How to Build an Email List from Scratch

It has never been so true as now. Your email list and your website are among the only marketing assets you can fully control. It can help you build more audiences, build relationships with your customers, and make money. Having a list means you are not at the mercy of changing search algorithms and social media.

However, starting an email list from scratch is difficult. Many people want to do the same, but most keep their email addresses tight. Therefore, it is necessary to obtain the attention and trust of the users and add value to each of the emails that are sent. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through how to build an email list from scratch.

Steps to create the list:

  • Choosing an email marketing platform
  • Offer valuable content that people want to read
  • Create registration form
  • Leverage email popups strategically
  • Create iconic content
  • Inform friends, family and clients
  • Use email signature
  • Include links in social media bios
  • Add subscription to videos
  • Spread the message on social media
  • Make it easy for the audience to share your emails
  • Take advantage of social recognition
  • Offer an incentive to join the list

Select an email marketing platform

Although it can be very tempting to use your email from Gmail or Outlook, this is not a good idea. Instead, you’ll need to use an email marketing platform like ConvertKit, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or HubSpot. They offer more features, like email scanning, and can scale as your list grows.

Mailchimp offers a free plan if you have fewer than 2,000 contacts. 

Offer valuable content that the audience wants to read.

This seems obvious but is easily overlooked. People see statistics and case studies on the effectiveness of email marketing and immediately take a dim view before evaluating whether they have something valuable to offer. You need to be able to connect with your list, maintain interest, and contribute something valuable.

Before you begin, be honest with yourself and ask yourself why someone would want to sign up for your list.

Create registration form

The main field of any registration form must be the email address. It can also be useful to get the first and last name to use labels and personalize emails.

Once you have created your registration form, you will need to include it in all relevant website sections. Some of the best places to include it are:

  • At the top of the home page
  • On the information page
  • On a checkout option on the payment page 
  • at the bottom of the page
  • As a popup on blog posts.

Take advantage of email popups strategically

Popups have a bad reputation for being a nuisance. However, they work, especially if they’re well written, include a compelling offer and don’t take up the entire page (especially on mobile), and are easy to close and get away from.

For example, Wait But Why is adept at using popups, displaying it but keeping the brand visible.

Create iconic content

One of the best ways to grow an email list is to create a lead magnet, a piece of content that is displayed with an email signup form. It can be an e-book, white paper, a cheat sheet, an interactive quiz (where you have to enter your email to get the results), an online course, a challenge, etc.

Let your friends, family and clients know.

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get your first few hundred subscribers. If you have an email concept you trust, you need to let your friends, family, and customers know.

Use your email signature.

Another good way to get the message across is through your email signature. If you have employees, you can ask them to do the same.

Include a link in social media bios

Add your newsletter to all your social networks. You can take it up a notch via Twitter by making this a pinned tweet on your profile.
In the case of Instagram, you can use a tool like Linktree, which allows you to have multiple CTAs (Call To Action) from a single link.

Add a subscription to your videos.

If you make videos on YouTube, you can also add a subscription to your videos. In this example, you can see how the creator uses this strategy. 

Spread the message on social media

Another way to get this information across is to post regularly to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram (including stories).

You can use tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, Agorapulse, or MeetEdgar to schedule these posts in advance.

Make it easy for your audience to share your emails.

If you create a lot of content, you need to make it as easy as possible for your subscribers to share it with their friends, co-workers, etc.
As seen in this image, I like to use the postscript section of an email to ask the audience to share it with their friends.

Take advantage of social recognition.

Once you have some clout, add a type of social recognition proof to your signup form text. It can be a testimonial, the number of subscribers (if more than 1,000), or a list of well-known people or companies that subscribe to your newsletter.

Offer an incentive for joining your list.

Another powerful strategy is to use contests and/or giveaways to grow your list. The key is to link the contest to your brand so that people stay on your list after the giveaway is over.

For example, if you sell garden products, you might want to give away your best-selling product to a lucky subscriber instead of an iPad. Many more people may sign up for the iPad, but they’ll all be gone as soon as you resume your gardening-related emails.

These 13 tips will help you build your email list from scratch. When you start gaining more influence, you can use dozens of advanced strategies, such as Facebook and Instagram ads, hosting a webinar, guest posting on a popular blog, participating in popular podcasts, building a library of resources, and hosting meetups, and more.