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Mission Control / Digital Marketing

How to Build an Email List … That Actually Works

Email marketing is only effective if it’s reaching the right people. Here’s how to win subscribers who will engage with your content.

By Tina Kelly

No matter what type of organization you’re with, email is an integral element of a successful marketing strategy and owning first-party data is critical as we move toward a cookieless future. When done correctly, email can help you cultivate customer loyalty, foster sustainable growth and increase revenue. But before you can focus on creating compelling email content, you’ll need to build a list of recipients who have willingly and explicitly given consent to receive emails from you. Here’s how to get started.

Reconsider the Website Pop-Up

Once the most maligned form of advertising, the website pop-up ad has experienced a renaissance of sorts in recent years. Rather than virus-peddling boxes that seem to multiply by the dozen, the modern-day pop-up has become one of the most effective ways to build and grow your email list. According to data from Mailchimp, business owners have seen their list growth rate increase by an average of 50.8% after adding a pop-up form to their site.

An effective pop-up should:

  • Center the user experience. Signup forms should be clear and concise. Make the opt-in process as easy as possible.
  • Appear at the right time. If you know that visitors typically don’t spend a lot of time on your site, set the form to appear immediately.
  • Make a convincing case. Why should users sign up to receive your emails? Use prominent display copy to describe the benefits.
  • Avoid asking for too much information. Typically, names and email addresses are all you need. But if you are looking to send more targeted emails, be sure to ask for content preferences and the desired send frequency.

Recruit New Users with Meta Ads

Rather than waiting for potential customers to discover your site and sign up for your emails there, tap into the power of Facebook and Instagram’s lookalike audience ad targeting. This allows your ads to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they share similar characteristics to your existing customers. Research shows that targeting users who are like your subscribers can lead to a 29% better ROI than interest targeting alone. If your budget allows, use Facebook’s Lead Generation ad format to reach new subscribers.

Offer Creative Incentives

Things like giveaways, discounts and premium content can help entice a user to sign up. But, depending on your business type, it can often be tricky to come up with relevant and realistic incentives that appeal to your target audience. Email incentives work best when they inform, entertain or solve a problem. So start there: What answers do your readers need? What content will help them solve a problem? What unique value can you offer them?

What answers do your readers need? What content will help them solve a problem? What unique value can you offer them?

Use Specific Call to Action Copy

Rather than telling users to “subscribe” or “sign up,” use language that outlines the unique value of signing up. Phrases like “download our guide,” “schedule a consultation” and “access exclusive offers” make it clear what the user will receive when they subscribe. If you’re offering an incentive, make that the focus of your CTA.

Segment Users at Signup

One of the best ways to keep users engaged is to serve content that is relevant to their unique needs, which means you need to get to know your audience. Go beyond basic demographics and ask them about their email preferences when they sign up. This tactic automates content delivery based on the self-selected preferences of customers, ensuring they receive what they want and nothing more.

Offer Value to New Users Right Away

When someone takes the time to subscribe, recognize them with an automated message that thanks them for signing up in a way that reflects your brand. Thoughtful design, valuable information and a personal touch can go a long way toward retaining your subscribers. Think of the thank you message as your brand’s chance to make a meaningful first impression: What do you want a new subscriber to feel and do when they open that initial email? Aim to share information that your subscribers can’t get anywhere else — exclusive content, discounts, access to an online community. This will give your subscribers an idea of what they can expect to receive in their inbox — and get them to engage right out of the gate.

We Understand Email

We can help you develop an email strategy that drives action.

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Tina Kelly
Tina Kelly Chief Marketing Officer

Tina brings more than 10 years of experience to C/A, where she partners with companies to develop digital marketing campaigns that leverage content, encouraging audiences to consume, engage, share and convert. Tina’s experience spans industries, having led digital marketing strategy development and execution for several global and national brands, including The Children’s Place, Nationwide Insurance, Delta Faucet and many more.

Tina has presented at a number of industry conferences and events, including SXSW Interactive and Content Marketing World. Outside of work, Tina and her husband can usually be found on a sports field somewhere, cheering on their two kids.

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