How To Build An Email List: The Ultimate Guide

In this post I’ll explain to you how to build an email list. Building a list is the most important aspect of marketing online.  I’ve said it many times before on this blog and I’ll keep on saying it. I even say it to my 7 week old son – “a business with no email list is no business at all!” Actually I sing it and usually to a melody like ‘If you’re happy and you know it…’ or ‘Ten green bottles…’ But hey I’m sleep deprived so I have my excuses.

A new business lead is like fresh energy being pumped into your business. A business needs new contacts in order to develop and grow. Therefore knowing how to build an email list is an essential skill for any one serious at developing their online presence.  If we had all the time in the world we could go out and meet people face to face and start to share with them how we have the solution to the problems that they are experiencing. However, in order to speak to as many people that you’d need to, in order to be successful, it would take you a fair bit of your time. In fairness this is viable for some high valued products and services. For most businesses though what is needed are ways to draw 1,000s of targeted people onto a web site and capture leads automatically. I spoke about the importance of lead capture online in a number of previous posts. In a way lead capture is step number 2 but step number 1 is attracting people to your web site in the first place.  At the heart of a good list building system there needs to be a number of different strategies to attract people to your website and then capture their details and add them to your list. I have identified 19 powerful ways of how to build an email list. Each of these works well on its own, but when used together you’ll have enough traffic to build a massive contact list.  By the time you’ve finished reading you’ll know how to build an email list.

19 Tips On How To Build An Email List

1. Blog Commenting

Build an email list by offering some information of value on someone else’s blog – and provide a link back to your own blog or web page. This email list building strategy  is very effective. It works best if you actually provide content of value and not just the average ‘Nice blog! Well done – keep it going.’ Instead try to offer a different perspective and give the blog owner and their readers a reason to check out your web site.

2. Blog Widgets

This is more about keeping your visitor on your web site once they have read your post. The longer they stay on your site the more likely they will be to sign up to your offer (and the more successful you’ll be at building an email list). So consider adding a related posts widget – these are effective in getting more people to read further posts that are related the one that they initially came to your web site to read. More visitor time on your blog the more successful you will be at building an email list.

3. Ping Your Fresh Blog Material

Sites like provide a service to up date a number of different search engines that your blog has been updated. This is a powerful way to attract people to your new content and a great way to build an email list. Also if you use a WordPress blog you can set it to automatically trackback or pingback other blogs within WP’s dashboard.

4. Free Premium Content

Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Founding Editor, Web Marketing Today in his article 12 Ways How to Build An Email List highlights the importance of offering an incentive to subscribe to an email list.  Consider using white papers, ebooks and other PDFs to attract attention from your web sites audience. If you don’t have the time to write one yourself then consider a white label version that you can quickly edit for your business and then offer as a free incentive to capture leads. Or if you want a bespoke approach then write some new material yourself or contract a skilled writer via but make sure your content is fresh – don’t just regurgitate what everyone else is saying – have your own spin.  If you understand what great material looks like you’re half way to knowing how to build an email list.

5. Write Testimonials To Build Your List

Not testimonials for your own products or services from your own customers (although these in themselves are great social proof) but instead provide testimonials for other peoples products and services that are related to your niche. Mark yourself out as being knowledgeable within your niche. Compliment the product or service and find a hook to encourage the reader and/or web site owner to come visit your site. Great email list building strategy to hook those already searching for what you have to offer.

6. “The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread Is Now Dead”

Did you know? Twitter is dead! Yeah, it has been dead almost since its birth and every time it was pronounced dead again it attracted an avalanche of traffic from passionate Tweeters and those who hate Twitter. It works with other disciplines as well – like life coaching is dead or Apple Mac is now dead or email list building strategies are now dead! Just don’t apply this to human beings please! I’m sure that you will have seen this strategy play out a few times over the past few years – there is a reason – it works! Humans are curious by nature.  So use it wisely and successfully build an email list.

