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Email List Building Tips

Everything You Need To Know To Build Email Lists

No marketing campaign can ever take off without the right email list. In this detailed guide, we learn to build one from scratch...

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You’ve Got Mail

If there is one factor that single-handedly dictates the success of any email marketing campaign, it is the quality of your email lists. Any veteran marketer would testify to this in the blink of an eye.

And there are strong reasons why.

According to Hubspot, 73% of millennials prefer emails as the primary form of communication from businesses. Moreover, 80% of professionals consider email marketing to boost their customer retention.

So let’s take a deep dive into the trade and learn everything about building an email list from scratch.


What is meant by email list building?

You may have found yourself subscribing to Spotify’s newsletters to uncover hidden playlist gems. Or sign up for your favourite blogger to be on top of all updates. When you do so, you contribute to the email lists of such marketers (or platforms).

In textbook terms, email list building translates to the act of collecting email addresses from website visitors to help grow the subscriber base. The idea is to provide the business with a reliable marketing list of prospects who can be turned into customers with the right touchpoints. Hence, the more subscribers you have, the stronger your email list.

Reasons why marketers prefer building email lists

Why do marketers continue to trust emails even after the advent of multiple new-age marketing platforms? It all boils down to conversion rate. Once you have an email list, it is easier to cross-sell and upsell different products or services. Emails also act as a great customer retention strategy by constantly being in touch with past customers and bringing them to your platform.

Even though social media platforms have clocked tremendous proliferation, they will always be borrowed property at the end of the day. Email lists give marketers the opportunity to build their own audiences and create a reliable marketing asset that they themselves own. Collecting email addresses helps them take the first critical step to know about their readers and set the ball rolling for future customer acquisitions.

On top of this, the following email marketing statistics only reaffirm the faith in the channel:

  • Email marketing is the primary lead generation engine for 89% of marketers.
  • 93% of marketers in the B2B space use emails as the primary channel for content distribution.
  • Within the first hour of delivery itself, 21% of sent emails are opened.
  • 61% of the subscribers prefer that they receive promotional emails on a weekly basis.
  • Email segmentation gives marketers as much as a 760% boost in revenues.
  • Email marketing gives a whopping ROI of 4100%, giving back $42 for every dollar that is spent.
  • Emails can drive and are used for all major revenue generating pillars such as lead generation (85%), sales (84%), lead nurturing (78%), and customer retention (74%).
  • As much as 64% of the B2B market players today say that they are already using email automation to drive revenues.
  • New-age email marketing concepts such as segmentation are increasing the ROIs even further, clocking 50% higher CTR when compared to non-targeted campaigns.
  • Even videos have taken center stage in emails today, driving a CTR increase of 96% when added to initial emails!

Attributes of exceptional email lists

Email marketing as a channel is often looked at as a money-minting machine that runs on automation. This cannot be farther from the truth. Email marketing, ideally, is a channel to create and nurture meaningful relationships with target audiences. It is an opportunity for every business to convey the value of their products/services to prospective customers in a way that leads to the path of maximum conversions.

With that in mind, what would be the characteristics of an ideal email list? Here are some ideas:

  • An ideal email list can be (and should be) easily measured. This means that the data should be clean enough, such that marketers are able to keep a track of key email marketing metrics such as click-through rates, open rates, reply rates, bounce rates, unsubscribes rates, and so on.
  • The number of subscribers should be relevant enough for the business. This means keeping the health of the email list data in check such that you do away with irrelevant data sets. For instance, it would do no good to keep the emails in your list that are not updated and are bouncing.
  • Subscribers should only be from the key buyer personas of the business. If this is not the case, you would only be wasting organizational resources. Email marketing tools often charge users on the basis of the number of subscribers. Thus, having irrelevant subscribers will not only decrease your conversion rates but would also increase your overhead costs.
  • Great email lists go a step ahead and capture more data than just emails. Quality over quantity is key and specific data would help you deliver highly targeted messaging. Depending on what’s important for you, some additional fields that you can add to your subscribe forms can include:
    • Gender
    • Location
    • Industry
    • Organizational Role
    • Education Level
    • Total Employee count

