5 Ways to Build an Email List from Scratch to Attract Your Ideal Audience

June 29, 2021

The best thing about building an email list from scratch is that you completely own that list of subscribers. You’re not at the whims and mercies of the fickle hand of the algorithm.

Email is also simple to understand, learn, and use for maximum results. It’s also affordable.

It can cost you practically nothing to send out a few emails to your list and sell hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of products and services.

Grab your coffee or a margarita and get comfy. You’re about to go from wide-eyed beginner to seasoned expert in no time.


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build an email list from scratch

An email list gives you a quick, direct line of communication to your customers and target audience. In this post, I’ll cover how you can build an email list from scratch. 

Best part? These methods won’t break the bank, your sanity, or your time commitments. 

They see you scrollin’. . . they hatin’ . . .

Why put in the effort to build an email list from scratch?

Okay, so you’ve got a Facebook account. A ton of Instagram followers. And Pinterest boards that would make anyone a green-eyed jelly belly. 

That don’t impress me much. 

Why not? Because you don’t own those platforms. 

The unfortunate reality is those platforms can get turned off on a dime. Anger the Twitter gods, and your account could be wiped off the face of the digital earth. And they won’t even tell you what you did wrong. 

Or consider how many times Facebook has changed its almighty algorithm. Sure, you’ve got good organic reach now. But that can all change instantly. 

Sounds a bit jarring, but there’s no need to panic, friend. Keep on growing your social media accounts and interacting with your followers. 

But you’ve got to diversify your assets and risk. 

Enter the email list. 

The best thing about building an email list from scratch is that you completely own that list of subscribers. You’re not at the whims and mercies of the fickle hand of the algorithm. 

Email is also simple to understand, learn, and use for maximum results. It’s also affordable. 

It can cost you practically nothing to send out a few emails to your list and sell hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of products and services. 

Let’s recap before we dive into the list building methods:

  • You own your email list outright — unlike your social media accounts
  • Owning and using an email list is pretty inexpensive
  • Email has a much shallower learning curve than other marketing methods
  • You don’t have to worry about algorithms and all the headaches that often come with that

Look, imma be real with you. Email is great, but it does have a couple of downsides you do need to be aware of:

  • Design problems can be a pain to deal with until you get the hang of it
  • Size issues can lead to low open and engagement rates if you don’t size images correctly
  • Email service providers will filter out emails that contain spammy keywords

None of these downsides mean you shouldn’t consider building a list, though! The benefits far outweigh the downsides, and these are relatively easy to overcome. But we’ll leave that for another article. 

Okay, let’s dive into those methods for building your email list from scratch.

Pick the right email service provider for your goals and needs. 

Not all email service providers are created equal. Some are cheaper or more expensive than others. You also have to consider how robust or limited the different options are. 

For example, Mailchimp offers a free account. But you don’t get very many bells and whistles with it. Also, free accounts are usually limited by how many people you can have on the list or how frequently you can send emails to them. 

Also, most email service providers are just that — strictly email and don’t offer other capabilities. So, you’ll have one service provider to build your landing pages, another to set up a sales funnel, yet another to manage checkouts, one to create and send emails, and on and on. 

Oh, and you have to learn how each works and what all their different rules are — rules they love to change all the effin’ time. 

Ugh. What a headache. 

I suggest looking for something that works as an all-in-one, where you can manage your email campaigns along with your other marketing efforts. 

That’s why I use Kartra for my business, and I love it. It integrates seamlessly with my other marketing needs — like creating funnels and landing pages. I can link emails to my funnels all within the platform instead of jumping around from one piece of software to another. 

Kartra also offers excellent, easy-to-use tools for creating beautiful emails. It’s also easy to make email sequences and tag them correctly — no master’s degree required. 

And it’s also affordable. You pay for one tool, and it covers all your marketing needs.

  • Email
  • Landing pages
  • Automations and sales funnels
  • Checkouts 
  • Video marketing
  • Memberships
  • Analytics

And more. 

If you’re looking to simplify your business and keep your marketing within one platform, click my affiliate link for Kartra here. I only recommend products I love and use myself. Get Kartra through my link, and you’ll get a 14-day trial for $1.

