Email Campaign from Scratch

Easy Hacks for Building an Email List from Scratch

Customer retention is a difficult job, especially for small business owners. When you lack the time and/or resources to nurture customers you can suffer from customer agitation. However, if you can develop and maintain a reliable email list, you can create an effective retention plan.

Whether it is using drip campaigns that ease customers along every stage of their customer journey, or newsletters featuring your latest merchandise and offers, you can develop customer loyalty with a well-maintained email list. Here we look at easy hacks to help you build an email list from scratch to improve customer retention.

The Importance of Opting In

Rule number one for building your email list is to ensure customers have the choice to “opt-in” to receive information from you. Therefore, you have to have a plan that allows you to collect email addresses. You can create different content offerings that help encourage people to subscribe to receive information. 

Whether it is CTAs throughout your website, pop-ups in blog content asking people to subscribe to receive updates on special offers, download buttons for white papers and instructional guides or an industry newsletter, the key is having customer permission to send them the information.


Unfortunately, along with your opt-ins, you will also see requests to unsubscribe. In fact, you have to provide this option with a link on any emails you send to your email list. Because of this, you have to constantly come up with new information to entice new subscribers to opt-in, while also providing incentives for those who unsubscribe to re-opt in.

Your goal is to continue to offer value to your subscriber list, to discourage unsubscribes and encourage new subscribers. While this might seem like a task beyond your time or budget, it will pay off big time when you learn how to retain paying customers over the long term.

Creating Effective CTAs

Regardless of what you decide to offer, a strong email list begins with effective calls to action. This is very important as it is the enticement that gets people to click and fill out the form. Now, these CTAs can appear anywhere they make sense, such as on blog pages or specifically designed landing pages created for specific purposes. The more specific the CTAs, the more effective they are according to HubSpot. They found 42% higher view-to-submission rates when their calls to action appealed to a specific purpose. Here’s an example:

Standard CTA

You have the same “Click here to subscribe to updates” on every single page of your blog and website. You also use the same CTA for landing pages created for advertisements or other links. As a result, your visitors aren’t being enticed by anything that relates to their current path or purpose.

Personalized CTA

Instead of using the same CTA for everything, you create a specific CTA that makes sense to the content of the page, and the purpose of the visitor. For example, if you notice a lot of people visiting a blog on “How to Create an Effective Marketing Strategy” it makes sense to create a CTA that offers similar information. This provides two opportunities:

  1. An idea to create a more in-depth information piece on effective marketing strategy and
  2. An opportunity to use that in-depth information to solicit new subscribers

Your CTA in this case becomes: “Click here to download our free in-depth study on effective marketing strategy”. The information doesn’t have to be in-depth, just complementary to the information they are currently reading.

The Result: People don’t feel you are trying to sell something, but instead trying to meet a specific need. Therefore, they are more likely to subscribe.

Offer a Short Cut

Well-timed pop-ups or slide-ins make it easier for visitors to subscribe. Again, using the CTA strategy above, you can appeal to a visitor who has spent time on a page by offering more information. These options are timed and positioned so they are less bothersome and more helpful. It can be based on the time on the page after they scroll down to a certain point, or at the time they leave.

This approach allows you to address them based on their behavior. So, if they are trying to leave, the pop-up might say: “Not what you were looking for? Download our free report on…”. If they are scrolling down, you might address that particular heading such as “Learn more about … and download our free report on…”

Use Retargeting to Meet Need

Pop-ups and CTAs can be used as part of a retargeting strategy. Again, you are using specific triggers to determine what CTA or pop-up you display. For example, you would never bother a subscriber with a pop-up or annoying CTA to subscribe while a new visitor would see your first CTA or pop up to encourage them to request more information.

However, if someone has visited before, you can use their last visit to determine what information would prove most useful this time around. You are helping, not hindering visitors from moving forward on their journey. However, you still have to add value with whatever you offer, or your CTAs and pop-ups just become an annoyance.

Run Surveys

Quick and easy pop-up surveys with a yes or no question or an A or B choice can be used to engage visitors, while also collecting email addresses. Surveys tied to the content, such as:

If you liked this content, would you be interested in similar articles?

  • Yes: Provide email address or
  • No thanks

This is a quick way to collect email addresses in a non-intrusive way.

Tell Them Why They Need You

You’ve probably come across a subscription form like this in your online journeys. You’re searching for insurance and a form pops up that says:

No thanks, I don’t need information on how to save on insurance.

