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Approximately 64% of small business owners leverage email marketing to generate leads and reach their audience; if you’re yet to start an email campaign, it’s time to learn how to build email lists correctly.

As a beginner, it could be daunting to start email list-building.

With many users and marketing metrics to track, tools, and technical know-how, as soon as you dive in, building an email list becomes easier than you thought.

In this article, I will show you how to build an email list fast with some of the best-proven email marketing strategies in the industry.

But first, let’s discuss what email list building is.

What is Email List Building?

Email list building is collecting and building a list of email subscribers who consent to receive marketing newsletters from a business, brand, or digital marketer.

List building involves creating lead magnets like a free ebook, video, or webinar and giving them out for free in exchange for a user’s email address.

That’s the simple definition of email list building. 

Let’s explore why you should consider building an email list today.

Why You Should Build an Email List

According to Noah Kagan in this expert roundup post, AppSumo is a 7 figure revenue business, yet 90%+ of that figure is from email list subscribers.

How to build an email list by experts round-up post comment from Noah Kagan

And that’s true; for many email users, checking their inbox is the first thing they do in the morning and probably the last thing before bed. 

I know because I do that, too. 

Email is the first marketing channel I check in the morning, and it sets the pace for my daily activities.

The thing is, your customers could be doing the same every morning. 

Suppose you’re not getting into your audience inbox as often as you should. In that case, you’re leaving much money on the table and losing numerous opportunities to get personal and intimate with your readers.

Another reason to consider starting email list building is that approximately 4.37 billion people are active email users. 

Attracting a fraction of these users could significantly benefit your business, increase traffic and shares, and build engagement.

Also, an email list protects your website traffic against sudden drops in search engine algorithm updates or penalties. 

Google and other search engines constantly update and change their SERP guidelines; your website might get penalized or lose ranking when you don’t know what went wrong.

If this ever happens to your website, your email list is one marketing channel to turn to and save your business.

By comparison, social media and paid marketing don’t come close to email engagement rates. 

When users permit you to send them marketing newsletters, they’ve already shown interest in your business and want to hear from you.

Building an email list is easy with the right tactics, marketing tools, and knowledge. 

Anyone can build a list of active email subscribers and increase sales, generate more leads, and drive more revenue.

Here are nine practical ways to build email lists fast today.

9 Ways to Build Email Lists Fast

You may not execute all nine email list-building tactics, but you should consider many of them.

These are time-tested, proven, and used by email marketing professionals to build exceptional subscriber lists over and over.

From simple tactics like asking to more advanced tips like running a contest or hosting a webinar, this list has effective list-building strategies for all levels of marketing professionals.

Let’s get into it.

1. Offer Value

If you want people to happily give you their email address in exchange for something you offer, that offer must be so good to ignore.

Giving users an irresistible offer is one of the easiest ways to build an email list quickly. 

Half the battle is won if your opt-in incentives or lead magnets are valuable and relevant to the audience’s interest.

For marketers, you can offer high-quality ebooks, cheat sheets, checklists, whitepapers, case studies, or even resource lists. These are valuable lead magnets that help convert visitors into subscribers.

For an e-commerce or B2B website, you could offer discount codes, coupons, gifts, access to exclusive events, etc. 

When you offer your audience more value than the price and ask for their email address at that point, they are more than happy to give you more relevant information.

Offering highly valuable option’ incentives increases your chances of building a more extensive list and gives the impression that your newsletters will be even better.

2. Use Pop Up

Popups are annoying and intrusive. I know; everyone says so.

But here is the irony: what people believe vs. their actions are two entirely different things. 

People tell you popups are annoying and you must not use them on your site, but marketing data from Sumo tells us that popups when done right, convert to 9.28% of the top 10% of highest-performing popups.

If you don’t believe me, here is what another marketing data says after analyzing over 80,000 eCommerce brands – overlay modal popup forms convert at 3.2% and slide-in popup at 2.2%.

These figures trigger the question, how did these brands use popups to get visitors to subscribe to their email list?

Here are the types of popups that convert better

  • Welcome mats
  • Slide-in boxes
  • Overlay modals
  • Gamified Coupon
  • Top banners

However, if you want to test popups on your website, consider tools like OptinMonster lead generation software. This tool allows building beautiful popups with templates tested for high conversion rates.

You can integrate OptinMonster with your favorite email marketing software to collect and add leads to your contacts list.

