The Definitive Guide to Email List Building
30 Strategies You Can Put to Work Today

List banner image

Now that you’ve seen why email marketing is so powerful (and hence the need for an email list), let’s get you an email list – fast. No, fast doesn’t mean buying or renting an email list.

Why is that bad?

Let me quickly give you 4 good reasons to avoid bought/rented email lists like the plague.

  1. It’s Unethical : One of the biggest reasons email marketing is so effective is that it’s permission-based. This means you obtain permission from your subscribers to send them marketing material. Buying an email list means sending emails to people who haven’t given you that permission. In fact, they don’t even know you.
  2. It’s a Legal Time Bomb : There are rules and regulations governing the sending of bulk email marketing materials. Examples include (but certainly not limited to):

    One underlying concept, no matter which law or region, is that spamming or sending unsolicited emails is illegal. And buying an email list – even legally – technically makes you a spammer. If a good number of people on that list report you for spam, you could face legal action.

  3. You Could Get Blacklisted : Because many of the people on your bought list have no relationship with you, the possibility of them marking your emails as spam is pretty high. When that happens, your ISP could get blacklisted.
  4. Your Emails Won’t Convert Well : Let’s be honest, when you buy an email list, the seller doesn’t give you exclusive rights to it. That means other people are sending emails to that very same email list. And chances are, those same recipients are already annoyed by the unsolicited barrage of emails they’re already receiving. Consequently, they’ll probably just ignore your emails.The 4 reasons above are exactly why you must avoid buying an email list at all costs. And that’s why you need to know how to build an email list from scratch.

Before you go ahead and start collecting email addresses, there are a few essentials you need to sort out first if your email marketing is to yield fruit. Without these elements, your email list won’t be engaged – no matter how big.

So, let’s get to them, shall we?

A Defined Target Audience

One of the most important elements of email marketing you must sort out right from the start is who your target market is.

Yes, you need a target market.

And no, the world is not your oyster.

A successful email marketing strategy hinges on knowing exactly who your target audience is. This helps you create personalized email copy, effective call-to-actions, and design campaigns that are attractive to that particular persona. These and many other reasons are what necessitate that you do your homework and narrow down your marketing on a particular audience.

An Irresistible Offer

Next, you need to come up with an irresistible offer. And not just any ole’ offer but one that appeals directly to your target audience. Sure, you can entice people to join your email list with a $100 dollar Amazon gift card (for example), but that won’t help you build a quality list. To build a quality list, your offer must be:

  • Relevant. Is it something that will inspire, motivate, or help your audience achieve a certain goal?
  • Timely. Is it an offer your target needs at the stage they’re at in life?
  • Exclusive. Your offer must be something your target audience won’t be able to easily find anywhere else. It’s the element of exclusivity that drives people to sign up for your offer.

Source

Make sure to take your time to come up with a quality offer that your target audience can’t resist. A great offer is also a great way to get your subscribers to self-segment.

An Optimized Landing Page

A landing page is a page your subscribers are directed to when they click on your advertised offer (from social media, search results, email, your website, etc). Its sole focus is to convert readers and collect their details. For your landing page to be optimized, it must:

  • Have a clear headline
  • Be engaging
  • Be concise and clear
  • Highlight the benefits of the offer
  • Have a clear and strong call-to-action
  • Only require relevant information from the subscriber

A great landing page will help you collect many email addresses. But, where do all those email addresses go?

This brings us to the other critical element you need to have in place for your email marketing to work.

A Reliable ESP

The success of your email marketing campaigns will also depend on your having a reliable email service provider (ESP). A good ESP is essential for storing all your email addresses into its database. But more than that it also:

  • Helps collect more data about your audience through its analytics engine
  • Affords good email list segmentation capabilities
  • Automates your email campaigns

And yes, you need to invest in an ESP because Gmail and Yahoo are not designed for bulk email sending. The good thing is that ESPs are quite affordable, with others (like Mailchimp) even offering great forever free plans.

Now that we’ve laid a good foundation for your email list building, let’s dive into the exact strategies you can use to build your email list – yes, even from scratch.

One thing every business should have is a website. Even if you run a brick-and-mortar business. A website is a great asset as it helps you be found by customers looking for your services online. And research does show that 88% of people research a product online before making a purchase – online or instore.

