How to Build an Email List

By Tripp Stanford

Using email as a marketing channel sounds like it’s something your dad used to do in the ‘90s.

Well, dust off the old email server and get some pointers from your dad, because email is back.

Email is known throughout the digital marketing industry as the channel with the most impressive return on investment. It costs next to nothing to send an email and engagement rates average anywhere from 25 to 50 percent. You can also include anything from coupons and promotions to informational blog content within an email.

More Facts about Email

  • 81% of U.S. online shoppers are more likely to make additional purchases, either online or in a store, as a result of emails. (Invesp)
  • 72% of consumers say that email is their favored communication channel with companies they do business with. (MarketingSherpa)
  • 61% say they like to receive promotional emails weekly, and 28% want them even more frequently. (MarketingSherpa)

Now you’re thinking, “I know I need to start sending emails, but how do I get anyone to sign up for my newsletter in the first place?”

Building an email list isn’t difficult, but it does take time, effort, and consistency. Below I’ve listed some well-known and unique ways to build an email list.

Note: This list assumes you’re already producing great content. By “great content,” I mean content that people are actively opening and reading. They need to be happy to receive your email and enjoy the content within it.

  1. Ask your current subscribers to share it with a friend. Include sharing links at the bottom of every email, and actively ask them to forward it on.
  2. Promote an online contest or giveaway where consumers need to opt-in to your email list to have a chance to win the prize.
  3. Include a subscription link in every employee’s email signature. You can also include a brief description of what they’ll gain by doing so. This is an easy, natural way to have the subscribe button in your employees’ day-to-day communications with customers.
  4. When your business is at an offline event, have a physical pen and paper sign-up list where people can manually sign up for your email list. It’s an old way to gather emails, but why fix what isn’t broken. If you use a service like MailChimp, there are apps you can pre-load on a device that will be on hand at the event, if you want to get more techie with sign ups.
  5. Continuing the offline approach, host your own events. When you’re collecting attendees’ emails during registration, ask them to opt in to your email list.
  6. The quickest way to build an email list is using Facebook Leads Ads. This allows you to present an ad on Facebook to a targeted audience and pay for whenever they opt to share their email with you.

There are hundreds more ways to ask for an email, and if you have any interesting ones we should know about, shoot me an email with them.

Now, start gathering emails and engaging your customers and prospects. It’s the perfect scalable channel to stay top of mind by communicating great deals and information.


Tripp Stanford is a digital marketer at Papercut Interactive, a web development and digital marketing company founded in 2001. Papercut services include website audits, custom website development, search engine optimization and digital marketing. Learn more at papercutinteractive.com.