List Building 101 – Getting Started

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Woman on a tablet computerList building is the task of adding names and email addresses to a list from which you can market from using email or snail mail.

You should be adding people to your email list on a constant and routine basis. Celebrate when 100, 250, 500 and 1,000 people join your email list. Having even just 20 people on your email list should cause you to jump for joy at the opportunity of being able to tell these intrigued readers about your product/service.

What we have noticed over time is that many companies struggle with list building when customer service is not at the forefront of the experience. This is because of the “priority” factor. If customer service is a high priority, then you will naturally gain a (potential) customer’s information quickly and efficiently for follow ups. If customer service is a lower priority, then the information for communication won’t be found in your email list.

The Approach

There are two distinct types of approaches or paradigms when it comes to mail/email lists.

Company ACompany B
Result"I know I should send out like a newsletter, but it's just going to be taken as spam anyways.""Oh! That person wanted to learn more about my business, I bet others on my list have the same questions!"
Thought ProcessIs worried about sending a (potential) customer SPAM. And they are right! They will send SPAM if that is their attitude and they are not focused on what their customer wants.Is worried about sending a (potential) customer information that was requested from them in a timely and informative matter, while answering the same question for every person they might encounter
ResultFeels ashamed for asking people to buy their product/serviceFeels excited telling interested (potential) customers about their product/service

Two Facts to Be Aware of
chart data desk

Fact 1: When people join an email/mail list, they have openly invited you to give them a sales pitch to understand your product better so that they can buy it (more often).

Fact 2: Email has a stronger ROI rate than social media.

Optin-Monster and Adobe via ZDNet have proven over time that users prefer marketing offers and promotions in their email inboxes and are more likely to buy from an email list.

When you build a list of potential customers, customers, and key stake holders, you have created a targeted advertising to people who genuinely want to buy your product. No other medium can provide you the targeting or results that an email list can.

Actually Building the List

We want to emulate Person B who can list build like crazy. Person B is the one who is openly inviting people to join their list.

And that is the first step and key.


That may seem a little silly, but that can be the most difficult part for some business owners. Inviting people to the list means being rejected sometimes and that is okay!

With some planning though, we can make this more painless.

  • Determine where the list resides
    • E.g. CRM, Email Platform or Spreadsheet
  • Own YOUR List
    • If someone is mad about spam on your list, go ahead and unsubscribe them since they missed the unsubscribe button and hit “reply.” It is okay and good to do this and culls your list
  • Create a schedule, at least weekly, for how often you are going email people
  • Have a format in mind of what kind of content the email will regularly have
  • Send out the email on time and to the schedule you set before, even if there is only 1 person on the list

You may be wondering, “how does this build a list?”

Having the above items taken care of makes it EASY to invite people to your email list. Why? It is because you are inviting them into something that is already planned and can tell them what to expect and how it will meet their pain points.


Here are some ideas on how to get more people on your email list:

  • When you get business cards, verbally ask if you can add people to your email list
  • Public events where you are presenting or telling others about your business, have a tablet available for people to opt-in
  • Feel free to use gift cards as a prize to get email addresses, but be careful not to lower the quality of your leads with this method
  • sumo welcome scroll mat for marketing and lead genHave a Welcome Mat on your website, they absolutely work (see image to the right)
    • We can help install those on your website
  • Create an incentive for people to sign up on your website and receive a resource for free
    • eBook, Video Tutorial, Etc

There are even more than this and we would recommend checking out these extensive lists from and 

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