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How to Build Your Email List – 15 Proven Strategies

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Email list building guide

How to Build Your Email List – 15 Proven Strategies

Home / Email Marketing / How to Build Your Email List – 15 Proven Strategies
Email list building guide
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I come from a family that’s passionate about business. Not to brag or anything, but we have an uncanny sense of what’s profitable and what’s not.

What would you say if I told you that there was a way to make more than 400% profit?

Yes, you read that right – 400%!

For every dollar you invest in email marketing, you can earn up to $42. 

Impressive ROI, isn’t it?

But let me be clear about one thing – not everyone can achieve this — only those with a well-thought-out email marketing strategy that offer valuable content. 

However, in order to have a successful email campaign, you need to have a group of people who want to hear from you. After all, marketing is all about delivering the right messages to the right people at the right time.

Needless to say, your email list is one of the most important aspects of your email campaign.

But not all email lists are equal. You need a healthy list full of active subscribers that continue to interact with your brand. 

This can be challenging even for the best of marketers.

That’s why I’m here.

Today, I’ll talk about the importance of building an email list for your business. More importantly, I’ll show you the most efficient ways to create an email list, whether you’re starting the list from scratch or expanding your current one. 

But before we dive deeper into this topic, let’s discuss the basics.

What Is an Email List?

An email list is exactly what it sounds like – a list of email addresses. These are people with whom you can communicate and build long-term relationships. 

How can business owners acquire these email addresses?

There are several ways you can collect them. For instance, you can ask visitors who subscribe to your newsletter or blog, sign up on your website to receive a product, purchase something from your store, or set up a custom funnel using tools like Clickfunnels.

Either way, you have asked people for their email addresses and gotten permission to send them content.

Now to the important question – how can you build your email list?

I like to keep things simple. So I’ve divided the process into two main steps:

Step 1: Create simple subscribe opportunities.

Step 2: Offer a valuable incentive.

Sounds like a doable plan.

Before I discuss how to create an email list in more detail, you must understand why you need one.

Why Do You Need a Marketing List?

Having a quality mailing list can offer the following benefits:

Informs Your Target Audience

As businesses transition to the competitive digital landscape, they need a cost-effective way to communicate and interact with a growing target audience. 

Email marketing is the ideal solution because it gives you access to individuals who are interested in you. By reaching out to your subscribers, you can educate them about industry trends, deliver news updates, inform them about upcoming promotional offers, invite them to your next event, and much more.

Converts Leads

Consider your email list as a high-converting tool. This is your chance to convert prospects into paying customers. So answer questions and offer personalized solutions to satisfy those interested in your business.

Improves Interactions

An email list organizes, streamlines, and enhances repeated communications with your contacts. It allows you to interact better and deliver targeted messages according to consumer preferences. 

More importantly, businesses can gather customer feedback through surveys, quizzes, and reviews to improve their business.

Drives Revenue

An email list allows you to establish relationships with the right people. As visitors convert to loyal fans, you can grow your income.

Moreover, personalized email lists help drive repeat businesses, especially if you run an ecommerce store.

Furthermore, they help you get your brand the attention it deserves. More consumers become aware of your products and services as well as any discounts you are offering. These are essential aspects that drive sales and increase revenue.

Email List Building and Marketing Rules

Now that you’re aware of the advantages of an email list for your business, let’s talk a little about the dos and don’ts of email list building.

There are some essential list building and marketing rules that you need to follow at all times. This ensures that you start your email campaigns on the right foot.

I’ve highlighted some best practices of list building strategies that all business owners should always keep in mind:

Get an Email Service Provider

As a business, you don’t want to use a Gmail account to email your customers. Instead, you need to choose an email marketing provider. The platform will help you build a database of email addresses, send messages, and organize your email list.

Use a Dedicated Tool

As your email marketing efforts increase, you’ll need to do a lot more with your email list. So you want to invest in the right tool for the job. But the market is flooded with options. How can you select the right one?

Make sure the tool you choose offers various list building capabilities, such as:

Creating Sign Up Forms

Your website is a crucial part of your list building efforts. Sign ups on your site give you an opportunity to ask visitors to join your email list and become subscribers. 

Some of the easiest (and cheapest) tools for this are GetResponse and the more powerful, ConvertKit.

Building Subscribe Landing Page 

You need to create places or “pages” where more people are likely to sign up. 

