Email Marketing and the Art of Email List Building

What remains to be a highly effective and lucrative digital marketing channel, email marketing continues to dominate many of today’s digital marketing strategies.

This year alone, 347.3 billion emails are forecasted to be sent and received per day worldwide. Come 2025, there will be 4.6 billion email users around the world. We have long gone past the discussion on whether you must invest in email marketing or not. 

There await massive returns for those who will be able to navigate email marketing successfully. In fact, email marketing is expected to generate around $36 for every $1 spent on it. In other studies, the returns could be as much as $42-$44. 

But, in case you need more compelling statistics, here are some to enlighten you on how companies enjoy email marketing:

  • About nine out of every ten digital marketers use email marketing to distribute content – the fastest and surest way to reach your target market is to distribute content via email. Targeting your market via email as your content distribution channel is intentional which is the approach that works best when dealing with either B2B or B2C 
  • Nearly 81% of small businesses primarily use email to acquire clients and 80% use email to retain clients or customers – Before launching your email marketing campaigns, there already exists an understanding between you and the recipients of your email that you will be in touch to develop the business relationship. 

Now, if you need no more convincing and you are sold out on the idea of using email marketing as your main marketing channel, you are probably here to gather practical tips on the following:

Well, you have come to the right place. 

First, let me take you through the processes of building an email list and getting people to subscribe to you.

The Art of Email List Building

Your whole effort would be to capture as many email subscribers as you can. 

Basically, you add these subscribers to your email marketing list and later on send them emails regarding your business and products.

It’s a no-brainer that if you treat your subscribers right, they could be potential buyers of your products or services. But, collecting email subscribers is an art and mostly depends upon your opt-in forms and what perks you are offering in exchange for their precious email.

With a good mixture of these perks and awesomely designed opt-in forms, you can collect an enormous number of new email subscribers.

If you are a business owner or a digital marketer, you need to know two things:

  1. You should have started your email list yesterday
  2. You will be kicking yourself that you didn’t start your email list sooner.

This post is going to tell you exactly what is an email list, why you need to start one, and you will be learning from my own list-building mistakes about what you can do to get more subscribers.

There are two phrases I’ve heard repeatedly since I started blogging. Chances are you’ve heard them too. These are the following:

  • The only list you own is your email list.
  • The money is on the list.

But what exactly do these mean?

The only list you own is your email list.

Say you get the majority of your blog reader from social media.

Basically, you can have all the Pinterest/ Instagram/ Twitter followers and Facebook likes in the world. But the only way you can reach those people is through that social media site. And if it goes, all your hard work gaining those followers and likes does too.

So like I said, the only list you own is your email list.

The money is on the list.

I heard this one a little while after I’d started my own email list, but it’s only now I really understand it. It basically means if you want to make money blogging, an email list is one of the best ways to go about it.

An email list is a direct way to message people interested in your blog! Whether they are possible clients and you promote services to them, or readers you know will love a product you are an affiliate for. 

How To Build An Email List From Scratch

So now I’ve convinced you to build an email list. But here lies the next problem we must face: How do you even create an email subscription list for free?

Here’s a roadmap to help you.

STEP 1: Sign Up for An Email list Building Service

You need to sign up for a service that will collect emails for you. Some obvious choices are:

  • MailChimp- This is good for beginners as you get up to 2,000 contacts and 12,000 emails per month (with adverts) for free.
  • Mailerlite This is also good for beginners as you get up to 1,000 contacts for free, and is easy to use.
  • Sumo- You get up to 200 subscribers free, including analytics and templates, but the price increases to $29 per month after the startup plan.
  • ConvertkitNot so great for beginners as pricing starts from $29 per month but has more features, and all the pros seem to use it.
  • GetResponse– GetResponse is one of the most reliable and cheapest email marketing solutions for bloggers and affiliate marketers. The plan starts with a tiny amount of $15/month. But the results are incredibly awesome. Getresponse is the top-most email marketing solution. 

There are more pros and cons to each, so I suggest researching them thoroughly. But remember you can always swap to a different one at a later date if need be!

STEP 2: Create an Opt-In Form

Once you’ve picked one and signed up, you will need to create a subscription form.

This will differ depending on what platform you use.

I use Mailerlite and found it really easy to make a signup form. It was even simple to change the design to match my blog branding!

If you’re struggling, here is the official tutorial from the providers themselves. 

STEP 3: Add The Sign-Up Form To Your Blog

Once you’ve designed the signup form, go ahead and add it to your blog!

I downloaded the Mailerlite plugin, which allowed me to basically transfer the design I had made on the Mailerlite website straight into my blog.

