21 Simple List-Building Strategies


marketing May 14, 2021


Building your email marketing list is important for any business owner, but especially for service-based businesses. Building and maintaining your list not only allows you to communicate and share important updates with your audience, it also allows you to share value, show off your expertise, build relationships, and share resources you know your audience will benefit from.

Not only that, but building and maintaining your email list allows you to have multiple platforms on which you can communicate with your audience. If the only way that you’re talking to your audience is on social media, you’re essentially putting the potential success of your business in the hands of the social media platforms. 

However, it isn’t something that you can just do once and forget about – It’s a continuous project that you work on throughout the lifetime of your business. There are many list-building strategies, but today I’m going to share with you 21 low-cost or no-cost strategies to help you effectively build your email marketing list in 2021.

21 Low- or No-Cost List-Building Strategies

Below you’ll find 21 simple and low- or no-cost list-building strategies to help you get started building your email marketing list. 

1. Add names and emails to your list

Stay with me… I absolutely do not condone adding people to your email marketing list without their permission. However, when you’re first starting out, adding your inner circle (like your closest friends and family) to your list and sending a quick welcome message announcing your new business can be a great way to start spreading the word to the people who love you most. Not only will most of them probably stay subscribed, but they may also share your newsletter with their friends who may be interested in your services.

2. Create an attention-grabbing lead magnet

Lead magnets are one of the most effective ways to build your email marketing list, and they’re completely free and fairly easy to create! Having a lead magnet that your ideal client will realize they need as soon as they see the title allows you to grow your email list in your sleep as website visitors, blog readers, and social followers exchange their email address for a free download of your lead magnet. 

3. Host a live event like a webinar 

Hosting live webinars, or even offering an evergreen replay-able webinar, is a popular list-building strategy for a reason – it works! Choose a topic that your ideal client will find irresistible, then create amazing, educational content, film the webinar, and promote it everywhere. On the sign up page, have all attendees enter their email address in exchange for the webinar link – then, you’ll provide value through the webinar, and follow-up with more value in your newsletters!

4. Attend networking events

Networking events seem too obvious to be effective – but, they truly are a great way to meet people who may be interested in your services and connect with them on a more personal, genuine level. When you make true connections, people will be much more eager to be added to your list because they will already know, like and trust you. Just be sure you ask their permission! 

5. Get interviewed

Getting interviewed is actually way easier than it sounds, especially if you’ve been in business for a while and have some expertise to share and results to show for it. And no, you don’t have to be interviewed by Forbes or another big name publication for this tactic to be successful – some places you can be interviewed are podcasts, YouTube channels, local and niche publications, or blogs. In your interview, be sure to mention that attention-grabbing lead magnet you worked so hard to create as an incentive for people to subscribe to your list!

6. Speak at someone else’s event or group

Speaking at someone else’s event or group gives you instant credibility and an opportunity to reach a completely untapped audience of warm leads. This is because you’ve been invited by the host, whose tribe already knows, likes, and trusts them, meaning they’ll trust you more too. After your talk, invite the audience to keep in touch with you, or offer up that lead magnet as an added bonus for attendees. 

7. Post on social media

This may seem like a given, but posting on social media is a great way to promote your newsletter! You can send a link to a recent blog post or newsletter, promote your lead magnet, or share testimonials from subscribers with a link to subscribe. 

8. Include a call to action in your email signature

Add a line at the bottom of your email list inviting everyone you email to take advantage of your lead magnet or live webinar – not only will they get a ton of value from your resource, but you’ll get to add them to your email marketing list! 

9. Add an opt-in box to every page of your website

Along with an opt-in form at the top of your homepage, you can also invite your website visitors to join your list by offering them your lead magnet in a pop up and if you have a blog, at the end of each blog post.

10. Deliver amazing content in every newsletter

Always remember: quality over quantity – good content does not always mean a lot of content. Keeping your newsletter high-value and high-quality means that people are going to be more likely to share it with friends and family who might be your ideal client! 

