How to Build an Email Marketing List - Step by Step

How to Build an Email Marketing List – Step by Step

I’m not going to labour too long on why you need a list as I’m pretty sure you’re aware of the merits by now, however I do want to express the importance of your list as no matter how many times I say it, people still seem reluctant to go for it.

Whether it’s fear, lack of knowledge, lack of confidence or all of the above, it’s something that, until you move past it and get your head down and start building a list you will continue to struggle to build your online business.

In fact stop calling it just a list and append ‘of potential customers’ to the end because that’s what it is. You’re building a list of potential customers.

No customers, no sales.

But you know, a list is much more than that. You’re also building a community. A community of people who will like your FB page, follow you in Twitter, comment and share your blog posts and recommend you to friends and others.

There’s nothing more valuable than a community of enthusiastic potential customers all interested in what you have to say!

Not only that but it’s FUN!

I love emailing my list, and 9 out of 10 look forward to hearing from me.

Why? Because I’m not salesy or hypey, I don’t bombard them with offer after offer and I send out a boat load of useful content.

You do not have to be an aggressive salesman or a marketing expert to build a relationship with your subscribers. You just talk to them as you would a friend over a coffee!

So now we have all that out of the way and you know you absolutely MUST build a list of potential customers, let’s look at what you need to get started.

1. What You Need to Get a Started Building an Email List

1. A domain, hosting and a website.

Now let’s be honest, with the amount of tools out there to help you in your list building endeavours, these days you could get started without your own website.

However the point of this is to build your business, so if you want to start as you mean to go on, then you will need a website. So you may as well get it setup now.

What used to take weeks and thousands of dollars now takes hours and a few bucks!

Get a domain from GoDaddy for $15.
Get hosting from LiquidWeb for around $40 a month
Build a website on for a big fat zero!

2. An autoresponder.

Don’t scrimp on this. Your list is the main asset in your business, so if you’re looking for a great free auto responder you won’t find one. If it’s free it means that every man and his dog will be using and abusing it.

Any kind of dodgy emails, spam and scams from others will affect the deliverability rate of the auto responder which will in turn affect you. So include the cost of an auto responder as an essential business cost, which, for the value your list will bring you is incredibly cheap.

See my review of Aweber vs Get Response.

Please note that review was before I signed up for Active Campaign, which I HIGHLY recommend. What a great platform. It includes the cool features of Get Response the kind of automation only offered by systems such as Ontraport & Infusionsoft and all for Aweber prices. Nice!

3. Landing Page Software

You could if you felt so inclined build your landing page from scratch, and if you’re a web page designer then you may well want to do that, but for the rest of us, let’s make it easy on ourselves!

There are so many fab platforms out there these days making our lives so much easier.

I remember when I first started in this business back in 2010 and I was a student of Chris Farrell’s, Create a Website by 3.45pm. How I struggled with Kompozer and FTP! Mind you it was an education in html!

Nowadays, you can literally drag and drop your images and text where you want it to go and with a click of a button your landing page is live. In fact I can build a landing page in as little as 5 minutes!

My top recommendation is Leadpages for total simplicity, but there are others on the market.

Check out my blog post on Leadpages vs OP2 vs Thrive Themes vs ClickFunnels for a deeper review of some of the more popular platforms online today.

2. Your List Builder

Next we need a list builder. Something that gives the visitor a reason to leave us their name and email address.

There are a multitude of ways to this, the most common being to give away a free ebook, or a video. Invite people to register for a webinar or even run a contest to win something fabulous.

Whichever you choose I urge you to keep it simple, keep it short and make it easy to consume.

Your potential customers will very quickly stop paying attention to anything you have to say if they don’t actually consume your material. If it becomes something that’s downloaded and filed away somewhere on their computer never to be looked at again, it’s most likely the same will happen to your emails.

But if it’s something they can look at and use straight away and even better see some fast results then you are on a winner. You have ‘engaged’ with them, which 9 times out of 10 leads to further engagement and further engagement may well result in a sale!

3. Your Optin Funnel

So now you have your list builder, it’s time to create the opt-in funnel. This generally consists of an Opt-In Landing Page (otherwise known as a squeeze page), the Thank You / Download Page and your first Follow Up Email.

See my Simple List Building Funnel Explained blog post for a more detailed diagram.

The best way to do this is to actually create it all backwards! This is because you need the thank you page URL for the web form code for the opt-in and you need the web form code for the opt-in landing page.

So here it is in steps;

Step 1 – Create Your Thank You / Download Page

You can do this within the landing page software you have invested in, or you can do it on your own website, it is entirely up to you.

Depending on the type of list builder you have and your objectives depends on the type of thank you / download page you have.

For example, let’s say you have an ebook or PDF of some kind. You can have a message saying the list builder is on route to their inbox or you can have the download right there on the page.

If it’s a video you could embed it on the thank you page or send a youtube link in their first email.

