how to build an email list from scratch

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How to Build an Email List from Scratch

how to build an email list from scratch

Any entrepreneur needs a viable way to make contact with their customers. Currently, one of the most effective marketing approaches is to garner as much online attention as possible. In this venture, knowing how to build an email list is a critical skill.

Despite a proven track record, many new entrepreneurs fail to recognize email list building as an essential skill. Those who are even less savvy lack the understanding of why an email list is so valuable in the first place.

If you are an entrepreneur hoping to build an email list, look no further. In this article, you’ll not only learn the advantages of having a good email list, but you’ll also learn an easy process for building one from scratch.

What is a Mailing List?

what is an email list

An email list is a collection of email subscribers to whom you can send your communications and marketing materials to. It’s also popularly referred to as a “subscriber’s list” or “the mailing list.”

Typically, you collect those emails from your website or blog through a signup form, this way your audience can include an email and join your email list.

How to ask your audience for their email address

Email marketing is a powerful marketing strategy to grow your community and establish a meaningful relationship with your subscribers.

One of the most difficult mental barriers for entrepreneurs is finding a way to ask their readers for their email to stay in touch. The perfect solution to start building your email list is with a lead magnet.

What is a lead magnet? A lead magnet is a content upgrade that you offer to your readers to go deeper into a subject. In exchange for accessing your premium content they need to subscribe to your list leaving their email address.

This strategy is based on a principle of micro-commitment, where your reader, now a qualified lead, takes a small commitment step that gives you access to send them your future communications.

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Benefits of an Email List

It is hard to understate the importance of an email list in online marketing. Yet, it is worth detailing some of the explicit benefits you and your business can enjoy by creating or improving your email list.

At the most elementary level, an email list is simply a way for you to open a discussion with a potential client. From this healthy communication, you can begin the process of transforming people into satisfied customers. But email list building offers some less tangible benefits as well.

Email Lists Create a Personal Connection

build a connection trust

Personal connection is an increasingly important element of successful businesses. By establishing such a connection, you can develop relationships over the long term that will benefit your company and your customer base.

After getting a prospect’s email address, a series of well-crafted emails is an ideal way to form a personal connection with your prospects in an online setting. With this connection, you can target specific people that are most likely to find value in your goods or services. You can also tailor your messaging (and email signature) to appeal to the specific motivating factors that drive your potential customer’s decision making.

A personal connection is what permits your prospects to trust you as a reliable brand that cares for its subscribers’ wellbeing. Through a strong personal connection, you can:

  • Initiate your sales funnel
  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of unique customer needs
  • Share your company events and culture
  • Earn more referrals from current users
  • Establish connections with colleagues and collaborators
  • Increase customer retention

Even with such great opportunities, many are quick to point to other means of generating interest online. But the evidence suggests that even with numerous alternatives, email remains the optimal online avenue.

Email Lists are the Best Way to Generate Leads

lead generation list building

The best online strategies are multi-faceted. Such an approach would involve the use of several tactics, including the following:

  • An active social media presence
  • Ongoing SEO-optimized content
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Display ads
  • Blog posts
  • Landing pages
  • An e-commerce store

Each of those items is useful in online marketing. But they operate best when paired with a healthy list of relevant email addresses.

You should not rely on a single way of reaching prospects online. But it is worth knowing that email addresses are the single most efficient way of marketing online.

Intelligent business owners know that every marketing endeavor must be worth the time, funds, and effort needed to implement it. With such priorities in mind, it is hard to find an online marketing tool more effective than email.

Simply put, email marketing is useful in building important business relationships and gives you the best ROI for marketing investment. And now that it is clear that email is well worth pursuing; let’s look at the tools you will need.

How Do I Start an Email List From Scratch?

Even if you are convinced you should, the building can seem to be a difficult task. But the truth is that understanding how to build one is easier than you might expect.

To start building your email list, you need a few essential elements. Once you have these tools in place, you can begin the journey towards reaping a solid email marketing campaign’s rewards.

Understand Anything You Can About Your Target Audience

target audience email list

The first feature of a successful email marketing plan is common among all marketing strategies. Whether you are online or using traditional means, a thorough understanding of your target audience is critical. By knowing about your audience, you have a better chance of convincing them to give you their email address.

Be as specific as possible when trying to understand your prospects. Often, it is helpful to imagine a single person as your target audience. Try creating a persona to represent your ideal customer. Within this persona, you should have a firm grasp of the following facts about your ideal customer:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Driving values
  • Individual problems

Feel free to expand from there. The more specific you are with the characteristics of this persona, the more you can tailor your content to meet the needs of your target audience.

Create a Website

The backbone of any business’s online presence is a website. Your domain should link to your social media pages while providing important information.

Before you begin to build your email list, you should establish an up-to-date site that shares your brand’s value and principles. Only after creating a website of sufficient quality should you begin to add to your online presence.

As it relates to list building, your website will play multiple roles. This is a way for people to opt into your email list by sharing their email addresses. It is also a place where you can send members of your email list when they want more information or the opportunity to purchase your products or services.

Find Email Software

email software list building

As more proof of the importance of building your email list, there are now many marketing tools available to help you find email subscribers. Email software can help you organize your plan, set up signup forms, and track each email address you collect as you build your email list.

