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How To Build An Email List

Category : email marketing, Uncategorized


I’ve found summer is tougher on email response than other seasons. People are breezing through their email while their mind is more captivated with outdoor activities and afternoons at the beach. But, the summer months can be a great time to build or add to your email subscriber list.

Clint Smith, the co-founder of Emma Email Marketing, had a nice, quick article about reaching a decent sized audience right away if you don’t already have a large list. His three tips are:

  1. Sponsorships: The easiest way to get access to an e-mail list is to find someone already sending to it and become a sponsor. Just make sure the landing page people hit when they click on your banner ad or link prompts them to join your e-mail list.
  2. Co-registration: Find an organization you like—and whose audience might also be interested in what you’re up to—and see if they’ll let you piggyback on their e-mail signup form either as a favor (if they really like you) or for a fee (if they really like you but also like making a living). There are also co-reg firms that help simplify the entire process.
  3. Customers: Remember that often the best way to grow your e-mail list quickly is to start with your existing customer base. Make sure your cash register, signup forms, front desk, event booth and Web site all encourage people to join your list. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many actually do.

To add on to what Clint says, you can also use this time of year to grow your list for a targeted campaign in the Fall or Winter. Let’s review two key SPAM laws that should be taken into consideration when using email marketing:

  • The recipient must have given consent to receive information from your company
  • The recipient must have done business with your company in the last two years

Here are some quick tactics you can implement right now to grow your list:

  • Website Form: Make sure every page on your website has a link to a form or an actual form giving visitors the option to receive your email newsletter.
  • Trade Shows: Summer is big for trade shows. If your company does trade shows, put a signup sheet in your booth and give show attendees the option to sign up. Also, make sure the people working your booth know to direct attention to the sign-up.
  • Calling Campaign: Dig into your vast contact database and find customer who your company has NOT does business with in the last two years. Hand this list off to your sales team and kick-off a “re-introduction” calling campaign. As part of the call, have your sales people ask about receiving an email newsletter. A campaign such as this not only grows your subscriber list, but also might revive a few customer relationships.

Anything you might add to the list?

Comments (13)

Hi Patrick,
It’s a nice post. I will try to use your suggestions this summer.

Rajesh Shakya
Helping Technopreneurs to Excel and Lead their Life!


Good suggestions. Here is how I use my distribution list: Once a month I send a white paper with a marketing tip explained. It is in plain text, using the correct anti-SPAM regulations, and provides my contact information. It is a long-term strategy that has resulted in new business.

I stopped doing a monthly newsletter and replaced it with the above strategy, which has resulted in very few unsubscribes.

One HUGE missing opportunity in that list of three is co-marketing your newsletter or email in an operational email (e.g. Invoice receipt, Confirmation of Purchase, Shipping Confirmation, Account update).

I’m definitely looking into co-registration and how it works and if it works out for some of my clients. I’m not sure about the sponsorships, though, as that’s going to take a lot more time and individual hand-holding so to speak. I’d rather outsource my sponsorships to a network.

Thanks for the contribution! The all text beats spam filters and the white paper content gives readers actionable information. The perfect recipe! I’m sure you’ll continue to have great success with that method.

Great thought – transactional email is a gold mine of opportunity! I hadn’t thought about using that for newsletter sign-ups, but what a perfect place to give a customer the option. Nice work!

Any tips on how you present that option in the email?

Thanks for jumping in! I think a combo of the two would give you some insight into target market behavior. If you develop a list from both sponsorship and co-registration you can learn which audience converts better. Sort of an A/B testing. Just a thought…

Great! If you think of it, drop me a line and let me know what works.

Thanks for visiting…

Hi Patrick,

I would recommend A/B testing between text and image-based advertisements to see which will result in more opt-ins. I think it’s quite simple to put a nice link or button that, when clicked, automatically opts in the subscriber and forwards them to a landing page.

Something as simple as, “We appreciate the opportunity to do business with you and would like to stay in touch. If you’d like to hear more about our other products and services, simply [click here to opt-in]”

Clicking on that link should immediately opt-in the subscriber but you might want to take the opportunity to capture more information on the landing page to customize additional content their way!


Great tips – thanks for taking the time to answer my question! I think the landing page is the pivotal piece. People will click from the email if your call to action is good, but to close the deal you’ll need to sell on the landing page.

p.s. no idea why the spam filter blocked your comment – sorry about that.

Hey Patrick,

Great post – thanks for making us a part of it. Hope you’re having a great summer!

Suzanne (& the Emma team)

When you say SPAM “laws,” are you really talking about best practices? I ask because to my knowledge there is no law about the recipient having to give consent or being required to have done business with you in the last two years.

CAN-SPAM is decidely opt-OUT, and even so, someone can certainly opt-IN without ever having done business with you.