How To Get Email Lists for Marketing: 10 Tips

Our independent research projects and impartial reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers. Learn more

It’s hard to doubt the impact of marketing emails. Done right, they can be the email your customers can’t wait to open, click through, and share! 

Sounds tempting, right? So how do you get started? You’ll need to know how to get email lists for marketing – and how to build your email list to broaden your reach. 

Whether you’re a small business owner, an entrepreneur, or a hobbyist considering going up a level, this article will cover what email lists are, how you can get email lists for email marketing, and tips you can use to grow them to optimize its impact.

What Is an Email List?

An email list for marketing is a list of people who want to hear from your business, whether it’s information, promotions, offers, ideas, inspiration, recommendations, or anything else. 

Why Build an Email List?

It’s important to build an email list because when done right marketing emails build your audience and engagement. Marketing emails are so popular there will be 11 billion of them by the end of the year. They’re a great investment, bringing in an average of $36 for every $1 spent. And they are a great way to promote your website.

Should I Buy an Email List?

Because email lists for marketing are so important, you might be tempted to buy a list. After all, it saves time, allows you to hit the ground running, and frees up your resources. 

But a bought list is a digital fools’ gold because it’s inauthentic and the people on the list might not have any interest in your products. It also has questionable data protection issues. You never know who originally had the list, how many hands this list has fallen into, and who your predecessors are. 

The last thing you want to do is turn people off to your brand. Keep in mind there are email marketing regulations you have to follow. Think of your own email inbox. How many times a day do you get an email from a company you’ve never heard of? Do you open those emails or assume they are spam and block the address?

Building your own list can be a pain. It takes perseverance and patience and sometimes years. But the engagement you have with your email list will be so much more rewarding. It’s long-lasting. It’s completely within your control. No one will sign up to it unless they want to hear from you – so you already have a friendly audience. 

As long as you continue to keep your audience’s needs at the forefront, and grow in your knowledge and abilities with content, you’ll keep them, their trust, and their loyalty. Think of your own email inbox again – which emails from your favorite companies are you excited to open? And how did you find those brands?

For more detail, read our guide on how to increase your email open rates.

10 Tips for Building an Email List

You want to increase engagement, customer loyalty, and be able to contact them as frequently as (reasonably) possible. The best results come from keeping email marketing best practices at the forefront. 

But how do you grow the best list possible as quickly as you can? We’ve found 10 tips on how to get email lists for marketing. Grab a coffee and let’s go!

#1. Use Well-Placed Forms 

Email sign-up forms suit a business whose target customers have a little time and don’t mind filling things out. You’ll need information (including an email address obviously!) from them to know how to best serve their needs. What kind of fields you include on your email sign-up form depends on what type of business you have. 

No matter what, your form should be easy to spot on your webpage. It helps to ask as few questions as possible, and be easy to understand. The Lip Bar is a perfect example of simplicity at its best – email address and phone number. Boom. 

The Lip Bar knows simplicity can be best.

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip:Ensure that your click-through button for your form is in a contrasting color to the background color it’s on. It can also be in several places on the page.

#2. Give Away High Value Content 

If you spend enough time online, you know much of what people say is…meaningless. That’s why when someone says something that’s carefully considered, researched, insightful, or moving, it stands out. It’s memorable. If your business is the kind that intends to stick around after a few months, this strategy will work well for you. 

It’s like fast food versus a fine meal. You won’t remember your 437th cheeseburger. But you will remember that fancy handmade truffle risotto with pea shoots weaved on top. It works the exact same with any content. You might make amazing memes. Or write engaging white papers. Whatever the content, take the time to make quality stuff your audience can’t find anywhere else. 

Nerdfitness gives away multiple ebooks and plenty of superpowers. Though it might be exaggerating about the ebooks.

Be a superhero with Nerdfitness.

#3. Leverage Social Media 

Why not use your social media to direct people to your forms? Avoid the temptation to lure them with clickbait. Your audience should know exactly what they are clicking on to do. 

You can use your social media to show what this potential audience has to gain from signing up to your emails. And this works for any business. Just make sure the benefits compliment the platform you’re linking from

For example, if it’s Instagram, your form and benefits should be visual and stylistic. If it’s LinkedIn, more business, collaborating and networking. This Twitter example from Good Dye Young makes a strong impression. You know you’re going to have a good time as well as save money when you sign up with it! 

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: Don’t forget a clear call to action on your social media account.

#4. Ask (Nicely) For People’s Emails 

Sometimes it’s easiest to just ask. But when you’re direct, don’t forget to put people’s doubts to rest. Like we see with WordTracker, assure the audience that their data will be protected. Let them know you won’t contact them more than X times a week. And that they can unsubscribe at any time. 

Wordtracker is clear about its intentions.

This method won’t suit customers that are busy, private, or have too many emails in their inbox. It’s for customers who enjoy keeping in contact and are heavy digital users. Whether you decide to ask them at checkout, or when they first engage, or somewhere in between, remember to keep it simple. 

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: When you’re asking people for something big like their email address, use a softener first. A softener is a few words or a proceeding question that shows the audience you are on their side, and not just trying to take advantage of them.

#5. Use Competitions

Who doesn’t love a competition? It’s the sort of thing people want to be part of, and if the prize is good, you’ll get a lot of people signing up with their email addresses. If it feels a little, well, scammy to you, give your signees a chance to acknowledge they’ll be put on your mailing list. 

