List building 101: How to rapidly build an email list

List building 101: How to rapidly build an email list
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To maximize the effectiveness of your email marketing, you’ll need to master list building. After all, without a comprehensive list of email recipients, even your best marketing emails won’t be sent to prospective or current customers!

But building a list can be trickier than you think. Today, let’s take a look at how to build an email list step-by-step, plus explore some additional tips and email marketing strategies you can employ.


marketing funnel computer work

How to build an email list

To build an email list effectively, you should follow the below major steps.

Gather the right email marketing tools

First, you should always use the right email marketing tools, like:

  • Email list building tools
  • CRM or customer relationship management software
  • Email marketing campaign automation software
  • And more

The right tools will make building and using your email marketing list much easier than otherwise. More importantly, they will allow you to control and modify your list of email contacts as it grows larger and larger.

Create opt-in forms on your website

Next, you’ll need to make email opt-in forms across your website. Opt-in forms are the forms that customers or clients fill out to sign up for your email newsletter.

Organize email list information

Then you’ll need to organize all your information as you collect emails. As people sign up for your brand’s email newsletter, all that information needs to be categorized, analyzed, and fully understood. That way, you know which marketing emails to send to which prospects.

Plan to send emails

At this stage, all that’s left is to plan to send your email campaigns to their target recipients! With luck, those marketing emails will bring new customers and subscribers to your brand in no time.

marketing funnel

Tools for list building

Email list building tools are vital, especially for brands that already use other software solutions.

For example, email marketing automation software allows you to automatically send emails to target recipients without someone having to push a button dozens of times. Alternatively, you can use A/B testing software to try out different email varieties and see which performs better among your target audience members.

Some examples of important tools to build your email list include:

  • Mailchimp
  • Klaviyo
  • Attentive
  • Optinmonster
  • Thrive Leads
  • Typeform
  • Outgrow
  • Chatbot
  • And more

List building best practices

Building an email list might seem simple, but it’s always a matter of convincing your target people to sign up for your newsletter. You can use a handful of best practices and smart strategies to make opting in to your email mailing list a much more attractive prospect.

Make the opt-in forms simple

First and foremost, always make sure your opt-in forms are simple, streamlined, and easy to complete. The longer it takes to fill out an email newsletter opt-in form, the less likely it is a customer or client will do it.

To that end, only gather as much information as you need. That way, prospective customers can sign up for your email newsletters in a matter of seconds once they decide to do so.

Place the opt-in form in the right spot

However, you should also position your email newsletter opt-in forms in the right locations. There are a few great spots to put opt-in forms, such as:

  • Pop-up boxes, which can be placed before a customer makes a purchase, when they view a product, or before they leave. Just make sure you design the pop-ups so they are not very intrusive or annoying, or you may drive your target customers away.
  • At the top of the sidebar. People can see the email opt-in form prompt as soon as they reach a target webpage, making subscriptions much more likely.
  • At the bottom of blog articles. If you write your blog content (and email content, for that matter) properly, prospects will be thrilled and interested in what you have to share. Prompting them to opt-in to your email newsletter could be a wise list building strategy.

Offer lead magnets

A lead magnet is a deal or free asset/offer that you provide to customers in exchange for contact information or email sign-ups. For example, you can offer a free $5 coupon, free shipping, or some other attractive prospect to get website visitors to sign up for your email list.

Design compelling CTAs

A call to action or CTA is an important part of any email sign-up form or request. The CTA for each email sign-up request should:

  • Be straightforward and to the point
  • Be punchy and exciting
  • Clearly illustrate the value to the subscriber

This is a principle you should apply to all of your pages and product descriptions, as well. The better your CTAs are, the more likely customers are to heed those requests and sign up for your email newsletters.

Build great landing pages

Lastly, don’t forget to build stellar landing pages across your site. The better those landing pages are, the better the first impressions your clients will have of your website and e-commerce brand overall.

That first impression will have an outsized impact on whether or not they sign up for an email newsletter list (and whether they make a purchase).

using laptop for charts marketing

Mistakes to avoid with email list building

While there are things you should focus on when building an email list, there are also some mistakes you should strive to avoid. These include:

  • Buying an email list, which is bad because you can’t target who you send your emails to
  • Building your opt-in forms so they ask for too many details or take too long to complete. This makes opting into your email list annoying to your customers, lowering the completion rate.
  • Not offering any incentives for email sign-ups
  • Positioning your forms in the wrong locations so they are annoying or difficult to see
  • Not sending welcome emails. Welcome emails should be the first things new subscribers get once they sign up for your email list.

As long as you avoid these mistakes, building an email list will be more likely to result in major benefits for your brand.

Metrics to track for your email list

As you build your email list and organize its information, you’ll want to track a handful of metrics for analysis purposes. The more analytics you track, the better you can understand your target audience and how well your email newsletter performs. Good KPIs or key performance indicators to track include:

  • Conversion rates, measuring how many visitors or customers sign up for your email list
  • Click-through rate, measuring how many customers or visitors click through an email to a product or blog post
  • Bounce rate, measuring how many prospects visit your site and bounce away to another site shortly
  • Email sharing and forwarding rate, which measures how often your customers or email subscribers forward your emails to other email addresses
  • List growth rate, which tells you how rapidly your email list is growing over time
person working at laptop


Wrap up

All in all, growing your email list also means designing your website and its content around drawing people to your brand. If your e-commerce site overall is attractive and well-designed, building an email list will be much easier than it would be otherwise. Keep these tips in mind!


What is list building?

List building is the process of adding new subscribers to your email list. You can do this with several different strategies, some of which you can use all at the same time. Usually, you would offer some sort of content or value in exchange for an email address from the people who visit your website. So you could offer a content download in exchange for an email address to help build your email list. Or you could simply have a popup on your website that lets visitors know that to stay up-to-date with the latest from your blog or business they could subscribe to your newsletter or email list.

Why is list building important?

List building is important because it’s a great way to help you scale and grow your business. The larger your audience is, the easier it will be for you to reach a large group of people when you’re ready to create your course or sell your online services. Email is a great way to keep in touch with your students or customers and to let them know when you have a new product or launch. Having their emails is especially useful when you’ve got a promotional offer for them. Plus, it’s not expensive like paid ads for your business would be.

Nahla Davies

Nahla Davies, Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.

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