Email Marketing for Beginners: How to Build Your First Email List?

Fresh into email marketing? Are you looking to build your first email list? You have come to the right spot. Let’s discuss some proven tactics to build an email list that counts.

The majority of marketers agree: email marketing is still the king! Even though many trendy social platforms and apps appear all the time, analytics show that email still has the most success, regardless of the industry.

Next to content marketing, email is still considered the marketing platform with the highest ROI which is proved by statistics. See this infographic by Litmus for example:

While it’s evidently clear that email marketing is worth it, the real question is: how does a business start utilizing email? This is where the challenges begin. 

The cornerstone of running successful email marketing campaigns is to build a list of engaged readers, leads, potential customers and loyal customers. However, it can be quite hard to build a high-quality email list that will boost your sales, especially if you’re just beginning.

If you are still at the beginning of your journey and you are yet to start building your email list from scratch, we’re bringing you the best tips on how to get users to sign up:

Set up a fixed opt-in button on your landing page or website

Now, let’s start with the basics: the most common way users will sign up to your email newsletter is after seeing a call-to-action on your website or landing page. Therefore, your sign-up button should be prominent on your website and easily accessed from all pages.

The easiest way to make sure your email sign-up button is included on all your pages is to set up a designated area for it. This way, it will appear on the same spot everywhere, not just on your homepage. 

It’s also important to pay attention to the color, font, and size of your opt-in section. You can check out some of the rules for effective email opt-in call-to-action here.

The users you get to sign-up this way will be your most precious audience segment. According to Campaign Monitor’s studies, you are six times more likely to get a click from an email than a tweet. 

Organize sweepstakes

On many websites, landing pages, and online stores, you can see prize raffles and sweepstakes. The reason that this is such a widely-used method is that it’s incredibly effective: you will get tons of participants, while they will not see email sign-up as a hassle, but as a way of winning the prize.

A sweepstake (giveaway) is also something that’s very social media-friendly. Many marketers use it to increase their follower base or likes, by asking participants to like and share a post. However, in the case of building an email list, you should direct users to a landing page where they enter their data for the prize raffle along with their email.

If you manage to hit a home run and make your giveaway go viral, you can expect thousands of new email contacts in your list.

Image source:

Invite and remind your social media followers

Even though many website owners believe that email and social media are two separate marketing channels, they can actually be significantly entwined. Namely, inviting your social media followers to sign-up for your email newsletter can result in high sign-up rates.

It’s the same the other way around when you invite email subscribers to like or follow you on social media. In any case, it’s definitely a valid and efficient method that you should consider adding to your social media workflow. 

If you’re just at the beginning of building your email list and you don’t have a social media follower base either, remember to connect the two further down the road. Social media followers and email subscribers are not two different worlds!

Use pop-ups to build your first email list

Some marketers refrain from using pop-ups and other aggressive CTA methods because they can have a negative impact on the user experience. However, the fact is that pop-ups generate a very high rate of email marketing sign-ups.

In Sumo’s study (above) of almost 2 billion pop-ups, they found that pop-ups have an average conversion rate of 3.09%, while the top ten percent of performers had a conversion rate of 9.28%. These numbers are quite promising when you take into consideration that the average conversion rate for calls-to-action on landing pages is 2.35%, according to WordStream.

To include pop-up prompting for email sign-up on your website, you can use plugins and widgets if you use WordPress. Even if you’re a development and design rookie, it’s very easy to implement a pop-up on your website, and you can deactivate it at any time.

If stats are to be believed, the exit-intent popups can increase conversion rate to up to 267%; In fact, companies have seen a tremendous hike of 10% by using the same technique. While these stats might look impressive, the exit popups do wonders for businesses. These popups, when made from Adoric, are ad-free, effective, and look very impressive.  They include a special message that takes visitors’ attention and forces them to take the desired action.  

Implement widgets and games 

A similar method that you can use to directly approach your visitors with an email sign-up CTA is games and widgets. This is a method that’s less aggressive than a pop-up because the sign-up prompt is not so obvious but it’s actually embedded into the game.

