Best Practices for Building an Effective Email List and Avoiding the Spam Folder

Email may seem outdated compared to social media, but it is still one of the best ways to communicate with your target audience. However, you should not make the mistake of using it to reach those who do not want to hear from you.

Email marketing delivers your marketing message without costing you much and yet is high impacting unlike other techniques – including social media. But it will not work unless you have a great email list.

Why Email Marketing

A much-cited study showed that email is still 40 times better than Facebook and Twitter combined specifically in acquiring new customers. Additionally, 91% of consumers in the United States still use email on a daily basis. Compared to social media, emails have three times the power of converting a subscriber into a paying customer. That’s not all because the average order value of emails media is 17% higher vs. social media.

Email marketing is a low-cost way of reaching current customers and potential ones. For every dollar you invest, your email marketing efforts can give you a return of $38 to $40 on average. That is equivalent to a whopping 3,700% return on investment. For this very reason, more and more marketers have increased their email marketing budget this year.

Building an Effective Email List from Scratch

Your email list is one of the most prized assets you can ever have for your business. It is all yours, and you are not bound by algorithms and search engine rankings. Every subscriber you earn counts. It does not matter whether you gain one daily, weekly, or per minute. But what really matters is the “how” or the method you use to get people to subscribe to your emails – not to mention have them buy your products.

It may feel overwhelming especially if you are starting from scratch. With the right elements put together though, you can drive more subscribers to your emails and eventually generate more sales for your business. Here are the key ingredients you need to build a clean email list that will definitely work:

The Right Incentive to Sign Up

The first and most crucial stage of building your email list is to choose the right incentive. It is what marketers call the “ethical bribe,” in which you offer something in exchange for people to join your mailing list. For example, you can offer a $5 discount on your products if you sign up. What is important here is that you get the permission of your potential customers so that they do not feel as if you will invade their inbox with your unwelcome emails.

Aside from discounts or members only sales, you can also offer free content to your audience. Make sure that they would find the content you provide as valuable. It also helps that you can come up with a piece that will put the reader in a buying mood.

Squeeze Page

The next step toward building an effective email list is to create a landing page or a squeeze page that is designed specifically to get people to hit the subscribe button. This part of your website is significant, and you can use it in different ways such as the following to build your list:

Link your blog posts to it.

Include it as a link when creating your social media profile.

Add it in your emails such as in the body or your email signature.

Your landing page does not have any other objective than to help you gain more subscribers. It should have a persuasive headline, an opt-in form, and reasons why people should join your mailing list.

Opt-in Forms

Opt-in forms or sign-up boxes should be strategically placed on your website. You can use email marketing software solutions, such as MailChimp, Drip, and Constant Contact to get a snippet of code, which you can drag and drop into places around your website.

Do not hesitate to add more than one form to your site. If you use eye tracking analytics, you will find that most of the visitors just look at the content they want, your sidebar, or your navigation menu – not all parts of your website from top to bottom. Therefore, it is important that all the spots they look at should have a conversion point, which is your opt-in form.

Staying in Touch with Your Email List

When growing your mailing list, you should make sure you remain in contact with the people who clicked the subscribe button. Do not just email your subscribers for a few months and have them unsubscribe or leave your emails unopened because they have forgotten about you and the reason why they joined your mailing list in the first place. How do you stay in touch though? You have two options to make sure your subscribers remain interested in you and your business:

Option #1: You can send manual updates regularly. These updates can be anything such as newsletters, links to your newest content pieces, or the latest information about your industry that you know your customers are interested in. As much as possible, this should be high-quality content with separate value, but you should still target sales and conversions with it. If your business consistently has new things to talk about, this option is ideal for you.

Option #2: The second method is to put your subscribers in auto-responder series, which is a series of emails set up in advance. You will send the emails to new subscribers on schedule. If your business has static products or you want to automate your sales funnel, you can choose this option. Even though the emails have been pre-written for your new subscribers, make sure that you update them whenever necessary.

Whichever option you choose, your very first email should have the incentive you promised. Whether it is a free guide, download link, or discount, it should be there. The next emails will be up to you, but you can follow this format:

For the next email, which you should send a few days after your first email, can be a follow up on the subscribers. For example, you can ask if they are pleased with the incentive you have given them.

The next email you send a few days after your second email can be about letting your subscribers know about your existing or future products and services that you think they would be interested in based on the incentive you sent.

Building your email list is about two things: getting permission and offering value to your subscribers. When you know how to delight them in their inbox, they will surely repay the favor by purchasing your products.

