How to Build an Email List from Scratch: 10 Incredibly Effective Strategies

It costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Retaining customers is a valuable long-term solution for increased revenue and sustainable growth, but it’s not always easy to cultivate that kind of loyalty.

I only like certain brands because of the message they promote, not because of their products. I feel like I invest in their story, and I can relate to their brand messaging. For example, SoulCycle’s brand messaging is “We aspire to inspire. We inhale intention and exhale expectation.” I can relate to that.

J. Crew, Spotify, and SoulCycle work to gain customer loyalty by creating content that is valuable to their target audience. Email marketing can be a very effective way to reach these consumers if it is done correctly.

I get J. Crew’s “Flash Sale: Midnight” offers by subscribing to their email list. I get Spotify’s special promotions by subscribing to their newsletter. And I get information about SoulCycle’s unique classes happening near me by subscribing to their emails.

I subscribe to their emails to get value.

It can feel daunting to try and build an email list from scratch, especially if you’re starting from zero.

What Is an Email List?

Email lists are simply a list of email addresses that you can use to communicate and build relationships with people over a long period of time.

How can business owners acquire these email addresses?

There are several ways you can collect leads. 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.

Basically, no matter which method you choose, you have gotten people’s permission to email them.

What are some ways you can build your email list?

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

Step 1: Create simple subscription opportunities.

Step 2: Offer a valuable incentive.

Sounds like a doable plan.

Before discussing how to create an email list in more detail, it is important to 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 move to a more digitized landscape, they need a cheaper way to communicate and interact with a larger potential customer base.

Email marketing is a great way to reach people who are already interested in you and your business. With email marketing, you can keep them updated on industry trends, deliver news updates, let them know about upcoming promotions, and invite them to your next event.

Converts Leads

Your email list is a powerful marketing tool that can help you convert prospects into paying customers. By answering questions and offering personalized solutions, you can create a rapport with potential customers and increase the likelihood that they’ll do business with you.

Improves Interactions

An email list is a great way to keep in touch with your contacts and deliver targeted messages that they will be interested in.

It is important for businesses to collect customer feedback through surveys, quizzes, and reviews to improve their business.

Drives Revenue

An email list allows you to connect with people who are interested in what you have to offer. As you build relationships with your fans, you can earn more money.

Regular email lists help to bring customers back to your store repeatedly. This is especially true if you have an eCommerce store.

Additionally, they increase brand awareness which leads to more sales and revenue.

Email List Building and Marketing Rules

Now that you’re aware of the advantages that an email list can bring to your business, let’s talk about some of the dos and don’ts of email list building.

There are some essential rules for building a mailing list and marketing that you need to follow at all times. This will help you to 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

If you’re running a business, you should use an email marketing provider instead of a Gmail account to communicate with your customers. The platform will help you build a database of email addresses, send messages, and manage your email list.

Use a Dedicated Tool

The more effort you put into email marketing, the more you will need to get out of your email list. Therefore, it is important to invest in the right tool to make sure your email marketing is effective. However, with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one.

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

Creating Sign-Up Forms

Your website is an important part of your efforts to build a list of email subscribers. Sign-ups on your site enable you to request that visitors join your email list.

The GetResponse and ConvertKit tools are some of the easiest and cheapest ways to do this.

Building Subscribe Landing Page 

You need to create places where more people will see it and be likely to sign up.

There are many services that allow you to create custom landing pages that align with your brand or your subscribers’ activities. This can help increase your conversion rate.

Not a big fan of Clickfunnels? checkout our list of the 15 best Clickfunnels alternatives!

Self-Management of Subscriptions

It is just as important to allow subscribers to manage their preferences and unsubscribe easily as it is to encourage people to sign up for your email list. A good tool will help you offer these features.

List Segmentation Options

If you want to build stronger relationships with your subscribers, you need to be able to send different emails to different segments of your list. Look for a tool that allows you to segment, sort, and filter your list for more targeted emailing.

Supports Integrations

If you want your investment to be beneficial for your business, it should be compatible with other tools you already have. For example, once you get an email address from an opt-in form, you need to be able to pass it on to your email service provider so that you can use it for future campaigns.

