How To Build An Email List From Scratch: 14 Powerful Tactics (2021)

Figuring out how to build an email list from scratch may seem daunting, especially if you’re planning to do it fast and efficiently. However, it’s definitely worth putting in the work early on since your email list is going to be your most important investment.

Targeting your audience through email marketing is a proven and effective method still driving an impressive ROI of $49 for each $1 spent.

how to build an email list

This guide will explore and explain 14 effective tactics that you can leverage to build your email list from scratch quickly.

And best of all, by following these tactics, you’ll not just acquire new email contacts but a loyal and engaged subscriber base.

So, without further ado, let’s see those tactics!

1. Choose A Trustworthy Email Marketing Platform

The first step to build an email list is to select an email marketing platform. At first, sending basic email campaigns and managing your first contacts may be feasible through platforms like Gmail and Outlook.

But to efficiently manage and organize your growing email list as well as send automated email campaigns, you need a reliable email marketing tool. So, you need a platform that you can grow with and rely on its features to create engaging emails.

Choosing to invest in a robust email marketing platform will help you not only save precious time while building your email list from scratch but also capitalize on the full potential of email marketing right from the start.

Moosend is no stranger to that. By subscribing to a free forever plan, you get access to tested and effective subscription forms to boost email signups, as well as advanced segmentation options to maximize the efficiency of your campaigns.

But don’t take my word for it. Check it out yourself!

Start building your list now – Try Moosend

If you’re planning to build your list organically, you might want to look for other useful features in the email marketing platform of your choice. Such features include a landing page builder, marketing automation, and finally, A/B testing capabilities.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 50-60%

2. Give People Incentives to Sign Up

Having chosen an email marketing platform, you need to set up a way to start collecting emails on your website. But before you do that, you need to be able to entice people to sign up, namely, give them a reason to want to give you their email address.

Naturally, people won’t provide you with their email addresses for nothing. So, creating a simple email signup form saying “Sign up to our email list to receive our latest great content” will probably see low conversion rates.

One of the best ways to capture someone’s email is to create a lead magnet that entices them to sign up. Some ideas include:

  • A free eBook
  • A checklist summarizing steps from a blog post
  • A PDF version of a blog post or case study
  • A cheat sheet
  • A coupon
  • A webinar registration
  • A template or worksheet
  • A free course or email series

All of these offers give the visitor an incentive to sign up using their email address. Depending on your target audience and their needs, you can create lead magnets that will work best.

But generally, you’ll find out that using a combination of these different ideas will give you the best results. Moreover, as your marketing strategy evolves, content upgrades (a bonus piece of content specific to a particular blog post) will give you the optimal results.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 25%-50% depending on how strong the incentive is!

3. Create Pop-Ups For Your Website

Pop-ups may have the “notoriety” of being annoying and disruptive, but if they are carefully crafted and have a clear purpose, then they can be the game-changer in building your list.

One key tip I can give straight away is that you must have user experience in mind when creating your pop-up forms. This ensures that your pop-ups are relevant and well-timed.

Now, there are various ways to utilize pop-ups. For example, you can create a “surprise” pop-up box that appears after the user has spent some time on the page or alternatively has scrolled and interacted with the page. This can offer a discount for their first purchase, for instance.

Sierra Designs simple subscription form for list building

As you can see in the example by Sierra Designs, your pop-up can be simple and straightforward, without the need to spend tons of time and effort to create it.

On the other hand, if you have a clearer understanding of your audience, you can leverage that and create a more visual form that also emphasizes the value of your offer. You’ll also see that Flash Tattoos’ form asks for the user’s DoB, which will help create personalized birthday campaigns.

Flash Tattoo popup subscription form with discount

So, in general, marketers have to make their pop-ups appealing through high-quality content and irresistible incentives such as freebies, coupon codes, etc. There are various online form builder tools that can help you create beautiful forms that look like they were made from professionals!

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 10-30%

4. Craft CTAs For Your Website/Landing Page

It’s understandable that very few people are going to search for the way into your mailing list. Therefore, you need to provide them with various options to do so through your content or web pages in general.

If your digital marketing strategy includes any form of content marketing, then this is what you need.

First of all, it would be a waste to have great resources for your audience and not leverage them to grow your list.

