How do I build my email list?

Lewis Howe's said on his podcast "School of Greatness" that if he had to start over again he would start with building his list before anything else. How would one with no platform go about building an email list?


I am not 100%sure what you mean by by no platform, but I will answer as best I can.

If you have a website (again I am not sure if this is what you mean by no platform), you could have an email signup list.

What I see a lot of professionals do is give away something as an incentive like an ebook. If you have something that you can give away, people would need to enter their email address so it gets emailed to them and voila, you start building your list.

I also use social media and as I make connections, my mailing list builds fast.

I would be glad to schedule a call with you so I can share with you all of my strategies for building a list. I have 3 main strategies that I use to build my mailing list and can share them with you on a call.


Answered 9 years ago

Tactically you could set up a one-page site using linked to a Google docs form to collect email addresses. As Bruce mentioned, ideally you would have something to offer in exchange for people providing you with their email address, but you could also have the page be a teaser of what's to come and have the users subscribe to get updates on your product launch, new content, or whatever it is you are building.

Answered 9 years ago

Great options listed above. Another thing you could do is offer a percentage of the sales of your products to popular bloggers in your space so they can push your content. When they purchase your content, collect their email address.

As far as not having a platform, that is no problem, however, you need to find a way to add value or positively impact peoples' lives if you expect them to give you their email address.

Answered 9 years ago

One simple thing is required for building up an email list that's valuable to you: You must be valuable to your target audience.

Generally, this means you generate amazingly useful content, that makes them better at what they are trying to do. Teach them how to be awesome at the things that matter to them.

Then you just need to give them a way to hear more from you. MailChimp has a great free plan that makes this very straight-forward.

That's the big picture. Let's talk if you are unsure how to apply this to your situation.


Answered 9 years ago

If you want to quickly build a responsive email list in the next 30 days — especially if you’re just starting online and don’t have a lot of money — the following strategy can get the job done.

Email is More Popular than Social Media
According to a recent study by Ipsos, nearly 85 percent of people who use the web will use email, compared to only 62 percent who use social networking sites.

According to data compiled by Litmus, an email marketing analytics company, email regularly offers better value per dollar spent than even search and paid ads:

How to Grow a Massive Email List
(Image Source:

It’s easy to see that an engaging newsletter is a win-win. You get to send out valuable content to current customers and prospects who have an interest in your industry; in return, you’re able to maximize one of the most powerful, personal marketing channels available on the cluttered mess that is the internet.

Perhaps best of all, however, is that you don’t have to compete with a myriad of distractions that are present on social networks.

With this in mind …

21 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies

21 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies

1. Treat your blog home page like an email capture form
For those who focus on building and growing an email subscriber list, their home pages reflect how vital email is to their content strategy. Just take a look at the Taco king Noah kagan himself. On his personal blog the first thing you see is an optin form

How to Grow a Massive Email List

“Big, bold signup forms dominate the home pages of many email-savvy blogs.” — Kevan Lee for Buffer Social

2. Content Upgrades

What’s the difference between your blog post converting at 6% and converting at 60%?.

Content Upgrades.

Here’s how it works.

Write a blog post.
Create a piece of content that goes more in-depth on the post’s topic.
Offer readers of your blog post the option to receive the upgraded content in exchange for their email.

This strategy is brilliant in its simplicity. Your readers have already expressed interest in a topic by clicking through to the blog post. Why not take advantage of their interest by offering them more?

Bryan Harris from Video Fruit uses this strategy to increase his subscription rate to 30% per upgrade offer. His best offers have generated an astonishing 62% subscription rate.

letterman formula

Free Bonus: Get Your 21 Insanely Actionable List Building Checklist PDF and Increase Conversion Rate By 300%

content marketing machine
Brian Dean of catapulted his subscriptions by 785% with this strategy. Let me repeat that again. 785% increase. That’s insane!

the content upgrade

How to make content upgrades.

I suggest your read this blog: 28 Ideas for Content Upgrades To Grow Your Email List from

3. Multiple CTA’s
There might be a signup in a popover, a signup at the top of a blog post, another one at the bottom. Basically, the design assumes that people will view the site differently and that in order to maximize the chances that a potential subscriber sees a signup form you’d best put sign up forms everywhere.

Check out buffers blog to see all of the CTA’s in action.

If you scroll down just right on the Buffer blog, you can see all of our CTAs at once.

