How to start an email list

Person starting an email list

Email campaigns are at the core of inbound marketing. Getting into a prospect’s inbox is a great way to keep the conversation going and nurture a promising relationship.

If you want to convert your visitors into leads and those leads into happy clients, you must reach out to them through their emails.

But, how could you send them an email if you don’t have their addresses? It’s time to put an email list together by getting people excited about what you have to share.  

Here are 10 effective and proven ways to start your email list.

1. Offer an amazing lead magnet

Lead magnets offer the perfect opportunity to not only showcase your product or services, but they can also show your creative side, build brand awareness and increase your reputation over time. A few examples of lead magnets to consider include:

  • Templates. If you want to gain contact information and provide something fun and intriguing for your readers in exchange, consider template opportunities that work with your brand mission. For example, a health and lifestyle brand can offer an exclusive exercise diary and menu calendar.  
  • eBooks. Offering an array of valuable content gets people interested in exploring your site. More website traffic can produce more leads, and eBooks can help you achieve this. They’re an endearing type of content that not only looks great but sends an actionable message to readers who want to know more about your area of expertise.   
  • Webinars. Connecting with customers from a distance is more common these days. Webinars allow you to represent your brand and educate your audience about your company, products and services. If attendees are intrigued by your message, they may be more inclined to sign up for your email list to learn more. 
  • Studies or research. Being an expert in your field is helpful for brand representation and building a trusting relationship with your audience. Creating studies and providing research with useful data can reel in your audience and encourage them to learn more. 

Difficulty rate: Medium. It all depends on the quality of content and the ranking of your website.

2. Run a lead generation ad campaign

Essentially, a lead generation ad is where you collect data about people who clicked on your ad. This means that only the people who want to be contacted are leaving their information. Not only does this let you connect with fewer people who don’t show any interest in your company, but you can also maximize the number of leads you can get without throwing so much funding and overall effort into it. The more people you talk to who showed immediate interest in your products or services, the more likely they are to make a conversion.

Lead generation is one of the fastest ways to collect information. Even if you’re not fully prepared to build your email list, you can store the information until you’re ready to use it. Just recognize where your audience is most likely to see it (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn) and run the campaign there. 

Difficulty rate: Medium. Place lead generation ads where they’re going to perform the best (based on your target audience data) and you should see the results. 

3. Create an attractive landing page
The type of content that sits on your website makes a major impression on your audience. The landing page is the perfect example of a place you can convert readers into leads, encouraging people to take action after reading through your copy. 

An effective landing page should include:

  • Headline. An effective headline will entice readers to keep reading. Make sure it’s concise, clear and straightforward. This is the first thing people are going to notice about the landing page, so make it count. 
  • Intriguing content. Provide just enough information that gets readers excited to explore your website and inquire about your product, but not enough to explain exactly what you do and why you do it. You want potential buyers to reach out to you for more information to continue the sales journey.
  • Lead magnet. Your eBook, templates or other content you decided to create should live on your landing page. 
  • Call to action. The CTA is another opportunity to tell readers exactly what you can do for them, while making it easier to learn more. A CTA can be in the form of a button, or it can be as simple as leading people to your contact information via email or phone number. If you’re creating a personalized option for your audience, though, you may find greater success. According to HubSpot, personalized CTAs can generate as much as a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than those that were the same for everyone.

We talked about the things you should include, but don’t:

  • Include outbound links. You want your readers to stay on your page, not leave it.
  • Ask for too much information. Your CTA should not lead readers to a long and confusing form to fill out. Requesting too much information doesn’t only seem intrusive and sketchy, but it can also deter readers away because it requires too much effort.

Difficulty rate: Hard. You need to create an attractive landing page, but you also need to find ways to bring people to the website altogether. 

4. Build an irresistible newsletter

Your newsletter is likely one of the main deliverables in your email campaign, so creating one that’s attractive and informative is key to gaining subscribers who want to join your email list and stick around. Beyond following your brand guidelines and creating an email that your readers find aesthetically pleasing, what does an irresistible newsletter include?

  • Sales and discounts. Who can resist a good sale? There’s something so exciting about getting a coupon in your email, especially when it’s for a brand or product that you love. Give your readers who commit to joining your email list discounts for subscribing as a form of solitude and thankfulness. 
  • Upcoming products. Teasing subscribers about new products via email is a simple way to get them excited about the things you’ve been working on. You can even give them first dibs when the product goes on sale.  
  • News articles. Subscribers joined your email list because they trust your brand. Share articles and factual information that represents your company and educates your readers.
  • Other general exclusive information. Getting people to join your email list involves a lot of talk around sharing information that only subscribers can access. Exclusive information excites readers and makes them feel special.

Difficulty rate: Medium. If you can find a way to showcase the email before users sign up, they may be more inclined to add their names to the list.  

5. Place an email list invitation CTA all over your website

As previously mentioned, CTAs are an effective way to get people excited to learn more about your company and the services you offer. An email list invitation CTA is a great opportunity to build out your email list and gather information in a simplified, clickable way. 

Be sure to put CTAs on your most visited pages, and consider them in the form of a pop-up. This way, readers won’t have the opportunity to miss them. Digital Marketer generated 2,689 new leads in two weeks by taking this route, so, it’s definitely worth the consideration.

email list invitation CTA

CTA placement should be dependent on the amount of copy on each page of your website. Longer form landing pages can handle more than one CTA, placing it in the middle of the content and again near the end of the page. 

