How To Build An Email Marketing List

17 ways you can effectively build and acquire contacts for your email marketing list. Learn how to organically grow your email list database.

Email marketing guide - how to build an email list

Our last article talked about the best email marketing software to launch your first email campaign with. But before you hit “Send”, there is one more critical aspect which needs to be covered: creating & building an email marketing list so that you have actual contacts to send your emails to!

17 Ways You Can Acquire Real People For Your Email Marketing List

Your email marketing campaign is only effective if you have the right list of people to send it to. You must find and reach out to people who are interested in you and your products. This is called targeting. Just like in any marketing channel, targeted people are the ones that will best convert into customers. Listed below are 17 ways you can use to build a high quality email marketing list with the right people. The list you end up with may be smaller than the one you currently use, but it will be a higher quality, more valuable one. And don’t miss the bonus list of “don'ts” at the bottom.

How to build an email marketing list

1. Call-To-Action

You won’t get what you don’t ask for, and nowhere is this more true than on your website. This is so important, your landing page should be designed around the call-to-action (CTA). People want to be able to quickly evaluate what action they should take, so your CTA should be the first thing your visitor sees. Think of it as giving your visitors the opportunity to have access to your valuable content.

2. Make It Compelling

Your CTA should be as compelling as your offerings. Don’t rely on the automatically generated text to capture your potential fans, speak to them about what they care about. Instead of “sign up to receive our newsletter,” make it an irresistible offer. Tell them what to expect. “Attract more love in your life starting this Sunday. Weekly.”

3. Install A Pop-Up

Popups, slideups, menus, and popovers have become ubiquitous, and there’s a reason for it. Numbers. Popups have doubled and quadrupled opt-ins in numerous trials. They work well with enticing content because you can enable a pop-up to be responsive to clicks on your site. Say a visitor clicks “read more,” before they get to the rest of that article, a pop-up can offer them the chance to have it all delivered to their inbox. Just be sure not to force an opt-in. Include a tick box to close the window, but be sure to offer another opportunity to join your community at the end of the article.

4. Install Multiple Pop-Ups

When a visitor doesn’t land on your home page, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to get her email simply because there was no obvious CTA. The best list builders make email an unmistakable part of their blog design, where visitors cannot fail to see the calls to sign up.

5. Offer Valuable Content

Your fans are as busy as you are. Make it worth the precious real estate in their inboxes to include your newsletter. Find out what kind of information are they seeking, and create content that offers solutions to their concerns and problems. If you’re targeting busy moms, give them timesaving tips. Better yet, determine what kind of information they’re forwarding.

6. Leverage Social Media

Your Facebook page, Twitter feed, YouTube Channel and Google+ posts offer valuable feedback about your audience. So for instance, determine which posts are most popular. Do your fans respond better to jokes or DIY videos? If you’re selling design services but find your jokes are getting a better response, you’d do well to look for ways to incorporate humor into content. Likewise, you might get different responses on different platforms. Keep track of your popular content, and repurpose that for your newsletters, CTAs and other offerings.

7. Webinars

Yes, a webinar is a lot of work. But the value exceeds the work if you want to grow your list. Webinars have a built-in time limit that makes people respond. You get to engage with your audience and build credibility with your new subscribers right away. You also get the chance to capture real-time feedback from fans. You can create hashtags to stir up interest, then offer post-game access to people who request it. Webinars have consistently been shown to boost lists with highly responsive members.

8. Offer Freebies

People have become accustomed to free content online, so the best way to take advantage of the opportunity to share free content is to make it valuable. In other words, give away the good stuff. If a subscriber gives up their email in exchange for subpar content, worse than simply unsubscribing, that’s the view they’ll have of your brand. So be sure your freebies are worth the price.

9. Site Registration

Site registration is the most common and effective means of acquisition for marketers. Any time a visitor needs to fill out a form on your site, offer them the opportunity to have the information automatically saved. Best practice is to include an opt-in button, so you know they’re game for getting your actual emails. Even if they don’t, you know you have a visitor who plans to come back. It’s up to you to make an enticing bid for their opt-in.

10. Keep Subscription Link Handy

Your fans can and will sign up for your list from places other than the capture forms on your site. Include links in your and your employees’ email signatures, on social media profiles, and blog bios.

11. Host A Contest

This is distinct from a freebies offer. Entice your fans with a contest. Ask them to name a new product, or send in their best recipe. And of course, ask participants to sign up using their email address. And don’t forget to promote it using social media. This can be a lot of fun and provide valuable customer information.

12. Target

This is so basic we often overlook it. But if you’re offering in-store only discounts on pet products, you want to do your best to send the information to your customers who have pets. Depending on the promotion, you might want to also limit your mailing to a local audience. Be sure to set up separate lists so you can focus your efforts on the right groups. Your customers can self-select when they’re opting in using either a pull down menu or tick box. Pro tip: allow for multiple selections.

13. Unsubscribe

This might not seem logical at first glance, but it speaks to developing a quality list over a quantity list. Most email marketing services charge by the subscriber as well as by the number of emails, so essentially you’re paying for the privilege of keeping the email addresses of people who don’t open your emails. They aren’t fans. It’s best to get rid of them and focus on your core members. Send an email to list members asking them to opt-in, and delete those that don’t respond.

14. Experiment With Content Types

You can generate new leads by offering something different or new on your site. So for instance, if you have a regular podcast you might want to offer a white paper on podcast best practices. That’s a different type of content than what you usually offer, and it just might be what you need to entice new visitors to sign up. Again, you’re getting valuable information. If your blog posts aren’t generating much traffic but your YouTube videos are, you might consider shifting where to place your content.

15. Write Guest Blogs

When you write a blog post you always include a byline with your name and a link to your website or blog. So when you write a blog post for another person’s website, you get access to a whole new audience. This means putting your name and content in front of fresh eyes. Just be sure the landing page included in your byline has a prominent email capture form.

16. Pair Up

This is very similar to running a contest, and in fact can be a contest. But in this case you’ll join forces with a partner to run the promotion or contest. Again, you gain access to new audiences through your partner, and you might even discover new ways to promote your offerings. Just be sure to work with a partner that makes sense. If your audience is children, it might not make sense to partner with a wine company. Then again, a clever promotion aimed at the parents of your audience could work. Each case will be unique.

17. Advertise

It’s last on the list but by no means least. In the sharing economy, there is still room for paid advertising. The good news is, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Targeted search engine ads and Facebook feeds offer ways to micro-target prospective audiences, and you can choose a budge you’re comfortable with to run trials.

And Now for YOUR Bonus!

These three mistakes are so easy to make, but keep in mind:

  • Just because someone sends you an email, it doesn’t mean that they want to be on your list.
  • Having someone’s business card doesn’t mean they want to be your list.
  • Even if someone buys something from you, it still doesn’t mean they want to be on your list.

By following these suggestions you can build a robust, responsive email marketing list that converts well because it's based on quality and not quantity. Also remember to keep your list current and continually remove outdated or obsolete contacts.

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