how to build email list

Email List Building: A step-by-step Guide (2020)


According to a report, that’s how many people send or read emails. 

email sends report

That’s 9 in every 10 human beings. 

Yet, there’s a lot of noise regarding -

Email is Dead 
If you Google search the keyword “Email is dead” you’ll find over 1 million searches with that phrase. 

email is dead

There’s a lot of noise out there about this great problem. 


To put that into perspective our team googled the same for other medias like “Linkedin is dead” which got over 20,000 results. 

Linked in is dead

“Google+ is dead” which got over which got over 12,000 results.  

Google is dead

And to top it all off, we even searched “Social Media is Dead” which got over 300,000+ results. 

Social media is dead

And to finally put an end to this hysteria, here’s a recent research from SmartInsights, that’ll put some light to the actual truth: 

effectiveness of digital media channels

Source: SmartInsights

ROI from Emails 

Now, that we already know that Email is alive and kicking and it ain’t going anywhere. 

Let’s look at the impact it can do on you, your income and your business. 

According to CampaignMonitor the ROI on emails is a crazy 4400% and $44 for every $1 spent. 

email ROI

So, the question is - 

How do you build your email list super-fast, so you can also get such crazy ROIs? 

In this step-by-step guide, I'll walk you through how to build an email list from scratch and scale it to over 10,000 subscribers, FAST! 

I’ll cover what’s the best email marketing platform for you, ways to incentivize your website visitors to give you their emails painlessly and then scale it on a rocket speed. 


Then let’s begin... 

1. Email Marketing Platform 

This is the easy, obvious. But I had to give a section of its own for absolute beginners. 

You can’t collect emails without having an autoresponder set up. 

There are many options in the market to pick an easy and cost-effective platform according to your needs. 

Here are some of my favorites - 

GetResponse – I use GetResponse personally. Because it fulfills my current needs and comes at a fairly acceptable price. 

It has 4 pricing plans. The basic one starts for just $15. GetResponse also gives you 30-day FREE trial. 

What I love the most about GetResponse is that it’s got unlimited sends per month and offers a lot of amazing templates to use unlike other autoresponders. 

MailChimp – My first ever autoresponder and the easiest one to use, especially if you’re a beginner. 

Its basic plan is also for just $9.99. But Mailchimp’s biggest drawback which led me to leave it, is its send limit. 

So, if you’re planning on sending daily newsletters or do it pretty frequently, then it’s not for you. 

Constant Contact – I would recommend this for the absolute beginners since Constant Contact also offers a 30-day FREE Trial. And I think that’s an ample time to learn your way around the autoresponder. 

Enter your text here...



Constant Contact

Price (Basic)




No. of





FREE Trial

Unlimited Sends

Now, since the beginner stuff is done. Let’s move to how to actually grow your email list from scratch. 

2. Content Upgrades 

Simply put, a content upgrade is a bonus content which people get after taking some value from your article. 

It’s mostly relevant or similar to the article topic that your visitors are reading. 

Ex – Article: How to increase your email list? 

Content upgrade: 12 Proven Ways to Convert Abandoning Visitors into Subscribers.

But, what do you actually need to create an effective content upgrade that actually converts? 

Three things - 

  1. Targeted audience 
  1. A Powerful CTA 
  1. An irresistible offer 

You can always use AIDA or PAS for creating such content upgrades. 

Content upgrade idea

3. Creating Pop-Ups 

But Shak... pop-ups are annoying -  you say? 

I don’t blame you. 

Cause, they are. 

But, what if I told you they worked? 

What if I told you, you can double or even triple your list size with pop-ups? 

Sumo recently did a study in which they analyzed 2 billion pop-ups.  

And found out that the conversion for the best pop-ups is around 9%. 

While on average a pop-up converts at 3%. 

Imagine, you get 100,000 visitors. 

That’s 3,000 FREE and EASY emails. 

Isn’t it worth it? 

And to be honest there are ways to actually make it a bit less annoying. 

