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Email List Building From The Ground Up

Natalie Hays
5 min read

Oh, email lists, one of our most visited topics ever. Without your list of recipients, your entire email campaigns would be all for naught. Regardless of whether you’re sending an automated onboarding campaign or your latest email marketing push, without a good mailing list, none of that matters.

However, building a great email list is easier said than done.

And before anybody jumps into the comments and tell us how you can just buy an email list, we’ve got one thing to say to that:

Go on, git.

All jokes aside, you should never buy an email list. You’ll run into all kinds of trouble with inbox service providers and email service providers alike, and your reputation will take a hit on top of all of that. Don’t do it.

But where do you actually start when it comes to building an email list? Let’s start at the source with your sign-up form.

Simple Email List Sign-Ups

To be blunt, you need to keep sign-up forms, simple, clear, and concise. Think about the last sign-up form you looked at and ended up not completing, what was wrong with it?

Poor design, too many contact information fields, and unclear descriptions often lead to people abandoning your sign-up form and lower conversion rates. The same can be said for any landing pages you place your sign-up on. if it’s a mess, website visitors are less likely to convert into email recipients.

If you need a good baseline to start with as far as contact information goes, simple first name, last name, and email address fields should serve you fine. Anything longer than that, and you should start considering whether or not this is an email list subscription or a contact form. No need to ask 100 questions, just provide the essential information. Remember: Make it clear what your email subscribers will be signing up for, and allow them to opt-in for the messaging they want to receive.  

And to save you some trouble down the road, go a step further by implementing an email validation service with your sign up will also help clean your list up as you go.

Don’t stop at the sign-up

Once someone has submitted a sign-up form for your email messages, it’s time to send them an opt-in form via email. Double opt-in the best policy for email sending, so send one last check to your new subscribers to make sure they really want to be included on your email list. After that, send a confirmation or a welcome email to add a nice touch to your sign-up process.

Where to place your Email List Sign-ups

When you have your sign-up ready, you need to determine where it should live on your site. This is usually where your marketing strategy comes into play. What your marketing and product teams will do is determine where new people are entering into the website, and then decide if the sign-up and overall content of the email campaign make sense for any particular area of your site.

So for example, a blog subscriber sign-up doesn’t make sense on the home page, but it does make sense on your blog landing page or individual blog posts.

Good things come to those who wait

Again, a little goes a long way in terms of building an email list. Tossing a sign up on every page of your site or constant in-app notifications drive people away. Plus, you run the risk of getting more junk addresses if you spam your sign up page. To achieve a high-quality list, a little goes a long way.

What about using social media as a landing page?

That isn’t our area of expertise by any means, so we can’t speak to it as well as a marketing-centric online communications company could. In general, you need to be extremely clear with what you’re doing with any personal data, including emails.

If you do include a sign-up on your social media, make sure that the email list sign-up is clearly presented. You will also have to abide by the privacy agreement determined by the social media platform, as they have their own rules and regulations to individual contact collection for companies.

List building takes time

Building an email list doesn’t happen overnight — it’s a work in progress. Proper sending practices and providing a quality service that people will use will grow your following organically over time. It’s easy to get discouraged when it takes a while or when it’s time to sunset disengaged users, but it will pay off in the long run with better metrics over time, and that helps your reputation.

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Last updated on September 24, 2019

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