However, a website does just more than increase your visibility. It can also be used as a powerful list building machine. Here are a few simple ways you can use to grow your email list using your website:

Leverage Sign-up Forms

The fact that a person is on your website shows that they’re interested in what you have to offer. However, consuming all the content on your website can be quite time-consuming and overwhelming. And that’s a great advantage for you. Use this as an opportunity to pitch your newsletter. To do this, make sure you have an opt-in form on every page of your website encouraging readers to get the best content delivered straight to their inbox.

Use Sticky Bars on all Your Web Pages

Sticky bars work in a similar fashion to popups. The only difference being that a sticky bar is placed at the top of a web page and remains there even if the visitor scrolls up or down. As a result, whenever your website visitor is ready to sign up for your offer, they can easily do so. The advantage of sticky bars is that they’re not intrusive and thus don’t interfere with the visitor’s experience.

Use Exit Intent Popups

An exit-intent popup is just that – a popup that appears when a website visitor moves their cursor towards the upper boundary of the page (this is where the tab is and signifies exit intent). Here’s how Adam Enfroy grows his email list using exit-intent popups:

The purpose of an exit-intent popup is to capture visitors’ email addresses before they finally leave your website. However, this is easier said than done. To convert a greater number of visitors, your popup must:

  • Offer something valuable to your visitors
  • Have well-crafted copy
  • Have a strong CTA
  • Feel exclusive and personalized

Another great way to ensure your exit-intent popups convert well is to personalize them. You can do this by creating different offers that are specific for the different pages on your website.

Offer Content Upgrades

A content upgrade is a unique piece of content that goes into further detail on a particular topic or simply compliments it. Unlike blog posts, a content upgrade is not readily available on a website. In order for your website visitors to get access to this information, they’ll have to sign up for it. Examples of content upgrades include (but are not limited to):

  • Whitepapers/reports
  • Case studies
  • eBooks
  • Infographics
  • Cheatsheet
  • Free course

Creating content upgrades and promoting them on your website is a great way to turbocharge your email list building. One of the main reasons for this is that your website visitors are already interested in the information they are digesting. Adding a relevant content upgrade, then, is sure to hook them.

Create Gated Content

Gated content is content that is only available to “exclusive club members” – those who sign up for your email list. For this list building strategy to be effective, your content has to be very valuable. So valuable that people will readily give you their email addresses to access it.

Capture Email Addresses at Checkout

Gated content is content that is only available to “exclusive club members” – those who sign up for your email list. For this list building strategy to be effective, your content has to be very valuable. So valuable that people will readily give you their email addresses to access it.

Presell a Product or Service

One thing many people love is to be the first to experience a product/service. Use this to your advantage and grow your email list by preselling.

How?

Simple. Create a product your customers are bound to love and presell it. To be among the first to get it, those interested will have to sign up for a waiting list. As a result, you’ll not only build buzz around your product but gain some valuable subscribers as well.

Use Your Blog Comment Section

Your blog comment section is another email list growing tool many people underutilize. When people have enjoyed reading your blog post, they usually want to interact with it by commenting. Use this as an opportunity to pitch your newsletter.

Source

By ticking the box, the commenter will be automatically added to your email list. Now, that’s a cool email list building technique if we must say so ourselves.

Put Your About Page to Work

Many businesses make the mistake of making their About page solely about them. That’s a colossal mistake as your about page is a versatile page that can be leveraged to achieve many business goals. One of those is growing your email list.

When website visitors are interested in knowing more about your brand, one of the first places they go to is your “About” page. That’s a huge opportunity for you to get them on your email list. To do this, simply put one (or 2) opt-in forms on your about page. Make sure to include a tantalizing offer and your About page will grow your email list for you – on autopilot.

As you can see, your website is a powerful email list building machine. You just need to know how to use it to get people to sign up. And that’s exactly what these 9 list building tips will help you do.

EMail Marketing Online Cource 2

Subscribe to our newsletter

    Yes

    One of the most underutilized email list building forces is the one that’s right under your nose – your current email list. One of the biggest advantages of using your current subscribers to grow your email list is that they already know you and are more than likely to help you.

    So how can your email subscribers help you grow your email list?

    Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

    Every brand needs to be active on social media. No, not just to better provide customer support or engage with your customers, but to help you grow your email list as well. And your first opportunity to grow your email list with social media starts right on your profile.

    Source

    The only reason they haven’t yet is that you haven’t asked them.

