8 Best Practice Email List Building Strategies

Email marketing is one of the most effective eCommerce strategies. Why? Because it serves as a form of owned media, aka media channels your business has complete control over. Owned media is far more cost-effective and has better reach than paid media, and it lets you shape your brand storytelling without having to worry about algorithm changes. 

Email list building can be a challenging task. It’s a slow-growing process that requires a lot of nurturing so don’t expect to generate thousands of subscribers overnight. Later, we will be covering eight best practice strategies to grow your email list from scratch. But first, let’s dive into a couple of definitions before we get started. 

What is an email list?

An email list is a list of captured email addresses and other data such as name, gender, and location, which is generated through collecting data from website visitors, event attendees, and more. 

Email list building 

List building is the process of collecting email addresses from visitors, customers, and other business patrons. 

How to build a list using your website 

Use embedded signup forms 

Embedded signup forms are the most traditional way to build your email list. Their biggest benefit is that they are non-intrusive. Embedded forms give customers a friendly reminder that they have the option to sign up without any added pressure. Static embedded forums should be placed in high traffic areas in visible areas. Some of these include headers, footers, sidebars, and splash pages. 

Deploy popups and overlays 

Many studies have shown that pop-ups have many benefits in terms email list buildingof conversions. On average, pop0ups have a conversion rate of 3.9% with the top 10 percent converting around 9.8%. However, even though these stats seem almost too good to be true you have to be careful and consider Google’s interstitial ad guidelines. If you don’t, google may penalize you. 

Welcome pop-ups 

Welcome pop-ups are used to welcome visitors to the site usually within the first 15 seconds of them opening the landing page. Using a strong call-to-action is crucial for this pop-up so it doesn’t get dismissed as disruptive. Some best practices include a sales notification, offering a discount, giving more information about your USPs, or some other form of value exchange for the visitor’s email address. 

Exit-intent pop-ups

Exit-intent pop-ups are intended to reduce the possibility of an exit or bounce by capturing the visitor’s attention and offering a valid incentive to stay on the page or submit details. These pop-ups are displayed using exit-intent technology that monitors visitor interaction on a web page and can gauge when someone is about to leave. Offers and discounts are usually the most effective, but depending on the business, eCommerce owners will offer other incentives. 


Promotional pop-ups and be displayed in any part of the customer journey and make use of exclusive discounts and offers. These pop-ups appear as the visitor is actively browsing, rather than welcome and exit intent. To create a high-converting pop-up you must achieve relevancy. You can do this by understanding what stage in the buyer journey your customer is in then giving them a promotion to nudge them further. 

Introduce gamification

email gamificationGamification in list building is the process of applying interactive elements of game playing to encourage engagement with a lead capture form. These often offer exclusive prices, using elements like quizzes, tests, surveys, spin-to-win pop-ups, and scratchcards. Customers are motivated by prizes that appear effortlessly attainable, therefore appealing to customer psychology. Contests, giveaways, and sweepstakes can also be used as list-building gamification and are usually the most effective when used through social media. 

Create squeeze pages 

Now, what the heck is a squeeze page? A squeeze page is a dedicated lead capture landing page designed to “squeeze” information out of a visitor by restricting access to desired content or offer by placing it behind the ‘gate’ or lead capture form. The main purpose of these is to capture visitor information, so don’t worry if you have a high exit rate. As long as you have a high conversion rate, it’s fine. 

Invite to sign up for notifications 

One great mailing list growth strategy is to use various notification sign-up incentives. Depending on the type of notification, these can appear as overlays on landing pages, statically embedded on product pages, or featured in sliders on headers. There are three types of sign up notifications:

Presale– creates urgency, scarcity, and the feeling of exclusivity.

New collection– creates the feeling of exclusivity and inclination to hear about new arrivals first.

Back in Stock– captures information of customers who are ready to purchase but can’t due to unavailability. 

Offer content upgrades 

Content upgrades, also called lead magnets, are gated pieces of content a business can offer to customers in exchange for their email information. This can be anything from exclusive access to member-only, or VIP sales to actual gated pieces of written content, like guides and catalogs. 

Introduce opt-in fields at checkout 

Make your customers feel more secure about their online purchasesopt-in for email notifications by sending them an email or text confirmation that updates them on their order process. Many shoppers are already used to checkouts asking for personal information, so why not take advantage of this list-building opportunity. Include a box or section option to opt-in to subscribe to your email list. However, GDPR rules say that the check box cannot be pre-checked so be sure to disable that to avoid any penalties. 

Utilize loyalty and referral programs 

Using a power strategized customer loyalty and referral program is great for growing your email list from scratch and generating more lifetime value. People are more inclined to shop with stores that offer loyalty or referral programs, according to Technology Advice. The key to a successful loyalty program is to make it easy to enlist and offer noteworthy benefits like access to VIP sales, free gifts, early event access, and more. 

Once you’ve established a loyal customer base, then it’s time to utilize the power of word-of-mouth marketing with referrals. People are more inclined to make a purchase from people they trust, whether it be from friends and family or an influencer they trust. Referrals programs reward customers who successfully refer new people, turning them into qualified customers. Usually, you have to offer an incentive for both parties. An example of this can be something like give $20, get $20; or get $5 for every new referral that signs up for our loyalty program. 

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