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 digital 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. Whether you lack the time or the know-how to create quality emails, there are plenty of challenges that can prevent you from developing a healthy email list.


Fortunately, there are lots of easy ways to collect email addresses so that you reap the benefits of email marketing. We’ve gathered the best email list building tactics to grow subscribers in this guide. They are grouped below to help you:

Collect more emails addresses through existing relationships

Collect more email addresses through existing relationships

One of the easiest places to get started is by connecting with existing friends, colleagues, and any subscribers you have already. Not only is this a good place to start if you’re starting from scratch, but this can also feel the least scary. All you have to do is ask!

Before you reach out to people, there are a few best practices you should keep in mind:

  • Message people you have a relationship with. That random Facebook person you don’t remember meeting probably isn’t the best fit.
  • Use WIIFM (What’s in it for me?”). Every time you message someone, make sure to tell them how your content, — whether it’s a newsletter, email course, case study, or something else entirely — will benefit them or their friend.
  • Be yourself. Tell your story, share your feelings, be vulnerable and real. People will subscribe and share your sign up form because they want to help YOU.

1. Ask friends, family, and colleagues 


One of the easiest marketing strategies to execute is to ask your current connections to join your list. Leveraging your network is a great way to steadily increase your email list, and often the best place to gain traction, especially in the beginning.

Although some of your connections may not be interested in the material themselves, they might know someone who is. Tell them you’re starting an email list. Explain the benefits and ask them if they know someone who would be interested in your focus areas(s).

Clearly articulate your purpose and the benefits. 

When it comes time to send an email, avoid communicating like a robot. Talk like you do in real life — it will help your customers relate to you better. 

Email templates are a great starting point, but be sure to tailor it based on your relationship to the person and how you are asking. Depending on where a conversation is happening, people communicate very differently. When you text someone, you should be more casual than in an email. If you’re talking to someone in person, you shouldn’t be reading from a script you wrote beforehand.

2. Ask customers and prospects 

When existing and prospective customers buy something from you or connect with you, verbally ask if they’d like to sign up for your email or newsletter. To entice them, you can provide something that could directly benefit them like a free ebook or kickoff template. 

Grow your email list by asking customers you’re already speaking with on the phone. Tell them about what they can expect from your emails. 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!

3. Capture emails from your email signature/closing

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.Include a brief call-to-action and link to a form or landing page in your email signature. 

This might not lead to a mountain of new email signups, but it is an easy, passive way to bring awareness if you’re emailing people regularly. Don’t forget to update other email signatures (e.g. a customer service email) and have team members update their signatures.

4. Encourage forwarding

Reach out to current subscribers and encourage them to share your email with people they know. Word-of-mouth is one of the oldest and most powerful means of advertising, and email offers the perfect venue for suggesting it to your subscribers. If they’re on your list and getting value from your messages, chances are they know others who would also benefit.

It’s important to make your emails easy to share and subscribe to. Update your template to include social sharing buttons. Devote a section of your newsletter to encourage subscribers to forward your message. Then, include a link to your sign-up page or hosted web form so that new readers can sign up directly from your email.

5. 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.

How to get more emails from your website

How to get more emails from your website

Oftentimes there are website improvement opportunities right under your nose. In many cases, an email marketing strategy starts with a general, “subscribe to our newsletter” goal, then additional email capture goals are added piecemeal. 

1. Offer freebies

You can also collect email addresses by offering freebies. Nothing is more attractive to a potential customer than a free product (also called a lead magnet) 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’s 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.

2. Make sure a form is present throughout your website


It’s best to have a sign up form on just about every page so that anyone who lands on your site is able to sign up quickly and painlessly for your emails. This is the simplest part of growing an email list, yet a common oversight for businesses focusing only on the homepage or a shortlist of “top pages.”

The first (and sometimes only) interaction you have with people may happen on your website or blog. If you don’t make the most of that opportunity, it may be the last. When coming from Google, Facebook or a link shared on a blog, visitors will very rarely end up directly on your landing page. They’re probably directed to an article, or a specific page on your site that relates more closely to what they are looking for instead.

Related: 16 Proven Sign Up Form Ideas to Grow Your Email List

3. Optimize your current form placement


Even if you do have a sign up form accessible on every page on your site, test its location on various page templates. For example: if your blog posts only include a sign up form at the bottom of the post, the form isn’t getting nearly as much visibility as it would in the sidebar or halfway through posts.

Put your inline web form in an easy-to-find, consistent spot on every page of your site. In most cases, the web form should be above the fold (the section of your site that is visible without scrolling).

4. Review what info you’re asking for and form messaging

The email sign up process should be easy for the new subscriber and share what they can expect by signing up for your email list.

For starters, take a look at your current web form. Remember that getting all of their details up front will be helpful to you, but it isn’t an easy task for them. 

Studies show that form length will impact the number of signups you receive. You should request only what you really need from them at this stage to prevent any barriers to entry. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t collect information to help you personalize your email send. But make sure that asking for that information isn’t causing a roadblock. 

Also make sure you clearly communicate what your website visitors will receive after signing up, how often they will receive emails from you, and then stick to your commitment. Give visitors a reason to subscribe.

5. Experiment with Pop Ups

Pop up forms can be a simple yet effective way to bring more attention to your email list. But it’s important to establish a few ground rules before getting started.

You don’t want to interrupt or annoy your website visitors with too many pop ups. Not all forms have to pop up in the middle of a screen and darken the background content. You can use a “sticky” form that unobtrusively remains on the bottom of the page as a user scrolls, or a slide-in form on the side of the screen.

