How to Build an Email List (And Get the Most Out of It)

Rob Browne
Rob Browne  |  March 26, 2019

Strong, brand-aligned design? Check. Catchy subject line? Check. Now, it's time to make sure your email newsletter can get the reach it deserves.

After mastering the fundamental elements of an email newsletter and using some email newsletter templates to create your own, you need a strong base of subscribers to expand the presence of your brand.

That's where building an email list comes in. 

But how do you attract the interest of enough potential subscribers to build your email list and have a respectable reach? This guide starts by detailing tried-and-true methods for building your email list. Then, it examines what to do with the list you build to leverage the interests of both your consumers and your brand.

How to build an email list that maximizes your brand’s reach

We start by going through some proven methods you can use to build your email list, from traditional sign-ups to special offers to social media engagement.

These methods for building your brand’s email list will help your brand both gain new customers through appealing offers and familiarize them with your message and offerings.

1. Employ traditional sign-up strategies

Traditional email list sign-ups involve purely providing opportunities for potential subscribers to sign up for your email list based on submitting their email address and general interest in your brand. In these cases, there will be no special offers or discounts incentivizing signing up for your email list.

Examples of traditional sign-ups include offering opportunities for potential subscribers to provide their email addresses at trade shows, community events, conferences, or at physical stores. Potential email list subscribers can also be reached via physical mail.

This method for expanding your email list is based purely on name and brand recognition, and may only yield substantial growth in your email list if you have already gained the trust and loyalty of your potential subscribers. It can be a starting point for your email list, however, should not be the only method you use if you want to see substantial growth in your email list.

2. Offer exclusive deals

Have you ever received a unique email from a brand with a coupon or other discount on your birthday? Incentivizing email list sign-ups via special, personalized deals increases the chance that a potential customer will feel valued by your brand. A chance to enroll in an email newsletter program that has benefits such as birthday surprises or special coupons on the anniversary of your joining is certainly more appealing than a blind sign-up for an email newsletter that does not seem to differentiate itself in any way from others.

Email-only specials provide an easy call-to-action for potential subscribers to sign up for your email list. For these customers to access these deals or coupons, being on your email list is a requirement. In addition to catching the attention of new customers due to a discount or special offer, the email-only special can also convince an established customer to sign up for your email list because of the unique offers it could provide.

3. Optimize your website

A large portion of your email list subscribers will be at least familiar with your brand and will have visited your website on at least one past occasion. Visitors to your website demonstrate interest in your brand through this visit, and capitalizing on these visits by converting your website visitors into email list subscribers is a vital part of increasing the size of your email list.

Optimizing your website for email list subscriptions can include pop-ups or side panels on every main page of your site, advertising a particular discount or benefit as well as a field in which a visitor can enter their email address. These fields are also customizable, as they can be timed or targeted to a visitor once they spend a certain amount of time on the page.

Another option, if your website has a blog or learning hub feature, is to end your blog posts with a call-to-action (CTA) that encourages readers to sign up for your newsletter. These messages can flow seamlessly from the topic of the particular blog post or article into what a subscription to the email list can provide for your customer. Personalized CTAs are proven to convert visitors to subscribers 42% more frequently than general CTAs.

4. Use social media to your advantage

If a social media strategy is a large part of your brand’s online presence, advertising the benefits of joining your email newsletter list via your company’s social accounts is an easy way to inform your potential subscribers about your newsletter. Advertising on your company’s social media accounts help your messages go directly into the feeds of customers who have already made a conscious effort to follow your brand on social media, and thus are solid candidates for email list subscribers.

Your company’s social media accounts can carry more reach than organic traffic to your website. With retweets, shares, and likes from your social media followers, your brand’s social accounts can be leveraged to inform people who might not be aware of your company an opportunity to learn more and subscribe to your newsletter.

5. Win the competition for clicks

Now that you’ve amassed your email list, it’s time to capitalize on a large audience that you’re able to reach with every newsletter you send. An important aspect of gaining email newsletter subscribers is that you aren’t necessarily competing with only other companies in your industry, as you might be for your services or retail. Think of the customer’s inbox as only having so much room for emails that can hold their attention and attract a click. When your company aims to gain email newsletter subscribers, you’re competing not only for space in your customers’ inboxes, but for the attention time required by your customers to engage with your email over others.

A key to winning this battle begins with your subject line. Try to keep it short and attention-grabbing, or long enough that it stands out from other subject lines in your recipients’ inboxes. When composing the newsletter you are sending, think of every aspect or sentence of the email to be a chance to earn the reader’s attention.

6. Establish a relationship with your recipients

Every part of your email is directly correlated to the strength of your brand. If your recipients enjoy your emails, they’ll begin to look forward to the newsletters appearing in their inboxes. This trust and excitement from your recipients for your emails to populate in their inboxes is an aspect of email newsletters that really help your brand break through to a state of successful customer loyalty. If you are sending email newsletters on a consistent basis, establishing a consistent voice or theme between them is a good plan to position your brand as a familiar concept to your subscribers. A consistent and familiar presence in your recipients’ inboxes is the first step towards greater brand loyalty, and the newsletter is a perfect medium through which to start this relationship.

7. Describe value in your CTA

To earn the trust of the recipients and show that your emails are worthwhile reads, make sure your call-to-action in each email describes the value that your recipients can receive from engaging in your email. One way to have your CTA effectively communicate this value is through making it stand out from the rest of the email, via design or language.

Having a disruptive call-to-action box at the bottom of your email with a special offer or sign-up is an easy way to grab your recipient’s attention. Make sure your CTA always uses the material of your email newsletter to segue into an offer or opportunity for further engagement with your brand. By always making sure there is a way to engage with your brand via the email, you are establishing that there is a clear value to this email newsletter that the members of your email list are receiving on a regular basis.

These key elements of a successful email list will give you the start you need to expand your subscriber base and with it, the reach of your brand. Have questions on getting started on the perfect email newsletter? Check out this guide to the four key components of an email newsletter.

Rob Browne
Author

Rob Browne

Rob is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 Crowd writing about all things marketing. Originally from New Jersey, he previously worked at an NYC-based business travel startup.