Whether you’re selling a product or service physically or online, email list building is one of the smartest things you can do to grow your business.
Findings from a study done by The Relevancy Group showed that email alone could drive the same revenue as social media, website, and display ads combined. For e-commerce businesses, an email about a special price or promotion can encourage 60% of subscribers to go to the store and buy that item.
No matter how old email is, email marketing is still one of the most powerful things you can do to market your business.
But before you can do that, you first have to build your email list. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of tactics that you can use in list building from scratch.
Without further ado, here’s your ultimate guide to various list building strategies:
Table of Contents
Get an email list building platform
Before you start collecting emails on your website, you need to have a place where you can place those emails and monitor the performance of your newsletters.
Remember, sending an email newsletter is different from sending mass emails to your friends and family. With an email software, you can automate your email marketing, saving you loads of time compared to manual sending.
The platform you choose depends on your needs, interface preferences, and budget. Do you want to have a basic email newsletter software so that you can email your followers anytime you want? Do you want a list segmentation feature? Or do you want a software that can handle a vast email list?
Some of the platforms you can use include:
- Constant Contact
- Campaign Monitor
Offer a giveaway
As effective as emails are, people don’t need more email campaigns to stuff their inbox. The average office worker already receives 121 emails a day. Who needs more, right?
That’s why you need to give people a reason to opt-in. People join your email list for a reason. Often, the reason isn’t “free updates” or “free tips” directly mailed to their inbox.
That’s why you need to create a giveaway that you can offer people in exchange for their email accounts. It serves as a bribe for them to join your mailing list, sort of like an immediate benefit to them.
Giveaways can take different forms. If you own an e-commerce store, an excellent giveaway is a discount code that they can use for their next purchase.
If you’re a service provider, like a website designer or funnel builder, you can give away a free content piece that’s helpful to your audience.
For instance, you can give your subscribers a free checklist on best website design practices so that they can evaluate how optimized their website is. Health coaches often offer free PDFs on how to start a healthy diet or a sneak peek on their proprietary process on achieving a healthier lifestyle.
Other formats include videos, online courses, or an automated email series. You can even offer multiple freebies to give your audience different ways to join your email list.
The important thing is to make your bribe piece relevant to your audience so that they become compelled to join your email list to get that freebie.
Consider these guide questions when creating your giveaway:
- What does your audience want?
- What’s your solution to help them get what they want?
Include a link to your opt-in form in high-converting places
Putting your opt-in link in high-converting places is like placing your reader’s favorite dish right in front of him on a silver platter. It’s visible and hard to resist.
Here’s a list of places where it’s best to put your sign-up link:
- Above the fold – This means the upper half of your web page. Because your visitors don’t need to scroll down to see your sign-up link, it will quickly grab their attention and increase their chance of subscribing.
- Feature box – You can add a feature box at the top of your blog post or to break up the text. The important thing is that it’s different from the rest of the page so that it stands out. Put a headline and some benefits about subscribing to your newsletters in bullet points. Don’t forget your call to action (CTA).
- Top of the sidebar – Make sure that the link is on top of the ads in your sidebar so that it’s easily visible to your site visitors.
- At the end of your blog post – People who read until the end of your blog post clearly love your work. So, why not invite to sign up for your email list while they’re feeling grateful for your post?
- At your website footer – Same as a blog post, people who reach the end of your site are engaged people. You want them to act right away, so have an email list form in your footer.
- On your navigation bar – That menu bar at the top of your site is one of the most attention-grabbing features on your website. You’d want to maximize that by placing a link to subscribe to your newsletter.
- On a sticky bar – Sticky bars are placed on the top of the page, and they remain in place even as the user scrolls down. If you put your sign-up link on a sticky bar, users will always see that option, increasing their chances of subscribing. And unlike pop-ups, users won’t perceive them as annoying because sticky bars don’t disrupt the user experience.