For more popup examples that increase conversion and how to do it correctly, check these 25 popup examples to grow your list.

3. Ask Only Relevant Details

Often, marketers ask too many questions on their signup form, overwhelming users to proceed with the signup.

If your business doesn’t need it for decision-making or identifying and segmenting subscribers, don’t ask for it. It is not required.

Ask only for relevant contact details that make a difference in your business and let you identify, segment, and send the right message to your subscribers.

Unless your business requires user details like phone numbers, gender, location, age, etc., you don’t need more than first name and email addresses.

Sensitive personal information like credit cards, home addresses, and personal identification numbers should only be required when necessary. You must assure users this information is protected and not shared with third parties. 

4. Use Social Proof

Users, followers, or even friends and family often influence decisions.

Using social proof on your signup form or landing pages gives potential subscribers the impression that you’re an industry thought leader or an expert in your field.

People look at the number and think having thousands of likes, followers, tweets, comments, and engagements must be good.  

It’s human nature; savvy marketers use it to encourage signups and build their email lists quickly. 

Social proof is a psychological trend where people accept something is rather good based on other people’s actions. If other people believe it’s good, then it must be.

Remember how you feel when you see a brand on review sites like G2 with thousands of five-star user ratings? 

Semrush G2 user reviews - 4.5 stars rating

Now that over 1k people believe the Semrush SEO tools are helpful, why can’t you try it? There is a chance over 1k people can not be wrong.

Another way marketers use social proof in digital marketing is through social media. Look at the Neil Patel Facebook page.

That’s some 1 million followers and still counting.

For first-timers, people who haven’t heard about Neil Patel but see this page with over a million followers and only the following 3 are probably thinking, who is this?

Neil Patel's Facebook likes with over 1 million followers

Another excellent example of social proof for list building is the Backlinko blog by Brain Dean.

Look at the subscriber numbers and the featured industry websites Backlinko has been mentioned. 

Backlinko Signup form with subscribers count

What are your thoughts when you see such subscriber count and brand names mentioned on top industry websites like Apple, Disney, Forbes, IBM, Amazon, etc.?

This must be a highly valuable and helpful authority website. You’d think. You’re not wrong.

You can apply the same tactic even if you don’t have such a staggering number of subscribers. You don’t need thousands of likes or subscribers to try it. 

So, how do you use social proof to get more email subscribers if you don’t have a large following?

Use Customer Testimonials

Past customer testimonies can help potential customers take action on your landing pages or signup forms. 

Most brands and smart digital marketers use this technique to persuade or influence buyers’ decisions.

For example, you can see how WP Rocket employs this tactic on its landing pages. They receive feedback/testimony from Divi theme’s CEO, a well-known web development agency globally. 

WP Rocket - Divi CEO testimony

In your case, you don’t have to look for a CEO or a global brand like Divi to get testimony; your reader’s honest feedback and testimonies can influence signup or buying decisions.

For example, Brian Dean of Backlinko uses users’ testimony to quickly increase subscribers to 173,674 contacts. 

You can see how a simple word from a notable internet influencer can help you increase your signup rate.

Homepage - Backlinko signup for with testimonial

Testimony is a tried and tested marketing tactic that works if you understand human psychology and do it correctly.

Customer Base or Usage Number

Customers’ base and usage figures works similarly with social proof, except this time, you show how people love your products, content, or services.

Look at WP Rocket again; the download count tells more than the number. It means the difference between WP Rocket and its competitors.

And significantly influence signup rates and conversion.

WP Rocket website in Orbit count

Now, look at NitroPack usage statistics (No disrespect).

NitroPack caching plugins website usage count

If you think the usage number can be one of the determinant factors between WP Rocket and NitroPack as a customer, you should start showing numbers on your landing pages or signup forms.

You can display daily signup numbers, total subscribers count (like Brian Dean above), people or websites that endorse your newsletters, etc.

Whatever number you think will influence the conversion rate, try it. You only know what works once you try.

Noteworthy Industry Mentions

I have briefly touched on this above; it is worth going over.

Having those “As seen on” or “featured” on your landing pages or very close to the signup form can be a compelling motivator to increase subscriber rates.

Let us examine the Backlinko landing page again.

Backlinko as seen on

Brain Dean mentioned it close to the signup form for a reason – it’s never accidental or for design purposes only.

The main reason is to influence signups and get people to subscribe to the list.

