4 No-Fail Ways To Build An Email List From Scratch


What if I told you that there’s a platform out there that has three times the conversion rate than Instagram or Facebook and by 2023 there are going to 4.3 billion people on it? You’d want to be active on that platform, right? 

What I just described isn’t another social media platform. It’s email marketing. Social media gets so much attention for growing your business, and while it deserves attention, it often overshadows email marketing. And that’s to the detriment of business owners who are sleeping on it.  

A study done by McKinsey & Company showed that email marketing resulted in a 138% higher spend than social media. It can’t be ignored that email marketing will have a direct impact on your sales. So, let’s do this! Here’s how to start growing your email list (and your sales).

Leverage Opt-In Forms

Let’s start by explaining what an opt-in form is. You’ve seen them and you’ve used them. It’s simply a form on a website that asks for your name and email (at minimum) in exchange for something they are giving away for free. That might be a newsletter or a downloadable pdf. When you complete this form you are giving them permission to email you. You’ll get your newsletter or pdf and if they’re doing it right, you’ll continue to receive emails from them.

To start growing your list, the first step is to get an opt-in form on every single page of your website and your highest performing blog posts. Statistically, people need to see something seven times before they take action. So don’t be shy about giving them plenty of opportunity to subscribe to your email list. 

Create A Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is a digital download that you give away in exchange for their email address. You’re giving away valuable information in the form of a checklist, a cheat sheet, a template, an infographic, etc. While you don’t want to give away the farm, it does need to be highly valuable. This is your chance to prove your value and earn their trust. You need their trust because what you’ll do with their email address is send them a series of nurture emails that lead them to purchasing something from you. 

If you struggle with ideas for a lead magnet, start with determining what you want them to buy from you. If you’re a virtual assistant and you offer a 15 hour per week service package, what are the most common things that your clients would ask you to do with that 15 hours? Maybe their Google Drive is a mess and they need someone to create an organizational system for them. Your lead magnet could be 10 Tips To Organize Google Drive. Even if someone downloads this and decides to use your tips to organize Drive themselves, you still got in front of someone who’s actively looking for a virtual assistant. And you’ve now had a chance to prove your value. Now, you can offer your VA services to them in your email marketing. 

Here’s the thing though: the reality is that most will download this, see the value, and still not want to do it themselves BUT you have proven to them that you know exactly how to do the job they need you to do. Not only that, you got them on your website where they can learn more about you and your services. 

Lead magnets are gold. If you don’t have one, get on it.

Leverage SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is when you optimize your website so that Google deems your website worthy of showing up in search results. Google uses a variety of factors to make that decision. One of the biggest factors is mobile friendly sites. 

If your website looks and reads like crap on mobile, Google is going to swipe left. Get that fixed ASAP. Second, Google crawls websites to find relevant information to display to a user for the search terms they entered. Get familiar with keywords that your audience uses. And then create content, particularly blog posts, that use those keywords and phrases that are similar. 

SEO matters because the more people find and click on your website, the more opportunity you have that they’ll give their email address to you. It’s a numbers game. You need to get people on your website.  

Leverage Social Media

Here’s the real value in social media. Use it to drive traffic to your website. When your followers are clicking through to your website from social media, that’s the REAL indicator of social media ROI not the number of followers or likes you get. (Next level is when you start to track what percentage of social media followers actually buy when they click through to your website - that’s how you track the true ROI of the time spent on creating social media content.) 

I don’t want you to sell 24/7 because that’s just a big turnoff. Use the 80/20 rule: 80% valuable content, 20% sales content. For that 20%, it should be content that’s an easy lead into asking them to download your lead magnet. 

Also, you want to make it super accessible for your audience to get to your download. Sign up for Planoly or Beacons so you can have all your blog posts, lead magnets, and products with quick links to your content directly from your social media profiles.  

If you do these 4 things you will see your email list grow. Your email list is directly tied to your ability to make money so don’t sit on this. Study after study proves that email has a much higher ROI than social media. Not only that, we have no ownership over our followers. Those platforms are free...they can go away at any time. That may be hard to believe but I’m not banking my future success on it. You shouldn’t either. But our email list is ours as long as people are giving us permission to email them. It won’t disappear overnight and we don’t have to maneuver around everchanging algorithms. Email is where it’s at.