7 Expert-Backed Ways to Build Your Email List

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Did you know it costs five times more to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one?

Focusing on customer retention is a valuable long-term solution for increased revenue and sustainable growth, but it’s not always easy to cultivate that kind of loyalty.

When I think about the brands I like best, like J. Crew, Spotify, and SoulCycle, I know I’m not a loyal brand advocate because of their products alone. I can get cheaper clothes, music, and groceries from plenty of other places.

Ultimately, I’m a brand advocate because I believe in what they promote and I feel invested in their stories, like SoulCycle’s: “We aspire to inspire. We inhale intention and exhale expectation.” I relate to their brand messaging.

One of the ways J. Crew, Spotify, and SoulCycle cultivate customer loyalty is through valuable content. While there are many ways to do this, email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to reach your target audience — if done correctly.

I subscribe to J. Crew’s email list to get their “Flash Sale: Midnight” offers. I subscribe to Spotify’s newsletter to receive special promotions. And I subscribe to SoulCycle’s emails to hear about unique classes happening near me.

In short, I subscribe to their emails to get value.

If you’re starting from zero, building an impressive email list can feel like an impossible feat. Here, I’ll cover 7 high-quality strategies to build an email list from scratch. Best of all, these strategies are designed to cultivate a loyal email subscriber base, so you can use your emails to attract better long-term customers.

NEVER buy an Email List

This one is such an important point to make, and one that many new eCommerce marketers are falling for.

There are many shady people on the internet who will sell you email lists with hundreds of thousands of “quality” (read: not quality) contacts that are perfect for your business.

But you know they’re not. You’re just hoping that at least some of them are (maybe 2% wouldn’t be bad, right?).

But that’s bad thinking.

Create a Personalized CTA

HubSpot has found personalized calls-to-action have a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than calls-to-action that are the same for all visitors — that’s almost double your potential email subscribers.

It makes sense: the people who visit your blog post or web page are looking for something specific, so your CTA needs to meet those unique needs. For instance, if you’ve got a ton of traffic visiting your “List-Building Strategy” blog article, why not entice those people to subscribe to your email list by including a simple CTA like this: “Click here to download a free list-building toolkit.”

Of course, personalized CTAs only work if you have the resources to create that quality content in the first place, but that process doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Instead of a toolkit, you could also offer an e-book, a fun quiz, or an exclusive article from your CEO on list-building strategies.

If you offer content directly related to your visitor’s needs, your email newsletter won’t feel like a gimmicky advertisement. Instead, it will feel helpful and valuable — key principles for a long-term customer retention plan.

Optimize Your Website for Opt-Ins

If a customer or prospect visits your website, they’re already at least somewhat interested. Don’t miss the opportunity to add them to your email list. Include email registration forms on every main page of your site, as well as on the pages for popular products and services.

Set an Email Sending Frequency

Another important part of email list building is that you should strategically plan your email schedule based on the taste of your audience.

  • Don’t send e-mails to your customers at inconvenient times.

78% of consumers unsubscribe from emails because brands were sending too many emails.  Make your offerings easy for people to take advantage of, otherwise you may not be as successful as you want.

Offer Content Upgrades

Content Upgrade is a marketing technique where you offer users a chance to get exclusive bonus content by signing up to your email list.

For example:

  • If you run a podcast, then you can offer show notes + transcription as a content upgrade.
  • If you have a long form blog post, then you can offer a PDF downloadable version as a content upgrade
  • You can turn your blog posts into a checklist or cheat sheet and offer it as a content upgrade

Human psychology plays an important role in the effectiveness of content upgrades. The psychology principle known as Zeigarnik Effect states that people are most likely to complete a task if they initiate it themselves.

Because when the user initiates (click to download the content upgrade), they are more likely to complete the task (subscribe to your list).

In-Email Social Sharing Options

Typically, your goal for sending out blog posts to your email subscribers is to obtain click-throughs to your website and generate site traffic.

You want readers to visit your website, and statistics show the presence of multiple links will result in fewer clicks on the one you want.

Considering we want website traffic and, of course, for users to actually read our content, the concept of adding social sharing buttons in the email itself seems a bit counterproductive.

Why would someone share my post without reading it? And how does that benefit me?

Well, if you’re anything like me, the answers will surprise you.

Email provider GetResponse noticed a trend in the addition of social sharing buttons within emails and did a study on the results.

The result:

The average CTR for emails with social sharing options is 6.2% versus 2.4% without.

That’s a 158% advantage for emails with social sharing!

Even if your subscribers don’t read the article themselves, each share is likely to be generating traffic from multiple visitors, which means more bang for your marketing buck.

Set up Landing Pages

Landing Pages, created as part of marketing campaigns, are call-to-action pages designed to capture email addresses or other essential visitor information.

If you created a campaign specifically for the purposes of email list building, the advertisements, content, and lead magnets serve as top-of-funnel activities to grab visitor attention.

