How to Get Email Addresses for Email Marketing

Email is an incredible marketing tool with its widespread reach and ability to personally connect with prospects. Fortunately, there are lots of easy ways to collect email addresses so that you reap the benefits of an email marketing campaign.

Email is an incredible marketing tool. With its widespread reach and viral potential, it allows your business to connect with prospects in ways that no other marketing medium can.

But first you need a list of subscribers to send emails to!

Fortunately, there are lots of easy ways to collect email addresses so that you reap the benefits of an email marketing campaign. Here are 6 simple ways to build your email list.

1. Simply ask!

When existing and prospective customers buy something from you or connect with you face-to-face, verbally ask if they’d like to sign up for your newsletter. Keep a sign up sheet with you at all times or even use a mobile sign up form app such as AWeber’s Atom App.

When you speak with clients on the phone, tell them that your newsletter is full of great information. Sell your content; it’s the one thing that you are most knowledgeable about and it will show when you’re talking it up.

It only takes a few seconds to jot down an email address. If you make “the big ask” five times a day for one work week, that’s 25 email addresses you didn’t have before you started, and 100 email addresses in just one month!

2. Put a form on your website

If you’re in a situation where you can’t take email addresses, always direct people to your website. It’s best to have a form on every page so that anyone who happens to land there is able to sign up quickly and painlessly for your emails.

The sign up process should be easy for the customer and provide all of the necessary background information about your email campaign.

You should also consider using a popup form to collect addresses. While they’re not for everyone, popups and popovers have really come a long way from what they once were.

You now have a lot of control over their frequency and appearance, and you can even split test different types of popups to see what works best for you.

3. Send postcards via snail mail

Michelle Kemp, a fan of AWeber on Facebook, swears by sending postcards to prospects by mail:

“Get your offline clients email addresses by mailing them a postcard with a free offer. Give them a website to go to and when they opt-in, give them your free content/giveaway that you promised. This works like a charm!”

If you have their postal address, sending a client a personalized, handwritten note or postcard with a return address shows that you market transparently. It also puts a human touch on the otherwise technical task of collecting email addresses online.

4. Offer freebies

Nothing is more attractive to a potential customer than a free product or a glance at a service that they don’t have yet.

No matter what your newsletter is about, you are an expert in your field. Write up a quick guide to your industry, offer free templates or send an exclusive download of your latest podcast that is only available to your email list.

As long as your free gift is relevant to the content of your newsletter, it’s the perfect incentive for prospects who might be on the fence about signing up.

5. Link to a form in your signature

How many people do you contact personally via email every day? These contacts might not be on your business email list yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t suggest that they sign up to receive your email newsletter.

Simply include a link to your hosted web form in your email signature, and your prospects can sign up to receive your emails without even closing your personal message.

6. Utilize social media

Using social media is a quick and easy way to grow your email list with minimal effort. Here’s some tips:

  • Put a form on your Facebook fan page so that anyone visiting your page on the social networking site can easily subscribe to receive email updates.
  • Ask Twitter followers to sign up for your newsletter by tweeting a link to your hosted web form.
  • If you automatically tweet your broadcast messages, we add an email sign up form to the sidebar of your archive, so that if someone stumbles upon your email they can easily sign up to receive more.

But whatever you do, never buy a list

We get this question a lot when talking to new email marketers: “How do I buy a list of emails?”

The answer: just don’t do it. The thought of building an email subscriber base can seem daunting, but the worst thing you can do it buy a list. (It’s actually illegal to sell email lists!)

When you purchase an email list, it hurts your email deliverability because these emails did not subscribe to you and are likely to mark your messages as spam.

What are your list building tactics?

Does one particular method help you attract new subscribers? Is there something that doesn’t work very well for your industry?

For more in-depth guidance and tips on growing your email list organically, sign up for this 7-day course to help you reach your first 500 subscribers.

email list growth course


  1. Akhere

    6/24/2010 1:22 pm

    What an amazing blog. The simplicity of some of these things is what makes us overlook them. Really good practical stuff. I heard that you can’t use an optin form in an adsense site or you may risk google banning your website, is that true?

  2. Keith D Shrock

    6/24/2010 1:28 pm

    Many great small tips. Putting your email or facebook fan page on your receipt, and asking for your customers contacts –are "golden ideas’.

    i did not understand if you auto-tweet — how is there room in the tweet for an email sign-up form?

    I saw you added posting to twitter/facebook when you send an email. But I don’t want to send them the same data — that I send with my other broadcast methods.

    IE — hootsuite — etc.

    Can you tell us how your new features would compliment other services?

  3. Eric

    6/24/2010 1:50 pm

    "It only takes a few seconds to jot down an email address."

    How do you do this and get the signup confirmed in some sort of official way (clicking on a link)?