If your business target audience is fun, impetuous, and a little impulsive, they’re more likely to use this method. Just make sure whatever you give away is relevant to the audience. Sandals is impactful because it’s giving away exactly what site visitors want – a luxury vacation experience.

#6. Give Away Freebies 

We love something that’s free! Food, clothes, tickets, trips – things feel better when you don’t have to pay for them. Using the previous tip about high value, offer signees something for free if they sign up for your email list. ModCloth offers a couple of things at once, and all of them sound tempting. 

Three freebies are better than one, which ModCloth uses to tempt visitors to sign up to its email list!

This freebee goes beyond just the good stuff you’ll put in your emails! It can include webinars, Q&As with your brand’s workers, ambassadors, or fans, discount subscriptions or codes, little ebooks, branded items, really anything! 

Just think about the type of ideal customer you have (or want!) and what type of things would solve their problems or make them feel good. 

#7. Leverage Social Ads 

Social media ads can be really helpful. Often small business owners and people who have hobby businesses think they’re too small for paid advertisements. But that’s not the case. 

Each social media platform has an advertisement plan that will suit you. Why not have a look on forums, and do a little googling to see what type of stuff works best for your type and size of business? 

If you use social ads, be certain that you choose a suitable platform (and the right copy!) to appeal to your potential signees. 

If you sell digital wearable art, chances are you aren’t going to want to use LinkedIn ads. You’ll probably want to appeal to visual, more cutting edge people on platforms like TikTok and futurist, digital, fashion, and art podcasts. Hootsuite (and the photo source TikTok) give a great example of a sign up for The Photo Studio that worked brilliantly on the platform. 

Fashion’s fun on TikTok.

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: If you choose to use social ads, check for a price-per-click-through versus a flat free. Often it makes financial sense to be charged $0.20 a click versus paying $500 or $1,000 dollars with no guarantee of anything.

#8. Collect Them in Person

Shock! Horror! Talking to people in person! For online-based businesses, it’s always a little disorienting. However, if you’re an extrovert, and your target audience is extroverted, this is a great method for you. 

Talking to people in real life can build trust – it involves body language, tone, gestures – all the things that bring communication to life. Especially a kind smile! 

The key is not to walk up to complete strangers and ask for their email. But you don’t want to waste their time with 20 minutes of small talk before you hit them with an “Anywayyyy…” either. 

When you talk to people, be upfront. Let them know what you want, but also be curious about them. What are the problems (related to your industry) that they need solved? Trust is about listening and understanding. Show them you know how to do that and they’ll sign up because they’ll want to continue the conversation.

#9. Make Your Emails Awesome 

You’re hardly going to grow your email list if you bore people into a coma. You want to use your email to entertain, inspire, convert to action, grow loyalty, and inspire word-of-mouth. This principle works no matter what nature of business you’re in. Everyone wants to be entertained. 

The sky’s the limit on what to do, but Science of People is a great place to start. It gives templates too! 

Templates, like the ones provided by Science of People, can help you to take your emails to the next level.

It’s important when you’re first starting out to make your emails general. And as your business scales, you can segment your email list into different groups of people with different buyer behaviors and needs. Then each segment will get content that is super-awesome and tailored specifically for them.

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: This will seem shocking, but no matter how awesome your emails are, you still need to check they are actually being delivered. Factors like IP addresses, preferences, and subject line spam make a difference to email deliverability!  

#10. Offer “Refer a Friend” Benefits 

Okay, this can be a tricky one. People don’t want to just sign friends and family up for anything. You’ll need to really show your value and gain trust. But once you do, you won’t have to do much to ask for a referral because they will most likely be talking about you anyway! 

All of us use word-of-mouth when we have a positive experience with a business. But it’s so much nicer to get a little reward for doing so. So why not use another of those freebees specially for referrals, like Dropbox, who gives free storage away?

Dropbox offers what they sell for free, if you refer its service to others.

It’s up to you what to offer – after all, some referrals can bring a business tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. But some referrals bring life-long loyalty from connectors, who are more than happy to spread the word about your business to hundreds of people. So have a good think about this – what types of benefits would work for your referees?

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: Why not let your referees choose from a varied list of options? People love options almost as much as they love rewards, and it gives you an opportunity to customize rewards. 


So, now you know how to get email lists for marketing! 

Marketing emails are a fantastic opportunity to stay in contact with your audience, and grow your relationship with them. Once you are committed to great emails that inspire, entertain and convert, and figure out which of these tips will help you grow your email list, you’ll be on your way!

It’s easier than you think! First, choose your email marketing service (we recommend GetResponse because it’s the easiest to use), then build your email list – just follow the tips above – and then start writing and sending your emails. Simple!
Luckily, the best email marketing services come equipped with tools to help support your email marketing growth long-term, which makes life much easier. Some are best for ad-hoc email sends, while others are designed for a marketing team to run. It’s all about finding the right tools for your business’ plans!
Written by:
Smiling headshot of Amanda Graham
I started writing for Website Builder Expert in 2022. I love copywriting for ecommerce, website, automation, and website brands and I’ve ghostwritten and content strategised for some of the largest multinational brands in the world. I have years of writing experience for the BBC, including documentaries, scripts, and Twitter campaigns. With such a wealth of experience to draw on, some of my best work on Website Builder Expert focuses on topics such as ecommerce strategies, marketing tips, and small business advice. I hope you enjoy my articles!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *