40 Strategies for How to Build an Email List

Updated June 24, 2022

If you're exploring options for increasing your company's profitability, you may want to consider building an email list. Emailing your list can help you convert interested potential buyers into paying customers and encourage repeat purchases from current customers. Reviewing a list of ideas on how to build an email list can help you identify the options that will work best for your business.

In this article, we discuss what an email list is, along with 40 ideas for how to grow your list.

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What is an email list?

An email list is an electronic mailing list with contacts that typically consist of customers and potential leads. The list includes the email addresses and sometimes also names of individuals who have given you permission to send you updates and promotions related to your business.

Related: How To Create an Email List

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How to build an email list

Here are 40 strategies you can use to build an email list:

1. Add a call to action to blog posts

If your company has a blog, you should add individual calls-to-action for each blog post. You could create a relevant checklist, e-book or article that your readers can receive after opting-in to your email list.

2. Use a physical sign-up sheet

If you have a physical store or promote your business at community events, consider putting out a physical sign-up sheet and encouraging visitors to write down their email address to receive special offers and information.

3. Add a pop-up to your website

Pop-ups can be a highly effective method for encouraging website visitors to join your email list. You could choose to have your pop-up delay for a period of time so that it only appears after a website visitor spends a certain amount of time on your site. You could also choose to have it appear only if the visitor is about to exit the page.

Related: What Is Pop-up Marketing and How Do You Use It?

4. Request business cards

If you have a table at an event or you have a physical location for your business, consider setting out a glass bowl and asking visitors to leave their business cards behind for a chance to receive a special offer, such as a free product or a gift card.

5. Use social media advertising

Social media advertising can be a highly effective way to reach a targeted audience. Many platforms allow you to upload a list of your current email subscribers and then will deliver your advertisements to people who are similar to those on the list you imported.

6. Offer an incentive on social media

If you have a special offer like an e-book or white paper, consider promoting it to your social media followers. You could also simply promote your newsletter directly and encourage your social media audience to subscribe for information and promotions.

7. Add a link to your email signature

Consider adding a link to your opt-in landing page underneath your email signature. You could also add a link to a blog post with a call to action to subscribe to your newsletter. Another option is to add a link that takes the email recipient directly to your email newsletter.

Read more: How To Create a Business Email Signature with 10 Examples

8. Organize a giveaway

You could organize a giveaway online or within your own physical location. If you choose to promote your giveaway online, you could do so using social media by running ads or promoting the giveaway to your followers. You could also encourage people to share the giveaway with their friends to be entered to win.

9. Collaborate with relevant businesses

Consider reaching out to businesses with complimentary products and services and offering to collaborate. You could organize a joint giveaway or even just offer them space in your own newsletter in exchange for a link in theirs.

10. Offer email-only specials

Encourage people to sign up for your newsletter by promoting a special offer that's only available to email subscribers. You could promote it on social media as well as on your website.

11. Comment on forums and blogs

Identify relevant blogs and forums where your ideal audience spends time online. Contribute to the conversations that are already taking place by offering insightful comments. Always include a link back to your own website or blog posts, where visitors can subscribe to your email list.

Related: How To Build an Online Community To Engage Customers

12. Offer a daily discount

Encourage people to sign up for your list by offering a daily discount only for your subscribers. Emphasize that the deals are only available for a limited time through email.

13. Make it easy to forward

Encourage your email subscribers to forward your emails by including a forward-to-a-friend link. Make sure that the link redirects those individuals to a page where they can opt-in to receive your emails directly.

14. Create bonus content

When you create a blog post, create additional content with advanced tips that someone might be interested in if they were reading the post. Allow people to access those advanced strategies by opting-in to your email list.

15. Add a call-to-action button or link on social media

Add a link or create a call-to-action button and add it to your social media profiles. Include text that describes what visitors will find if they click on the link. For example, tell them to click the link for a discount on your products or services or simply to subscribe to your newsletter.

Related: 10 Types of Social Media to Promote Your Brand

16. Host a seminar or webinar

Position yourself as an authority figure in your industry and generate email addresses by hosting a seminar or online webinar. Both types of events give you the opportunity to offer value to your audience while also building your email list.

17. Add QR codes to marketing materials

Consider adding QR codes to print marketing materials that give readers access to additional bonus material. Create a QR code that requires the viewer to enter their email address in exchange for the bonus content.

