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How to build an email list: 7 pro tips

Whether you're running a design studio, ecommerce website or product company, building business is a demanding activity. At the heart of the matter is the task of finding and attracting new customers. And one of your most important tasks is to build an email list.

Many businesses only look for new customers and they totally ignore those who purchased from them in the past, which is a huge mistake. According to Maria Veloso, author of Web Copy That Sells (opens in new tab), by not building an email list, businesses could be leaving 96 per cent or more of the total income they could make over the lifetime of a customer on the table.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • It costs five to 10 times more to find a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.
  • It is far easier to sell to someone who has bought something from you previously.
  • While your website will help you gain a customer, effective email marketing could make many more sales over the long-term.


An autoresponder lets you build an email list with a signup form or by adding names manually

An autoresponder lets you build an email list with a signup form or by adding names manually

The best way to build and maintain an email list is through the use of an autoresponder. There are many available. A few of these are: AWeber (opens in new tab), iContact (opens in new tab), and Constant Contact (opens in new tab).

Autoresponders allow you to add names to an email list with a signup form or by adding names manually. Automation is definitely the best way, partly because it is a time saver but there will be times when you will need to add names manually.

Before you begin, have a look at these guidelines:

  • Get permission, first. If not, you could have a lot of spam complaints.
  • If you use the signup form, use double opt-in option. This will reduce spam complaints.
  • Avoid purchasing email lists due to the potential for many spam complaints. This could easily get your domain blacklisted.
  • Don’t include attachments in email messages due to spam filtering. A better idea is to place a link in your copy, for other pages or files.
  • In a message, make one offer at a time to avoid confusing your audience.

The process of list building

There are many ways of building a list. Some of your options are: Joint ventures, building an organic list from scratch, creating a list with Google Adwords (opens in new tab), write articles for free ezines, create YouTube (opens in new tab) videos or help people on LinkedIn (opens in new tab).

When building a list you will want to have two lists: One for prospects; the other for paid customers. With the second list you add the customer to a list after they have bought something from you.

01. Create a free offer

To get someone to part with their email address you need to create a compelling offer, such as a report, video, consultation, etc. This will be immediately available to a prospect once they sign up for your list. After they sign up, you can send them various offers with the intention of turning them into a customer.

02. Joint ventures

ClickBank operates a payment processing system that allows you to set the commission split

ClickBank operates a payment processing system that allows you to set the commission split

By far, joint ventures are one of the best ways to build a list. In this case, you have a product or service which you market through a list belonging to another party.

The commission split is often 50/50, though some marketers set the commission as high as 75 per cent or more in favor of the joint venture partner. Marketers offer this because they will have the opportunity make up the loss after the fact with ongoing sales.

ClickBank (opens in new tab) operates a payment processing system which allows you to set the commission split. When sales are made, ClickBank automatically pays out the commission (after credit card charges and refunds). To learn how joint ventures work visit JV Wisdom (opens in new tab).

03. Build an organic list from scratch

This approach is where you scour directories and other lists related to your business interest. You would make note of their business (if any), their name, email address, phone number, and other pertinent information.

You would contact each person by email or phone, explain what you are doing and ask them if you can add their name and email address to a list. Once they respond to your verification message, you now have a legitimate contact. This approach is time-consuming but it also guarantees that the people you contact will be interested in your offer.

04. Paid marketing

Your ads need to have a strong 'hook' that will make a potential client want to click on them

Your ads need to have a strong 'hook' that will make a potential client want to click on them

This is where you pay for ads with a call to action in the ad to visit your site. One way of doing this is through Google Adwords.

In the screen shot above, you see two highlighted examples of ads on the right-hand side of the page. These are Google AdWords ads. As you can see, you are only allowed four lines for your ad, so your ads need to have a strong 'hook' that will make a potential client want to click on them.

Clicking on the ad redirects users to your site, which could be a squeeze page or main website. The intention of the ad is to sign up a prospect or make a sale.

05. Write articles for free ezines

Free articles can help encourage signups

Free articles can help encourage signups

Another way of building an email list is to write articles and submit them to free article sites such as (opens in new tab) or (opens in new tab).

The article is where you write about your product or service. Often, you can place one link in the text and you can also make use of the Author’s Resource box at the end of the article.

This is where you want to have a call to action and a link back to your site. A wise practice is to test out several calls to action to see which one creates the most signups.

06. Help people on LinkedIn

Dan Page, one of my marketing colleagues, raised $500K for a company he was building on LinkedIn. He joined several groups related to his business interest, helped them and eventually converted them into his sales funnel.

Another way is create your own LinkedIn Group, where you act as the moderator and answer questions. This is a great way of building community. One caveat, you will need to have strong moderation in place, otherwise your group could become overrun with spammers.

07. Create short videos

Place a link to your website in the description field on YouTube

Place a link to your website in the description field on YouTube

Video is another way of finding potential customers. If you choose this approach, a good way to get started is to make use of the 10x10x4 Content Creation Formula (opens in new tab) offered offered by Traffic Geyser.

You write down the 10 most common questions that people ask about your business and the 10 most important questions they should be asking. From that you create one- to three- minute videos covering each question. The last four videos lead prospects into your sales funnel.

Under the video (YouTube) is a description field. There you place a link to your website, the description and keywords.


Email marketing is one of the most important ways of building and sustaining a business long-term. By doing so, you are taking an important step towards creating and preserving the longevity of your business.

Words: Nathan Segal

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