Prerequisites for building email lists

If you are planning to go head-first into building a memorable email marketing campaign, there are a few key ingredients that you would need:

1. Website or blog

Even if you are running a dedicated or segmented campaign (such as the one during holiday seasons), having a website or a blog is a must. It acts as a foundational element for your digital presence, helping interested prospects learn more about your business (or offering). Not only does this increase their trust in your product or service, but it also gives them a baseline to come back to in the future.

For instance, consider the times that you were checking out a product on Amazon. Even if you don’t necessarily bookmark the product page, you can always open the Amazon website and quickly look it up with a simple search query. Hence, having a website would boost customer engagement and retention after they have signed up to your email list. Similarly, it also increases the chances of users signing up to your email list.

2. Pop-up opt-in forms

One of the least intrusive ways to ask users for their contact details, opt-in forms in the form of pop-ups can wreak havoc with the right CTAs. 

They take care of two major hiccups in email list building – capturing prospect data along with the permission to send them emails. 

Key elements to focus on here include:

  • An enticing headline with the right power words that capture the attention of prospects.
  • A clear description of the offering or value proposition.
  • Necessary contact fields such as name and email address.
  • Specific Call-to-action at the end that conveys the primary takeaway.

3. Email marketing service

A top-notch email marketing service would help you significantly increase the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Why? The right email marketing partner would help you:

  • Build and maintain the hygiene of your email list with better content, email design, and overall engagement tactics.
  • Learn about the behavioural habits and activities of subscribers and accordingly curate specific delivery groups.
  • Run split A/B tests to understand which strategy or content type is working the best.
  • Send emails at the perfect day of the week and time of the day to garner the most engagement.

4. Lucrative offer

If you want people to subscribe to your blog or newsletter, you need to give something in return. The idea here is NOT to bribe them, but instead push their intent to the limit and ensure that any interest is not lost out to indecision. Some ways in which this can be done is via:

  • Discounts or Coupons: The most commonly used exchange tactic, especially for players in the B2C industry. Results often vary according to the industry that you operate in, but it may pay to experiment with this strategy, especially if you are well-versed in your buyer personas.
  • Content Downloads: Another great reason for prospects to join your subscriber’s list, free content can be a much better alternative to discounts. But this is only the case when your content provides unmatched value to your ideal customers. This can be in the form of PDF reports, videos, ebooks, etc.
  • Entry to Exclusive Zones: Going beyond just one-off content downloads, you can even create an entire portal of exclusive content that is only available to subscribers. Every week, prospects can receive emails to access this content as per their needs.

10 Evergreen Email List Building Strategies – How to Build An Email List?

In order to fertilize customer loyalty, your email marketing strategy needs to be spot on. Your prospects should have a valid reason to subscribe to your email lists, whether it is to receive special offers or access exclusive content. 

Strategy implementation in this regard can be particularly difficult if you are starting from scratch.

So let’s talk about how to create an email list in ways in which you can cultivate better long-term customer relationships and grow your email lists from the ground up:

1. Personalizing Each Call-to-Action (CTA)

After analyzing more than 330,000 CTAs, Hubspot found that personalized CTAs convert 202% better than basic CTAs.

This is no less than a revelation.

Although marketers are well-versed in personalization, CTAs have long been the subject of monotony. This needs to change if you are serious about your email building efforts.

There are two alternative CTA types that you can go for here:

  • Multivariate CTA: These test two or more CTAs against each other by evenly splitting the traffic to the landing page and calculating the resulting conversion rates for each. By extending this to every buyer persona, you can then select the best performing CTA for each category.
  • Smart CTA: Smart CTAs can change their text, color, and/or design based on the attributes of the visitors, such as the type/topic of the landing page, geographical location, browser language, their position in the buyer journey, and more.

