list building

How to Build Your List

As an email marketer, you’re always looking to add more names to your email list. But as with many things in life, we sometimes get too focused on quantity over quality.

Which doesn’t sound like a problem in the world of email marketing, until you realize a list based on quantity will decrease your email marketing ROI and even negatively impact your email deliverability rate.

In our last post, we wrote about the benefits to culling your list for more email marketing ROI. But let’s get back to basics and talk about list building.

For a list that will yield valuable email marketing ROI, you have to focus on a quality list (which doesn’t always correlate to quantity).


  • Have something of value to offer in exchange for their email address. Think of it as a quid pro quo exchange. Everyone wins, if you do it right.
  • Sell your email signups: Make the reason to sign up for your emails compelling. Don’t just ask for an email address without specifying why.
  • Ask people to sign up in multiple locations: Where do you have a web presence besides your website? Make sure an email sign-up link or box is available and visible everywhere.
  • Offer great content that people will share. This will lead to more sign-ups (and keep your current subscribers)!

On the other hand,


  • Add everyone your company comes into contact with to your database.
  • Use sweepstakes that get you plenty of names from people who want to win…but who never want to hear from you again.
  • Use third-party or co-registration techniques.

It might not be the fastest way to a massive list, but the list you’ll end up with will be full of subscribers who want to hear from you.

Make sure you remember that behind every email address is a person. Who values their privacy, and guards their information fiercely. Maintain their trust by delivering what you promised, and thank them for subscribing to your emails!

Published On: October 10th, 2011Categories: Email marketing best practicesTags:

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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