16 Ways to Capture Email Addresses for Your Email Marketing List

Earlier this week, I shared some ways to use email marketing in your business. However, those tips will do you little good if you don’t have an email list.

As your building ideas for your email marketing efforts, you should begin capturing email addresses so you have an audience to send information to.

Don’t just assume that everyone in your address book wants to get emails from you. That’s a big email marketing mistake you want to avoid. Not only will that turn people off, it can also go against CAN-SPAM laws. To be on the safe side, it’s best to
 give people the opportunity to opt-in to your email list.

This doesn’t have to be a daunting task. There are plenty of ways you can grow your email-marketing list simply by integrating it into your existing efforts.

How to Grow Your Email Marketing List

So, how do you do that? Here are some simple ideas on how to build your email-marketing list:

  • Opt-in form on your website.
     A natural place to collect email addresses is on your website. To make your opt-in form compelling, offer an incentive to sign up. Premium content, such as eBooks, webinars and video series, work great for this.
  • Email your contacts. As you’re just getting started with your email marketing efforts, you can simply send an email to your contacts encouraging them to sign up. Again, give them a choice — don’t just assume they want the emails.
  • Check-out counter. If you have a physical location, you can collect email addresses that way. Have a sign-up sheet at the checkout counter or encourage people to drop their business cards in a fishbowl for a prize. Either way, just make sure they know they’re signing up for your email list.
  • Online shopping cart. For businesses that sell online, you can include a check box or opt-in form as part of your check out process.
  • Social media channels. Already built a strong network on social media channels? Send a link to encourage your community to sign up to get more good information from you. On Facebook, you can even embed the email sign-up form on your fan page, making it that much easier for your audience.
  • Email signatures. If you’re like most businesses, you send hundreds of emails every day. Why not encourage your contacts to sign up for your email list there? It’s a subtle way to ask people that you already know.
  • On blog posts. Bloggers have a natural opportunity to encourage sign-ups in their emails. It can be a link within the content of particular posts or you can include it as an opt-in form at the end of the post. Here’s a great tutorial on how to set this up.
  • Trade shows. Have a booth at a trade show? That’s a perfect place to capture addresses of people you meet. To encourage people to give up their information, have a drawing for a prize or give something free away in exchange for a business card.
  • Events. If you host regular events for your network, you can capture emails for people who sign up to attend or request emails at the event itself.
  • Existing customers. Already have an email list for your customers? You can use that to get started because you have an existing relationship with them.
  • Digital ads. If you have a premium piece of content, such as an eBook, webinar or white paper, you can promote it with digital ads and require email addresses to get the information.
  • Text message. To make it easy for people to subscribe from a physical location, encourage people to sign up via text message. Simply have them text a short code the designated number and then request the email address. Here’s a great example of how this worked at a museum.
  • Mobile apps. Whether you’re on location at an event, in a meeting or at a check out counter, you can use mobile apps to collect addresses on your phone or tablet.
     MailChimp’s Chimpadeedoo app is a great example of a mobile sign-up form for tablets.
  • Contests. Whether you run a contest at your physical location or through social media channels, you can collect email addresses in order to participate.
  • Strategic partnerships. One way to get in front of a new audience is to cross-promote your email campaign with a colleague or business in an adjacent industry. For example, if you’re a mortgage lender, you could work with Realtor contacts to grow your list. Ask if they’ll send a message to their list and encourage them to sign up for yours. It helps if you have a compelling offer to share with them. Or, you could host a co-branded event and promote it to your own audiences. Both lists grow in the process.
  • Snail mail. If you send mailings out to your audience, simply add a link or QR code to make it easy for recipients to sign up for your list. This can also be a great way to move a physical e-letter or mailing to a digital one. Incentives or contests for signing up also help.


There are likely dozens of other ways to collect email addresses for your email marketing list, but this should give you a good place to start.

What questions do you have about email list building? Do you have any other creative ideas for growing your email marketing list?

Image credit: Kevin Fitz

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Laura Click

Laura Click is brand strategist, speaker, podcaster and the founder of Blue Kite. Learn more about Laura and her work at Blue Kite.

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