Email Marketing

How to Build an Email List from Scratch

You can reach the right prospects without spending anything!


Anam Jalil


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If you thought building an email marketing database would be easier than sliding into someone’s DMs, to put it bluntly, it isn’t - exactly.

Sure, cold emailing exists and you may very well find prospects that have not opted-in to receive your emails but may appreciate the message you convey and become promising customers. However, others may unsubscribe or even report you as spam.

Therefore, whether your aim is to send cold emails to relevant people or build a list of prospects that have opted-in to your emails, you need to master the art of email list building.

Also Read: 13 Tested Lead Magnet Ideas Through Email Marketing and Examples

Outboundengine mentions that it costs 5✕ more to attract a new customer rather than keep a current one. This may seem like building an email list to attract those new prospects is a nerve-wracking and perhaps costly feat. 

Not if you know what to do -  and we are about to tell you. 

Build an Email Marketing Database for Free

1. Opt-in on your social media accounts

If you are the Content Marketing Manager,  Team Lead, or CEO, you can add a link to opt-in to your company’s email newsletter on your LinkedIn profile. You can also add a link to an opt-in page to your company’s social media accounts: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. 

Invite visitors to your social media accounts to subscribe to your email newsletter and to receive emails about new offers, etc. 

2. Timed pop-ups on webpages

You should include pop-ups on a webpage that pop up (literally) after the visitor spends a few seconds on the page. For example, if they are reading an article about email marketing, the pop-up can offer them more email marketing tips via email regularly. 

The timed pop-up will be a little less annoying as the visitor genuinely seems interested in the topic, so if he/she does not convert at that time, at least they will have signed up for your mailing list. That way you can convert them at a later point in time.

3. A live chat widget

An easy way to build an email marketing database is by adding a customer support live chat widget to your website. Ask visitors to introduce themselves and provide their email address at the same time. 

You can then follow up with them, occasionally send them new offers, or even auto-subscribe them to your monthly newsletter. 

4. Lead magnets

Everyone loves free stuff and most will be willing to join your email marketing database if you offer them premium information for free. You can offer: mentions that lead magnets work in two ways; they attract the right people and then position those people so they can get more information to purchase. Therefore, your drip campaign begins here and you can work towards converting these customers.

5. Gated content

Restricted access raises curiosity - and we all know that. If you want to create hype about something, simply ban it. If you want someone to think something is worth pursuing, restrict access so not everyone can get to it. 

Often while reading a popular newspaper, you get a pop-up that tells you that if you want to go any further and avail of your free trial, you need to provide your email address.

Sooner or later, they also ask you to upgrade from the free plan if you want to continue reading more than 2 articles a month. Since you are already hooked, conversion may become inevitable.

6. Closed groups

Closed groups on Facebook that have followers relevant to a certain topic or niche, usually ask questions before allowing people to join. Many of them ask you to provide your email address and subscribe to a newsletter in order to continue joining the group. 

These can be job boards, content groups, discount groups - you name it! Closed groups give those who join an exclusivity factor. This enhances their interest and makes them more prone to giving out their contact information. 

7. Discounts and offers

Giving customers discounts and offers in exchange for their email address is usually effective, especially if the customer is interested in your product. You can also entice them to purchase a product/service they don’t necessarily need by giving them a discount they didn’t expect. 

You can add these offers on timed pop-ups or on exit intent pop-ups. Exit intent pop-ups are used when the visitor is leaving the website without purchasing anything. You grab the visitor’s attention and offer them a discount in exchange for their contact information so you can retarget them later. 

8. Tools

Do you have a tool that you are offering for free on your website? Great! You can add an opt-in to your newsletter on that page or ask visitors to sign up for your monthly newsletter via a squeeze page that opens before they can use your tool. 

This is an effective way to let users access something for free and in exchange get their contact details to add to your email marketing database.  

You can check out GoCustomer's tools here and when you want to warm-up your email domain to ensure your emails land in the Priority Inbox, check out the pricing plans.

Creating an email list that is relevant is important to attracting the right traffic and achieving conversions - and these free hacks are the quickest and most effective way to do so.

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Reach more customers with your cold emails

Table of Contents

    In a nutshell

    Tools such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and HubSpot can be used to build an email marketing database.
    Social media accounts can be used to build an email marketing database by including a sign-up form on the business's social media pages and promoting the email newsletter on social media posts.
    Timed pop-ups on webpages can be beneficial for building an email marketing database by offering incentives (such as a discount or free resource) in exchange for the user's email address.
    A lead magnet is an incentive offered to potential subscribers in exchange for their email address, such as a free e-book, webinar, or template.
    Offering discounts and offers can help build an email marketing database by incentivizing potential subscribers to sign up and providing value to current subscribers.
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