It’s also a good idea to find an email provider 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? All you have to do is provide your email address.

Lead magnets can do just that.

Think of them as motivating factors that persuade people to sign up for your email list. After all, 62% of United States consumers agree that sharing data and personal information on the internet is just a normal part of the contemporary economy.

Lead magnets help you promote your brand and connect with potential customers.

If you want your lead magnet to be successful, always deliver the content that you promised. Even more importantly, make sure that the content is something that your audience will find to be valuable.

How to Build an Email List From Scratch

Here are some high-quality strategies designed to cultivate a loyal email subscriber base, so you can use your emails to attract better long-term customers.

Create a pop-up or slide-in for each page of your site.

A ‘pop-up’ is a type of advertisement that often appears on websites. They are usually small and appear in the middle or bottom of the screen.

Instead of talking about general pop-up ads, I’m specifically talking about timed pop-up ads that appear after a user spends a certain amount of time on your page, or onsite retargeting ads that appear based on a user’s behavior. Examples of timed pop-up ads include exit pop-ups, which appear when a user tries to leave the page, or scroll pop-ups, which appear after the user scrolls a certain percentage down the page.

. Digital Marketer conducted a case study to determine the value of onsite retargeting. For one experiment in particular, they introduced a pop-up ad to returning visitors only, which appeared after those visitors spent 15 seconds on the site.

The following text ensures that a pop-up will not show up if someone is already signed up for the newsletter or if they are on a sales page.

Digital Marketer not only provides you with helpful content, but also a digital marketing toolbox as an incentive to sign up for their services. This makes their pop-up ads far less intrusive and more helpful to users.

Their campaign ultimately resulted in 2,689 leads in two weeks and an increase in average time on page by 54%. Pop-ups don’t always have to be gimmicky, and if done correctly, you can appeal to your visitor with quality content when and where they need it.

Create a timed pop-up survey.

Most people do not visit a new website and think about where the email sign-up form is. You usually need your viewers to be interested in your content before you ask them for their emails.

To increase the size of your email list, you might want to try surveying visitors on specific pages with questions related to the content on those pages. I would be more likely to answer a survey question if I was already interested in the content– it feels like a better trade-off.

For example, the University of Alberta’s email subscriber list grew by almost 500% in one year, thanks to a timed pop-up survey they implemented.

The University of Alberta’s pop-up survey only appears after a visitor remains on a news’ page for 10 seconds in order to gauge whether or not the viewer sees value in the content. If they do, then they are more likely to sign up for emails from the source.

The University of Alberta’s survey pop-up is very easy to use. You just enter your email and you’re done. Sometimes people don’t sign up for things because the forms are too long and they don’t have time, so a simple yes or no question is probably the best way to get more people to sign up for your email list.

Use humor or sarcasm in your CTA’s “no, thanks” copy.

We see so many “Yes or No” offers online every day that we don’t really notice them anymore. To get more people to sign up for your email list, try making your call to action copy more personal.

I find it amusing whenever I see a CTA with a small button that says “No thanks, I don’t want to lose weight” underneath a more noticeable link that says “Yes, sign me up!” It reminds me that there is a real person behind that button, and even though it is meant to be a joke, it also makes me pause before clicking on the “no, thanks” button. It is easy to click on “no” when the CTA is something like “sign up for more emails!” but it is not as easy to say no to things like losing weight or getting richer.

Describe the value in your CTA.

We’ve talked about various ways you can format your call-to-actions (including pop-up ads or personalized offers embedded in blog posts), but what about the language used in the call-to-action itself? You can rely on more than just humor and sarcasm to get clicks.

The best way to get people to sign up for your emails is to not use the words “sign up.” Instead, use words like “download,” “featured,” “exclusive,” and “access” to show what value they will be getting by subscribing.

For example, you could write “Download our exclusive e-book now” and include an email subscription form. Alternatively, you could say “Access all our exclusive offers.” Both of these CTAs would make it clear what benefits you would get from providing your email address.

Your web viewers will be more likely to sign up for your emails if they believe that your company is offering something special via email that they cannot find on your website.


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