Overcome The Hardest Part of Email List Building

Overcome The Hardest Part of Email List Building

It’s always worth repeating that email marketing is the most cost effective, individual targeting mechanism around.  It’s attractive on many levels always yielding high ROI for any sized business.   It does not discriminate by the size of the business and is affordable to everyone who wants to use it.

black and white pic of a puzzle being build

List building is the easy part. “Permission” based list building, the preferred way, can take time  as duly noted in some circles.  This is the hardest part of email marketing, growing a viable permission based active member list

This process takes time and money, especially if you find you need to offer something of value (whitepaper for example) in exchange for an email address.

To grow your permission-based list, here are ways to collect those email addresses you may not have or have thought of:

  • Grow your list with ads.  Advertising takes planning, free advertising takes more work.   There are free business pages on Facebook, a business can use Twitter, they can Optimize Pinterest, write blogs, create YouTube videos, solicit for more addresses within their marketing campaigns, and of course, there’s your website.


  • With all those free avenues for ads, some people are compelled to invest in some sort of “paid” advertising.  Traditional advertising methods still exist, printed newspapers, radio ads, TV, direct mail, and flyers.  But most of us tend not to use those.  If we are going to spend money on advertising, we probably use PPC.
    PPC is an acronym for pay-per-click.  It’s been around over 20 (https://ppcprotect.com/history-of-ppc/)  years as a marketing model that successfully drives website traffic to particular websites.  If you use PPC you know that it’s based on a clickable digital ad. Once clicked your visitor goes to the link(s) you set up in the background. Each time someone clicks on your ad you pay the hosting platform a small fee for managing your ad.
    The page your PPC takes your visitor to is called a landing page: set up to support and promote the offer in the ad the visitor just clicked.  Landing pages can be structured to do many things. In this example, the main objective of your PPC ad is to grow your email list.  This landing page, therefore, might have your discount offer and subscribe now box querying a visitor to subscribe to your list for future offers and discounts.


  • When you have more than one ad, more than one service, or offering different discounts, I recommended using more than one landing page.  Each landing page has the same objective, which is to collect more email addresses, doing so while each one is unique to your PPC ads.


  • Using smart email marketing tools, it’s easy to separate the new subscribers into their own little segments, from the ones who want the discount dog collars and puppy news from the cat litter people who are interested in tabby’s. This will give you more control over who is interested in what product.

  • How are your writing skills?  If they aren’t up to your own expectations, offer a spot for guest bloggers.  Any content that is valuable, for example, content that teaches and informs has the most interest.   If your blog spot contains outstanding content, offer a free subscription to future articles when your guest joins your mailing list.


  • Offer a teaser for excellent content, perhaps one paragraph, with the rest of the article available for the reader’s email address.  Or you can gate your content in exchange for their name, email address. and other information you may want.

  • Gating content can be a science in itself.  Simply put, you require your visitor to provide some of their personal information on a form, in exchange, they will be able to reach the content you offer.

  • Normally gated content may require more than an email address for someone to access that protected content to view, read, listen or watch.   The content itself may not be indexed by search engines because of the way it’s stored, but that may not matter if it’s a tool you’re using, for example on your landing page, to collect email addresses.
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And then there’s the tried and true methods

  • Ask you current list members to share your content by offering information or discounts so valuable to pass up they want to share it with a friend.


  • Invite your online visitors to get more out of your website when they subscribe to your newsletter.  Place email opted in invites in conspicuous places such as, above the fold, in your blog or on the side of all your web pages.  Offer a free guide, coupon or other incentive when they become list subscribers.  And (also let them know they can unsubscribe at any

  • Pop up boxes know as a Leadbox works well too.   Experiment with placement for optimal results.  For example, people coming from Facebook to your landing page will more likely sign up to your list if you use a pop-up box or Leadbox. 

  • Website content can bring in more subscribers.  When you offer a sexy detailed list, 3 easy steps to The Best Grilled Cheese People Will Rave About, include a Leadbox that encourages the reader to join your list to get more information like this.

  • Select a visible area on your web-pages to your registration page: right on top of the home page.

  • Placing a link to your list registration page from every web page (you own) that your prospects and customers may go to. Inviting potential recipients to join your list when they checkout online – and tell them why they should and offer them a discount if they do.

  • Sponsoring another list, find a list offering complementary products to your own.  You sell Salt; find a company that sells Pepper.

  • Offering webinars, white pages, YouTube instructions or other incentives.  Include an offer to sign up to your newsletters for additional information, email-only discounts or monthly specials
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  • Using mobile marketing incentives – include a link to your email registration page -AND include an opt-in link to your mailing list on all your outbound email
  • At Trade Shows, Conferences and More.  Technology allows show vendors to scan the bar codes embedded on the back of those little entrance badges we wear. Those codes normally include our email address, name, company name, and other tidbits.  Simply use your trade show supplied scanner to add them to your mailing list, with their permission, of course.  Automatically email a confirmation when the address is added.

  • Manually, traditionally a pen and paperwork well too. You will have to add their name to your list, but automatically send them a confirmation email. This will catch most input errors.

  • On your printed materials:  Publish the link to your subscription page on everything you produce, business cards, yellow page ads (are they still used?), giveaways, flyers, in-store advertisements, customer surveys, ads, and catalog listings.

  • On your direct mail pieces.  Postcards work well, in fact, if you would like to sign up to our postcard mailing “Quick Tip” you can sign up now and see how we do it.

  • At every customer contact point. All customer service representatives should be trained to ask customers and prospects if they would like to be added to your mailing list with a brief explanation of why they should join. Again, have a confirmation sent to them as soon as their name is added.

  • When you speak at a live seminar.  Include a link to your list signup on the last slide, and handout.  Bring up your mailing list in the summary of your presentation and offer an incentive for signing up that day. Don’t forget the confirmation!

  • At the point of sale. Invite customers to sign up for your list as they check out.  A downloadable discount coupon may be offered after they confirm their subscription.

Continual list subscription acquisition and verification take effort. The constant addition of qualified/permission-based list members is one of the keys to effective list building and ultimately the success of your campaigns.  This is followed by the challenge to maintain a relationship with each subscriber after they havee opted in.  What you do with your list and the type of follow up for your subscribers will determine if your subscribers will continue to be your subscribers.  

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