How Jared Polin Grew His Email List to 200K+ Subscribers with YouTube + Contests

Have YouTube content? Want to grow your list? Here’s how to engage and grow your audience with YouTube and contests.

Have YouTube subscribers? Looking for new and unique ways to engage them and grow your audience? Look no further. In the third and final installment of our case study with photographer Jared Polin, we’ll break down his email list-boosting tactics that landed him 200K+ email subscribers.

In part one, we covered Jared’s content strategy, where he discussed how he creates his video content and drives traffic to it with email.

In part two, we explained how Jared balances his free content with his paid content strategy and uses a long-form sales page along with email marketing to promote his products.

This time around, we’ll look at his YouTube strategy for growing his audience, the contests he runs to gain subscribers, and how he uses email marketing to tie it all together.

Diversify off of YouTube

Have a YouTube following? Awesome! Now you need to figure out how to keep those followers engaged both on and off of YouTube so you can build profitable relationships with them.

“If you’re just starting out on YouTube, you need to figure out how you’re going to get off of YouTube at the same time,” Jared said. “You use YouTube as a way to build a following. But if you’re not cultivating a following and getting off of that platform, you’re not doing yourself any good. Unless you’re one of the biggest YouTubers in the world and you’re getting hundreds of thousands of views a day, you’re not making money.”

Case in point: Jared has 500K YouTube followers, and while most of his content is on YouTube, he doesn’t rely solely on YouTube to monetize his business.

“I knew I had to create my email list. I knew I had to get off of YouTube and not just live there,” he said. “That’s one of the downfalls of a lot of YouTubers. They hustle and do the YouTube angle without trying to get out of there. If YouTube goes away, I would like to think I could still continue on. I don’t see YouTube going away any time soon, but if it did, I still have the ability to do business because I have my email list. I have my other social integrations. It’s important to diversify off of YouTube.”

Even if you’re just getting started with YouTube, it’s important to think about how you’ll engage your followers elsewhere. Email marketing gives you the perfect opportunity to keep your YouTube subscribers engaged and turn them into loyal, paying customers.

Turn your YouTube subscribers into email subscribers

You already know how email marketing can help you promote your paid products. So how can you get your YouTube subscribers to sign up for your email list?

It all ties back to the marketing funnel. Your YouTube videos provide awareness. Your viewers initially may not know anything about you or your business, but your video content piques their interest. If they like what they see, they’ll consider getting to know more about you.

And that’s where you pop the big question.

At the beginning of many of Jared’s videos, he asks his viewers to sign up for his email list. He sometimes even includes a clickable image of his form in his videos, as shown here.


Once a viewer clicks on the sign up form image, they’re taken to the landing page on Jared’s website where his video lives – in this case, a Nikon D5 “Real World Review” – where you can sign up for a free photography guide that expands on the content he discusses in the video.

Pretty ingenious, huh?

Here’s what that page looks like:


“On YouTube, it’s all about the ask,” he said. “I’m putting out a piece of content and people are watching it. But before the video starts, in the intro, I say, ‘If you haven’t signed up for the Fro Knows Photo email list on the website, please put your name and email address in it and I’ll send you a free guide to capturing motion in low-light situations.’”

Jared makes sure to add a sign up form to his most popular videos to ensure higher conversions. So what types of video content get those conversions?

“The videos that convert the most sign ups for me are the preview videos,” he said. “Right away, I see a huge spike where I get 450 sign ups organically throughout one day. It may go to 450 or 500. You can’t know which content is going to be the most popular. That’s why you put the ask at the front of most videos. For me, I know that people are always searching for different lenses. If they find me for the first time, I want to have that ask in the beginning of the video.”

If you’re just getting started with creating video content for YouTube, ask your viewers to sign up at the beginning of all of your videos to grab every conversion opportunity possible. As you continue creating video content, you’ll be able to identify what content will be the most popular, and you can test different types of sign up forms and incentive offers.

Run contests to attract new subscribers fast

Contests are one of the best ways to grow your email list in a time crunch. Jared runs contests when he wants to give his list a boost fast. While he runs contests on a larger scale with camera giveaways valued at $2,000-$3,000, businesses at any stage can use contests for subscriber growth.

“Contests where I’m giving away two or three thousand dollars worth of camera gear are an investment,” he said. “But I’m getting sign ups that will build my following, build my email list.”

To get more contest sign ups, Jared relies on AppSumo to spread the word.

“I use AppSumo because that allows me to make the contests viral,” he said. “When they sign up through AppSumo, it says you’re signing up for my email list, that counts as an entry. If you tweet, you get two entries. Use Instagram and tag it, go to Facebook and like my page and get more entries. The last time I ran a contest, we added close to 100K new emails in three months.”

When Jared wants to boost his contest even more, he runs Facebook ads to them.

“That’s one of the only advertising things that I do,” he said. “We run Facebook ads to the contest and it just spreads. Where I normally get 150-200 sign ups per day, you’re looking at 2,000 people signing up for your email list. Then they get into my autoresponder sequence. My autoresponder emails aren’t meant to just sell, they’re meant to cultivate the value, ask for the sale at certain points, and keep people coming back for more. Contests are just strong for growing your list.”

You might be wondering about the looky-loos: the people who enter contests because they want free stuff – not because they’re interested in your business. This is one of Jared’s concerns, too.

“My concern with running those contests has always been people who just want to kick the tires because they want to enter for free,” he said. “Those people who enter for free are gonna unsubscribe anyway. But if I’m getting a 20 percent conversion rate with 100K subscribers and I’m still able to keep that conversion rate with 200K subscribers, that’s what matters. Contests are powerful.”

If you’re thinking about running a contest and you’re concerned about tire-kickers, consider running a reactivation campaign and cleaning up your list afterwards to ensure your subscribers are all engaged and you’re not hurting your deliverability.

What’s next?

  • We covered a lot of marketing tactics in this case study! Let’s recap:
  • Have a YouTube following? Start planning how to engage your YouTube subscribers with email marketing to keep them coming back for more.
  • Ask your YouTube viewers to sign up for your email list at the beginning of your videos – especially your most popular ones.
  • Run a contest with a valuable prize to boost subscriber growth. Use AppSumo + Facebook ads to get even more sign ups.
  • As you grow your list, always keep an eye on your stats to ensure your subscribers are opening and clicking your emails. Run a reactivation campaign when it’s time for a list clean-up.

Want to keep your subscribers engaged with email?

Make sure you have the right email marketing platform suited for your business needs. Try AWeber today, or sign up for a free, live demo to learn if we’re the right fit for you!