15 Ways To Build Your Email Marketing List

I have some bad news. Your email marketing list degrades over time. 

People’s emails change as they move from job to job. Maybe they unsubscribe. Or perhaps they abandon an address they only used to fill out forms on websites. 

Unfortunately it’s the truth. 

That’s why, as a marketer it is your job to ensure you’re actively working to add fresh contacts to your email lists. 

The importance of an engaged list

An engaged mailing list is a business’s best asset because it is one of the few owned media channels that your business has full control over. Unlike advertising to people on social media or Google, email marketing is not subject to sudden algorithm changes. 

Zuckerberg can’t control who sees your campaigns here – that is fully dependent on your email contacts and how engaging the content is. 

An engaged list will also generate sales. For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average expected return is $42. When compared to the return on investment on other channels, such as PPC advertising – just $2 or every $1 spent – it’s a no brainer. 

15 ways to build your email marketing list

While comprehensive mailing lists can’t be generated overnight, there are a number of different tactics marketers can use to gradually grow their subscribers. 

Collect subscribers offline (at your business or at an in-person event)

As the stats suggest, building an email list is too valuable to limit yourself to just the online world. You need to be collecting emails from every available channel, including offline sources. 

Offline networking and live events are two of the most overlooked methods of collecting email addresses. But when you think about it, they make sense. If someone is motivated enough to leave the house and come to your event, they are probably going to be an engaged email subscriber. 

Another easy way to gain engaged email contacts is by getting their email addresses at the checkout. If a customer is buying from you, they are already half way down the marketing funnel. All you have to do now is keep them loyal. Updating them with special events or promotions is going to do this. 

Create a QR code that sends people to the sign up page at your website at your business

One thing we can thank Covid for is people’s perception of QR codes. 

For years marketers have been trying to get people to use QR codes for various things yet struggled to get them off the ground. Consumers were sceptical. However, thanks to mandatory check-ins, they are literally second nature. 

So let’s use them. 

Create a QR code for your business that leads people to a ‘sign up’ page. This is an easy, hassle free way to get subscribers without the consumer having to access your website and navigate their way around the page. 

You can attach them to any form of marketing, digital – web pages, social media – or traditional – print ads, exhibitions stands, business cards. Just make sure you are distributing them where your target customers are. If people find your business interesting, chances are they will scan the QR code and subscribe to your email list. 

Create a dedicated email subscribe landing page that you can send people to.

Landing pages are dedicated to one, specific call-to-action that allows consumers to perform the requested task without distractions. In this case it would be a ‘Sign up to our newsletter’, or ‘Stay in touch’ page where people could add their name and email address. 

It is generally much easier to convert a visitor into a lead with a landing page than a general website page because it is focused on one core offer. 

Link to your email subscribe page in your normal email signature area

Adding a link to your email subscribe page in your normal email signature just gives people another, easy way to opt in to receive regular updates.  

Just copy the URL to your Lead Generation Landing Page, or for the “sign up page” of your website, and add it as a button or hyperlink in your signature. 

Have a subscribe area in a prominent  part of your website

Where you put a subscribe form on a website can influence the number of signups you receive.

Deciding where to place your email signup form will depend on the page a customer visits. If they came across your website’s blog using a keyword search, you can add the signup form as part of your CTA. At the same time, if they have landed straight on your home page, a banner at the bottom of the page is a good option. 

Wherever you put it, make sure it stands out so people notice it. 

Create a popup on your website to encourage signups

Pop-ups are another way to gain engaged subscribers. When a visitor lands on your website, after a few seconds, have a form ‘pop-up’ on the screen prompting them to sign up to your email list. To encourage subscribers, some businesses provide an offering of some variety here – discount for first time shoppers, promote a webinar etc. 

Create a downloadable cheat sheet/how to guide/style reference of some kind

Free downloads are arguably the backbone of building email lists. 

Let’s be real, people are greedy. They don’t always want to give you their email address without getting something in return. Offering a free downloadable resource rather than just a “sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date”, will prompt many more people to sign up. 

Offer a downloadable white paper or case study

Downloadable white papers and case studies that inform or solve issues for people are a great way to get subscribers that you know are interested in particular topics. This will help you segment your list. 

Create a landing page that drives an action

The call-to-action is one of the most important elements on your landing page – it’s one of the many elements that encourage conversions. Make sure you have a clear and direct CTA. Visitors should easily know what it is you want them to do – sign up to your list.

Run a facebook lead generation ad

Facebook lead ads allow you to find people who may be interested in your products or services and collect specific information about them. Using an instant form, you can collect their name, email address and other information that will help you further segment your email marketing list.  This is a very frictionless way to get them to sign up, as they don’t have to type in anything, they can literally just click a button.

You can create lead ads in Ads Manager or from your Facebook Page. 

Offer exclusive access to an area of your website

Offering exclusive access to a section or page of your website in return for an email address shows site visitors that you are willing to reward loyalty. 

It increases the benefit of being a subscriber and creates desire as people want the benefit of the increased functionality your website gives them. 

Have a giveaway or competition

Humans are competitive by nature making us very responsive to the idea of winning something. Creating competitions or giveaways whereby people have to give you their email address is a great tactic. Sharing that information with you doesn’t seem like such an ask to the consumer when the reward may be something much greater. 

In fact, hosting a giveaway can generate an average of over 34% new subscribers, and 62% of the contestants will share the contest with their friends. Just make sure that your prize is in alignment with your ideal client – we still need to ensure we are filtering for best fit.

Host a webinar

While the concept may sound daunting, if growing your email marketing list is a priority, webinars are absolutely worth the investment. 

Before you start, ensure you have a topic that your target audience is interested in. They won’t sign up if they’re not. 

Once the event is over, continue to promote and reuse it. Not everyone sees everything the first time it is promoted. You should post it on other platforms afterwards. Make sure people have to sign up to see it. 

Host an in-person event

Like online webinars, in-person events are a great way to gain engaged subscribers – if they are interested enough to come to your event, they’ll be interested in engaging with your emails.  

Personalise your CTAs for each page – ie replace “Subscribe” with “Give me the Info”

Having different CTA’s on web pages that reflect where the consumer may be in their purchasing funnel is very smart marketing.

For example, if you have a blog post or a web page that is obviously intended for someone who is ready to convert, ‘Give me the information’ is far more effective and direct than just saying ‘Subscribe to learn more’. 


To discover more helpful digital marketing tricks, join our private Facebook group “The Digital Compass with Leanne O’Sullivan”

Or, for extra help in growing your email marketing list, get in touch today.


Leanne O'Sullivan

Digital Sherpa & CEO
I help businesses grow through strategic digital marketing.​ I am the founder, CEO and Digital Sherpa of Adventure Digital – a marketing agency based in regional NSW, servicing clients all over the Australian eastern seaboard. I’ve made it my life’s mission to help you grow a sustainable, enjoyable and profitable business.

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