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21 Ways To Build Your Contact List

Whether you’re new to email marketing or have been doing it for years, the most important part of your job should be growing a high-quality and engaged contact list. To make your life easier, we’ve compiled a list of 21 tried-and-tested tactics for the success of your future campaigns.


Email marketing can be profitable for any business, no matter what kind of product or service you offer. But the foundation of email marketing success is the quality and size of your permission-based email list. If you build a list of subscribers that trust you and consider you an expert in your field, your response rates will constantly climb.

Developing and maintaining a responsive opt-in email list is challenging, even for the most experienced marketers. Whether you’re at the beginning of your list-building journey or already have thousands of contacts, list management is hard work. Addresses change, subscribers become inactive, and some unsubscribe, chipping away about 20-30% of your list every year!

However, consider the alternative. Studies show that low-quality lists waste tens of millions of dollars annually, and no business can afford that. Quite simply, small investments in list management can reap huge returns in marketing efficiency and campaign ROI.

The following list provides techniques and tips to help you grow your marketing list, including, but not limited to:

  • Boosting sign-up form activity
  • Finding new places to add forms
  • Using more content-distribution channels
  • Partnering with other publishers and vendors
  • Contributing to social media sites and blogs
  • Placing your sign-up form on Facebook

List building tips, to get the most out of your email marketing

1. Add a sign-up form everywhere prospects go.

Sign-up opportunities should be easily accessible on every page of your website. Make sure they “pop” visually and indicate clearly what subscribers receive. Don’t forget your website and any blogs you control. Blogging is a great communication tool, so include a sign-up form in every post and continue the conversation!

Sign-up form built with GetResponse
Sign-up form built with GetResponse.

2. Boost sign-up activity.

Make it quick and easy for your visitors to sign up. A first name and email address are all you need initially. If you ask about frequency or other preferences, keep it brief – you can always ask more questions later, through a survey email.

  • Be clear, persuasive, and honest about what subscribers receive and how they benefit from subscribing. Include one or two short customer testimonials.
  • Let them know how often to expect your newsletters and other emails. Don’t inundate subscribers, even if they indicate no preference.
  • Link sample newsletter issues to your sign-up forms, so prospects can make an informed decision. You’ll get more responsive subscribers!
Email sign-up form with privacy and secure seals
Email sign-up form with privacy and secure seals

3. Address visitors’ privacy concerns.

Don’t overlook this important issue coming out of the gate, as most people fear they will receive an avalanche of spam – or scams – when they give out their email address. Tell potential subscribers that you respect their privacy and their personal information, then link to your privacy policy page. Include a link to Customer Service for those who have questions.

4. Add incentives to sign up.

Decide early whether to use incentives, then be as consistent as possible. The most popular incentives are free articles or reports and, of course, special offers, VIP programs, and discounts. The latter can eat into your profits if your sign-up forms are working, so we recommend “thought leadership” papers or ebooks and reports that you know your prospects can use. These attract quality subscribers and increase your reputation as a subject matter expert!

For more ideas about incentives that will help you build your faster, check out this article: 19 Ideas for Killer Lead Magnets.

Free food recipes can work well as a lead magnet, too.
Free food recipes can work well as a lead magnet, too.

5. Create a great landing page.

First things first! A landing page, a.k.a. squeeze page, is typically designed only to help you achieve one goal. That goal can be anything, e.g. webinar registrations or ebook downloads. Most often however, it will be to help you build an email list. So make sure it’s compelling and convincing.

It should feature a powerful headline and a few of the “juiciest” benefits to get visitors salivating to sign up to your list! Entertain your visitors with an audio or video message explaining why they should subscribe. Or consider letting a customer provide the message! It creates that “human connection” and is an opportunity to direct them to the sign-up form on your webpage while you’re winning them over!

You can start building high-converting landing pages today with our Landing Page Creator or if you prefer to learn more about them, sign up for the Essential Landing Page Course.

Landing page for fitness business
Landing page for fitness business

6. Include testimonials in your landing page.

This is crucial. Customer opinions can be the most powerful conversion tool of all! Put one or two strong testimonials from satisfied subscribers on your squeeze page. Use any format, but you may find that multimedia (audio or video) is more “believable”. People like to see and hear the people behind the opinions, so they can make more informed judgments

7. Use social media to turn your fans into subscribers.

Social media sites have become effective places to collect email addresses. Place a sign-up form or a landing form on your Facebook page, so fans can subscribe to your list. Then create a bond with your fans by sending personalized messages.

Inviting fans to sign up for the newsletter on Facebook
Inviting fans to sign up for the newsletter on Facebook

Every now and then post updates on your Facebook page to bring your fans’ attention to your landing page or directly to the sign-up form. You can use paid ads and boost your posts to reach a wider audience and grow your list even faster.

8. Include a sign-up button inside your newsletter.

…or a text link to your subscription page, if you’re not using HTML. This may sound like a waste of time, but what if a subscriber forwards it to friends and co-workers? Or shares it on social media sites? Or reproduces it online? You could explode your sign-ups, just by adding a link to the form!

