21 ways to grow your newsletter faster in 2021

The top tips, strategies and channels that'll help you get more subscribers this year!

Louis Nicholls

Have you set yourself a newsletter growth goal for 2021?

We're here to help you beat it.

At SparkLoop, we spent 2020 helping thousands of the biggest and best newsletters, info-product creators and media companies out there grow their email-lists.

We saw under the hood. What's working for people like James Clear, Morning Brew, Front Office Sports and thousands more.

And we've narrowed them down to the top 21 most interesting growth tips that you don't want to miss out on this year.

Let's dive in...

1) Autofocus for 2x better conversions

When a potential subscriber visits your website, they often get distracted before entering their email.

Guide your website visitors’ attention to your newsletter signup form, by setting the email input field on the signup form to autofocus when the page loads.

That way, when a visitor shows up on your page, the signup form is already highlighted and the cursor is blinking. Ready for them to enter their email.

It's a small change, but yields BIG results.

We tested with 3 newsletters and saw between a 6% and 400% increase in conversion rates!

If you're using SparkLoop's landing pages, we built this feature in automatically.

For everyone else, here's a guide to set it up yourself.

2) Start cross-promoting!

Ask your audience what other newsletters they love, and run a cross-promotion with those newsletters.

For an example done right, see SparkLoop user @TrevMcKendrick and @jspector's recent "newsletter takeover"...

3) Use smarter social ads

Social ads — especially Facebook — really struggled to perform for newsletter growth in 2020.

But Jenny Rothenberg, Morning Brew's growth lead, thinks they'll see a comeback in 2021.

Especially if you run a paid newsletter or have an info-product, where you can justify higher acquisition costs.

And even more so if you're smart and target audiences based on referrals. Which is what Morning Brew does (and is easy with SparkLoop).

Learn how in our free Facebook Ads for Newsletters masterclass this January...

4) Write once, post often

In 2021, you can't afford to "write once, share once."

If you've created great content, put the work in to get it out there!

Cross-post your newsletter content to relevant forums, subreddits and online communities.

And reach 10x more people with 0.1x more work.

5) Reduce unsubscribes

Want to hear something crazy?

Most people who unsubscribe from your list don't want to unsubscribe.

They just want to unsubscribe from some bits of it.

Why not make 2021 the year you let them?

Give your subscribers more control over how, when and what emails they want to receive from you.

After all, it's easier to grow faster when you aren't needlessly losing subscribers!

Like SparkLoop user Alex Hillman does...

6) Repurpose your content

An amazing way to reach more people is to put your content where they are.

Do you write a weekly newsletter?

How about taking the content and turning it into a podcast? A Twitter thread? A short YouTube video?

See if you can make 2021 the year you spend MORE time promoting your content than you do creating it.

And watch the results roll in.

7) Add social proof

Improve your subscriber conversion rates by adding social proof to your signup forms and landing pages.

With testimonials. Or with our FREE tool you can use to include your subscriber count — updated automatically — anywhere on your site.

Like SparkLoop partner and marketing expert Corey Haines does...

8) Give shoutouts

Purposefully highlight more examples and mentions of other people your audience cares about in your newsletter content.

They are likely to share it with their own audience, increasing your reach for free.

(this is especially useful if you have < 10k subscribers)

9) Add a (better) lead magnet

For many subscribers, 2020 was the year of newsletter overload.

People are fed up of giving you their email address in the hope of value at some point in the next 30 days.

They want that value NOW. As soon as they subscribe.

Add a lead magnet in 2021 and see your conversion rates jump.

10) Add a (better) referral program

In 2020 we saw thousands of newsletter creators try out a referral program.

Most of them were inspired by Morning Brew — the most well-known newsletter referral program out there.

And it worked for a lot of them — but not for others.

In 2021, it's time to add a referral program to your newsletter that actually works for your audience. With the kind of rewards they'd respond well to.

That'll get you growing 20-500% faster each month. Like how James Clear, Front Office Sports, Shane Parrish and thousands of others use SparkLoop.

