Instagram, followers and likes only get you so far. Even in the era of social media, email is still one of the best ways to establish a direct, continuous relationship with your audience or market. Instagram acts more as a viewing platform – if you want to really connect, you should aim to grow your email list.

If Your Instagram Followers Are On Your Email List, You Gain Control Where You Can Guide Them To Take ActionThat’s because Instagram has a new algorithm, which essentially means your followers aren’t going to see your posts if you don’t post regularly, and they aren’t going to see your posts if they don’t engage with them. Instagram, and other social media platforms, are using new algorithms that aim at giving users the content they like and comment most on in their feed (what they interact most with). That way, users will spend more time on their app!

This doesn’t necessarily translate well for a business, unless you run ads and sponsored posts, in which case users will see your posts no matter what.

So, rather than hoping your audience sees your content whilst scrolling through their Instagram feed, try to get your followers on your email list. That way, you know they are going to see your email when you send it directly to their inbox! Email is also more permanent – social media accounts may come and go, but email has stood the test of time. Having someone’s email generally guarantees you can stay in touch with them (unless they unsubscribe of course!).

With your marketing emails, you can send all of your important information – upcoming product launches, new arrivals, or latest blog posts, straight to their inbox. As a nonprofit or other organization, you’ll be sending things like donor appeals and newsletters.

So, if you’re unsure about how to go about using Instagram to grow your email list, try following the steps below to build an email list using Instagram.

The 6 Steps To Build Your Email List Using Instagram

Step 1

Offer Something in Exchange for Their Email Subscription / Opt In

You know the expression, nothing in this world is for free? Well, it’s never been more true than in the world of social media and email marketing.

To get your Instagram audience to sign up for your email list, you need to offer something ‘free’ to draw them in. Except of course, it isn’t free, as in exchange they are providing you with their email information for marketing purposes. In the 21st century, data is the currency of the online world!

So, what can you possibly offer your potential customers?

Think about your audience and ideal clientele.  What could you offer them that they wouldn’t think twice about opting-in for? It should be something of real value that relates to your business and the services or products you offer.

Email Lead MagnetThis is called a ‘lead magnet’ and can be anything from a free eBook to a free mini course. Some other examples are a coupon or special offer, a free trial, a free sample, a free download or worksheet, or a challenge!

This way, your Instagram followers will sign up to your email list and receive your free ‘lead magnet’ in exchange for subscribing. The rest, as they say, is history!

Step 2

Create a Competition

Competition on instagram to get email opt insAs mentioned in step 1, you need to give your followers something they can’t resist taking part in or signing up for. A challenge or a competition is the perfect example of this.

If you offer your followers the chance to win something incredible, most of them won’t be able to resist! Think of it like a social media lottery – the chances are, we won’t win, but most of us will still buy a lottery ticket at some point in our lives! We are, as human beings, generally quite positive and optimistic, and believe we might be the 1 in 1000 who win.

Instagram is the perfect platform to host competitions. In fact, posts on Instagram that are related to contests get up to 64x more comments and 3.5x more likes than normal, non-competition related posts. So, you can use competition posts to reach many more people, grow your follower count, and as a by-product, your email list!

You can even make the rules of your competition that they need to sign up to your email list instead of following your account, in order to grow your subscriber count. If you don’t want to be quite so direct in asking your competition contestants to sign up, then the increased engagement in your competition posts will still passively grow your follower and subscriber count. It also makes your posts visible to new customers who you can then guide towards your email list using other tactics.

Step 3

Create a Landing Page

Landing page to Build an Email List Using Instagram

A landing page is essentially a webpage that your link for email subscription leads to. As you are taking customers or followers away from Instagram, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to sign up for your email list – don’t make the mistake of having them led to your website, where they have to search for a while for the subscribe button! You don’t want to lose potential subscribers just by not having a landing page!

So, once you have designed the ‘hook’ – the freebie, or competition, that asks your followers to sign up for your email list in exchange – you have to create a landing page. On this landing page, you should have the information about your freebie or competition, and then where they should enter their email, and a clear explanation of what they are getting in exchange.

You can create a landing page with a few websites. MailChimp has a great landing page creation feature, as do other email marketing platforms.

