9 Valuable Tips To Help You Build An Email List From Scratch

Here are 9 pearls of wisdom I’ve learned from this journey so far and how it can help yours.

Photo: Meera Kothand; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Meera Kothand; Source: Courtesy Photo

A few months ago I sent out my first email blast (with sweaty palms and hesitation).

It was a big deal … I sent it to 50 subscribers (people I’ve never met).

But over the last few months, I’ve built relationships with several of my list subscribers. I know a few of them by name, how many kids they have, their fears, whether they are avid travellers or book lovers …

I’ve sent several email blasts since then and they now reach hundreds of subscribers. Funny enough, my exhilaration and anticipation has never waned.

There has been a surge in online marketing advice to start an email list–especially over the last two years. Almost every entrepreneur owns an email list these days. You probably do too.

Here are 9 pearls of wisdom I’ve learned from this journey so far and how it can help yours.


1. Know your ‘why’

Everyone says you need one.

But if you’re not convinced why you need an email list and know what you’re going to do with it, your list is worthless.

The why for a first-time entrepreneur starting a non-profit is going to be very different from an established business growing a e-commerce company, or an online business coach just starting out.

Make sure to align your email marketing strategy with your company’s vision. If you’re new to an industry, do you want to build authority? If you own an established business, do you have a new range of products you want to market?

Will you send a product announcement, newsletter, lead nurturing email, etc.? Define your strategy, select an email marketing provider and then craft your email content around it. There should be a purpose to each and every single email you send.


2. Consider this before you hit send

The internet is filled with email marketing funnel models and claims that it takes 7 emails before someone is ready to buy from you.

This recommendation originated from the late Corey Rudl, an internet marketing coach who had success selling his marketing courses after connecting with a customer at least 7 times via email.


Photo: © ArtFamily; YFS Magazine
Photo: © ArtFamily; YFS Magazine

While it’s a good rule of thumb, things have changed over the years so this shouldn’t be a hard and fast rule. Prove your expertise, establish trust and provided value before asking for the sale. Always think before you hit send – “Is this self-serving or customer serving?”


3. Stop vying for attention

You can create a beautiful email with the best content in the world and some people still won’t click the subject line to read it because it’s all about you.



Stop vying for attention and start creating value. Think about what will get them to want to hear form you. Once you shift gears, you start to focus on creating value rather than vie attention.


4. Don’t stalk your subscribers

Would you keep asking a friend day in and day out if they’re interested in attending an event? If you’re socially aware, then you’d probably say no.

You would ask for an answer. If he was wishy-washy about it, you might ask again the next day. But if there’s no commitment or interest, then you’d take the cue and back off.


Photo: © Astarot, YFS Magazine
Photo: © Astarot, YFS Magazine

So, why badger someone over email? Give them a choice to raise their hands and say they are interested. Ask them again and then back off! Don’t do anything via email that you wouldn’t dare do face-to-face.


5. Embrace small list beginnings

Everyone touts that a bigger email list is better. But you cringe when you see your subscriber list as two sad digits that show up on your dashboard.

Every single number on your email list is a person. Subscriber #5 has two kids and struggles to manage her full-time job and side hustle. Subscriber #10 is a guy that wants to use your online courses to help master his feelings of self-doubt and insecurity. Every person on your list is important.

Imagine walking into a room filled with 100 people who are interested in listening to what you have to say. That is powerful and that’s what you have even if you just have 100 people on your list.


6. Bring subscribers on a journey

Every email touch point should inch your subscriber towards a change or a goal. Before you send any email, ask yourself:
 What does the customer journey look like and what is their desired destination? Your email campaigns should move people forward. Be aware of the issues that dominate your readers’ thoughts and address them in your emails.


7. Keep it simple

Do your mum and best friend Jen use flashy headers and graphic laden sidebars in their emails? Not likely. So don’t complicate your emails with images (especially if you’re nurturing leads and not sending transactional product emails).

Contrary to what you believe, plain text emails have a higher open rate than emails with images. That’s because they don’t scream ‘promotion’ from miles away.


Source: Hubspot
Source: Hubspot

The above graph shows how image count reduces click rates which is directly correlated to your open rates. And among other findings, research suggests that “sometimes “old-school,” well-written copy is all you need to get the job done.”


8. Celebrate unsubscribes

You can craft the best content in the world and some people will still unsubscribe. Believe me. It’s not you.

Yes, it hurts even if you don’t admit it.

But let them go. Relevance is the name of the game. You’d rather create relevant content for 100 true fans than 1,000 disinterested ones.


9. Make your email open-worthy

What’s the open rate for an email from your mum or best friend Jen?

I’m thinking a 100%. Consider how you can create that same type of trust, relevance and relationship with your list subscribers. It’s not easy to connect with every single person individually, but when they do write to you, reply. I bet they’d open your emails even more when they know you actually care.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Meera Kothand is a certified email marketing specialist, freelance writer and contributor at Addicted 2 Success and Marketing Profs. She helps ambitious bloggers and solopreneurs craft a strategic online presence. Learn how to make an impact online. Connect with @meerakothand on Twitter.


© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.


In this article