How to Build an Email List from Scratch: 5 Incredibly Effective Strategies
When I think about the brands I like best, like J. Crew, Spotify, and SoulCycle, I know I’m not a loyal brand advocate because of their products alone. I can get cheaper clothes, music, and groceries from plenty of other places. Ultimately, I’m a brand advocate because I believe in what they promote and I feel invested in their stories, like SoulCycle’s: “We aspire to inspire. We inhale intention and exhale expectation.” I relate to their brand messaging.
If you’re starting from zero, building an impressive email list can feel like an impossible feat. Here, we’ll cover some high-quality strategies to build an email list from scratch. Best of all, these strategies are designed to cultivate a loyal email subscriber base, so you can use your emails to attract better long-term customers.
If you need an email marketing software to grow your business and get more leads, I highly recommend getting started with Getresponse . It has everything you need, including email templates, autoresponders, automation, landing pages and integrations with Wordpress and Squarespace. Click Here To Get a 30 day free trial!
How to Build an Email List From Scratch
- Create a personalized CTA (call-to-action) for each blog or landing page.
It makes sense: the people who visit your blog post or web page are looking for something specific, so your CTA needs to meet those unique needs. For instance, if you’ve got a ton of traffic visiting your “List-Building Strategy” blog article, why not entice those people to subscribe to your email list by including a simple CTA like this: “Click here to download a free list-building toolkit.”
Of course, personalized CTAs only work if you have the resources to create that quality content in the first place, but that process doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Instead of a toolkit, you could also offer an e-book, a fun quiz, or an exclusive article from your CEO on list-building strategies.
2. Create a pop-up or slide-in for each page of your site.
A pop-up might sound initially bothersome, but I’m not talking about those early 2000 pop-up’s that promised you’d “Become a Model NOW”.
Instead, I’m talking about timed pop-up ads, or onsite retargeting. After a user spends a certain amount of time on your page, she can receive a pop-up relevant to the content on that page, or to her behavior. Examples include exit pop-ups, which appear when a user tries to leave the page, or scroll pop-ups, which appear after the user scrolls a certain percentage down the page.
Digital Marketer conducted a case study to determine the value of onsite retargeting. For one experiment in particular, Digital Marketer introduced a pop-up ad to returning visitors only, which appeared after a visitor spent 15 seconds on their site:
3. Create a timed pop-up survey.
Most people don’t visit a new website and think, “Huh, so where’s the email sign-up form?” Often times, you need your viewers to feel invested in your content before you present them with a request for their emails.
To build your email list, you might want to reach out to visitors on specific pages with surveys related to that content. I’m more willing to answer an “A or B” survey question if I’m already invested in the content — it feels like a fairer trade-off.
For instance, University of Alberta’s email subscriber list grew almost 500% in one year alone, thanks to a timed pop-up survey they implemented:
4. Use humor or sarcasm in your CTA’s “no, thanks” copy.
We’re so infiltrated with “Yes or No” web offers on a daily basis, we barely see them anymore. To increase your email lists, you might want to try injecting some personality into your CTA copy.
I always pause and laugh when I see a CTA with a small, “No thanks, I don’t want to lose weight,” button underneath a prominent “Yes, sign me up!” link. It reminds me there’s a person behind the button, and, while it’s meant to be a joke, it also incentivizes me to hesitate before clicking “no, thanks”. It’s easy to click “no” when the CTA is “sign up for more emails!”, but it’s a little harder to say no to losing weight or getting richer.
I was reading an Optimonk blog post recently, and this CTA popped up:
5. Describe value in your CTA.
We’ve talked a lot about different formatting you might use in your CTA’s (including pop-up ads or personalized offers embedded in blog posts), but what about the language in the CTA itself? You can rely on more than humor and sarcasm to get clicks.
To optimize sign-ups, ironically, you don’t want to use the words “sign up.” Who wants to “sign up” or “subscribe” to more junk emails? Instead, you want to outline the value you can offer upfront, using language like, “Download,” “Featured”, “Exclusive,” “Access.”
For instance, you might write, “Download our exclusive e-book now,” and include an email subscription form, or, you might say, “Access all our exclusive offers.” Both of these CTAs make clear the value you’ll gain from providing your email address.