Building an Email List

Building and Utilizing Your Email List

Capitalize on your web audience by finding a way to KIT

How to Build Your First Email List and use it to drive business

Captive Audience.

Don’t those words sound like magic?  A group of people just waiting to hear what you’re about to say – your latest words of wisdom from your blog, your innovative product offerings.

You may have visitors on your site, but they drift on and off.  You have no way of reaching them directly on your schedule, or controlling how they view your site, which parts to dwell upon and how they move from one piece of information to another.  As it stands, it’s “don’t call us; we’ll call you.”

An email list is “Call us!”  When site visitors opt to sign up for your email list, they are awarding you a direct line of communication to them.

If you don’t have an email list, you’re letting visitors drift without offering them a way to stay in touch – that’s a shame.  What a missed opportunity.

Today we’ll discuss how to remedy that.  How to get started building your email list – your captive audience.

(The only caveat here is that just like any captive audience, they can tune out.  They can sign up and then ignore your emails, delete them  – or worse – block them – and you end up sending your newsletter to the big archive in the sky.  But we’ll be optimistic – and we’ll give you some tips to avoid that situation.)

Step 1. Sign up with an email list management system.

There are plenty of those out there.  Some of the more popular include:



Constant Contact


Some have free plans (Mailchimp and Madmimi) and some have free or low cost trials (Aweber and Constant Contact). I’ve personally had experience with MailChimp and Aweber.  Both were easy to use, but in the end I went with Aweber because it lets you create multiple sign-up forms for the same list, and the stats seemed better.  With free plans and trials, it’s worth a little bit of investigation to see what works for your business.

Step 2. How are you going to motivate people to sign up?

Your amazing content, of course!  Won’t they want to sign up to get all the latest blog posts right to their inbox?


Maybe not.

For one site I managed, that was the default way of getting subscribers.  They could subscribe to the blog via Feedburner, and some people did.  The number vacillated…never really taking off.  And then it took a drop.  Hmmm….

What did I do?  I wrote a content rich, free, downloadable e-Book based on some research I performed among people who fit our ideal client profile.  The topic was something they had expressed interest in, and it was a short, succinct 8-page special report.  There was a sign-up form to get the special report on the homepage, on the blog sidebar and also a full page form that I linked to from my email signature and bio when I guest posted.  The payoff (for the visitor in exchange for their email address) was getting this free special report – they would, as a side benefit, also be signed up for our tips and posts via email.

The result?  Many, many more sign-ups.  In fact, people still register today, about a year since I stopped managing the site (and no one has touched the site in the meantime).

So take some time to think through this.  What free gift would entice your ideal client to sign up?  An e-Book on a particular topic?  A recording of a seminar?  A how-to guide?  Webinar? What do your potential clients need?

Once you have your bait… err… gift…

Step 3. Create your subscribe form.

All email management programs (the one you signed up for – be it aWeber, MadMimi, ConstantContact or MailChimp) should have form builders.  Make it both visually appealing and conceptually appealing.  Use words that will motivate your potential subscribers – tell them what they’re going to gain from your free gift and updates.

Test different versions of your subscription form to see what works best – this handy guide and video from the Blog Tyrant can help give you ideas.

When you set up your email distribution list, think about how you’re going to deliver your free gift to your subscribers.  Usually, a link in the first automatically generated response to any sign-up can take the new subscriber to a page where they can view, hear or download your gift.

Step 4.  Keep those emails a-coming!

Hopefully you have subscribers signing up at an alarming rate – or at least a reassuring one.  If that’s not the case, don’t panic.  Just keep tweaking – the form, the free offering.  No one ever said that there’s anything wrong with trial and error.

Once you do have your subscribers – make sure you keep them.  Keep sending quality content (not advertisements!) genuinely helpful to them.  Personalize the emails and email subjects with the recipient’s name (there’s usually a field for that in your email management programs).

Dan Zarrella’s webinar on The Science of Email Marketing has some great, data-analysis-based tips on when and how to send your emails – well-worth a look.

Make sure the majority of your emails contain a call-to-action.  Yours can be commenting on the blog post, registering for a webinar or signing up for another one of your offers.  Keep them interested, keep them engaged, keep them involved.

Good luck!

Submitted by Aviva