For example, suppose you have created a beginner’s guide on buyer personas and you have substantial traffic. In that case, it’s more than a must to entice people to subscribe to your email newsletter by creating a CTA like “Get these 4 BONUS Buyer Persona examples and increase your sales today!”

Even if you don’t have a ton of resources to create such high-quality material, as long as you provide value to your audience, people are going to appreciate it. And, of course, they won’t feel “forced” to subscribe to your newsletter.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 15-20%

5. Create A High-Converting Landing Page

When building your email list from scratch, it’s smart to utilize other ways apart from your homepage. In this case, by creating one or more landing pages that are directly linked to your LinkedIn ads, Facebook ads, etc.

Let’s say you want to offer free shipping, an exclusive offer, or a limited-time sale. It’s far better to direct users to a dedicated landing page than send them to your homepage and risk them getting lost.

ProBlogger list building through a landing page

As you can see in ProBlogger’s landing page, the message is clear (exclusive offer for new subscribers) and the value is emphasized (receive 180 blog post ideas). So, in comparison with the homepage, it is highly focused on converting people and acquiring their email addresses.

In order to capture the user’s attention and lead him towards the desired action, online businesses have to create a seamless experience for them. The transition from the ad to what users see next has to be “frictionless” and relevant.

Generally, to create a high-converting landing page, you need three key elements:

  • a strong headline emphasizing the benefits that the users get
  • enticing copy to capture their attention
  • a powerful image to accompany the message

You can reap the benefits of high-converting landing pages with the help of Moosend’s Landing Page builder by signing up for a paid plan.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 50%

6. Leverage Your Social Media Accounts

Social media are a strong aid that can help propel the building of your email list. If your business is doing social media marketing apart from email marketing, then it’s a necessity to leverage this channel.

First of all, you can include a sign-up button or opt-in form on your Facebook page to boost your overall lead generation. It’s easy to do and if you’re just starting out, it can mean a lot.

Additionally, you can run a social media campaign encouraging your social media followers to join your newsletter. As you know, social media offer a huge reach and increased visibility, so either you have a small business or not, this is definitely worth doing.

Moreover, social media can be utilized to help with advertising. It’s a good idea to run ad campaigns offering exclusive discounts and coupons for people that sign up on your list.

Facebook also offers the chance to run Lead Ads, which allow in-platform form submission that minimizes friction. Such ads are mobile-friendly and don’t require the creation of a landing page.

Finally, as it will become apparent in the following tactics, social media are an excellent way to promote your contests and giveaways and maximize their reach.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 15%
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7. Run A Viral Contest

A viral contest is a contest that encourages people to share it in exchange for bonus entries. For example, you may provide 25 bonus entries for each referral that then signs up to the contest. In order to sign up, the person has to enter their email, which makes this a great list building technique.

This option is a great one to start out with because it encourages participants to do your marketing for you and entices people to sign up.

But that’s not all to it! Viral contests are a cool way to have people make user-generated content (UGC). This kind of content, apart from being original and authentic, has the power to increase trust in a brand and encourage more people to connect with it.

This practically means more signups, some of which will inevitably turn into new customers. So, you have a double benefit by utilizing UGC.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 35%

8. Manually Reach Out To Your Personal Contacts

Another idea regarding how to build your email list is to reach out to your personal contacts. There are likely at least a few people on your contact list that would be interested in signing up. Send an email to let them know that you are creating an email list and explain why it will be beneficial for them to sign up.

You can also encourage them to share the news with their own contact list.

You can do the same thing if you have a user base for your product but don’t have an email list for promoting content. Reach out to your users, asking if they would also like to receive your emails regarding your latest and greatest content.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 80%

9. Create A Referral Program For New Signups

Nothing can be more impactful in growing your email list fast than having your own customers spread the word about you and your brand.

A direct recommendation from friends is a sure way to convince people to join your list, let alone trust your brand and purchase from you.

Therefore, it’s essential to craft and establish a referral program for new subscribers. People naturally want to make their friends happy, so you need to give them the chance to do so.

What’s more, you’ll be giving them a good reason for doing so. Of course, by providing additional incentives for them. And that’s the most basic rule in marketing, namely provide more value!

Discounts, special offers, redeemable store points all work well. The secret of hacking your way into a bigger and more engaged email list is to make people who like what you’re doing a part of the process and your growth.

Referral programs are among the most popular tools used in eCommerce to build a strong and loyal subscriber base.

