How to Build an Email List From Scratch the Right Way


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Key Takeaways

  • Choose the right email marketing platform to enhance automation and customization while considering key features.
  • Integrate your chosen email marketing platform with your website or platform of choice using various methods like HTML code, Javascript, API key, etc.
  • Define your target audience comprehensively by analyzing demographics, values, interests, and needs.
  • Create a compelling lead magnet aligned with your target audience’s preferences to encourage email sign-ups.

Choose an Email Marketing Platform

The first step in building an email list is to choose an email marketing platform. A quality email marketing platform enables you to scale your business, automate redundant tasks, create customer segments, enable you to tag subscribers, and a lot more.

I use ConvertKit to build my email list, and while it’s not the cheapest, I feel it’s one of the best.

Things to look for when choosing an email service provider:

  • Integrations to services and platforms.
  • Tagging, segmenting, and product categorization.
  • Automations capabilities, landing page creation, form creation.
  • Email editing capabilities, email personalization options, and branding opportunities.
  • Ease of sales funnel building

Best email service providers based on reviews:

Integrate Email Marketing Platform to Your Business

Email marketing platforms themselves don’t collect the emails. You need to integrate their service into your business. Each e-commerce platform, e-commerce marketplace, and website solution has its way of integrating an email marketing platform.

I use ConvertKit and Elementor Pro to integrate email capturing into my WordPress site. Many of the top email marketing platforms offer multiple ways to integrate a subscription form into your business. The usual methods are HTML code, API key, Javascript code, a link, WordPress shortcode, Unbounce Webhook, etc.

If you don’t have a website to collect emails, you can use platforms like Gumroad to offer lead magnets (in the form of free products) and collect emails that way.

You can also use services like Linktree to create a signup link to collect emails.

All of the integration and embedding options offered by ConvertKit.
You can integrate ConvertKit to Elementor through an API (application programming interface) key. This enables you to create custom and branded sign-up forms for your website.
Example of a form created with Elementor Pro (using ConvertKit API key).

Examples of platforms you can integrate an email platform into:

Define Your Audience

The next step on your email list journey is pinpointing your ideal subscribers, which means understanding your audience. To do this, start by defining their demographics: age, gender, location, and more.

Consider their goals, values, interests, preferred content formats, and social platforms. It’s not just about demographics; think about their needs, the problems you aim to solve for them, and the value you offer.

Create a Lead Magnet

To build an email list, you need to create a lead magnet that makes a person want to give you an email in exchange. A lead magnet is an item that enables you to contact a person. A great lead magnet has a strong CTA (call-to-action) to indicate the value you are offering in exchange for an email address.

Examples of lead magnets you can offer:

  • Free content (blog post, YouTube video, podcast episode, image, artwork, etc.).
  • Free or low-cost product.
  • Downloadable file (PDF, audio file, template, etc.).
  • Free or low-cost coaching calls.
  • Free or low-cost consulting calls.

Pain vs. Pleasure Approach

It’s our nature to avoid pain and seek pleasure (the pleasure principle). It’s also in our nature to believe bad news more than good news, as it’s in our evolutionary biology to direct our attention to bad and negative things to survive (source & source).

To make lead magnets efficient, you should work with human nature and not against it. By creating lead magnets from the bad news and negative perspective, you are addressing the fears and pains of an individual.

Example #1: 7 Biggest Mistakes That Make Your Online Course Launch Fail

  • Mistakes, failing = pain
  • Launch fails = problem they want to avoid

Example #2: 7 Ways To Grow Your Online Course Sales

  • 7 Ways = how to get to a certain outcome
  • Grow sales = pleasure

While people seek pleasure, they want to avoid pain more.

Align the lead magnet with your offering

Building an email list just for the sake of it makes little sense. Align the lead magnet with the product you are selling, services you offer, or affiliate marketing you are executing.

If your lead magnet and the offer at the end of the sales funnel (assuming your lead magnet starts a sales funnel) don’t align, you won’t make any sales.

Example #1: 7 Biggest Mistakes That Make Your Online Course Launch Fail

  • Your sales funnel explains the 7 mistakes one should avoid when planning or executing a course launch.
  • At the end of the funnel, you sell an eBook about ‘How to Design Canva Templates to Etsy.’
  • There’s no correlation between the lead magnet and your offer.

At the end of the sales funnel, your product, affiliate product, or service you offer should be the next logical step for the lead to take.

Offer a Newsletter

Offering a newsletter to build an email list is still a viable option. The upside of offering a newsletter is that the person knowingly accepts all sorts of emails from you. The newsletter can be about new product offerings, latest trends, news, selling affiliate products, things happening in your business, etc.

You can also use services like Substack to collect email addresses while building an audience and offer a newsletter to read.

Related article: How to make money on Substack

Feature image credits.



Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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