Best Practices Email marketing

A Guide to Building an Email List From Scratch

Crafting a solid email list isn’t just another marketing strategy – in 2024, it’s the core of your business. It gives you a direct line to your audience, cutting through the noise of the internet. 

The journey from a blank slate to a thriving community of engaged subscribers is both exciting and rewarding – but it can also be daunting, especially if you’re starting from square one.

From laying the foundation with the right tools to capturing and keeping your audience’s interest, we’ll walk you through each step.

5 steps to building a quality email list on your website

Building a quality email list is both an art and a science. It requires a blend of strategic thinking, creative engagement, and a dash of technical savvy. 

But fear not—we’ve distilled the process into five manageable steps. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get started!

Step 1: Choosing an email marketing platform

The right email marketing platform needs to be reliable, versatile, and in tune with your needs. Before you even start building your email list, you need a solid platform that ticks all your boxes. Here’s a little guidance on what to look for:

  • User-friendly design tools: The ideal platform offers a toolbox for effortlessly crafting and tailoring signup forms and landing pages. These tools are your first handshake with potential subscribers, so making a good impression is key.
  • Performance tracking: Choose a service that allows you to track each form’s success, from click-through rates to signup conversions, giving you insights to refine your approach.
  • Subscriber segmentation: As your list grows, so does the diversity of your audience. A service that enables segmentation based on behaviors and other metrics means you can personalize your emails, making each message resonate more deeply.
  • Automated email campaigns: The power to send different emails to various segments without lifting a finger is a game-changer. Look for automation features that keep your audience engaged and informed, whether they’re first-time visitors or loyal customers.
  • Integration capabilities: Your email marketing efforts shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. A platform that integrates seamlessly with your other marketing tools can amplify your list-building efforts, ensuring a cohesive strategy across all channels.

Embarking on the journey to build your email list is exciting, and with the right platform by your side, it’s also incredibly rewarding. Remember, the best choice is one that feels right for your unique business needs, making the task of connecting with your audience not just easier but also more enjoyable.

Top 10 email list-building tools

Here’s a curated list of the top 10 tools designed to streamline your efforts and enhance your email list-building strategy. Each tool comes with its unique set of features, aimed at helping you efficiently collect, manage, and engage your subscribers.

ToolPurposeKey Features
EmailListVerifyEmail List VerificationSpecializes in cleaning your email list to improve deliverability, reducing bounce rates by eliminating invalid addresses.
ConvertKitEmail Marketing for CreatorsTailored for bloggers and online creators, with advanced segmentation and automation.
AWeberSmall Business Email MarketingEasy to use, with autoresponders, list segmentation, and direct integration with various platforms.
Constant ContactMarketing and List BuildingUser-friendly, with a vast template library, excellent for beginners and small businesses.
GetResponseComprehensive Marketing SolutionFeatures include email marketing, landing pages, automation, and webinars.
DripE-commerce MarketingSpecializes in e-commerce, offering deep customer insights, segmentation, and personalized emails.
SendinblueEmail Campaigns & AutomationOffers SMS campaigns in addition to email, with a strong focus on transactional emails and marketing automation.
MailerLiteSimple & Affordable Email SolutionsKnown for its simplicity and affordability, great for startups and small businesses with a drag-and-drop editor and automation features.
OmnisendOmnichannel MarketingFocuses on integrating email with SMS and social media campaigns, ideal for e-commerce sites looking for a comprehensive solution.
MailChimpAll-around Email MarketingIntuitive design interface, automation, detailed analytics, and integration capabilities.

Each of these tools brings something unique to the table, whether it’s the ease of creating visually appealing emails, advanced segmentation for targeted campaigns, or robust automation features.

Incorporating EmailListVerify into your strategy can be a game-changer by ensuring your messages reach genuine inboxes, enhancing overall campaign effectiveness. 

Step 2: Get people to sign up

After setting up your email marketing foundation, the next mission is to turn casual website visitors into subscribers. But here’s the catch: why would someone hand over their precious email address? The secret lies in crafting an offer they can’t refuse, something that whispers, “Trust me, you’ll want to be on this list.”