In this context, landing pages are bottom-of-funnel tools, where an interaction with a landing page either ends with a conversion or abandonment. In a sales context, you can consider landing pages as the closing stage—it’s a make or break (convert or abandon) scenario.

Therefore, it’s very important to get your landing pages right and set them up for an optimum conversion rate. To make landing pages captivating, there are a few things you can do:

  • Use a single, prominent CTA button.
  • Use customer-centric copy.
  • Add social proof to boost credibility.
  • Use descriptions that explicitly state benefits of the offer in question.
  • Split-test landing page for best results.

You can also expect to collect a higher number of email subscribers if you keep these landing page design elements in mind:

  • Use the minimum number of links to keep attention focused on CTA button.
  • Use white space and contrast to increase focus on the CTA.
  • Group similar elements together to improve user experience.

With your landing page set up, you can re-route your Google ads or banner advertisements to take visitors directly to the landing pages and build your email list.

Don’t Overlook Email List Building!

Email list building doesn’t have to be a daunting task. If you learn the fundamentals of attracting people through great content, valuable lead magnets, and using the right platforms, you’ll be well on your way to grow your email list—and your business.

sources: verticalresponse, sumo, wpbeginner, buildfire, socialtriggers, expresswriters, popupsmart, constantcontact, moosend, whatsaytheexperts, crazyegg, omnisend, wordstream


  1. Good to know about these tips. I’m going to use them in my next email marketing campaign. Thank you for your informative post.

  2. Hello Ali,
    As always, your articles are full of clear information and guide. I have learned many things from you, and bit by bit I am applying them.
    Thank you so much.
    God bless you more,

  3. OMG, this article {no wait, the whole website} is great information and it is appropriate for anyone that is seeking to learn how to advance their business. This pandemic is the perfect time to advance our knowledge and improve our business. The time we have cannot be better used than to learn more on how to improve and grow your business.

    I love to learn new things and how to create an eMail list for my business is now at the top of my list. That is something I will work on soon. Your website has inspired me to start working on building an eMail list.

    Thanks for sharing this amazing article on your site.

    1. Thank you Cynthia. Yes, building an email list is a must-do for any kind of online business. I’m happy to see that you decided to start building your email list by reading this article. )

      Stay safe

  4. Hi Ali. What a good site you have and the look is very professional. The content is great and as you read through, you truly feel you are talking to the viewer and speaking on a one to one basis.
    I wrote down all the recommended businesses and I am going through them one by one to see what they have to offer and of the one’s which I have heard of before, I will re-read to see if anything has been updated on their sites. I am a big fan of Aweber and have an account with then, so that’s good money spent.
    I have looked at quite a few of your posts and can see the quality, focus and value that comes across, and value is a valuable thing to receive. Well done and keep up the good work.

  5. you ask me to watch your web site and then I am.i like your visual design very well. content is in-depth and very informative. maybe I ask you lather pointers then my wealthy affiliate curse came so far.thanks

  6. Thank you Ali for this excellent, well-written, and detailed article. As someone who is trying to find ways to effectively build emailing lists, I found your article incredibly helpful. Specifically, creating a personalized CTA and optimizing a website to ensure email registration forms are on each page seem like great tips. I will be following the tips throughout your article especially to correctly set-up my landing page using Google ads to reroute people. Also, as you mentioned, I will be implementing social sharing options. I can’t wait for your upcoming articles, as I gained a lot of insight from you.

  7. Ali,
    Thank you for explaning some of the basics of setting up an email list in an understandable language. I am not entirely new to the online marketing world, but I have never been able to grasp the mechanics of setting up what I need. Your article was very helpful in helping me understand where to start.
    I seen that your refer to Aweber. I tried them once and didn;t understand how to set it up before. I may have to look at it again. I understand why it’s a good idea, just the mechanics escape me.
    So thank you for the helpful article and is there another one you can recommend to help set things up?

  8. I am so thrilled that I came across your website and this article. It has found me at the perfect time, having just set up a new website these will be the things that I will be working on shortly and I know for a fact that I would be able to do it anywhere near as effective if i had not have read this article first. Thank you.
    The statistic about the social sharing options are incredible, definitely one not to be missed. I still need to understand some elements, like landing pages so will look in to this further, and will definitely be bookmarking your website to return to in the very near future.
    Thank you for writing such a useful and informative article, it’s going to be of help to so many people.

  9. I love the way this site is built, well done and very clean. I’m in the process of updating my website now, stop by in a couple of days to let me know how it looks.

  10. Yes. Although I am not reaally understand much about marketting, attrating customer or keeping them. But I totally agree a point that thing make customers leave a brand is that they send too much emails, that is also from my experience. I am starting to write blog now, this artical would be really helpful for me “down the road” if I want to develop my small business. I found that you also wrote some very imformative there, thanks for sharing your knowledge. Good luck!

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