Use pop-up forms to offer content upgrades
You can hate those pesky pop-up forms all you want, but the fact remains that pop-ups work.
According to Backlinko’s Brian Dean, using pop-ups increased his email opt-ins from 35 per day to 75 per day. Even a simple-looking pop-up added over 3,600 subscribers in his email list in three months.
But don’t just say you’re going to deliver free tips every week straight to their inbox. If you want to take things a step further, offer content upgrades. It can boost your opt-in rates by a whopping 792%!
Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to offer content upgrades through pop-up forms:
- Find a page on your site that gets a lot of traffic.
- Think of a resource that will make the content on that page even better. You can offer transcripts, checklists, video tutorials, infographics, or a downloadable PDF version of that post.
- Create your resource and make sure it looks professionally designed.
- Give away that resource by placing a CTA box on your post or having a pop-up opt-in form that lets readers download it.
- Get more email subscribers!
And while you’re at it, make sure that you personalize each CTA. According to HubSpot, personalized CTAs have a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than generic CTAs.
Another way to use these pop-ups is to trigger them when a visitor displays intent to exit your site. A platform equipped with this kind of technology is OptinMonster.
Not a fan of pop-ups? You can use a slider box instead. Instead of popping up and taking over the screen, a slider box only slides from the corner of the screen and draws the visitor’s attention. Still, it does the same thing as a pop-up—collect email addresses.
You can even try a timed pop-up survey, which only appears after a visitor remains on the page for about 10 seconds. At that point, your visitor has already seen the value of the content, making him more inclined to sign up for your mailing list.
Optimize your confirmation page
Did you know that double opt-ins (asking people to confirm their email to subscribe to your email list) are making you lose up to 20% of your would-be subscribers?
That’s such a bummer when you’re trying to build your email list.
Though you have the option to go for single opt-ins, you can actually influence your subscribers to confirm their email by doing one thing: optimize your confirmation page.
Instead of using the default template for confirming emails, take time to:
- Remind your subscribers the benefits they’ll get from subscribing to your emails
- Include a strong call to action asking them to confirm right now
- Include steps on how to verify their emails
Your subscribers will appreciate the extra time you spent personalizing such an often-overlooked page as the email confirmation page.
Create a second option
Have you seen opt-in forms that have more than one option?
The main sign-up button says, “Download your 30-day exercise guide,” then there’s another link below saying, “No thanks, I prefer sitting lazily on my couch.” Doesn’t this option stop you in your tracks and make you reconsider your immediate decision to ignore the offer?
The options might sound silly, but science shows that two options convert much better than one option. It’s a phenomenon known as the Single Option Aversion.
In the study conducted by Professor Daniel Mochon of Tulane University, people in the market for a DVD player were divided into three groups. One group was shown details about a Sony DVD player. The second group got details about a Philips DVD player. Finally, the third group was given details on both devices.
Only 10% in the first and second groups said that they’re ready to buy right away. On the other hand, 33% in the third group said they were prepared to decide now.
That’s why including a second option in your opt-in form will help you convert more people. Don’t let the second option be not to opt-in to your emails.
Use social proof to get more people to opt-in
Social proof is a timeless persuasion technique that gets people to act right away. It builds trust, adds credibility, and improves your brand presence.
One way to do that to get people to subscribe to your list is by showing people how many subscribers you already have. Aside from showing that your emails help people, it also creates a fear of missing out, compelling people to opt-in.
But what if you only have 20 subscribers on your list? Bragging about it would hardly put a dent in your email subscriber list.
What you can do instead is ask for testimonials from your current subscribers. It can be several short testimonials, or even just one glowing testimonial showing the benefits of signing up for your newsletter.
Either way, it works.
Another option is to provide social proof about your traffic. Chances are, you have more visitors than email subscribers, Facebook fans, or Twitter followers.
If your site is SEO-optimized and you get at least 5,000 monthly visitors, you can say, “with over 5,000 monthly readers,” in your bio and boom! You get instant credibility.