You can set the timing of your pop up forms to display after a user has been on the page for a certain time. Or set it so the form displays only when a user takes a specific action (e.g. their mouse showing exit-intent towards the X button) or when they reach the bottom of the page.

6. Add incentives after a purchase

Add an automatic incentive or CTA after a purchase is made (e.g. on your thank you page). Not every customer that purchases an item or service from you will always return. 

You can, however, work towards building customer loyalty with your emails. By leveraging the point of purchase to collect email addresses, you can bring them closer to becoming repeat customers.

7. Run a contest to collect subscribers

Contests are a perfect marketing strategy for drumming up excitement and attracting new subscribers. There are a number of tools available that can help you easily host a contest, such as Gleam.io or ViralSweep

Make sure you have a valuable prize, a relatively short entry period, and then don’t forget to promote it on your website and on social media. Setting a time period (e.g. a weeklong contest) instills a sense of urgency. This way they won’t assume they have plenty of time to sign up. And whatever your prize is, make sure it’s a valuable something-they-can’t-live-without item or offer.

Earn emails from social and other sites

Earn emails from social and other sites

Now that you’ve asked existing relationships and optimized your website to capture more emails, you’re ready to explore growth opportunities that extend beyond your site. Leveraging your social media following and reaching out to other sites in your industry should be some of the primary pillars of your growth strategy.

1. Reach out to your social followers

As a business owner, you probably already know a consistent social media presence can help you engage with customers, promote special offers, and build brand awareness. But did you know that you can use channels like Facebook and Twitter to grow your email marketing list, too?

By encouraging your social followers to sign up for your email list, you’re able to tap into an audience of people who are already interested in your business and what you have to say.

While you can certainly post about the benefits of your email content (along with a link to your sign up form), you can also prove it by linking to your email archive.

2. Add a form to your Facebook business page

Did you know that you can capture email addresses directly from Facebook? Simply integrate your email software with Facebook so that anyone visiting your page on the social networking site can easily subscribe to receive email updates. Here’s the step-by-step integration instructions for AWeber users.

3. Pin a tweet that could entice a sign up

While simply pinning a tweet to the top of your profile feed that says “sign up for our newsletter” will likely have little impact, there are ways to show off reasons and opportunities to subscribe. Here are a few examples of what you can pin

  • Your most recent newsletter to provide a glimpse into what they could expect
  • Impactful quotes, unique data, and other information from whitepapers/ebooks
  • Upcoming webinars and events

Create an even more desirable tweet with an image or GIF and easy-to-read copy. 

Related: 9 Ways to Grow Your Email List with Twitter

4. Invest in social advertising

Social media is a powerful tool, especially when you can invest in it. LinkedIn and Facebook ad formats that specifically cater to email signups can help you reach your target audience.

Don’t be afraid to play around with your ads and A/B test different images, videos, GIFs and copy. Like email marketing campaigns, the only way to understand what resonates with your audience is to test, test, test!

5. Don’t forget about YouTube (if you’re using it currently)

Whether you’re active on YouTube and treat it like a social network or simply use it as a repository for video content, there is potential to earn email addresses. 

Consider the best way to ask for an email—in terms of placement, the messaging of the ask, and the value they will receive. Most importantly, think about how to make it easy for users to subscribe. 

YouTube offers a number of ways to include calls to action within the video area itself. You can also update the video’s “About” section to include a CTA. Always preview the live video first so you can place the most important information before the “Show More” truncation occurs.

6. Write for other industry blogs

Guest writing is a great way to reach an audience you otherwise might not have. By contributing to other sites, you not only provide value to a new audience, but you also have the opportunity to find subscribers who might become some of your best customers.

7. Cross-promote your list to another list

Have more than one list? Cross-promote your offer on one list to the other list.

The idea here is to convince people that there’s value to be obtained from your email list, and now’s the time to subscribe so they can get something immediately in return.

But whatever you do, never buy a list

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

And 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.

Monitor and track email performance

Monitor and Track Email Performance

Make sure you have the correct tracking in place on both your email newsletters and your website. The data you collect will allow you to identify top-performing content and inform decisions that help improve your strategy, which will result in more email addresses on your subscriber list. It’ll also help you find out which lead generation methods are producing the most impactful results.

Without the ability to track key metrics like conversion rate, it will be difficult to understand how your readers are interacting with your content and what they likely want to see more of in the future.

To keep things simple (and free!) a tracking tool like Google Analytics can show your numbers and help you gauge performance. You can set this up in just a few minutes and start gathering in-depth analytics around your email and website traffic.

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?

Once you have your list, now it’s time to start using email marketing to quickly grow your business. Get all the tools and resources you need to become an email pro with our guide “How to Grow Your Business with Email Marketing

35 Comments

  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 ping.fm — 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

    Judy,

    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

    Gary,

    Absolutely true. Great point.

  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. Stan Young

    7/8/2010 1:01 am

    I really appreciate all your tips on email marketing, its something that I haven’t 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Wasim

    7/23/2010 3:30 am

    This is a really simple to understand blog.

  17. 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.

  18. Anil

    11/17/2010 2:41 am

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

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. TonyS

    4/13/2011 3:38 pm

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

    Tony S.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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?

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. Shaye

    10/6/2013 5:20 am

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

  31. 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!

  32. 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.

  33. 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?

  34. 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 hoovers.com and frescodata.com. Both turned a good profit for us.

  35. 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.