    Here are 2 ways your subscribers can help you grow your email list:

    1. Sharing on social media: Include share buttons in your emails and encourage your subscribers to share the email with the network.
    2. Forward to their contacts: Add a button that allows your friends to easily forward your email to their email contacts.

    For this strategy to work, it will hinge on you offering an exceptional product/service and creating awesome content. Content so good your subscribers will happily (and proudly) share with their family and friends.

    Give Your Subscribers an Incentive

    Another way to get your subscribers to help you grow your email list is to offer an incentive for referring their family and friends. Your incentive could be anything from a freebie to a discount coupon. You can run a campaign targeted at your faithful subscribers (these are the ones who enjoy your content the most as evidenced by regular email opens) for the sole purpose of asking for referrals.

    Never underestimate your subscribers’ loyalty. Many of them are more than willing to help you reach your goals – especially if you give them valuable content.

    QR Codes - The Hip Way of Building Your List

    Quick response (QR) codes are an old technology that didn’t go as far as was expected. One of their biggest limitations is the low adoption rates by consumers. People don’t really have a compelling reason for downloading the QR code scanners on to their smartphones.

    However, QR codes offer a great way to collect email addresses from prospects, especially if you run a brick-and-mortar business. To do this, you can create a QR code that points to your signup form. Your poster or product label acts as a “physical landing page” and, just like the digital version, must offer an incentive for scanning the QR code.

    Source

    Use Chatbots Wisely and Your Email List Will Balloon

    Chatbots have been quite the rage for a couple of years now. And while they’re mainly used for sales and customer service, you can also use them to grow your email list. One reason for this is that online chats are fast becoming popular as they are a fast and convenient way brands and their customers can interact in real-time.

    So how can you leverage this fast-growing AI-powered technology to grow your email list?

    The answer is simple – create a bot that serves customers well.

    In most cases, customers interact with bots to get help with something. Design your chatbot well and it will help you build a great relationship with your customers. This will warm them up and make them more willing to part with their email address when you ask for it.

    And when should you ask for an email address?

    Some schools of thought advise asking at the beginning of the conversation in case the customer doesn’t come back or they get cut off.

    Source

    However, asking for an email address right from the start can put off other customers as an email address is a sensitive piece of information. That’s why most marketers advocate that your bot ask for the email address at the end of the conversation – after having provided value and gained the customer’s trust.

    Chatbots can be a very powerful tool for building your email list. They’re fun to interact with and make people feel like they’re in a safe place. So, if you haven’t started using them to grow your email list, get to work and include an email ask in your scripts.

    Speaking of email list building tools, the next section discusses some of the best on the market. Let’s get to them, shall we?

    Grow Your List Using Virtual Events

    Virtual events have become very popular in every industry. The simple reason for that is people are thirsty for knowledge. The world is changing so fast keeping up with best practices in your business, career, or even hobby has become quite difficult.

    And that’s where virtual events like webinars, Zoom conferences, and virtual summits come into play.

    This is why hosting a virtual event that people have to register for has become one of the best ways to grow an email list. Whether your event is free or paid, participants have no choice but to register using their email addresses. However, be sure to let them choose whether they want to receive marketing material from you or not.

    Use Your Online Course - Even if it’s Currently Closed

    Online courses are another great way to get people to sign up for your email list. A big mistake many course creators make is to close their courses and simply put a “closed” sign on the landing page. But this is a huge opportunity to grow your email list as everyone that comes across your course’s landing page is interested in it. That’s why you must use it as an opportunity to grow your email list by asking those visitors to sign up to be added to the waiting list. Of course, while they wait for the course to be open, you can build a relationship with them via email marketing.

    Conduct a Survey

    Yes, a survey can be instrumental in growing your email list – if done well. To successfully get people to respond to your survey, and surrender their email addresses as well, you will have to:

    • Offer a great incentive
    • Conduct a survey on a topic your ideal customers are very passionate about
    • Make sure to include a field where your respondents can enter their email address

    Once you’ve put your survey and incentive in place, promote it on your social media channels, website, and any other digital assets you have.

    Participate in Forums and Communities

    Niche forums and communities are another email list building goldmine. By participating and offering value in discussions, you can easily build yourself as an authority in your niche. This way, when you promote a resource in a discussion, it becomes easier for the participants to take you up on your offer and sign up for your email list.

    Answer Questions on Quora

    Quora is one of the most visited websites on the internet (with over 300 million monthly visitors). That’s what makes it a great place to grow your email list from.

