3 Top tips for email list building

Posted on 13/06/2019 by Team Hallam

How can you create high-quality email marketing lists to increase your digital success? Take a look at our three top tips for growing your email list organically, including how to appeal to the audience, make opt-in opportunities easy to find and create fantastic content.

The digital and marketing landscapes are constantly changing the way that we communicate, and it’s important to understand how this can impact daily business operations.

But with proven SEO benefits for long-form content, an increased focus on marketing budgets as well as the importance of mobile-optimised messaging, email marketing is steadily becoming a marketing powerhouse. If you’re still hesitant, 73% of marketers say email is the biggest digital channel for ROI.

By building customer relationships, reaching a global audience, telling stories and bringing authenticity, email marketing can enable you to deliver targeted campaigns that will see your organic revenue grow. Yet there’s a crowded market, with 93% of B2B marketers using email to market their content. It’s not enough to simply do the status quo to get people to sign up to your email marketing service. It’s not about just retaining customers, but seeking out your target audience and prospects who may be interested later down the line. That’s why it’s so important to have an email list building strategy in place.

Opt in is non-negotiable

We can’t talk about email marketing without talking about GDPR. There needs to be a reason for people to click submit on the form, which can often lead businesses to seek ways to buy ready-made lists. Email marketing list building means that you need to be adopting the following practices according to GDPR:

1. The data subject has consented or there is another legal basis such as legitimate interest or an existing customer relationship

2. Proof of consent from the subject

3. The right for the subject to ask for their data to be removed

Because you can no longer add customers to lists without their consent, it is easy for businesses to act on desperation and buy lists. But this is a dangerous game to play, even if it is just a credit card swipe away. Follow opt-in practices every single time, or risk facing a hefty fine. It’s not just illegal either, but unethical, because this list would likely be of poor quality, with consumers who do not have a legitimate interest in your business.  

So, what can you do to organically grow your email list? Here are three top tips for email marketing list building.

1. Give people a reason…

Why is someone going to hand over their email address to you? Do you offer an incentive for customers to provide you with their personal information? If you don’t offer an incentive, it’s unlikely that they will sign up.

Offer free updates, interesting content, valuable discounts, and make sure that you clearly communicate what they’re getting in simple terms. If someone has 50% off their first order, they’re going to want to sign up and receive content, but they also might turn into a recurring customer.

Almost half of consumers are more likely to engage with retailers that send offers which are relevant to them. If you want a high-quality media list, you need to make sure that anybody who signs up has a genuine interest in what you offer. If one relevant person with an interest in your business signs up to view your latest white paper, they are a much better prospect than 10 others from a paid-for media list who will likely not result in any leads.

Credit: NastyGal

2. Make opt-in opportunities easy to find

If customers can’t find the newsletter, they’re not going to go out of their way to do so, unless they have heard of some crazy offer through word of mouth.

One of the most common situations is a one-time pop-up presented on the page when they first visit the website. Prominent locations on the page like the below from Ben & Jerry’s are more likely to be noticed, but make sure they are above the fold if possible.

Credit: Ben & Jerry’s

You could also look at displaying opt-in prompts in different colours to prevent them from blending in with the rest of the content on your site.

Email marketing isn’t just about customer retention, but broadcasting your brand and growing your exposure. Make sure you allow new customers to submit an email address from the home page, not just those who are paying for the service already, to help you with your email list building. You can also use social media to boost the availability and visibility of your email marketing, and any offer you are hosting with it. This way, you’re going to attract people with a genuine interest in your brand or offer, who you can keep targeting with email marketing, and increase your email open rate.

3. Be strategic with your content

Content is king. Competitions are one way to gather email addresses by offering an interesting prize that possesses genuine value, but then you need to minimise the chances of people unsubscribing once the competition passes.

To do this, offer consistently valuable content, offers  and insights, like American food website Bon Appetit does, with daily recipes straight to your inbox:

Credit: Bon Appetit


Don’t fall into a trap of tiring out your customers with constant promotional offers. Give them valuable content such as blogs, stories and tips and tricks which are useful to them and gives them a reason to stay signed up – discounts only get you so far. Your media list can continuously grow if you have exclusive content, or your top tips for the week, a round-up, etc.

And you should also consider personalising the content if you have the time. Only 39% of online retailers send personalised product recommendations via email.

Ultimately, if you want to drive more people to your website, you can’t sit back and wait for it to happen. A newsletter will help you work to attract visitors and the hesitant visitor can turn into a regular customer. Whether you are a recruiter looking for new candidates or a charity looking for donators, content can really help to drive email opt-ins, and engage people to become an advocate for your brand.

You can also monitor unsubscribers this way. CRM systems like Mailchimp give you the potential to track if a certain email was not well received, and change the content plan accordingly.

Instead of choosing the path of purchasing potentially unreliable data for email marketing, you can refine current opportunities and explore new ones to build a quality and reliable email list. While it may take a while to build your email list organically, you’re more likely to build a database of people that are more likely to convert. For help with email marketing list building, get in touch with us today.

If you need help with your digital PR don't hesitate to contact us.

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3 Top tips for email list building

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