How to Build an Email List From Scratch (2023)

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach out to potential customers and maintain relationships with existing ones.

It can be a powerful tool for driving sales, increasing brand awareness, and building customer loyalty.

However, to take advantage of email marketing, you’ll need a list of email subscribers. In this article, we’ll discuss how to build a quality email list from scratch.

Why is a quality email list important?

A quality email list is essential for any business or individual who wants to succeed in email marketing. Here are some reasons why a quality email list is important:

  1. Targeted Audience: A quality email list allows you to target your email marketing campaigns to the right audience. This means that you can segment your list based on demographics, behavior, and preferences. By doing so, you can personalize your emails and increase the likelihood of conversion.
  2. Higher Open Rates: A quality email list is comprised of subscribers who have opted-in to receive your emails. As a result, they are more likely to open and engage with your emails. This, in turn, leads to higher open rates and more opportunities to convert leads into customers.
  3. Better Deliverability: Email service providers use a variety of factors to determine whether your emails are spam or not. A quality email list helps improve your deliverability rates by ensuring that your emails are reaching your subscribers’ inboxes and not their spam folders.
  4. Cost-Effective: Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach your target audience. With a quality email list, you can reach a large number of people without spending a lot of money on advertising or other marketing methods.
  5. Increased Revenue: Ultimately, the goal of email marketing is to generate revenue for your business. A quality email list helps you achieve this by providing a pool of engaged subscribers who are more likely to convert into paying customers.

In short, a quality email list is a valuable asset for any business or individual who wants to succeed in email marketing. It allows you to target your campaigns to the right audience, improve open rates and deliverability, and ultimately increase revenue.

On the other side, if you have a poor-quality email list, you may just be sending your marketing emails to a throwaway email address where they’ll never be opened, or even considered.

How do I build an email list from scratch?

Define your target audience

The first step in building an email list is to define your target audience. Who do you want to reach with your emails? What are their interests, needs, and pain points?

Defining your target audience will help you create content that resonates with them and encourages them to sign up for your email list.

To define your target audience, you can use tools such as Google Analytics or social media analytics to gather data about your website visitors or social media followers.

You can also conduct surveys or interviews to learn more about your target audience.

Choose your email list-building services

This doesn’t have to be restricted to one service; you can have several ways to build your email list in the first place.

I’ve already written an article on the best email list-building services, but in short, I’d recommend something you can create opt-in forms with and something you can gather email addresses with from platforms like LinkedIn.

Choose an email marketing platform

Once you have defined your target audience and gotten a way to build your email list, you need to choose an email marketing platform.

There are many email marketing platforms available, each with its own features and pricing plans. Some popular options include MailerLite, Getresponse, and Aweber.

I’ve written a MailerLite review and a GetResponse review which both go much more in-depth on the platforms; if you want to know more about either, visit those reviews.

When choosing an email marketing platform, consider your budget, the features you need, and the size of your email list. Some platforms offer free plans for small lists, while others charge based on the number of subscribers or emails sent.

Create a lead magnet

A lead magnet is an incentive you offer potential subscribers in exchange for their email addresses. It can be a free eBook, a discount code, a webinar, or any other valuable resource that your target audience would find useful.

To create a lead magnet, consider your target audience’s needs and pain points. What type of content would they find valuable? Once you have created your lead magnet, promote it on your website, social media channels, and other marketing channels.

If you want a more detailed guide on how to create a lead magnet and examples of lead magnets, see our article on it here.

Add a sign-up form to your website

To start collecting email addresses, you need to add a sign-up form to your website. A sign-up form is a form that asks visitors to enter their email address and other information, such as their name or location.

Your sign-up form should be prominently displayed on your website and include a clear call to action. You can use tools such as Hello Bar or Sumo to create eye-catching sign-up forms.

Offer a content upgrade

A content upgrade is an additional resource that you offer to readers of a specific blog post or article in exchange for their email address. For example, if you write a blog post about “10 ways to save money on groceries,” you could offer a free printable grocery list in exchange for the reader’s email address.

To create a content upgrade, think about what additional resources would be helpful to readers of a specific blog post or article. Then, create the resource and promote it within the content.

Host a webinar or event

Hosting a webinar or event is a great way to attract potential subscribers and provide them with valuable content. To promote your webinar or event, create a landing page that includes a sign-up form and information about the event.

When promoting your webinar or event, consider partnering with other businesses or influencers in your industry to increase your reach.

Leverage social media

Social media can be a powerful tool for building your email list. You can use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote your lead magnet, content upgrade, or webinar.

To leverage social media, create eye-catching graphics and captions that encourage people to sign up for your email list. You can also use social media advertising to target specific audiences and drive sign-ups.

Use paid search advertising

Paid search advertising, such as Google Ads, can be a great way

to reach people who are actively searching for products or services like yours. You can create ads that target specific keywords related to your business and direct users to a landing page with a sign-up form.

When creating your ads, make sure your messaging is clear and concise. Use keywords that are relevant to your business and target specific audiences based on their interests or location.

Offer exclusive content

Offering exclusive content to your email subscribers can be a great way to incentivize sign-ups. Exclusive content could include access to a private Facebook group, early access to new products or services, or special promotions and discounts.

When promoting your exclusive content, make sure to highlight the benefits of subscribing to your email list. You can use tools like OptinMonster or Privy to create pop-ups or banners promoting your exclusive content.

Run a contest or giveaway

Running a contest or giveaway can be a fun and engaging way to build your email list. To enter the contest or giveaway, users must provide their email addresses.

When running a contest or giveaway, make sure the prize is relevant to your target audience and aligns with your business goals. You can promote your contest or giveaway on social media, your website, or through email marketing.

Optimize your sign-up form

Optimizing your opt-in form can help increase your conversion rate and grow your email list. Make sure your sign-up form is easy to use and includes fields for relevant information, such as the user’s name or location.

You can also experiment with different sign-up form designs and placement on your website. For example, you could test a pop-up sign-up form versus a static sign-up form.

Consistently produce high-quality content

This one is fairly intuitive, but producing high-quality content on a consistent basis can help attract and retain subscribers. Make sure your content is relevant to your target audience and provides value.

You can also segment your email list based on subscriber behavior or interests and send targeted content to each segment.

For example, if a subscriber has shown interest in a specific product or service, you could send them a targeted email with more information or a special promotion.

Use email marketing best practices

Finally, to build and maintain a successful email list, it’s important to follow email marketing best practices. This includes:

  • Obtaining permission from subscribers before sending emails
  • Sending relevant and valuable content
  • Personalizing emails with the subscriber’s name or other relevant information
  • Using a clear and engaging subject line
  • Including a clear call-to-action in each email
  • Testing different email designs, subject lines, and content to improve performance

In conclusion, building an email list from scratch requires time, effort, and a well-planned strategy.

By defining your target audience, choosing an email marketing platform, creating a lead magnet, optimizing your sign-up form, and consistently producing high-quality content, you can attract and retain subscribers and grow your email list.