How to Reach New People and Grow Your Email List With an Email Swap

Hi, there!
I’m Amanda – designer, dreamer, and online marketer.

Zag is the Anchor ‹A› blog dedicated to helping you reach your biggest business goals.


n email list swap is not only a fun way to switch up your email marketing, it’s a smart list-building strategy.

What’s an email swap?

An email swap is when you and another person swap content to send to your email lists.

This can also take the form of a takeover where you send content to your list from someone else, or they share content from you with their list.

The goal of this strategy is to help build your individual lists by getting in front of a new, but similar audience.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the steps:

  1. You and someone else agree to swap lists
  2. You send your email content to the other person. They send their content to you.
  3. You load the other person’s content into an email campaign
  4. Hit send!

Note: You never have direct access to the other person’s email marketing account or contact list. You are also not adding contacts from their list to your list. You are only swapping content to send to your respective lists.

Why is an email list swap a great strategy?

Email Converts Well

Email is one of the highest converting marketing tactics that you can use. Here’s a stat for you: “For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI (Campaign Monitor)”.

Get In Front of a New Audience

One of the best ways to grow your audience is to get in front of other audiences. This is exactly why guest blogging, guest podcasting, speaking at a summit or conference, and other similar tactics are also great tactics.

Same Medium

Because you’re already communicating via email, it makes it really easy for people to say, “Oh yeah, sure. I’ll join this other email list as well.”

Content Variety

Email swaps give your audience some variety. Instead of hearing only from you week to week, they can hear from a special guest. This is especially great when they can learn about a topic that you might not have as much expertise in, but complements what you already share about. This gives your audience a little bit more well-rounded experience from your email list.

Social Proof

There’s a built in element of social proof here when you do an email swap. If someone’s allowing you to take over their email list, that’s saying a lot. Email is a very personal space. To allow someone to take over the emails being sent from your account is a big deal.

So when this happens, people know that you trust this person very much, and they trust you. You’re vouching for them and that’s a really big element of social proof. You’re basically making a referral to your audience.

How to Do an Email Swap

Make a list of people you’d be interested in swapping with.

There are a few keys here.

Look for Your Ideal Audience

Look for people with a similar audience as you or who have your ideal audience. This is really, really important because you want to make sure that, A, you’re bringing the right people onto your email list if they sign up, and B, that your content is going to resonate with them.

Choose a Complementary Swapper

Look for people whose products and services complement yours. Someone that does the same work as you likely won’t say yes to a list swap because they’ll probably see you as a competitor. On the flip side, do you want to be sending your potential customers and clients to someone else who provides the same product or service that you do? Yes, I believe there is space for all of us, but I also believe it’s a better strategy to aim for a complementary swap.

Look for a Larger List

Ideally, the person you’re swapping with will have a larger list than you. I don’t want to put too much emphasis on this because I don’t want you to get caught up in numbers. However, swapping with a bigger list is mathematically going to be more beneficial than a smaller list. Remember that the average conversion rate is 2-3%.

But again, the biggest goal is to find quality prospects. The other person doesn’t need to have a giant list for this to be a good partnership for you.

Reach out to those people that you’re interested in swapping with using a well crafted pitch.

It’s really important to have a really good pitch when you do this. For your pitch email, I have a few guidelines.

How to Craft Your Pitch Email

  1. Make the offer that you want to do a swap or takeover, then share the type of people that are on your list so they can decide if your audience is compatible. If you have a good size list, it wouldn’t hurt to put that number out there so they can see, “Oh yeah, this is going to be beneficial for me.”
  2. Share content ideas and sample articles. This is really, really helpful. A great format is “Content Topic Idea – based on article [XYZ]”. This way, they can get an idea of how you write and what your content will be about.
  3. Very clearly ask for a response. Make a clear call to action and ask if this is something that they’d be interested in.

With your pitch, make it really easy for them to learn more and say yes. People are busy. Don’t make them have to work to decide if this is a good decision for them. When you lay your pitch out exactly like I’ve described, you make it really easy for people to make this decision.

Set a deadline for email drafts

Once you’ve agreed to do a swap with that person, set a deadline for when you want email drafts to be ready.

What Allea and I did that worked well was to send each other a draft and allow each other and make edits and revisions.

Here’s the format that we used for our email:

  • Introduction of the other person
  • Photo of guest + article body
  • Freebie mention

You can handle the intro where you write the introduction for the other person, or you can write your own introduction and include it with your article.

I started out by saying something along the lines of, “Allea’s a good friend of mine. She’s an email marketing specialist, and because she is an expert on this topic, I’m going to let her take it from here.” And then she did it similar for me.

Then, we included a photo and the article.

At the very end, and this is key, you want to offer a freebie to allow people from the other person’s list to join yours and vice-versa. You’ll include a link to a landing page where people can opt-in.

Including a freebie opt-in is super important because if you don’t do this, your efforts are going to fall flat. The point of this strategy is to grow your audience by getting the other person’s audience onto your list.

