How to build an email marketing list

Using email marketing

Time to complete:

10 minutes

Email marketing is a critical piece of any small business’s marketing strategy. When getting started with email marketing, the first step is to build an effective email list for your business.

Well-curated email lists of current or potential customers make it easy to stay connected with people interested in your business without bothering those who don’t want to hear from you. This helps you stay top of mind — and top of the inbox — with your customers, and keeps them engaged and informed about new products, deals, and other useful content from your business.

Fortunately, creating a solid email list is simple and easy. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to capture your users’ email addresses, and get tips on how to encourage more people to sign up to receive emails from you.

How to capture email addresses

In this video, you'll learn how to build an email list.

For your company’s email marketing to be successful, you need a list of people to send it to. So let’s take a look at how to capture your customers’ — or potential customers’ — email addresses.

Embedding sign-up forms

One of the easiest ways to build an email list is to place email sign-up forms where visitors can easily find them online.

Whether you put them on your website, embed them in your blogs, or link to them in your social media posts, sign-up forms make it easy for people who are interested in your brand to quickly share their email addresses with you.

If you’re not sure how or where to create these forms, most email marketing tools have sign-up form templates that you can easily customize. (If you don’t have an email marketing tool yet, check out our guide to choosing one here.)

Pro tip: It’s important to consider where on your website to include email sign-up forms. Think about placing them where the value to your customer is greatest, such as after they make a purchase or read a blog post.

Email marketing tools can help you create email sign-up forms for your website.

Asking in-person

You can also ask for customers’ email addresses directly. We recommend having customers input their email address during the purchase process. Simply ask them if they’d like to receive exclusive deals, special offers, and updates on new products.

Ways to encourage people to sign up for your list

Now that you know how to collect your customers’ email addresses, let’s focus on why they should give them to you. Here are some great ways to encourage and incentivize people to sign up for your email list.

Don’t ask for too much information

Keep your email sign-up forms short. You want to encourage people to sign up by making it quick and easy, and many visitors will drop off the form before finishing if they see you asking them for a lot of information.

Make it simple: Ask for their name, email address, and permission to send them emails.

Offer discounts and promotions

By telling customers that they’ll receive a discount code with their first email, you can inspire people to sign up, which can help them become loyal, repeat customers.

Pro tip: To help keep them on your list once they’ve signed up, you can also provide occasional promotional deals and discount codes to keep engaged with your business.

Provide access to exclusives

Let your customers know that by signing up for your email list, they’ll be the first to hear about new products, special events and opportunities, and holiday offers. Not only does this make customers feel special, but it adds real value for people who like to be the first to hear about the latest things.

Share useful content

Make sure customers know that your email list isn’t just for company news and discount codes. Highlight the fact that you offer free tips and educational content, especially if your business often gets questions from shoppers.

Offer discounts and promotions to encourage people to sign up for your email list.

Learn more about how to encourage people to sign up, test your messaging, and bypass tricky spam filters.

Permission and consent

It’s important to remember that people must give you explicit permission to send them commercial (i.e., marketing or sales) emails. Nobody likes spam emails, and many countries, including the U.S., have laws against it.

Your sign-up form should ask people to “opt in” to receiving your emails by checking a box or otherwise stating their explicit consent. If you make checking a marketing permission box a condition for submitting their information, you’ll have a record of their consent. You should regularly maintain the list and remove anyone that unsubscribes or opts out.

With email marketing, your small business has a simple and powerful way to stay connected and engaged with your customers while offering them continuous value that builds brand loyalty.

And by following these tips, you can get started building a great email list, so you can take advantage of everything email marketing has to offer.


Build your email list

To build a healthy list of recipients for your marketing emails, make it simple and worthwhile for them to sign up. Embed sign up forms on your website and ask people to sign up in person.

  • Only ask for necessary information (name, email address, consent)

  • Offer discounts and promotions

  • Provide access to exclusives

  • Share useful content