How to Grow Your Email List: A Complete Guide

Did you know that for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you get back an average of 42 dollars? This high ROI is the reason why building an email list is still one of the top ways to grow your business today. From boosting revenue, increasing the customer lifetime value, and finding qualified leads, businesses of all sizes can benefit from a strong email list.

However, building an email list doesn’t happen overnight. You need to learn the foundations of how to create an email list in order to build a following of loyal customers who value your insight, knowledge, products, and services.

Read on to learn how to grow your email list from the ground up, as well as the pitfalls of buying a business email list!

Should I Buy an Email List?

If you’re struggling to grow your email list organically, you may be tempted to simply purchase an email list through the ads you see online or even in places such as Fiverr or Upwork. Not only do you skip doing the hard work, but you’ll have hundreds or thousands of contacts instantly.

This all sounds good theoretically, but it falls apart in practice. Purchasing email lists can severely hamper your ability to grow as a business, and here are a few reasons why:

No Guarantee of Quality

It’s important to keep in mind that the people who are selling these lists may have come across the data they received illegally. There’s also no guarantee that the information you’re receiving is accurate, up-to-date, or even relevant to your target audience.

Hundreds of the emails lists could no longer be used. There may even be the wrong names associated with emails or numerous typos that make a good portion of the data unusable.

This means while you think you may be sending emails to thousands of potential customers, your open rate is far below the overall average of 19.84 percent.

Ruin Your Reputation

Keep in mind that when you buy an email list and use it, none of the people on that list have signed up to receive emails from you. If they receive an email from a business they don’t recognize, most people decide to delete the email before they even open it.

This is because overall, an office worker receives an average of 121 emails a day–after scanning the sender’s address and subject line, people want to efficiently get rid of emails they’re not familiar with.

If you continue to send them emails that they never wanted to receive in the first plan, your business will be seen as a spammer.

Your Account Will Close

Email service providers such as Constant Contact and AWeber don’t want to be associated with businesses that use their software to spam people. If they identify that your emails are constantly being flagged as spam, our account with them could close without warning.

Poor Response Rate

Since the email list you found is being sold, you can trust that other business owners have also purchased the same list. This means that not only do your emails have a higher likelihood of being filtered into the spam folder, but the people receiving those emails are already used to them.

For instance, dentistry is a profitable industry that’s always in need of digital marketers to get ahead of the competition. However, even if you purchase an email list of the top thousand dental offices in your area, they are being sent hundreds of solicitous emails already.

Fines and Legal Trouble

Last but not least, regularly purchasing email lists can put your livelihood in jeopardy. The CAN-SPAM Act is our country’s answer to unsolicited bulk mail, and it keeps consumers safe and companies in check.

According to this act, each separate email can be subject to up to $43,792 in fines. Here are a few ways that you may be in jeopardy already:

  • Not honoring opt-out requests or not supplying an opt-out function
  • Using misleading header information in order to trick people into opening the email
  • You’re not including where you’re physically located in all of your emails
  • You’re not disclosing that the email is an advertisement
  • Your subject lines are deceptive
  • And more

This is why when you’re sending out mass emails, you need to be very careful about the way each email is crafted and whether you got the person’s information from a legitimate source. If you continue to purchase bulk email lists, you’re essentially tossing your marketing dollars out the window!

How to Build an Email List

We hope that we’ve steered you away from purchasing email lists online. Although it may seem tempting, especially if you’re a small business with a limited budget and time, in the end, you’ll be hurting yourself more than benefiting yourself.

Even worse, there are plenty of other legitimate methods that you could be paying for instead, such as paying a reputable marketing agency to help you optimize your SEO content and PPC ads.

However, you can begin growing a strong email list for free simply by paying attention to a few tactics and strategies that will build over time.

Understand Your Audience

Before you even get started, you need to have a strong understanding of your target audience. You also need to consider how your business is uniquely able to help solve their problems.

For instance, you may be trying to grow an e-commerce business that focuses on healthy products for pets. You already know that your audience is full of animal lovers that want to give their pets the best life they can.

This means that they’ll be interested in content that helps educate them about the best brands out there, tips and tricks on positive training, and more.

Always consider your audience’s needs and desires before you begin crafting content for your email list. You’ll find that this can also shape your email’s tone, the designs you choose to use, and more.

Create a Tantalizing Lead Magnet

Now that you’ve taken into consideration your audience’s interests and issues, you’re better prepared to create a lead magnet that they can’t ignore. A lead magnet is any kind of irresistible offer that a person is willing to give their contact information to acquire.

