How to build your email list – A guide for newbies

One of the most important things you can do to keep your website visitors coming back, is to build your email list.


Social media is great for keeping in touch with friends, but a solid email list is your ‘holy grail’ for website success.


Sure, you need a nice website that offers value. And of course, compelling webcopy is crucial. But with a kabillion websites on the internet ( kabillion is just a rough estimate 🙂 ) the likelihood of someone forgetting which website they visited last week is pretty darn high.


When you build your email list it allows you to stay in direct contact with people who’ve already shown an interest in what you’re offering.  And by staying in contact with them, you ensure they won’t forget you.

I could write an entire book on your benefits of having a quality email list, but I think you already know how important it is.  (Otherwise you wouldn’t searching the internet for “tips on how to build your email list,” right?)

So for the sake of keeping this post short and to the point, I’ll just give you a quick run down on the basics of how to build your email list, so you can stay in touch with your potential customers…


1)  The first thing you need to have is a sign-up form on your website.

This one seems kinda obvious, but I had to start somewhere…
Getting visitors to subscribe to your email list is a high priority for your site if you hope to succeed!

Ideally, your sign up form should be prominent on every page of your website, because you never know which page someone will be looking at when they decide to join.   If you can’t logistically put it on every page, then at least put it on all of your main website pages.


2)  Provide an incentive for your visitors to sign up.

You can offer a free e-book, a weekly newsletter, discount coupons, or some other incentive that your visitors will value.

Offering something for free will entice more people to subscribe, and will also give you some indication that they’re interested in what you have to offer.

Another thing I highly recommend is a sentence or two on your form saying you’ll never share their email address with anyone else.  When someone subscribes to your email list, they’re asking to be on YOUR mailing list, not to be slammed with solicitations from a dozen other companies they never heard of.


3)  Ask for only the minimum amount of personal info on your sign-up form.

The more info you ask for, the less likely people are to feel comfortable signing up.

The bare minimum is an email address (of course) and I also like to ask for a first name (so I can personalize the messages).

If you start asking for telephone numbers, or street mailing addresses, or the names of their first born child, most people will hesitate because it starts to feel like an invasion of privacy.  And they’ll only sign up if you’re offering something they really can’t do without.


4)  Get an auto-responder.

This is a program or service that allows you to automatically send emails to your subscribers, at pre-scheduled intervals, after they sign up for your list.

For example: When someone joins your list, they get their first message right away. This is generally a ‘thank you’ message welcoming them to the club.  Then the next one can automatically get sent a day or two later. And another one can go out once a week after that, etc.

Setting up an auto-responder helps you stay in touch with new subscribers, even if you’re way too busy to sit down and write an email on a regular basis. This is especially helpful once you start to get more than a couple hundred names on your list.

Now, an auto-responder is not an excuse to never write an email.  But it can help you fill in the gaps so your audience doesn’t think you forgot them, and so they don’t forget you.


5)  Set your email list up with a “double opt-in.”

(This one is something I strongly believe in, but it’s not always practiced by every website)

Double opt-in means when someone fills in the form on your website, they’re not automatically added to your list.  Instead they’ll automatically get an email sent to them that contains a ‘confirmation link.’  They need to follow the link before their email address gets transferred to your actual subscribers list.

The reason for double opt-in is two fold.

a) It keeps spambots from cluttering up your database with hundreds of random email addresses.  If your autoresponder starts sending emails to random addresses, all over the world, very soon you’ll be labeled as a spammer yourself.

b) It makes sure the people who sign up use a correct email address because they’ll have to receive the confirmation link in order to follow it.


6)  Send out useful information or offers.

Getting visitors to subscribe to your email list is the first step.  But keep in mind, you’re competing with all the other distractions in their life, and all the other emails in their inbox.

If your subscribers don’t look forward to hearing from you, then your messages start getting deleted without being read.  And eventually people will just un-subscribe from your list.


Well, I could go on for another dozen pages on how to build your email list, but this post is already getting a bit lengthy, so I’ll end it here.

If you have any specific questions you’d like to ask me, contact me and I’ll help you out any way I can.
Better yet, why not just subscribe to my email list.  That way you can get in touch with me anytime you want.


Until next time, keep it real.

Posted in Copywriting, Email Copy, Email Marketing, Marketing, Online Copywriting, Online Marketing, Website Marketing.


  1. As a marketer, it’s your job to make sure you’re constantly adding fresh contacts to your email marketing campaigns so you can keep your numbers moving up and to the right.

  2. The larger your list size, the higher the impact each of your emails will have. So, it’s easy to see why list growth is an absolutely essential component of maximizing your email marketing revenue. You’re probably wondering, then, how to build your mailing list .

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