Such as: 

  • Make it trigger after 1 min of the person reading your article. 
  • Don’t trigger it for at least 7 days on the same visitor again. 
  • Trigger it only once. 
  • Match the offer with the solution they’re looking for on your website. 
Pop up

You can do these on your pop-up to make it less annoying. 

Anyways, annoying or not. Do it. 

Its effective, it works. 

And that’s what matters. 

BONUS: Single or Mutli-Step Opt-in 

In recent years a new breed of opt-in forms have arrived. 

The Multi-step Opt-ins. 

multi step lead magnet

It’s simply based on the commitment bias. 

Simply meaning: If a reader commits to a micro step, they would want to go further and continue with their commitment. 

According to OptinMonster, the multi-step opt-ins increased their conversion to a whopping 18%. 

This is definitely something you can apply with your pop-ups as well. 

4. Homepage 

Having an opt-in on the home page is highly effective especially if you’ve a really well-rounded SEO game and you bring a lot of traffic from SEO. 

But for that you’ll need to create a homepage that converts. 

Here are some effective tips for you to make an awesome home page that converts - 

1. Research, research and research some more. 

“Great copies are not created out of your brain, they’re created from the customer’s actual words and painful problems.” 

Use Mining, to extract the actual words and problems of your audience. 

customer research

2. Positioning is KEY 
Positioning is the marketplace’s perception of you. 

And your homepage is the most important place to nail down your positioning. 

You can try Frank Kern’s tips on positioning, from his book Convert 2.0: 

"[Your name] is known as the most sought after [insert magic power or superhero identity] in the marketplace." 

"He or she is famous for" [ the application of your magic power + what you stand for ] 

Then you wrap that sentence up with what you stand against. 

Ex - Frank Kern is known as the most sought-after direct response Internet marketing copywriter and consultant in the online business community. 

He is famous for creating wildly profitable Internet marketing promotions that also skyrocket brand loyalty and goodwill without being obnoxious or even remotely salesy. 

3. Use the rule of one. 
Your landing page should be created for one reader, it should have only one offer, with one promise and only one big idea.  

You’re not trying to please everyone. But ONE. 

4. Then add PAS or AIDA. 
Either of the two works well on landing pages. PAS stands for Problem, Agitation and Solution. 

While AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. 

Here’s a perfect example of AIDA from I Will Teach You to be Rich homepage - 

Ramit Sethi homepage

5. Have a clear Call to action. 
Don’t confuse your visitor with multiple CTA or multiple things to do on your home page.  

Use only 1 CTA, that’s it. 

5. Put a Ribbon 

The header of your website is gonna give you the most impressions. 

So, why not put it to use for maximising your email conversions. 

A great example of it can be seen on OptinMonster here - 

optin monster ribbon

You can add your own custom-built ribbon with a catchy offer to increase your conversions. 

So, this will always be in the view of your readers whenever they visit your blog. 

And the more impression it gets, the more subscribers it generates. 

Hence, I love this easy strategy. 

6. Co-Host a Joint Venture Webinar 

Co-Hosting a Joint Venture Webinar is one of the fastest way to grow your list. 

Plus, it’s based on Value first. 

Value for your audience. 

Value for your partner. 

Since, you’ll be providing high quality content to them. 

How to actually find a partner who will lend them your list? - you ask. 

Five letters. 


Before you even approach someone to do a JV. 


How can you help them first? 

Here are two ways I provide value to my partners first, so when I ask something, they’re more than willing to help - 

1. Results in Advance 

Here’s the exact step, on how I did it. And how you could too: 

  • Find out 3 potential partners in your niche. 
  • Find out their traffic scores. You can use Alexa Chrome extension for this. 

This will help you target the people who are not too big and out of your reach, but also not too small. 

  • Research their businesses and find out 1 or 2 way you can add value to their business. Ex – Website design, Website copy, Website conversions, etc.. 
  • Develop a plan which you can use to help them. 
  • Contact the blog owner and offer to help for FREE. Be very specific on how you’ll help them. 
  • Put in the work. 
  • Then ask something from them. 