It is possible to use email without the aid of email marketing software. But considering time is one of your most valuable resources, using email software is a great way to start list building. Such programs can eliminate many time-consuming tasks for your business, like designing sign up forms and creating relevant ads.

How Much Does it Cost to Build an Email List?

How Much Does it Cost to Build an Email List?

The cost of building an email list has several variables, including the quality of your messaging and the people on the list. It also varies depending on whether it is a consumer list or a business list. A consumer list costs between $100-$400 per 1,000 emails, while a business list costs between $600-$1000 for the same amount of emails (CPM).

How Do I Create an Email List?

Now that you are equipped with the foundational tools, it is time to start building your email list. In the sections below, you can learn some ways to build a list that will let you harness the power of your customer’s email addresses.

Establish an Online Presence

Most owners know that the most successful businesses have an online presence. But many of the same people maintain a limited concept of what an online presence is.

An online presence can consist of anything that involves online activity. But one fact remains the same; all modern businesses should have a strong online presence to give themselves the best competitive chance in the marketplace. The practice of handing out a business card is no longer enough.

Having a healthy online presence means more than having an active Facebook page. There are several other important facets of an online presence for you to consider. Here are some of the most common parts of an online presence:

  • Social media accounts, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • A company blog or newsletter
  • Customer review on various platforms
  • Online communities for customers

An online presence is a way to show the world that you are active and ready to supply the value that your company boasts. By maintaining a presence in multiple online spaces, you also have the chance to reach a larger audience and draw people into your mailing list.

Choose the Right Email Software

email sofware provider Convertkit

In a previous section, we mentioned that email marketing software could save you time as you build your email list. While this is true in a general sense, not all email software options are equal in their efficacy.

A quality software will help you identify your audience and convert them into customers. To do this, a software might help you create a landing page or signup forms where people can enter their mailing addresses.

Choosing the best email software from the beginning of your journey can save you a lot of time in the long run. For those with no idea of where to start in this regard, here is one email software option that will get you started on the right track.

Start By Gathering Information

collect information target audience

If you are just starting to grow your email list, you may feel some trepidation. After all, contacting people in the hopes of eventually receiving their money can be an intimidating task.

Much of the fear around marketing, in general, comes from the notion that marketing is all about giving people convincing information. But this is not always the case. There are some less daunting ways to start adding names to your mailing list.

In the beginning, you can use your email list as a way to gain information rather than spread it. This takes a lot of the pressure off of those who don’t yet feel confident in their closing abilities.

Rather than focusing on converting every subscriber into a paying customer, focus on gathering information. Use your initial emails as a way to spread materials like surveys that will give you a better idea about your target audience’s wants and needs. Use this information to guide the content of your future sales emails to promote products and services.

Create a Call to Action on Landing Pages

call to action email list

A website is valuable because it can perform many roles for your business. When it comes to growing your list, there is one item that you will want to ensure is a part of your company website.

A call to action (CTA) is exactly what it sounds like. It is something that provokes people to perform an action. If you have a landing page, this is where you should place your CTAs and signup forms.

This tool can encourage people to do one of many tasks. This is a great way to have people enter their email address to become one of your email subscribers. Typically, a CTA will include a sign-up form where visitors can enter their name and email address.

Make sure that your website includes a clear call to action that gives interested people a chance to learn more. Remember that those who are willing to join an email list of their own accord are more likely to become customers. It is your job to give them the chance to do so.

Generate Quality Content

content is king quality content

Content comes in many forms but typically serves the same purpose. Through relevant content, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field. Blogs, videos, and newsletters are all ways for you to discuss the topics most relevant to your industry.

From the perspective of your potential clients, good content is a source of entertainment. The prospect of entertainment is what will entice people to join your list to continue consuming the content you produce. Just include a link to your high-quality content in your messages to new subscribers.

This consumption will help you build credibility in the minds of the people in your audience. When it comes time for them to make a purchase, they will be more likely to buy from you.

If nothing else, you can use your email list to draw attention to the content you produce. In some cases, the desire for stimulating content will be the sole reason a person opts into your email list.

Create a Special Offer

Special offers or even a product give away are a way for you to begin the process of converting potential customers into clients. It is also a way for you to build the numbers on your email list.

Special offers can be very different based on the product or service your business offers. But in general, this is a chance for you to promote a reduced price or give away free trials. Special offers are a great way to boost the conversion rate of your landing page too.

Try giving special offers to those who are willing to join your database. This motivating factor can work wonders in growing your email list. Special offers can appear on your landing page, social media page, or as a pop-up.

Follow Up With Contacts

under-attended business idea

After you have some success in contacting people and building your email list, be sure to follow up with them. Even a simple message expressing your gratitude can go a long way in winning people over.

As mentioned earlier, exchanging email addresses forms a personal connection between a company and a customer. Follow up emails contribute to this effort by showing your potential clients that you appreciate their time and the opportunity to join your email list. It also shows you care about giving them the best possible experience.


Email lists are one of the best ways to conduct business online. They come with a host of benefits for your company and are relatively easy to build. If you are just starting out, refer to this article to help you understand email best practices and begin to build an email list today.

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