Resources Hub » Blog » How to Grow Your Email List for Small Businesses

Many small businesses are busy trying to navigate social media in order to build their brand following because it’s essential to meet your audience where they are. While social media is a vital piece of the digital marketing puzzle, neglecting your email list will prove fatal for your overall marketing plan.

An email message is 5x more likely to be seen than a Facebook message.

And 72% of consumers would prefer to receive promotions through their email, compared to the 17% who prefer to receive them through social media.

How to grow your email list for small businesses

These statistics illustrate that small businesses need to take advantage of the platform and start building their email list.

What exactly is an email list?

An email list is simply a collection of email addresses and other vital details of those who have shown an interest in either your product or service.

These other vital details could include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Industry

Previously, the goal of email marketing was to collect as many emails as possible and have the most massive email list compared to competitors.

While having a massive list is excellent, it means nothing if it isn’t a quality list with engaged subscribers.

How to build a list with your ESP

The video below provides a step-by-step guide for creating an email list inside your ESP.


Now that you know how to create a list, read to learn how you can attract quality subscribers.

4 methods small businesses can utilize to grow their list with quality subscribers

“How do you grow an email list?” is a common question that is asked by businesses of any size, especially small businesses that are just beginning to form their email and digital marketing strategies.

There are plenty of ways that a small business can start building their email list, and we’ve compiled a few of the most popular methods for you and listed them below.

1. In-person

While big businesses have the money and workforce to invest in digital means of growing their email list, small businesses can highly benefit from collecting consumer information in person. It is especially true for any small business that has a traditional brick-and-mortar storefront.

Have you ever experienced a cashier at a store asking you for your email address for coupons and exclusive savings? Here we have an example of collecting consumer information to help flesh out their email list with those who want to receive more information.

As another example, stationery company Paradise Pen Co. stated that they have been able to collect 80% of their customer emails in-store at the point of sale.

2. Website

For small businesses who have already taken the time to set up their online presence, they can easily create opt-ins for users to take advantage of.

Depending on the layout of a website, there are numerous ways to include email opt-ins for users who want to receive more content from your business.

These can include:

  • Contact Forms
  • Pop-Ups
  • Opt-ins during checkout/signup process
  • Blog opt-in

Your small business can use your checkout process to collect contact information for your email list

Source: Campaign Monitor

3. Social media

Social media is essential for any business in the digital age and, while users may not always prefer to get their promotions through these channels, it doesn’t stop them from turning to them for answers to questions or directly connecting with their favorite brands.

Take advantage of your small businesses’ social media profiles to help grow your email list.

4. Email signatures

One severely underutilized method is adding a subscribe link to email signatures.

Many businesses include an unsubscribe option in their email footers but, when it comes to sending personalized messages to those who do business with you, including an opportunity for them to subscribe or opt-in to further communications is essential.

Use your email signature to include a link to your opt-in form so your small business can grow your list.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Building your email list

Now that we’ve covered methods of collecting emails, it’s time to discusses how to grow your email list.

Small businesses often have a much tighter budget when it comes to their marketing efforts, so it is absolutely vital that they take advantage of as much as they can for as little as they can. Having the right marketing tools will help consolidate marketing efforts.

Subscriber opt-ins

Subscriber opt-ins are a great way to leverage materials you may already have to start the email collection process. If you are utilizing your social media pages to find new subscribers, they will need a place to go from there.

If you aren’t using a form built to collect user information, then having a link for them to follow is critical. This link will take them to a landing page that will then ask them for their information—such as name and email address—and will then provide a place for them to clearly identify that they want to receive further information from you.

What about those names and emails you may have collected in the past or even through in-person means? This is a great time to send them an email opt-in.

Consider the example below from AutoTrader.

autotrader might not be a small business, but you can still implement the same tactics to grow your email list.

Source: Really Good Emails

While Autotrader might not be a small business, you can still implement a similar tactic. They may already have the information they need from this consumer. However, they are letting the individual know that they are making changes and asking them to verify that they want to remain on the company’s email list.

In many cases, companies utilize a double opt-in to verify that the consumer is sure they want to receive information. It can be from filling out a form on the brand’s Facebook page, which then triggers a welcome email that asks again if the recipient wants to continue receiving emails.

By law, you must have a consumer’s consent to send them emails, and double opt-ins not only protect your brand, but clearly identify who wants to be included in your email list.

Valuable content

A massive part of building your small business email list involves providing relevant content to your readers.

Depending on the exact nature of your small business, you’ll want to create and curate a variety of content to pass out to your readers. This will help ensure that you are actively engaging with them, while still presenting information that they find valuable.

For example, a content creation company may include emails with hot trends, content-creating tips for freelancers, and deals on their services.

However, a small pet boutique may focus their content on pet food recalls, what you should and shouldn’t be feeding your pets, and in-store deals on training classes.

The material that you provide to your readers will all come down to the type of industry you are in. Just remember, it is vital that you have a variety of both original content and curated content.

While the two terms may sound similar; they have two very different meanings:

  • Content Creation is the process of creating 100% original content, such as a blog post, social, or newsletter.
  • Content Curation is the process of not only researching but collecting valuable content from a variety of sources and then sharing it with your audience.


Incentives are a great way to continue attracting new subscribers for your email lists.

These can be shared on a variety of platforms and are a great way to gain new subscribers and continue engaging those you already have. It is important to your overall list health.

In the example below from AARP, they offer readers reward points for choosing which newsletter option they want to subscribe to.

aarp also utilizes tactics that your small business can imitate to grow your email list.

Source: Really Good Emails

Maintaining your small business email list

In terms of growing your email list, maintenance plays just as significant a role as collecting new names.

As mentioned earlier, a massive list isn’t any good if your information isn’t reaching the intended audience. In fact, having unopened emails, bounced emails, and emails marked as spam can really hurt your overall marketing practices.

So what exactly makes a healthy email list?

Several different factors go into determining whether your list is a healthy, high-quality one.

Reader engagement

Engagement can include several different features, but one of the most popular is through the use of a welcome email. Make your readers feel welcome, like they matter, and always give them a reason to come back.

Email personalization

Email personalization is key to increasing engagement. It requires more than simply addressing the subscriber by name. You must also allow them the option to personalize their email experience by adjusting profile settings and so on.

Zapier's email marketing also uses tactics you can borrow to grow your small business' email list.

Source: Really Good Emails

Email list hygiene

A clean list is a happy list, so you should routinely remove inactive subscribers and those whose addresses continuously come back as bounced emails. Remove all invalid addresses, duplicate addresses, and edit any addresses with typos.

Wrap up

When looking to grow an email list, there are several different methods and steps that a small business needs to take, some of which include:

  • Take advantage of a variety of signup methods
  • Use subscription opt-ins
  • Maintain a healthy email list
  • Use incentives to increase engagement

Ready to get started with building and organizing your small business email list? Let Campaign Monitor help. We provide you with the right marketing tools and can help you bring in subscribers from a variety of different sources.

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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