Here are some top places to try placing an email signup form (or two or three) on your blog:

Top menu bar
Header of your site
In your byline
Inside the blog content
Footer of the content
Your bio

4.Locked Content

First off, a big hats off to Matthew Barby for showing me this, as it has become One of my favourite methods for lead capture.

Just to explain what locked content is, it’s when you limit access to extra content until the user gives over their contact data.

How to Grow a Massive Email List

Here’s an example from Matthewbarby for his recent SEO case study:

Example of locked content

Once you add your name and email address you’ll be presented with the exclusive content, as shown below:

Exclusive content is then displayed.

If you want to set something like this up on your website, you can use the Optin Locker plugin (if you use WordPress).

5.Write epic posts

An epic post is a post so good that readers are compelled to link to it, share it, print it out, forward it to their colleagues… you name it.

An epic post is usually longer than 3000 words and delivers real value to its readers. It’s often backed by data, provides useful insight, and includes actionable advice that readers can implement.

Writing an epic post not only helps drive traffic to your website through search engines and social media… it also builds your credibility faster than most other online marketing initiatives because of the level of insight that visitors gain from reading it.

Epic posts are often hard to outsource because they require a level of expertise only gained through experience. It’s easy to see when a post has been outsourced because the entire tone of the article lacks experience – it might be long, but it won’t be epic (there are ways around this but it’s definitely hard to do).

Here are some examples of epic posts:

5 Steps To Building An Epic Content Marketing Machine
5 Tips and Tools for Hiring an All-Star Marketing Team

6. Exit pop-ups
There’s been a lot of debate surrounding opt-in/opt-out popups . The team over at Copyhackers wrote an article at the start of 2014 that was very critical of using these types of popups, claiming that it was “outright trickery.”

Matthew Woodward notes how pop-ups on websites can help build lists, if done properly. His case study consisted of finding out why some helped gain subscription sign-ups, while others just annoyed the visitor.Exit pop-up list building cas

What Matthew found in this case study was – to develop creative touches. When a visitor is about to leave your website, the pop-up ought to provide something that is so tempting, that a majority of visitors should buckle and provide their email.

Matthew cites masterful pop-up technicians who use this technique on their websites. You can see for yourself by visiting Matthew’s blog here.

Opt-In/Opt-Out Popups

Copyhackers Popup

Not only does this pop-up give you a clear understanding of the value being offered, but they also offer a choice – a choice that is heavily encouraging you to say YES.

The other great thing here is that the opt-out option (in this case “No, I reject the persuasion guide”) isn’t overly negative. By this, I mean that it isn’t saying something along the lines of “No, I’d prefer to stay being an idiot.”

Exit Intent

When someone tries to leave your blog and moves their mouse to the cross on the browser tab you show them a popup.

Tools to create this:


The popup basically creates an additional page view for the user, significantly increasing your chance of email capture.

7.Add a subscribe link in your email signature(s)

The idea is to add a newsletter signup link directly in your email signature (and the email signature of everyone in your company) to grow your emails absolutely free.

Here’s how Noah Kagan does it…

Which links to…

8. Add Social Proof To Everything
When it comes to any form of conversion optimization, social proof is one of the more powerful ways to boost conversions. People like to join in things that are already popular and they are TERRIFIED of “missing out”. Social proof is so powerful, it’s kickstarted an entirely new brand of ecommerce called social commerce, where stores and social networks partner together to create an almost communal shopping experience.

According to Search Engine Journal, 63% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase from a site that has product ratings or reviews. In a series of peer-reviewed studies conducted in 2008, researchers determined that social proof had more of an effect on behavior modification than concepts like protecting the environment, personal responsibility or even saving money.

Example. Tim Ferriss uses social proof at every nook and cranny on his homepage. Just take a look!

Bottom line: Social proof works

How to Grow a Massive Email List

9. Add a viral loop to your opt-in pages
The strategy here is to offer an upsell on the page after a person has opted in, in exchange for them referring other people who sign up.

Here’s an example from the Traffic 1m course launched by Noah Kagan (yes, Noah is featured a few times in this article because he’s really good at this stuff, I mean really GOOD!)

When someone opts in to receive the free course, they’re redirected to this page…

People who have just signed up to receive the free course now have the option of receiving +$2,500 worth of free bonuses if they share a Tweet and send an email about the course.

