How to Build an Email List

Photo by Pablo Gentile on Unsplash

Table of Contents

If you have a business and a website, you probably heard the concept of building an email list and the power of email marketing, as cited by Dowitchers Designs – 7 reasons not to overlook the power of email marketing. Because of this, I’m writing a blog post to share why it’s important, effective tools to create email lists (many of which are free), what to do with your email lists and what type of return you can get from email marketing. With that, let’s get started!

Building an Email List – Why should I Invest Time in this?

Think less of it as building an email list, and more about the opportunity to build relationships with customers and potential customers. Through digital you have an amazing opportunity to increase your relationship with folks that really enjoy the items you sell, content you provide, or services you offer, etc. A great way to build that relationship is by asking them to share their email with you. Once you’ve built the trust with them to get their email, you can keep them posted on the great stuff your business is doing. For example:

  • You’re a blogger, provide them updates of new blog posts.
  • You own an ecommerce store, share updates of new products or sales.
  • You’re a service provider (i.e. lawyer, financial advisor, etc.), give case studies of how you helped your clients.

These are just examples, but it’s all about building up your relationships with your existing customers and prospects. As we all know, the better relationships we have with prospects, the better chance they’ll buy from you when they have a need.

That said, start collecting email addresses today.

Building an Email List – How should I do this?

One of the very cool ways to gather email lists is via Privy. Privy is a tool that I use for my clients which works pretty well.

There are a variety of configurations, but in short, Privy is an app which works nicely with a variety of stores and websites, such as Shopify. Through integrating Privy to your site, you can have a pop-up asking users to enter their email, to stay in the know of the cool stuff you’re doing, or even to unlock a coupon code. What’s unique about Privy is the pop-up doesn’t just show for every user, you can setup unique conditions to launch the pop-up. For example, show for users who spend X minutes on your site (i.e. users who are obviously displaying that they enjoy your site), or users who are on certain pages (i.e. checkout page), or users who are about to leave your site. This can be a last attempt to get their contact information before they leave.

I personally use this on a cart page for one of my clients, which will launch a pop-up if users on the shopping cart page and showing signs that they are about to leave the site. When that happens a pop-up launches, and provides a 10% discount code if they provide their email address.

For those interested in checking out Privy, click here. Note, this is my affiliate link for Privy. I will make a super small commission if you purchase through this link. If you’re going to buy, I would greatly appreciate you clicking through this link. Any commission helps support this site which is designed to provide free value to marketers worldwide.

To boot, Privy has a free trial offer. This means you can try the product, risk free, to see how effective it is at generating email lists. My last point on Privy, the email addresses you collect can automatically sync to other email services like MailChimp. If you use these services, you don’t have to manually upload emails into these email platforms.

Now, if you’re business has a brick and mortar location, you should think of having a physical sign up form at your location. It could be something as simple as a notepad with the title “Stay in the know by signing up for our latest updates”.

Building an Email List – What Should I Do with these Emails?

Once you have an email list, here are a few suggestions of what you can do with them.

  1. Send a monthly newsletter to your loyalists (i.e. users who submitted their email). As mentioned above, this could be updates of new products and service you offer, case studies of how you helped clients out, helpful content, etc. For example, if you’re a plumber, provide content on what homeowners should think about as it pertains to plumbing. This could be when to upgrade a water heater, DIY tips for a clogged drain, furnace maintenance, etc.
  2. If you have any upcoming sales, share it with your email list! These folks will likely be the first to take advantage of your promotion.
  3. Advertising. This one is a little unique and takes more thought, but can be super effective. Once you have an email list, you can upload these users into Facebook and Google (for search, YouTube video advertising and gmail ads). From there you can have ads that just reach these individuals. These campaigns perform very well as they’re super targeted, but you do need a decent size email list to start (several thousand at a minimum).

Building an Email List – What’s the Return on Investment

It’s highly documented everywhere how effective email marketing is. It’s one of the most cost effective way to drive more sales for your business. The reason is two fold:

  • You’re reaching an audience that’s engaged and interested in your brand.
  • It’s practically free!  Sending email updates through MailChimp or Constant Contact is super cheap, and is often free. So if you’re getting sales from email marketing campaigns, that doesn’t cost you a dime, sans a few hours to send an email update, the return is significant.

Even all the big brands understand how effective and valuable email marketing is. For example, have you ever been to the Gap, Dick’s Sporting Goods, (enter big box retailer here), and at checkout they ask you to sign up for their loyalty club by giving your email address? They don’t do this for fun. Their marketing teams calculated how effective email marketing is and brainstorm how can they increase their email database.  Also, once an email is within the database, it’s in for a LONG time. Yes, users can opt-out of email marketing, but it’s not that frequent. Until that happens, you have free advertising via email marketing.

Building an Email List – Take it to Action!

If you’re not building an email list, you should do so immediately. Use the aforementioned strategies and if there are any other strategies that come to mind, that I didn’t think about, please share on my site! First focus on building the email database, then start monthly newsletters and have a few promotion emails, then review the results. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re getting sufficient leads from this, which will lead you to focus on getting more emails.

I won’t get into this now, but as you find out how effective email marketing is, you can even create ads that are focused solely at building up email lists. More to come on this down the road, if you are interested – just drop me a quick line. Facebook has awesome ads that are just designed to drive email leads, they work well and I’ve seen leads go for just $1-$2 per lead.

Email Audit

For those who have an email campaign running but aren’t sure if it’s fully optimized and would like someone to audit. At Rise Marketing Group, we provide email audits. Email audits are all encompassing, reviewing email marketing campaign against what a fully optimized program looks like. If you’re ever interested in having an experienced agency audit your email program, we would be happy to audit and even manage the program for you.

Ben Lund

Ben Lund

Ben Lund is a 14+ year digital advertising vet who founded Rise Marketing Group. Outside of managing his agency, he offers advertising courses on SkillShare and routinely shares his best practices on

Ben Lund

Ben Lund

Ben Lund is a 14+ year digital advertising vet who founded Rise Marketing Group. Outside of managing his agency, he offers advertising courses on SkillShare and routinely shares his best practices on

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Need More Advertising Help?

While I am sharing a good amount of free information through DIY Digital Strategy, if you need more help, feel free to drop me a line on my contact page, as my agency Rise Marketing Group helps clients of all sizes.
Even if you’re not interested in full service advertising management, I would love to hear from you! Ping me a line at and I’ll be sure to follow-up to see how I can help.