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The Ecommerce Marketing Blog

The #1 resource for small and growing ecommerce brands

How to Build an Email List

By Sam Goodnow
4 minute read

It became clear that email marketing is here to stay - thanks to marketers acknowledging the power of one-to-one marketing. But to make it worthwhile, it makes sense to keep up with what works. Today we will discuss how to grow your email list and win at personalized ecommerce marketing.

So what does work, when it comes to overly-crowded inboxes and the fight to get in front of your subscribers eyes? Marketers see better results when they fine tune their campaigns and tailor communications to subscribers, in a one-to-one approach.

But key to a successful email marketing strategy comes before ever even sending an email. It is grounded in a quality subscriber list – or else your perfectly tailored, personalized email might still fall on deaf inboxes.

As an email marketer you’re not just batch sending emails anymore; you’re treating each subscriber as an individual. Gaining their email address should be just as much of a personalized experience as well.

Plus, by using personalized techniques to grow your email list, you innately learn something about your new subscriber immediately – whether it’s their interests based on which ad drew them to your site, their geographic location, or what page they opted-in on.

If we take a look at the same three steps that can help you go grow a quality email list, we can identify how to also build the best foundation for your one-to-one marketing efforts.

When it comes to personalizing your email approach to each subscriber, it helps to get to know them – from the moment they come to your site, when they opt-in to your email list, and through the unprecedented opportunity you have to follow up with this new subscriber after they have become a part of your subscriber base.

How to build an email list;

1. Drive Traffic  

To find the best leads, you need to sift through the weeds. Growing a strong email list begins by attracting the most relevant leads, who then will become a strong base of engaged, high-intent subscribers. The good news is, driving this relevant traffic to your site doesn’t have to cost you a dime.

For example, you can attract viewers by publishing factual, informative resources. When prospective leads are searching for a solution, an answer, or comparing products and find the answer on your site, you’ve just generated relevant traffic.

There are paid opportunities as well. Targeted ad campaigns can help drive relevant click-throughs to your site. Experiment with different ads to see which resonate with shoppers most, or which keyword variations lead the most traffic to your specific business.

By personalizing how traffic finds you, you’ve taken the first step in building your fundamentally relevant subscriber list.

2. Convert Subscribers  

After increasing site traffic, the next step in building your subscriber base is to provide a seamless opportunity for high-intent visitors to opt-in to your email list.

To convert traffic and collect emails on your site, you can use different email capture display types. By pairing those displays with messaging specific to your target visitors, you can personalize the on-site experience for them.

For some ecommerce sites, a simple ‘join our email list’ form in the footer of a website (with concise, clearly defined benefits!) may be sufficient. For other businesses, a really effective campaign might explicitly calls out an incentive in the messaging, such as an exclusive email-only discount.  

After crafting a display type with appropriate messaging, you can take your campaign a step further using different triggers and targeted approaches.

A display could be triggered after a time delay, or after a visitor has scrolled a certain percentage of a page. Or, if a visitor is indicating they might exit your site, triggering a popup as a final attempt to grab their email could turn a lost visitor into a last-minute subscriber. Want to gamify your exit intent? Try our spin to win popup.

It is important to save this customer data, to make this process useful to your one-to-one communications in the future.

For example, knowing a customer subscribed from a scroll-percentage flyout on your blog page shows that the visitor is interested in the content you are publishing. In future email newsletters to this reader, you can send relevant articles or products that relate to the content they enjoyed. 

Alternatively, a customer who joined through the ‘Welcome! Subscribe for 10% off your first order!’ popup on your homepage might be ready for a more generic series of emails which inform them of your brand, mission, and eventually lead to more specific messaging based on how they interact with your site and emails down the line.

3. Maintain and Sustain

From the most basic welcome series and introductory emails, to continually sending relevant email campaigns, the personalization doesn’t end with your email capture.

You took the time to earn these subscribers, now take the time to develop a relationship with them.  Use the reporting tools in your ESP to see which emails they open, which links they click, and combine it with any relative customer data.

Segmenting your email lists by interest or customer type allows you to curate email campaigns specific to those readers. If you’re treating each subscriber as an individual to the best of your ability, then you can feel confident than any unsubscribes aren’t losses.

Maintaining an engaged list by serving relevant content at the right frequency will improve your open rates, decrease list shrinkage, and keep your subscribers happier.

Build an Email List Concluded

A strong email list will give you a leg up in developing a personalized email marketing strategy. If you’re just getting started with list growth, start simple with a single display type. You can always test a few incremental changes to see what else engages your viewers and increases sign ups.

Eventually you can start presenting more targeted, personalized forms that will really accelerate your efforts.  

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