Make people go to your best landing pages
Landing pages or squeeze pages are specially designed to collect emails. If your site visitors don’t even see your landing page, then you’re missing out on the opportunity to sign up hundreds of potential subscribers.
What you want is to bring people to your best-converting landing pages using the Landing Page Funnel (LPF) technique created by Brian Dean.
To do this, you first need to identify the landing pages that convert well on your site. Once you know the stats, add links around your site to those pages.
You can put these links on your top navigation button and sidebar so that people can readily access them.
You can also improve your landing page by doing the following:
- Have two form fields at most to avoid overwhelming your readers
- Add social proof elements like endorsements from big clients, testimonials, and subscriber count
- Have a strong and compelling value proposition that resonates with your audience
And don’t just limit yourself to one landing page. You can have as much as 10 to 15 landing pages, which can generate a 55% increase in leads. After all, every person who visits your site needs something different, so it makes sense to have multiple entry points that answer each person’s concerns.
The more personalized your landing pages are, the more appealing they become to a broader demographic.
Leverage your LinkedIn account to boost your email subscribes
LinkedIn is definitely one networking platform with a plethora of opportunities.
Did you know that you can create a LinkedIn group and use it to build your list?
Once a user subscribes to your group, you can send him a customized welcome email with a link to a confirmation page.
And as previously mentioned, you can personalize that confirmation page to get more opt-ins. You can even lead it to a well-designed landing page to boost your conversions.
To edit your LinkedIn welcome message, go to Manage, click Temples, and click Welcome Message. Don’t forget to add a link to your squeeze page!
Use “value words” to make your lead magnet more exciting
Are you tired of the usual calls to action such as, “Sign up for our newsletter,” and “Get a free e-book?”
You can spice up your copy with value words that dramatically increase the value of your giveaway, like the following:
- Limited time
- Special offer
Describing your free e-book using these value terms increases the perceived value of your giveaway, compelling people to immediately opt-in to your list.
After all, “Download our exclusive checklist now,” sounds more appealing than, “Get your free checklist here,” right? Just don’t overdo it in a single offer, and we’re all good.
You can also tweak your calls to action and remove words like “join,” “register,” and “submit.” These words sound too formal and make your readers like they’re committing to something serious.
Instead, you can use whimsical phrases like, “Let’s do this!” or “Take me there!” to make your call to action buttons stand out and put people at ease.
Use your social media channels—including emails
People often talk about list building using your website and landing page, but LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are pretty powerful for building lists, too.
The thing about social media is that people who follow you already like you, making your email list an easy sell.
Make sure that you pitch your email list on your social media networks regularly to make sure that you’re not missing out on some of the easiest subscribes you’ll ever get.
Aside from promoting your newsletter on your social media profiles, you can also include a link in your email signature. It can go directly to your email newsletter, a blog post, or a landing page where you collect your emails.
Create blog post series and add teasers
Fear of missing out is one of the biggest motivators for people to act. If you can leverage this for list building, you’ll be looking at a higher opt-in rate than when you don’t make people feel that they might get left out.
You can try doing this on blog post series where your readers are invested in every post that comes out. Simply add a call to action at the end of the post that says, “Get access to the next blog post in this series,” which leads to an opt-in box asking them to subscribe to your list to see the next post.
Imagine using this on all of your blog post series, and you’re looking at a few extra subscribers every month.
Turn your blog commenters into email subscribers
Not everyone who comments on your blog posts has already subscribed to your email list.
But you can make them sign up in an instant by adding a checkbox in the comment form that asks them to subscribe to your email list.
It works because people who take time to comment on your blog are usually those who enjoyed what you have to say. They like your blog post so much that they’re willing to engage with you and jump into the conversation.
In other words, these people are already in the right state of mind to sign up for your list. All you need to do is give them a little nudge.
Plus, it’s so easy to do! They only need to tick the checkbox to accomplish two actions at once—comment on your post and subscribe to your list.
