7 Creative Ways to Build Your Email List

Email is a timeless marketing tool, and despite the buzz around social media and AI, it remains effective. A notable report highlights that email can achieve over 7% conversion rates from landing page traffic.

7 Creative Ways to Build Your Email List
Photo by Kaleidico / Unsplash

Email is a classic marketing tool because it works. Despite the growing popularity of social media, with viral TikToks getting the attention of younger demographics and the promise of AI, email marketing still stands. 

According to a report, the average conversion rate for landing page traffic through email is over 7%. Also, small businesses can earn up to $44 for every dollar spent on email marketing. What’s even more promising is that automating emails offers deep insights into what potential customers think and like, thus boosting potential engagement with the brand.

But what makes an effective email marketing? How do you begin your email campaign? Of course, to unlock email marketing’s potential, you’ll first need to build your email list. While the email subscriber list is expected to grow as you begin getting sales, the main challenge is building the email list from scratch before the first subscription or sale. 

If you’re in this phase or have no ideas to jumpstart the process, check out our creative ways to build an email list.

But first, what makes a great email list?

In marketing, it all starts with a vision. In the case of email marketing, we ask the following question: What makes a great email list? You must have a solid email list before building a sophisticated email campaign with technically sound and visually impressive copies.

To create a great email list, you’ll need to focus on three things:

Quality. You must generate a subscriber list with accurate and complete information from real people. While buying an email list offers instant access to a captive audience, we don’t recommend this approach, especially if you’re just starting. If you’re not careful and do not practice due diligence, this email list may be filled with spam accounts, bots, and abandoned emails — and they don’t make purchases and make good customers.

Quantity. Does size matter when building an email list for a small business? Yes, it matters and is crucial when expanding your business's reach. Regardless of the industry, you should strive to build a list with at least 1,000 subscribers.

Relevance. We all want a more extended subscriber list because the more signups, the more extensive the sales. Well, this doesn’t apply when building a great email list. If you’re creating it for the first time, only target people you think are genuinely interested in your services and products. If you don’t focus on relevance (and they’re not interested), they’ll unsubscribe as quickly as they have joined.

You might wonder how to proceed now that you know the principles of building a good email list. Although collecting emails seems easy, it’s challenging since you’re giving people a reason to sign up and receive your emails. The good news is that there are many creative ways to do this, and we’ll discuss a few innovative ways to get you started below.

Use pop-up forms

Email or website pop-ups effectively engage and motivate potential customers to sign up. A pop-up message appears to site visitors as they browse your website or online store. A user’s behavior activates these automated messages, often designed to push site visitors and readers to engage further with your brand through call-to-action (CTAs). 

There are different ways to use pop-ups for your small business. For example, you can use pop-up forms to ask for your visitor’s email address in exchange for a benefit, like access to exclusive content, a promo, a code, or even a discount. You can also use this tool to remind a customer about a pending transaction or encourage them to complete the purchase. 

Remember two crucial elements when designing your pop-up forms and messages: clearly articulate the incentive and ensure it’s aligned with your brand to boost conversion! 

Finally, include an exit option allowing customers to close out the prompt if they don’t want to participate.

Offer gated offers and resources on your website

Let’s say you regularly create content, and there are instances when you design in-depth and precious content like whitepapers, tutorials, or hard-to-find recipes. You can host these contents on your website with a pop-up message requiring your visitors or readers to provide their email addresses and opt-in to receive marketing emails to download the materials. 

Similarly, you can ask a customer to provide his email address if they want to get a quote or a special consultation or inquiry regarding a product or service.

Send out an opt-in marketing email campaign

If you belong to a mailing list or manage an old one that doesn’t yield much engagement, you can create an email campaign with an opt-in message and a guarantee that you’ll remove addresses that don’t respond. Of course, you’ll need to introduce a compelling reason for them to opt in and receive your emails in the future. 

Again, incentives and motivations should be in place to encourage people to opt in. While removing contacts from your email list may seem counterproductive, it can bring better results since you’re only sending to a group of customers who have indicated they want to receive these.

Collect email addresses at your store or when hosting in-person events

If you’re just starting, then face-to-face connections still matter. And it doesn’t have to happen after a sale. Whether running your store's day-to-day operations or promoting your products at an event, your in-person interaction can help spread the word about the business, build the list, and promote online sales.