And then below a large button saying:

Of course, I want to save! Sign me up.

This humorous or often sarcastic approach, points out how ludicrous it is that they wouldn’t want to receive free information on the subject they are researching. You are basically asking them to say no to something they logically need. It is also worth a chuckle which is always something people appreciate. This approach is also a good way to make your brand more relatable.

Make CTAs Valuable

Regardless of where or how you wish to send a CTA, they always have to appear valuable to visitors. No one wants to receive email based on some vague notion of “free information.” Telling them why they should subscribe makes far more sense. So, what is valuable? It depends on your audience and the content they are reviewing. For example, someone looking at your clothing boutique’s clearance page will see value in an offer such as “Sign up to have the inside scoop when new clearance items are available.” However, if someone is reading a blog about the latest version of a type of software, they will more likely respond to something like “Access our Version 11.2 hacks to make the most of your software.” Words like exclusive, special, access, featured, insider, unique, member and preview, all insinuate value.

Use Your E-Sig

If your business uses an email signature, be sure to add a subscribe link. It might not attract tons of traction, but it is worth a try. It can be as simple as a “Learn More About Us” link leading to a landing page, or something more specific like “Subscribe to our Special Offers Emails.”

Make It Easy on Social Channels

Followers on social media are great, but they might also be interested in receiving longer forms of content from you. You can share links to content on your blog, YouTube, or other social pages, and then offer the option to not just follow you, but also subscribe to receive more information.

Don’t Overlook the Power of Landing Pages

According to HubSpot, you can increase leads by as much as 55% by using more landing pages. Just as we recommended you personalize your CTAs, using more landing pages to address specific needs makes a huge improvement. Landing pages are the simple and affordable answer to personalized content which answers specific questions and also helps you collect more email addresses. There is no such thing as a one size fits all web page, which is why you need to consider the needs of individuals, not just a faceless general audience.

Keep It Simple

Instead of asking for all their information now, make it easy by simply asking for their email address and name. This is an easy way to build your list. As the relationship is nurtured you can see if they are willing to provide more information further down the road. This is far less intrusive and avoids people passing on the offer because they don’t want to receive a cold call from your sales team. You first build trust and then see if you can take the relationship to the next level.

Generic CTAs Can Still Work

We know we’ve gone on and on about personalization, but you can still have a generic CTA for subscriptions. People still like to receive free information and are willing to sign up for it if the opportunity arises. So, choose a CTA with mass appeal that will make sense for most applications of the information you share, and place it on general pages throughout your site. For example, if you are a temporary staffing agency you might say something like, “Keep up with cost-effective staffing strategies. Subscribe to our newsletter.”  A key page where many business owners miss this opportunity is the About Us. No one visits this page unless they have a sincere interest in learning more about your brand. As a result, they might be more likely to subscribe.

Start Creating Content Worthy of Subscription

Of course, if you fail to provide content worthy of subscription, you won’t only be less likely to attract subscriptions, but also fail to retain them. Now is the time to invest in creating quality content across different media. First, content helps improve your ranking on Google because it promotes SEO. 

Next, you can continue to build content on top of content, so that your CTAs become more valuable and offer deeper and deeper levels of content. The best way to not just build your email list, but also turn those subscribers into customers is to offer well-curated content that is easy to read, engaging, informative and even entertaining. Forms of content to add to your offering includes:

  • Newsletters
  • Blog subscriptions
  • Downloadable content like e-books, white papers, case studies, and guides
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars

Each level of content builds collateral that helps obtain and retain customers.

Use QR Codes on Print Ads

Although these might seem a little old school you can still use QR codes for print marketing to collect email addresses. People can scan the code to access exclusive content and then ask for email addresses to receive similar information through your newsletter or blog subscription. QR codes work on everything from store signage to menus and from bus stop benches to newspaper ads.

While the idea of building an email list might seem like a lot of work, it is a slow and progressive process worth the effort. Concentrating on curating a collection of informative, valuable content provides the incentive for prospects and customers to subscribe to your offering. Careful planning creates an effective strategy ensuring you reach out to people with hard to ignore CTAs relevant to the information they need, the leg of their customer journey, or at the perfect time to encourage them to sign up.

If creating an email list that generates valuable content for your subscribers is important to you, then we have email marketing solutions that can help develop this aspect of your business! Contact us today and let StructureM help you come up with a plan that will nurture your prospects with personalized messages that drive ROI!