How to Build an Opt-In Email List

Email is still one of the most profitable and impactful ways to market your business. But due to strict consumer privacy laws, the only way to legally build your list is by getting people to “opt-in” (which just means that they’ve given their consent to receive emails from you).

This is much easier than it sounds, and I’ll show you exactly how to build a profitable email list using a formula that’s scalable and proven to succeed.

Why It’s So Important to Opt-Ins When Building an Email List

When managed correctly, your subscriber list is as good as good. The right message delivered to a specific person at the perfect time can easily translate into revenue for your business.

But success with email marketing all starts with how you collect emails, and using an opt-in is always going to be the best route.

Here’s why.

  • Email opt-ins are compliant with CAN-SPAM, GDPR, and other consumer privacy laws.
  • This helps you avoid legal penalties and prevents your messages from getting flagged as spam.
  • If subscribers opt-in to receive messages, it’s likely they’re actually interested in what you’ll be sending them.
  • Otherwise, people will be annoyed and turned off by your brand if they’re receiving unwanted messages.
  • Opt-ins keep your subscriber lists clean, organized, and segmented, which also helps you keep costs down.

Cutting corners just isn’t worth it when you’re building email lists. So make sure you’re using an opt-in approach from day one.

7 Best Practices For Building High-Quality Email Lists

Here are some of my favorite ways to build email lists that actually drive results.

1. Put your opt-in form everywhere

One of the most important things you can do to build your list is to ask for email addresses at every point of customer contact.

  • On your website
  • On customer support calls
  • On brochures, surveys, and feedback forms
  • At tradeshows and events

The list goes on and on.

If people don’t see your form, then they won’t be able to opt in. It’s as simple as that.

2. Always get permission

Permission mailing means having people either sign up on your website for your newsletter or provide an email address when they purchase something from your company. By doing this, you can collect email addresses without buying a list that may have been created and/or sold illegally. 

While building an email list is crucial for online marketing, be aware of a big potential pitfall, the possibility of being penalized for not creating your list in the proper manner.

3. Make it easy to opt in

The main page of your website should have a sign-up form with a box where visitors can enter an email address and agree to receive emails from you. If you have an e-commerce site where a customer will be paying and checking out, include a checkbox during the checkout process that lets customers sign up to receive emails from you.

Look how easy this is:

For those of you using a third-party email service provider to handle your email list, make sure they provide code or HTML that you can insert in your website’s code to create the opt-in box automatically.

Keep your forms super short and only collect the bare essentials (mainly the email address). If you’re asking for a phone number, birthday, mother’s maiden name, and blood type, fewer people will opt in.

4. Privacy is key

Make it clear to your users that their privacy will be respected and that you will not sell or otherwise misuse their contact information. Email privacy is at the heart of most email regulations. Inspire confidence in your email subscribers by letting them know that you will not share their information with anyone and that you will only send them emails as described.

If you can, provide email frequency information so they know how often they should expect to hear from you. Indicate whether you will send a monthly newsletter, weekly specials, or daily updates. Some companies offer their subscribers a choice in how often they hear from them and with what type of communication.

5. Plan a giveaway

Contests are a great way to generate interest and get people to sign up for an email list.

Announce that you are giving away a prize to email subscribers in the coming weeks, and advertise it through every channel available to you.

This will help bring in new subscribers and give you additional exposure.

6. Add real value

The average person receives 121 emails per day.

People are sick of having their inboxes cluttered and spammed with unwanted messages. So simply asking them to sign up without giving them a reason likely won’t yield results.

Think outside the box here and come up with ways that go beyond a discount, freebie, or coupon.

Here’s one example that I really like:

The opt-in is on the side of every blog post, and it’s just a one-field form that just asks for an email address.

Rather than offering some type of discount or promotion, this website adds value by delivering relevant news and time-sensitive information to subscribers (like a notification about an upcoming rate increase).

7. Offer free content as a teaser

Free content is a contest alternative that doesn’t have a time limit. Create a free report or ebook that anyone can download for free if they subscribe to your email list.

This is a very successful model, and requires little upkeep. Customers will receive a link to download the report once they confirm their subscription. Again, most email service providers can do this automatically for you.

Final Thoughts

Building an email list doesn’t need to be difficult. But using an opt-in is really the only way to approach it.

Otherwise, you’ll end up with cluttered lists filled with people that don’t want to hear from you. There’s legal risks to doing this, and. you could potentially be marked as spammer.

Use the tips above to start building a healthier email list, and you’ll notice more impactful results from your campaigns.

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