13 ways to build an email list for your business

Have you heard that email has nearly three times as many users account as Facebook and Twitter together? Currently, there are over 5 billion email accounts in the world, and the number is only expected to grow!

The benefits of using email marketing are numerous – emails are incredibly fast, they allow for segmenting and customizing the message for different groups of customers, are less obtrusive than cold phone calls and are very cheap,  perfect for even tiniest businesses with a very tight budget!

Need an efficient way to generate leads, increase sales, keep your customers informed about your brand and keep your customers happy? There’s nothing better than email marketing!

What is more, email marketing has an incredible ROI – over 4x higher than other marketing formats including social media! In the UK, for every one pound spent on email marketing you can get 38 pounds back; in the US, it’s even $44!.

Wish you also could reap the benefits of email marketing? For this, you need a good email list first. A high-quality email list is an incredibly valuable asset for any company, in any industry.

High quality meaning a list of people who have heard about your company, are interested in your company, might or already did purchase from you or used your service and gave you their email address willingly (by signing up to a newsletter, for example).

Besides, without an email list, who will you inform of your new products and services? You could, of course, try to use the shortcut and buy an already made list instead of making your own but this is a terrible idea.

When you don’t have time to build your own list manually…

If you type “email list to buy” in Google search, you will get around 1 340 000 000 results.

While there are a lot of articles advising against buying email lists, there is a good number of companies that offer to sell you an already made list, promising amazing results.  Building your own email list will take too much of your precious time – just get our list, and you can start your email campaign straight away!

What you should know though, is that buying an email list is a hazardous move. Pre-made email lists already had plenty of issues earlier on, but with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR in short) becoming law, a pre-made list is a quick way to a marketing disaster rather than success,

Reasons why shouldn’t you trust pre-made email lists:

You can’t trust the list seller

You have no real way of checking are those emails on the bought lists genuine and not just made up on the spot or scraped from various websites. While the list sellers will make all sorts of claims, they aren’t necessarily honest – they won’t mention the names on the lists are wrong, that the email addresses might not be active anymore or that they got the emails through illegal ways. You are basically buying a pig in the poke.

Your emails land in the spam folder, not in the main inbox.

ISP’s have many criteria dedicated to…should your emails go to the primary inbox or the spam folder. One of the criteria is checking do you have a “permission” to send the emails to the recipient’s email address or not.  If you do, the messages go into the main inbox, if you don’t, the emails go into the spam inbox or are not even delivered.

Now, do you think that with a bought list, you also get permission to mail on those people on the list? No, you do not.

Even if your newsletter is of high quality and full of useful information, for the customer and the ISP, you are just yet another spammer barging into the inbox. If most of your newsletters end in the spam inbox, it will make even the most clever campaign a failure.

Your email service provider won’t let you get away with it

If too many of your emails get marked as spam or if there will be too many complaints on your emails, ISP will take action against you. You might get fined (and the fines can go up to hundreds of thousands of dollars!), your account might be closed, and in the worst case, your domain will be blacklisted, and your company will face legal issues.

What is more, many providers forbid using a bought email list for your marketing and punish severely companies who use them.

You don’t have time for crafting your email list but will you have time for dealing with the consequences of buying an email list?

Getting your domain out of the blacklist might take even 90 days, and during that time, no one will get your emails. How many deals will you lose in that time?

Don’t expect incredible results with a bought email list

The average open rate for marketing emails is around 20%. That is if the addresses come from a genuine, healthy email list. Think the open rates for the bought list are similar or maybe a bit lower?


The open rates for purchased lists are abysmally small – assuming they will even get into the recipient’s inbox.  

Even if you buy a list of 20k or 50k or maybe even 100k addresses, a vast majority of people on the list will never see your email, not to mention they won’t convert.

Instead of earning money, you are losing them on customers who are not interested in your company and your offer. What’s the point?

No trustworthy marketing expert recommends buying a list

While there is a lot of different opinions on which strategies work and which don’t, which tool is the best, what day is the best day to send your marketing emails and how you should take care of your customers, a vast majority of marketers agree on one thing – buying email lists are not worth it.

Too many drawbacks, not enough advantages.

Any marketer worth his salt will tell you: don’t buy email lists.

The only people who recommend buying an email list are those who are selling the lists – and they will promise you plenty of things.

That they email list is “100% verified”, that this list is perfect for your business, that the list is made of only active accounts, that you surely won’t have any legal issues because they got you covered and all you have to do is to buy the list and start your campaign.   

But don’t count on their help when things get dire – you will be the one to deal with consequences of using an email list, not them.

Okay, so what now? How can I get an email list for my business?

To get a genuine marketing list, you have to convince people to give their email address to you and agree to receive marketing content.


There are dozens of ways using which you can get a customer’s email legally. The most common way however is to use an email finder tool and verify email addresses for your sales/ marketing campaigns. See our ideas below:

Create an Awesome Lead Capture Page

How can you gain more leads without a great lead capture page? To have more subscribers, you need a landing page where visitors can sign-up for your newsletters.

Unfortunately, you no longer can make a “sign up here” page and call it a day, you won’t find a 100% working lead page example either.  

There is no easy way or a shortcut to an excellent lead capture page. But there are many elements that every good page should have:

  • A short but attention-grabbing headline
  • Good quality pictures of your product  or service
  • A straightforward offer
  • A short Lead Form
  • A list of potential benefits
  • A personalized CTA button.   

