Email List Building Strategies: Part 1

content marketing email marketing strategy Nov 08, 2016

You’re trying to grow your email list because you are launching a new product or trying to grow your brand reach or increase sales. Email list building is the process of getting people to subscribe to your email list. This is a core element of success for many online businesses.

While searching for different strategies, you’ll come across a ton of ideas. If you’re anything like me, you may find these articles and blog posts overwhelming and sometimes biased toward affiliate partners. For these reasons, I’m breaking up the content into 3 parts and providing the best practices rather than the specific tools. If you know what you need from a software tool, then you don’t need me to tell you which one to choose.


Before list building begins, think about who you are targeting

  1. Do you have an Ideal Customer Profile?
  2. Who are your customers and where are they online?
  3. What causes them to trust and connect with a company?
  4. Step into his or her shoes and have empathy for your customer. 

In this first part of the list building series, I’d like to focus on Sign-Up Forms. The first step to getting people on your email list is giving them a way to opt-in.


Email Sign-Up Form Design

FORM FIELDS: At a minimum, you need to capture the person’s email address, but are there any other important details or information that is helpful for your business to get up front? Perhaps a first name? Keep the number of fields minimal if the sign-up form is just for getting a newsletter or something else basic.

One very successful tool that many are adopting is survey questions. Using a 2-5 question survey asking about specific needs related to your offering, and this leads the reader to the sign-up form. In this approach, you collect vital information about the lead and can deliver a unique confirmation email in response.


CTA: What is the call to action (CTA)? How does someone know what they are signing up for and what to expect? If your CTA is not compelling or interesting, then someone is likely to scroll past it. In this instance, I’m referring not only to the headline in the sign-up form box, but also the button. Check out the examples below – look at their headline, body copy, and the words on the button.


LANGUAGE: Review the language or copy on the page as well as inside of the sign-up form. Consider what would cause your target to take action. Some marketers suggest making your target feel stupid for not opting in by providing options like “yes, I want to increase sales” and “no, I’m okay with continuing to lose money.”

Another approach is getting them excited about what they get in return. Maybe you want to provide options for comparison shopping. Sometimes seeing your product or service side-by-side with a competitor makes a decision to opt-in a no-brainer. Do you want to offer exclusive or limited availability content to drive action to opt-in?


Location of Sign-Up Form

SIDEBAR: Many organizations with a popular blog getting high website traffic choose to place a sign-up form at the top of a right sidebar. It is a common user experience, so it is easy to use.

BOTTOM: Others prefer to have the sign-up form at the bottom of the blog because it is after the user has read the post that he or she decides to opt-in. If you’re willing to pay for a plugin that connects your email platform to your comment box, then you can simply add the “subscribe” checkbox into the comment box to simplify the process even more.

POP-UP BOX: Sometimes this works out really well, but often times it turns people off. If you are using pop-up boxes for your sign-up form, make sure (as always) to consider your audience. Will this annoy them or work? If it is triggered by an action (such as exiting the page or scrolling to a certain point), will that be helpful?

If you’re using the pop-up box on another page such as the pricing page or a specific product page, then you may want to consider making it an upgrade or another offer. This can push the unsure visitor to at least sign-up for something, rather than leaving your website without taking action. 

HOMEPAGE: Depending upon your type of business, you may want to leverage your homepage as a key location for collecting opt-ins. Membership and subscription businesses such as Netflix and Shopify often do this because that is the core goal of the website.

LANDING PAGE: Another common place for people to opt-in is a dedicated landing page (sometimes called a lead page, lead magnet, or opt-in page). This is a page with no distractions from the core pitch or call-to-action that you’re driving towards.

Be careful about creating opt-in blindness – where you have too many per page. That can turn visitors off or make them “blind” to your offer.

Where do you have sign-up forms on your website?
What do they look like? Are they converting for you?
Please share in the comments below.

Back to the Blog

Join Our Community

We love sharing ideas, strategies, invitations, discounts, case studies, and more with our community.

Monthly Newsletter