How to Start an Email List

how to start an email list

Need a little convincing about the importance of email marketing? Seventy-eight percent of online business marketers have seen a bump in email engagement over the last year. That’s a good enough reason to read this blog post on how to start an email list.

Let’s jump right into starting and creating that list, shall we?

How to Start an Email List in 10 Simple Steps

Starting a good email list is the first step to a successful email marketing campaign. Put one together using the following steps.

1. Understand Your Target Audience

Making sure your emails are targeted to the right people is critical. Tracking your email list analytics can help. If you already have an email list and customer base, take a look at the demographics of new subscribers. Checking your competition’s social media posts works too.

Also, you can ask for direct feedback through interactive polls or surveys on your website and social media platforms. This action will help you understand your audience’s evolving preferences even better.

How to Start an Email List

2. Create a Website

Website visitors are a good source when you’re starting an email list. An opt in form on landing pages can land email addresses to add. Add a call to action at the bottom of each landing page. That’s a good resource for your listing building efforts. A website is a great email marketing launch pad. Don’t forget to add social media buttons that promote social sharing.

3. Choose an Email Marketing Service

An email service provider is another good tool for email list building. A good email marketing platform needs to have certain features. They should:

  • Segment email addresses into groups to tailor your messaging for different audience demographics, improving engagement and response rates.
  • Offer email marketing automation. That’s the ability to send personalized bulk emails from any email list.
  • Let you create newsletters as part of your advertising campaigns. And make it easy for people to sign up. Post links on social media where possible.

There’s more advanced stuff too. But those are the basics when building an email list.

Constant Contact offers social media tools like Facebook ads. Great for email marketing

Drip is another excellent email service provider. They offer outstanding integration for landing page builders like WordPress. And easy to add opt in form choices.

Mailchimp has a free plan.  But these kinds of free resources don’t have advanced stuff that’ll make a difference like in depth segmentation. Still, a trusted name to build your email list and get started with email marketing.

How to Start an Email List

4. Set Up Your Email Marketing Account

There are a few email marketing steps to work through. Remember, you can use a Gmail account with an email list. Check out the add on.

  • Gather your contacts from your email list. Don’t have an existing email list? Put signup forms on your website or landing page.
  • Collect emails and put them into separate lists.
  • Add the contacts to your account. Upload them from a spreadsheet or import them from Outlook or Gmail.

5. Craft a Tempting Offer

Having a great email list is one thing. But you need to get people to sign up. Here are some good lead generation offers that work for email marketing.

  • A Free eBook. People love totally free stuff. This is a good incentive for opt-in forms. Adding a compelling description of what the eBook covers can increase its appeal, making it an irresistible offer for visitors. A link to an offer works well on a landing page to bump up your email list.
  • A Sneak Peek. A link to a document works. Or a video. Don’t forget a call to action like “Sign up to see the rest.” That’s an incentive to boost email list numbers. Offering a preview of exclusive content can entice users to leave their email for full access.
  • Show off Subscribers. You’ll get more people to sign up when you tell them how many subscribers you have in your email list. Highlighting the community aspect can encourage new subscribers by showing them they’re joining a larger group of interested individuals.
  • Dangle Valuable Content. Be specific with your message. Give away tips and deals, savings, and ‘how tos’ when they sign up for your email list. Tailoring this content to your audience’s needs enhances its value and the likelihood of sign-ups.
  • Use Pop-Up Forms. There are several types. Exit pop-ups, drop-downs, slide-ins. Use exclusive discounts to make these attractive. Crafting a clear and concise message on these forms can significantly improve conversion rates.

These are all great lead magnet tools that get subscribers to sign up for your email list.

6. Create Your First Email

Any good email list starts with the first one you create. The following are some good rules of thumb to ensure its growth and effectiveness:

  • Good email list building begins with crafting an engaging subject line. Don’t use clickbait titles, as they often disappoint readers and damage trust.
  • Keep paragraphs short. This makes your emails easier to read, especially on mobile devices, where most people check their email. Short paragraphs help maintain the reader’s interest and make your content more digestible.
  • Use visuals. Images, infographics, and videos can enhance your message, making it more engaging and memorable. Be sure to balance text and visuals to keep emails quick to load and easy to navigate.
  • Don’t forget to use bullet points. They help organize information clearly and concisely, making it easier for your readers to scan the email and absorb the important points.
  • Using a Gmail account? Consider linking to social media sites like Facebook. This not only broadens your reach but also encourages more interaction with your content. Integrating social media can significantly amplify the impact of your email campaigns.
  • Keep an eye on ad metrics, like the click-through rate. This will help you understand what resonates with your audience, allowing you to refine and improve your strategies over time.

7. Create an Email Sign Up form

An effective opt in form is the springboard for successful marketing emails. Adding customer testimonials or success stories to your signup page can greatly increase trust and subscriptions.

Create a standalone landing page with unique URLs for a bigger email list. Transparency on a sign up form is respectful. Tell customers what you’ll be sending them and when.

These are a foundation for email marketing. And a great way to take advantage of organic traffic.

8. Place Sign Up forms and Links Throughout Your Website

Successful email marketing also needs a plan. An autoresponder sequence sends out emails automatically.

  • Static forms like a blog post will increase your conversion rate. Potential customers like to learn something. Use Pop ups with links to subscribe on them on a landing page.
  • #subscription forms work too. Here are some that will bump up your email list.

WordPress has plugins for landing pages. Use them to post links to increase organic search results. And boost your email list.

Generate subscribers to your email list with OptinMonster.