Fortunately, there are various tools out there that make the whole process straightforward and user-friendly while eliminating the need for advanced knowledge. Such tools include ReferralCandy, Tapfiliate, and Partnerstack, to name but a few.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 30%

10. Host A Giveaway

Giveaways are yet another powerful tactic that most eCommerce stores leverage nowadays to acquire new email subscribers. The reason behind their efficiency is that news of the giveaway spread fast and you can collect tons of email contacts in a short period of time.

This is especially true when you’re utilizing social media channels, such as Facebook or Instagram, which are not only popular but also reasonable in terms of advertising costs.

There is one essential rule you need to follow when creating your giveaway. The prize that you’re giving away has to be relevant and directly aimed at your target audience.

In this way, you’re not just getting more subscribers to your email list. You’re acquiring qualified leads, which are essential to the growth of your business.

To give you an example, if your audience is interested in tech products, then your giveaway should feature a relevant prize rather than a car, let’s say. The example below is created through Gleam.

Email list building through giveaways

There are various other giveaway tools or WordPress plugins that you can use to create cool giveaways, such as Rafflecopter and Woobox. Another way of running sweepstakes is  FindKeepLove.

FindKeep.Love is a full-service co-sponsored sweepstake facilitation service, FindKeep.Love contributes to the traffic and reach of your campaign, which is a major differentiating factor from the sweepstakes software on the market.

Last but not least, giveaways have the additional benefit of increasing brand awareness. There is no harm in luring in new potential customers while growing your list at the same time.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 30%

11. Use A Scroll box

Presenting your audience with a call-to-action at the right time is of utmost importance. This is why scroll boxes are necessary for lead generation.

Depending on the content of the page, a popup triggered when website visitors reach a certain point can be a subtle yet effective way to capture their email address. It all comes down to determining when users are likely to be ready to convert.

This “right time” can be identified by business owners through A/B testing, based on the visitors’ on-page behavior .

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 10%

12. Experiment With Pop-Up Forms (Exit-Intent, Inline, Full-Page)

We’ve talked about some of the triggered pop-up forms, but there are more options for you to utilize and experiment with.

First of all, you must consider using exit intent subscription forms, which essentially appear before website visitors when they “sense” their intention to leave the page. They are helpful to have as they can bring signups that might otherwise be lost.

To maximize their effectiveness, be sure to craft engaging copy. Here is an example from BigCommerce.

Exit intent popup by BigCommerce

Next, try out some attention-capturing alternatives, such as inline forms or full-page ones. Inline forms have the ability to blend perfectly with the rest of the page’s content while at the same time grabbing attention. Check out the example from HappySocks.

HappySocks inline subscription form

This is a discreet yet intriguing way to encourage new subscriptions without interfering with the user’s experience.

On the other hand, if you want to make sure you have the visitor’s attention, you can leverage the power of a full-page one. Make a strong value proposition and it won’t go unnoticed.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 10-15%

Another practical tactic to boost the growth of your email list is to include a newsletter signup link in your email signature.

It requires minimum effort, it’s easy to set up, and of course, it’s perfect if you’re growing your list from scratch.

Think of it like this. You and the other company employees communicate daily with various other people through email. By having a signup link in your email signature, you give people the chance to explore your company in more depth.

Of course, if those interactions are successful and fruitful, the chances are that those sent emails may attract more new subscribers.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 5%

14. Complement List Building With Offline Methods

Pop-ups, sidebars, landing pages all work great. But it would be a waste not to leverage the available offline methods to grow your list.

First of all, if you have physical stores, be sure to leave your business cards on the counter or booth.

Additionally, encourage people to leave their own business cards for an effortless email signup experience. However, this means you’ll have to manually do the work afterward and send a double opt-in email.

Finally, if you’re participating in events or fairs, be sure to have a registration list having a box for email addresses so that you can collect them.

Estimated percentage of new subscribers: 7-8%

Takeaway

Building an email list from scratch cannot happen overnight. However, by following these simple and effective tactics mentioned above, you’re increasing your chances of building your new email list in half the time!

Some methods will work better than others. But at the end of the day, what’s important is to combine them and get the best possible result for your business.

As you familiarize yourself with techniques on how to build an email list, you’ll want to move on to more advanced ones like webinars and podcasts.

And remember! What matters is not how fast you can build your list but how effectively you acquire new leads to be able to retain them.

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