A common strategy that eCommerce sites use is the “Wheel of Fortune” widget. When a user enters a website, the wheel with prizes is shown (and who doesn’t like spinning a wheel of fortune!). After a user lands on a particular prize (usually a discount), they have to enter their email to obtain the reward:


Another awesome opt-in game idea is the scratcher game:

Offer subscriber-only perks

A well-known fact that many marketers choose not to talk about is that it can be very hard to get users to sign-up for your email newsletter on their own. This can only happen if they’re absolutely thrilled by your website or online store, and even then, a huge majority wouldn’t think of signing up.

In reality, to get someone to sign up for your email newsletter, you have to offer something in return. For most users, one of the most enticing offers would be that they will get access to something only subscribers have.

For example, you can introduce subscriber-only discounts and even entire hidden collections. The concept of exclusivity is very attractive and it’s proven to boost sales and spark customer interest. 

If you run a blog or a digital services website, you can offer subscriber-only content that users will have access to only in their newsletter. This strategy is used by a variety of different businesses and brands, from fashion and lifestyle blogs and stores to podcast networks and advice websites.

Offer freebies

There’s nothing people love more than receiving free stuff. Especially if the only thing they have to do to get it is to provide their email address and click a button. 

If you run a content or a digital service site, you can offer free eBooks, PDFs, infographics and other types of engaging content in exchange for an email address. You can also do this by installing a chat service with a pop-up asking if the user needs help with something around the site. To do this, you can hire a customer service agent who will share the offer for freebies in the chat app with new visitors. 

Create a Survey

A survey is another subtle way of receiving a user’s email address. Many users like participating in surveys, either for the feeling of being able to express their opinion or to get access to the results.

Create a survey that’s relevant to your website content and offer sharing the results with participants who enter their email address. 

Another great thing about surveys is that you will get access to more detailed info than you would from a simple sign-up button. In their survey, you can ask the participants for information such as their age, gender, location, interests, and many other data points. Later on, you can use this information to segment your audience in your email newsletter program.

Add Share and Forward buttons

Now, let’s talk a bit about using the power of your present subscribers. Even if you only have a handful of email subscribers at this point, their recommendations can be very effective. 

In each of your email newsletters, remember to include a “Share” button so that users can easily share the content of your newsletter on social media or “Forward” to send the email to a friend. Of course, every email client will have a “Forward” option on its own, but it’s much more likely that users will actually do it if you remind them and give them the option of quick and easy forwarding. 

You can also set-up prize systems and affiliate programs for users who get their contacts to sign-up. For example, if you offer a 10% discount to your subscribers, you can offer an additional 5% for each user they get to sign up to your newsletter using their link. Just make sure that the math is correct and that you’re not losing too much of your margin!

Use Bloggers, Vloggers and Influencers

It’s a very well-known fact that influencer marketing is an efficient way to boost brand awareness and sales. However, many marketers ignore the fact that influencers can be used to promote email signups as well.

For this method, you will need to set aside more resources than for some other strategies on this list. A great way to achieve a high conversion rate is to find a blogger or a website that’s connected to your industry or niche. In partnership, you can get them to promote your email signup link, which will get you a relevant audience for your newsletters. 

To cooperate with bloggers, you can develop your own content that will work as a guest post on the blog you’re targeting. If you’re not much of a wordsmith, you can use one of the best paper writing sites with writers who can craft the texts for you. You can contact the site directly or find blogs that have a Guest Blogging section. Most websites will allow you to add a sign-up link to your guest article in exchange for a backlink to their site on your own website or for a fee. 

Offer a shopping discount

Discounts on products or services are the most commonly used way of building an email list. You simply offer a discount code to whomever after they sign up for your email newsletter, and then share the code with them after they confirm their participation.

Image source: OptInMonster

If you don’t sell products or services directly, you can use shopping discounts from other stores (by agreeing to a partnership and affiliate promotion).

Of course, you should take these discounts and promotions into consideration when you’re doing calculations and projections of your sales, profits, and margin. 

