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10 Ways to Build Your Email List

You’ve probably heard about those marketers who make a literal fortune on their email list alone. There’s a reason for that. When done right, email marketing just works. If you can appeal to your audience, build trust and drive sales, you’re doing well.

But don’t put the cart before the horse, so to speak.

There are two very important parts to this equation. Most everyone understands the importance of quality content. But the part that many marketers miss is building a good email marketing list. If you’re not mailing to the right people, you’re just wasting time, money and effort.

So, here are 10 tips to build your email list from scratch.

1. Know your target audience

Before you can build your mailing list, you need to know exactly “who” you want to mail to. This sounds like advice you’d get from Captain Obvious, but you’d be surprised to learn how many people skip this step and get it wrong. Mailing to the wrong people is actually worse than not mailing at all, so give this one some thought.

2. Turn customers into subscribers

If you don’t already have a good base of current customers in your email list, you’re doing something wrong. Or you’re new. Either way, you have some work to do. You probably have the email addresses of your customers, but just don’t have permission to use them willy-nilly. This is when it’s time to send a short and friendly email asking customers to opt in. Be sure to tell them what they stand to gain.

3. Run a contest

If you’re short on time and want to build your email list fast, run a contest. People love the idea of getting something for nothing. Sometimes it’s not even about the prize; it’s about getting the bragging rights that come along with being a winner. Run a contest where entrants must subscribe to your newsletter in order to qualify. Just be sure that the prize is something relevant to your business. iPads and vacations are popular, but they may attract the wrong audience. Remember, we’re trying to find people who actually might buy your product, so think of creative ideas to gather emails.

4. Offer something in return for an email

If you don’t have the energy to run a contest, consider just offering something small to everyone who enters. It could be a free ebook or an instructional video. The key is to offer something that will not continually cost you money. Shipping can be expensive.

5. Use social media

What’s the fastest and arguably the best way to reach the masses? That’s right. Social media. There’s a good chance that your customers are on social media, and if you’ve failed by collecting email addresses from customers by using other methods, you may have some success here. It’s all about getting your message across, and social media is the perfect platform for sharing.

6. Try an old-fashioned mailing list

Do you remember the days when people used to use those things called pens? And that stuff that was made from trees. What do you call it? Oh, yeah. Paper. If you are ever meeting your customers face-to-face, especially one-on-one, be sure to pack your smile and your email signup form.

7. Make signup easy peasy

Have you ever tried to buy something or enter a contest and it was just too difficult and time consuming to figure out? We feel you. This isn’t a game (unless it is), and you never want potential customers to spend time figuring things out. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, after all.

8. Use opt-in and not opt-out

Instead of automatically adding customers’ emails to your list, let them decide to opt in to your newsletter. Making customers opt-out may seem like a good idea to obtain email addresses, but if they aren’t being sincere, you’ll only lose them in the end. And on their way out, they may flag your domain as spam, which will reduce the chances of your emails being seen by people who may actually welcome them.

9. Guarantee privacy (and mean it)

Even with the best incentive, many customers will hesitate to give their emails if you aren’t clear about your intentions. Have you ever signed up for one thing and were bombarded by spammy emails from all over? That’s because the company you gave your email to sold their email list. Buying emails isn’t the best way to obtain email lists, though. Unless of course, you are buying from a reputable company who shares sparingly.

10. Add a signup form to every page of your website

While you’re thinking of creative ways to get email addresses, don’t forget the low-hanging fruit. Let customers sign up for your email list from your website. Add the signup form to the header or footer, so it will be included in every page.

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