Building an Effective Mailing List

Maintaining a mailing list that you can routinely send engaging, informative, and exciting content is one of the most effective ways to boost sales. Not only are you able to communicate concisely and effectively with a highly targeted audience; you’re able to do it at a minimal cost and for a variety of reasons.

You can utilize a mailing list for a host of purposes– promoting new products and services, strengthening your brand, and building rapport are all easy when you have a direct line of communication with consumers. While email marketing can seem stale at first glance, it actually opens a world of opportunities for you to get creative and efficient with your marketing.


Not everybody is chomping at the bit to hand over their email addresses. Recent history has given consumers plenty of reason to pause and consider privacy concerns when they’re about to hand over personal information. Many people aren’t interested in being constantly bombarded with meaningless filler and repetitive advertisements.

It’s critical that you offer incentives for joining your email mailing list; it’s also imperative that you understand how to use the tool of email marketing effectively. Ensure that customers understand they won’t be overwhelmed with spam or meaningless content when they make the decision to engage with your brand and your business. Some incentives to consider include:

  • Email-only specials
    • These can be things like sales or exclusive access to products before their official release, etc.
  • Entrance into sweepstakes
    • For joining and even for remaining on your email list
  • Host a contest
    • Offer prizes from your own brand or from collaborating businesses
    • You can use this as an opportunity to drive traffic and subscribers; i.e. a giveaway once you reach a certain number of people on your email list
  • Exclusive coupons
  • A free app in exchange for email contact information
  • Short pieces of content in exchange for an email address
    • These can be emailed directly to subscribers once they sign up; short blurbs and fun, engaging content are beneficial
  • Exclusive access
    • As mentioned above, this can be exclusive access to sales
    • Could also include pre-sales, access to new products, or access to certain parts of your website with exclusive content
  • An incentive for everybody at each milestone
    • i.e. Some sort of incentive for every 100 new and unique subscribers

Gathering Subscribers– The Where and How

The key to understanding the best way to get people on your mailing list is to understand one golden rule:

Different touchpoints equal different opportunities.

Varied, exciting, and engaging touchpoints offer varied, exciting, and engaging opportunities.

Varied, exciting, and engaging opportunities lead to engagement.

In-Store Opportunities

Signup sheets can be placed at registers or other areas where people may linger. Get an artistic friend to help you setup an eye-catching sandwich board nearby to draw people in and get them asking questions. At trade shows and other similar events, asking for business cards or setting up a bowl to collect them can work well for getting contact information.

Storefronts offer several other options for acquiring customer email addresses, too:

  • Leave a space on receipts for people to provide their email addresses
  • Display a QR code somewhere in the store that leads people to your signup form
  • Use a tablet outfitted with the Listbuilder app to streamline slower processes
  • Offer a number to text for a quick and easy way to subscribe
  • Print postcards
  • Collect emails through guest WiFi
  • Send welcome emails

On the Web

It’s critical to ensure that a newsletter signup form is placed prominently on your website in a way that doesn’t feel overly sales-like. Offering opt-in options anytime a user is already transacting (i.e. during checkout, when writing a blog response, or filling out a contact form) is another great way to give people opportunities to sign up.

Offering social proof next to your list (like a live subscriber count) can help your audience feel more comfortable signing up for emails, especially if you have a high subscriber count. People are much more likely to trust other consumers than a business– let them lead each other.

Other points to keep in mind include making sure that the people on your site know you’re a real person and taking advantage of every opportunity your site offers to market your email list. You can even end blog posts with a call to action to subscribe.

Through Email

effective email list marketing
Businessman reading email on tablet computer.

Somebody who’s already looking at emails from you is pretty likely to be open to a more formal email list. Include a signup button on all of your outbound emails that gives readers the opportunity to subscribe. Newsletters are very frequently forwarded to friends, family, and other interested parties; this is a key spot to be sure you give readers the choice to opt-in to your mailing list.

Pay attention to bounced emails, too. If messages are returned and you have a postal address from previous purchases, send a thoughtful postcard asking people to update their contact info so that you can stay in touch and they can reap the benefits of staying up-to-date on your business.

Over the Phone and Through Direct Mail

You can use direct mail to solicit email addresses. Offering something special that you can only receive through signing up is critical to heightening the chances of consumer follow-through here. Customer service reps can and should also be trained to ask for an email address when they wrap up phone conversations.

Through Shipments and Products

Including a printed card with information about your email list and a call to action (maybe an incentive) can push consumers to take the plunge and sign up. Incorporating hangtags with engaging designs to your products is another way to sell your list in the box that consumers receive when they purchase from you.

Using Social Media

We all know that social media is an exceptionally effective marketing tool. You have several options when it comes to platforms and methodology here, but some of these include:

  • Setting up a Facebook page that includes an email signup form
  • Establish a Pinterest account to further solidify your brand and aesthetic; promote offers requiring email addresses
  • Create a Twitter campaign
  • Post YouTube videos that feature a hyperlinked CTA at the end

Co-Marketing Tactics

Businesses teaming up with other business– perhaps the strongest marketing strategy of them all. If you’re able to get in with a company that you know your target market trusts, that’s even better. Try to get into the newsletters of business partners and set up formal agreements to promote each other’s businesses. Collaborations, especially, can draw a lot of attention.

Other Opportunities

There are a host of other opportunities available to you when it comes to marketing your products or services and growing your email list; many appear organically and may even seem useless at first, but end up being fruitful long term. Some other options to consider are:

  • Enrolling in a club
  • Looking into existing tables with addresses and databases like orders, forum logins, and chat sessions
  • Investing in paid advertising
  • Creating profiles and segmenting your products or services to allow subscribers the ability to choose what they’re interested in and personalize their experience

Learn More Building an Email List

Curious how a mailing list could help your organization reach its marketing goals? Contact us today for a free consultation.