How to Create and Build an Email List to 100k & Beyond
If you don’t have an email list yet, then what are you waiting for?
Learning how to create an email list from scratch is a must when it comes to marketing. These lists are a great way to increase your revenue and receive a higher valuation for your business.
If you’ve tried to create one and it’s not building up the numbers you had hoped, don’t worry. After reading this, you will have created a business email, set up an autoresponder to do the work for you, and have everything in place to build an email list to 100,000 subscribers and beyond.
How to Create an Email List
There are a few steps you need to take before you can start building an email list. The first of these is to make your email marketing efforts look professional.
Creating a Business Email
In a world where people are constantly bombarded with spam and warned about the threat of scammers, you want to distance yourself as far away from that as possible. The best way to do that is to create a business email.
When it comes to email marketing, standard domain names of email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org just won’t cut it. Why should you expect people to open your email if they don’t know who it’s from? Even if you put your business name first, it doesn’t look professional and a business that doesn’t look professional is going to scare customers away.
To solve this problem, link your email to your domain, so it will read email@example.com. This looks much better and lets people know exactly who they are dealing with before they open your email.
TIP: Using a first name at the front of a business email will increase your open rate. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org is better than a variation of email@example.com. Personal touches will go a long way to improving your results.
Also, hosting companies may include a business email address as part of the plan you’re already paying for. Before moving on to the next step, log into your hosting provider or google them and “business email” to check and see what’s on offer. If they don’t, read on and we’ll show you how to create a business email with G Suite.
How to Create a Google Business Email
There are many different providers that offer this service, but we’ve decided to use one of the biggest—Gmail. Most people are already familiar with the Gmail user interface, but if you aren’t, it’s incredibly easy to use. Even if you want to stay with your current email client, it is fully integrable.
G Suite offers a 14-day free trial and a basic plan that costs $6 a month per user afterwards, which is more than enough for what we need. Their sign-up page will walk you through what you need to do.
Creating a business email involves you connecting an email address to your domain. This is so they can verify you as the domain owner and include the branded part of the email address.
Google offers step-by-step instructions specific to your hosting provider to help verify your domain. The process shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to complete, although you will need to access your DNS records. Sometimes, there can be a bit of a wait for your hosting provider to update these, so be prepared to give it up to 24 hours but it usually takes less than that.
With this done, it’s time to put the foundations in place that will allow you to automate the whole process and create an email list from nothing.
What is an Autoresponder?
An autoresponder is a service that allows you to automate the email sending process for thousands of people at once.
With an autoresponder, you can create a sequence of emails that are sent out at intervals chosen by you. For example, you might draft the following emails to be sent out a few days apart:
- A welcome email
- An invitation to a webinar
- A discount offer
- Further sales offers
When a visitor submits their email address on your website, the autoresponder kicks in and sends them the welcome email and the sequence begins. The visitor gets each email in order with no further input from you.
The beauty is, once you’ve written these and loaded them into the autoresponder, all you have to do is sit back. Well, not quite. The hard work is done, but emails can always be optimized to improve results.
This is just the basic functionality; there are a lot more possibilities when it comes to mailing your email list. How about sending discount emails on customer birthdays or special offers on national holidays? Take your email marketing game to the next level by choosing an autoresponder.
What Autoresponder is the Best?
There are several choices when it comes to picking an autoresponder and the one you choose will largely depend on your type of business.
What an affiliate site needs will be slightly different from a SaaS company. That’s why we’ve compiled a list to show you autoresponder differences and similarities so you don’t waste valuable time searching; it’s all here.
We’re not an affiliate of any of these and, unlike many other sites, we’ve chosen these autoresponders based on what we think the best are.
Perhaps the most well-known of autoresponders, Mailchimp has been in the email marketing game for a long time.
Their free version allows users to have an email list of up to 2,000 subscribers and to send a maximum of 10,000 emails a month. If you want to exceed these limits, you will have to move on to the paid plans, which start at $9.99 a month for the essentials version. This is a pretty standard marketing ploy for freemium pricing.
All kinds of features are included in the free version of Mailchimp, and some of the best are the basic email templates, pop-up forms, and basic insight reports. However, all emails sent out using the free version will have Mailchimp branding in the email footer. You have to become a paying customer to remove this.
The options available at no cost are pretty good and a great way to create an email list for free. They give you the opportunity to start earning from your email list before having to pay for an autoresponder.
Once you start growing your email list, you will outgrow the free pricing plan. That being said, you will start getting more features for your money, such as split testing, multi-step automation, and being able to send 500,000 emails a month. Half a million emails a month sounds overwhelming…until you remember that the goal here is to have a list with at least 100,000 subscribers. Send each subscriber one email a week and a month with five Fridays in it will use up all of that capacity.