9. Collect Email Addresses

Developing a strategy for collecting email addresses is fundamental. Ensure ethical practices by being clear on how you’ll use their information, emphasizing the value of consent and transparency.

Do the following to enhance your collection strategy and engage a wider audience:

  • Get more subscribers on your Facebook business page with a signup form.
  • Facebook Ads work to build an email list. Target ads by demographics. Another advantage to Facebook page marketing.
  • Free Tutorial Videos. These work on social media platforms like YouTube. Get more email subscribers by showing off your goods and services this way. Put a link on a landing page.

Importantly, be careful when you build an email list. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) doesn’t apply in the USA. But there are state and federal regulations.

10. Have an Email Content Plan

An email list that works has an email marketing content plan backing it up. This post has gone through everything you need. From setting up an account to devising offers and finally collecting email addresses. Remember to use social media to full advantage.

An effective email list is supported by a well-thought-out and strong email marketing content plan. This aspect involves implementing a content calendar for your email campaigns, a strategic step that aids in organizing your content strategy.

Such a calendar ensures a consistent and relevant flow of communications to your audience, keeping them engaged and informed. By planning your content in advance, you can align your email marketing efforts with your overall marketing objectives, ensuring each message is timely, targeted, and valuable to your subscribers.

Steps to Start an Email ListDescription
1. Understand Your Target AudienceIdentify and analyze your target audience to ensure your emails are tailored to the right people.
2. Create a WebsiteBuild a website with opt-in forms and clear calls to action for collecting email addresses.
3. Choose an Email Marketing ServiceSelect an email marketing platform with features like segmentation, automation, and easy sign-up.
4. Set Up Your Email Marketing AccountSet up your email marketing account, import existing contacts, and organize them into lists.
5. Craft a Tempting OfferCreate attractive lead generation offers such as free eBooks, sneak peeks, or exclusive content.
6. Create Your First EmailCraft your first email with an engaging subject line, concise content, visuals, and bullet points.
7. Create an Email Sign-Up FormDesign effective opt-in forms and landing pages to encourage visitors to subscribe.
8. Place Sign-Up Forms and Links on WebsiteStrategically place sign-up forms and links throughout your website, including pop-ups and plugins.
9. Collect Email AddressesDevelop a strategy to collect email addresses from sources like your website, social media, and ads.
10. Have an Email Content PlanPlan and create engaging email content, and leverage social media for marketing and promotion.

What is an Email List?

Now that you know how to start an email list, let’s learn some more about it and why it’s so important. For starters, what is an email list? This is a collection of addresses small businesses get from email subscribers who sign up. An email list is the foundation of what makes email marketing campaigns tick. And having an email list sign up strategy is essential.

Why an Email List is so Important

Email list building helps your businesses develop relationships with your target audience. It’s one of the interactive elements that works. Here are just a few reasons why corralling email addresses are so important.

You Want To Sell Stuff

Online businesses want to sell their products and services. A good way to do that is to send an email right to an existing subscriber’s inbox from your email list.

You’re Creating Relationships

Email is a great way to engage new subscribers. And existing subscribers too. It’s extremely easy for them to reply and start a conversation. Another reason to build an email list. Getting your customer service team involved works too.

You’re Building Trust

Marketing emails build trust. Prospects on your email list feel like they’re having a private conversation. And they’re comfortable about asking questions through this marketing channel on social media.

You Own These Mailing Lists

Ecommerce businesses own an email list they put together. Other marketing channel options like social media can change policies. And they own your followers.

Reasons for Email List ImportanceDescription
You Want To Sell StuffEmail lists enable direct marketing to existing subscribers, promoting products and services.
You're Creating RelationshipsEmail is a personal and engaging way to interact with both new and existing subscribers, fostering relationships.
You're Building TrustMarketing emails help build trust as subscribers feel they're having private conversations and can ask questions.
You Own These Mailing ListsUnlike other marketing channels, email lists are owned assets, providing control and stability in communication.


The Power of Email Marketing Metrics

Understanding and utilizing email marketing metrics is crucial for optimizing your email campaigns. Here are some key metrics to track and their importance:

  • Open Rate: Measures how many recipients opened your email. It indicates the effectiveness of your subject lines and email timing.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): Tracks the percentage of recipients who clicked on links within your email. It helps gauge the relevancy and engagement of your content.
  • Conversion Rate: Shows the percentage of email recipients who completed a desired action, such as making a purchase. It measures the email’s effectiveness in driving conversions.
  • Bounce Rate: Identifies the percentage of emails that couldn’t be delivered to recipients’ inboxes. High bounce rates may indicate issues with your email list quality.
  • Unsubscribe Rate: Measures the percentage of recipients who opted out of receiving your emails. It’s essential for monitoring email list health and content relevance.
  • Email List Growth Rate: Tracks how fast your email list is growing. A healthy growth rate ensures a continuous influx of potential customers.
  • Revenue per Email: Calculates the revenue generated from each email campaign. It quantifies the financial impact of your emails.
  • Spam Complaint Rate: Measures how many recipients marked your email as spam. High spam complaint rates can harm your sender reputation.
  • Forward Rate: Indicates how many recipients forwarded your email to others. It reflects the shareability and value of your content.

How to Start an Email List

How much does it cost to start an email list?

Email marketing isn’t expensive. The average for an email list is between $200 to $300.00 for 1000 addresses and names.

A Business to Business email list ranges from $300.00 to $1000.

That’s roughly $0.20 for each address on an email list. Highly segmented lists go for $0.75 each.

Image: Depositphotos

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.