There are a few creative ways to integrate email collection when interacting with visitors and customers. For example, you can bring a clipboard and ask guests to write down their names and email addresses. Or, if you want seamless integration with your online email marketing campaign, you can provide an iPad where they can submit their names and email addresses. Again, it’s all about incentives that can boost your signup drive. 

For example, you can add a strong CTA with incentives, such as “sign up for the mailing list to win a $10 gift card.” Or, subscribe to my newsletter and get up to 5% off on your first online purchase. Another trick is to segment your list based on location and target audience to create a tailored offering.

Add a sign-up or opt-in button to your social media

Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and TikTok dominate the social scenes for a reason. People follow people and brands on these social media platforms to stay updated on new products and trends. 

As a savvy business owner, use these platforms to promote your business and boost online sales. Add an option on your social media accounts for your followers and readers to sign up for an account and stay updated with your products and services. 

Today's social media platforms integrate forms or support buttons, allowing you to add a primary email sign-up option. Again, you can add a CTA on your Facebook business page or account on X to encourage followers to sign up. 

Use email list growth tools

Building a good email list takes a lot of work and sometimes requires face-to-face interaction with potential customers. However, you can simplify your task using easy-to-use apps and tools. Many free apps can help you grow your email list and convert new leads. 

Another popular app is Spin to Win, which you can use to collect customers’ emails in a Wheel of Fortune style. It’s a gamification tool for your email marketing efforts, fun and entertaining, and effective at collecting emails. 

For example, if they submit their emails, they’re given one chance to spin the wheel for prizes or incentives. You can reward them with promo codes, discounts, or freebies. Just be thoughtful in case a visitor’s spin or discount is missed.

Don’t forget TikTok when building your list

On TikTok, you can add a link to your profile bio, generate engaging and relevant content around an incentive, or collaborate with other content creators to promote your products or services. Another option is to create an email capture landing page and link it to your TikTok account. If your target audience is the younger demographic, another approach is to participate in a viral trend. 

A viral trend is your best chance of getting noticed by your target audience. What’s excellent about TikTok is that you can create immersive content, and the tools and materials are just a few clicks away—and readily available on the platform itself!

Social media is a practical resource in running your email marketing campaign. You can use Facebook and other social media sites to connect with your target audience, encourage them to sign up and promote your products and services. When using social media, always provide the target audience with benefits if they follow, subscribe, like, or join your email list.

But first, check email marketing data privacy laws

In planning your email marketing initiative, it’s crucial to understand the privacy laws of email marketing data. Most countries have privacy and anti-spam regulations for email marketing. Failure to comply with the basic requirements of the law can affect your reputation and serve as the basis for terminating your contract with email service providers. The good news is that the rules and guidelines from the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom are almost similar. 

A landmark law that can directly impact a questionable email marketing campaign is the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM), which was passed in 2003. Here’s the deal: a violation of any of the provisions in the law can cost your small business with fines of up to $50,220.

So, here’s a quick summary of what to remember when designing and implementing your email marketing campaign:

  • Always include your business postal address in your emails;
  • There should be an option to unsubscribe;
  • Opt-out requests must be honored within ten business days;
  • No clickbait— the subject line must reflect the email content;
  • Ensure accurate email header fields, including from, to, and reply to information;
  • Inform recipients that they receive a commercial email or ad, not an account statement.

Should you buy an email list?

While buying an email list to simplify your job is tempting, it’s never recommended. Building a good email list takes time, and you want a list that includes potential customers interested in your brand. So, the best approach in email marketing is to build your subscribers’ list from scratch over time. We have provided a few strategies on this page to help you generate a cost-efficient list. Opt-in emails are an integral tool when building a list of potential customers.

It’s also vital that you always provide incentives to your target audience. Remember, people aren’t going to join the email list if they don’t have a good reason. So, the challenge is to figure out what you can provide your potential customers. Also, it all boils down to delivering relevant and helpful content. Always remember the best practices in email marketing, including the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ in email marketing data privacy laws.

Remember, building an email list takes a lot of time and effort. But if you do it right and responsibly, it pays big time.