Why You Need to Build an Email List Right Now – And the Exact Steps on How to Get Started

For some business owners, email marketing may seem archaic. With the prevalence of social media, and a hundred other forms of messaging, the traditional email format feels relatively old. However, it still remains one of the most powerful and thoroughly understood “modern” forms of communication. That’s why just about every social media platform requires you to have an email.

For business owners, email lists can yield dramatic rewards. According to Direct Marketing Association, email marketing on average sees a 4300 percent return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the US. Can you say that about your social media marketing campaign?

Why Email Marketing Is Still Effective

Email marketing has distinct advantages over other modern media.

First, it’s direct, meaning that every person on your list receives an email the same way that they’d receive a piece of mail. It’s much different than finding a piece of content in a newsfeed, even if it’s personalized.

Second, email is necessary. You can go for a few days without checking social media or video chatting with your friends and family, but most people check their email several times a day.

Third, it’s highly customizable. You can create an email campaign on any subject, and add any bells and whistles that you need to get the job done. It’s also incredibly inexpensive and well documented by email marketing experts.

The Secret to a Great Campaign: A Great List

However, you can’t just start emailing people randomly and expect to see great results.

The best campaigns start with the best lists, so building a targeted email list should be your number one priority. Even great email campaigns, with brilliant design, engaging copies, and unique value propositions can fall short if your list isn’t in order.

You should have three main priorities for building a quality list. In order, these are:

  • Quality. You want real information from real people who check their email frequently.
  • Relevance. These people should be genuinely interested in your brand and industry.
  • Volume. If the first two priorities are squared away, you can start focusing on quantity.

A Word of Warning

Based on what we said in the preceding section, you might get ahead of yourself, thinking that the faster you build a big list, the better.

You may even turn to an online source that promises you thousands of email subscribers for a relatively small amount of money. Don’t do it.

Buying email lists is a bad idea nearly 100 percent of the time. You rarely get what you pay for.

Most of the subscribers will have old or fake email addresses, and the few who don’t probably aren’t interested in your services. Add in the possibility of getting flagged as a spammer, and you can see plainly why it’s almost always a bad investment.

How to Build Your Email List (Step by Step)

Building an Email List

Instead, you should build your list organically. Here’s how to do it:

Step One: Start Early

This isn’t a formal step, but it’s a practical piece of advice that you’ll need if you want to be an effective email list builder.

With best practices and a visionary strategy in place, your email list should compound in growth as you spend more time developing it.

Accordingly, the sooner you start, the sooner this compounding can begin, and the faster you’ll be able to build the list that you want.

Did you know that you can use SeedProd on your WordPress site to create a “coming soon” page to build your email list before your site is even live? Talk about a jump start!

Step Two: Start With Who You Know

The start of your list should be everyone you currently have on file. You may already have email lists from previous campaigns, but if you don’t, you’ll have to do some digging. Import all of your existing customers contact that you have in your CRM system. This should give you a decent working start for your email list.

For building your email list, you can use one of the many email marketing services available. Some that we recommend are MailChimp, AWeber, and Infusionsoft.

Step Three: Build a Great Blog

The best way to build a list of email subscribers is to offer unparalleled blog content. This serves as a way to bring people into your site as well as an incentive to subscribe (to receive future content updates and/or exclusive content).

While content may take you some time to develop, but it’s worth it. Once complete, be sure to add multiple call-outs for email subscription on your blog, including a sidebar form, lightbox popup, and even in-line forms.

You should also limit the amount of information necessary to sign up. A name and email address should be all that you need to get started.

Step Four: Add an Opt-in Incentive

Finally, cater to the people who don’t like sharing their personal information for free by offering something valuable in exchange for a signup also known as a lead magnet.

Many online marketers offer a free eBook download or a whitepaper in exchange for your email information. You may be able to offer a free trial, free sample, or discount that can be used in your online store.

What’s important is that you recognize the submission of personal information as a kind of currency exchange in its own right. You have to offer something of equal value if you want people to go through with it. Don’t be afraid to change up your offer from time to time.

You might want to check out these 9 highly effective lead magnet ideas as well as 3 effective lead magnets you can create in minutes.

Step Five: Get Your People Sharing

Social sharing is powerful. For example, adding a “share” feature in the body of your email content can increase click-through rates by 158 percent or more.

However, sharing isn’t just about getting more email subscribers to engage with your content, it’s also about getting more people interested in becoming subscribers.

Imagine that someone shares a feature of your email, like a coupon code or a piece of content. All of his or her social contacts will see this message, and if they enjoy it or profit from it, then they’ll have a natural inclination to join your email list for future offers (this also assumes that you have a valuable offer to begin with).

Step Six: Experiment With New Calls-to-Action

You can maximize your potential subscribers by pursuing multiple avenues of recruitment. This includes both internal and external sources.

For example, you could experiment with a pop-up that offers the possibility to sign up for email, or you could use a new external source to attract a new segment of your audience. Even after signing up, there are tons of options to consider. For example, do you want a do you want a single opt-in or a double opt-in?

If you’re having trouble building an email list from scratch, OptinMonster can help. Our software has dozens of built-in features to help you maximize your email signups, from pre-made conversion templates to tools for A/B testing.

Remember step one: the sooner you start, the better, so stop procrastinating, and start building your email list today!

Syed Balkhi
Syed Balkhi is the co-founder of OptinMonster. He was recognized as the top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by the United Nations. He lives and breathes conversion marketing.


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  2. Very helpful information,
    I love the step by step instruction

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