Who would want to get marketing newsletters from someone featured on businesses like Apple, Forbes, Amazon, and the like?

You will want to hear from him because your assumption includes this guy must have seen it all and knows much about the industry. So, let me see how his newsletter will help me.

5. Break Your Form into Part

If your web form is too long and needs to be filled in one browsing session, breaking it into parts can help increase the signup rate and make it more manageable.

The more form-filed users need to complete, the lower your conversion rate. Online users are always in a hurry to jump on the next thing; don’t make it hard to fill out your web forms.

While many studies show that the more form field user needs to complete, the less likely they will follow through on the process. 

But that’s not always the case if it is relevant and necessary for the business and industry.

Organizations and businesses that require more user information can use a conversational web form to break their fields into multiple parts. It is conversational because it allows users to interact with it.

Here is an example. 

Interactive conversational WPForms

Here is a step-by-step guide on building conversational web forms with WPForms. 

Also, if users are not required to fill out all the fields based on previous input or selection, conditional logic can help speed up the signup process.

For example, if a user answers yes to question A, then question C does not apply to such users. But if the answer to question A is No, then question C is a required field to proceed.

You can use conditional logic to simplify the process for users who don’t answer yes to question A so they don’t have to see question C in their form field.

This process can lead to a more personalized user experience during the signup process and help increase the conversion rate.

Read this step guide for more information about using conditional logic to create intelligent web forms.

6. Use Paid Ads

Your customers are everywhere, be it on blogs, social media, SERP, forums, Video streaming platforms, communities, etc.

As a digital marketer, you need more resources to reach audiences in all these places without exhausting energy, investment, and time. Getting everyone with your content on all the platforms your audience spends their time on is impractical.

The best way to shortcut and reach a wider audience with your marketing is to run paid ads. 

And if you want to build your list on steroids so fast that you can add contacts in a few weeks that could have been months or even years, run paid ads. Simple. 

The question is, which paid ad agency is suitable for lead generation? 

Two options will always come to mind – Facebook and Google ads. 

Facebook is cheaper and can help you generate more leads than Google ads. However, the audience from the SERP can be more targeted and engaged than social media users.

According to a report by SocialPilot, 87% of US marketers advertise on Facebook, which indicates that the Facebook platform helps business achieve their goals.

To learn more about Facebook lead ads advertising and how you can use it to build your list, follow the Jon Loomer blog and the Ben Heath YouTube channel.

Jon Lommer is a renowned expert in Facebook advertising, and his blog is a one-stop resource for improving your knowledge of Facebook ads.

Jon Loomer Blog

7. Host a Contest or do a Giveaway

A contest or giveaway is one of the fastest ways to build an email list and spread the word about your business because the participants will subscribe to your mailing lists and help promote your content.

Contests and giveaways are exciting or fun games that attract people to participate and win prizes for themselves. 

For example, you can run a contest that gives 20 points for each referral entering the game. And for additional entries, the contestant gets 2 points.

To participate, contestants must sign up with a valid email address, which you must confirm using the double opt-in signup method.

You must do this to protect against spam entries and invalid email accounts. But how do you organize and run a successful viral contest/Giveaway?

Here are the steps to follow to create your viral giveaway or contest:

  • Identify Your Target Audience – Identifying the audience category you want to add to your mailing list is the first step to a successful giveaway or contest campaign.
  • Signup with an Email Service Provider – If you haven’t done this, you must sign up with an email marketing service provider to collect email signups during the launch of your campaign. Some options include Getresponse, Convertkit, Sendinblue (Now Brevo), etc.
  • Determine the Contest Prize – The contest or giveaway prizes will make a big difference in the success of your campaign. Ensure your winner’s prize is something valuable and relevant to your target audience.
  • Define The Contest/Giveaway Rules – Every game has its rules of engagement. Without rules, there will be no winner. So, ensure you set and make the rules known to each participant.
  • Pick Your Contest Builder Tools – Running a giveaway or contest might be fun, but it could be challenging without tools to manage, simplify, and ensure every step is automated. You need a plugin like Rafflepress to organize, manage, and run a successful contest. Rafflepress integrates with your email list-building software to collect email subscribers and add them to it.
  • Promote Your Giveaways/Contest – Nobody will do it for you if you don’t promote it. You must promote your contest to attract a target audience and get people talking about it. The best way to do this is through paid marketing and collaboration with other marketers if you want to go viral quickly.
  • Pick The Winner(s) – The contest ends; it’s time to pick the winners and reach out to them via email. Pick your winners and give them their prizes based on your contest rules.

