Hey there, business owners! Let’s talk about one of the most powerful tools in your digital marketing arsenal: your email list.

In today’s online world, email marketing is still the best way to connect with your audience, nurture leads, and boost your bottom line. 

But before you can see the benefits, you must have a list.

Why Email List Building Matters

So, why is building an email list such a big deal? 

It all comes down to ownership. 

Your email list is one of only two digital assets you own. (Your website is the other one.) Unlike social media followers or search engine rankings, which can vanish with the whims of algorithms and platform policies, your email list is yours to keep and use as you see fit.

Benefits of Building an Email List

Don’t Leave Empty Handed!

Get Digital Tips & Tricks Delivered to Your Inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We will never share your email address.

Email marketing is a powerful and effective channel. And effective email marketing starts with your list because your email list is a direct line to your most interested and engaged audience. 

By regularly sending valuable content and compelling offers, you can build strong relationships (loyalty), establish trust, and keep your brand top-of-mind.

Plus, email marketing delivers serious ROI. We’re talking an average of $42 for every $1 spent – that’s huge! By nurturing your email list and promoting your products or services to a warm audience, you can drive sales, increase conversions, and grow your business like never before.

How to Build an Email List from Scratch

build an email list from scratch

But how do you actually go about building an email list, especially if you’re starting from scratch? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this post, we’ll share 10 proven tactics that any small business can use to grow its email list fast.

You don’t need to do everything. You can pick the tactics that make the most sense for you and for your audience. If you also have a testing plan in place, your audience will quickly tell you what’s working and what’s not. 

From creating irresistible freebies to leveraging the power of social media and partnerships, these strategies will help you attract subscribers and set your email marketing up for success. 

Are you ready to dive in?


How to Build an Email List Fast

Building a thriving email list is one of the most powerful things you can do for your business. With a loyal tribe of subscribers, you can nurture relationships, drive sales, and create a sustainable source of revenue.

But let’s be real—growing an email list from scratch is hard. It takes time, effort, and a lot of creativity to stand out. Your audience is overwhelmed with marketing, and unless you are solving a problem that they have, your efforts are just more noise.

That’s why we put together this email list-building guide. It shares 10 proven tactics for attracting more subscribers and growing your list fast.

And, as a bonus, we describe how you can utilize your website as the ultimate list builder.

Whether you’re a small business owner, entrepreneur, or marketing maven, these strategies will help you build an engaged and loyal audience that can’t wait to hear from you.

So grab a cup of coffee, get comfy, and join us as we dive into the world of email list building. By the end of this post, you’ll have an arsenal of ideas and inspiration to help you grow your list like never before.

10 Real World Proven Tactics

1. Offer Irresistible Incentives 

Everyone loves a good deal, right? Offering incentives like free shipping, exclusive offers, or limited-time sales can be a powerful way to encourage people to sign up for your email list. 

For example, the clothing retailer Madewell offers a 15% discount on your first purchase when you join their email list. This is a simple but still effective way to entice potential customers to provide their email addresses.

2. Create Magnetic Lead Magnets 

A lead magnet is a freebie you offer in exchange for an email address. Think along the lines of toolkits, guides and workbooks, checklists, or discount codes. The key is to create something that your target audience will value.

For instance, the skincare brand Soko Glam offers a free PDF guide to Korean skincare routines when you sign up for their email list. It’s a valuable resource that attracts their ideal customers.

We have created many lead magnets for Inn8ly. The most recent, the Batching Your Content Action Guide, has been especially effective. It’s a comprehensive guide that teaches you how to create your social media content in bulk, saving you hours of work and stress.

3. Harness the Power of Paid Ads

Given how valuable your list is, paid advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Google can be an efficient way to get your offer in front of your target audience. Yes, there’s a cost, but paid ads can reach audiences efficiently. With the right ad copy, you can drive high-quality traffic to optimized landing pages and convert traffic into subscribers. 

One great example is the meal kit delivery service HelloFresh. They often run ads on Instagram featuring mouthwatering food photos and a discount offer for customers who sign up for their email list.

4. Leverage Social Media Audiences 

Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your content and driving traffic to your website. You can share teasers of your lead magnets in your content, run social media contests, create private groups, or even host live videos where you talk about your expertise. In each situation, sharing the benefits of joining your email list with your audience and asking them to subscribe is reasonable. 

For example, solopreneur Justin Welsh uses social media, especially X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn, to share bite-sized business tips and encourages his followers to sign up for his newsletter. 

5. Other People’s Lists

Partnering with other businesses or influencers and targeting their audience can help you grow your email list faster. You could collaborate on a joint webinar or masterclass, co-create or co-promote lead magnets, or even do a swap where you promote each other’s newsletters.

Tom Poland, Marketing with Webinars, is the master at using other people’s lists. You promote his webinars, and he promotes yours. This may seem one-sided, with you on the good side since his list is huge and very engaged, but his list is huge because he has been doing this for many years. Using other people’s lists to attract new subscribers into his orbit is a winning strategy.

6. If Someone Hands You a Mic, Take it

Speaking at conferences, workshops, or virtual summits can help establish your expertise and attract new email subscribers. Podcasts are another channel with large audiences. Share your wisdom, mention your lead magnet during your presentation, and include a signup link in your slides or speaker bio. QR codes work great for this.

For instance, the email marketing expert Meera Kothand often speaks at online summits for entrepreneurs, where she offers a free email marketing starter kit to attendees who join her list.