Before you implement this, keep in mind that successful CTA personalization would also call for relevant hooks. For instance, if you have a blog titled “Best Digital Marketing Strategies for 2021” and it is attracting a lot of traffic, a personalized CTA here can be ‘Download a free digital marketing toolkit’. 

The depth of your offerings can differ based on your budget. But you get the gist – matching the offering of the CTA to the relevance of the landing page.

2. Give Your Rejection CTAs a Personality

Whenever you stumble upon the need to use simple Yes and No CTAs, think out of the box and give your rejection CTA (the ‘No’ CTA) a personality. For instance, you can tap into sarcasm and gather the attention of visitors or invoke the feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out).

Consider the case of KlientBoost. They have used a pop-up opt-in form on their website with a funny, yet thought-invoking Rejection CTA. It would actually make any reader stop and ponder if their marketing is, indeed, iron-strong. This might make them reconsider their initial decision and actually subscribe to the blog.

But beyond everything, such CTAs remind the reader of the humane nature of the content, making it feel less robotic and more conversational.

3. Smartly Promote Your Email Newsletter

The first step to making every email list is to tap into your existing network, whether personal or business. You might have a following on social media, an existing list of customers, or few relevant groups that you are a part of.

Start with what you have, wherever you are.

The idea here is to get as many eyeballs on your offering and boost your sign-ups. It might sound obvious but when it comes to implementation, you’d be surprised how few marketers actually follow through.

Leveraging your existing audience makes sense since they already ‘like’ or follow/engage with your business. The intent to know more is there. They might just need a gentle push to convert them into subscribers and voila! Your email list can take off in no time.

Some ways to do this would be to:

  • Leverage your existing social media following by sharing relevant posts about the benefits of joining your email lists.
  • Pitch your newsletter/email list in your email signature.
  • Include opt-in forms after every blog post.
  • Run monthly contests and giveaway campaigns.
  • Use pop-offers for exit-intent visitor behaviours on blogs.
  • Create lead generation cards for Twitter that collect email addresses.
  • Including the sign-up form links to email lists in the website’s menu.

4. Create Individual and Personalized Landing Pages

Hubspot collaborated with Litmus and Wistia for the latest state of marketing report of 2021 that had some interesting findings to unearth.

The number of landing pages has a direct impact on lead generation.

As evident from the graph, there is a significant increase of 55% in the captured leads when landing pages increase from 10 to 15. And in the case of B2B companies, it is even more beneficial if they hit the hallmark of 40 landing pages.

But why does such a correlation exist?

The reasons are simple if we think about them. More landing pages translate to more conversion opportunities, SEO boost, better targeting opportunities and variety of content, increase in marketing collateral to share with prospects, and so on.

What does this mean for list building? More conversions, of course! Let’s say that you increase the number of landing pages on your website by creating highly relevant pages for every marketing channel or buyer persona, this would significantly increase the chances of visitors signing up for your email lists.

Why? Simply because the content on the page would be more targeted and personalized for the readers.

5. Create A Long-term Content Marketing Strategy

And not just any strategy, one that is actionable to the T. Especially one that helps you create viral content. If your content is more shareable, it would put your signup forms in front of more people, leading to more email signups and increasing your email list.

A long term content strategy takes all guesswork out of the picture and puts you in the driving seat.