Here's your headstart with our free referral course.

11) Run a referral giveaway

One thing you *do* want to copy from @MorningBrew in 2021 though is their referral giveaways!

We've seen newsletters of all shapes and sizes grow 2x faster by running a referral giveaway every 6-8 weeks.

It works for newsletters, media companies and info-product creators.

And it's even a great way to get in touch with potential sponsors/advertisers who are just too big to sponsor you (yet).

Find inspiration for your own giveaway prize in our rewards library.

12) Play the long game...

In 2021, take your content out of your newsletter and unlock the power of SEO for growth.

New to SEO?

Friend of SparkLoop @stephsmithio wrote a brilliant resource which includes practical advice on SEO for newsletters, here.

13) Optimise your newsletter content for sharing

Make it easy for your subscribers to share the best thoughts, links, and quotes from your newsletter with their friends.

And then prompt them to do so!

As with many things, NYT-Bestselling author (and SparkLoop user) James Clear is the gold standard...

Top tip: Include SparkLoop referral links when your subscribers share, and see what channels/content generates the most buzz!

14) Experiment with sending frequency

Most of us newsletter creators blindly start out sending emails once a week.

But is that the best option?

In 2021, mix things up.

Try a daily send. A 3x/week send. A weekend recap.

You'd be surprised at what it does for your growth!

15) Leverage a community

"Community" was one of 2020's buzziest buzzwords.

But they're an underrated (if slow-burning) growth tool for newsletters in 2021.

Especially if hosted on a platform that helps with discovery, like Facebook or Reddit.

Look to how @jspector and @ReverseWineSnob use communities for inspiration.

16) Advertise in other newsletters

Have you tried advertising your newsletter in another newsletter?

When we sat down for an exclusive chat with the head of growth at Morning Brew, this was one of the growth channels they're most excited for in 2021.

Turns out, people who subscribe to newsletters like newsletters.

Who knew?

If you're not sure where to get started, email louis@sparkloop.app with your budget and what kind of audience you want to attract.

We'll recommend one of the thousands of great newsletters using SparkLoop that'd be happy to work with you!

17) Work with influencers

The other channel Morning Brew is most excited about for 2021?


Their head of growth told us they've found influencer campaigns to be a promising channel for acquiring engaged subscribers. And she says they’ll ramp up this effort and focus more on influencer sponsorships in 2021.

This works for smaller newsletters and info-products too.

The key?

According to the team at Morning Brew, you have to be willing to push beyond the obvious.

Don't limit yourself to industry influencers.

Newsletter creators using SparkLoop find this super easy...

Just take a look at your top referrers in SparkLoop. Chances are, they're a great place to start.

18) Add personalisation

2021 is the year of personalisation.

Stop showing every single website visitor the same signup form and message... no matter if they're already subscribed or what post they're reading!

Add a tool like and see conversion rates jump.

Here's a great example of how using RightMessage and SparkLoop together results in more conversion rates and more referrals — all in just a few minutes.

19) Add an ambassador program

If you have a smaller audience — or your newsletter caters to a specific niche — you can't afford to sleep on an ambassador program.

Find out how Morning Brew used one to get to 10k subscribers. And how to set one up for your own newsletter in this Twitter thread:

20) Boost your personality

In 2021, personality matters.

Put yourself (or your team) front and centre to reach new audiences, by appearing on podcasts and guest-blogging.

Remember: Humans buy from (and subscribe to) other humans.

21) Acquire other newsletters

Last year we saw an explosion of newsletters.

But most are still under-monetised and under-valued.

If your content and monetisation is working, now is the time to consider acquiring other newsletters.

Either to fold them into your existing newsletter, or just to let them run independently.

This growth strategy has flown seriously under the radar in 2020 (setting aside the acquisition of Morning Brew by Business Insider).

But for how much longer?

Good luck!

However you plan on growing in 2021, here's hoping it'll be a better year than the last one.

Here's to making this your newsletter's best year yet!

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