Go Unplugged

Your email building efforts don’t strictly have to happen online, especially if you’re running a business that targets a local audience. There are ample ways you can organize live events and promotions that will result in email list building. Here are just some of the ideas:

  • organize educational seminars and conferences
  • organize networking sessions
  • attend business fairs
  • host a celebration for the brand’s birthday or other milestones

Automatic opt-in during the checkout process

A sure-fire way to get email subscribers is to include an email newsletter sign-up checkbox in your checkout process (if you sell products or services), and leave it automatically checked. This way, you will be granted permission to send emails to those customers that have already purchased something from your company.

However, keep in mind that some of the subscribers that you get this way might leave the box checked unintentionally, which can result in higher opt-out rates for your email marketing campaign.

Use the Best Email Marketing Tools

Email marketing tools are cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps that help marketers in creating, analyzing, and sending emails in order to enhance audience engagement and lead generation. If you are looking for the best email marketing tools in 2021, you can explore my resource collection or check out the top 5 email marketing tools, which are:

  • Constant Contact
  • Mailchimp
  • Aweber
  • Drip
  • HubSpot
  • Aeroleads

Let’s dive into the details and see how each stand with others:

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is an amazing email marketing software for small businesses and it offers multiple customization and integration along with a 30-day free trial. The software is simple and easy to use. It is considered as one of the largest email marketing services in the world and they are continuously providing their users with advanced tools like event management, social media, tools to create coupons, etc. There are also a wide variety of niche-specific templates to use along with a dashboard that provides you with important email metrics.


  • Several useful guides and services
  • Easy to use for beginners
  • Live chat, email and phone support
  • Great for small business owners


  • No automation tool

There are two plans available through Constant contact and both of them are based on the number of contacts and they are Email plan and Email plus plan. There are offers on both these plans right now so you can get amazing discounts on them. Get started with Constant contact here. 


Mailchimp is an easy to use marketing tool for bloggers and small websites and they are one of the leading email providers. Mailchimp is known to provide new features constantly and they also provide social media integration. The size of the template is well-sized and can be customized easily. They provide advanced features like contact segmenting, app integrations, time-zone based sending, A/B testing, and autoresponders.


  • Email automation
  • Data segmentation
  • Numerous readymade email templates
  • Manual code editing of templates
  • Landing page A/B testing
  • Lead capture forms


  • Their policy towards free accounts is very hostile.

Mailchimp has a free plan, for which it is quite popular as it allows you to have 2000 subscribers and you can send 10000 emails every month. Paid plans are available as Essential, Standard, and Premium plans that allow about 50000 subscribers per month.


This is a popular tool that is about 18 years old and is known to provide high-quality email marketing services. You will get features like drag and drop builders, pre-designed templates, and lots of integrations. This tool helps you create automated email sequences and email follow-up sequences. You will also get advanced features like open rate data, ability to test your emails and deliverability rates. The company also provides live chat and email support along with a resource library to help you. This email marketing software is great for people who want to streamline their email marketing. 


  • Engaging email templates
  • Ideal for small businesses
  • Drag and drop email editor
  • Ready to use templates
  • Email automation
  • Email workflows
  • A/B testing
  • Easy integrations


  • No free plans

Aweber costs from $19 per month to $149 per month.


Drip’s email marketing software is relatively new and is mainly for marketers, bloggers, and eCommerce site owners. This is a tool that is easy to use and you will get an intelligent marketing automation tool that outshines others in the market. This is great for ecommerce store owners as it feeds upon customer intent and purchasing behavior. You can also track metrics like returning visitors, new visitors, visitors who clicked on the email, and visitors who abandoned their carts. They also provide integrations for WooCommerce, WordPress and Facebook Ads. If you sell plenty of products, you need to create complex marketing sequences – Drip should be your first choice.


  • One-click resend to un-openers
  • Drag and drop editor
  • Geo optimized email with smart send
  • Smart Email campaigns
  • Custom reporting and detailed analytics
  • Automated emails


  • None.