When we think about a smaller page, for example, “About Us” or “Contact Us”, an email list invitation CTA button can be strategically placed one time on the page. Overdoing it can deter readers, making them feel like you’re throwing it in their faces. 

Difficulty rate: Medium. So long as your CTAs are clear, concise and placed strategically on the page, you should be able to grab new subscribers. 

6. Use your social media accounts

Social media is one of the most valuable marketing tools of our time (not to mention, it’s free). 

According to DataReportal, there are at least 4.33 billion social media users worldwide, making it the perfect platform to reel in your audience and encourage them to join your email list. Social media lets you connect with users on a higher level, showing off your brand values and personality. Take the time to create a voice that speaks to your audience, making it effortless to grab their attention and ultimately get them to dive deeper into your products. 

We talked about how well lead generation ads work via social media, but you can also do something as simple as placing a link in your bio that leads your audience to the email list signup form. Then, on occasion, you can tweet, post a picture or blurb encouraging them to sign up if they want to learn more about your services, earn discounts and exclusive offers.

Difficulty rate: Easy. With so many people browsing social media, it can be easier to grab their attention here. 

7. Run a contest or giveaway

You can run a contest on social media simply asking followers to tag friends in the comments, like the photo and sign up for the email list, all of which will take little to no time to complete, in exchange for a free product or service. Not only is this the perfect opportunity to build out your email list, but it’s also ideal for ramping up engagement across your social media page.  

Difficulty rate: Easy. Contests bring the fun element to your brand, and it will be easier to bring people to your email list if they’re having fun in the process. 

8. Offer a demo of your product

Sometimes, buyers are less inclined to make a purchase if they have never seen the product in person or used it themselves. If you want to get people to join your email list and purchase your product, offer a free demo in exchange for their contact information. This will give them first-hand experience with your company, and if they’re satisfied, they’ll likely want more content from you.

Difficulty rate: Easy. People love free stuff!

9. Offer a free one-to-one session

The word “free” can be very useful, often encouraging people to keep reading until they reach the CTA. Offering a more personalized experience for those who subscribe to your email list can help you gain traction and impress your audience overall. 

Difficulty rate: Medium. Free is always good, but how well are you selling that intimate opportunity?

10. Create an exclusive group

Exclusivity is a keyword to use when forming and maintaining relationships. It builds the foundation of a strong partnership and can have a real impact on how your brand is perceived. 

Creating an exclusive group for your subscribers is a great way to get the ball rolling with your relationship. Here, you can share insider information with your subscribers that other consumers won’t know about until the product comes out. This can also be a place for your subscribers to share their insights and experience with you as a means of improving your marketing efforts. Two places of opportunity for an exclusive group include:

  • Facebook: Gain traction from the people who are sincerely interested in your products and services. After being admitted to the group, you provide exclusive content and encourage conversations to get people to meet other like-minded buyers and form a better relationship with your company. 
  • Slack: A communication platform most commonly used within a company, creating a consumer slack channel can help people feel more connected to your brand. It’s a more intimate setting for conversation and can create camaraderie between you and your target audience. 

Difficulty rate: Medium. The more exclusive content you plan to provide, the better.

Keep in mind
To effectively put your email list together using these strategies, there are a few things to keep in mind along the way:

  • Remember to correctly use your users’ personal information. Subscribers are signing up for your email list. Using their information in any other shape or form can look bad and potentially turn your good reputation into an untrustworthy one. Always disclose what users are signing up for and don’t take personal information out of context.
  • Always add an opt-out button. Have you ever heard of CAN-SPAM legislation? This requires anyone producing commercial messages to add an opt-out button to their email, giving recipients the right to unsubscribe whenever they want. Don’t let this important detail fall by the wayside.
  • Don’t buy email lists. Buying an email list is just as bad as buying Instagram followers. It can damage your reputation and also make it more difficult to collect real, raw data. Take the time to build an organic email list of readers who are interested in learning more about what you have to say. This will benefit your brand in the long run. 
  • Don’t forget to measure data. Raw data will lead to the success of your strategy, showing you what works versus what doesn’t. Be sure to track traffic and measure open rates from the moment you start a new email campaign and as your subscriber list continues to grow. 
  • Be mindful of the different buyer journey stages. A strong email campaign consists of more than one message; reach out to readers at each point of their customer journey with an appropriate email to continue to nurture the relationship.
  • Don’t oversell it. You don’t want current or potential readers to change their minds about subscribing to your newsletter or general emails. With so many different options for building your email list, take time to decide what makes sense for your target audience and how they’ll react when they come face-to-face with your strategy. 
  • Be prepared. Don’t wait until the last minute (meaning, having an actual email database) to figure things out. Do your homework and compare email delivery tools and create an automation process beforehand. This step is crucial, so take your time to design your email drip campaign

Starting an email list is just a part of the bigger picture. Building up your website, utilizing social media and finding exciting ways to interact with potential buyers are a few of the easiest ways to build your online presence and reputation. Painting a clear picture of your company can encourage people to learn more and grow your email list organically. 


Molly Ploe

Molly Ploe is a Marketing Specialist at Brafton. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading, going on walks and drizzling honey onto ice cream.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mollyploe/