How to Build an Email List for Your Small Business? It’s Easy if You Do It Smart!

How to Build an Email List for Your Small Business? It's Easy if You Do It Smart!

Building on a Budget

In our ‘SPAM Is DEAD: Move to Qualified Email Lists’ post, we discussed how the war for qualified emails has begun. Are you ready to start building an email marketing list? First off, understand that there are ways to go about building a list for email marketing that don’t involve external systems bearing steep price tags. Here, we will investigate how to build an email list without breaking your budget.

The Volunteers

It probably goes without saying that, when building an email marketing list, you want it to consist of people who want to be on it. Because many of us maintain multiple email accounts for the sole purpose of avoiding emails generated by filling out contact forms, this feat is harder to accomplish than it might initially sound. Which means that the challenge has changed from getting people to sign up for your email list to getting people to them to sign up for your email list with an account they occasionally log into.

What tactic can accomplish such a thing, you ask? The best kind; self-interest.

And the Winner is…

We all love free stuff. What we love even more is free stuff we’ve won. When contemplating how to build an email list, think about combining these two human passions into the form of a contest. Set it up so that, by entering their email address, contestants will have a chance to win the awesome prize you are going to give one randomly selected person.

The catch is, the winner will be announced via email. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Your contest doesn’t have to be run with old fashioned ink and paper, as a church raffle. Instead, you could appeal to social media to find willing participants.

Just create the post, share it with your friends and/or followers, and Presto! You’ve just gained new addresses for your list. Since the odds are good that your followers might share your post themselves, you may end up with a few new followers as well.

A Little Off the Top

Maybe you’re concerned with how much these “free” prizes will cost your business. Don’t worry, there are other ways to entice potential customers. Retail giant Target has found success building an email marketing list through their Cartwheel app, which grants users a daily discount.

While you could follow their lead and construct an app for just this purpose, it isn’t necessary, as these discounts can be given to those who register via social media, your website, or even at your physical location.

Routine Traffic Stop

You may or may not be aware of what percentage of your website’s visitors are opting to join your email list, but it probably isn’t 100%. While that may be an unrealistic target, you can take steps toward moving in that direction simply by placing prompts throughout your site. Every single page should have a reminder and fill the box in plain view.


While you’re busy tagging your site with prompts, don’t forget to place them on all of your work-related paraphernalia. Business cards may make excellent avenues for these prompts, but don’t stop there. Invoices, receipts, t-shirts, wristbands, pamphlets, coffee cups, and calendars can all present excellent opportunities to remind your customers of the benefits that come with signing up for your email list.

The Bottom Line

Because it has consistently proven to be highly effective, web-based marketing is a rapidly growing industry. With so many platforms available that allow you to reach potential customers, it may come as a surprise to learn that email marketing remains the most effective. Still, at the end of the day, an email campaign is only going to be successful when paired with a qualified email list.

While several examples of how to build an email list were presented here, they represent only a few of the many ways the process can be completed. As stated earlier, there are many companies out there willing to sell this information just to sell. OSC Web Design operates under a different philosophy, one of building relationships with their customers, so that their customers can build relationships.

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