what is email list building

What is email list building?

What is email list building

According to TeachMate,  List building is the process of adding new subscribers to your mailing list. This subscriber gives you their email address in exchange for receiving certain information, a special offer, or a free gift. You can do this online via your website, or you can do it offline using manual or automated data collection tactics. Click below for a comprehensive 4 step approach to an successful email list.

how to build and email list

Opt-in concept

One of the terms that one needs to understand is the opt-in concept. Opt-in means that the person has opted to willingly leave you their email address. This is increases the chances of your email not being ignored or considered junk mail.

Opting in is an indication of interest on the subject matter therefore would be positively received if you sent an email to that person. Some opt-in options go further to specifically ask the visitor to select whether they want to receive marketing material from you or not. Some even go further to then segment the type of marketing material that they would like to receive.

For the purposes of beginner marketers, we will deal with the first level of opt-in, whereby, the voluntary leaving of an email is good enough for the building of one first level list.

Simple techniques to enhance your list building

  1. Offer a lead magnet

    A lead magnet is something of value that is offered for free in exchange for an email address that is then added to the email list.

    what is a lead magnet

    This can be

    • an e-book of a relevant and useful subject matter.
    • a free video with useful content
    • access to a service for free, like a webinar of relevant topics
    • useful software plugins or widgets
    • free access to a useful service like increasing traffic or comments on your site
  2. Offer options to increase your traffic.

    Traffic is key to online business. This is the volume of customers that will come across your site with the possibility of taking up your services or buying your products. Any online businessman would love have more traffic.

    So you can craft questions or offers that will increase the interest of the visitor concerning traffic with phrases like

    • do you want more traffic?
    • if you subscribe I will give you ways in which I managed to increase my traffic tenfold;
    • Here is how I increased my conversions by a factor of 3 in 7 days. If you are interested …
    • Here is a free checklist to use when you are planning to you rank well on Google.
  3. Confirmation of email is key

    Once they have decided to leave their email, you need to do something to make sure you have a genuine contact as wells a confirm that the new subscriber is really interested in what you have to offer.

    • Require your new email opt ins to confirm their email
    • show them the steps to do this to avoid email getting lost in just folders
    • repeat the benefits of signing up
    • always have a firm call to action and reasons why
  4. Idiot proof your options

    One of the main objectives of this exercise is to make sure that the visitors who land on your page should sign up to your mailing list. Therefore you need to persuade them as much as possible, tactfully to sign up. Marketing psychology suggests the following techniques and options

    • a mockery option will tend to persuade people to act on the wiser looking option that selecting a mockery alternative.
    • state the obvious and simple things like – are you tired of being a loser? It only takes a click to win! Stop giving away your time to lost causes, take your power back in only one click! Sign Up now.
    • And then give a mockery option – No thank you, I would rather be last again!
    • Strong call to action on the wiser options. Sign Up Now! Start Winning Now! Be the pioneer now
  5. Have more than one choice of action

    Market research also shows that people who have one positive action and one negative action have a lower chance of choosing the positive on first encounter. However, if you put two comparable positive options and one negative option, the rate of choosing the positive increases.

    • give an option to do one thing or the other. For example, get a free e-book or get a free video will have more people choosing one or the other than when you have only the video or not, or the e-book or not.
  6. Testimonials or social proof

    People will only buy from those they trust. And for people to trust you, they want to know if there is someone else who already trusts you. Therefore you should always have testimonials from people about your work or your offering.

    For beginners this can be a very big dilemma because you need to have subscribers already in order to have testimonials, and you need to have testimonials in order to attract subscribers.

    You don’t have to have many subscribers already to attract more people. Engage yourself on social media about your list and solicit testimonials. The moment you get one good testimonial you are on the roll.

    Most people want to see at least one person saying something good about something before they can consider it. Once they have considered it, they become a likely candidate for the next testimonial. So baby steps will get you there eventually.

  7. Learn from your competition.

    Your competition is one of the best sources for good strategies. They are getting market share because of something that they are doing right. You do not have to copy what they are doing, you just have to learn what they are doing, how they are doing it and how successful it is. I have done a post on the process of getting started on list building for beginners in this post.

    Others who are successful may be using something that would be a great asset to use for your own business. Of course there are considerations of costs and complexities.

    However, lately almost everything comes as a plugin, has a free trial or a lower level spec to start with. If not, there are many tools that can help determine what the competitors are using, and many platforms and developers will to do a great job for a reasonable fee to get you this functionality if you know where to look.

    Some tools include

    • BuiltWith.com
    • freelance.com
    • fiverr.com

In the next post, I will be covering the email list management tools that one can use.

In the meantime, kindly leave a comment below about what you think or any clarification you require on email list building.



  1. My experiments with email list building have not gone as well as I had hoped. I appreciate your clear explanation of the steps involved, but it seems like there should be more. How can you be sure you are not wasting people’s time and are instead giving them something useful?

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. Indeed there should be more. In the next article I will be sharing the tools that help with the process of list building. I will also be reviewing a number of product offerings to show how best they suit certain effort and objectives. It is a broad and critical subject that really need more rounded information indeed. Over the next few weeks i will be covering more on the same topic.

  2. I have been looking for a way to become better at online marketing. I have been struggling to get my site out to the public better and more efficiently. Do you think I would be able to use this information about email list building? I have tried to set up an email list before but never really got anywhere. Do you have a preferred plug in or something to get me started on a better road to success?

    1. The building of the list is kind of second in line to getting your site out to the public. This is because, once traffic has arrived on your site, then you will need to capture it using your email list. To get your site out I would suggest being active on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, PinInterest etc. That way can reach more people, get them interesting in your subject matter and refer them back to your site. This is on top of building quality content that helps with ranking on google for some organic traffic. Once traffic is coming to your site you can then capture it with your list.

      Another way is to pay for traffic with adverts or buying into existing list which you can send your email marketing to with links back to your site. Once they visit your site you can then build your own list from those prospects, a list that you own.

      However, you need to be ready with what you need to do with the list. You need to prepare some auto response emails in the right sequence that helps your prospects. You also need to remember that it is about a relationship between you and the prospect so do not try to sell in every email. So a lot of preparation is required before you activate your list.

      As for plugins/software to use to capture the list, there are many. Tthe popular ones include mailchimp and aweber. I am in the process of trying a couple of these out and I will be publishing my findings in the next couple of weeks in form of reviews.

      Thanks for the questions. I think I need to post a follow up to this concerning main considerations on building a mailing list.

      All the best Kenny

  3. Hey Tyrell. I read your article on list building. Thanks a bunch. I learned a lot. I have my own website but still no traffic. In time that will change and when that time comes I will be ready to start building my list. Better sooner than latter, am I right?

    1. Sooner the better for sure. It is an essential pillar of online success as it builds a contact list of interested people that you can take through the purchasing lifecycle of different products and promotions you may have latter. All the best with your efforts.

  4. Email marketing was always a little tough for me. I learned that there’s always money in your list. I do believe that because your list is your customers. Like anything else in internet marketing you have to treat your list like gold and market the right way. One of the most important things with email marketing is the opt in page. What would you say is the most important aspect of email marketing?

    1. That is correct Rob. A brilliant product or service without customers is doomed. In internet market the list represents you closest market. I believe that the most important aspect of email marketing is the nature of your engagement with your customers no matter how pretty or tech savvy your offering is. I have seen very effective yet somewhat shabby offerings and also white elephants of grand beauty. You should focus on addressing you customers need and adding value, then your email marketing will be worth it, and can bring you repeat and referral business.

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