Make your About page a landing page
Did you know that your About page is one of the most visited places in your site?
According to a survey conducted by KoMarketing, more than half of the respondents said that the first place that they want to visit on a website is its About page.
That’s why not optimizing your About page to collect emails means letting hundreds of subscribers slip away.
Those who visit your About page want to learn more about you and are already primed to sign up to your list.
You can add an opt-in form at the bottom of the page, together with some social proof. You can even add another form in the middle to make sure people don’t miss it.
Create hub pages for your best content
When you produce new content, your old content gets pushed back further and further into the deepest recesses of your site. And let’s face it, nobody has the patience to dig through your archives!
To make sure that your best content does not get buried six feet under, you need to create hub pages. These are pages that collect posts on a particular topic and structure them in an easy-to-follow tutorial.
For example, you want to create a hub page for content marketing. You can place links on articles about content marketing vs. traditional copywriting, content marketing strategies, and building an audience through content marketing. This way, your hub page highlights all your best content on a particular topic.
Because your hub page contains your best posts, it’s natural for it to generate lots of traffic. After all, these pages often rank well in search engines since they contain lots of keywords and links.
That’s why it’s best if you place an opt-in box on your hub page to take advantage of its list building capabilities. It’s one of the best ways to attract new subscribers to your newsletter!
Repurpose your content and add an opt-in form
There’s so much content that you can create online. You can write a blog post, publish an e-book, make an infographic, have a podcast, or create a video.
However, making new content all the time takes a lot of time and effort. What you can do instead is repurpose content—that is, take a piece of old content and transfer it to another medium—so that you produce new content based on what you have in the past.
For instance, you can create a slideshow based on a blog post you’ve done before. At the end of your slideshow, you can put a link to your landing page, where you ask your reader for his email address in exchange for a free e-book download.
The more content you create, the more opportunities you get to encourage people to subscribe to your list.
Do a guest post
One of the most effective email list building strategies you can utilize is guest posting on a high-traffic blog.
When you do a guest post, you’re essentially putting your content in front of another influencer’s audience and encouraging them to follow you as well. It’s like a shortcut because you get to leverage another person’s email list to build your own. It can generate hundreds of signups within a few days.
But the truth is, due to the influx of guest posts, a lot of bylines are being ignored these days. To get your post noticed, why not try creating a landing page for your most notable guest posts?
For example, you wrote a post on Copyblogger. Instead of just linking your byline to your usual home page, you can connect it to a landing page that says, “Welcome, Copyblogger readers!” This way, your landing page feels more personal, and people will be more compelled to sign up to your email list.
Couple it with a freebie, and you’re looking at a considerable increase in your opt-ins.
Let users create an account first before purchasing
If you have an e-commerce store, you’ll be losing a lot of potential subscribers if you don’t encourage your buyers to create an account first before they check out.
Every time a user creates an account, include a checkbox that says, “Sign me up for exclusive discounts and promotions,” so that people will be enticed to join your mailing list.
This way, you’re giving them the option to subscribe to your list without forcing them to do so. They simply have to uncheck the box.
Either way, you get information about them that you can use in other marketing strategies, such as targeting them on Facebook ads.
Encourage your subscribers to make referrals
Getting referrals is an effortless way to expand your business network. And what better way to do that but to make it easier for your friends, family, and current newsletter subscribers to refer you?
One way to do this is to ask. You can send a message to your friends and family to share your post (with an opt-in form) on their social media networks so that it gets more traction.
You can also offer discounts to your current subscribers for getting their friends and family to join your email list. After all, research shows that 28% of people are more likely to refer you if they receive a reward.
You can also add a share button on your posts so that people can easily share them on their networks, exposing your email subscription link to more people.
Create subscriber-exclusive content
Thinking of an opt-in offer or giveaway that’s different than the usual ones?
You can start offering a vault of exclusive resources that’s only accessible when you enter the password. When a person signs up for your email newsletter, they receive a password to the vault and lifetime access to these valuable resources.