Step 4

Use Calls to Action

Anyone in the social media marketing world knows how important calls to action (CTA) are. Even with the most amazing freebie opt-in offer, you may still miss sign-ups if you don’t include calls to action.

These calls to action should be well-written and simple: ‘Sign-up for FREE [link]’. You can include these everywhere from your Instagram bio to your posts, to your Instagram stories – if you have a business account. If you don’t have a business account, be sure to include the mantra, ‘link in the bio’ so everyone knows where to go to sign-up!

You Only Have 150 Characters Available In Your Instagram BioIf you include your calls to action in your bio, anyone who comes to your Instagram page for the first time will see it. Your CTA should clearly communicate why new visitors should click on the link in your bio, and what they are going to get if they do! Since you only have 150 characters in your bio, it needs to be brief and to the point.

In a CTA, don’t mess around with language – use direct sales copy to convince your potential clientele to take action. Believe it or not, words like ‘sign-up’, ‘register’ and ‘download’ significantly increase follower to email subscription conversion rates, so make the most of these power words!

The same goes for the world of nonprofits – there’s no need to say ‘please’ or ‘if you would like’. Use direct language like ‘Donate Now’, ‘Sign Up Now’, ‘Support Us Today’.

Step 5

Start Featuring User Generated Content

User Generated Content on Instagram

User-generated content (UGC) is a fancy way of saying content created by your followers. Featuring UGC is as simple as sharing photos, videos and reviews your customers provide you with or send to you.

UGC boosts engagement because it acts a digital version of word of mouth marketing. Users send you their content involving one of your products, and you then share it. This allows their followers to see your content, and encourages them to follow you. It also gets the word out about your product!

According to recent research, posts with UGC have a 4.5% higher conversion rate than posts not featuring UGC. Conversion rate here refers to the amount of viewers of your posts ‘converting’ into followers and subscribers – UGC content has a 4x higher click-through rate than posts that don’t! This leads more people to your email sign-up page.

What’s more, this actually makes your job easier! You can build your email list using UGC, and also have to make less content than before. This saves you both time and money in content-creation. It’s a win-win! Make your customers and followers happier, grow your email list, and get free content to use at the touch of a button. What have you got to lose?

The easiest way to gather UGC is to create a hashtag around your product, business or organization and encourage your followers to contribute their own photos, videos and stories.

Step 6

Use Instagram Stories

Instagram story

We mentioned earlier the use of a sign-up link in your Instagram stories.

Instagram Stories are a fantastic marketing tool because they are viewed as generally more ‘authentic’ and ‘real-time’ than crafted content posts. As well as showing your portfolio of good photographs on your feed, you can use the Stories feature to show the behind-the-scenes of your business or organization and provide more information behind products, new releases or events.

Stories are also good for advertising – rather than spamming your feed with posts every day, you can update your story every day! The advantage of this is that Stories disappear after 24 hours, so don’t clog up your feed – which you can instead dedicate to less marketing related posts.

Stories are also great because they are interactive. You can add text to your images, ask questions and post your audience’s responses, and create polls. You can use calls to action in GIF form, add a bunch of stickers, and of course you can use the ‘swipe-up’ feature that takes followers to designated landing pages.

The benefits of Instagram Stories really should not be underestimated. If you’re not using them – start now!


Instagram is fast growing rampant social media marketing machine, and it isn’t going anywhere soon.

However, as algorithms are constantly changing and being adapted to best suit users, businesses and organizations should still aim at creating larger email lists. Email lists are best as they allow direct contact with subscribers to offer new products and news, and they will stand the test of time. Whatever happens in the online marketing world, your email list will always be there to give you a direct line of communicate with people who want to hear from you!

Hence the importance of using platforms like Instagram to build your email subscriber list.

As with any other marketing situation, you need to create a compelling reason for people to sign up to your email list. This can be achieved by offering something of real value, like a freebie for opting-in or a competition to take part in. You then need to create a landing page to offer an easy sign-up journey for your new subscribers, and advertise this link everywhere from your Instagram bio, to your Stories, to your posts – using calls to action.

You can also experiment with user-generated content and Instagram Stories to create more interactive content and build a relationship with your Instagram followers.

Do this well and there’s nothing stopping you from building your email list using Instagram. The sky’s the limit!

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