10 Email List Building Tricks

Why email remains the king of social mediaHands down, email is the king of social media.

Don’t take my word for it.

While email predates the current social media platforms, it’s integral to their traffic and engagement.

Specifically Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ use email addresses to identify and grant participants access. More importantly, they employ email to update and encourage members to return and engage. It doesn’t get lost in the social media stream.

Also, email can break through corporate barriers and be consumed at all hours and all places.
The average office worker checks email about 30 times an hour! Tweet This

5 Reasons email is the king of social mediaWhy email remains the king of social media

Email still reigns when it comes to social media marketing communication.

  1. Email is content format agnostic. As a marketer you can incorporate any form of content including text, images, video, audio, presentations and PDFs.
  2. Email delivers both short and long form content. Depending on your marketing persona, the information delivered to your target audience can be as short a link or several pages long. Many bloggers use email to drive readers to their website.
  3. Email provides immediate as well as delayed communication. You’re in control of content delivery. By contrast, most social media tends to be now or never. The half-life of a social media share is measured in hours. (Here’s the data you need behind the lifespan of a social media share.)
  4. Email is device indifferent. Email can be consumed on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Unlike social media, email doesn’t require an app download. Most device owners automatically install their favorite email client.
  5. Email builds customer relationships. An email address represents a prospect’s trust in your content and willingness to allow you to communicate with them since they’ve raised their hand. (BTW—We’d be thrilled if you’d sign up for our newsletter!!!)

Why email trumps social media

Yes I wrote those 5 words.

While I believe social media is a valuable element of every marketing plan for 2015 and beyond, email still trumps.


The answer is simple: Email provides directly measureable ROI.

Regardless of social media communities and follower bases, email remains the gold standard of lead generation and sales potential.

If you email your housefile it will yield trackable results.

As a rule of thumb, most marketers are lucky to get 1-2% response rate. This means that if you have a list of 100 people, maybe 1 or 2 will buy from you. This is why you need to laser focus on email acquisition.

10 Email list building tricks

The secret of digital marketing is that you can’t keep doing the same thing again and again without yielding diminished results. Through my years of marketing experience, I’ve learned that you must continually tweak and improve your content and communications or results will decline.

Therefore, to keep your readers opening your emails and acquiring new ones, here are 10 email list building tricks.

1. Think like a customer.

Get into your ideal customer’s head. Think about what your customers would like to see.  Ask yourself questions like: What do they want to read about?, What issues are they dealing with? and How can I make their life better/easier?

If you’re not sure how your target market will respond to these questions, talk with them. Talk to your sales and customer service departments.

2. Talk like a real person.

While this sounds like an obvious, head slap idea, it’s the truth. While many of us were taught that you have to take yourself out of your writing, the reality is that your audience wants to get to know you.

The more your email reads like a personal note from a close friend, the more likely it is to be read. This goes beyond just using your reader’s name. The reader has to believe you’re writing for him or her.

3. Tickle consumers’ fancy.

Provide fun, useful information because your objective is to get your readers to open and read your email. Not delete it! (I call emails that go straight into the trash, Teflon emails, because they slide out of my inbox before I ever read past the subject.)

Once you’ve got a reader’s email address you’ve got to keep up your end of the unspoken agreement by providing quality content. Otherwise, you’ll create reader ill-will with nagging emails.

Instead, get readers excited to open and read your email by providing intriguing information.

4. Give prospects a reason to sign up for your email.

Appreciate that an email subscriber is granting you permission to communicate with them by sharing their email address.

Therefore, offer them an enticement to signup. It can be an ebook, webinar or other offer.

Use a variety of different offers and continually test to find what works best.

5. Include email in your social sharing options.

While most people know that they can easily forward an email or share a link, why make them think? (Bear in mind that printing out content is the 5th highest form of sharing!!!)

Make it easy for the proportion of people who choose that option. Also program the shared email to ask recipients if they want to join your list. Remember the email came from a trusted source and the reader may not be familiar with your content.

Additionally, include share this email functionality in your newsletters and other email communications. While they don’t yield large amounts of respondents, every new subscriber helps.

6. Ask new subscribers what they want help with.

Send new subscribers an email asking them about their pain points since people like to know that you’re listening to them. I picked this tip up from Derek Halpern of Social Triggers.

The other benefit of these emails is that they can provide you with new ideas for columns.

7. Reach out to people on your list.

An executive I know routinely emails 50 customers every month and asks permission to talk to them.  This is not a focus group with the same 50 customers. The feedback is more cost effective than market research and yields highly useable results. You don’t have to pick 50. You can use a much smaller list.

Of course, not everyone has the time for this but it’s a great way to spend otherwise wasted time like commuting or waiting for a plane.

8. Ask readers to re-subscribe.

Disclaimer: This step isn’t for everyone.

Understand that this will cause you to loose subscribers. BUT it should improve your response rates since you’ll weed out the people who no longer care about your content so that it goes straight to the trash without ever being opened or read.

This isn’t a step to take lightly. It’s good to do if you’re not sure of how people got onto your list and want to ensure you’re following the proper email protocol.

9. Include a call-to-action.

If you want to get subscribers to do something, then ask them to do something.

The more your content is related to the activity the more people will respond.

10. Measure your email results.

The goal is to determine what works best for your offering to reach your goals.

Specifically track the different ways people subscribe to your list and the types of content they like. Also, continue to test every element of your email marketing program. 

Develop email that creatively engages readers and customers. Find ways to enhance your audience’s lives so that you have the opportunity to build a relationship that ultimately yields sales.

At the end of the day, a lot of what works in email marketing comes down to common sense.


Without reader-focused copy, your email risks immediate deletion by your time-starved customer because each email has one waiting right behind it and recipients think: “I can delete this email without feeling I am missing anything important?”

What’s your favorite email list building tactic and why?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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