email list building

Email Sourcing – All What You Should Know About Email List Building

As a marketer, you probably know that email list building is one of the most effective communication channels available to you today. However, the success of your email marketing efforts largely depends on the size and quality of your email list.

So how do you build a great list that gets results for your business?

This guide will make it easy for you. By reading it, you’ll learn the 2-step process for capturing email addresses and get a number of tools you can use to build a massive email list that grows your business.


What is an email list and why should you focus on growing it?

Simply put, an email list is a list of individual email addresses that you have permission to send email campaigns to.

Email lists can be built a number of ways, and could include people who have:

  • Purchased something from you
  • Subscribed via your website
  • Signed up for your product
  • Given you their business card at an event

Building your email list is one of the most important activities marketers like you can focus on, and here’s why:

  • Get your products and services seen by more people – Whether your emails contain updates on your latest products, discounts to drive sales, or an invitation to your next event, focusing on building your email list will ultimately result in more people seeing your products and services and clicking through to purchase.
  • Keep your list fresh and up-to-date – It’s an unfortunate fact of life that occasionally email addresses become invalid. People’s work email addresses change as they move between companies and others abandon old AOL and Compuserve email addresses in favor of modern platforms like Gmail. However, by focusing some of your time and energy on building your email list, you can fight list decay and ensure you have a growing list of people to receive and click-through on your email campaigns.

A 2-step process for building your email list

So how do you build a high-quality list?

Fortunately for you, there is a 2-step process for building your email list that is followed by many of the most successful marketers around.

Step 1: Create simple subscribe opportunities

The first step in building a massive email list is making it incredibly simple for people to subscribe.

To help you with this, we’ve outlined some of best ways we’ve seen businesses create simple subscribe opportunities across their website, social channels, etc.

Here are a few ideas:

Your website

If a lot of your customer interactions happen via your website, then including a subscribe form there is a great way to build your email list.

But where exactly should you include it? There are an almost infinite number of options, but here are some of the most effective we’ve seen:

Checkout or signup process

If your business sells something online, then you can use your signup and/or checkout forms to capture email subscribers.

Clothing brand Nau does a good job of this during their checkout process.

Nau - Checkout or Signup Process

Given that people are already entering their name and email address as part of the checkout process, including a small tick box to join their email list makes it super simple for people to subscribe.

Contact form

If your website has a form where people can contact you, request a quote, etc. then adding a subscribe tickbox is a great way to capture new email subscribers. These people are entering their details into the form already, and clearly, have a strong interest in what you offer.

ConversionLab does a great job of this on their website, including a simple opportunity to subscribe to their newsletter at the bottom of their website’s contact form.

ConversionLab - Contact Form


If you run a blog to help build your business, then this is a great place to be adding a subscribe form. In fact, people who subscribe to your blog will likely be some of most valuable readers, accounting for majority of your comments and sharing your content 3x more than other visitors.

Campaign Monitor customer Freshbooks do a good job of this. They offer a simple subscribe opportunity in a prominent popup that appears once you’ve been on their blog for a certain amount of time.

Freshbooks - Blog Subscription Form


Your social channels

If you have built a following on social media channels like Facebook, then it’s a good idea to try and convert them into email subscribers as well.

With Facebook intentionally limiting the number of times your posts appear in your followers newsfeed, it’s becoming increasingly important to try to engage those people on more reliable channels, like email list building.

But how do you do it? There are a number of different methods for allowing people to subscribe to your email list building from your social channel, but here are two of our favorite:

Facebook Subscribe Form

If you are a Campaign Monitor customer, you can easily add a subscribe form to your Facebook page using our Facebook Subscribe Application.

SXSW - Facebook Subscribe Form

As seen on SXSW’s Facebook page, the form creates a separate tab on your Facebook page, which people can navigate to, enter their details and join your email list.

Twitter Lead Generation Cards

If your business is active on Twitter, then a great way to convert your followers into email subscribers is using Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards.

A Lead Generation Card is simply a link you include in your tweet that expands it out to allow people to subscribe to your list directly from the Twitter interface.

It pre-populates a user’s full name, @username and email address (as entered in their Twitter account settings) into the expanded area of your Tweet, meaning they can subscribe without having to manually enter their details.

Moz - Twitter Lead Generation CardsSome of the best ways we’ve seen this done are:

  • Tweeting about your list – Send out a tweet promoting your email list to your followers and ask them to subscribe for great new content. Include the link to the lead generation card in the tweet so that they can subscribe with one click.
  • Replying to people who tweet about your business – If people are tweeting about your business or your content online, then you can reply to them asking them to subscribe to your email list and include the link to the lead generation card so they can join with just one click.

Your email signature

Depending on the size of your organization, you are probably sending hundreds or even thousands of emails to customers and prospects each month.

These personal emails from you and your team are often highly engaged with, and therefore the perfect place to promote your newsletter and get people to subscribe.

Heartbeat does a great job of this in their employee’s email signatures, including a link to a landing page that makes it simple for people they do business with to subscribe to their email list.

Heartbeat - Email Signature


For some businesses, online channels like social media and the website simply aren’t the most common customer touchpoints.

Retail stores for instance interact with their customers face to face much more frequently than they do online. So how can these businesses provide simple subscribe opportunities to people to encourage them to join their email list?

Here are a few things we’ve seen work well for others:

Ask at point of sale

By getting your employees to ask every customer at the point of sale if they’d like to join your email list (in return for a small discount on their purchase for instance), you’re hitting every possible customer with a very compelling and simple offer.

Stationery company Paradise Pen Co. has seen considerable success with this strategy, collecting 80% of their customer emails in-store.

Paradise uses gift cards of small monetary amounts to incentivize people to subscribe to their list. They initially tried paper gift certificates, but when they switched to using plastic gift cards that could be redeemed online, gift card redemption rates jumped from 9.5% to 20%.

Not only did doing this build their email list building but with such high redemption rates and most users spending more than the gift card amount, they were able to drive sales & revenue as well.

Place a subscribe form in-store

One of the easiest ways to get started capturing email list building addresses in person is to set up a basic signup form in-store.

You can do this the old-fashioned way by simply placing a pen & paper on the counter and presenting your chosen incentive.

If you want to get more advanced and save yourself some of the hassle of manually adding your customer’s email address to your email marketing software, you could use an app to turn your iPad into a beautiful email subscribe form.

Collect business cards

Manually writing down an email list building address is a pain, and can be a barrier to entry that prevents your customers from subscribing to your list.

Fortunately for you, many people have their email list building address on their business card and providing a method (such as a glass bowl) to drop their business card into is a great way to collect emails.

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