  4. Cat

    6/24/2010 2:19 pm

    Great article. I use several of these techniques and they all are working.

    I have had a big spike in my opt-ins since April and I am having so much fun. I went from getting less than 10 opt-ins a month to 20 a week. I have a growing business as a change in my target market shrunk my list quite a bit.

    I was scared in the early days of getting more laser focused on a small group of potential clients. Now, after several months, I am seeing some real results.

    What changed in April? I created a single option opt in page for my first contact with clients. Before, my opt in box was in the top right hand corner of my banner. That one is still there and does attract some attention.

    When I put my new page up focused on my defined target audience, some real magic started to happen.

    Good luck to all of you list builders out there!

  5. Judy H. Wright

    6/24/2010 2:54 pm

    Hello from Montana,

    I like to ask for business cards at networking sessions. I then say, "Do I have your permission to connect with you online?" Almost everyone says yes.

    I then write the function on the back of the card in case they do not remember giving me permission.

  6. James

    6/24/2010 6:48 pm

    If I get someone’s verbal request to be put on my email list (for my WordPress blog), can I enter their name and email into my subscription box on my site? Is that legit?

  7. Jim Ellis

    6/25/2010 4:44 am

    It is imperative, though, that whenever somebody signs up for your email newsletter that you keep a record of how and when they signed up.
    If you don’t have a record of when the sign-up was completed, then you may have legal issues with using that data.

  8. Tom Kulzer (AWeber CEO)

    6/25/2010 8:58 am


    It’s a great opportunity to ask for permission at networking events, but what you’re asking isn’t setting the right expectations for people. "Do I have your permission to connect with you online?" doesn’t tell me in any way that you’re going to put them on a mailing list. This could lead to confusion and upset recipients of your emails.

    I’d try to be a bit more explicit about setting expectations for how, why, and when you’re going to connect with them.

  9. Gary

    6/25/2010 2:36 pm

    One thing that should be mentioned is how NOT to get email addresses: A lot of companies are selling email lists — claiming that they are 100% opt -in.

    If you purchase names and add them to your list, you’ll get SPAM complaints and ISPs will start sending your email to the bulk/spam folder or even block it entirely.

  10. Justin Premick

    6/25/2010 3:11 pm


    Absolutely true. Great point. We talk about this in a couple places:

    The Ugly Truth About Buying Email Lists

    Can I Use This List?

  11. Andrew Kordek

    6/26/2010 11:33 pm

    Permission is the cornerstone of email marketing. Never assume you have it and always ask for it. Take yourself outside of your business for a second and ask yourself how you would feel if the methods you use were used on you.

    Once you have the permission, make sure that you set the expectations upfront with those that gave it.

  12. Joan Stewart

    6/27/2010 8:48 am

    Judy, here’s what I do at speaking engagements.

    I always give away door prizes. Before the break, I show them the prizes and pass a hat around the room. If they want to be eligible for the prizes, they drop their business card into the hat.

    If they ALSO want me to subscribe them to my weekly eZine of publicity tips, I ask them to write "TIPS" in big letters on the back of the card.

    Tell them, however, to make sure their correct email address is on their business card.

    When I get back to the office, I manually add them to my AWeber list, and AWeber sends them the confirmation link.

  13. Gavin Stephenson

    7/3/2010 3:06 pm

    This stuff is really basic, I love the offline ideas though. It really depends on what niche your in I guess.

  14. Stan Young

    7/8/2010 1:01 am

    Hey Rebecca great post.

    I really appreciate all your tips on email marketing, its something that I havent done that much of but am curious to give it a go.
    I have started building a list but am only in the early days.
    All the comments above will be really useful. Thank you.

  15. Vee

    7/11/2010 8:50 pm

    I am especially glad that you mentioned the "freebie" part. As a business owner, it is hard spending time and money giving anything away for free, but its part of customer service and vital to email marketing. It gets people interested in the product or service that a person or company has to offer. It also makes people feel less like they are receiving a sales pitch if they have received something for free. People also love to pass around free stuff on the Internet and therefore, people end up spreading the word for you.

  16. Jack Liang

    7/12/2010 8:42 am

    Great outline. I never thought of using snail mail as a way to get more opt-ins. Social media will definitely be huge for 2010. Thank you for the post.

  17. Wasim

    7/23/2010 3:30 am

    This is a really simple to understand blog.

  18. Sudip Das

    11/5/2010 11:52 am

    Thanks Rebecca for such a wonderful blog. Really great basic information about email marketing. I am thinking of adopting some of the methods mentioned here.

  19. Anil

    11/17/2010 2:41 am

    Thank god you don’t ask about email ripper and spamming. Good.

  20. Fox

    12/20/2010 1:14 am

    What can you do with all the grade A positive comments that one receives that include the commenters email address & website. Can those be used or uploaded with Aweber ? I have been answering those worthy of a reply, but now it’s getting hard to keep up. I’m getting 60-70 comments a day outside of the spam a good 30 I include into my shabby list building efforts… Thanks

  21. Avadhut

    1/28/2011 2:48 am

    Great post.
    I want to know one thing : How can I add the email ids of current subscribers to my services which are on google groups?
    I want to include them in my AWeber list,so that I can send them updates. I don’t want to manage two separate lists – one on AWeber and the other on Google Groups.

  22. TonyS

    4/13/2011 3:38 pm

    I second that. This is a great post. I’d forgotten about the regular mail!

    Tony S.

  23. pioner786

    4/14/2011 7:19 pm

    I must admire you effort for providing such a useful information . It is really very valuable as it cover every thing the reader wants.

  24. Tim & Sole

    4/30/2011 2:05 pm

    Thanks Aweber for posts like this!

    We were looking for some suggestions about list building but when we googled it we didn’t find anything useful.

    This article is exactly what we needed! Thanks so much.

  25. Do This! (Not That) For Better Email Delivery

    6/17/2011 8:08 am

    […] Build your list organically. You can put up a web form on your website so subscribers can sign up if they want to be on your mailing list. You can also include links to sign up on social media sites like Facebook. And don’t forget if you have a store to include a sign up sheet at the register! […]

  26. T

    10/23/2011 8:30 am

    Thanks for the information. Yes I also want to add for success in affiliate marketing one should have to build an email list so to interact with the potential customers. Aweber is a great software for email marketing and I am saying it because I personally using it an I have amazing results.

  27. 5 Places to Build Your Blog’s Email List

    12/16/2011 9:07 am

    […] simple truth when it comes to collecting more email subscribers for your AWeber email campaign is this: Add more web forms to give people more chances to join your […]

  28. Kasim

    6/28/2012 8:33 am

    You’ve heard of “web presence”. But what about a “personal presence”? The web presence gives the visitors details about your business and what those visitors can expect in terms of products and services.

    A personal presence is where you are at the other end of those emails you’re harvesting. You simply collect their email addresses then flog them offers. Some marketers have the audacity of personalising it giving the impression that you’d like to meet them or at least correspond with them.

    If you’re gonna personalise an email, at least give them an opportunity to respond and be sure to reply to their response. Some companies, like GVO, have the CEO greeting you personally. But then your response goes to their support service and Joel doesn’t even read your email.

    The only marketer I know who personally responds to emails is Danny Inny of Firepole Marketing. As he found out, it can open him to harsh emails but that goes with the business.

    So what’s it gonna? A web presence or a personal presence?

  29. L

    7/21/2012 6:20 am

    It is imperative, though, that whenever somebody signs up for your email newsletter that you keep a record of how and when they signed up.
    If you don’t have a record of when the sign-up was completed, then you may have legal issues with using that data.

  30. Yogesh

    9/21/2012 9:18 am

    I am newbie in this field and do not know even ABC of Email marketing. I am subscribing to your newsletters and reading your articles hopefully I will be beneficial also.

  31. USJF

    12/15/2012 12:14 am

    Good tips about email marketing, you could also consider the methods like taking surveys and poll options for getting visitor Email ID’s.

  32. ET

    12/27/2012 3:20 pm

    I agree about usage of social media for list building. Social media has gained so much popularity that it has become unavoidable when it comes to any sort of marketing. You have mentioned some good ideas to build list, I hope you will also like to share some information regarding effectively utilizing that list for Email marketing.

  33. Petr

    4/21/2013 9:10 am

    I use this tool… quite good…

  34. Shaye

    10/6/2013 5:20 am

    We use email marketing all the time, asking works best for us in the insurance industry!

  35. BOBL

    12/12/2013 3:00 am

    What an article! I have surely learnt something about getting email lists. I am going to start building mine today. Thanks a lot!

  36. GB

    1/15/2014 2:18 am

    This things is really primary, I really like the off-line concepts though. It really relies on what market your in I think.

  37. Ashu

    2/23/2014 3:35 pm

    these tips are good.. but i want a method that gives me lots of email addresses daily. Can anyone suggest me that method?

  38. Tina

    3/20/2014 2:50 pm

    Try a list rental if you are short on your organic list. If it is a reputable company they will have all of the spam laws, help you approach your market correctly and help you decide exactly who that market is. Plus it’s cheaper than purchasing. We used and Both turned a good profit for us.

  39. neon emmanuel

    6/17/2014 4:57 pm

    I must confess this tips you shared was innovative and helpful, I must comment you web admin for the info you gave was straight forward, not like others who offers an email site extractor, but your ideals is unique,and the best, when you get people name trough request and they see’s a message from you, there would honor it in expectation, but when you crawl to get mail, It is mostly moved to spam,because of its irrelevance. Thanks once again for the info.