7. How To Build An Email List Answering Questions

Yahoo Answers is a bad resource for answers. In fact last time I dared surf there the question thread I was interested in was at least five years old probably typed in how to build an email list. However, it is a great resource for questions along with Linked-In Answers. Also, forums are full of questions people ask. All you need to do is provide an answer and people will be so thankful that they’ll come visit your site and who knows even complete you email list building goals. There are many ways to do this and no right or wrong way of doing it. I link a specific squeeze page to my answer response so that I can track the success of this email list building strategy.  For further reading I can recommend reading James Dyson’s article on How To build an email list – a getting started guide  as this provides a great overview of how you can drive traffic through answering questions and other great tactics.

8. How To Build An Email List By Blogging

There are literally millions of blogs on the internet. Blogging in itself is not all that effective at drawing in traffic. Most blogs are about people pandering to their own vanity or about useless information. Worse still they attract zero traffic. Make sure that you have a goal for your blog. Make sure that you optimize your posts, make sure that you are adding value for your readers, make sure you are measuring the impact of your blog (e.g. how many conversions per day or per week, is it an effective email list building strategy?). Do all this and blogging can be a fantastic way to mark yourself out in your niche.  Bloging can be a phenonmenal email list building strategy which will aide you in building a massive email list.  Ana Hoffman of the Traffic Generation Cafe in How to build an email list 101 provides an link to an useful article about the stuff that you can on your blog and the stuff you can do external to your blog to grow your traffic and subscriber list.

9. Make Your Content Engaging

If you write engaging content then people will want to read it and come back for more. Remember this little fact – less than 20% of people will read the content of a blog post, whilst 80% of people will read the blog title. So make sure that the title will hook your readers in and then have good content to keep them hooked. The longer your reader is on your site the more chance you have of capturing their contact details and builid an email list. Don’t be lazy with title tags. Make sure your title tags contain calls to action that will make people click on them. Again if you understand how to engage your readers you’ll be well along to road to knowing how to build an email list.  Julie Martin in her article How to build an email list  highlights that a good strategy to get people to read your blog content is to get them to subscribe to your blog newsletter.  It has been cited by other that those who subscribe to blog newsletter are more likely to engage and add meaningful blog comments.

10. Twitter Re-Visited

OK it’s not new and people have a love/hate relationship with it. However, with over 100 million active users worldwide, there is little doubt that Twitter is capable of driving large quantities of traffic to all types of websites. This makes it a key email list building strategy. And did you know that there is a plug-in for Twitter that lets you automatically re-tweet old posts. This is useful for those who don’t have the time to tweet all day long and it’s a good way to continue sharing excellent content. Personally I set it to 1 – 2 automated post a day because I hate seeing over automated tweet lines – not a good look!

11. Manual Submission To Online Leading Directories

This will never change, not in 2012 not in the next 10 years. If you want to build free targeted traffic and build a massive email list then you need your web sites page or post links stretching across the web. No better way to do this than by using online directories. These are way too valuable to ignore. Try to get into DMOZ, Ezilon, Yahoo and Bing directories. It’s hard to get in but once you do there is no way of stopping you on an email listing building quest.

12. How To Help Build An Email List Using Images

More and more people are now using image searches. Sometimes this might not necessarily be to find your content but more around someone searching for an image for their own marketing. But because you have a great image they come to your web site intent on copying it. But low and behold you have a great title – its grabbing (something about how to build an email list or how to make more money online).  So they stay and read. Oh and you have great related content.  So they stay and read some more. See where this is going? A real nice trick is to convert your ‘call to action’ into an image file. Doh just told you my mates list building secret – how careless!

13. Using Automated Back Links

Now stop it! Do you really think that paying $19.97 for 10,000 back links to your web site is a good idea? I won’t insult your intelligence, but what I will say is if your content is good enough people will automatically link to you. Give up on getting useless links and concentrate on great content. Things that appear too good to be true usually are! Don’t fall victim to the lazy link builder!  This one is for those who do not know how to build an email list.