Apart from shareability, it also helps you rank better on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), giving your brand a recognizable personality. Here’s how you can create a content strategy befitting your objective:

  • Setting SMART List Building Goals: Whether you want to manage your online reputation, create an online community, or help prospects move through the sales funnel, your email list building goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
  • Defining Buyer Persona: Creating a content strategy to grow your email list without knowing your audience is like shooting in the dark. Buyer Personas are well-researched profiles that define your target customers and help understand how they make purchasing decisions.
  • Perform Content Audit: Identify the content you already have to put light on existing content gaps and avoid content duplication as it may interfere with the hygiene of your email list. One way is to sort content according to the following table:
  • Build Content Calendar: Create a content calendar that meets your SMART list building goals. Prerequisites in this step would be to know your buyer’s journey. You can then brainstorm content topics in a way that your entire team can contribute and collaborate easily to help your list grow organically.
  • Plan Your Distribution: Once your publishing schedule is ready, select your primary distribution channels according to the type of content – emails, social media handles, paid adverts, communities, or organic searches.
  • Measure Results: The last step is to measure whether you have achieved your SMART goals in the intended time frame. Metrics to track here include:
    • Conversion rate
    • Content engagement
    • Leads generated
    • Sales and revenue metrics
    • Content exposure – SEO ranks, total views, and more.

6. Offer Multiple Giveaways

We have already talked about the importance of offering something lucrative and valuable to subscribers in return for their data.

But it pays (literally) to create multiple giveaways as well.

Why? Simply because it gives your website/blog visitors to choose from the available options. This can not only boost your conversion rates but leave your subscribers more satisfied.

For example, consider how SocialTriggers provides three options to every website visitor to choose from. This can only boost the offered value proposition.

Customized Email Engagement Strategy

You can also take advantage of their choices by creating a customized email engagement strategy for every category.

7. Add Exit-intent Forms

No matter the amount of traffic you have or the quality of your landing pages, every website has to go through the ordeal of bounce rates.

There would always be visitors who miss out on your messaging or are impatiently fleeting away. One way to tie up such loose ends is to leverage exit-intent popups or forms.

Such forms pop up right before a visitor is about to click the ‘X’ or ‘Return’ button, working as a last-ditch effort to capture their emails. For instance, consider the following pop-up when we tried to exit one of the blogs of Moosend.

Exit-intent Form

By popping up at the right moment, such forms capture the attention of visitors and can bring back a considerable number of subscribers who almost left the page.

8. Using Hello Bars

You might have often noticed a floating bar line at the top (or bottom) of landing pages. It typically consists of a short description along with a CTA.

If used well, it can easily become a powerful email grabbing tool by redirecting visitors to a landing page that is tailor-made for the purpose.

In fact, you can even marry a hello bar with a form and come up with your own superhero version of a conversion machine. Below is a screenshot of how Neil Patel has implemented a great hello bar on his blog page. You can create a similar version that can directly capture the email address of every visitor that lands on your website.

Hello Bar Tool


Hello bars work because:

  • They are less intrusive than pop-ups in terms of user experience.
  • This makes them easy enough to be included on every web page or blog post without the worry of additional visitor drop-offs.
  • Lastly, Hello Bars can also be easily A/B tested with varying CTAs and copy to select the best performing alternative.

9. Promote On Social Media

It is no secret that social media promotion is one of the quickest ways to gather more eyeballs in any marketing campaign. But where do you begin while building an email list?

Here are some actionable tips:

  • Join relevant LinkedIn Groups that are specific to the industry that you will be serving in.
  • Add posts on LinkedIn with CTAs that are linked to subscription-optimized landing pages.
  • Find niche and technical questions on Quora with the least information and answer them.
  • Add a CTA to your Facebook page such as a customized signup button.
  • Implement and experiment with Facebook Lead Adverts and Custom Audiences.
  • Promote your email list on Twitter posts, bio and Instagram stories with swipe up posts.

10. Quizzes and Free Trials

This works like a charm, especially if you are in the B2C industry. By turning your offering into a fun quiz, you can not only entice visitors into checking your product but also capture more email addresses.

The same is the case with Free Trials. If you have a software or SaaS product, consider offering a free trial in exchange for email addresses. This would also help users to better understand how your product works before committing to it.

16Personalities takes this approach to another level altogether by creating a fun test (quiz) that works as a free trial of their product.

