List Building 101 - How to Build an Email List - Handshake Digital -An E-Commerce Marketing & Advertising Agency

List Building 101 – How to Build an Email List

Having an online store that has a large email list is an automatic advantage over your competition. It allows you to connect with your current, previous and future customers in a way that social media cannot. Email marketing is by far one of the best ROI marketing efforts you can take for your online store. According to ✨ data ✨, email marketing ROI is $42 for every $1 invested by marketers. If I walked up to any stranger on the street and offered them a 42:1 ROI on anything, they would probably take it (or think I’m insane). In this article we will break down how to build an email list so you can stay connected with your customers.

According to Campaign Monitor, 64.1% of small businesses are utilizing email marketing in some capacity. That’s great news, yet most of the small business owners we speak with tend to think it’s either too much work or doesn’t give them a good enough ROI.

Email marketing can be challenging, but the best way to find success is to focus on list building before giving up on the effort all together. In this article, we break down 6 ways you can build an email list in 2021. We will mention that this article is focused on helping e-commerce stores, but many of these tactics can be adapted into other industries.

1 – Have an Incentive

This is one of the biggest keys to getting people to drop their email address into your form. What are you offering? Don’t expect people to give you their precious email address without you giving something back to them in return.

Popular incentives for e-commerce store email list building are % off your first order, free shipping or a free add-on to your first order (think of a small thing you can add to their first order but not lose a bunch of money on).

Here are some good examples of online stores giving good offers in exchange for people signing up for their email marketing:

2 – Add a “Top Bar” To Your Website

One thing that’s important to understand if you have a website is how people interact with websites. You don’t want to make assumptions about many things, but there is one thing you can make an assumption about. People will read a website in an “F” pattern. This means they will start at the top left, scan over to the right, then move down, scan right (but not as far) and then scan down the page. This makes an “F” pattern if you could follow their eyeballs.

This is why having your email marketing CTA in your top bar is a great place for it. People will see it straight away. Combine this with the aforementioned great incentive offer and you should start to see additions to your list consistently!

 Here are a few good examples of people having email marketing list building in the top bar of their website:

3 – Exit Intent Pop-Ups Work Wonders

Did you know most people have the exact same interaction with their computer when they are going to leave a website? We call that ‘exit intent’ and marketers have figured out this is a particularly ripe time to get email list sign ups. According to CampaignMonitor, exit intent pop-ups can snag 4-7% of your visitors and rope them into your email lists. Want to increase that number? Make sure you give them an offer they can’t refuse.

Here are some great screenshots of other companies using exit intent pop-ups on their websites:

4 – Use Social Media

Social media is a beautiful place filled awe and wonder. Ok, just kidding, it can be one of the ugliest places to be, but when it comes to online businesses, having a social media presence that is steady and consistent is key.

Building your email list via social media is a great tactic to work into your social media marketing efforts. You have the ability to go viral on any of these apps, and that’s a lottery every online store owner wants to play.

So, how do you list build on social media?

    • CTAs: Platforms like Facebook allow you to have a “call to action” button on your business page. You can make that CTA “Sign Up” and link it to a sign up page.
    • Giveaways: Giveaways are incredibly effective at getting people to pay attention to your brand, especially when you team up with other businesses! For this, we suggest having a landing page with a form built into it. Then, when they add their email address, they are automatically entered into the giveaway. You will watch your list numbers go up and up!
    • Incentives: Similar to pop-ups on your website, you can make a post that links to your sign up page that says, “New customers get 10% off their first order! Tag a friend that needs this!” Now you are giving them incentive to purchase and telling them to tag their pals!

Looking for some inspiration of others using social media to build their lists? Check out these screenshots:

5 – Post-Purchase Flows

Not everybody who purchases from you will be added to your email marketing efforts automatically (unless you follow our advice on the next bullet point). One of the best ways to increase conversion rates is to allow for guest checkouts. So how do you capture these email addresses? A post-purchase flow!

A post-purchase flow is an automated sequence of emails that are typically sent from a platform like Klaviyo. Basically when a user checks out, the platform grabs their email address to say stuff like, ‘Hey, thanks for shopping!’ You can also create an email in this flow that says, “Hey, be sure to subscribe so you can stay up-to-date on all things [BUSINESS NAME] by clicking the link below.” And of course, linking them to your landing page with your email marketing sign up!

But how do I get them to get added every time? Keep scrolling friend.


6 – Subscribe to Email Marketing on Checkout

Want to know a way to guarantee that even guests get added to your email marketing? Make sure you have a checkbox on your checkout page that asks people to subscribe to your emails.

The best way to get people to sign up is by having it automatically checked, but another option is to have an offer right in there – for example: “Sign up for our email list to get 10% off your next order!”

Looking for some inspo on wording and placement? Check out these screenshots of others doing it well:


In Summary

By now, you understand that building your email list is a much-needed thing that everybody should be doing. Want to know the real secret why?

Because having a list is more valuable than paid advertising ever will be. Just think about it. If you have a list with 10,000 engaged subscribers, you have the ability to send one email, with one offer inside, and have an automatic bump in sales. But if your ad is ugly, your copy isn’t good, your targeting is off or your preferred platform has an issue that day, you may net nothing. Just ask any marketer that is dealing with iOS14.5 changes how they are doing right now 🥴

Own your traffic sources and always try to build them up.