Ask your subscribers to spread the word about your brand and your newsletter, too.
Ask your subscribers to spread the word about your brand and your newsletter, too.

9. Create a web-based newsletter repository.

By offering an online archive or gallery of all of your newsletters, you make it much easier for subscribers to decide whether they’d like to sign up. The more informed they are about what you have to offer, the more likely they are to open your email messages. Online newsletters and article archives are also an excellent way to generate additional traffic from search engines!

10. Include “forward to a friend” and “share” links in newsletters and promos.

This is the best way to encourage subscribers to share your newsletter content, offers, and articles with friends and on social media sites. “Word of mouth” is a powerful viral technique that works great with email marketing. If subscribers find your content useful and informative, they’ll pass it on, multiplying your readers and hopefully your sign-ups! It’s a powerful source of new subscribers – achieved with minimal effort.

11. Add sign-up forms to blog updates.

Place a sign-up form on your blog to notify your readers of new posts. This has a threefold benefit: you build your email list, strengthen relationships with your readers, and get more traffic to your blog!

12. Add opt-in check-boxes to other forms and business messages.

Create opportunities to sign up for your newsletter while prospects are filling in other forms. Why not? It’s a value-added service to let them know a free enewsletter is available. Think about all the types of forms you use: from software downloads, to demos and whitepapers, to event registrations and contact forms. And with the highest open rates of any emails, confirmation and transactional emails could also increase sign-ups. So add a link to your form!

13. Let others reprint your newsletter.

Encourage others to distribute and republish your newsletters, specifying that your newsletter content is not to be modified or used inappropriately. Many webmasters and newsletter publishers are actively looking for high-quality content, and if they reprint your newsletter, you may get new subscribers, traffic, and links to your site. If there are limits and conditions (on commercial use, for example) just state your policy clearly and concisely.

14. Advertise in ezines and other newsletters.

Use newsletter directories to find other newsletter and content publishers that target youraudiences. Run a search for “ezine directory” or “newsletter directory” to find multiple advertising possibilities!

15. Run a webinar promotion.

Webinars are great for building meaningful and personal relationships with your audience. The best thing about them – it doesn’t matter where your customers are located, you can all meet up online.

When promoting your webinar, add a check-box on your landing page that will allow your registrants to your mailing list, too. After the webinar is finished and you’re sending the video recording, invite your users to join your subscription to stay up-to-date with future webinars and other useful content.

16. Use Google AdWords campaigns.

Google AdWords is a relatively cost-effective type of online campaign and can get very nice results. It doesn’t matter whether you promote your newsletter subscription or a blockbuster product launch. Explore to find out what draws best… it’s worth it to experiment. Just make sure your newsletter sign-up form is always on the landing page!

17. Use your physical mailing list.

If you have a physical mailing list from your offline business, send a snail-mail postcard to your customers, offering a special discount for signing up to your email newsletter. If you don’t have a snail-mail list, consider leaving a sign-up form near your register or point-of-sale location!

18. Contact other newsletter publishers and vendors.

Use your networking and social media skills to reach out to other newsletter publishers or even vendors with complementary products or services. Let them know that you’d be interested in promoting their newsletter or offering if they’d do the same for you. This way, both of you can get more online exposure and build your list faster!

Landing page promoting a webinar with Erik Qualman
Landing page promoting a webinar with Erik Qualman

19. Promote your newsletter in article directories.

Research and submit topical articles to article directories. Be sure to include a bio box at the bottom with a link to your website or an autoresponder email address for instant sign-up to your email list. It enhances your reputation, builds your brand, and attracts quality subscribers.

Promoting ebooks on SlideShare
Promoting ebooks on SlideShare

20. Be active on similar websites and become a contributor.

Step 1. Place a sign-up form on your website and landing pages.
Step 2. Start attracting more traffic. How? By becoming active on other similar websites and blogs. Find discussion boards, forums, sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers, and start posting relevant and valuable comments. But don’t spam! And don’t forget to put your website’s URL in the author’s bio – that’s what’s going to bring you traffic after all.

For better results, you’ll want to become a contributor on other websites. Publish inspiring articles others will want to read. This way you’ll put your name and URL in front of new audiences, and build your list whilst doing so, too!

21. Promote your newsletter at every marketing touchpoint!

Whenever you share your PowerPoint or webinar presentations, make it easy for audience members and associates to subscribe by including a link to your newsletter subscription page. Hand out sign-up forms when speaking to groups or at seminars. Don’t forget to ask for them at the end of your presentation!

Imagine how many sign-ups you’d get if every incoming caller had the opportunity to subscribe! Have call-center and sales employees ask customers and prospects if they’d like to receive newsletters or promotional emails, once they’ve established rapport. It only adds seconds to the call and is an ideal source of qualified subscribers!

If you use hard-copy collateral, get some of those print costs back by encouraging email subscriptions on direct mail, catalogs, and print ads.


Include a sign-up form with every message – everywhere you come in contact with prospects and customers. Feel free to vary the content and the design, but make signing up quick and easy. Your list-building engine will generate new contacts 24/7.

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