15 Ways to Build a Great Email Marketing List

by Aden Andrus November 22, 2019

With an average return of $38 for every $1 invested, a well-designed email marketing strategy can be one of the most effective and powerful tools in your online marketing arsenal. But, to get access to all of that goodness, you have to have a great email marketing list.

Unfortunately, like all marketing, email marketing is a numbers game, so if you don’t have enough subscribers, your list is full of redundancies and errors or you have the wrong people on your lists, you simply won’t be able to get the results you need.

But, if you don’t already have a good email marketing list, how do you put one together?

To help you do that, here is a huge list of ways to grow your email marketing list. Most of these ideas take some time and effort to make work, but enough consistency, you’ll soon have a great email list to work with. Better still, all of these ideas can also help you grow and maintain your existing list, which is important since the average email list loses 22.5% of its subscribers every year.

So, if you need more email subscribers (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), here are a variety of ways to get them. Let’s dive in!

15 Ways to Build Your Email Marketing List

There are a lot of different ways to put together a useful email marketing list. The list below is by no means comprehensive, and not every idea will apply to every business, but it should at least help you get started.

Often, the biggest obstacle to creating an effective email marketing list is failing to realize just how often you can easily, naturally ask people for their emails, so hopefully this list should help you discover all kinds of opportunities that you may have been missing.

1. Run a Giveaway

What’s the easiest way to get email addresses? Offer a reward! You can offer a give away using snail mail, your existing email list (consider offering extra entries if people share your giveaway with others via social media or email) or social media. Not only will you get more email addresses, you’ll also build brand awareness at the same time!

1. Try a Sign-Up Sheet

Trade shows, community events, your cash register…anytime people interact with your business in person, they might be interested in signing up for your email marketing list. All you have to do is give them a way to join. True, you probably won’t get tons of emails by putting a sign-up sheet out, but it also requires virtually no effort from you, so why not?

2. Ask for Business Cards

Another great way to get people’s email addresses is to simply ask for their business cards. Most business cards have people’s email addresses and there are lots of ways to incentivize people to share them with you. Sometimes it’s as simple as offering your own card in exchange. Other times, you can put out a jar on a counter in your store or office with a note asking people to leave their card. Or, if you really want to push things, you can offer a drawing in exchange for their card.

3. Start a Club

Everyone likes to feel like they’re part of an “in crowd”. You can create that feeling and get email addresses at the same time by creating a club for your business. This can be a birthday club, a VIP club, a discount club or any other type of club that works for your business. The important thing is that it makes people feel special and that being in the club comes with some sort of actual value (discounts, special offers, direct rewards, etc).

4. Take Advantage of Phone Calls

If your company does a lot of business over the phone, why not ask for people’s email addresses during the phone call? Most of the time, if people are talking to you over the phone, they won’t mind giving you their email address, so it’s a great way to naturally build out your email address. If you need to, you can always incentivize people by offering special discounts or other offers available only to email subscribers.

5. Optimize Your Website

When someone visits your website, it’s a clear declaration of interest in your business. Whether they make a purchase or not, if you can at least get them to sign up for your email marketing list, you have a good chance of turning that interest into something more. So, you should make it easy for people to sign up for your marketing emails. Provide a sign-up option in your footer or on key pages of your site with a compelling argument for why people should sign up.

6. Use Your Blog

The whole point of creating a blog is to provide value to your target audience. Since that value is free, why wouldn’t people want to know when you’ve posted more content?

Your blog is like a free offer that you’re already making, so it’s an easy way to incentivize people to sign up for your email marketing list. Add a newsletter sign-up form to your blog and encourage people to sign up in your actual posts. Require people to use their email to comment on your articles and give them the option to opt into your email marketing list when they comment. It’s a great way to get even more out of your content marketing.

7. Try Scroll Boxes

If you have an omnipresent email sign-up call-to-action (CTA) in your nav bar or footer, people might start to block it out. But, if that same CTA suddenly pops up after they’ve scrolled a certain distance through your content, it’s a lot more likely to grab their attention.

