5 Tips to Build An Email Contact List

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When it comes to email marketing, a quality list of contacts is essential – you can’t send your newsletter without one. How you acquire these email addresses is also extremely important. In this blog post, we’re going to look at some of the most effective strategies for building your email contact list.

1. Why do customers subscribe to your newsletter?

If a website visitor subscribes to your newsletter, this is a great sign. It shows that they are willing to share their personal data with you (at least their email address), and that they are interested in both your brand and your product. Of course, the user does this with certain expectations. Here are the most common reasons why someone might choose to join your email address list:

Information about new products: Your customers expect to be informed about new products on a regular basis.

Product recommendations: Purchase recommendations via email are also popular. For example, if a customer recently bought a camera, it makes sense to tell them about related products. This is known as upselling.

Newsletter discounts and promotions: Price reductions and special discounts are always well-received. It’s therefore a good idea to reward both new and existing customers with unique discount codes.

Interesting news: Just redesigned your online shop or released new features? Use your newsletter to share this news with your customers.

In short, your subscribers expect to be the first to hear about new products, to receive relevant product recommendations and, of course, special offers and discounts.

2. How to generate new addresses

When acquiring email addresses for your list, the emphasis should always be on customer value. Avoid advertising too aggressively, and be transparent at all times. For example, make it clear how often a customer can expect to receive emails from you, and that they can unsubscribe from your mailing list at any time.

Website popup: Not necessarily the most popular of methods among website visitors, but an effective method nonetheless. When a user visits your website, a pop-up appears inviting them to enter their email address.

Link in footer: You should always include a link to your newsletter sign-up form in the footer of your website. This ensures that, if a user is interested in your newsletter, they can easily subscribe at any time.

Offer an incentive: Give the user a reason to sign up to your newsletter. You could offer a $5 voucher, for example, for every new subscriber. You will soon notice an increase in the number of users signing up!

Exclusivity and artificial scarcity: Treat your newsletter recipients to exclusive discounts, and advertise these on your sign-up page. This will boost your sign-up rate and make it easier to acquire new addresses.

Newsletter sign-up via your blog: Many companies and ecommerce stores regularly share company or product news via their blog – making it an ideal platform for the newsletter sign-up widget. If a user is reading your blog, they are already looking for information. If your blog offers good reader value, there’s a high chance they’ll also subscribe to your newsletter.

3. Newsletter subscribe form: What to bear in mind

Minimal data input: Don’t ask for too much data – focus on the essentials. As a general rule, you shouldn’t ask for more than three parameters (e.g. email address, gender and name). The more data the user has to provide, the less likely they are to complete the sign-up process.

Transparent approach to unsubscribing: On your sign-up page, it’s also important to clearly communicate how the user can unsubscribe from your newsletter. This ensures transparency, helps to build trust and, ultimately, increases the subscribe rate.

Email frequency: A statement such as “we would like to email you once or twice per month” can also help to build trust. This reassures the recipient that they won’t be receiving emails every single day.

Link to a newsletter archive: Another way to win over potential new subscribers is to provide a link to an archive of previous newsletters. The user can then easily decide if your newsletter content is of interest to them. This also helps to make sure that your email list is made up of relevant, genuinely interested contacts.

Discounts and rewards: An extremely popular method for boosting newsletter subscribe rates is to reward new subscribers with a voucher. In the B2B sector, a free downloadable whitepaper also works well; all the user has to do is sign up for your newsletter and they receive the whitepaper for free.

4. Why do newsletter recipients unsubscribe and how can this be prevented?

For many online marketers, there’s only one thing that matters: getting as many newsletter subscribers as possible. However, this means that the actual purpose of the newsletter tends to be forgotten. Customer value should always take center stage; if a user constantly receives emails with no recognizable value, there’s a high chance they’ll ask you to remove their email address from your list.

Marketers also face the dilemma of wanting to engage their customers with regular email campaigns without being annoying. This is where lifecycle or trigger campaigns can help. Such campaigns are sent based on certain events – or user actions – so they tend to be highly relevant. The chances of them annoying the user are therefore lower.

In summary: it’s extremely important to send highly targeted email campaigns that offer genuine value for the reader. Only then is it possible to sustainably grow your email contact list.

5. Is it a good idea to buy email addresses?

If you want to quickly expand your email contact list, you might toy with the idea of purchasing email addresses. For example, a small online shop could quickly gain access to potential customers and advertise their products via an email newsletter. Acquiring email addresses organically seems like an arduous process in comparison.

But be careful: Before you decide to buy an email list and send your newsletter, you must consider the following:

  1. Is it legal?
  • Untrustworthy providers:The internet is full of shady websites offering email addresses for sale. In most cases, there is no guarantee that the users associated with these email addresses have completed the necessary double opt-in process. Nor is it likely that they have consented to their data being sold on.
  1. Does it make economical sense?
  • Shared lists:Even if it comes from a trustworthy source, such lists are not normally exclusive to one buyer. This has a negative impact on the quality of the email addresses.
  • No existing relationship with the customer: Purchasing email addresses means that you have not built a relationship with these contacts over time – rather, you will be contacting them out of the blue. The recipient may not know your company or your products, so open rates will most likely be low. The user may even mark your emails as spam.
  • Poor quality lists: Even if it sounds like a cheap option, the quality of the email addresses is often very poor. The list may contain addresses that no longer exist or cannot be reached as their inbox is full. In many cases, a contact list of, say, 1000 recipients can very quickly be reduced to just a few dozen.


Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to purchase email addresses. Even if the prices seem tempting, when considering the quality of the email addresses – and the legal aspects – it’s just not worth it. It is much better to take a sustainable approach that focuses on long-term customer retention. Acquiring email addresses yourself is not only much more sustainable; it also enables you to build relevant, targeted email lists full of genuinely interested contacts.

About the author

Emily Stevens

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