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5 top tips to effectively build your business email list

Email marketing is the single most effective form of marketing for small businesses. FACT. But the success of your email marketing efforts largely depend on the size and quality of your email list.

So how do you build a great list that gets results for your business and keeps you out of the spam box? Here’s some of our top tips:

1) Create simple subscribe opportunities through sign-up forms

It’s an obvious one but make sure you have lots of sign-up forms across all of your media outputs such as your website, blog and social media channels. The easier it is for people to subscribe to your newsletter and / or blog, the more likely they will. Here’s a few things to consider:


Sign-up forms can be easily embedded onto your website, in a variety of ways. Always ask the advice of your web guy to find which one will suit your website.

It’s always best to place the box where the reader will first look on your website: the top. You can also use pop-up boxes which are commonly done in the form of a light box or a scroll box. You may even want to add a sign-up option on your contact form.


Most email marketing tools such as Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor can be easily integrated with your company’s Facebook to let you add a sign-up form to you page. Having your sign-up form connected to your Page is especially useful because it keeps your Fans from having to leave Facebook, or even your page, to sign up for your list. When you make things easy for your Fans and followers, they’re more likely to take action.


If your business is active on Twitter, then a great way to convert your followers into email subscribers is using Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards. A Lead Generation Card is simply a link you include in your tweet that expands it out to allow people to subscribe to your list directly from the Twitter interface.

It pre-populates a user’s full name, @username and email address (as entered in their Twitter account settings) into the expanded area of your Tweet, meaning they can subscribe without having to manually enter their details – simple! (NB: to use this feature you need a paid Twitter advertising account.)

2) Offer a Valuable Incentive to Sign Up

It’s really important to offer something of sufficient value to your customers to encourage them to sign up. You can’t just sell to them; you need to give them something of value (usually for free!) first. Incentives could include:

– Exclusive discount

– Special content

– An E-book

– Tutorial

– Top tip

– A ‘how to’ video

Offer Valuable Email Content

Once they’ve signed up, continue to offer those valuable incentives to give them a reason to stay.

Shout About the Value

Shout about the valuable incentives that are exclusively available to your subscribers on platforms including your social media channels to encourage sign ups. If people have already liked your social page, they’re more likely to want to hear from you via email.

Competitions on social media for new subscribers can drive sign ups too – if the competition prize is a good one! Hootsuite recently reported that the team at Dazeinfo (an India-based business content website) saw a 400% boost in email subscriptions after running a successful contest in which  respondents were asked to answer a series of 10 questions posted on Dazeinfo’s Facebook page. Winners received coupons redeemable on a popular ecommerce site. Worked a treat!

3) Get the right people on board

Although your target is to build your mailing list, you need to make sure your emails are being sent to the right people. To build an effective email list, that actually generates enquires to your business, why would you bother collecting random emails of people that either aren’t likely to buy direct or act as an intermediary to a potential customer.

Take some time to think who your target market is – they’re the people whose emails you want on your mailing list because they are the people that are going to be interested in your email content and ultimately buy from you.

Having the right people on board will help you to stay out of the spam box because your content will interest them. And be warned. Being reported as spam or irrelevant gives your domain name a bad online reputation. The more people that report your email or claim they didn’t subscribe to your list, the more likely you’ll land in the spam box or even be black listed!

So what about buying-in data? We hear good and bad stories on renting data. It’s high risk because it’s more than likely the people on a purchased or rented list don’t actually know you so the chances of you getting reported as spam are a lot higher as are the chances of unsubscribes (average 20% on a new list). But we have also seen success for some who have been really, really focussed and targeted on the data they want down to decision maker position, size of company and location. And this has produced some great results.

4) Stay Within the Law

Another reason people will report you as spam is because you didn’t ask their permission to email them. All your efforts to grow your mailing list need to comply with the Data Protection Act 1988.

In short, laws state that you must not send emails to individuals, unless they have specifically consented to email from you or they are an existing customer who bought (or negotiated to buy) a similar product or service from you in the past, and you gave them a simple way to opt out both when you first collected their details and in every message you have sent.

You’re legally allowed to email corporate addresses you can freely collect off the internet (e.g. and people who have opted in to your mailing list. In terms of getting opt in, you do need to ask them first. Always ask, in person, or via personal email before adding to your database.

If you buy or rent a mailing list, ask the supplier if you have the right to use it for email marketing. Furthermore, you must not disguise or conceal your identity, and you must provide a valid contact address so they can easily opt out or unsubscribe.

5) Get Out and About!

We may be living in an ever-evolving digital age but the good old-fashioned meeting people in-person method is still an effective way to develop business.

Collect business cards when you meet people. Ask them right away if its ok to add them to your mailing list. Explain its only for information emails, they won’t be bombarded and they can unsubscribe at any time.

Like with social media, you can encourage email sign-ups with competitions and raffles at, if it’s suitable for that particular networking event such as an exhibition.


This is not an exhaustive list and its all about finding the ways that work for you. If you’d like to learn more about growing your mailing list and how to create email campaigns that work, click here to register for our next workshop with Winbox on 6th September. Register now for early bird offer of £30 and feel free to get in touch on 0117 214 0471.

Contact us

If you’d like to find out how we can help you with your marketing please get in touch. We would love to help.

Give us a call on

0117 214 0471

Visit us at

Simitive Innovation Centre,
4th Floor, Newminster House
27-29 Baldwin Street

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© McArthur Davies 2020