image ofemail list

Building Your First Email List 101: Everything You Need To Know

Posted: | Last updated:

How to build an email list?
Building an email list from scratch is difficult but possible. To build an email list, you must select an email marketing platform, create valuable content and website pop-ups, write personalized and humorous CTAs, and take advantage of other social media channels, among others.

With the different types of digital marketing strategies available today, there are many ways to nurture customer loyalty, reach potential customers, and gain success. While marketing strategies are not one-size-fits-all, email marketing is among the most helpful and effective ways to achieve your goals. To get started with email marketing, you must build an email list.

One of the vital ways to attain success and reach your email marketing goals is by building a great email list. But what is an email list, why do you need it, and how do you build one?

email marketing stat
Statistics on the global email marketing revenue. Source: HubSpot

Key Takeaways

Building an effective and impressive email list takes time and effort. You need to consider multiple things if you want an impeccable email list. So, if you ever need help, revisit this article and take every point you need.

What is An Email List?

Best Practices for Working With Influencers Using Email Marketing
Email lists are a primary element of email marketing.

An email list refers to the collection of email addresses of people who subscribed or signed up to receive emails from a brand, business, or creator. This list allows you to send relevant emails or newsletters to interested people without manually typing in their email addresses, allowing you to communicate with your audience quickly and efficiently.

You can use your email list to distribute electronic newsletters, promotions, updates, and other email content to your subscribers’ inboxes. On top of that, you can send personalized or targeted messages by segmenting your email list into smaller groups according to various factors like geographical location, purchase history, and interests.

There are two types of email lists — opt-in lists and purchase or rented lists. Opt-in lists consist of individuals who voluntarily subscribe or “opt-in” to receive your emails. Subscribers on this list often sign up through a website or during the purchase process by providing their email addresses and agreeing to the terms.

On another note, purchased or rented lists consist of email addresses acquired through third-party resources that sell or rent their email lists. Unlike the other types of email lists, the recipients on purchased or rented lists may not have agreed to receive emails from the sender, resulting in a lower engagement rate and issues with anti-spam regulations.

How Do You Build An Email List?

Building a list does not happen overnight. It requires a thoroughly planned course of action, dedication, and creativity. Learning how to create an email list in Gmail or other platforms, especially from scratch, takes time and effort, but it is possible.

Here are some recommendations to help you get started with your list:

Select An Email Marketing Platform

The primary step in building your list is choosing an email marketing platform that best meets your needs. Sending basic email content and campaigns and managing your email distribution list may be feasible through free email provider lists like Outlook, Yahoo, or Gmail. However, investing in a robust and reliable email marketing platform is wiser as your list expands, especially as you venture into business-to-business email lists.

A platform with features you can rely on will help you manage and organize your growing list and automate particular tasks. Investing in an email marketing platform does not just help you save time, but it will also help you maximize and fully capitalize on email marketing’s full potential. You don’t have to learn how to add email to a safe sender list Gmail or how to make an email list in Gmail because the platform can do it all for you.

Campaigner is not a stranger to helping marketers and brand owners manage, organize, and automate their email marketing lists and tasks. You can check out our Campaigner review for specific details on this platform.

Create Valuable Content

Subscribers tune into your mailing list to get their dose of valuable and relevant content. Content is at the heart of marketing and advertising, so put that in mind when building your email list. Your content attracts new customers and retains loyal ones, so make sure to bring out the best of your creative juices and let it flow through your newsletters.

Nobody would want to read a poorly-made email, risking your engagement and success rates. If you have the budget for an extra hand, you may hire a graphic artist or content writer to help craft your emails and electronic newsletters.

Furthermore, you can place value on your CTA to encourage a positive response from your visitors. To do so, you may forego the term “sign up” or “subscribe” and use language like “download,” “exclusive,” or “featured.” By using such words, you are highlighting the different values you can provide upfront.

Create Website Pop-Ups

person typing on laptop
Some may find website pop-ups annoying, but they can be effective when done properly.

We will not deny it; pop-ups can be annoying and may put off a potential subscriber. But when done strategically and created with a clear purpose, your website pop-up can enable you to create an email list without sweat.

Pop-ups are effective in building an email list for several reasons. First, pop-ups have a high visibility factor due to their nature of appearing prominently on the screen, often covering the content of a webpage. This immediate visibility ensures that your website’s visitors are more likely to notice and engage with the opt-in form presented in the pop-up.

Aside from that, pop-ups typically feature a clear call-to-action (CTA) that prompts visitors to subscribe to your email list in exchange for a valuable offer, such as a massive discount or exclusive content. Moreover, exit-intent pop-ups are particularly effective as they are triggered when visitors are about to leave the website, providing a last opportunity to capture their email addresses.

Remember to use pop-ups with discretion to maintain a positive user experience and avoid being overly intrusive or disruptive.

Write Personalized CTAs For Website or Landing Pages

According to HubSpot, personalized CTAs possess a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than CTAs that are generic and similar to all visitors. Your blog or website’s visitors are those looking for a specific need, so it only makes perfect sense for your CTA to meet those needs.