Here’s the Tweet they used…

Here’s the email…

And here’s the page where you get the bonuses (once you’ve shared the Tweet and sent the email)…

Traffic 1m would have received a ton of email subscribers through the 10,200 shares they received on Twitter (I don’t have the data on how many emails were sent).

You can use a viral loop for any type of email opt-in campaign you have running (eg free report, discount coupon, free content etc) – the key is that the upsell is as closely aligned as possible to the original opt-in offer.

10. Host A Giveaway
Giveaways are a fantastic way to engage people with your brand and build your email list.

How to Grow a Massive Email List
Bryan Harris used a giveaway to land 2,239 emails in 10 days.

Giveaways are a sure-fire strategy when run correctly. In order to be successful, you need to make sure to include the following components:

A compelling prize your audience actually wants
Bonus entries given for referred entrants (can use KingSumo Giveaways plugin)
Guaranteed bonus incentives for all non-winners (something you can give at no cost)
Major promotion to relevant audiences

The biggest problem with most giveaways is that they pick up a ton of non-relevant subscribers who won’t ever be interested in your product. The solution to this is to offer a prize that will ONLY interest your target audience.

For example, in the Bryan Harris giveaway I mentioned earlier, the prize was a 10 year subscription to Leadpages, an industry-leading landing-page service. For someone in Bryan’s target audience – online marketers – that’s a $3,000 value and an amazing prize. For anyone else (anyone not interested in marketing), it’s essentially worthless.

10 mobile app builder

If you run them correctly, giveaways are a surefire way to quickly boost your email list.

11.Stop Asking For Too Much Information

On your opt-in forms, do you ask for “name” in addition to “email address”?

If so, let me ask you a question…

Do you need it? Do you do anything with that information?

If the answer is “no”, you need to stop asking people to provide it. A/B test after A/B test confirms the more information you ask from readers, the less likely they are to opt-in.

The more info requested on opt-in forms, the fewer sign ups you'll receive

Here’s How You Do It

Stick to the essentials. Only ask for the information you need.

Don’t need names? Don’t ask for them. Have no use for phone numbers? Don’t ask people to input them.

Just keep it simple.

The less data you request, the more email subscribers you’ll earn.

And speaking of simple…

Example: The team over at Bulletproofexec only ask for your name and email. That’s it!

P.S. They really have good coffee :)

How to Grow a Massive Email List

12.Video Opt-In

Wistia offers a great feature where you can ask a visitor for their email halfway through a video in order to be able to watch to the end.

This is called the Wistia turnstile.

Create a piece of content, hook them in with a question and don’t answer it until after the video turnstile.

This uses information loops or the zeigarnik effect to increase conversions.

Example: Jason over at Thisweekinstartups, does it on his weekly shows. And by the way, if you are not listening to Thisweekinstartups you are missing out.

How to Grow a Massive Email List

Free Bonus: Get Your 21 Insanely Actionable List Building Checklist PDF and Increase Conversion Rate By 300%

13. Sticky Widget
Having a fixed sidebar that stays at the top of the page when the user scrolls means your opt-in is always visible.

If it is accessible at all times, at whatever point in the page, you are likely to get more opt-ins.

Of course test this against a non sticky control, as data doesn’t lie and best practices should be tested not used blindly.

Example: Neil Patel over at Quicksprout uses a Sticky Widget on the right hand side.
How to Grow a Massive Email List

14.Comment Redirect
Ideally I want to target the most engaged visitors. These are people who have already made the effort to comment or share and are probably just a few steps away from opting in – with the right push.

I’ve been using the Comment Redirect By Yoast to target first time commenters and send them to a customized landing page for opting in.

The landing page looks like this:

21 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies

15. Collect email addresses on Twitter

You can collect email addresses on Twitter, and make it almost effortless for your followers to sign up if you use Twitter Lead Generation Cards. To set it up, you need to sign up for Twitter Ads and put a credit card on file. You credit card won’t be charged if you just create a lead generation card and tweet it. You will have options for paid promotion, but it’s optional.

To create your first lead gen card, go to, choose “Creatives” at the top, and select “Cards” from the drop-down menu.

21 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies

Click “Create Lead Generation Card” button on the top right. On the new screen, choose the first option at the top, “Lead Generation” (it should be selected by default).

Now the fun part: create your lead gen card! Make sure your copy and image are eye-catching and descriptive, because, first, you want people to notice it, and second, you want to give them a reason to sign up.