2. Crazy Amazing Testimonials 

I discussed this earlier in my article on How to Write a Viral Blog Post as well. 

Cause it’s that damn powerful. 


Cause marketer and bloggers love a powerful testimonial for their product. 

One that’s legit and gives a clear picture of what their product is all about. 

What do you need to do? 

Buy a product of the person you want as your partner. 

Then email them –  

I bought your product. 


Success Story 

Then give them a testimonial that’s so juicy and amazing, that they’ll be compelled to feature it on their website. 

Now, there are two types of testimonials. 

This - 

Your methods are so great. I loved em.

Which doesn’t help the product creator at all. 

And then this - 

Using your xyz method, I increased my traffic from _ to _____ in just three months. Here's what I did...

Which is so good that the owner wants to contact you. 

This often leads to the start of amazing relationships with super-successful marketers and bloggers. 

Which you can later utilize into a Joint Venture partnership. 

7. Run a Giveaway Contest 

Giveaway is one of the most underutilized and under the radar way to build a list quickly. 

Here’s what to do- 

1. Offer a prize your target customer will go crazy for. Ex – For a blogger, I could run: Winner gets a FREE ahrefs account for a year.  

2. Run a giveaway using Kingsumo. 

King sumo

3. Use Kingsumo’s viral sharing feature using the entries. [this is the key] 

4. Offer a super targeted freebie in your email 3-4 days before announcing the winner, if you want super targeted email subscribers. 

5. Then segment the people who click the link in your email. 

6. Delete those who didn’t click, after the giveaway is over. 

The first time I tried, I got 2,500+ targeted emails in a span of 1 week. 

But, where would I get the traffic for my giveaway offer Shak? - you ask. 

The best way to get traffic is from the partnership you built using the earlier RIA or testimonial method. 

The second-best way - 


There are over dozens of FREE directories for giveaways. 

And if you want more exposure, you can always try paid directories. 

They cost around $20. 

8. Do Solo Ads 

Solo Ads are a bit tricky. 

And not recommended for beginners. 

You must know how to create sales copy so you can break even fast. 


My favorite solo ads place is Clickonomy and Udimi. 

The key to getting success with solo ads is to make sure you buy Buyer Traffic. 

What is buyer traffic? 

There’s traffic which consumes information and leaves. 

And then there’s traffic which consumes information and buys. 

That’s buyer traffic. 

People who actually buy on the Internet. 

These are the people who’ll make you the most money (ever). 

And if you look close enough, many solos offer Buyers traffic. 

Some ways to find out the best solo ads - 

1. Look at the ratings. Only buy if the ratings are super positive. 

Solo seller

2. Read the reviews. Many customers say something like - 

Made xyz sale from this Seller’s traffic.  


Broke even within the first week itself. 

Solo ads review

3. Invest no more than $100 at first. And keep testing.  

The key to succeeding with Solo Ads is testing. 

And looking for the best seller. 

Just like the way I taught you above. 

Once you find the right seller and break even from his traffic. 

Know that you’ve found a winner. 

Then it’s just a matter of you going ALL IN and getting all the emails that you can. 

That’s it. 

Now, the ball is in your court

I just gave you some easy, super-fast ways to build your email list. 

And I hope that by using these, you can scale past 10,000 subscribers and more. 

But before you leave. 

Please leave a comment below and tell me - 

Which one of these are you going to do first? 

Will you get started with Solo Ads? 

Or maybe you will begin networking in your niche? 

Or maybe you have a question you want to ask me right now. 

Either way, do comment and let me know whatever you have in mind.  

I would love to know your thoughts. 

About the Author Shakir Jamal

Shakir is a professional Internet Marketer and blogger who helps ambitious men and women build profitable blogs and scale to $10,000 (or more) per month in 90 days (or less), so they can replace their 9-5 rat race income with a laptop passive income.