14. How To Build An Email List Using Humour

Nothing builds rapport more with your audience than the use of humour. There are many great examples of humour on the internet, but in view the funniest site is This site is run by a guy who used to be an SEO expert and has now decided to move into the production of funny cartoons full time as he found humour to a real crowd puller. So follow his lead as you now know how to build an email list using humour.  Consider adding humour to your website or develop a cartoon related to your niche like this you can create your own humorous cartoon at

15. Being Controversial

This is not for everyone. I have to say that from my experience it can work – especially when it’s both humorous and has some underlying point to it. Must admit I’m not as comfortable with this one just because I’m a chilled out guy and I don’t take immense pleasure in rocking the boat. I tend to flirt with this and therefore my overall brand is not controversial, but posts where I have been controversial (on issues that I personally feel strongly about) are the ones that people have engaged in the most and have been the most successful at building an email list. But be careful not to simply spout out rubbish that is controversial for the sake of it – your audience will get wise to your nonsense.

16. Know Your Niche

Part of why someone may want to follow you or connect with you or subscribe to your site is because you know something that they don’t. Someone wanting to to know how to build an email list should keep on top of memes, read Reddit daily, use StumbleUpon, engage on Twitter, and read quality marketing News. You should conduct in-depth analysis around the communities that relate to your niche.  This is how to build an email list the inteligent way,

17. Partner With A Business Within Your Niche’s Gail Goodman highlighted in her article Here’s how to build an email list and develop creative ideas  that a good way to build your list is to partner with a organisation within your niche who is not a direct competitor.  This needs to be well thought out. No point trying to offer similar products or services, but try to provide either added value content not already covered or offer an incentive for your partner to link to your site – maybe offer a commission for every x amount of people who either buy or subscribe to your site.  This can be a great way to build an email list.

18. How To Build An Email List By Posting To Forums

Spend 5 minutes at a time on each industry-related forum you can find that you think will be beneficial to your site, and post useful, insightful comments to build up your reputation. Consider posting content that people want to know more about like how to earn more online or how to increase social media connections or how to build an email list.  The benefits in the long run include reputation, trust and relevant visitors. This will help in giving you credibility which is a key factor in any good email list building strategy.  Forget buying a forum spamming software tool. It won’t work – it’ll only spam your post to forums where everyone else spams their posts and will therefore be lost in a mountain of spam that has never been read by anyone and never will be! Stop being lazy!  Forum spamming is one is for those who do not know how to build an email list.

19. How To Build An Email List By Video Marketing

Create a great post.  Do hours of research.  Refine your post over time and just maybe on week 1 you’ll get on page 3-4 of Google (assuming that you’re going for a big ticket keyword).  By week 4 you may just have made page 1 or the top of page 2.  But shoot a video.  Add it to your post and watch with shear joy as it goes straight in on page 1 of Google for Video searches practically on day 1.  If you know how to use video as a hook to your content then you’ll know how to build an email list in 2012 or any time over the next 10 years.  People love watching video media.  Video marketing is here to stay!

Lastly claim in their article How to build an email list that the best method of collecting a new business lead is by signing up to an autoresponder company such as Aweber .

These strategies should give you enough information on how to build an email list.  In fact they should assist you in building a massive email list!  Check back here as I’ll be adding more email list building strategies over time as people share what works for them.  Also I conduct email list building strategies research every week so that I keep you up to date with what’s new.

To Your Success,
Howard Clemence
Professional Internet Marketing Coach

Author of How You Can Generate 50-100 Leads Per Day

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28 comments on “How To Build An Email List: The Ultimate Guide

  1. All great tips, thanks for sharing.

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  7. Wow, I was just amazed with the 19 tips in building a large business contact list. I must admit that it is an ultimate guide. Anyway, the best strategy I liked the most is to “Know Your Niche”. I think everything should start from here. Because if a firm does not know what it wants to target, it will not be able to obtain the perfect list, or close to that status. Thanks for this post!

  8. I love all the tactics you gave, especially the on the use of forum. Forum marketing is a very effective and easy way now to build a list very fast. You just have to be a regular poster with great contribution and you’re good to go.

  9. Spot on Richard – you’re right in highlighting that the secret to success in forums, and to some extent with social media as well, is to have regular posts with a great contribution that offer value to the reader (i.e. they either know more by reading the article or they can make an informed decision / take action that will move them closer to their goals). I’ll take a look at your site later. Best wishes, Howard.

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