There are several plans like Free forever, Basic plan, Pro Plan, and enterprise plans for Drip users.


HubSpot is mostly a CRM tool and less of an email marketing software. But since it is from the best company in the business, it is worth having at all costs. Hubspot offers great services and has helped more than 100 thousand people worldwide grow their business. It is easy to set up and connects easily with Gmail, GSuite, and several versions of Outlook. You will get a drag and drop email builder along with images and CTAs to change your content. There are advanced features like email automation tools, ready to use templates, email tracking, list segmentation, and extensive analytics.


  • User friendly
  • Drag and drop email builder
  • Email automation
  • Ready to use templates
  • List segmentation
  • Detailed analytics


  • No A/B testing for free

You can opt for free or paid subscription plans and all the plans include CRM features that scale up with high tier plans.


A quintessential SaaS application, AeroLeads can boost your lead generation and track your marketing strategies. One of the best email marketing tools. you can easily make an email list by integrating the tool with any site. Monitor the metrics like open rates and click-through-rates of the emails. Verify the email list and segregate it within minutes. All in one sales tool to know the company details and the contacts of higher officials.


  •  It captures all data very precisely and is useful for getting verified leads.
  •  User-friendly interface
  •  Flexibility to select the contacts
  •  Integrates with multiple CRM platforms
  •  Data segmentation


  • I am not sure if it’s with an internet connection. But sometimes it takes time to load the information

The best part about AeroLeads is that offers a free trial which can come in handy if you want to determine whether it is a right fit for you. Their packages start at $49 per month which allows you to add up to 1000 records. Apart from this, they offer a customizable package where you can quote your needs accordingly and they will set a budget for you as per your specifications.

What is the right time to pick your first paid email marketing software?

Remember, when choosing the right email marketing software for your business, you must consider your budget and marketing needs. During black friday, christmas and cyber monday events – these companies offer heavy discounts. You should wait for apt timing and purchase a relevant tool for your campaigns.

Email marketing tools like these are very important in email marketing and are widely used by business owners and marketers. Automated emails can help engage existing customers and help in increasing audience relationships through email marketing.

Why use email marketing tools?

Email campaigns in today’s world need to be mobile-responsive, personalized, integrated and segmented. Businesses are realizing the importance of investing in email software with 49% of the companies using email automation. An email marketing software can provide several features like email scheduling, personalized messaging, email analytics, email automation, and email integration. When investing in an email marketing platform there are several factors to consider.

  1. User Interface: The main function of email marketing tools is to help marketers, so email marketing software must have a great user interface in order to increase the users. If the user interface of the tool is good then even a beginner can use it with ease. 
  2. Audience segmentation: I think all email marketing tools must have audience segmentation as it increases the performance of email campaigns. With the help of this feature, you share the content on the basis of their location, demographics, and online interactions. 
  3. Email automation: In email marketing, there is a great requirement for repetitive and manual tasks and if the software provides you with email automation, it will help you save loads of time and marketing resources. This feature helps with email scheduling, tracking of user engagement, sending and receiving delivery receipts, text analytics, etc.  
  4. Merge Tags: These tags are codes that help users insert unique data points that are sourced from customer data platforms. This allows the syncing of customer data for personalization, directly into your email. In this way, you can personalize your emails on the basis of your audience. 
  5. Ready to use templates and editor: The email marketing tool that you are using should be able to provide you with basic email templates so that you can use them easily after making some changes. The editor provided in the tool must be easy to use with drag and drop function. This way you can create customized emails with your brand and design. 
  6. Reports and data analytics: These dashboards help digital marketers in making data-oriented decisions to enhance their email marketing by using factors like open rate, click-through rate, etc.


A general guideline that can help you get a big subscriber rate is to offer your opt-in subtly and shrouded in valuable content or offers. The least effective way would be to just offer a plain sign-up button on your website and wait for users to come to you without offering something in advance.

Therefore, when you’re building your first email list, think of the added value that you can offer customers in exchange for their email. 

So what tactics and strategies do you use to build your email list? Are you satisfied with the results you’re getting?

Leave a Comment