Everything you need to know about email list building

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

In today’s increasingly digital world, email marketing for small businesses is key if you want to grow your company, reach new customers and drive sales. But for email marketing to be effective, you need to reach the right customers—and that means building your list.

Building and growing your email list helps you market to a wider audience and get your messaging out to the right customers at the right time. However, if you’re new to email marketing, it can be hard to know where to start. Here, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about email list building so you can take your strategy to the next level:

What is an email marketing list?

Before we jump into how to grow your email marketing list, let’s cover what, exactly, this list is—and why it’s a must-have for your business.

An email marketing list is a list of prospects’ and customers’ email addresses and other identifying information (like name, location, gender and shopping preferences). This list contains all the information you need to market to both potential and active customers—and drive them to make a purchase or engage with your business.

Let’s say you own a gym, and you’re getting ready to launch a line of fitness products. Sending out an email to give your subscribers a sneak peek of your new products will build hype around the launch. You can also include an exclusive discount code in your email to incentivize subscribers to shop…and make them feel special for getting early access.

Email marketing lists are a powerful tool for growing your business—and the more you grow your email list, the more effective it will be. Here are 4 email list building tips to help you get started:

  1. Incentivize your customers.
  2. Leverage loyalty programs.
  3. Add an email sign-up form to your website.
  4. Use content to drive email sign-ups.

1. Incentivize your customers.

You can’t have an email marketing strategy or a list without having email addresses. And one way to get those addresses is to offer some sort of incentive to encourage customers and prospects to subscribe. There are a lot of ways to incentivize people to share their email address and sign up for your list, including:

  • Exclusive discounts (maybe 20% off their first purchase)
  • Invitations to subscriber-only events
  • Early access to new products or launches
  • Notifications for helpful information, like a restock alert

Most people don’t like to give away something for nothing—so if you want your prospects and customers to share their email addresses, make sure you’re giving them something of value in return.

2. Leverage loyalty programs.

Loyalty programs are a great way to drive repeat business. And they’re also a great way to build your email list—just make opting into your email list a part of the sign-up process. When customers sign up for both your loyalty program and email marketing list at once, it’s a win-win for you and for them. They’ll get access to all the benefits your loyalty program has to offer and you get access to their inbox, which allows you to reach out with additional marketing messaging, creating new opportunities to drive sales.

VistaPrint Tip

Loyalty programs incentivize customers to engage with your business over and over again. You can use a digital rewards program, or create physical loyalty cards that customers can keep in their wallets.

3. Add an email sign-up form to your website.

Prospects who visit your website are prime candidates for your email list. So, if you want to capture those website visitors and convert them into email subscribers (and, eventually, customers), make it easy for them to sign up.

Embedding email sign-up forms into your website design is a subtle way to encourage site visitors to join your email list. Embed sign-up forms in highly visible areas of your site, like the header, footer and sidebar. Make sure to include email sign-up forms on all your pages—including your homepage, product pages and content pages (like your company blog). These forms are a great place to highlight any sign-up incentive you’re offering—entice site visitors to input their email with the promise of 20% off their order or free shipping.

4. Use content to drive email sign-ups.

When people sign up for an email list, they want to know that there’s some value in subscribing. And while incentivizing them with a discount or deal will often do the trick, creating useful content is another way to drive sign-ups to your email marketing list.

So, start brainstorming the kind of content that will have your customers excited to hit the “subscribe” button. For example, do you own a marketing agency? Maybe you can create a ‘cheat sheet’ of marketing strategies for new businesses—and offer it to customers for free in exchange for their email address. Or, let’s say you own a yoga studio. You might create a video showcasing stretches people can do at their desk throughout the workday to keep pain and stiffness at day—and offer the video as a bonus when people sign up for your email list.

Email marketing best practices

Building your email list is one part of the equation—but once you have more subscribers, you need to make sure you’re making the most of your list. Here are a few email marketing best practices to help you maximize your list and drive the best results:

  • Write attention-grabbing subject lines. It doesn’t matter how good your actual message is—if your subscribers don’t open it, you’re not going to see results from your email marketing campaigns. That’s why writing impactful email subject lines is a must. The right subject line can grab your customers’ attention and incentivize them to open your message.
  • Don’t over-email. People are bombarded with emails…and if you send too many, your customers are going to be more likely to hit the “unsubscribe” button. Only send emails to your marketing list when you have relevant or timely messaging to share—for example, an email letting them know about an upcoming sale or a new product launch.
  • Collect more than just an email address. The more information you have about your email subscribers, the better—so, if you have the opportunity to gather more information, take it. That way, you can segment your list and send hyper-targeted messaging that speaks to a specific segment of your customer base. Think: a marketing email promoting an upcoming sale on snowboarding gear to email subscribers who have expressed an interest in winter sports.
  • Keep your list clean. Growing your email list is important—but you want to make sure you’re growing it with the right subscribers. Having a ton of email subscribers doesn’t matter if none of those subscribers are engaging with your business…so make sure that you’re regularly auditing your list and removing subscribers who aren’t actively engaged.