Strategies for Building Your Email List

Building an active email list of subscribers who actually want to receive your emails can seem like a daunting task. But if you stop focusing so much the large numbers and start setting realistic goals to build a list the right way, you can be well on your way to building a list that contributes greatly to your business goals and bottom line. In today’s post, I am going to share with you several ways to build your email list. They range from super easy to slightly more time intensive, but all can work in gaining you new subscribers without you breaking any laws or pissing anyone off. Let’s dig in!

it’s important to note that it’s not enough to ask people to join your email list. You have to give them reasons that are compelling to them. So as we go through the various ways you can build your email subscription list, be thinking about what those reasons are. And if you are still not sure halfway through the show, don’t sweat it because I will also be talking about lead magnets today.

Sometimes the most effective tools are the simplest. Get yourself a clipboard and print out a sheet with Name & email listed at the top. Put it at the front desk of your store or office, take it with you when you host an event or have a booth at a tradeshow or conference. Don’t forget to ask! Train yourself and your staff to ask if people want to sign up. Have a reason for them to sign up. Always be thinking “what’s in it for them” We will talk more about what you can offer in a bit.

The Fish Bowl card drop is super popular at places like restaurants, coffee shops, and tradeshows. The idea is people drop their business card in a fishbowl for a chance to win something. Most Panera Breads that I have been to have something like this for a chance to win lunch for your whole office (that would be a cheap deal for them if I ever won). The key to staying compliant here is to make it clear that you will be adding their contact info to an email list. You could word it like “Drop your card to be entered to win XYZ and also receive our monthly newsletter with additional goodies and news” If you are in Canada you are under the Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation which requires explicit consent to be added to an email list so the fishbowl method probably won’t be enough to cover you legally. But you could use the same concept but use a basic paper sign up sheet instead. Again making it clear what they are signing up for, effectively having them opt-in to receive your emails. It would also be a good practice, under this law, to keep records of your sign up sheets, just in case you need it to prove opt-in in the future.

Create a short link for your email sign up page or lead magnet page and be sure to put it out on your social media sites in your bios, call to action buttons and even tabs if available. You may not gain a ton of subscribers this way but these simple small strategies do add up. Plus if you use a short link you can more easily track where your signups are coming from.

This should really go without saying, but if you are actively trying to build an email list you need to make it easy and obvious to sign up when someone goes to your website. In yesterday’s post I talked about a free tool called SumoMe which allows you to create several types of email capture options so be sure to check out that episode for more information.

Another small simple strategy, have a link to your sign up page in your email signature. If you are anything like me, you send out a crap ton of emails per day. All those emails should have a professional looking email signature that includes your name, title, company name, website link, social media links and of course email sign up link. If you need help creating a fantastic email signature (especially for those of you using Gmail or Google business tools) check out If you have ever seen an email from me, you have seen wisestamp in action.

Recently I spent some time on the phone with a Facebook ad Rep and she filled me in on the glories of Facebook Lead Ads. Now to be clear, I have not run a leads ad yet myself, but ever since that call I have been biting at the bit to launch a new campaign. Here is what you will need and some best practices:

  • Have a privacy policy in place. This is a requirement.
  • The fewer questions on your form, the better
  • You have space for a blurb — keep it simple and entice your audience all the way through the process. What’s in it for them?
  • If you do a link redirect at the end of them filling out a form be sure to direct it to exactly where you want them to go. The path of least resistance is always best.

Video is a powerful tool in today’s digital marketing world. If you are already using video or considering it, it would be wise to start implementing a call to action in your videos for viewers to sign up for your emails. This is especially effective if you couple the video topic with a complementary lead magnet that helps clarify or expand on the said topic. Have a call to action in your video as well as in the description of where ever you post your videos. If you need some ideas and tools to create your own videos be sure to subscribe to my podcast as I will be sharing video creation and editing tools on the show soon!

I love using my blog to encourage email subscription sign-ups. The idea here is you have a lead magnet that ties into what you are blogging about. For example, If I am teaching a free webinar or boot camp about building your email list I would be sure to include a call to action and sign up on any blog post pertaining to email marketing. Additionally, you can use a tool like Beacon to take an existing blog and turn it into a nice clean downloadable. Then offer this as a lead magnet on every blog. Believe it or not, people actually like to have helpful and valuable blogs in an easy to store and reference downloadable they can access anytime they want. For more on the Beacon tool be sure to take a look at my last episode titled “Free Tools for Email Marketing”

I love hosting free webinars, boot camps, and ecourses. Yes, they take a bit more time but the result is a new group of subscribers who have seen you in action. Webinars allow you to showcase your skills, your expertise and build trust. People who sign up for your email list via a webinar, ecourse or in person class tend to be more active and more likely to buy in the future. So while the process may take a bit more time and energy, the result is higher quality subscribers and leads.

If presenting a webinar or class is not your cup of tea perhaps considering partnering with someone who compliments your business and products by sponsoring them to do a webinar for you. I have done webinars on behalf of companies for years. In fact the other day I did a webinar for Lorman called LinkedIn for HR Professionals. This is a win win situation for both parties. As the sponsor you are paying your presenter and giving them exposure to your lists and contacts but you are also giving value to your current and potential audiences without having to do much work other than a little marketing. Because both you and your presenter are likely to market the event, the reach is also a lot bigger. See, win win.

Offering a coupon, a free gift or a complimentary coaching call in exchange for a sign up is a great way to build an email list in conjunction with a website pop up or list builder. I have seen this successfully implemented on various retails sites like Where you are immediately offered 15% off your first order plus free shipping when you create an account. You can accomplish the same thing without needing a membership site. Just offer an enticing offer as it pertains to your services and products.

I have mentioned lead magnets throughout this post/episode so by now you may be wondering what I am talking about. A lead magnet is simply an irresistible offer you give in exchange for someone’s email address. Long gone are the days when you could give away something that was less than stellar. Nowadays you really need to create a value piece that really gives your subscriber a fantastic first impression. Let’s quickly cover some of the pieces you can create for your offer:

So if you do take the plunge and host a webinar be sure you record it. This way you can create an evergreen webinar that is easy to share with subscribers. Keep in mind that your content should be evergreen, meaning it does not have any time sensitive content. Something with a bit more longevity works here. Also email courses and recorded courses are a great way to pre-create content and share.

  1. Guides
  2. Checklists
  3. White Papers
  4. Case Studies
  5. Templates
  6. Swipe Files
  7. Ebooks

Again if you go back and listen to my Podcast episode from yesterday “Free Tools for Email Marketing”, you will hear about free tools you can use to create these types of lead magnets and offers.

AS you can see, there are a great number of ways you can build an email list full of people who will open, read and engage all without breaking any rules, laws or trust. So pick a couple of your favorites and get moving on this because the list you build today could be what takes your business to the next level tomorrow!

These notes are from my podcast Business as Unusual. Listen and subscribe to stay in the know and get even more great info and insights on social media, entrepreneurship and online marketing.


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Kelly Mirabella

Kelly Mirabella


Social media consultant, entrepreneur, wife, mother and all around curious soul. I have dyslexia so please excuse my horrid spelling…Enjoy my random ramblings