    So how do you do that?

    It’s so simple – yet the results can be quite phenomenal. Scour Quora for questions related to your niche and answer them. In your answer, include a link to a blog post with content upgrade. Once you’ve hooked them with your answer on Quora, it’s basically downhill from there. They’ll follow the link to your content and happily part with their email addresses.

    Share Your Expertise on a Podcast

    Need to reach a new audience?

    Then pitch to be a guest on a podcast. Yes, podcasts are an audio medium, but they’re still a powerful way to get those precious signups. All you have to do is create a valuable content upgrade that your listeners will have to sign up for. The trick lies in delivering so much value in the podcast that the audience will be left hungry for more. And that hunger can only be satisfied by the content you have gated.

    Leverage Guest Posting

    Guest posting is the practice of creating content to publish on websites other than your own. One of the biggest advantages is that they, like podcasts, give you access to a wider audience. And just like appearing as a guest on podcasts, you can create and promote a content upgrade for your guest posts.

    Participate in a Joint Venture Partnership

    A joint venture partnership involves you teaming up with other businesses that offer complementary products/services to your own. Together, you create a resource bundle that you promote to your email lists. The effect is that you get some subscribers from your partners’ lists. Executed well, this kind of partnership could lead to you growing your email list very fast in a short space of time.

    Attract Subscribers with a Quiz

    Quizzes are a great way to make your website more interactive. But more than that, they are a great way to grow your email list. To use this strategy, you must have a call-to-action on your Home page (above the fold, of course) encouraging visitors to participate in the quiz. For this to be effective, the quiz must be of interest to your buyer persona. Here’s an excellent example from the Beardbrand:

    According to a case study by Typeform, the quiz alone generated over 150,000 leads for the Beardbrand. So yes, designed well, quizzes are a great (and easy) way to get more people to sign up for your email list.

    When it comes to building an email list, you’ll need a number of tools that will help you work smarter and more efficiently. These are apps and platforms that every marketer needs to know and leverage to make email list building easier.

    Here are some of the ones you should know:

    1. An Email Service Provider : One of the most important tools you need to build an email list is an email service provider (ESP). A great one will help you, not just keep a database of emails, but also segment them efficiently as well as send out automated campaigns. Examples of some great ESPs include (but definitely not limited to):

      Picking an ESP is a lot like choosing a pair of shoes – it must fit comfortably (into your marketing tool stack) and must be designed for the purpose you want to use it for.

    2. Landing Page Builder : A landing page builder is another essential email list building tool you can’t do without. It acts as a sales page pitching your offer. This is the actual tool that you’ll use to collect email addresses. Some landing page builders you should consider include:

      There are many different landing page builders on the market spanning the price and ease-of-use gamut. As with your ESP, take your time to find the one that’s right for you.

    3. Sign Up Form : Another email address collecting tool you definitely need is a signup form. Sign up forms can be placed on websites and social media accounts to encourage visitors and followers to sign up for your email list. While most ESPs have their own signup forms as part of the tools they offer users.
    4. Pop-ups : Popups are a great way to collect email addresses on your website. Whether you need a floating bar, timed popups, or exit-intent popups, some of the best popup plugins include:

      Designed well, popups are a great way of encouraging website visitors to sign up for your email list. So, if you haven’t yet, implement some pop-ups on your website.

    5. Marketing Tools : Remember, for people to find your lead magnet, you need to market it. Some tools you can use for this include:
      • Entice : This is a platform that helps you spread the word about your lead magnet. It allows users to share the link to your landing page with their social media network after they download your lead magnet.
      • Rafflecopter : Rafflecopter is a great way to promote your lead magnet on social media. As the name suggests, it works like a raffle where people stand a chance of winning a prize by sharing your lead magnet or signing up for your list.
      • Vyper : Vyper is another platform that enables you to easily run contests or implement loyalty programs. It’s definitely another great tool you can use to market your brand – especially your lead magnet.

      Tools have made it easy to grow an email list in a very short space of time. You don’t have to strain yourself to do most of the repetitive tasks involved in growing an email list. With the right tools, you can easily automate the list building process and watch as your email database grows.

    Building an email list has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Back when email marketing was in its infancy, you could easily grow an email list as people’s inboxes were not bursting at the seams. Today, however, that is not the case as people are hyper-selective when it comes to who they choose to give their email address to.

