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7 Smarter Ways to Build a List

List building is one strong avenue to help you generate subscribers, leads, and finally customers. Those who are fairly new to the marketing field may not have the tools, resources, and knowledge to build an effective list. However, that should not deter you from doing so. After all, at the end of the day, the more effort and time you put into your marketing plan, the sooner you should see results.

For those who are particularly interested in list building, we are going to give you an overview of what is list building, the advantages of building your list, and some of the best strategies that you can implement to reach your marketing end goals.

So, what is list building?

List building is the process of building an email list of responsive prospects and leads who you can readily convert to end users by transitioning them through the sales funnel. For your email list to be effective, you need to ensure that there is quality and value to the emails that you gather, according to Marketing Donut. You should be able to send an email and generate some sort response, whether the response is inquiring for additional information or even making a purchase from a discount code you sent with the email.

Now that you have a sense of what email list building is, as well as that it is a factor that you should at least pay attention to, the next line of inquiry is the data. After all, how do you know list building is a solid endeavor to undertake, compared to other marketing tools? Well – the data really does speak for itself.

According to Capterra, marketing that utilizes list building alive and well for a number of reasons:

Email Accounts for the Majority of Data Analytics for Marketing Professionals

Email marketing is not only a resource to help you generate leads, customers, and to nurture your existing clients and leads – it is also a way for you and for many other companies to track a variety of data. According to statistics, 41% of companies actively use their email marketing performance data. Still not convinced? Here is an overview of how companies track data and you will notice that email marketing is at the lead.


Email Marketing Generates Sales

Another reason that email marketing is relevant to today’s marketing world and the marketplace is that it also generates sales. For example, one study determined that during Black Friday, 25.1 of sales originated through an email marketing channel. That is to say, if you pitch your sales emails at the right time to the right people on your list, then you may stand to gain by converting your leads into paying customers.

Americans Always Check Their Email

Another basic reason as to why you should promptly build an email list is that Americans are always checking their emails. For example, to stop checking their emails so often, many companies offer “self-imposed email detox programs.” If your potential customers have trouble letting go of their emails, then you know that whatever you send is most likely to reach a user and be seen by the recipient. Keep in mind that while the sender may receive the email, it takes more for them to actually open the email up and for it to be effective.

As you can tell, building an email list is highly relevant to today’s marketing world. By building an email list, you can tap into potential leads, generate sales, and even attain marketing analytics that can help you for years to come with your marketing efforts.

Aside from relevancy, there are a number of other reasons to build an email list.

The Advantages of Building an Email List

According to Daniel Decker, there are a number of benefits to be had when building an email list. The following are reasons why you should start building today:

  1. More Authority for Your Brand

Email lists are considered a “permission based asset.” That is to say, the asset derives from users who give you their permission to email them. As such, you have the authority to send them information and you also know that there is going to be some type of response involved. This type of asset is much more beneficial to your brand and marketing team than alternative emails that are sent without the user’s permission because you can be pretty sure that the recipient will not open it because they simply are not interested.

  1. Proactive Communication

Another reason you should opt for email list building is that it is a form of proactive communication. Unlike many other forms of marketing, this one requires engagement with the recipient, you need to be fairly confident that they are going to be responsive to what you are offering, and the audience is also a qualified lead – leading to better results.

  1. Complete Access

Many brands using social media to send a message to their fans are often unable to bypass the privacy settings. Email lists are different in the sense that you have complete access to the user through their email. Since they sent you their information, they expect to receive something and there is no privacy setting involved that you need to bypass in order for your email message to be seen.

  1. Email is Universal

Not every one of your potential leads has a social media account, but to the contrary, almost everyone has an email. Email is universal and is used by a much wider audience than other avenues of marketing. As a result, you can reach out to many more users through the email marketing.

  1. Your Email Will be Seen

Finally, even if your email is not read through thoroughly, it will be seen by the user. Email visibility is still good because it makes your brand more recognizable. This means the next time the recipient goes shopping and sees your brand, they are going to recall it and make a connection to the email you sent. The quick recall leads to additional inquiries.

Now that you know how useful list building is, let’s get into the heart of this piece, which is the main email list building strategies that you can use to grow your list in a manner that leads to tangible results. Keep in mind that no matter what, when building your list you need to take into consideration that the leads you generate must be quality leads. Otherwise, you risk just wasting your time and exerting resources on users who do not provide you with any tangible return.