With people’s inboxes bursting, they typically won’t sign-up for your email list without an incentive. One of the best incentives is to offer a quick solution to a specific problem that your audience is facing.

Keep in mind that your lead magnet doesn’t have to be long and stuffed with information. It just needs to offer quick and insightful benefits. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Cheatsheets
  • Checklists
  • Templates
  • Email and phone scripts
  • Graphics
  • Toolkits
  • Planners
  • Tutorials

As you can see, lead magnets are a massive part of your success to grow your email list, even if you only have a few clients. Think about quick ways that you can help solve your audience’s problems in quick ways.

Sign Up for an Email Marketing Service

Email marketing services help you handle hundreds to thousands of subscribers and sending out mass emails that are acceptable to the FTC. They can also help you design attractive templates, set up auto-responders, divide your subscribers into different audiences, and more.

Here are a few of the most common services today:

Many of the services provide free trials so that you can see which one works the best for you. You’ll also find that many of these services are scalable–they start with a low, monthly fee and include higher tiers as your email list gets larger.

We use and are a certified partner with Constant Contact.  If you use our referral link to set up your 60-day free trial, we will work with you to get your account started and set up.

Focus on Evergreen Content First

Now that you have a strong lead magnet and an email service provider that can help you handle your growing subscriber list, you need to come up with content regularly. Quality content that informs and entertains will improve your open rates as well as boost your engagement rate with subscribers.

Evergreen content is always fresh–regardless of whether it’s read today or 10 years from now, it will always be relevant. We recommend evergreen content as the first few emails for your new subscribers because you can keep using it in the future as an attractive lead magnet.

Consider this content similar to the lead magnet you supplied for new subscribers, but more in-depth.

For instance, if you supplied Instagram graphics for small businesses that want a more attractive feed, then your next three emails could be more about designing an attractive and professional Instagram grid.

Add Opt-In Forms Throughout Your Website

Now that you have a strong lead magnet as well as evergreen content for your first few new subscriber emails, you’re well on your way to a strong email list. However, remember that you may have to be a little annoying in order to convince people to sign up.

For instance, someone may enjoy your work and your website, but after reading a blog, they forget that they wanted to sign up for your email list. Similarly, once they purchase one of your products they may be ready to head to the next website.

For this reason, make sure to add opt-in forms in multiple ways across your websites. Here are a few ideas:

  • As a floater on the side of your content
  • Beneath all of your blog posts
  • A pop-up before a viewer leaves your website
  • In the footer of your website
  • And more

Although this may seem overdone, you’d be surprised by how many times a viewer needs to see the option to opt-in to an email list before they decide to take the plunge. Remember to advertise your lead magnet for the majority of these opt-in forms so that they’re incentivized.

Use a CTA in Every Email

Similar to numerous opt-in forms, you always want to make sure to include a call-to-action (CTA) in every email you write. A CTA is an image or sentence that convinces your audience to take the next step forward. Here are a few examples of CTAs:

  • Download quotes today
  • Download your guide
  • Read more
  • View new features
  • Share with your friends
  • Start your free trial

As you can see, a CTA contains a simple action as well as an incentive for completing that action. The reason these are so important is that you want people to continually engage with your brand and your content.

It’s also important to keep in mind that people don’t become paying customers instantly. It takes time for them to build trust in your brand and recognize that you have a reliable solution to the problem they want to solve.

You need to nurture relationships through this engagement in order to convert.

Stay on Top of Trends

Once your email list is well-established, you may feel as if you don’t need to do anything else in order to continue growing your audience. However, keeping on top of the latest trends will ensure that you’re not falling behind competitors.

Some of the 2021 email marketing trends may even make your life easier, such as avoiding complicated, graphics-heavy templates in your emails. Others will give you insights on how to retain customers, such as personalizing emails and featuring user-generated content.

Grow Your Email List With a Strong Foundation of Knowledge

When it comes to growing your email list, you’ll find that there are a lot of people out there who claim to be marketing experts that are just trying to steal your money.

Purchasing email lists may seem like an easy way to skip the work and the worry, but you may lose your account on the email platform you’re using, face enormous fines, and your reputation will take a hit.

Instead, focus on learning how to build your email list organically over time. Start with a strong lead magnet that your audience can’t resist, and follow through on informative emails that build on the knowledge, tactics, or templates you provided them.

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