Build your email list

How to Build an Email List (All You Need to Know to Start From Scratch)

Email marketing is a powerful tool to help business owners connect with their audience and boost results. If you’ve been holding back on email marketing because you don’t have an email list or past attempts haven’t done the job, worry not. In this article, we dive into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of email list building, providing you with practical tips and strategies to maximize your marketing efforts.

Why Is It Important to Build an Email List?

Before diving into practicalities and strategies, let’s understand why building an email list is important for your business growth and is recommended by experts to take part in any successful marketing strategy.

1. Bring business opportunities with every subscriber

Email marketing fosters business growth at every turn, from engaging first-time visitors to nurturing long-standing customers. And each person on your email list is a doorway to new opportunities.

  • Find new customers

Not all visitors on your website or offline store are ready to make a purchase or act on their first (even second) visit. By engaging them with email newsletters, educational content, and introductory offers, you get the opportunity to guide them from initial awareness to making their first purchase. Regular email communication keeps your brand top-of-mind, gradually creates a connection and familiarity, and eventually urges the subscriber to act when the right trigger is presented.

  • Bring repeat business from current customers

Existing customers, having already experienced the quality of your products or services, are naturally more inclined to make repeat purchases, recommend your brand to others, and share their positive feedback. Their familiarity with your brand builds a foundation of trust, on which you could easily capitalize. By sending regular newsletters, offers with exclusive special discounts, asking them for feedback, or just keeping them up to date with your new product or service additions, you fortify your connection with them and eventually make them come back to you for repeat business.

2. Less expensive and more effective than other forms of advertising

Email marketing doesn’t require a significant investment to start and is typically less expensive compared to other advertising channels like paid search or social media ads. Relying on third-party platforms for advertising can be risky due to changes in algorithms, policies, or costs. Email marketing reduces this dependency, giving you more control over how and when you reach your audience, thus allowing you to boost effectiveness.

3. Allows you to segment and target precisely your subscribers with relevant content

Email marketing is a powerful tool in digital marketing, particularly for its ability to segment and target audiences precisely. Unlike other marketing channels, email marketing lets you group your subscribers based on specific criteria like their interests, past purchases, demographic data, and behavioral patterns. Segmentation means you can tailor your content to fit different groups’ unique preferences and needs. This tailored approach is becoming increasingly vital, especially as search engines and digital platforms move away from cookie-based tracking. The decline in cookie tracking decreases the efficacy of paid ads, making email marketing an even more attractive option.

The foundations of building an email list

Your business journey is unique, and you may find yourself at a different stage when you explore email marketing. You may be starting with a small local store that hasn’t yet established an online presence, or you may be at a point where your presentational website is beginning to attract more visitors. You could even be in a scenario where your business sells exclusively online through your website. Regardless of your specific situation, building an email list is both possible and essential,  and we’ll give the steps to effectively build it tailored to your unique business stage.

Add a sign-up form on your website

If you already have a website, sign-up forms are the best place to start building your email list! Your site visitors are people who are already interested in your brand, product, or service. They are potential clients and potential subscribers for your email list.

Consider their journey: they land on your website, where they might either make a purchase or leave still undecided. In this period of deliberation, they could explore other providers or, more critically, they might completely forget about your brand. This is where the real value of a sign-up form and email marketing comes into play. Encouraging visitors to subscribe to your emails creates an avenue to keep in touch with them. It’s an opportunity to nurture a relationship with them, providing valuable content, updates, and offers that may sway their decision in your favor.

1. Elements of a high-performing sing-up form

To create a sign-up form that effectively gains subscribers, certain key elements are essential:

  • The fields in your form

The fewer fields in your form, the better. Every additional field can decrease the likelihood of a visitor completing the sign-up process. Aim for gathering essentials like name and email address to keep it straightforward and user-friendly. This simplicity respects the user’s time and reduces the entry barrier, leading to more subscribers.

  • Incentives to subscribe

Offer a clear incentive for visitors to subscribe. This could be exclusive discounts, early access to new products, insightful newsletters, or delivery of free resources like e-books or guides. Clearly communicate what they gain by subscribing, making the value of joining your email list undeniable.

  • Call to action

The call to action button should be eye-catching and use direct, action-oriented language. Phrases like “Get Exclusive Offers,” “Join Now,” or “Download Free Guide” are effective. The design of the button should stand out, drawing attention and prompting action.