The straightforward “Join our email list” plea often falls flat. Instead, imagine gifting your visitors something so valuable, they’re more than happy to exchange their email for it. This golden ticket is known as a lead magnet—a free item or service provided in return for an email address. 

The possibilities are as varied as your imagination, but here are a few proven winners to get those creative juices flowing:

  • Free eBooks: Offer a comprehensive guide or insights on topics your audience cares deeply about.
  • Checklists and summaries: Perfect for those who love bite-sized takeaways from longer content, like detailed blog posts or case studies.
  • Exclusive coupons: Who doesn’t love a good deal? Coupons can be a strong pull for shoppers on the fence.
  • Webinar access: Promise a seat at an informative webinar, offering live interaction and valuable knowledge.
  • Templates and worksheets: Tools that help your audience apply your advice in practical ways are always a hit.
  • Engaging courses or email series: Educate and entertain your audience over time, keeping them hooked and looking forward to your emails.

Mixing and matching these ideas can yield even better results. For example, pairing a cheat sheet with a relevant webinar sign-up can boost the value for your audience.

Additionally, tailor your lead magnets to match specific content on your website for a more personalized approach. As your strategies evolve, consider content upgrades—bonus content that complements or expands upon what’s already on your site.

TIP: Take a look at the list of 9 signup examples with actionable tips we’ve prepared for you.

Step 3: Pop-ups

Pop-ups on a website often walk a fine line between being a clever tool for engagement and a potential annoyance. Yet, with thoughtful design and a strategic approach, pop-ups can transform into powerful allies in your quest to grow your email list.

There are several creative avenues to explore with pop-ups:

  • Timing is everything: Consider a pop-up that gracefully appears after a visitor has spent a meaningful amount of time on your site or has engaged with your content. This could be an offer for a first-time purchase discount or exclusive access to content.
  • The element of surprise: Surprising yet not startling—this is the balance to strike. A pop-up that emerges after some interaction with your page not only grabs attention but can also feel rewarding. It’s like saying, “Thanks for sticking around. Here’s something special for you.”
  • Types of pop-ups to explore:
    • Exit-intent pop-ups: These appear just as a visitor is about to leave your site, serving as a gentle reminder or offering a compelling reason to stay connected.
    • Inline pop-ups: Seamlessly integrated within the content, these pop-ups offer relevance and convenience without disrupting the reading experience.
    • Full-page takeovers: Bold and impossible to ignore, full-page pop-ups can be effective when used sparingly, offering significant incentives for sign-up.

Crafting pop-ups that resonate requires not just creativity but also a keen sense of timing and relevance. The copy on these pop-ups should be engaging, directly speaking to the visitor’s interests and offering clear value.

When crafting a pop-up, keep in mind that search engine optimization (SEO) plays a critical role in a site’s visibility and your pop-ups should be SEO-friendly as well. Avoid designs that Google might deem intrusive, as these can affect your site’s ranking. Opt for pop-ups that are easy to dismiss and don’t significantly detract from the user experience.

By approaching pop-ups as an integral part of your website’s ecosystem, designed to enrich rather than disrupt the visitor experience, you’ll find they can significantly improve your list-building efforts. 

Step 4: Creating a landing page

Unlike the broader canvas of a homepage, a landing page is your chance to focus the spotlight on a singular, compelling offer— no matter if that’s free shipping, an exclusive sneak peek, or a can’t-miss sale.

Picture this scenario: A potential subscriber clicks on your ad, intrigued by the promise of an exclusive offer. The last thing you want is for them to land on your homepage, only to wander aimlessly in search of the promised deal. This is where the magic of a well-crafted landing page comes in —it guides visitors to where you want them to go.

Achieving this level of engagement boils down to mastering three essential elements:

  • Compelling headlines: Start with a headline that’s not just bold but also crystal clear about the benefits awaiting your visitors. This is your first handshake, your opening line—make it count.
  • Irresistible copy: If the headline grabs them, your copy needs to hold them. It should be a message that speaks directly to their needs, desires, or pain points, making the case for why they can’t pass up your offer.
  • Striking visuals: A picture is worth a thousand words, so select images that complement your message, evoking emotion or illustrating the benefits in a way that words alone cannot.

