How to create an email list from the ground up

Profile photo of author Emily Riedy
Emily Riedy
9min read
Owned marketing
April 1, 2021
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The value of email marketing is based on a multi-pronged strategy that usually begins with building awareness.

Think about it: If people don’t know about the products or services you sell, how can they buy them? To really spread brand awareness you need to increase  your subscriber base. 

An effective way to increase brand awareness is to share information about your business with consumers through email marketing campaigns. And behind any successful email marketing campaign sits a robust email list.

What’s an email list?

An email list is a collection of email addresses from people who have opted in to receive marketing messages from your brand, usually collected through an email marketing service

Brands that have healthy and compliant email lists acquire these email addresses voluntarily, meaning subscribers give a brand their information because they’re interested in staying up-to-date with the business and receiving promotional messages. This helps improve their sender reputation and email deliverability to the inbox.

Creating an email list opens the door to endless communication possibilities. You can introduce new subscribers to your brand with a welcome series, or nurture potential customers with newsletter content. 

You can also recoup abandoned shopping sessions on your website with browse abandonment emails and cart abandonment emails or re-engage past customers with a winback email series.

If you want to unlock all the possibilities a creative email campaign holds for your brand, the key is building an email list. 

How to create an email list that sets the stage for increased brand awareness

If an email list is a collection of email addresses, how do you go about developing such a collection? 

I’ve pulled together some resources to help answer that question for you. Spoiler alert: It may be easier than you think.

Signup forms are your best friend

There are three primary types of forms that you can use to collect subscriber information on your website: Popups, flyouts, or embedded forms. You can use one type of form or a combination of multiple.

Add a popup forms to grow your email list

A popup is a form set to appear on a webpage after a designated amount of time, or when a website visitor scrolls to a certain area of the page.  

It’s the most obvious type of a signup form because it requires visitors to take some action before exiting—either subscribing to your email list, exiting the screen, or completing another action.

girl with her hands on her jeans

Color Camp’s popup specifically targets new site users, and it’s effective. They aim to establish a relationship with their shoppers from the get-go with their quirky “Let’s be BBFs” headline.

Additionally, the use of emojis and soft pastel colors in the popup aligns perfectly with their web design, making it feel like a natural extension of their site.  

Flyout forms that aid in customer engagement for email list growth

Similar to a popup, a flyout will appear on a webpage after a specified amount of time, or when a site visitor scrolls to a specific point on a page. 

The key difference between the two is that a flyout appears from the bottom, top, margin, or corner of the page.

braceletts with beads

Chan Luu’s flyout resembles what you might see on a popup, but on the page it’s smaller and comes out from the side of the page. 

The focal point on the flyout is the 15 percent discount Chan Luu is offering to subscribers. The large font size is intentionally attention-grabbing. 

Embedded forms that capture email addresses

An embedded signup form usually sits in the header or footer of your site and often only has one field where potential subscribers can input their email addresses. 

Since popups and flyouts are larger, you have more room to collect additional information from your site visitors, like their first name, last name, or phone number.

embedded form in the footer of billie's website

Cult favorite razor brand, Billie placed their embedded form in the footer of their site.

Their “We send really nice emails” copy is cheeky and light-hearted. For a brand that’s focused on delivering a no-fuss, practical product, they know how to craft signup copy to match. 

It’s fun and straight to the point: Sign up and you’ll get really nice emails in your inbox. 

Use a branded signup form on your website

If you’re just starting to dip your toes into the signup form waters, there are a few considerations I would recommend keeping in mind before wading into the deep end.

1 | Create an eye catching form design  for better visibility

The user experience of your website is important for your site visitors. And your site’s signup form or forms play a large role in that experience. 

Your website is a reflection of your brand and helps tell its story. From the colors and images you choose, to the font size and style, each component represents your brand’s products, aesthetic, and tone.   

So when someone comes to your site, there should be a cohesive look and feel to it. 