2. Where to place your forms?

The positioning of your sign-up form on your website is crucial for maximizing visibility and encouraging sign-ups. Here are key places to consider:

  • Homepage: This is often the first point of contact for visitors. Placing a sign-up form prominently on the homepage, such as in the header, as a popup, or in a dedicated section, ensures maximum exposure.
  • Online stores checkout: During checkout, customers are actively engaged with your brand, making it an opportune moment to encourage them to subscribe. They’ve already shown interest by making a purchase, indicating a higher likelihood of wanting to stay connected for future updates and offers. Adding a simple opt-in checkbox in the checkout process is a non-intrusive way to invite customers to subscribe. This can be positioned near the customer’s contact information or payment details. The key is to make it visible but not a barrier in the purchasing process.  Use straightforward, inviting language for the opt-in. For instance, a phrase like “Would you like to receive updates and special offers via email?” followed by a checkbox with “Yes, please!” is direct, clear, and friendly.
  • Blog Posts: Embedding the form within or at the end of blog posts can be very effective. Readers engaged with your content are more likely to be interested in subscribing for more. You can place it midway through the article or at the end, where readers who found value in the content are likely to sign up.
  • Comments section: Including a checkbox in the comment form for email subscription is a seamless way to encourage sign-ups. Since the visitor is already entering their details to leave a comment, it’s a convenient and non-intrusive addition.
  • Footer: Including a sign-up form in the website footer ensures visibility on every page, providing a constant reminder to visitors to subscribe.

Remember, the goal is to make the form visible without being intrusive, balancing exposure with a positive user experience!

3. No online presence yet? Ask for client emails in your store

One of the key strengths of a physical store is the personal interaction you have with customers. This can be leveraged to request email addresses in a friendly and engaging manner, making it more likely that customers will be willing to provide their information. 

The most opportune moment to ask for an email address is during the checkout process. As customers are finalizing their purchases, it’s a natural time to ask if they would like to stay updated with future offers, events, or news about your store. 

Offering an immediate incentive can significantly increase the likelihood of customers providing their email addresses. This could be a discount on the current purchase, entry into a competition, or a coupon for future use. Make the process of giving an email address as simple as possible. A paper form or a tablet at the register can be used for this purpose.

4. How to add a form on your website?

Adding a sign-up form to your website can be approached in various ways – coding it from scratch to using third-party services that integrate with your website platform (like WordPress, etc.). The best method depends on your specific needs, technical expertise, and the platform your website is built on. If you’re not comfortable with coding, the best approach is to use an email marketing service provider that offers easy form creation with popular website platforms.

SiteGround’s Lead Generation plugin for WordPress

We’ve created a Lead Generation Plugin for WordPress tailored for our Email Marketing tool, empowering users to easily create and add sign-up forms anywhere on their website. What’s more, it automates the process of adding new subscribers to your email list, allowing you to categorize them into specific groups for precise targeting.

But that’s not all – our plugin goes the extra mile by integrating a user-friendly signup checkbox directly into your WooCommerce checkout, as well as standard WordPress forms like comments and registrations. This means that your website visitors have a variety of convenient options for joining your mailing list, ensuring you capture leads efficiently and effortlessly.

5. Form compliance

Remember that even when collecting email addresses online or offline, you must comply with email marketing laws and regulations. It’s very important to clearly communicate to individuals that by providing their email, they are opting in to receive emails from your brand. Additionally, always offer a way for them to opt-out if they choose to do so. 

Our Email Marketing tool includes a user-friendly “Unsubscribe” feature, providing your subscribers with a hassle-free way to opt out of your mailing list. When a subscriber chooses to unsubscribe through this built-in feature, our system will automatically exclude them from any future email campaigns, ensuring a seamless email list management.

Strategies for growing your email list

Growing your email list effectively involves a blend of different strategies, both online and offline, each focusing on effectively using different mediums or platforms to reach potential subscribers and giving people a strong incentive to join your email list. Here are some key strategies:

1. Incentives that motivate people to join your email list

It’s about creating a win-win situation where subscribers feel they are gaining something worthwhile in exchange for their email address. And you can start by answering the crucial question for potential subscribers: “What’s in it for me?”