Consider Your Email Style

Allea’s email was very much information-based. It really showcased her expertise. Mine was more story-based. There’s no one way to write an email so just think about what’s going to best benefit you in this situation.

Load into your email marketing platform and send a test email to the other person

Load the other person’s content into an email campaign for your list and get the formatting ready to go. Then, send a test of the final version to the other person so they can give that final approval and double-check that everything is working correctly before it sends out.

Approve and schedule

Once you’ve approved each other’s emails, go ahead and schedule them. You don’t have to schedule them to run at the same time. We did. For me, I just thought it’d be kind of fun to have them sent at the same time, but you don’t have to do that.

Follow Up With Numbers

So then your email sends, and what I would recommend is following up 24 to 48 hours later, and trading some stats to see how each of emails did. For me personally, when it comes to emails, I want to know how the subject line did, how many click-throughs were there, and then of course, on my end, I can see the signups so that’s not something that I would need from the other person.

I also asked her how many signups that she had gotten from the email that I sent, which I don’t have access to that information, of course, so I would want to gauge that. And as of 24 hours after the email sent, Allea had gotten 14 signups from my list, so that was a really beneficial email swap.

Email Swap Q&A

Can I do an email swap if I don’t have an email list right now?

You can, but at minimum, I recommend at least setting up the tech so people have a way to opt into your list. Without this piece, I just don’t think this strategy would be worth your while.

My email list is really small right now, so I don’t think it would be much of an incentive for someone else to swap with me. How can I approach swaps?

I have a few key pieces of advice here.

  1. Start with your inner circle. Those people are going to be more likely to say yes, they’re going to be excited about swapping lists with you, and they’re probably not really going to care about the size of your list.
  2. You don’t have to mention the size of your list. When you pitch to a potential swapper, just focus on what you can contribute and what they gain from this experience. If you have a larger list, then you might include that so the other person can see that this could really benefit them.
  3. Approach this as a takeover. So instead of the other person contributing content to your list too, you could approach this as a one-sided takeover. Then, your list size is irrelevant. Pitch it as a way to take some work off their hands and have the opportunity to hear from a guest expert.

Do email swaps violate GDPR guidelines?

In case you’re unfamiliar with GDPR and missed the GDPR frenzy, the European Union recently passed mandates around consumer data protection and privacy.

After reviewing GDPR guidelines, I don’t believe that email swaps violate these regulations in any way.

I want to clarify how email swaps work:

  • You are only swapping content to send to your respective lists.
  • You never have direct access to the other person’s email marketing account or contact list.
  • You are also not adding contacts from their list to your list.
  • At the end of the email, you’re giving readers an opportunity to sign up for your list through a freebie signup form.

I don’t have time to create a freebie. Can I do an email swap without one?

You can, but I don’t recommend it because people will have no way to join your circle, so you won’t have captured any leads.

Remember, I want you to focus on activities that are actually going to move the needle for your business. And the point of this strategy is to grow your email list.

Without a freebie, I feel like your time would not be well spent with this strategy.

However, the alternative would be to ask people to join your Facebook group or follow you on Instagram in lieu of joining your email list.

But, the thing with that is that you’re now asking people to switch to a different medium. With email, you know they are already active on email because they opened yours. If you’re asking them to go to Instagram or Facebook, you’re requesting they switch mediums of communication and you really don’t know if they’re active there.

How do you find the right email swap prospects?

Look for people who are already actively emailing you. This way, you can see the type of content they put out, and you know they’ve been actively engaging and nurturing their audience.

Look at your inner circle. These are the people who already know and like you, making for an easy, “Yes!”

Look for a pro whose products and services complement yours. You don’t want to swap with someone who does the same work as you. They likely won’t say yes anyway because they’ll see you as a competitor. Plus, do you really want to be sending your warm leads to another pro that does the same thing you do? Yes, I believe there’s room for all of us, but I think it’s a much smarter strategy to find someone who complements you.

Look for someone whose followers are your ideal audience.

Look for a larger list. Again, I don’t want to get caught up in the numbers here, but someone with a larger list is mathematically going to be a bigger benefit to you, just based on average conversion rate of 2-3%.

But first and foremost, remember that you want quality audience members. One quality new subscriber is going to be more valuable to you than 10 new subscribers who aren’t engaged and don’t match up with your values.

Now, start putting these strategies into action and watch your email list grow!

Have we met yet?

I’m Amanda. The Nebraska-based designer, dreamer, strategist, and online marketer behind Anchor ‹A›. With 10+ years of design industry experience, I love empowering my fellow business owners with magnetic branding, striking web design, and powerful marketing strategies.

I do what I do because I know how powerful these tools are for a business. Think of your favorite brands. Do they have a cohesive, consistent, and strong brand presence? I bet they do. And here’s the good news.. you can have that too!

Let’s get your efforts working for you, to help you meet your biggest goals.

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