11. Share testimonials

When subscribers tell you how much they love your newsletters or how much value they’ve gained from being subscribed, ask them if you can include that testimonial on your lead magnet landing page or subscription opt-in page – people like to know the thoughts and experiences of other people!

12. Deliver a surprise bonus gift 

Who doesn’t love a bonus gift?! Maybe it’s another high-value lead magnet or webinar, a free resource, or a discount on your services for a limited time. Delivering a surprise bonus gift not only makes a great first impression, but also encourages subscribers to both stay subscribed for potential future gifts and share about the bonus gift with their friends, thus encouraging them to subscribe too. 

13. Create and promote a challenge

Relevant challenges that help your ideal client get started down the path to total transformation are great for so many reasons – one of which is building your email list! Start a challenge that you know your ideal client would be interested in, and then host the challenge inside a Facebook group with reminder emails each day. 

14. Host a giveaway 

Giveaways are also effective for many reasons, including growing your social following, building brand awareness, and you guessed it… building your email list! To do this effectively, make entering your email address a necessary step for entering to win the prize. 

15. Cross-feature an expert in a niche related to yours 

Maybe you have a friend or colleague whose niche is complementary to yours … if so, consider organizing a cross-promotion with them where you share your lead magnet, expertise, or webinar with their audience, and they share theirs with your audience! Not only does this give you access to a pool of warm leads, but it also helps build your credibility and audience size with people who fit your ideal client profile. 

16. Create some email-only offers 

Once you have a somewhat established email list, a good way to maintain that list and encourage subscribers to share about how much they enjoy your emails with their friends is to create special offers that are exclusive to email subscribers. 

17. Offer subscription options

Offering subscription options is a great way to build your email list. Not everyone will be interested in receiving all of your emails, so rather than only offering all-or-nothing subscriptions, allow your subscribers to select the types of emails they’d like to receive. This will not only help with email subscription retention rates, but it’ll also encourage more people to sign up for your email list if they feel like they can have some control over how much you’re sending them. 

18. Create more landing pages 

Clients at different points in their buyer journey need to be spoken to and nurtured in different ways – a good way to do this effectively is to create multiple landing pages tailored to the needs of various types of people within your audience. This allows for you to deliver more tailored content to your audience, and build the know, like, and trust factors, along with your email list, quicker by speaking directly to the landing page viewer’s needs.

19. Write blogs

Blogging is the number one way to show up in search results. So, creating consistent blogging content for your website means that you’re more likely to show up when someone searches for something related to what you do, which means they’re more likely to find your lead magnet and subscribe to your email list. 

20. Make it fun with a discount or special offer

If you’re in a position to offer a limited-time discount on your services, a fun way to collect more email subscriptions is to share the discount in the form of a game! Create a spinning wheel, random number generator, or card picker to popup on your website, allow visitors to play the game, and then send them their discount via email. 

21. Host or participate in a virtual summit

This one is last on the list because it’s definitely the most difficult. Hosting a virtual summit is no easy task – but, it can result in massive growth for the person who hosts it, as well as guest speakers. Virtual summits take place over the span of a few days where the host interviews a number of speakers on a specific theme. The speakers all invite their audiences to participate, which results in new warm leads for everyone involved!  

Now that you have these 21 amazing strategies at your fingertips, what are you waiting for?! Start building your email list today and put in consistent effort to see it grow and evolve over time – you won’t get 10k subscribers overnight, but the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get there!

Want more helpful tips and tactics like these? Join me in the Impact Tribe where you’ll get access to a growing library of biz-booming courses, an ever-evolving resource library, laser coaching calls, monthly mastermind sessions, a members-only group, a tribe of inspiring biz besties, me as your guide, and SO much more! 

If you want to learn more about the importance and strategy of building your email marketing list, watch the replay of my Facebook Live where I dive deeper into this topic in our free Daring Fempreneur Facebook Group


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