January 18, 2022

The 16 Email List-Building Tactics That Work in 2022

Reading time about 12 min

You’ve probably heard about the importance of email list building. Maybe you’ve heard “the money is in the list” or you’ve just learned enough about email marketing strategy to know it’s the best way to reach your customers. 

However, there’s a teeny problem. You don’t know the secret sauce for getting more signups. You may know about email signup forms and lead generation. But you’re not sure what you can do to bring people to your signup forms and encourage them to subscribe to receive your email newsletter. 

You’re not alone. Everyone wants to grow their email list because it’s the best way to reach customers. Read on for 16 proven email list building tactics.

16 Tried and True List-Building Strategies 

What does your customer want? The #1 reason anyone will subscribe to an email list is that they want something they feel is valuable. Your job is to create that valuable “something” and make it easy for your future customers to see and opt in to receive. 

The following ideas are meant to inspire you to try something you may haven’t tried yet and build your email list from scratch.

1. Create an Amazing Incentive 

Let’s face it; the primary reason anyone will divulge their precious email address is that they want what you’re offering. What’s the last thing you signed up for? Maybe it was a shopping list for pantry staples and tasty dishes you can make with them. 

What’s something your customers want? And, how does it tie into what you’re selling? Maybe it’s a template on how you do something or a timesaving checklist that will save your reader headaches. It can be a free ebook, or a physical freebie. Every successful list building tactic starts with creating something your customer values. Without a lead magnet there’s no lead generation. 

Opt-in incentive example from Sleeknote blog

Opt-in incentive example from Sleeknote Blog

2. Have an Email Signup Form in Your Sidebar 

Once you’ve created your fantastic incentive, then you need a way to let your potential email subscribers know about it and a way to opt in and receive it. That’s the purpose of the email signup form. It advertises the incentive, gives a way to sign up, and connects to your email delivery service to deliver the incentive.

Sidebar sign-up form by Gimme Some Oven

Sidebar signup form by Gimme Some Oven

Related: The 5 Best Lead Capture Software Tools for Growing Your Email List

3. Have an Exit Intent Pop-up

You know how you can visit a website and a popup window “popups” if you try to leave without buying or signing up for anything? While a lot of people don’t like them, they’re effective for building lists and increasing conversion rates. Take this statistic from Beeketing, who says, ecommerce companies can salvage up to 35% of otherwise lost visitors with exit popups. 

Even if you only gained 10% more email subscribers, what would that do for your list building efforts?

Here’s an example from Pixelme.me.

Exit pop-up from Pixelme.me

4. Use the Right Words

It’s vital that you show the value of your incentive within your email opt-in pages. Whether you’re offering a discount coupon or a downloadable template, let people know it’s value.

You can also experiment with words like “subscribe” or “download” to see which perform better. Part of your list building strategies includes trying out different graphics and language. Here’s a clever email list building tactic from Spark Hydrate. You sign up to get a code which grants access to the Presale.  

Spark Hydrate's sign-up form which gives new subscribers a discount code.

5. Install a “Bar” Across the Top of Your Website

Screenshot of Create and Elate's website featuring a header linking to their sign-up page.

Opt-in bar example by Create and Elate

This shows up at the top of your visitor’s browser, making it easy for them to spot. It’s typically done via a plugin that you install on your website and can look elegant. 

If you have an email opt-in bar, a sidebar opt-in, and an exit popup, you’ll definitely be able to increase your subscribers. 

6. Create a Wait List 

If you run a popular course and open it periodically, then you can have an opt-in to let people know when the course will open up again. Advertise the waitlist prominently on your website and in your emails so people can sign up for notification. This email list building tactic can work for products drops, bloggers doing consultants work, etc.

7. Add a Signup to Your Email Signature 

You know how you send dozens of emails a day? It’s likely some of those people would love to be a subscriber. When you add a subscriber link to your email signature, you make it easy for them to see and sign up.

Screenshot of Yeah Write Club's email signature, which includes a link to sign-up form.

Example of a signup CTA in a signature by Kaleigh Moore (source)

8. Create a Landing Page on Your Website

The purpose of a landing page is to send people to “land” on it. For example, if you’re a podcast or webinar guest, you can mention your incentive and send people to your landing page to sign up. This will be easier than sending them to your homepage where they have to find your signup form on their own. And it also helps with SEO, too, because someone might directly search for “sign up for X brand’s mailing list” on search engines.

