How to create an email list for marketing

Updated: Jun 9

How to build an email list

Email marketing remains a very powerful marketing tool, but like with most things in life, you need a solid foundation in order to achieve the best possible success. The foundation of a successful email marketing campaign is the email list.

There are several ways to build an email list from scratch. Some ways may work better for certain industries than for others, but the basics are more or less the same across various industries.

One of the key factors to keep in mind before starting to build an email list, is that it is not just about the quantity, but more importantly about the quality of your list. It is about having the right people who are interested in your brand or service and what you can share with them. An engaged list of subscribers is the key to email marketing success. Even great email campaigns, with perfect design, and unique value propositions can fail to deliver results, if you are sending it to people who has no interest in what you have to offer. In other words, if your product is, for example, heavy machinery, it will be pointless to send it to a list of people who are only interested in beauty products.

Before starting an email list, you will need to establish what your ideal client would be. Once you have established that, you will have a better understanding what the most effective way would be to obtain email addresses to build a list consisting of people that closely resembles your ideal client. You will also have to decide if you will need to have sub-categories to your list. As an example, you may want to sub-divide your list into people who has purchased your product and people who has engaged with you, but who has not yet purchased. Having a clear picture of these objectives, will better equip you to make decisions regarding the strategy that will work best to obtain quality email addresses for your list with the highest probability of positive engagements.

To get the most out of your email campaigns, it is highly recommended that you use a reputable email marketing service like AWeber. They can assist you in every step and provide professional email templates for business for highly targeted email campaigns with a 24/7 team filled with email marketing experts, to assist you. They can also assist with email marketing strategies, split testing and email automation.

Strategies to get email addresses

Create incentives

People are generally reluctant to give out their email addresses, mainly due to large volumes of spam. In order to get people to opt into your mailing list, you will have to give something in return. You will have to provide an incentive, also known as a lead magnet. People love to receive free things, like gifts and discounts. Offering an incentive that appeals to your target audience is a great way to encourage them to sign up to your email list. Depending on your industry, gifts can also be things like free training videos, or documents containing useful information. In some cases, it may be as simple as an offer for a free quote, or a brochure.

Create a sign-up form

A sign-up form is where people can provide their information, including their email addresses. This can also allow you to obtain other information, like name, geographical location, specific interests etc. A sign-up form will typically be on a website, or on a landing page. When you run your campaign to obtain email addresses, the campaign will generally consist of an incentive, whereby people are then directed to your sign-up form, where visitors will provide their information in order to receive the incentive that you have offered and subscribe to your email list.

Methods to grow an email list

Existing email addresses.

If you already have an existing customer base, before adding them to your mailing list, consider the way in which you obtained these email addresses. Ask yourself if these clients may feel that you have obtained these email addresses under false pretenses, if you start to include them in your email campaigns. Sending unsolicited emails may cause damage to your brand, so if there are any doubts, or concerns, rather give these clients the opportunity to opt into your mailing list. This can be done by running a scaled down version of the campaign that you will be using to grow your email list. This will also give you the opportunity to use this as a test run for your main campaign.

Social Media followers

If you, or your business is active on social media platforms, you may already have a community of people following you, who are interested in your business. If so, reach out to these people as well and get as many as possible to opt into your mailing list.


Historically, many companies have attempted to grow their mailing list, by asking people to join a newsletter, but with limited success. Merely asking people to join a newsletter will not be very effective, as people generally have a pre-conceived idea that newsletters are boring and not worth the read. If you do decide to make use of a newsletter, to grow your mailing list, make sure that the content will add value and explain what you have to offer in your newsletters and how the content will benefit them. Also consider calling it something other than a newsletter, but rather call it (e.g.) Industry updates, or something similar that will indicate that this will provide value. If you have points that you will cover, or provide updates on in each addition, also mention these as an incentive to opt into your mailing list.

Launch a contest

You can host a contest that features a prize, specific to your industry that requires that people provide their email address and opt into you mailing list to enter. Choose the prize and ways that you want to promote the contest, based on the potential clients that you want to add to your mailing list.

Run a Facebook Lead Ad

Facebook offers a Lead Ad advertising option that collects email addresses. You can create a lead form, similar to a sign-up for, directly on Facebook. You can run an ad that encourages potential customers to sign up for your emails. Formulate the ad in such a way that you provide an incentive that attract the potential clients that you want to add to your mailing list. The added advantage is that Facebook also allows you to target specific audiences.

On your website

If a visitor lands on your website, by means of a search engine, this is a very valuable lead, as this person is in all probability already searching for the type of product or service that you offer. This is a lead that you cannot afford to lose. Create opt-in forms on your website, that targets these website visitors. This can be done as a pop-up, or as part of your website processes, like cart visitors, thank you pages etc.

Once you have your mailing list.

Once you have your mailing list it is time to start to use it to grow your business.

Also see our Article on Email marketing strategies.

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