Whether you’re testing the waters with a free account or choosing a paid plan, the goal remains the same: to create landing pages that resonate, engage, and ultimately convert.

Step 5: Boost your social media presence

Social media is a bustling marketplace, filled with conversations and connections waiting to happen. It’s a space where your business can shine, attracting followers and turning them into dedicated email subscribers. 

To make social media work harder for you, start with the basics and make it effortless for people to join your list directly from social media.

Adding a signup button or a sleek opt-in form on your Facebook page, for example, can significantly enhance your lead generation efforts. It’s a straightforward step, yet incredibly effective, especially for those just beginning to explore the vast potential of social media.

But why stop there? Stir up excitement and anticipation with social media campaigns tailored to draw followers closer to your brand.

Encourage them to sign up for your newsletter with the promise of exclusive content, insider tips, or a first look at new products. Social media’s expansive reach and dynamic nature make it a perfect stage for showcasing the unique value of joining your email list.

Targeted advertising is another important option to consider. Platforms like Facebook allow you to launch campaigns that not only highlight exclusive deals and offers for new subscribers but also capture attention with minimal effort. Lead Ads, in particular, are a game-changer, offering an easy way for interested users to sign up without ever leaving the platform.

And let’s not forget the power of contests and giveaways. Social media can help you ramp up excitement around these events, turning them into viral sensations that can significantly expand your email list. 

Bonus step: Crafting a referral program for new signups

A well-executed referral program taps into a basic human desire: the joy of sharing something valuable with friends. The beauty of a referral program lies in its simplicity and mutual benefit. By offering tangible rewards for referrals, you not only incentivize your current subscribers to bring in new ones but also make it rewarding for them to do so.

Consider this approach as extending your marketing team without the overheads, where your satisfied customers do the talking. Whether it’s discounts, exclusive offers, or redeemable points, these incentives speak volumes. 

To set this in motion, numerous platforms can help streamline the referral process, making it accessible to businesses of all sizes. ReferralCandy, Tapfiliate, and Partnerstack are just some examples of tools that simplify referral marketing, allowing you to focus on what you do best while they handle the logistics.

Building your email list from outreach

Outreach allows you to look for potential customers beyond your immediate circle and invite them into your community. 

Don’t know where to start? Here are some creative strategies to extend your reach, gather new contacts, and nurture them into loyal subscribers and customers.

Take advantage of guest blogging

Guest blogging opens up a new avenue for reaching out to audiences that might not have discovered you otherwise. By contributing valuable content to well-established blogs in your niche, you can position yourself as an authority while also tapping into the blog’s audience—a group already interested in your area of expertise.

Including a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of your guest post inviting readers to sign up for more insights or exclusive content can convert casual readers into committed subscribers.

Host a giveaway

Many successful eCommerce stores take advantage of giveaways, tapping into the viral potential of social media to spread the word far and wide. The beauty of a giveaway lies in its simplicity and the rapid engagement it can generate, allowing you to gather a wealth of email contacts in no time.

However, the golden rule for a successful giveaway is relevance. The prize should not only impress but also resonate with your specific audience. This ensures that you’re not just adding numbers to your list but attracting individuals genuinely interested in your offerings. Think about it: a tech enthusiast would likely be more thrilled about winning the latest gadget than, say, a random luxury item.

Beyond the immediate excitement, giveaways serve a dual purpose by enhancing your brand’s visibility. Each share, like, and comment not only spreads the word about the giveaway but also introduces your brand to potential new followers and customers. This method of engagement can help build a community around your brand, laying the foundation for long-term growth and loyalty.


Building a solid email list is crucial for fostering direct connections with your audience. We hope you found our comprehensive guide and strategies useful to help you get started! 

Nikolina Zeljko, ELV’s email specialist, says it best:

Here’s the secret sauce for boosting your email list: give out freebies, use pop-ups on your site, and craft engaging content. This winning combo not only grabs new subscribers but also keeps your audience hooked and wanting more from you.
Diana Bocco

Written by

Diana Bocco

Diana is our go-to expert in email list verification at ELV. With a knack for turning complex challenges into simple solutions, Diana has spent years making sure businesses reach their customers without a hitch. She's all about clean, efficient communication, thanks to verified email lists that cut through the noise.

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