  • Exclusive Content: This could be in the form of informative articles, videos, e-books, or webinars that are only available to email subscribers. The key is that this content isn’t accessible elsewhere and provides significant value.
  • Special Offers: Discounts, promotions, or early access to sales can be very enticing. For instance, you could offer a 10% discount code for their next purchase upon subscription.
  • Insider Information: Some audiences appreciate being ‘in the know.’ This could include early product announcements, behind-the-scenes glimpses, or industry insights.
  • Valuable Resources: Free tools, templates, guides, or resources that help your audience solve a problem or improve their life in some way can be a good reason for them to give you their email.

2. Timing and placement – when to show the form

The success of online sign-up forms greatly depends on their timing and placement. For instance, a pop-up form might appear after a visitor has spent a certain amount of time on your site, or when they are about to leave. That way the visitor has had time to engage with your content, which may be an additional strong incentive to subscribe for more content or else.

A very popular strategy for positioning forms is when they hijack certain pages, including your home page. This means that the user cannot proceed to your page and browse through your content until they either close the form or fill it in. This is the most aggressive strategy to push the subscription, but it means you prioritize it over direct purchases or other purposes which your pages serve.

3. Use social media

Your social media platforms can be powerful tools for promoting your email subscription. Here’s how to leverage them effectively:

  • Share snippets: Use your social media accounts to share teasers of the content or offers that subscribers receive via email. Create compelling posts that encourage your followers to join your email list for access to exclusive content or deals.
  • Direct Links: Include direct links to your email sign-up page in your social media profiles and posts.

4. Encourage offline signups

While online methods are often the focus of email list building, there are plenty of effective offline strategies that can also help you grow your subscriber base. If you attend industry events, conferences, trade shows, or local community pop-up shows, consider collecting email addresses in person. Set up a booth or table with a sign-up sheet and a clear explanation of the benefits of subscribing. For instance:

“Join our email list for the latest recipe ideas, cooking tips, and special discounts. Sign up right here!”

Pro tips: Start small and focus on quality

While building your email list, it’s crucial to prioritize quality over quantity. Quality subscribers are those who are genuinely interested in your products or services and are more likely to engage with your emails. Here are some tips to maintain a high-quality list:

  • Never purchase email lists, as these often result in low engagement and can damage your sender reputation.
  • Remove inactive subscribers and those who have opted out to keep your list up-to-date and engaged.

With SiteGround’s Email Marketing tool, we make it easy for you to achieve this. Firstly, we help you by automatically categorizing unsubscribed users into a separate group, ensuring that they are not included in your future email campaigns. But that’s not all. We take it a step further by implementing a robust filtering system for hard bounces – those email addresses that consistently fail to deliver. These hard bounces are placed in a distinct “suppressed” group to safeguard your sender reputation. This proactive approach ensures that you don’t send emails to addresses that can harm your sender reputation.

Building an email list is a valuable asset for any business or organization. By implementing the strategies outlined in this guide, you can effectively grow your email list and establish a direct line of communication with your audience. Remember, consistency and providing value are key to building a strong and engaged email list. Start implementing these strategies today and watch your email list grow.

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author avatar

Rumina Mateva

Marketing Specialist

Interested in finding the middle ground between content writing, marketing assets and the ever-evolving technology.

Comments ( 4 )

author avatar

Laurel Fife

Dec 26, 2023

I would like to know more about your email campaign. send bulk email

author avatar

Ivan Naidenov Siteground Team

Dec 28, 2023

Thank you for the comment, Laurel, happy to clarify. Emails sent to less than 500 subscribers are sent almost instantly. Emails sent to over 500 subs get sent in batches of 500. For example - emailing 2000 recipients will happen in 4 batches. That's one of the steps we take to ensure proper email deliverability. For more info on the plans and the quotas, you can go to . Our team will be available for any further questions, here is a direct chat link: .

author avatar


Jan 03, 2024

Hello, I want to know if there is an option to create a paid newsletter that people can choose to subscribe to. (like Substack)

author avatar

Ivan Naidenov Siteground Team

Jan 05, 2024

Hello Lorelai, thank you for commenting and for the wonderful suggestion. It is definitely noted as we know how increasingly popular those have been. We'll keep you posted about new features and tools!


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