Okay, picked your platform? Next up, it’s time to:

Create your opt-in page. 

If some stranger on the internet asked for your email address, would you give it to them? Eh, maybe if you were feeling generous 😜

Yeah, probably not. You can’t just ask for an email address. You’ll need to offer something of value in return. 

Technically, you’ll be marketing this as a “freebie.” But really, the cost is someone’s email address. 

This lead magnet is what you’ll use to entice people onto your list. The opt-in page is where you’ll host the lead magnet and funnel traffic to bring all your subscribers to the yard. 

You’ll either create the opt-in page within your email service provider, or your provider will integrate with your website so you can collect email addresses that way. 

Now that you know what an opt-in page is let’s talk a bit about lead magnets. I say a bit because there’s a lot to unpack here. But suffice it to say, a lead magnet needs to be something that your target customer will find helpful. 

Many businesses use eBooks as lead magnets, but you aren’t limited to that. You can make an infographic, template, bundle pack, whatever. Try not to get bogged down in the form the lead magnet will take. Instead, think about what your customer needs help with and how you can deliver.

Making a lead magnet from scratch takes time. That’s why I created my Free Lead Magnet Template to help. Use it to make your lead magnet and save yourself a lot of time in the process. 

Got your template? Cool. Next, you’ll need to:

Make a Thank You page.

Someone just downloaded your lead magnet and gave you their email address. They trust you enough to get your emails. What should you do then?

Thank them! 

Once someone downloads your lead magnet and submits their email address, the next thing they should get is a thank you. 

Whatever provider you use to host your lead magnet, whether it’s Kartra or something else, will give you the ability to create a thank you page. This thank you page will automatically display to the new subscriber once they submit their email address. 

It’s a good idea to also include a call-to-action (CTA) on the thank you page. Depending on your goals, your CTA could be something like: 

  • Follow me on Instagram
  • Join my Facebook group
  • Buy this product at a discount
  • Book a call

So, your thank you page should include the following:

  • Thanks your new subscriber for joining your email list
  • Asks them to check their email to get their download
  • Includes a CTA that supports your goals and gives the subscriber value too

Building an email list from scratch: Welcome your new subscribers.

Okay, you’ve got your lead magnet, thank you email, and a CTA that further supports your business goals. Now what?

You’ve got to visualize the subscriber’s journey and how they’ll interact with your brand. .

They gave you their email and are expecting to hear from you. Now it’s time to create a welcome series to get them to take further action and build your business. 

In email marketing speak, a welcome series is also called a nurture series. Most companies have three to five emails in this series. 

In a nurture series, you help the subscriber familiarize themselves with your unique brand and offerings. You’ll also use this nurture series to build a relationship with them and increase their trust and loyalty in your company. 

The welcome email is the first part of this process. It’s one of the first things the subscriber will see from you in their inbox. And you know what they say about first impressions?

So, here’s how to make it a good one. 

Keep it simple. Congratulate the subscriber on taking action, give them their freebie, and let them know what they can expect from you next. 

Include things like:

  • How often they’ll get emails from you
  • What type of emails you’ll be sending
  • Include a teaser of the contents of the next email

I suggest avoiding plain text emails. Try to make the email memorable and on-brand. 

Maybe include a funny gif. Or other imagery and copy with personality that’ll help you stand out from the subscriber’s inbox. Which is probably super crowded #inboxzero. 

Building an email list from scratch with this final step: Start funneling traffic to your lead magnet. 

Build it, and they will come only works in the movies. You have to let people know your cool new lead magnet exists. 

The final step in this process is to start funneling traffic to your lead magnet so you can begin building that email list from scratch. 

Share your lead magnet to your social media pages and make it your cover photo. Link to it in your bios too. Consider adding a CTA for the lead magnet to your website home page, or run a paid ad strategy to build and funnel traffic. Sky’s the limit, Rockstar!

Remember to grab your Free Lead Magnet Template and start your Free 14-day trial for Kartra. You’ll be well on your way to building an email list from scratch and growing your business.

FREE Lead magnet Template

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