    To get around this, you’ll have to overcome 3 major challenges that we’ll look at briefly in this section.

    Creating a Relevant Lead Magnet

    One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when building an email list is creating the perfect lead magnet. This is because an effective lead magnet should be designed to attract only those people who are most likely to become paying customers down the road. As such, your lead magnet will, like a real magnet, have to have 2 poles – one that attracts the type of subscribers and another that repels the type you don’t.

    A lead magnet that attracts everyone and their uncle may look like a winning lead magnet but it isn’t. It will cost you down the road as most of your subscribers won’t

    • Engage with your emails
    • Turn into paying customers

    Some may even report you for spamming. In the end, the time and resources you invested in your lead magnet will go to waste.

    So how do you make sure your lead magnet is effective?

    • Know your audience. This means knowing who they are (demographics) and why they make decisions the way they do (psychographics).
    • Create a resource your audience needs. Invest in creating a resource your ideal customer (and only them) will find appealing. And make sure it adds value to them, even if it means you’ll have to spend time and resources on it.

    Your lead magnet is one of the most important elements of your list building campaign, so make sure to invest as much as you can in it. In some cases, you may even have to create multiple lead magnets designed to appeal to different personas your business serves.

    Getting People to Sign Up

    Next to creating a lead magnet, the next challenge you’ll face when building your email list is getting people to sign up for your offer. So how do you get around this?

    • Promote it where your ideal customers hang out. Without marketing, no one will know about your lead market. Make sure to market it, not just well but also in the right places – on the platforms your customers hang out.
    • Create copy that converts. Just because your lead magnet is great doesn’t mean everyone that sees it will sign up for it. To increase the chances of that happening, create compelling copy for your ads and landing pages. As much as possible, try to craft personalized copy – copy that uses language your audience relates to.

    If you can target the right people, on the right platforms, and using the right language, getting people to sign up for your list will become easier.

    Managing the Email List

    Believe it or not, many businesses collect email lists and then fail to leverage them. They keep a database of valuable email addresses and only send out emails spontaneously.

    Once you have built an email list, even if it’s made up of a hundred people, start communicating with them immediately. Otherwise, if you wait too long, your subscribers will forget who you are and why they signed up for your email list. Consequently, they’ll either unsubscribe or report you as a spammer – and both are hazardous to your reputation.

    So, before you start building your email list:

    • Set goals for your email list
    • Create a content calendar for your email sequences
    • Determine your email segmentation criteria

    Putting these 3 factors in place beforehand will help you manage your email list effectively and thus maximize your email marketing ROI. Failing to implement them could lead to your email list decaying very fast – mainly due to unsubscribes.

    The above 3 reasons are exactly why going the DIY route when building your email list is not recommended. Enlist the help of professionals who understand each moving part of the email list building machine.

    As long as you’re in business, and you mean business, email list building is not an option – it’s a must. Whether you run a brick-and-mortar business or an online business, an email list is one key element to business growth. And, although more challenging today than it was a couple of years ago, you can still build a quality list. All you need do is invest a bit of time and resources into executing an efficient list building campaign.

    Remember, by building meaningful relationships with your customers, you ensure that your customer retention rates are high. And customer retention is the key to growing your business. If you need help growing your email list and running effective email marketing campaigns? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    You May Also Like

    Why You Shouldn’t Buy Email Lists (& How To Quickly Build Your Own)

    Whether you're launching a new business, trying to fill your sales pipeline, or just trying to move units, you need leads fast! The urge to buy email lists and send bulk promotional emails is pretty tempting. And why shouldn't it be? Instantly

    How To Choose The Best Email Marketing Agency For Your Business

    Looking for an email marketing agency to handle your email marketing operations? Whether you need an agency that will develop and manage your full email marketing strategy, or just want to outsource various tasks to someone so your team can focus

    How to use Holiday Email Marketing to build Customer Engagement

    Digital marketing and new tools have opened doors for new avenues to communicate with customers, but email marketing remains the popular channel for customer outreach and relationship building. And the best opportunity

    Let Us Help Take You To The Next Level Of Email Marketing

    Get in touch to start a conversation.

    Get in touch

    Multi-ESP Support

    We support 50+ ESP vendors. Be it enterprise platforms such as SalesForce and Oracle Marketing Cloud or small and medium sized business platforms such as Mailchimp, Klaviyo, Aweber, and ActiveCampaign, we’ve got you covered.

    Many More

    Top