If I had to choose ONE marketing activity for any industry, one that you MUST invest time and money in (to launch and grow your online business), my answer would always be the same: list building.
To get people who want to give you their emails (instead of feeling forced to do so), building an email list requires a combination of skills: content marketing, design, copywriting, sales, and paid acquisition.
This post is designed to be your go-to guide on how to build an email list.
- Just getting started? You will learn all the fundamentals of list building allowing you to capture your first emails today.
- Have some list-building experience? You will get inspiration and ideas from amazing case studies to accelerate the growth of your email list.
What Is List Building?
List building means every activity that’s targeted toward adding new subscribers to your email list. On a strategic level, think of list building as an exchange of value.
If you want website visitors to give you access to their inboxes, you have to give them something that makes it worthwhile.
On an execution level, activities to build email lists can range from small and quick tactics (like adding a popup to your site), to more comprehensive strategies (like hosting evergreen webinars).
Why Building an Email List Is the Single Most Important Way to Grow Your Online Business
Commentators love to talk about how email is dead, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
These are just a few reasons, based on a recent consumer survey:
- 72% of U.S. adults prefer email (over postal mail, TV ads, newspapers, magazines, text messages, social media, and in-person communication) as a channel of communication with companies.
- 91% like to receive promotional emails from companies with which they have a relationship.
- 69% of the respondents made purchases influenced by promotional emails.
If you haven’t built an email list yet (or you don’t put much effort behind it), you’re probably missing an opportunity to take your business to a whole new level.
Don't panic — this post is all you need to boost your game.
How to Use This Guide
Don’t read everything at once. There is a lot of great information in here, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed after reading through all of the content in one sitting. Instead, take incremental steps. For example, if you want to find out where or how to ask people for their emails on your site, read the content in chapter 2. Implement it, then come back later for the next steps.
Don’t feel like you have to do everything on this guide. If you already have an email service provider and are happy with it, you can skip over chapter 1. Invest your time on other things that will generate value for your business. If your email service provider becomes an obstacle, you can revisit this later on.
Get creative. Since every business is different, some of the strategies in this guide might not work for your business if you implement them exactly as described. However, most of what’s described can work for a large majority of businesses with just a few tweaks. In some cases, you might even get greater results than the people who wrote these posts.
How to Build an Email List: The Ultimate Guide
From choosing the right email service provider to sending a welcome email to your subscribers, this is the only guide you need to build an email list.
Choosing an email service provider
If you’re new to list building and email marketing, look around and see which services will allow you to do these important activities: segmenting subscribers, tracking email marketing metrics, broadcasting emails, customizing email messages, and building automated funnels.
Creating content upgrades
Content upgrades will be your most powerful tool to get email subscribers. Also known as lead magnets, these are premium pieces of content you can freely offer to website visitors in exchange for their email addresses. You can use a single content upgrade to grow your list by thousands.
It used to be you would have only one lead magnet on your site and that was sufficient. However, today your content and nurture sequence need to be highly relevant to the exact solution the person is actively looking for. By creating a content upgrade that is specific to a highly-targeted piece of content that is getting lots of attention helps you to raise that relevancy and turn more visitors into email subscribers.”
Jason Van Orden, jasonvanorden.com
The Definitive Guide to Content Upgrades: What We Learned Analyzing 100,000 Opt-Ins
Lead Magnet Ideas and Templates for the Ultimate Content Upgrade
Content Upgrades: The Secrets Behind 10X-ing Your Conversion Rate
How can you implement ways for people to give you their emails once they’re on your site? Independent of which tool you choose, you should know how to use them in the right way to provide an amazing experience while asking visitors for their emails.
How to build an email list fast
Are you taking advantage of low-hanging fruit? Leverage your existing audience and grow your email list using easy-to-implement methods, starting today.
We couldn't launch our product or run evergreen programs without email. We could run good launches without webinars and even without long-form sales pages — but we couldn't without email.”
Joanna Wiebe, Copy Hackers
How to build an email list with giveaways
I've found this as possibly the most effective way to gather a lot of email subscribers in a very short period of time. Giveaways are a great tactic that leverage network effects to increase the reach of your message.
When participants have the option to share the giveaway for more entries, a lot of the time, you'll see them have a 'viral' effect too.”
Jess Catorc, DIY Website Academy
How to build an email list with webinars
Webinars offer people a great opportunity for a closer interaction with you and your business at scale. If done correctly, webinars can skyrocket your email signups.
Webinars are a great way to go deeper on topics than you can through other list-building tools and really give a robust training, and cohesively introduce an offer to them, while also building real connection with your audience via the audio and video medium. Hands-down the best (and most FUN) list-building approach!”
Adrienne Dorison, adriennedorison.com
How to build an email list with free courses
Free courses are great for list building for three reasons: they are easily created, they can be reused many times, and audiences perceive them as highly valuable assets.
Free courses provide an incredibly high-value incentive to attract new potential customers. It stands out wholly amongst the sea of free eBooks that are used to attract attention, and because it provides so much value upfront, the likelihood that someone will continue to want to learn from you increases exponentially.”
Pat Flynn, SMART PASSIVE INCOME
How to build an email list with social media
Social media platforms are still in the very early stages of rolling out methods for businesses to capture email addresses. In other words, using social media is far from being a proven method to build your list. However, new platforms are usually full opportunities for new movers, so these resources might help you venture into new waters.
What to do after you capture an email
Even though this guide focuses on building your email list and not on email marketing strategies (more on that soon!), these helpful resources can get you started on the right foot after capturing an email.