Select a service that allows you to customize premade landing pages that align with your brand or subscribers’ activities. This will help increase your conversion rate.

Not a fan of Clickfunnels? We’ve also outlined 15 best clickfunnels alternatives!

Self Management of Subscriptions

Allowing subscribers to manage their preferences themselves and unsubscribe easily is equally important as encouraging people to sign up to your list. A good tool will ensure you can offer these features.

List Segmentation Options

To build stronger relationships, you need to be able to send different emails to different subscribers. So the tool you select should allow you to segment, sort, and filter your list. A platform with tags, filters, and segmentation capabilities will make your job easier.

Supports Integrations

In order for your investment to be beneficial to your business, it should integrate with other tools you already have. For instance, once you get an email address from an opt in form, it needs to get passed on to your email service provider so that you can use it in future campaigns.

Also, find one that integrates with your other tools, such as your CRM, accounting, and ecommerce platforms. That way, you can automatically add new customer information to your email lists.

Offer a Compelling Incentive

Who doesn’t love the chance to save money, win something, receive a special discount, or get a free product? And the best thing is that all you have to do is provide your email address. 

Lead magnets can do just that.

Offer a Compelling Incentive to building email lists

Consider them as incentives that encourage people to join your email list. And it’s not too difficult, considering 62% of US consumers believe that sharing data and personal information online is simply part of the modern economy.

Lead magnets also help raise awareness about your brand and allow you to connect with prospects.

To ensure your lead magnet is effective, always send the promised content. More importantly, make sure it's highly valuable.

By now, you're probably thinking, what can I offer to people in exchange for their email addresses?

Your options are endless. Here are just a few ideas.

  • Giveaways
  • Product samples
  • Discount coupons
  • Checklists
  • Ebooks
  • Cheatsheets
  • Free trials
  • Case studies
  • Access to webinars
  • Premium content

To increase signups and get quality email addresses, offer a strong incentive.

Don't Spam People

Would you like it if your friend kept calling you every hour? Even if you're really close, it can get annoying after a while.

Don’t let your emails be like that.

After you have permission to send emails, use it as an opportunity to deliver relevant content at timely intervals.

Modify your communications by personalizing content according to preferences so that subscribers are more receptive to your emails.

Don't Buy Lists

Like most business owners, you’re probably looking for ways to grow your business quickly. One way to spread awareness of your brand is through emails.

But buying an email list should not be an option.

In the world of digital marketing, you can’t take any shortcuts, especially if you’re building your email list from scratch. It’s a sure way to kill your email campaign even before it gets off the ground.

An email address is personal. No one will appreciate it if you send them emails without their consent. If you continue to send them emails that they didn't sign up for, they could report you as spam. This could cause your sender’s email address and IP address to be blacklisted – not to mention your reputation.

Bought lists are bad for several other reasons, such as:

  • You’re probably targeting the wrong audience.
  • A lot of people can mark your messages as spam. 
  • If too many spam complaints are registered, your email service provider will terminate your account.
  • Other businesses may have purchased the same list.
  • You’re violating the CAN SPAM Act.

15 Strategies to Build Your Own Email List

When you set out to build your email list, consider it as an opportunity to make new friends. Not only do you want to make a killer first impression, but you also want to find shared interests and lay the foundation for a strong long-term relationship.

So it’s up to you to connect with them. 

But that’s only possible if you interact with people who are eager to listen to what you have to say.

Needless to say, it’s not something you can do overnight. List building is a slow process that requires time and effort. 

However, with the right strategy, you should be able to create an email list and ensure it continues to grow. 

Want to learn some secrets on how you can effortlessly build your email list?

Good, because I’ve got some tips to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

1. Ensure Your Website Has an Embedded Sign Up Form

If you’ve done any shopping online, which I’m sure you’ve done a lot of lately, you’ll notice that most ecommerce platforms normally have a standard opt in form at the bottom of their site. 

It’s an easy option to add to your website design. And it’s equally vital that you offer website visitors an opportunity to subscribe.

Moreover, one of the advantages of using an embedded signup form is that it’s non-intrusive.

Ensure Your Website Has an Embedded Sign Up Form

Notice how this ecommerce store takes its efforts to the next level. It encourages people to sign up for email updates by offering an additional 25% discount.