And Michael Whitehouse, The Guy Who Knows a Guy is the master summit leader and contributed his perspective on email list building in this guest post, Email List Building – How to Build Your Thousand-Person Email List in a Year.

7. Educate and Inspire

Webinars and masterclasses are a fantastic way to provide value to your audience while also growing your email list. You can promote your webinar on social media, to your existing email list, or even through paid ads. During the webinar, you can offer additional resources or a special offer to attendees who sign up for your email list. 

One example is the social media strategist Jasmine Star, who regularly runs free webinars on Instagram marketing and offers a downloadable workbook to participants who join her email list.

8. Friend Get a Friend for the Win 

Referral marketing is a powerful way to attract new email subscribers by leveraging existing ones. Use your email newsletter to ask your current subscribers to refer their friends or colleagues to your email list, and as a thank you, offer discount codes, free products, or exclusive content. 

For example, the design tool Canva runs a referral program. Users who refer new users to sign up for an account can earn free months of Canva Pro.

9. Engage with Interactive Content

Interactive content like quizzes, polls, or assessments can be a fun and engaging way to capture email addresses. People love to learn more about themselves or get personalized recommendations, so interactive content can be highly effective for growing your list. 

One great example is the skincare brand Kiehl’s, which offers a skincare routine finder quiz on its website. After answering a few questions about your skin type and concerns, you receive personalized product recommendations and are prompted to enter your email address to save your results.

10. Unleash the Power of List-Building Services 

List-building services like Infinite List (affiliate link) can be a game-changer for businesses looking to quickly grow their email list through engaging giveaways. Infinite List makes the process easier, more cost-effective, and more fun by providing a user-friendly platform and a supportive community to help you maximize your results.

One Infinite List success story comes from Connie Whitman, Founder of Changing the Sales Game. By running a series of giveaways with Infinite List, she grew her list from zero to four thousand subscribers in under 2 years.

Closer to home, we’ve added over 300 subscribers to our list in a few months by participating in three Infinite List giveaways.

Bonus Tactic: Optimize Your Website for Signups

Your website is the other digital asset that you own. It’s also a valuable place to grow your email list. It’s the hub of your online presence and is often the first place people go to learn more about your business.

That’s why optimizing your website for email signups is so important. You can turn casual browsers into subscribers by making it easy and compelling for visitors to join your list.

But it’s not magic. You have to work on it. Here are a few ways to optimize your website for email signups:

  1. Add signup forms to your most popular pages. Make sure your email signup forms are prominently displayed on your homepage, blog, and other high-traffic pages. Use clear and compelling copy to explain the benefits of joining your list, and make the signup process as simple as possible.
  2. Create a dedicated landing page for email signups. A landing page is a standalone page designed to convert visitors into subscribers. Creating a dedicated landing page for your email list gives you the landscape you need to provide more information about the benefits of joining your list.
  3. Use pop-ups and slide-ins strategically. While pop-ups can be annoying when used excessively, they can also be highly effective when used strategically. Consider using exit-intent pop-ups that appear when a visitor is about to leave your site or time-based pop-ups that appear after a visitor has been on your site for a certain amount of time.
  4. Insert a Sign-up Banner into blog posts. You’ve created high-quality content that’s been optimized for search engines. You’ve invested in Social Media, where you promote your content. Don’t miss the opportunity to ask readers to sign up for your email list. There’s an example of this in action toward the top of this blog post.

People have different preferences when it comes to joining an email list. Some may prefer to sign up via a form, while others may prefer to join via social media or a chatbot. By offering multiple signup options, you make it easier for visitors to join your list in the way that works best for them.

Look at your website and think about how you can make it easier and more compelling for visitors to join your email list. Your future self (and your business) will thank you!

Putting Your Email List Building Plan into Action

Wow, we’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide to email list building!

By now, you should have a solid understanding of why building an email list is so important for your business, and you should be armed with 11 proven tactics to help you grow your list faster than ever before.

From creating irresistible lead magnets to leveraging the power of social media and paid advertising, from partnering with other businesses to optimizing your website for signups, these strategies are all about one thing: making it easy and compelling for your ideal audience to join your email list.

But here’s the thing – growing an email list is not a one-and-done kind of deal. It’s an ongoing process that requires consistent effort, experimentation, and optimization.

The key is to focus on providing value to your audience at every turn. Whether creating a new lead magnet, running a social media contest, or launching a referral program, always ask yourself: “What’s in it for my subscribers? How can I make their lives better, easier, or more fun?”

By putting your audience first and continually looking for ways to serve them, you’ll be well on your way to building a thriving email list that drives real results for your business.

And remember, the key to successful email list building is experimenting with different tactics to see what resonates with your audience.

So what are you waiting for? Pick one or two of the tactics we covered in this guide and implement them today. Test different approaches, track your results, and refine your strategy over time. Water the flowers and prune the weeds.

And remember – building an email list is not just about the numbers. You’re building relationships with real people who are interested in what you have to offer. Value first.

So focus on creating genuine connections with your subscribers, and always strive to provide them with value, support, and inspiration.

With a little creativity, persistence, and heart, you can build an email list that creates value for your audience and your business.

Thanks for joining us on this email list-building journey. 

Now go out there and start growing your list–and your business (and your subscribers) will thank you for it!

Author: James Hipkin

Since 2010, James Hipkin has built his clients’ businesses with digital marketing. Today, James is passionate about websites and helping the rest of us understand online marketing. His customers value his jargon-free, common-sense approach. “James explains the ins and outs of digital marketing in ways that make sense.”

Use this link to book a meeting time with James.