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How To Build an Email Marketing List

Andrés Buenahora
Sep 22, 2020
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When carried out effectively, email marketing is one of the most lucrative digital marketing strategies. It offers low costs and a high return on investment (ROI), proving to be a vital asset to your marketing plan and overall company growth.

To begin your email marketing strategy, you must consider all elements, from copy in the subject line to sender reputation. 

The most important thing to consider, however, is who you’re sending your email marketing campaigns to. Whether it’s your target audience, form-filled leads, or existing customers, an email list is crucial to your success.

If you’re getting started in list building, look no further. Here’s how to effectively build an email list for marketing campaigns:

Update Contacts and Email Lists

Before prioritizing building an email list, it’s important to update the contacts you already have. Why?

If you send email after email to every contact in your CRM, including those who don’t open or click through your campaign, you’re more likely to be flagged as spam. 

If you’re flagged as spam above the average rate, you’re blacklisted by inbox providers like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo Mail.

Blacklisted accounts have no credibility. Once you’re marked as spam, it’s very difficult to rebuild a positive sender reputation.

To avoid a poor sender reputation, focus your marketing efforts on only recipients who are engaged with your emails. 

Engaged email recipients lead to higher conversion rates and a better sender reputation. A good sender reputation allows you to consistently send emails without the fear of being marked as spam and blacklisted by inbox providers.

You should also scrub your email lists regularly. This means, going through your email list and removing any invalid, duplicate, or inactive emails. 

Another great tip is to verify your email list. Run your email list through an email verification tool, like Clean Your List from Mirabel Technologies. An email verification tool categorizes emails as valid, invalid, or unknown.

This prevents you from sending to misspelled, misformatted, or catch-all emails. It also keeps you from automatically ending up in spam folders by recognizing and invalidating phishing scams, honeypot traps, and fake spam emails.

Sending to valid, active, and engaged email addresses will help ensure the success of your marketing campaigns.


Another great way to build an email list is to incentivize website visitors. 

Simply choose an incentive relevant to the majority of your website visitors, and pay special consideration to first-time visitors. Then, offer this incentive to users who subscribe to your mailing list.

Common incentives include a small discount, free shipping on a product, a trial period for a service, or a combination of these offer

Regularly offering discount opportunities and other specials can be an effective way to build an email list. 

Opt-in email marketing strategies, like this one, are essential to ensuring that you are deploying email campaigns to only the most interested users.

Upgrade to Gamification Strategies

Like incentivization, gamification triggers a positive response in website visitors. It’s a next level, user-first approach to marketing that employs competition, engagement, and/or awards. 

Gamification improves user engagement and can be used to build or grow an email marketing list.

A classic example of gamification to build an email list is the Wheel of Fortune popup. Upon entering a website, a spin-the-wheel popup is activated. Website visitors can then click to spin the wheel for the chance to win a special offer.

Rewards on the “wheel” might include incentives such as: 

  • Free shipping
  • Trial sized products 
  • Small percent discount

You may also choose to offer a combination of these incentives. 

The wheel will also likely include a “try again” or “one extra/free spin” option to keep visitors engaged. 

Other common examples of gamification widgets include digital scratch-offs and virtual slot machines. 

 To redeem the reward, visitors will opt-in by entering their email addresses, automatically building your list. This strategy can even be used in current email marketing campaigns to boost open and click-through rates.

Focus on Gated Content Marketing

Another great tip to building an email list is to offer gated content. Incentives from pop-ups are technically gated. The difference is that gated content offers users helpful and informative content rather than a discount or buying incentive.

Guides, eBooks, white papers, case studies, printable checklists and templates, infographics, and webinars are all considered types of gated content. They offer free solutions to common problems in the form of information and in exchange for an email address.

If you choose to employ a gated content strategy, be sure to use a landing page. Proper landing page design offers a lead-capture form, where a website visitor can input their information. 

After filling out the form, the visitor will then click the call-to-action (CTA), and an automated workflow is triggered. The workflow captures the email address, and then automatically deploys an email to the user, marking the beginning of an engaged email marketing relationship.

Promote your landing page on your website and social media, capture email addresses, and let the workflow automation do the rest.

Create a Referral Program

Did you know that according to Nielsen, 92 percent of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising?

One of the most effective ways to build and grow an email list is by creating a referral program. By nurturing a positive relationship with your customers, you create brand loyalists (also known as subscribers). A referral program will give your best customers an outlet to share their experience with your brand.

You can amp up your referral program by offering a discount or special incentive if a referred user subscribes to your content, makes a purchase, or signs up for your service. 

For example, this referral program by Ever note uses a Premium subscription and reward points to entice customers to join their referral program. They even simplify the process for customers by offering a Gmail integration to import contacts.

Don’t Forget Offline Tactics

Digital marketing strategies to build email lists are undeniably necessary. However, to complement the digital tactics, don’t forget offline list building strategies:

  • Exchange business cards with colleagues and industry leaders at networking events, and add them to your CRM.
  • Put a registration or sign-up list at your booth during events or trade shows.
  • Use a text-to-join email program. This service is offered by a few major inbox providers, as well as several third-party providers like JoinBy Text, Call Loop, and TXTImpact.
  • Ask to send a receipt to a user’s email address.


Building an email list is an integral part of email marketing. 

From online to offline strategies, Mirabel’s Marketing Manager offers a few tried-and-true ways to build an email list.

 For more information about these email basics, download our Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing. Click the button below to get started.

Josmary Gonzalez contributed to this blog.

A Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing

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