2. Create Simple Opt In Forms

Imagine if you're running late and you haven’t made dinner yet. You need an easy recipe pronto. A search on Google leads you to this site. And you love the no-fuss recipes it offers.

Even though you don’t have time, you want to keep getting more easy recipes. 

And because they ask for nothing except an email address, you’re a subscriber in under 5 seconds.

Create Simple Opt In Forms to Build Your Own Email List

Simple opt-in forms will encourage more people to subscribe. In fact, the fewer steps there are, the quicker you’ll grow your email list.

But one of the things I like about the above standard form is that it appears on the corner of every page. It’s small, not intrusive, and offers easy access to a subscription.  

3. Leverage Your Content Marketing Efforts

If you’ve developed a strong foothold in content marketing, you’re already creating compelling content to attract visitors to your site. Now all you need to do is ask them to sign up.

So it’s an excellent place to start growing your email list.

Let’s look at how HubSpot does it so effortlessly.

First off, they offer multiple opportunities for website visitors to subscribe.

For instance, they have a subscribe button in the header of their blog. 

Hubspot has a subscribe button in the header of their blog

Then, another one pops up as you scroll through the blog.

Hubspot offers multiple opportunities for website visitors to subscribe

Finally, at the end of the blog, they give readers yet another chance to access bonus content by submitting an email address. 

Surprisingly, none of their efforts to convince people to sign up are irritating.

Hubspot leverages their content marketing efforts

You can incorporate this list building strategy into your content marketing efforts.

4. Create New Lead-Generation Offers

A customized call to action for each blog post or landing page is more effective than using the same one throughout your website. Since you’re targeting a specific audience, you need to use a call to action that grabs their attention and convinces them to offer their email address.

Let’s continue with the example mentioned above. 

Notice how HubSpot creates a different call to action for various blogs. The first one is directed at people interested in email marketing, while the second is directed at those who want to learn more about Photoshop.

HubSpot creates a different call to action for various blogs
HubSpot creates a different call to action for various blogs

In both cases, the content is directly related to the visitor’s needs and offers value to the readers.

Also, observe how HubSpot uses access to additional content as a lead magnet. The individual will receive gated content to improve their content marketing strategy in exchange for an email address.

5. Create Powerful CTAs

Use a compelling call to action (CTA) to entice visitors to take a quiz, survey, or offer reviews about products they’ve used.

Get creative and think out of the box.

Sendinblue captures email addresses from people who post a reply to their blog posts.

Sendinblue captures email addresses from people who post a reply to their blog posts

On the other hand, Warby Parker collects email addresses by enticing people to take a quiz to receive free home try-on frames. 

Warby Parker collects email addresses by enticing people to take a quiz to receive free home try-on frames

So, where can you place a CTA?

Oh, almost anywhere – at the top of your home page, the bottom of a blog post, on a designated sign up page, as a sidebar, or scroll box.

It depends on the page's content and your viewers. But personally, I find that a scroll box is most effective.

It subtly prompts viewers for their address when they're more ready to convert. For instance, a CTA that appears when a visitor has read more than half of a blog post gives them enough time to make up their minds whether they want to subscribe or not.

And one last tip, make your CTA memorable.

I like the way OptinMonster creates a funny CTA. If a visitor instantly decides that they don't want to subscribe, the ‘No, I have leads’ makes them think twice.

OptinMonster creates a funny CTA

6. Set Up Effective Landing Pages

Imagine if you had something great to offer to your followers, like a free ebook, that you wanted to promote. You could show it off on your home page, but with so many things going on, it could get lost in the crowd.

Wouldn’t it be better if you dedicated a separate page for it?

A landing page can help showcase your freebie. Plus, it’s another opportunity to get emails. 

So consider your landing page as a call to action page that’s designed with the intent to capture a visitor's attention and, of course, collect email addresses.

Here’s an example of one from Backlinko:

Backlinko sets up effective landing page

To get more subscribers onto your list, incorporate the following landing page design elements:

  • Offer one call to action to ensure the visitor’s attention remains focused on the CTA button.
  • Incorporate enough white space to make sure the contrasting CTA button stands out.
  • Reroute people who click on your social media ads directly to this landing page instead of the homepage to improve user experience.

7. Utilize Pop Ups and Overlays

You've probably seen how a form or ad can suddenly pop up on the screen after spending a certain amount of time on a website. These timed pop ups are great onsite retargeting methods. 

Often, you’ll notice that marketers try to offer something extra that is relevant either to the content on that page or your on-page behavior. 

Studies show that pop ups have, on average, a 3.9% conversion rate. However, you can easily make this higher if you use them correctly. For instance, make sure the pop up doesn’t cover the main content as soon as someone lands on the page.

There are various types you can utilize to help build an email list. Some commonly used ones include:

Welcome Pop Up

As the name suggests, welcome pop ups welcome a visitor to the site. They usually appear within 15 seconds of a person landing on a page. 

How can you make your welcome pop up effective?

  • Ensure that it’s not intrusive.
  • Use a single field pop up form. 
  • Use a strong call to action. 
  • Consider offering a discount, announcing a sale, or any other valuable deal.
Make welcome pop up effective to build email lists

Exit Intent Pop Up

An exit intent pop up appears when a visitor is about to leave a site. When used appropriately, it can save about 10-15% of your lost visitors.

Notice how Yieldify uses one the right way. It doesn’t mention discounts or promotions to entice the person back. Instead, it offers a valid reason for the viewer to stay longer.

Yieldify uses exit intent pop up to build email lists

An ecommerce store can use an exit intent pop up in a similar way. They can target shoppers who are abandoning their carts with a “save shopping cart” overlay. Not only is this an excellent cart abandonment solution, but it also helps grow their email lists.

Promotional Pop Up

Promotional pop up forms appear while a visitor is actively browsing a site. However, to be effective, it must be relevant to the customer’s actions. For instance, you can display an applicable discount to the subcategory that they are browsing through.

Or, if someone hasn’t signed up to your mailing list, you can encourage them to do so with a discount. Take a look at how Neutrogena offers a 15% discount on the first purchase after signing up.

Use promotional pop up to build email lists

8. Include Email Acquisition in Your Checkout Process

This is a winning step for retail and ecommerce stores.

Simply ask shoppers for their email addresses at the point of sale, whether that’s online or offline. 

Sometimes, you may need to convince them. So make sure your in-store employees explain the benefits of your email program to your customers, such as special discounts, promotional offers, exclusive information about product launches, etc. 

To avoid bounced emails and ensure there are no errors, repeat the email address to verify the spelling.

If you’re not doing this, you need to start immediately and catch your potential email subscribers before they leave your store. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get your brand in front of a highly engaged portion of your target audience.

Include Email Acquisition in Checkout Process To Build Email Lists

9. Take Advantage of Referral Programs

Did you know your email subscribers can help you grow your email list?

Since they are interacting with like-minded people, they might be able to bring others who may also be interested in your brand.

So leverage your current audience by asking them to refer a friend. However, you need to nudge them a little. How about letting both the subscriber and the referred friend receive a reward, whether it’s a discount or monetary credit.

Simple, right? What could be better than gaining new customers without doing any heavy lifting?

That’s exactly what this brand does.

Take Advantage of Referral Programs To Build Email Lists

10. Ensure Call Center Representatives Request Email Addresses 

If you have a customer service center, this tip is for you. Since you already have a platform where consumers interact with company representatives, make the most of this opportunity and instruct your customer service team to request email addresses from everyone who calls. 

Furthermore, when your employees write a follow-up email, make sure they place a link to an email sign up form in the email signature.

11. Tap Into the Potential of Your Business’s Facebook Page

Did you know Facebook can help boost your list building and content marketing efforts? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Use your newsletter as the theme of your profile cover photo. Not only is it a high-quality graphic that draws attention to your email newsletter, but it also helps build awareness among its 2 billion monthly users. 

Now consider adding a CTA button to the top of your Facebook Business page. Notice how Search Engine Land includes a “Sign Up’” CTA to leverage their list building efforts. It links users to a sign up landing page.

Search Engine Land FB page call to action

You can also showcase a snippet of your current newsletter on your profile. The preview could inform your target audience about the latest edition. Anyone eager to learn more could then sign up. 

Remember, the key is to streamline the process. So include a link to the sign up page within the post. 

However, there are other successful ways to encourage email submission. Ask a user for their email address so they can join a giveaway, contest, or get to sample new products for free.

But some marketers are introducing gamification into their list building campaigns.

Common examples of interactive elements of game playing that marketers use include spin-to-win or wheel of fortune, scratchcards, eye-spy, etc.

Some marketers are introducing gamification into their list building campaigns

People are motivated by the prizes or gifts that they believe they’re getting for free. So they won’t hesitate to fill out the sign up form. 

12. Leverage All Social Media Channels

Facebook isn’t the only social media channel you can use. In fact, all social media platforms are great places where you can encourage people to share their email addresses. However, consider using paid ads on channels where most of your followers are active. 

Furthermore, add social sharing buttons to your landing pages, email, and blog posts to encourage your email list subscribers to share content with friends and family.

Leverage all social media channels to build email lists.png

Did you know that this simple step can improve click-through rates for emails by up to 158%?


By adding social sharing buttons to your emails, you can improve the reach of your current email list, attract new potential customers, drive more traffic back to your site, improve SEO ranking, and much more.

13. Facebook Advertisements

Okay, I’ll address the elephant in the room. All the email list build strategies I’ve mentioned so far sound really good. But they’re only effective if people land on your and fill out your sign up forms.

So how can you get traffic to your website? 

Well, there are a couple of ways to go about it. For instance, you could create an SEO-optimized blog post that search engines like and rank higher on SERPs. Or you could make something on social media that instantly goes viral.  

But for the most part, marketers invest in ads to drive steady traffic to their site. Their first option is usually Facebook because it’s a great platform for finding potential customers. Moreover, Facebook ads are scalable and more cost-effective.

Lately, business owners have been turning to Facebook lead ads

Let’s take a closer look at how Facebook lead ads can help.

Create a compelling lead magnet that attracts and engages your target audience, such as a product sample, news updates, or an in-depth guide.

As prospects scroll through their News Feed, they come across a call to action, such as a Subscribe button. Without leaving the platform, a form opens up within the ad. The person enters their name and email, hits submit, and becomes a lead.

Why do marketers prefer Facebook lead ads over landing pages?

The biggest advantage is that the person doesn't have to leave the app. Instead of being directed to a landing page in another window and waiting for it to load, a simple form pops up right then and there.

Moreover, marketers claim that it takes about six to eight touches to generate a viable sales lead. The entire process of acquiring subscribers is streamlined with Facebook lead ads. And that’s a huge advantage for you.

Here’s an example of a list of email subscribers we were able to compile by running an ad for a nutritionist. As you can see, it’s an impressive amount of leads.

an example of a list of email subscribers we were able to compile by running an Facebook ad for a nutritionist

14. Keep Your List Healthy

The purpose of your email marketing campaign is to develop strong relationships with your audience. So nothing is more important than a healthy list of interested and engaged email subscribers. They help generate impressive marketing results, such as high engagement and conversion rates.

So focus on the quality of your list, not the quantity of email addresses.

What are easy ways to maintain a healthy email list?

  • Use double opt-ins to ensure people actually want to register on your email list.
  • Remove inactive accounts.
  • Fix addresses with typos.
  • Remove duplicate addresses
  • Run personalized automation campaigns

Cleaning your list regularly is crucial for reducing your bounce rate. If this is not controlled, it can hurt your sender reputation and deliverability.

15. Take Your Efforts Offline

While a sign up form is the best way to collect email addresses, you should also create offline opportunities to build an email list. Brick-and-mortar businesses can incorporate collecting emails into their workflows, such as when booking an appointment or at the point of sale.

However, you can also organize a local event, sponsor a seminar, or book a stall at a fair. Come prepared with a simple form that allows people to enter their name and email address quickly. 

Remember, stick to the bare minimum details so that more people can sign up on your list.

Here’s a list that we generated when hosting an event about the importance of chatbots for ecommerce stores.

A list that we generated when hosting an event about the importance of chatbots for ecommerce stores

Over to You

Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing channels today. It allows business owners to improve reach, retain more customers, and grow brand loyalty.

But you can't get far if you don’t have a list of email addresses.

With the best practices mentioned above, I’m sure you’ll be off to a good start.

Remember, the key to building a viable email list depends on your ability to acquire email addresses and retain your subscribers. So present opportunities where people can quickly and easily sign up. 

More importantly, building an email list is an ongoing process. It’s not something you do once and forget about. So to run a successful email campaign, you have to actively maintain your email list, take care of list decay, and ensure it continues to grow. 

Now that you’re armed with these tips, are you ready to take your email list building strategy to the next level?

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