This is pretty much the same as offering a bribe or giveaway, except that it’s more comprehensive and appealing to people.
Imagine, you’re not only getting one e-book, but a whole lot of PDFs, videos, and other content not accessible to anyone else!
To do this, you need to:
- Gather all the free resources you’ve created before, such as webinars, ultimate guides, cheat sheets, and the like.
- Create a page containing all these resources and set that page’s visibility to password protected. This way, only those with the password can access the page.
- Create a landing page for your resource page and funnel the traffic towards it.
- You can keep on adding fresh content to your vault to entice more people to sign up to your list.
Host a webinar
Another great way to collect emails of people who haven’t even heard about you before is by hosting a webinar.
Webinars can give you tons of traffic and exposure. Because it takes some time to prepare one, the perceived value of webinars is high, so it usually drives more sign-ups compared to regular giveaways and content upgrades. You can also record your webinar and use it later as a giveaway for opting in.
Once an attendee registers for your webinar, you automatically get his email address, thus growing your list fast.
Want to double or triple your signups? You can partner with a company or influencer with a huge following in your industry so that you also get access to their audience. Even webinar attendees benefit from these partnerships because they get access to you and your partner’s expertise.
Drive traffic back to your site
Not a single soul will sign up for your email list if they don’t see the opt-in form. That’s why you have to drive traffic to your site so that people get a chance to view it.
Here are some avenues to help you drive traffic to your landing pages:
Every niche has a dedicated forum full of your target market. To find them, Google “top [niche] forums” and go to the top results.
But don’t post a pitch in the forum without building relationships first; otherwise, you might be tagged as spam.
Become an active member of the community first and post helpful content. Put your link in context when posting it.
- Cold Emails
Send an email to a bunch of people within your niche and invite them to subscribe to your mailing list.
To find the people to email, use Buzzsumo to search for the top articles on a given topic. View its sharers and find these people’s email addresses.
You can also look at the comments in these articles to know who the top commenters are.
When you email them, mention how you found them and refer to a similar article you wrote that you think they would benefit from. Make sure that it has an opt-in link so that people can sign up for your newsletter if they like the article.
When your posts get upvoted on a subreddit, you can gain a lot of subscribers.
But just like forums, you have to make sure that you genuinely add value to the discussions within the community. Add a detailed summary when you post your link for context.
Collect emails personally
Do you own a brick-and-mortar store and interact with your customers personally? You can ask your customers to join your mailing list, too!
You can launch a store membership and ask your customers to sign up at the register. It allows you to keep in touch with your loyal customers and reward them for buying your products.
You can also use the same technique at trade shows and in-person networking events. Collect sign-ups in person and import them in your contact database.
Don’t forget to email your list
And finally, once you’ve captured your leads’ emails, the next order of business is to make them stay. All your list building efforts will be for naught if your list keeps getting smaller and smaller due to unsubscribes.
Once someone subscribes, make sure to send an automated but personalized welcome email. Among all the emails you’ll send, your welcome email has the highest chance of being opened and read.
According to Teachable.com, a welcome email has an 86% higher than average open rate and a 196% clickthrough rate. You’re never going to get this kind of attention again, so use this first email well.
Here are some tips to ensure a successful welcome email:
- Create an attention-grabbing and engaging subject line.
- Make it personalized by using a conversational tone and using your subscriber’s real name.
- Send it right away.
- Provide onboarding tips.
- Ask them a simple question to initiate conversation.
- Make sure that people can reply to your email.
- Thank them.
After sending your welcome email, make sure that you have a solid email marketing strategy so that you can create amazing and valuable content. When you do that, people will stay subscribed to you and look forward to your every email. You don’t even have to convince them to refer you because they’ll share your emails automatically, even if you don’t prompt them.
With all these tips for email list building, there’s no more excuse for not to grow your email list and start email marketing.