Writing a personalized call-to-action (CTA) for a website or landing page is crucial in building a great email list, as it directly influences visitor engagement and conversion rates. A personalized CTA tailors your message to your target audience’s specific needs, interests, and motivations, making it more compelling and relevant. By addressing visitors’, for example, pain points, desires, or aspirations, a personalized CTA resonates on a deeper level and encourages them to take the desired action, a.k.a, subscribing to the email list.

This personalization fosters a sense of connection and trust, boosting your engagement levels and the likelihood of visitors willingly sharing their email addresses. Additionally, a well-crafted personalized CTA can differentiate your brand and highlight the benefits of subscribing to your mailing list, ultimately driving quality leads and contributing to the growth of your list over time.

Incorporate Humor In Your CTAs

Aside from a personalized CTA, a humorous CTA can get the job done. We are often too drenched in the monotony of “Yes” and “No” that something different catches our attention and ignites our interests. Injecting personality and incorporating wholesome humor into your CTA copy may help boost your email list.

It can be very easy to reject a CTA copy that explicitly says, “Sign me up for more emails!” However, for example, a health and fitness brand’s CTA copy that says “Don’t sign me up, I don’t wanna get healthy” or “Sign me up, I want to live like a cat with nine lives!” can poke viewers’ interests and hold them long enough to possibly say yes.

Pop-ups are already bothersome enough, so try lighting up the mood with a good laugh.

Leverage Your Social Media Channels

social media apps
Maximize your social media channels to build an email list.

Social media holds power like no other, including the building and expansion of your list. You can leverage your social media channels to create your email list, especially if your brand or business is also doing social media marketing on top of email marketing.

You can use your channels to share links to your lead magnets (eBooks, guides, templates) on your social media profiles. Highlight the value of these resources and encourage followers to sign up for your email list to access them. You can also regularly post engaging and valuable content that resonates with your target audience. Include calls-to-action (CTAs) in your posts, inviting followers to subscribe to your email list for updates or content they cannot find on your social media channels.

Best of all, maintaining an active presence on social media can effectively grow your email list and nurture meaningful relationships with your audience.

In addition to an email marketing platform, a social media management tool can help you manage your channels so that you can better use them in building your list. EngageBay is among our top-performing tools, and you can read more about it in our EngageBay review.

What Are The Qualities of A Great Email List?

Being familiar with the qualities of an exceptional email list can help you decide whether or not your list is satisfactory. Here are several qualities you can look for in assessing your email distribution list:

Quality Subscribers

A great email list has quality subscribers who willingly opted in to receive emails. These subscribers are genuinely interested in your content, products, or services. Avoid purchasing or renting lists as much as possible because the people on these lists may not be fans of your brand and may not read your emails, resulting in wasted efforts and a poor engagement rate.

High Engagement Levels

Subscribers on a great email list exhibit high levels of engagement. They regularly open emails, click on links, and interact with the content, indicating their interest and responsiveness. To achieve this, we recommend that you go for opt-in lists, as they consist of people who are truly interested in what you can offer.

Segmentation and Personalization

An exceptional email list is segmented based on demographics, behavior, preferences, or purchase history. Segmenting your subscribers allows you to distribute personalized and targeted email campaigns that resonate with specific audience segments, resulting in a successful email marketing campaign.

Consent and Compliance

Your list must primarily be founded on your subscribers’ permission or consent. Subscribers on a great email list have provided explicit consent to receive emails, ensuring compliance with relevant regulations such as GDPR or CAN-SPAM Act. This builds trust and credibility while avoiding legal issues. Therefore, avoid buying an email list because we don’t like spam, and neither does your audience.

Low Unsubscribe and Complaint Rates

Aim for a higher subscriber rate.

A great list maintains low unsubscribe and complaint rates, indicating that subscribers find value in the emails and are less likely to opt out or mark emails as spam. This stems back to what we have mentioned above to create valuable and relevant content to stop subscribers from withdrawing their subscriptions and raising complaints.

Regular Maintenance and Cleaning

The list undergoes regular maintenance to remove inactive or unengaged subscribers, update contact information, and address bounced emails. Doing so helps maintain list hygiene and high deliverability rates. The email addresses on your list must ALWAYS be updated and accurate. It is also beneficial to have a list of scammer email addresses and update it now and then.

With the right approach and process, you can build and possess the qualities of a great email list from scratch.


What content should I offer to encourage people to sign up for my email list?

Content that solves a problem or provides value to your target audience is often the most effective. Content can include ebooks, guides, exclusive content, webinars, or access to special offers.

What tools or platforms should I use to manage my email list?

Various email marketing platforms, such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and ConvertKit, offer features like email automation, list segmentation, analytics, and A/B testing, are available.

Is it crucial to segment my email list?

Yes. Segmenting your email list based on demographics, interests, behavior, or purchase history can help you send targeted and personalized content, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.

How can I grow my email list organically?

Organic list growth involves strategies like creating high-quality content, optimizing your website for conversions, leveraging social media and content marketing, participating in industry events or webinars, and implementing referral programs.

Learn more about digital marketing in our “High Ticket Digital Marketing: 10 Strategies to Boost ROI and Convert Leads” article. 

Scroll to Top