Mailchimp does have a policy on affiliate marketing that can affect you if you’re planning on monetizing your email list. Affiliate marketing is banned under the Mailchimp terms of service but affiliate links are usually allowed. Confused? So are we.
Mailchimp considers these two things as different and states:
They will also scan your email campaigns for blacklisted URLs and may suspend your account if you post one, intentionally or not. They do say you’ll only be banned if you are found to be intentionally using such URLs, but it’s something to watch out for.
Overall, Mailchimp is one of the best ways to create an email list for free, thanks to its generous free plan.
Next up is Aweber, where simplicity is the name of the game.
Aweber concentrates on making email marketing for small businesses as stress-free as possible. This is done through pre-built templates and a drag-and-drop page designer that allows you to create emails with ease.
This simplicity runs right through Aweber as there is no tiered pricing. You pay a monthly fee depending on the number of subscribers you have, but regardless of your list size, you get access to all features. This includes sending an unlimited number of emails.
Prices begin at $19 a month for up to 500 subscribers but the prices are very similar to the essentials package of Mailchimp beyond that point. Aweber does offer a free migration service, making it possible to build your email list in the free version of Mailchimp and migrate it over to a paid Aweber plan later if you prefer.
To get a head start on growing your email list, Aweber will give you a free 30-day trial with full feature access, making it a great option for businesses that are looking to create an email without the need for heavy customization. You won’t need to worry about what features you need because everything you need to make a success of email marketing is here.
Klaviyo moves away from being a pure autoresponder and edges into customer management.
If you’re an e-commerce store owner, then Klaviyo has made a product designed for you. It has a long list of platforms that you can integrate with (including Shopify, Magneto, and Woocommerce), and you can even add their API if you’re running your own system.
Klaviyo allows you to create submission forms and build an email list while also allowing you to segment your customers. If you want to create a behavioral segment for customers who have spent a certain amount of money or are buying a certain type of product, that is possible.
The pricing is based on your number of contacts, with 500 costing $20 a month and 5,000 priced at $100. However, the service is fully customizable to how many contacts or subscribers you have and allows you to send an unlimited number of emails.
Klaviyo also offers SMS marketing, which is the same concept as email marketing but with text messages for your customers. You can send out updates about a customer’s order or even send a text to a customer reminding them about an abandoned cart. SMS marketing is offered separately from email marketing though and can be paid for as a standalone service or in addition to the cost of the email service.
For e-commerce owners, the features of Klaviyo will allow you to not only create an email list, but also test marketing strategies for real revenue improvements.
The lite package of ActiveCampaign acts as an autoresponder with a good level of marketing automation. Similar to Klaviyo, it allows you to segment your audience and track their actions but you’ll need to fork out for the higher tiers to get more features.
This is not necessarily a bad thing as the lite package is very fairly priced at $15 a month for 500 subscribers. Starting off with this package allows you to concentrate on creating your email list first. As your business grows, a host of more complex features become available in the higher packages.
This does start getting into the territory of customer relationship management (CRM) and the prices reflect that. Because of this, the higher pricing tiers might be unnecessary for small businesses, but ActiveCampaign provides a great option for companies with a sales team or those hoping to get to that point.
Hubspot is so much more than an autoresponder, it almost feels unfair to include it here. However, its available features make it an option that large businesses must consider.
What might not be known is that Hubspot CRM (a limited version of Hubspot) is available for free. This will allow small businesses to use Hubspot’s email marketing features. As part of this, you can create an email list, set up capture forms, and create some basic list segmentation. The main limitation is that you can only send up to 2,000 emails a month before you reach the paid plans.
Hubspot is a powerful marketing tool that has the ability to manage your inbound marketing and sales needs in one place. We could probably write a whole article explaining its features, but if you’re running a mid- to high-level company, you should look into what Hubspot can do for you.
How to Build an Email List
With an autoresponder set up and your email sequence written, it’s time to start building those subscription numbers up.
While there are many conversion rate optimization tricks that you can perform to improve your results, the basis for building an email list is traffic. We’re going to run through all the tricks with you but you need to have the traffic coming into your website to get results.
Whether your traffic comes through search engine optimization, social traffic, or paid advertisements, the amount of traffic coming in will likely be the biggest factor in determining the number of subscribers you get.
There is also an element of quality over quantity. If you do go down the route of paid traffic, make sure your ads are targeted to your audience. Remember that you will be paying for your autoresponder based on the number of subscribers you have.
When you have traffic, optimizing how you capture people’s email addresses is the next biggest factor to success. Once you have these two things, there isn’t a limit on how big you can grow your email list. We’ve used these methods to go past 100,000 subscribers and you can too.