Read this comprehensive post by Rafflepress on how to organize a giveaway and contest to grow your email list fast. 

8. Add Content Upgrades

A content upgrade is an excellent list-building tactic that works. Unlike a generic lead magnet, a content upgrade is more specific to your reader’s interest.

You target readers with specific content and get them to subscribe to access the complete article. The tactics work well for high-quality, long-form content.

Instead of publishing an entire article on your blog, you can share a few paragraphs or sections and ask readers to access the rest via an email address signup.

It is like gated or paywall content, but in this case, you’re not asking for payment, but rather, an email address to unlock full access to the content.

An excellent example of content upgrade for list building is the MarketingProf blog. Instead of asking users for an email address via a generic web form, they employ content upgrade tactics.

Content upgrades example

As a reader, if you want to unlock the full article, you must become a member and subscribe to the blog newsletter. 

The fact that you’re at the point of accessing something relevant to your learning makes content upgrades convert at a higher rate. 

There’s a good chance you will subscribe if you read up on the blurry section in the post. At that point, you are already convinced the content is helpful and can help you somehow.

If you fear this tactic might not work, there is another way to use content upgrades that are less aggressive.

Suppose you’ve published an article you’re proud of; you can allow users to download a PDF version for later reading.

Many site visitors might need more time to read your lengthy blog post in one sitting, so providing an alternative way to have the content in their pocket can be extremely helpful.

You could also provide a checklist that adds more value to the post or a cheat sheet that allows users to work on the lessons in the post. 

These are just some examples; if you need comprehensive information on how to use content upgrades for list building, check this article on the Neil Patel blog.

9. Hosting a Webinar

Webinar is a fantastic way to build a super-relevant email list of subscribers. 

Anyone attending a webinar has already shown interest in the topic and brand and might be interested in purchasing your product or becoming a member.

For several reasons, webinar works great for list building:

  • Webinars help spread brand awareness
  • Provide an interactive learning experience.
  • Generate high-quality email leads 
  • It allows you (the host/speaker) to demonstrate expertise in real-time with your audience.
  • It helps in building a loyal community.

However, unlike other list-building techniques, webinar requires careful planning and execution. You must be upfront and transparent about your marketing goals and follow best practices.

It’s important to have landing pages that are clear on your goals, attractive, and a concise call to action. And make it simple for people to register for your webinar.

An email address and first name are sufficient information to collect on your landing pages.

For businesses that require personal identification information like gender, location, mobile, age, etc..you can break up the form to make it easy for people to sign up (for longer forms).

Here are some of the best webinar practices to remember:

  • Research your audience – know their pain points and interests and how to offer solutions.
  • Narrow down your webinar topics – don’t go too broad that your audience feels lost during the session.
  • Use the right webinar hosting platforms – Many options are available today. Getresponse webinar, Zoom, Goto Webinar, and lots more.
  • Promote your webinar everywhere – Here are some options to consider: use paid marketing, collaborate with other marketers, write blog posts, use social media, create a YouTube video, create landing pages, etc.
  • Collect email signups – Use email service providers like Getresponse, Aweber, ConstantContacts, and Brevo to collect email leads on your landing page and integrate them with your webinar software. If you choose Getresponse, you don’t need a separate tool to host your webinar. 
  • Bond with your audience – Making your audience feel like they are part of your community is a great way to make them remember the webinar experience for a long time. This can have a positive effect on your subsequent marketing.
  • Share Webinar Reply – Sure, not everyone who registered will attend the live webinar, but a good way to ensure no one misses the message is to record the webinar and resend the replay to those who did not attend.

Webinar is an effective list-building tool; you’re not just building a subscriber list but also a list of loyal customers who sees you as an authority figure in your industry.


How to build email lists is not rocket science. Anyone can do it, regardless of experience level, skills, and knowledge. You can quickly grow your email list with the right information, tools to make life easier, and an email marketing platform.

However, if you need to learn email marketing fundamentals, a guide on free email marketing courses is an excellent place to start. 

You will find many helpful advice and platforms to transform you from a beginner to a professional email marketer.

Some list-building methods will work better than others, so you must explore all available options and see what works best.

As you get better at executing email marketing tactics and discover what works for you, you can move on to more advanced tips like webinars, whiteboards, creating tools, etc.

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