Building vs. Buying Mailing List

Because of the promising ROI of email marketing, it can definitely be tempting to buy mailing lists to have subscribers swiftly. This is especially true for newbies in email marketing who want a quick way to gain hundreds to thousands of subscribers. Even some who have experience in this online marketing tool turn to mailing list purchasing to extend their success.

However, there is a huge difference, particularly in results, between outside (purchased) and in-house (built) lists. The biggest difference is that there is the potential that you could damage your reputation not only as a sender but as a business if the receivers complain about you as spam. Believe it or not, this can have long term consequences and can impact your message deliverability in the future. When that happens, the people on your mailing list, including those who specifically asked to have your messages delivered to them, may see your emails in their Junk folder.

While buying is quick and painless, it can pose significant problems to your email marketing strategy. Still, the best way to make sure you achieve optimal ROI while protecting yourself from spam complaints about your emails is to have your own email list that you have built and maintain from scratch.

Some List Building Techniques from Experts That You Can Try

Just like you, marketing experts and big companies also collect subscribers to expand their mailing list. They understand how important this marketing tool is and how it can help them grow their business and income. Here are some successful techniques used by experts in building their lists:

Brian Dean, Backlinko

What Brian displayed on his home page was the opportunity for potential subscribers to get traffic tips in exchange for their email.

Why it worked: His visitors know he is an expert in backlinking, so they sign up to receive his proven tips on SEO and getting traffic.

Why this could work for you: If someone visits your website and is on your homepage, there is a chance that they have heard about you. At the very least, they are curious about your brand. There is also a chance that they see you as an authority, so they want to know how you can help them.

How to make it work: The first fold of your homepage is often the most viewed section. Make sure that 100% of the traffic on your homepage gets the chance to give you their email address by signing up.

Nordstrom and Best Buy

If you bought items in these stores, you may have been asked for your email address. They do so to give you an electronic copy for your receipts. In return, they add you to their mailing lists.

Why it worked: Many customers today see paper receipts as just a waste, so they gladly provide their email addresses to get the receipt in their inbox.

Why this could work for you: Often, people are not so hesitant to provide their email address after purchasing something.

How to make it work: If you have a physical store or product, you can give your customers the option to get e-copies of their receipts instead of traditional paper. This can help make their lives easier and for you to build your email list. If you have an e-commerce store, it is even simpler to ask for their email addresses during checkout.

Ramit Sethi, Zero to Launch

Zero to Launch is a paid online course created by Ramit Sethi. What he did was he put a gated entrance to this certain product by enticing people with a killer copy. Instead of buying the course right away, you need to give your email address to receive more information about the course.

Why it worked: The course was offered to people who were really interested in learning about the subject. By asking for email addresses, Ramit was able to separate serious students from those who were simply curious about the lesson.

Why this could work for you: You can put your course or any of your paid products or services behind a gate – in this case, an email gate. You will need to collect the emails, which you can use in the future. At the same time, it will build up the prestige of your product and brand.

How to make it work: What you need here is to provide something legit, a no-frills product or service that people would really want to get their hands on. Bribe your potential customers by giving them a copy or a snapshot of the product, along with reasons why they would want to have it. In exchange for that, you will ask for their email addresses so that you can explain more about the product.

Daniel DiPizza, Rich20Something.com

This technique shows you do not need a website to create an email list. For Daniel, he used Instagram for his call to action post. He posted a photo with a content upgrade with a call to action as the post’s caption where people would sign up for the product.

Why it worked: Instagram is one of the great social media platforms for driving subscribers to your email list. Plus, it has a high level of engagement with a huge number of the users on Instagram are active.

Why this could work for you: Whether or not you are active on Instagram, you can benefit from this platform if you have an offer for your followers. It is great to expand your email list using your website and social media such as through IG.

How to make it work: You can create an image with some details about your opt-in offer. Make sure there is a call to action right in the caption of the post where you ask your interested followers to sign up.

A good email marketing strategy will never work without a clean and effective email list. You own that list, and you can use it to engage with your customers regularly, promote a new product, service, or content, and evaluate whether or not your messages resonate quite well. Remember that your list consists of people who actually opted in to receive your updates, so it is a fantastic opportunity to get your message across and reach your business goals at the same time.

Key Takeaways

  1. An email list helps you reach out to customers in the future and keep them engaged with your business
  2. Encourage people to sign up for and stay on your email list by having strong email content and by using strong CTAs that describe why your emails are so valuable
  3. A content strategy for your website, blog, and social media activity can help draw people in and convince them to sign up for more
I’m the Software Nerd who loves to grow online businesses. Unlike the typical marketer, I run experiments and bend computers to my will to achieve my results. Learn from my successes and failures.