Email List Building
Source


They offer a ‘free’ personality test with a limited personality report at the end. In case the test takers are convinced, they would have to pay in order to get a detailed personality report. This is strategy execution at its best because the free quiz itself works both as a strong email list building hook and as a precursor to new sales!

Top Email List Building Tools

No email list building effort can ever be pulled off without the right email marketing tools. Here are some of the top ones that will turn your website into a powerhouse of email captures:

1. List Builder from Sumo

A handy tool to help you create professional pop-ups that capture the email addresses of website visitors. Pop-ups can be set up to appear on the basis of the number of clicks, preset timer, or specific user behaviour such as a drop-off.

Sumo Email List Builder

It also features a drag-and-drop functionality so that you can be up and running within minutes!

Top features:

  • Optimization for mobile.
  • Custom branding such as background, text color, text font, and more.
  • A/B testing of copy, images and offers.
  • Collection of pre-designed templates.
  • Personalization of pop-ups based on visitor data.
  • One-click integration with leading email marketing platforms.

Free Version: Available

Pro Version: $39 per month

2. Hello Bar

As the name suggests, the tool helps you create header bars or hello bars for landing and web pages to capture more email addresses. They claim that all this and more helps convert up to 83% more visitors into leads, subscribers, or customers, reduced cart abandonment by up to 63%, results in a 74% increase in email sign-ups, and more.

Top features:

  • Ability to design and add bars, modals, takeovers, sliders, and alerts.
  • Advanced targeted messaging for users on the basis of device, location, web page, and more.
  • Zero-code tool with single-click implementation.
  • Easy integration with platforms such as WordPress, Shopify, SquareSpace, Wix, etc.

Free Version: Available

Pro Version: Starts from $29 per month

3. Optin Forms

One of the best available email list building plugins for WordPress, Optin Forms empowers users to create attention-grabbing forms with great designs without the need to code. Forms can simply be added via shortcodes to the location/page of your choice.

One of its best features is the ability to add expertly designed subscribe boxes to the sidebar of your website.

Top features:

  • Works with all top email solutions such as MailChimp, GetResponse, ConvertKit, AWeber, etc.
  • Easily alter the design of your subscription boxes such as texts, fonts and font sizes.
  • Translate any form into your native language.

Free Version: Available

4. Hubspot/LeadIn – WordPress Plugin

A live chat, email marketing, and analytics plugin, Hubspot helps turn more visitors into leads, especially if you already have existing forms on your website. It adds extra functionality to your forms by keeping a track of the behaviours of all visitors. You can turn visitors into leads, nurture them for consistent growth, and measure the progress.

Top Features:

  • CRM and Contact Management: It syncs all website forms with Hubspot CRM for easy list segmentation, interaction analysis, and more.
  • Email and Marketing Automation: Set up automated emails every time a lead engages with the chat box or fills a form.
  • Forms and Pop-ups: Create quick and intuitive forms and pop-ups with the drag and drop builder.
  • Live Chat and Chatbots: Add 24/7 chatbots that automate email capturing and lead management.
  • Built-in Analytics and Dashboard: Email, traffic, and website analytics help users understand which strategies are working the best.

Free Version: Available

5. Comment Redirect

A unique WordPress tool that redirects website visitors to the landing page of your choice whenever they leave a comment. The idea is to thank visitors for commenting and subtly ask them to subscribe to your newsletter or blog.

Top features:

  • Redirect and inform visitors about other content on your website.
  • Get more eyeballs on the content that you want more exposure to.

Free version: Available

Conclusion

No marketing tool can ever come close to the returns of emails (up to 4200% return). Regardless of the tool or strategy that you go ahead with, remember that in order to reap the maximum benefits, you need to keep your subscription opportunities simple and easy to follow.

And always remember the thumb rule – most email list building problems can be solved with the right incentive!

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Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing email design and coding companies. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage, share insights with fellow marketers, and enjoys sharing his thoughts on the latest email marketing best practices.

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