This guide should illuminate ineffective strategies which can be replaced by other great ideas for building a sound email list. We’ll also advise you on how you can keep your new longer list clean. Let’s get started!

Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Purchasing email lists. Not only is this illegal, but random new contacts may not even be interested in your services, and their email addresses have probably already been passed around many times before. This makes the strategy a waste of time and money.
  • Using third-party lists. This is prohibited by email service providers (ESPs), and should be avoided anyway. If contacts haven’t opted in, you will probably be spamming them with emails about products and/or services they don’t care about.
  • Failing to offer a way to unsubscribe. Federal law requires all campaigns to feature an unsubscription option. Contacts should be able to stop receiving your emails if they’re no longer interested in them. Let them go. They will never become a customer anyway.


The Take-Home Message Is This:

It’s better to have a shorter email list of contacts interested in your products and/or services, than a huge list of illegally collected email addresses that won’t get you any new business, but might get you in serious trouble.

But What If You Want to Grow Your List in a Legal Way?

There are a number options that might take time, but will result in a guilt-free and much more effective email list. After all, these contacts will actually want to hear from you!

Generate As Much Traffic As You Can

You’re going to get almost all of your email addresses from people who visit your site, so first thing’s first, you need to generate traffic to your webpages. One of the best ways to do this is to write a regular and relevant blog. This will drive people interested in your industry to your site. And it’s these people’s email addresses that you want, because they’re most likely to become your paying customers.

Make sure your blogs are SEO optimized so they’ll be easy to find by potential customers looking for the kind of information you offer. People don’t usually read articles that come up on the 50th page of a Google search.

Make Your Homepage a Giant Email Capture Form

Get a big, bold sign-up form at the top of your homepage for starters, and use additional calls-to-action in the form of buttons, pop-overs, and pop-ups. It’s best to use a combination of as many as possible, while still walking the fine line of not frustrating your readers.

Just think of calls-to-action like signs. The more there are pointing people in the right direction, the more people will end up in the right place. But if you stick a sign right in front of their face, they won’t be able to see to drive. If a visitor to your site is interested in your offerings, he or she will probably only sign-up for your emails if there’s an easy, instantly visible, but non-threatening way to do so. If there isn’t some kind of call-to-action on every page on your site, you need to get more.

Use Social Proof

People are more likely to do something if they know other people are doing it. Email subscriptions are no exception to this. Take advantage of this basic psychology to boost your email list by incorporating your current number of subscribers into your call-to-action. A message along the lines of “Join 1,000 of Your Peers” can be harder for site visitors to ignore. They’ll treat being on your email list like joining an exclusive club for that particular industry.

You can also keep your subscription link handy, adding it to your email signature, social media posts, LinkedIn account, and guest blogs. This way you’ll reach even more people than just those who visit your site. Your link will be shared and you’ll be introduced to new networks.

Give Something Valuable Away

People like free stuff. They’ll even give you their email addresses for it. But don’t worry if you don’t have a physical product to offer, your knowledge is also very valuable. Giveaways could include: ebooks, email series with nuggets of information and advice, private blog content, and early access to new features.

Try offering two types of offers: one for potential customers who want to learn more about your company having only recently become aware of it, and one for prospective customers who are interested in your product and/or service and are considering moving forward. The first kind of customer could be given an ebook, while the second might receive a free consultation. Drive email signups and business prospects by appealing to every site visitor.

Start a Competition

A competition is a fun way to drive traffic, and engage, motivate and delight potential customers. But don’t get carried away with all the excitement – you’re doing this for a reason. Have your goal in mind (e.g. generate 100 leads with a typical-lead to-conversion rate of 10%). This will help you understand how much you need to promote the contest. Decide how long it will run for and how many winners there will be. If you want to get as much attention as possible, you’ll need to feature competition information on your website, in your blog posts, and on your social media accounts. Be sure to check in with your progress to adapt your promotion efforts accordingly.

Your winner(s) should be awarded a prize related to your industry for maximum effect. It’s also a good idea to email all other entrants to let them know that a winner has been selected and to thank them for their participation. Not only does this foster goodwill, but it proves that the contest was not a scam, and that someone really did get the prize.

Don’t forget to check in with legal department about the terms and conditions, and most importantly, remember to look at the statistics you’ve generated. This will ensure you make the most of your new contacts, and paves the way for any future competitions.

And Once You’ve Got Your List…

You need to keep it in good shape so that it serves your company well. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a master list. This allows you to keep your contacts better organized. There won’t be any repeated email addresses, you’ll keep your monthly ESP costs down, and everything will be in one place.
  • Segment your contacts. If you want to email different groups of subscribers, segment your master list. This will allow you to write to your ideal audience with every email, and prevent all your contacts from being bombarded with irrelevant information.
  • Maintain permission. Every email should remind subscribers why they are receiving contact from you. Subscribers should be able to easily manage their preferences, and even end their subscriptions whenever they want.
  • Target inactivity. Try to re-engage inactive subscribers to confirm that they are still interested in your company. If that doesn’t work, remove them altogether. You don’t want a stale list. (Remember our main message.)


Having proven to be effective strategies for other companies across the globe, why not see if these ideas work for you, too. Contact us for more information about how we can assist you with your email marketing campaign.


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