Strategies for Building Your Email List

  1. Create Content that Can Be Forwarded

According to HubSpot, one of the best strategies that you can use is to take advantage of your existing network. If you already have a basic email list and you have built a relationship with your users, then this strategy is going to be the most effective. When creating content for your existing users, make sure that it is written in a way that makes them want to forward your email. In addition, you can even write at the bottom of the email that you want them to share on their social media or by forwarding the email to friends and family.

  1. Use an Old List and Reinvigorate it with an Opt-In Campaign

Another strategy that you can use is to use your old email list that has largely grown stale over time. At the end of the day, while many of those users may not be responsive, chances are there are some users who will read your email because they were interested in your brand once before. When sending out emails to this group of people, the message should be personalized, it should encourage users to opt-in, an if they do not want to opt-in, then they can designate to you that they are not interested in your brand and you will remove them from your subscription list.

  1. A Lead Generation Offer

If you are able to generate a lot of new users to your website, then you may want to have an opt-in form that arises when visitors access the page or at some point of the browsing process. The opt-in form should offer users some kind of incentive for opting-in.

  1. Highlight the Disadvantage of Not Opting-In

One of the more innovative approaches that trumps telling people to opt-in to your email list is to make people feel like they are making a mistake by not opting in. According to Backlinko, you can use exit intent popups to inform users that if they don’t opt-in, they are somehow losing. Here is one example of this strategy in action:


Obviously, you do not need to be as strong in your own message. You should apply whatever wording will work best for you and your customers. Regardless, this is an interesting and effective strategy to use because it is akin to reverse psychology. Rather than inform people as to why to do something, you let them know what happens if they don’t.

  1. End of Post Form

The Content Marketing Institute recommends using end of post forms. This forms are geared towards the needs of your actual users because they come at the end of the content after the user has invested their time and energy into reading what you have written about. If they have reached the end of the post, then chances are they are going to be interested enough to opt-in to your email list.


You can also get pretty creative with the most and designate that many people have joined already and you can also highlight the advantages of opting-in. For example, some brands explain what the users receive to their inbox every week when they opt-in or that 10,000 people who love X brand have opted in too.

  1. The “Big Splash” Model

Fizzle utilizes what is known as the “big splash” model. Here, with every product launch or new information that comes out from your brand, you also offer users the opportunity to opt-in for more information or to hear about new products in the future. Essentially, here you have already built up an audience and you are using that existing and interested audience to build your email list. You should use this model when you are launching something and you should also start early. Most brands recommend talking about the product and opting-in about four months in advance.

Another way to generate buzz using this model is to get testimonials, affiliates, interviews with existing fans of your brand, and guests posts. Each of these efforts help you improve your brand’s visibility and it also enables you to build your email list with qualified and interested individuals who are likely going to make a purchase in the future.

  1. Your Blog is a Capture Form Too

Finally, another great way to generate a long list is to use your blog as a capture form too. Your blog posts, when written well, not only attract user’s attention, but they can be shared, posted elsewhere, and written as guest posts on other websites to new audiences. With these tactics, you can improve your brand’s visibility and you can also use an opt-in form at some point on the page. To determine the best location, you should try performing an A/B test. The split test will show you in which situation users opt-in the most often.


Overall, if you are looking to build your email list, you first need to realize that there are a lot of intricacies involved if you are looking for great results. The more you pay attention to the fine details and follow an array of different strategies, the more successful you will be at boosting your leads and final sales. Also, brands that invest more in the content that goes into the email list and that nurture user relationships have more success in the long term. With the strategies above, you will be able to achieve effective long term results.

Lastly, let me know your thoughts and what other tips for building a list that have worked for you. Leave a comment below and I look forward to hearing from you.

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...


  1. D. Bikfalvi Moni

    Great post, Sean! Here’s another tip: Start a winning game!
    Offer something your potential client would love to have but is hard to get for some reason (price, availability, etc). This way you attract only those people who really are you audience. (Don’t offer iPads or things like that – only if you want a list with teenagers with no money…)
    Of course they can win the gift if they subscribe.
    P.S. Check your local law regulations on organizing a lucky contest before starting it…

  2. Good tips and strategies as always…Excellent writing

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