Here’s a dedicated newsletter signup landing page from Backlinko.

Screenshot of Backlinko's sign-up landing page.

9. Have a Related Call to Action (CTA)

If you write a blog post on the same topic as your opt-in incentive, you can mention it in the post and have a link to the opt-in form. 

This works well if you’re guest posting too. Just make sure you include the value in the CTA as in “why” subscribe. 

10. Content Upgrade 

If you invest the time in content marketing, why not use it for list building? When you write a detailed blog post, then create a case study or cheat sheet to help your readers get even more value. Then, include a special signup form dedicated to that piece of content and include it within your blog post and promote it on social media channels. 

Screenshot of a sign-up form specifically-designed to be included in a blog post.


11. Include a CTA in Your Social Media Bios 

From Twitter to Instagram, you can include a CTA to subscribe for your juicy content right within your bio. That way, every time someone checks out your bio, you have the opportunity to gain a new subscriber.

Did you know Facebook lets you embed a signup form as an additional tab on your profile? Here’s how to do it.

Screenshot of Holland Bulb Farm's Facebook page which features a call to action in their biography.


12. Quiz 

How can you incorporate a fun quiz into what you sell? For example, “what kind of body type are you” quizzes can work well for a nutritionist or weight loss coach. Interior designers might offer a “what’s your design style?” type of quiz. People love taking fun quizzes and they’ll sign up to get the results. Plus, this additional insights you gather from a willing audience will help you with segmentation later when you can tailor your content to their needs. 

Screenshot of a sign-up form which appears users complete a quiz and allows them to view their results.


13. Survey 

Imagine a portion of your readers telling you exactly what they want to know more about. An interactive survey will give you ideas and material for future marketing campaigns. Then, you can publish your survey findings and share them with your readers (and your industry.) 

This builds your authority, increases shares, click-through rates, and backlinks, which in turn attracts more readers and visitors. 

14. Use Your Social Media Headers

LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. every social media platform offers header space for your branded graphics. Advertise your incentive in your header image and watch your list grow. Moreover, it serves as social proof because you or your brand look popular if others read your newsletters.

15. Create Useful Social Media Posts Designed for Engagement

You’ve seen the posts where people share about something of interest to their target audience and then invite those interested to “raise their hand,” “drop their favorite emoji,” or otherwise engage? When they do, you can send them a message with a link to sign up for the thing you mentioned. Giveaways are done with the same purpose of referrals.

16. Free Trial

If your product lends itself to a free trial (like software), then invite people to sign up to see how it works. 

By now, hopefully, you’re getting the idea that list building is a mix of providing great value in your incentive and promoting it heavily, so your potential subscribers know it exists. 

No, You Don’t Want to Buy Email Lists and Here’s Why 

Over the years, many people have tried all types of list building strategies. The above are some that are proven to work in all types of industries. Two that don’t work are purchased email lists and other ways people haven’t opted in – such as scraping a list or simply adding all the emails from business cards at that last event you attended. 

Here’s why these methods don’t work. 

  1. They’re not your target customer. They’ll quickly unsubscribe.
  2. They didn’t give you permission to add them to your list, which means they may flag your emails as spam. This can trigger legitimate subscribers not receiving your emails. 

Buying email lists can be illegal thanks to GDPR and the Can-Spam Act. Plus, when you email a bunch of people who haven’t opted in to your list (e.g., asked to hear from you), it either won’t go through, or many of them may report your email as spam.

Basically, your email quality is compromised and it may lower your sender reputation and deliverability rate to legitimate subscribers. Double opt-in’s are the way to keep your list clean and improve your deliverability rate. High-quality subscribers are the ones you want to reach.

Why Double Opt-Ins Are Important 

If you’ve ever signed up for something and received an automation email that asks you to confirm your sign up, then you’ve experienced the double opt-in. 

Screenshot of SkyScanner's double opt-in email confirmation.


In email marketing circles, it’s considered a good thing because it usually means you’re getting high-quality signups. You’re also protecting yourself by adhering to international laws about email marketing and having an opportunity to start your relationship on the right foot. 

Learn how to set up double opt-in here

Start Building Your Email List Today

Hopefully, this gives you lots of ideas on how to build your email list and kick-start your marketing strategy. With a little planning, you can build your email list for successful email campaigns. 

Jumpstart your email strategy with Sendinblue

Our free plan lets you store unlimited contacts, send up to 300 emails/day AND create engaging email signup forms for your website and social media.

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