Last week I explained 3 email marketing best practices and I received a lot of positive feedback for clarifying how email marketing can actually work for businesses.  Now if you’re just getting started, then you’ve probably realized there is one glaring problem.

You don’t have an email list.

If that’s the case, then you’ll want to keep reading.  In this article I’m going to walk through the 3 ways to build your email list and most importantly how to put your email list building on autopilot.

We’ll start easy and then work our way to the more advanced tactics after we’re warmed up. I’m going to assume you already have an email service provider like ConstantContact, iContact, Aweber, MailChimp, Infusionsoft or some other program.

Don’t get too worried about which program you’re using when you’re first starting with email marketing.  It’s much more important to get everything set up than agonizing over which program is “the best.”  They all pretty much do the same thing – send emails to your list.  With that said, if you really want a recommendation then go with ConstantContact.

Once you have your email service provider account, then here are the 3 options to build up your email list(s).

Email List


1. Manually Import Individual Contacts

This is by far the easiest method, but it’s also the most time consuming because you’ll have to enter in each of your contact’s information, one by one.  If you have a list of more than 10 contacts, then skip down to option #2.

Manually entering in contact information makes sense when:

  • You’re just starting out and you only have a handful of contacts to enter
  • You meet a few prospects at a networking event or conference and you want to add them to your list
  • You receive a referral via email, phone or an in-person meeting and you want to add the contact to your list
  • You want to add prospects and customers that contact you via phone call or in-person and you don’t want to wait to do a bulk upload (see option 2 below).  Most likely you’ll want to save time to add these contacts in batches using option 2 versus adding them manually as they come in.

The process is simple.  Log into your email program, find the button that says something like “Add Contact,” and then proceed to follow the steps to add the contact information.  Depending on your program there may be an extra step to add the contact to one of your email lists (i.e. Email Newsletter List or Prospect List or Customer List).  Once your contact is saved and added to the appropriate list, then the next time you email your list this new contact will receive the email.


2. Manually Bulk Import Contacts

As I mentioned earlier, if you have more than about 10 contacts to add, then I recommend bulk importing your list.  Each program has a slightly different file format, but this will be very easy for anyone familiar with Excel. Basically, you’ll need to create an Excel file where each row is a different contact and the columns include information like First Name, Last Name and Email Address.

Once your file is formatted correctly, then log into your program and find the button to “Import Contacts.”  From there you’ll just follow the directions on the screen to upload your file and add your contacts to one of your lists.

Alright, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive into the good stuff…


3. Automatically Add Contacts Using Webforms

One of the best things about email marketing is the fact that you can put a lot tasks on autopilot.  For example, your webmaster can edit the forms on your website to automatically add those contacts to your email lists.  That way, any time a prospect completes a particular form, she’ll instantly be added to the correct “Prospect List.”  Or if a customer makes a purchase, then she can be added instantly and automatically to your “Customer List” without any effort on your end.

To be clear, I’m not just talking about adding an “Email Newsletter Signup” form on your website.  Sure, that’s a good idea, because some people will want to subscribe directly to your newsletter.  However, the vast majority of your website visitors are not looking for an email newsletter.

Here are the different forms I recommend adding to your website (and linking to your email program) so that contacts are automatically added to your list:

  • Email Newsletter Signup – Again, most people will not use this form, but it’s worth having especially if your content is high quality and subscribers start referring/forwarding your information to friends.  This will allow prospects to easily sign up.
  • Contact Us Form / Quote Request / Demo Request / Schedule Appointment – All of these types of forms should add contacts to your “Prospect List” so that you can use email marketing to nurture, educate and eventually close the sale.
  • Lead Magnet – This is by far the most effective way to build your email list.  A lead magnet is a free report (or webinar or tool) that you offer in exchange for contact information and permission to follow up via email.  Check out our SEO checklist or AdWords checklist to see how this works.  Everyone who requests your lead magnet should automatically be added to your email program so you can again, nurture, educate and close the sale.

The exact code to use on your website depends on your email program, but don’t worry about this step.  Editing the forms listed above will be quick and easy for any web developer because it’s very basic HTML code.  Remember, once you update your forms on your website, then your email lists will start to grow automatically!


Get More Email Marketing Help

On Thursday, March 12 at 12 – 1:30 pm Eastern time, I’m presenting a LIVE training called:

“How to Boost Your Sales with Email Promotions!”

Click here to learn more and register