Give an Incentive

People need a reason to join your list.

And it’s natural when you are coming across a page that asks for your email, you want to know what are you getting in exchange right?

But what can you give to your audience?

Something your customers will find a useful – beta version of your software, a report, an ebook, webinar access, a discount on the first purchase or a white paper. Just remember to make the gift related to your product!    

Have a great email content

If you want people to stay subscribed instead of unsubscribing after the first email, you need to have an amazing and useful email content.

If your email content is relevant and valuable to your customers, they will tell their friends about them. If it’s not, they will abandon your newsletter not much after they signed up.  

Additionally, for ideas on growing your email list, consider checking out how to grow a great list of subscribers.

Host a Contest

If you have a social media account, host a contest or giveaway with signing up for your newsletter as an entrance. The ideas for a contest are limitless – selfie while using your service,  a review of your product or a suggestion on how to improve your service.

As a prize, you can give a special pass for a free service or a discount on your product. With a tempting reward and an easy way to enter the competition, you should get plenty of new subscribers!  

Don’t limit you signup button just to your landing page

If you make your customers search through your entire site to find the signup button, you won’t get anywhere. Don’t limit yourself just to your landing page – every single page should include email signup in a visible place (expert say the best places for the signup are the top right or left of your page, and remember to keep it above the fold!).

Don’t overdo it though – if you annoy your customers with “Sign to our newsletter” popups and huge banners blocking the entire page, they will run away.

Having a signup popup appearing seconds after someone found your page is not a good idea either.

Make the signup fast and effortless

The golden rule of internet forms: more fields = less submits. No one has time to answer several questions and go through complicated signup process.

I know, it’s tempting to get as much information on a customer as possible at the beginning, but too many questions and you will scare people off (and annoy those on a mobile device who want but can’t sign up!). Leave just two or three fields – you can get rest of the information later.

Use the mobile traffic to your advantage

Do you have a mobile version of your website?


Big mistake!

According to Statista, 52.2% of all worldwide online traffic was generated through mobile phones.

Imagine just how many new customers you could get! But if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you can lose customers instead of earning new ones.

To get your signup form useful for mobile device users, make the sign form as easy and clear to use on a smaller as possible – if a customer has to pinch to screen to make the text smaller or bigger, he won’t complete the signup form.  

Even better would be to include Google/social media login buttons or easy-to-scan QR codes (it’s easy to learn how to make a QR code) on your newspaper ads!

Promote your signup page on the social media account

Most companies, regardless of size and industry use social media as an additional place where they can reach their customers.

You too, right?

No wonder – Facebook has 2.23 billion users right now while Twitter has 336 million active users all over the world.

Why not take advantage of it and use your social media page to earn new subscribers?

For example, by adding a separate tab on your page with a link to your signup page or by promoting the link in your posts!

Share e-newsletter articles on your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.

Another good idea for how to use your social media accounts to drive new subscribers is to post teasers of newsletter articles, researches, and white papers.

Do they want to read the rest of it?

Ask them to subscribe to your email list! It’s a great way to show your future customers what value they will get by subscribing to your email list.

To make them access the article as fast as possible (before your customers change their mind!), it’s a good idea to offer extra fast signup using the social media account!

Many email service providers also provide an effortless way to integrate your email signup form into your Facebook account.   

Start a youtube channel

Videos are a fantastic way to engage with your audience and to have more customers.

A video is one of the top 2018 marketing strategies: it’s more engaging, catches attention for longer, it’s more memorable and funnier. Customers love videos too: watching a video take less effort than reading a text (while giving more information) and they are easy to share with others.

Human mind also process and remembers visual information much better than text ones!

A youtube channel is a great way to start – Youtube has a massive audience (around 30 million people visits youtube daily!), it’s easy to upload your own video there and even easier to share it to your social media accounts!

Plus, below each video, there is a place for description which you can use to insert links to the landing page with your opt-in form!

Include customer reviews on your website and social media account

If your website visitors or social account followers are still not sure to do they want to give you their email, a customer’s review might be just the thing to convince them.

It’s one thing if you tell people to sign up for your newsletter, but it might be much more effective if your happy customers say it too!

Encourage your customers to post reviews of your company’s service or software on your site/social media accounts and publish some of them on your landing page.

Just don’t try to go the easy way and make the reviews yourself – this will have precisely the opposite effect.

Guest Blogging

To get more subscribers, you can’t just focus on your own website and your own social account – it’s also important to work with other sites!

There are tons of websites and blogs out there that are in the same industry and cater to the same audience as you. A good example would be how to grow a great list of subscribers and there are many other examples you can find.

Guest blogging for these websites will help you with gaining more recognition, credibility and more subscribers –  especially if you post a CTA button in your byline for the blog readers to subscribe to your site’s blog or email newsletter.

Host a Webinar

Webinars are an ideal opportunity to talk about your industry, show your knowledge and connect with your audience.

People are also much more likely to give their email address if you offer them a webinar on a topic that interests them, so webinars are perfect for generating more leads.

If you want your audience to know a bit more about you, make a live video where you will be answering viewer’s questions or giving a “how to” guide – but make it a gated webinar, only for your subscribers.

It’s also an excellent idea to save the recording and post it on your website so customers could watch it later. And don’t forget to that invite all viewers to sign up for your email list.

Do you know any other tips and tricks to build an email list without using a pre-made list? What worked for you?

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