18. Guest blog on other websites

There are many website owners who need guest bloggers to help them create content for their sites. Identify blogs with an audience you are targeting for your own products and services and then create content, including a call to action, to encourage people to visit your own website and sign up for your email list.

Related: 11 Types of Blog Posts and How To Use Them

19. Attend trade shows

If you have a physical product, you may want to consider offering demos at trade shows and collecting email addresses from interested potential customers. You can import those contacts into your email list and segment them from the remainder of your list so you can easily send them a welcome email and other relevant information.

20. Promote an event

If you host events where people purchase tickets or register in advance, you may want to consider adding a checkbox to your form asking people to subscribe to your email list.

21. Encourage visitors to sign up from their phones

Make it easy for customers to subscribe to your email list from their mobile device. Services are available that allow individuals to join your list by sending a text message and their contact information.

22. Collect using guests Wifi

If free Wifi is available at your physical location, consider requiring guests to submit their email address in order to access it.

23. Create a quiz

A quiz is a useful and fun method to build an email list. Encourage your website visitors to take your quiz and then offer to send them the results in exchange for their email.

24. Network

Join a business networking group in your local area and collect email addresses in-person. You could also, with the group organizer's permission, email the member list about your services and include a link to subscribe to your email list.

Related: Professional Networking: What It Is and How To Master It

25. Set up speaking engagements

Speaking engagements are a highly effective way to establish yourself as an authority figure, while also promoting your products and services. Encourage your audience to visit your website for more information or to leave their email address for the chance to win a prize. You could also offer free consultations in exchange for an email address.

26. Add testimonials to your landing page

Add testimonials about the quality of your content, products or services to your landing page in order to encourage others to subscribe for more information.

27. Add a scroll box

As an alternative to a pop-up box on your website, you may want to consider adding a scroll box. This type of opt-in form appears after your website visitor scrolls to a certain point on your webpage.

28. Encourage employees to collect email addresses

Encourage your employees to gather email addresses when talking to customers. Remember to have them ask for the individual's consent before adding them to the list.

Related: Employee Advocacy: What Is It and How Do You Implement It?

29. Encourage word-of-mouth referrals

Encourage your current customers to refer new people to your email list by offering a discount or another type of special offer.

30. Use a sandwich board

Consider putting a sandwich board in front of your store or office. Promote a special incentive to encourage people to sign up for your email list.

31. Customize your receipts

Consider customizing your receipts by adding a line where customers can write down their email address when they're signing their receipt. You could also simply ask them to write their email address on the back of the receipt to be added to your list.

32. Sponsor a contest

Sponsor some type of contest, such as a video contest where you ask customers to share videos talking about your product or service. You can require participants to include their email address with each submission. Also include an email opt-in form on the page where website visitors can vote.

Related: Prize Ideas for Marketing Contests: Benefits, Elements and Examples

33. Invite people to join your club

Offer an anniversary or birthday club, encouraging customers to subscribe to your list to receive a special discount on their anniversary or birthday each year.

34. Build an online community

Foster a strong relationship between your business and its customers by creating a community on social media, where you can offer support and useful information your audience will find valuable. Encourage people to sign up for your email list to get more information and relevant tips.

35. Add a call to action on your about page

Add a call to action with an opt-in form to the about page on your website for visitors who go to the page to learn more about your products, services and what you have to offer.

Read more: 51 Effective Call-To-Action Examples (And Why They Work)

36. Add humor to your calls to action

Try adding humor to your calls to action. For example, you could tell someone to sign up for tips to increase the amount of traffic to their website. The text underneath, opting-out, could say "no thanks, I don't want more traffic." The humor can make people hesitate to say no and increase the number of people signing up for your list.

37. Create additional landing pages

Research shows that when you create more personalized landing pages, especially ones that are relevant to the content the visitor was reading, you increase the likelihood that they will subscribe.

38. Offer a free trial

If you have an online service, consider offering visitors a free trial in exchange for their email address. After they register for a trial, send them a series of emails explaining the value of the service and encouraging them to become a paid customer.

39. Add an email field to your checkout process

If you don't have one in place already, add an email field to your checkout process. Most shopping carts can integrate directly with your email service provider.

Related: 10 Free Email Account Providers and How to Choose One

40. Ask for emails

Get in the habit of asking customers whether they want to subscribe to your email list at checkout. Train your employees to do the same.

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