If it’s a contest, your thank you page might be all about social sharing.

You need to decide what you want on this page relevant to your list builder and opt-in page. However, heed this!

This is the ONLY page that 100% of your opt-ins will see. When people sign up, every single one of them will go to the thank you / download page. As soon as you start relying on email that number will start to drop pretty dramatically from email 1.

So, don’t waste the thank you page. Don’t have it as just a standard Aweber or Get Response thanks for signing up page. This is your opportunity to be creative, to introduce yourself and your brand. It’s your opportunity to make an impression, to create rapport, to get the visitor to take some action or even to make a sale.

Whatever you do, make it a goodie!

Check out my post on Thank You Pages – Why This Page is The Most Important Page in Your Funnel

Step 2 – Create Your Opt-In Web Form

Not your opt-in page, your opt-in web form that is provided by your auto responder. This is the code that you will need to add in to your landing page software so that when people leave their name and email address they get registered to your list.

Here’s an example of where to find that on Aweber;


Because you’re using landing page software you won’t need to create any fancy web forms or anything like that, you’ll just need the absolute basics.

Remember you need to grab the URL for your thank you page you created in Step 1 and put that in the relevant place in your web form so that when people leave their name and email address they are redirected to that page.

Here it is in Aweber;


Step 3 – Create Your Opt-In Landing Page

So, armed with your opt-in web form code it’s time to create the landing page.

I wrote an entire blog post on the elements of a high converting landing page, so do make sure to check that out as the layout and design of your landing page is critical to high conversion rates.

Although it will differ niche to niche and industry to industry the main elements remain the same.

The 5 Steps I Always Take to Ensure My Landing Pages Convert at 60% or More Every Time

In summary, the key ingredients to a high converting landing page are;

1. Headline
2. Image
3. Bullet Points
4. Call to Action

Get each of these right and ensure that optin button is above the fold and you’re on a winner.

The biggest mistake I see people making is when the top half of the opt-in page is all about them and their company / brand. The opt-in page is not the time to make formal introductions. It’s the time to create something so compelling and beneficial to the visitor that they don’t care who you are, they just want what you have!

Step 4 – Create Your First Follow Up

You can either do this now or you could do it at the same time as setting your web form up, it doesn’t matter, just as long as you have at least one follow up message in place before you go live.

As soon as a visitor signs up, you want to be in contact with them. Whether it’s to give them the download link or simply to say Hi and tell them a bit more about you and what to expect from you, you want that message in place.

Lastly before you pat yourself on the back for a job well done, it’s time to test the funnel!

Sign up yourself and make sure you’re registered in your email auto responder, that you get sent to your thank you / download page and that you receive that first email.

All good? Then you’re rocking and rolling!

4. Building Your List

Alrighty! Your live with your brand new shiny opt-in page – yeeehaaa!

Now what do you do?

Well, now it’s time to do your job! Marketing & promotion is everything my friend!

In fact you could feasibly outsource all of the above and only do the marketing. The fact is all of the above is simply the preparatory work. Now the real work begins.

There are a multitude of ways you can promote your opt-in landing page. Far too many to cover in this simple blog post. But here are some obvious ones.

Add your opt-in funnel to your blog / website. Whether that’s as a standalone page linked from your blog menu, or as a link at the bottom of your posts or as a sidebar widget. If you’re going to be sending traffic to your website then you want to make sure people can sign up when they get there.

Have a look at my blog while you’re here. I have an optin form in the header, on the sidebar, on my about page and interwoven into my blog posts. Sometimes if I’m doing a special promotion I may even use a popup that people only see as they go to leave my site.

I can’t tell you the sheer amount of sites I see with nowhere for people to leave their details. Missing a trick springs to mind!

Add your landing page to your Facebook page as a tab, then create a page post linking to the tab. If you’re feeling super adventurous you could then run a page post ad to that post driving traffic and sign ups that way.

Share your opt-in page across the social networks. Pin about it, Tweet about it, send a message to your LinkedIn connections, post it on Google.

Create slides and upload to slideshare, create a video and upload to YouTube, record an audio and upload to sound cloud, all linking back to your opt-in page.

5. Ongoing Relationship Building

While all this is going on you also need to be thinking about the relationship you are cultivating with your subscribers. It’s no good spending all this time driving traffic and generating leads if you don’t then communicate with them on a regular basis.

Are you sending regular emails? Are you looking for problems to solve via your blog posts, articles, podcasts, products, offers etc.

The point of building your email list is so that you can build a relationship, create a community, build up some reciprocity and make some sales. We’re right back at the beginning of the post!


Building a targeted, enthusiastic community of potential customers is quite possibly THE most important thing you could do to build and grow your business online.

If you’ve been stalling on this for whatever reason, I urge you now to push through your fears or discomforts and make it happen.

Thanks for reading!

I look forward to chatting below.

Jo :)



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