How to Build an Email List

Beth Gramling Sanders
6 min readDec 18, 2020

Why You Need to Build an Email List

Add build an email list to your to-do items for customer retention. If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you know it’s not enough to get customers, you have to keep them coming back. Loyalty programs, special discounts, and impeccable customer service all contribute to customer retention.

According to Invesp, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one. Litmus estimates email marketing return on investment (ROI) at 38:1. It’s hard to imagine a better return than that.

Once you build an email list, you have a built-in group of customers and prospects who want to hear from you. You’ve been invited into their inbox, which gives you their full attention as they peruse email.

It reminds me of the days of door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen (they were always men when I was growing up). Once the man was in your home, it was much easier for him to get you to buy the expensive vacuum cleaner. I watched my mother buy this huge, bulky, awful vacuum from such a man, which I’m not sure she would have done had it simply been on display in a store.

As you build an email list, you get welcomed in to more inboxes, and if your emails are effective, you build loyalty and sales and retain customers much more easily.

How to Build Your List

How do you build an email list?

Most people aren’t going to give up contact information without something in return. We all hate spam so we guard our email addresses to avoid it.

There are ways to gather email addresses legally and legitimately that aren’t overly difficult.

1. In Person

If you’re at a trade show, exhibiting at a conference (pre- and post-COVID) or other live event representing your business, have a sign-up sheet ready for anyone who drops by your booth or display and shows interest. Be sure you tell them what they will get for their email address. It’s a little more trouble to enter them manually into your email software, but worth it if it leads to sales. Hire a virtual assistant if you don’t have time to enter them or have a large number of addresses.