Actionable Tips on How to Build Your Email List

Maria Wachal
Maria Wachal
Actionable Tips on How to Build Your Email List

Imagine a baker baking bread. What is his key ingredient? He, of course, needs wheat, water, salt and sugar and some fat, but he won’t bake any loaves if he does not use yeast! Yeast triggers the process that allows a mass of dough to become a well-risen loaf of bread.The same applies to your online store. You also need a driving force behind the success of your web store. This force should be your potential customers. You want them to discover your store and become loyal, spending customers. But what's the best way to reach out to them and get them to stick around? Your go-to marketing communication channel should be:

  • commonly used,
  • personal,
  • and cost-effective.

Email marketing might be an old dog among digital tools but it continues to show it’s prominent potential when it comes to your business growth. According to the Custora Q3 2016 report, 19.8% of purchases were driven by email. That’s a huge increase from the 14.2% made during the same timeframe in 2015.


The global usage of email and the number of worldwide email accounts continues to grow. Consumers, in particular, tend to have multiple email accounts. With this channel, you are able to reach most of your potential customers. You can’t imagine anyone you know not having at least one email address, can you? Moreso, according to the DMA, the average email return on investment is 3800%. This means that every dollar invested in email yields a $38 profit. Email marketing is one of the more effective marketing channels and both in terms of cost and results.In addition to this, email gives you the chance to personalise your message and move from one-way advertising to a one-to-one bilateral conversation - a conversation which is relevant and engaging. In the digital world, where ⅔ customers are using Adblock and where Facebook is limiting its organic reach, email can guarantee you the best results in terms of really getting to know your individual customers. As a result, you gain a loyal community of engaged customers. Not to mention, there are many list building strategies that we can use to grow your email list for free.

Why you should start building your own email list.

Whether you’re thinking of running an online store, you’ve just started one or you are already established, expanding your own email list with willing and opted in subscribers can speed up your growth at each and every stage. Given that only 2% of your site visitors are ready to buy, you should encourage them to stay in touch with you, nurture them until the right moment comes and they are willing to make a purchase.Think of your website like a sales funnel. On the top of this funnel are your website visitors and on the very bottom - a small portion of people who become your customers. Since convincing someone to buy is much more difficult than convincing them to give you their email address, your own email list is an asset. And not only in terms of profit, but most of all due to the audience you gather that showed up to hear from you. You will be able to use email marketing as an effective promotion and sales tool because your message will be expected and welcome.

Pro tip:

To make sure you collect quality subscribers who really want to receive emails from you, follow the permission marketing practices. The man behind the idea of permission marketing is Seth Godin and he explains it in his book: “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers”.The rules of permission marketing prove themselves in collecting email subscribers. Your email service provider allows you to choose between two ways to add new subscribers to your email list:

  • Single Opt-in: adds new subscribers to your list immediately
  • Double Opt-in” a new subscriber is added to your list only after clicking on an activation link in an automatically sent subscription confirmation email.

Always use the Double Opt-in method to make sure no unwilling subscribers, misspelt addresses or nonexistent people are added to your email list. The only subscribers of value are those that are genuinely interested in what you have to say. You can read more about the differences between these two methods here.

How to choose the right email marketing platform?

Before you start building your email list, choose the right email marketing platform. You're making a long term commitment here so take your time. At first glance, a majority of email service providers (ESPs) look pretty much similar in terms of their offer. Emerging digital technologies which email marketing absorbs somehow determine how a good email service provider should look like. Like most things, don’t make your choice based predominantly on price. Try to find an ESP that fits your real needs and helps you utilize online marketing. Look for a platform that is:

  • intuitive and easy to use
  • drag and drop email template editor and a library of responsive email templates
  • offers you multiple app integration options
  • makes it easy to manage and update your subscribers
  • allows you to gather subscriber insights for better personalization and targeting

Pro tip:

Remember about the added value of good customer service! The lack of it is one of the leading reasons why brands switch email service providers.

How to encourage subscribers to join your list.

I mentioned Seth Godin and his book about permission marketing already. Seth presents 5 steps of turning subscribers into customers. The first of them is to offer potential customers something that interests them.Obviously, you can’t expect a great reaction from just “Join our newsletter here!”. An average customer won’t give their email address to just anyone. Make it more interesting by offering something in exchange for the effort. On the basis of what you know about your target group prepare an incentive that will be valuable as a reward for joining your mailing list.

Rebates and discounts

This is a go-to tactic for most online merchants. Immediate discount or the promise of getting future discounts can be a powerful weapon, however, used carelessly it can also do significant damage.

Join the Club!

Who doesn’t love special attention and the perks of being a VIP customer? Create an idea of “the Club” (special program) where you will invite subscribers to exclusive news, new collection previews and other benefits. Make the rewards sound attainable and valuable. Look below at how H&M does it:

Mobile app

Shoppers increasingly use smartphones and tablets. It’s vital that your marketing is adapted to mobile device users so you do not miss out on conversion from this channel. Developing an online app will definitely help you gain subscribers and increase your sales.

These are just three simple, but effective techniques to grow your ecommerce mailing list for free. Read more inspirations here and find out yourself what works for you best.

Grab subscribers wherever and whenever you can

You can grow your email list free almost everywhere where your brand is present. And I encourage you to do so. Whenever your goal is to build an engaged community around your brand, the email list comes in handy and will resonate with the audience you’ve already gathered.

-social media

  • content marketing

However, the most important place for free email list growth is your website, a focal point of all your marketing activities. Make sure opt-in forms placed there are visible as soon as visitors come to your site:

  • In a form of compelling entrance pop-up
  • Or embedded on every single web page on your online store. Your opt-in form should be easy to spot, but at the same time, it cannot interrupt your visitor's purchase process.

Pro tip:

The number of fields on your opt-in forms should be limited to a minimum, because the more fields you require, the less your visitors will be willing to convert. An email address is enough to start email communication with a new subscriber.

There are exceptions to this rule. For example, when you’re offering something in return for a sign-up, like a membership to a VIP club, you are entitled to add more custom fields, because the offer presents real value. How about getting to know your subscriber’s birth date to surprise them with a personalised birthday discount?

Welcome new subscribers

The moment a new subscriber joins your email list is the moment of greatest interest and the basis for all future communication. The email channel is a proven way to foster long-term relationships that often result in sales. As each and every relationship, the way you start can determine how the relationship will evolve. Use a welcome email, a message automatically sent to subscribers at the moment of sign up and:

  • Show off your brand
  • Say thank you for joining your community
  • Deliver what you promised during the sign-up process
  • Make a great first impression

You can also create an automated cycle of autoresponders to feed your audience with additional content that allows you to keep in contact with people over time. Cyclical messages are a great occasion to ask recipients to create a special folder to keep the emails for easier access later - another signal to Gmail that positively influences your reputation as a sender.The more data you collect about your subscribers on what actions they are taking in their inboxes, and on-site, the better you can target them based on their stage in the buying journey and really benefit from email marketing potential!For more great tips on email marketing, check out the article, Email Marketing Magic that has tips and insights from email marketing pros, including Shoplo's very own content writer, Phil or go take a look at the FreshMail blog.

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