How to build an email list that drives sales

by Jeffery Opoku August 15, 2023

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? My guess is that you check your emails.

Now, imagine waking up to a dozen number of spammy emails from sites you didn’t subscribe to? Or from contacts you don’t remember giving your email address to? You’ll hit the delete button without thinking further.  


You didn’t give them permission to send you emails. Email is a private affair and they invaded your privacy!

As a Ghanaian business owner, you wouldn’t want your emails categorized as ‘spam’. Some business owners in a bid to get more subscribers and customers, go online and get email addresses of people without consulting them. Some even go as far as buying them.


Now, you might see that as an easy approach to getting more contacts. But in the long run, you’ll lose your chance of building a budding relationship with potential customers.   


Contrary to what some people think, email marketing isn’t dead. There are three times more email accounts than Facebook and Twitter. Also, you’re 6x more likely to get a click-through from emails than Twitter.


Even with these statistics, some people dread sending emails. Email marketing is a great marketing tool for businesses, no matter the industry. It helps build a personal relationship with your customer. It’s also a way of nurturing your potential customers and keeping them engaged until they’re ready to buy.


Email marketing is the use of emails to promote a product or service. It’s using email to build, develop and maintain relationships with potential customers.


Despite the wide usage of social media, email marketing still triumphs.


Here are some hard truths:
94% of internet users use email, 61% use social media
75% of adult online users prefer email marketing as their marketing method
80% of businesses use email marketing to get and retain customers


Source: HelpScout


For email marketing to work, you first need to have an email list. If people aren’t on your list, connecting and building a close relationship with them will be hard.


This leads to the big question, “how do I build my email list?” How do I grow my subscriber list from 0 to let’s say, 500?”


First, what is an email list?

An email list is a collection of names and personal contact of people who have given you their consent to get more updates and offers for your business through email.


Notice the word “consent” in the definition. You first have to gain permission before sending an email.


The secret to a great email campaign is a great email list. And since you can’t send out random emails to anyone, having an email list is essential. You wouldn’t want someone to send emails to you when you haven’t requested for it, right?


Why is email list important?

  • It keeps people educated and excited about your brand.
  • It helps you stay in touch with your customers
  • Increase engagement, generate leads and drive conversions.


No need to go scouting for email lists; or buying them online. You can come off as spammy. There’s an easy way out.

What if I told you with 4 steps you can build an email list that drives in more sales? Cool, right?


Let’s dive in…


Know your audience

The first thing to do is to know your target audience. What are their demographics? Where do they hang out? What’s their behaviour like? It’s important to know your ideal customer. This helps you position your brand and the offers you have.


Step 1: Sign up with an email marketing software or service


Before you begin sending out emails, you need to choose a platform. Which email marketing software would you like to use? Signing up with an email marketing software or service provides you with tools, services and templates you need to get more subscribers.


It also allows you to measure, test and manage your list. Some email marketing tools include MailChimp, AWeber, CampaignMonitor, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign and ConstantContact.

Each email marketing software comes with its own package, interface and pricing so it’s important you compare all before deciding.


Source: MailChimp


Step 2: Create a compelling offer or content


Sell your visitors on why they should subscribe to receive your content.

People aren’t going to give you their email address on a silver platter. Unless you have something valuable and irresistible to offer them in return. Think of it this way, how often do you subscribe to let’s say a blog or offer online? Only if it interests you and is of utmost value, right?



Remember, an email is a personal thing. People won’t give out their emails. That’s why you must offer them an incentive. Let’s say something like a lead magnet. A lead magnet is an incentive offered to potential customers in exchange for their email address or contact information. Your job is to come up with an offer to lure them in.

As a business owner, you’re going to have to offer your potential customers something interesting in exchange for their email address. This could be free access to a Webinar, a free EBook, a checklist, guide, template, cheat sheet, product giveaways or a worksheet.


The key is to deliver something valuable. If it’s not valuable enough, they might not sign up.

You need to have a reason for people to give you their email address to build an email list.


Again, keep your target audience in mind. What do you think would be of interest to them? Not only do you want to build relationships with potential customers. You want to turn them into paying customers which will increase sales.


The content or offer you create should be educational. Customers want to trust that your service/product can be a solution to their problem. Let your content aim to reach that goal.


Step 3: Create an opt-in form


One of the benefits of signing with an email marketing software is that it allows you to create an opt-in form for your site.

Don’t request for a lot of information. Ask for information such as email address, phone number,  first name and last name. Asking for their names helps make the email more personalized.


Pay attention to the design and layout of your opt-in forms; keep your content simple and clear.


Source: Ascend2


Depending on your target audience and business goal, the information you request on your opt-in form would differ. From the chart above, a form with 2-4 fields generates more results than having less or more.


But, for some companies (especially business-to-business), they request for first name, last name, email address, phone number, company, work email, title and number of employees. Again, this will vary depending on your industry and the kind of information you’re looking for.


Your opt-in form should:

  • Answer “What’s in it for me”? – what benefits will your audience get? From the example above, you’re sure to get a monthly company update and some business tips.
  • Describe the offer – What are you offering? Ebook?  A weekly dose of updates?
  • Set expectations – the last thing you want to do is choke people with many emails. Is it a weekly or monthly email? How many emails are you going to send out? Notice the one above said “two emails per month”.
  • Have a social proof or testimonial – this boosts subscription.
  • Include a call-to-action – for example, “get my ebook now” or “sign up for weekly updates”


Step 4: Get people to sign up

Now you’ve created an offer and your opt-in form is ready, you need to drive traffic to it.

You need to come up with a way to get your visitors to subscribe to your list. You can do this by sharing it on your social media platforms. Share the link on your social media channels. Social sharing is powerful. By simply adding a ‘share’ feature on your email copy, you can increase click-through rates.


Another way is to add it to your blogs. Let’s say you have created a checklist for how to design your website. You can add it to your blogs to generate more traffic. Once people land on that blog, they see the checklist. Since it’s valuable and you’ve asked for their permission, they’ll download.


Strategic places to add your opt-in forms

  • Right under your headline
  • Beneath your comment form
  • In the sidebar
  • About page
  • In blog posts
  • Footer of your site
  • Feature box
  • In a popup box


What next?

Now you have your list, the next thing is to segment them. Segmented email campaigns have a 14% higher open rate and a 10% higher click rate. Keep in mind that not all subscribers are the same. Segment them based on demographics, interests, type of message and email frequency.

Email list best practices

Here are some email list best practices to help you build a better email list:

  • Ask for permission
  • Make a promise or tell them what to expect
  • Create a good content
  • Use social media to grow your list
  • Include a strong call-to-action
  • Add social proof
  • Send relevant and timely content


So there you have it! 4 easy steps to build an email list that drives more sales.

In conclusion, building an email list should be your top priority. No matter what kind of business you’re into, it’s important you build an email marketing list. For starters, this can feel like work. Follow the steps outlined above and you’ll be on your way to building your first email list.


What strategies are you putting in place to grow your subscriber list? Are you struggling to get started? Give us a call today or download our Ebook for a comprehensive understanding of email marketing.


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