After you created your lead generation card, tweet it, and then pin that tweet to your profile, so it’s the first thing your visitors see on your Twitter page.

16. Create a call to action on your Facebook page

A) Add a “Sign Up” button to your Facebook page
If you have a Facebook page for your business, make sure you give your fans an option to subscribe to your list by adding a signup button at the very top of your page.

Here’s how to set it up: click “Create Call To Action” button on your FB page. Choose “Sign Up” from the drop-down menu, and add a link to your website.

The newly created CTA button will take users to your website, so either make sure that the signup form is front & center on your site, or create a landing page with the sole purpose of signing people up for your list (and link the “Sign Up” button to that landing page).

21 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies

If you want the signup process to happen directly on Facebook, you’ll need to integrate your email service provider (ESP) with your Facebook page.

How to Grow a Massive Email List

17 . Invite people to subscribe in your Instagram posts

Instagram doesn’t give as much list building leverage, but you can always find creative ways to grow your email list through this platform.

First of all, have a link to your website or a landing page in your Instagram bio. Next, feature images that promote your lead magnets, with an easy way (short links) for your followers to locate them.

21 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies

18. Turn Periscope into an email signup funnel

Periscope is the second fastest growing social media channel of all times, so you might want to think about how to incorporate it into your marketing, if you haven’t already. It’s one of the best places to connect with your audience and engage with them on a deeper level. Here is the formula for growing your list through Periscope:

Deliver valuable and actionable content during your scope;
Ask viewers to share the scope with their followers;
Talk about a freebie that relates to your scope;
Invite your audience to download that freebie.

Make sure it’s super easy for your followers to download the freebie. Create a simple link, like and put it in your Periscope profile. To make it even easier for the viewers to locate the freebie, use props like a piece of paper with the handwritten link during your scopes.

If you offer valuable info in your freebie and make it easy to get it, signing up will be a no-brainer for your viewers.

19. Ask for email addresses on Snapchat

Snapchat is another fast growing channel that is very addictive with certain demographics. If you’re using Snapchat as one of your primary channels, make sure you post stories regularly (at least every other day). Make them truly interesting and share a bit of your personal self in them, because that’s why people like Snapchat — it’s real.

Your followers can comment on your snaps, so make sure to talk about your freebie and ask them to comment with their email address if they want to get it. This approach will work only if you’re new on Snapchat, but as the number of your followers grows, this technique won’t be scalable.

Then you can simply share a link and invite your followers to sign up for your email list if they want to get more of your content or stay in touch and be the first ones to hear updates from you.

PRO-tip: If you’re having people comment on your snaps with their email address, create a special welcome email for those subscribed through Snapchat

Again, this is an example of moderate marketing. I am not sending every single comment to a landing page every time, that would be annoying and deter people from commenting.


Your About Page is probably one of the highest trafficked pages on your site. If you’re not using it to capture emails you could be losing a ton of email subscribers on the table.

Think about it…

If someone takes the time to learn more about you, chances are they’ll sign up to your list to learn more from you.

Here is a look at my About Page.

I include a form in the middle:

How to Grow a Massive Email List

YouTube videos get 4 billion views a day. Let me repeat that again. 4 BILLION!

50% of those views come from mobile devices.

Enter YouTube Cards.

YouTube cards are a MASSIVE competitive edge for anyone marketing on YouTube.

Because you can now drive traffic from mobile videos back to your site.

Remembering that 50% of YouTube video views happen on mobile devices, this one development has the potential to DOUBLE your traffic (and the number of leads) from YouTube.

So, what do YouTube cards look like?

Here’s a YouTube card showing on one of my videos:

How to Grow a Massive Email List
When you click the card you’re taken to this page.

Since cards are installed on a per video basis, you can promote content upgrades in all your videos.

Cards can be edited at any time.

How do you set up YouTube cards?

Sign into your YouTube video manager and click “edit’ on the video you want to add the card to:

Youtube Cards
Select “Cards” from the top menu and hit “Add Card”:

Add Youtube cards
Select the “Associated website” card type and enter the URL related to the video content…

Preferably a squeeze like this one:


That’s it!

You’re ready to start collecting emails from YouTube videos on desktop AND mobile devices.

Note: Your YouTube channel will need to be verified in order to use Cards on your YouTube videos.

These are all examples of things you can start doing today to increase your business’ email database. Many of them are not complicated or difficult to implement. The key is to attack email list-building from as many angles as possible.

Answered 6 years ago

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