Creating a Capture Form
Whether you call it a capture form, sign-up form, or whatever, the result should be the same. You want to create a form that makes people want to enter their email address.
All of the autoresponders we talked about earlier include some sort of capture form builder, where you can create forms to appear on your website. Creating a form this way takes away the need to write code, allowing you to concentrate on the design while it creates the code for you. After that, just copy and paste the code into your website and watch your email list grow.
TIP: Make sure your capture forms look good on mobile as well as desktop. Almost half of your traffic will be viewing on a mobile device.
Lead magnets are one of the best ways to persuade people to part with their email address. Offering something for free will help you to build an email list quickly as people like getting something for nothing.
Some of the most popular lead magnets include:
- Discount codes
This can seem like a lot of work, but you don’t have to create eBooks or PDFs yourself. They can be outsourced to writers from Upwork for a relatively low cost. There are even sites where you can buy readymade eBooks; just make sure what you buy comes with the rights to use them commercially.
To make the most of lead magnets, you will want to create evergreen content. If you can give away something that can be used repeatedly, that can only help your brand.
If you are a fitness website, for instance, you might offer a downloadable cookbook or a PDF that helps readers track their workouts. This content can be used over and over again, and can also be segmented with an interest-based email sequence for better conversion.
Publishing data reports can also provide a great lead magnet. At the start of every year, we publish our state of the industry report that analyzes the data from our marketplace. Reports like this become highly shareable and help to build up credibility in your related field.
The Call to Action
Capture forms should be as easy to complete as possible.
Reducing the number of form fields from four to three increased conversions by 50%, which was shown after Hubspot analyzed 40,000 landing pages.
What information do you need to collect for your email list? A name and email address are more than enough for most companies to build an email list and it keeps your capture form simple for your visitors.
“Click Here,” “Go,” “Download,” and “Register” are reported to be the best performing text for buttons.
Where to Place a Capture Form
It might seem like there’s an endless list of options for capture form placement when it comes to creating an email list and the truth is you’re not wrong.
Capture forms can be placed in many locations, including
- Banner ads
- Pop-up forms
- In-article forms
- Landing pages
To begin with, it will help to keep things simple so you can gain a baseline of data for optimizing. Once you have run a baseline test, try testing other placements. Running A/B split tests will help you figure out what works best for your business.
The most important thing to remember when creating and positioning your capture forms is that they shouldn’t affect the user experience negatively. If it appears that you’re trying too hard, people will turn away from your email list and your website.
Start with forms that appear in or around your articles, as these can be the least distracting. The lead magnet and call to action should be enough to pique people’s interest.
If you’re using pop-up forms, consider setting some parameters so that they only appear if a user spends a certain amount of time on your site, say five seconds or more.
Going From Nothing to 100k
The hardest part of growing an email list is the beginning. Be prepared to invest time to write the email sequence or to hire someone to do it for you.
Implementing all the steps we talked about in this article will get you off the ground. Going from zero to 10k will be harder than going from 10k to 100k. Think of it in the same way as launching a website, you have to put the work in before you get the return.
The first few thousand subscribers are your opportunity to test what works best. The placement of the capture form, the email copy, there is an unlimited number of conversion tests you can run but don’t get held up on the minute details. Find something that is getting results you are happy with and review it once a week. Eventually, it will get to the point where you can run things hands-off.
Traffic is an important factor in how large your email list will grow but it’s not everything. Getting to 100k and beyond is possible for a smaller site but it will take longer than a site with higher traffic.
The Big Benefits of Building an Email List
When you start building an email list, you’ll understand how powerful it can become.
Having the power to reach out to your customers through email will increase their lifetime value because you will own the traffic channel instead of having to rely on people navigating to your website. This opens the door for you to go to them.
Subscribers are also a targeted audience because they are interested in the same niche as you. This makes them much more likely to convert than cold traffic and positions email marketing as having one of the best returns on investment in marketing.
This is one of the reasons why growing an email list increases the multiple at which your business is valued. Diversifying your traffic is appealing to a buyer as it means your business is not solely reliant on Google’s algorithm or successful advertising campaigns.
Creating an email list from scratch might seem daunting but the benefits are there to be seen. As a marketplace, we know that a business with an email list will fetch a higher price.
If you want to see what your online business is worth, then try our free valuation tool. Getting a valuation doesn’t mean you have to sell right now, but you might be surprised by the value of your business.
You can set up a call with one of our sales team members, who would be happy to take a look at where you are now and help you to plan an exit strategy. Did you know that having an exit plan can help to increase your valuation?
Allow us to use our experience to get the exit your hard work deserves.