This tactic works particularly well with blog posts, since scrolling indicates that people like your content already and are more likely to sign up for your emails. But, even off your blog, that principle still holds true, which is why scroll boxes can be a great way to catch the eye of your most interested site visitors.

8. Take Advantage of Word-of-Mouth

What’s the easiest way to get someone to join your email marketing list? Have one of their friends or family members do the selling for you! Simply asking people to refer new subscribers can often be enough to land you a few extra subscribers, but if you really want to incentivize people, consider offering a discount or other reward for new, valid, confirmed email subscribers.

Alternatively, you can also get new subscribers by including a forward-to-a-friend link in your emails. This is particularly useful when you’re running an awesome deal, since people love to share deals with their friends and families. At a minimum, you’ll hopefully get more people to visit your site, and if you include an opt-in link in your email, you just might land a few extra subscribers as well.

9. Put Out a Sandwich Board

Sandwich boards are one of the oldest forms of local advertising, but if your business operates in a location with a lot of foot traffic, why not use one to advertise your newsletter? You can either ask people to stop in to subscribe or give them a link where they can directly sign up from the street. As with most of the other suggestions on this list, this approach works best if you offer some sort of reward for signing up to incentivize people.

10. Use Receipts

When someone makes a purchase at your business, you can include an option to sign up for your email newsletter. You can offer to email a copy of their receipt to them, give them a line where they can jot down their email or simply ask them to write it down on the back of the receipt. Most people are very comfortable with giving away their email address during a transaction, so it’s an easy way to build out your email marketing list.

11. Add a Card to Products

If you didn’t manage to snag someone’s email while they were buying a product, you can always try again by including a card with an opt-in offer and link inside the box. When someone’s opening your product for the first time, your business is top of mind, so it’s an ideal time to encourage them to sign up. You probably won’t get a ton of emails from this approach, but it’s an easy, last-ditch way to grab a few extra emails—especially if you include a really compelling offer.

12. Include Opt-Ins on Your Invoices

Like adding a card to your products, your invoices are another opportunity to get people to sign up for your email marketing list. A job well done leaves people with a good taste in their mouth, so they’re likely to be feeling positive about your business. Why not take advantage of that fact to get them to subscribe to your newsletter?

13. Use QR Codes

QR codes aren’t as popular as they used to be (in the USA, at least, countries like China are a different story). But, if you do a lot of print advertising like posters, post cards or other printed marketing materials, consider encouraging people to sign up for your email marketing list and give them a QR code to make things easy.

14. Create a Course

If you have expertise to offer, you may want to consider creating an exclusive course that’s only available to email subscribers. This can be a great way to reward people for signing up without actually having to cut into your profit margin.

Sure, it takes some time and effort to create a course, but once it’s done, it costs next-to-nothing to provide it to people. Big perceived value at a low cost to your business? That’s a win in my book.

15. Use an Exit-Intent Pop-Up

Exit intent pop-ups are the classic last-ditch way to get something of value out of your website traffic. In fact, they’ve become so universal—especially amongst ecommerce businesses—that some customers won’t even make a purchase until they’ve been wooed with some sort of discount. It’s a game, but it’s a game that can work for your business.

The good news is, the popularity of exit-intent pop-ups means that there are lots of affordable tools you can use to set them up. All you have to do is pick a compelling offer and decide when and how you want to offer it! To be honest, this is one of the most effective ways to build out your email list (assuming you get decent traffic to your website), so why not give it a try?


While it takes time to build out a good email marketing list, the results are usually worth it. Hopefully, this article has given you a few ideas to try. With the right offer, these tactics should help you build out your email marketing list and help you take full advantage of the potential of email marketing.

By the way, if you need help with any aspect of your email marketing strategy, let us know here or in the comments. We’d love to help!

How do you approach email marketing? Have any additional strategies to suggest? What do you think of these tactics? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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Aden Andrus

Aden Andrus

Over his career, Aden has developed and marketed millions of dollars of successful products. He lays awake at nights figuring out new marketing tactics and is constantly upping Disruptive's internal marketing game. He loves to write, dance and destroy computer monitors in full medieval armor.

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