  • There are ways of doing it without a plugin, however, like copying the code over.

And that’s a basic overview of how to create a signup form. It might seem scary, but it really easy quite easy with a few tutorials and practice!

How Can I Get People To Subscribe To My Email List

Email Marketing

Creating the form and adding it to your blog is pretty easy. It is getting people to actually sign up is the main task, which demands your understanding of your audience.

When it comes to gaining subscribers, there are three things to consider:

  • What type of opt-in do you have?
  • Where is the opt-in box placed?
  • What is your opt-in incentive?

Let’s have a look at each.

What Type of Opt-in You Have

There are generally four types of email opt-ins to use. These are:

  • A landing page. These are good as most of the time they do not have other buttons or options, meaning the person has to decide then and there whether to sign up or not.
  • A smart bar. These are very thin opt-ins at the top or bottom of your blog. 
  • An opt-in box. This is an opt-in box that can be of any size and can be placed in a number of places. This goes usually in the sidebar or in between the posts.
  • A pop-up. Having a pop-up is a great way to grab your reader’s attention, and these can occur at different times or for different demands, e.g if someone clicks on something, scrolls a certain amount of page, etc.

Where Your Opt-in Is Placed

I feel like I need to write this because you need to hear it over and over; nobody will sign up for your emails if they can’t see it. It might sound obvious, but I knew this, and I still wasn’t placing my opt-in boxes in obvious places.

Placing your opt-in in the header section or near the top of your blog is a great idea, as it’s guaranteed people will see it. Especially if that header appears on every page of your blog. Regardless of how you obtain your readers, they will see it!

To make your opt-ins more visible, you can place them:

  • In your blog header
  • High up in your sidebar
  • Throughout your posts

What Your Opt-in Incentive Is

Just putting up an opt-in box and asking people to sign up is not really going to hack it.

You have to give people a reason to sign up for your blog.

According to Sumo, the average email opt-in is only 1.95%. So, basically for every 100 people who see the box, around 2 will sign up!

If your opt-ins fall below this number, then you need to give people more incentives or you need to reform your incentive. You can do this by:

  • Providing sought-after information- If you’re a blogger who makes $10,000 every month, that’s going to be of interest to a lot of people.
  • Giving a discount- If you sell a service or products, offering 10% off if someone subscribes is a great way to get new customers.
  • Offering freebies- This is perhaps the best way to get people to subscribe. Who doesn’t want something free?! You can offer free guides, checklists, video training, and access to a resources library… Whatever it takes to convince your target audience you are worthy of obtaining their email address.

Note that you must provide value with the incentives you offer.

My Email List Building Tactic

When I first started my email list, I just stuck a box in my sidebar with a call to action about signing up for blogging tips. I offered no freebies and no insight into the fact that my blogging tips were any good! It was safe to say that opt-in performed below average…

Once I started offering guides as freebies, the results became a lot better, but the conversion rate is still below average.

Following this, I realized I need to consider who was coming to my blog. Most of my traffic is from my pillar post, The 35 Biggest Business Challenges Growing Companies Face, and people are clicking through to read a specific blog post. 

I write on a wide range of topics. 

I realized that I needed specific opt-ins depending on what post my readers were on, to really engage them.

Summing Up

If there’s anything you take from this post, it’s to start an email list today! It’s not as difficult as you think and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.


  • Anything above 1.95% is considered a good conversion rate.
  • It’s good to experiment and use multiple opt-in incentives to see what your audience wants.
  • Sometimes it’s better to have sections for your subscribers so you know they are interested in a specific thing.
  • It’s okay to have a small engaged email list, but it can never hurt to have more!
  • Think about the type of form you use. A landing page means people can either sign up or exit, and there are no other distractions. Or you can use a pop-up that activates after a certain action or amount of time. You can use a bar at the top or bottom of your blog, or even just have a traditional subscribe box.
  • Remember to put it in a place people can see it. At the top of your blog, in relevant posts, or in your sidebar are good ideas.
  • Give people an incentive to sign up. Offer really good information, discounts, freebies, or anything else you think your audience would enjoy.
  • Writing about how good something is/how much someone needs something and then offering it in exchange for their email is a great way to gain subscribers.

While the internet offers endless connections, true engagement can be lacking. Build lasting relationships with an email list. It’s a simple and effective way to cultivate a loyal community around your brand or passion.

I really hope this post has encouraged you to start a subscriber list and given you more direction with it. 

Let me know what struggles you are facing with your email marketing and if you have some experience in email marketing, do share (via commenting).

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