For example, imagine you navigate to a website that advertises seasonal baby clothes available in every color of the rainbow. The site design is simple and packed with bright, primary colors that evoke a child-like feeling.  

But when you arrive on the home page, a pop up appears that doesn’t match with the overarching design of the site. 

Maybe the copy on the form is too formal, or the colors are dark and muted. Whatever the reason, when the design of a signup form doesn’t align with the rest of the site, it can create an off-putting or clunky user experience.

2 | Elevate your form copy to capture audience interest

Copy is equally, if not more, important than the design of the form itself. 

To create an email list, you have to entice your website site visitors to sign up for it. That’s where your signup form copy comes into play. 

Create a signup form that offers something to your customer in exchange for their information. If you’re creating an email list for your weekly newsletter, try teasing some of the content that a subscriber would have access to. 

If you’re just looking to create a standard email list for marketing messages, perhaps you test out copy that offers a monetary or percentage discount to people who sign up or invite returning visitors to join a loyalty or VIP rewards program.

With an incentive, your site visitors get something that interests them, and you gain subscribers who will form the foundation of your email list.

3 | How forms function for email capture  

Besides the visual elements of your signup form, how it or they function also impacts the user experience of your website. 

If someone navigates to the homepage of your site and receives a popup when they first arrive, a flyout as they scroll down the page, and then another popup as they try to leave your site, that could come across as disruptive if someone’s trying to browse.

Simply put, these interruptions that your shoppers experience could ultimately prevent them from making a purchase if they become too annoying. The more interruptions your site visitors have, the harder it is for them to learn about your products and potentially make a purchase. 

As you think about what kind of signup forms you’d like to have on your site and where you’ll place them, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. 

Are your signup forms interrupting the browsing or purchase process? Could your site visitors potentially see them as a nuisance? If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” it might be worth going back to the drawing board and considering where you can make your website more user-friendly.

Use a double opt-in to confirm new subscribers

Once someone provides your brand with their information and subscribes to your list, you’re good to go, right? Not necessarily. 

A potential subscriber could accidentally input the wrong information (i.e., misspelling their email address) or intentionally submit fake information just to receive a promotional offer. 

In either scenario, having fake or incorrect email addresses on your email list decreases the validity of your list. If email providers like Gmail and Outlook catch that you’re sending promotional messages to fake email addresses, it could impact your sender reputation and email deliverability, or the ability of your messages to land in subscribers’ inboxes. 

Using a double opt-in helps you sidestep this potential trap because it requires a new subscriber to confirm their information after submitting it.

This allows subscribers to double check their information for accuracy and confirm their intent or interest to receive communications from your brand. It also prevents any fake or incorrect email addresses from staying on your list and causing unwanted deliverability issues.  

Top email automations to grow your email list:

Learn how to create an email list so you can grow it

It’s often said that before you can run, you must first learn to walk. 

Learning how to create an email list is the walking phase of email marketing. Once you learn how to collect subscribers for your email list and the tools you have available to do so, you can start investigating more creative ways to draw in potential subscribers. 

When you’re ready to grow your email list, you can start running towards increasing your brand awareness and landing new customers with proactive and strategic marketing messages.

Are you ready to build and grow your email list? Check out these seven list building strategies that can help! 

Creating a sign-up form has never been easier.
Try Klaviyo today
Emily Riedy
Emily Riedy
Content marketing manager
Emily Riedy is a content marketing manager at Klaviyo where she works to publish content to educate and inspire online businesses owners and email marketers. Owned marketing channels are a means to building a substantial customer base for the long-term, and the content Emily is most passionate about helps business operators create strong business foundations in owned marketing principles. Before Klaviyo, Emily worked at a paid ads agency helping businesses transform their approach to digital advertising. When she's not strategizing marketing content, she is running around the streets of Boston training for whatever race is next up on the docket. She lives in the South End with her 2 year-old basenji Fig and frequents (probably too regularly) the local Spanish tapas spot.