How To Build an Email List Fast from Scratch [The Ultimate Guide]

Written by Michael Cheney. Last updated on 9th February 2021

"How to build email list fast" is one of the most popular email marketing searches on Google.

In this free guide I'm going to show you how to build an email list fast from scratch.

If you already have an email list then you can still apply a lot of the strategies you're going to learn.

But if you're brand new you can just follow every single step and;

You'll be able to build an email list fast.

Let's hop to this...

Step 1. How To Build an Email List Fast, The Right Way, by Doing Research

Choose Your Target Market to Build an Email ListLet's talk about how to build an email list, the right way.

I've seen lots of business owners over the past 20 years dive into list building and building an email list, without really considering the most important factor of all - marketing.

You really need to understand who it is you're trying to attract in the first place;

What is your overall objective?


The technical aspects of building a mailing list and getting people to opt in, are fairly straightforward BUT:

"The hard work is doing the market research to attract the right people onto your email list in the first place."

How To Build an Email List By Choosing The Ideal ProspectsYou need to make sure that you are approaching the right market.

You may already be operating in a certain niche.

That's fine.

What I'm about to share with you will help you dial this in even further.

Within your market you need to understand the type of prospects that you want to attract.

You need to get the right people who are actually looking to invest in products or services related to what you have to offer.

Every niche has the wrong prospects;

These guys are the tire kickers, the freebie seekers, and the general pains in the ass. 🙂

You must avoid these guys like the plague.

"Use the right hook and angle to get people on your email list otherwise you'll get freebie-seekers out the wazoo."

You can achieve accurate targeting and tire-kicker filtering with market research.

It doesn't need to be expensive or time consuming.

You can do it quickly and easily.

It's about looking at the buying habits and online habits of your prospects.

Where do they go online?

Who are they?

Just describe your perfect customer avatar;

  • How old is this person?
  • What gender are they?
  • What do they really want from you?

Don't Create a Monster - Do Your Market Research

"Do not lock yourself away like Dr. Frankenstein and create a monster then release it to the world, hoping that people want it."

Find the hungry crowd first.

The more time and effort you can invest in this stage of building an email list, the better your results.

So make sure you have a clear description of who it is you would like on your mailing list.

What are their desires, their fears, their interests, their hobbies and their favourite websites.

What would they most like that you can offer them for free to get them on your mailing list?

Okay, now it's time to move onto;

Step 2. Give Prospects What They Want, Not What They Need

One of the main lessons you can take away from how to build an email list is you need to give people what they want, not what they need.

This is a classic mistake many entrepreneurs make;

They think they understand their market.

So they start creating things that they think their prospects need.

They trot these things out as freebies, offers and products, and then start questioning why they're struggling when nobody buys them.


If you've done the necessary market research, (as we covered in the last section), you won't have this problem.

"People always buy what they want, not what they need."

How To Build an Email List GIving People What They WantThis is why people buy snack foods like chocolate instead of broccoli.

I coined the phrase for this;

Chocolate-covered broccoli.

Here's how this works...

Everybody wants chocolate.

It tastes delicious - it's yummy and sweet.


It has no real nutritional value and it can actually be pretty bad for you.

It's high in sugar and high in fat but it's what people WANT.

If you try and create a freebie for your email list that is pure chocolate you will be inundated with subscribers.

Great, right?

Well, no actually, because...

When they get it, it won't really help them because it has no nutritional value.

"If you offer something with no intrinsic value as your freebie it will backfire BUT you can't just offer 'broccoli' either..."

Don't Just Give People What They Need (Broccoli)Here's why...

Nobody wants broccoli, but everybody needs it.

It's very healthy.

It's full of vitamins and nutrients.

But nobody is going out of their way to get broccoli - there is no desire.

Many business owners focus their efforts on giving broccoli away as a freebie to get people on their list.

Or they make the conscious decision to sell a broccoli product.

They say to themselves;

"People need this, it will really help them. I know it will improve their lives in some way."

This may be the case BUT...

"If people have no desire for your freebie, then they're not going to take action and join your email list."

Many business owners that sell broccoli go broke.

And lots of entrepreneurs who sell pure chocolate are accused of being scammers or not having anything of substance.

What you need to do is a combination of these two things;

You need to offer chocolate-covered broccoli.

You need to position your freebie as something they really want - something that's on their dream list for a typical prospect in your niche.

Use Chocolate-Broccoli to Build an Email ListThen, when you give them this freebie, you also need to give them broccoli.

You may know this is something they really want, and also know that it's not really going to help them massively.

So you can't give them this item on its own.

But you can give them the item in combination with something you know they NEED. By the way - this guide shows you how to create a lead magnet.

Important point;

This is not about bait and switch.

This is not about offering one thing, and then giving people something else.

It's not an "either / or" situation.

"It's about giving people BOTH things - attracting them with what they WANT then giving them that PLUS delivering what they really NEED."

A question I get asked a lot is;

"How often should you send marketing emails?"

If you get this chocolate-broccoli strategy nailed then you can email a LOT more often than 99% of the other businesses who are doing email marketing the WRONG way.


Something else you need to do to build an email list is to make sure you...

Step 3. Create a Brand That Helps You Build an Email List

Branding is Important When Building an Email ListUsing the right colours and words with your branding is very important when building an email list.

You need to make sure what you choose as a brand is specific to your ideal prospects and the market research you've done.

Quite often, this is done as an afterthought.

Entrepreneurs choose their colours, and logos because they like them, then they go out and try and find a market.

This is backwards.

If you do the market research first, you'll know what type of words, colours, themes and angles, will really attract your ideal prospects.

There may even be specific words and phrases you can use in your domain name.

Don't worry if you already have a brand set up;

"You can set up a separate domain name and website to build an email list fast."

Graphic Design is Critical for List BuildingYou may have your main website or blog where your business operates from.

That's fine.

You can also have another website where you build an email list.

Of course, it needs to look professional.

You can easily find great graphic designers who will create a website, or a logo for you, over at Fiverr. 

The company I use is called GFX and I highly recommend them.

The logo, colors and domain name you use can go a long way to getting people on your mailing list.

Of course the freebie offer, and the landing page are important too, which we're coming onto here in a sec...

But if you can get the branding right from the get go, you will attract a lot more people in the first place.

Let's move onto the next step...

Step 4. Give People an Irresistible Reason to Subscribe to Your Email List

Why Would Someone Subscribe to Your Email List?Your prospects do not care about you.

They could care less about your business and your newsletter.

Encouraing people to subscribe to your newsletter or to get updates is not the way to build your mailing list.

You need to tune in to a particular radio station...

It's called - WIIFM.

"What's In It For Me?"

Put yourself in the shoes of the prospect;

Every day, they're been bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages.


"Buy this"

"Grab this coupon"

"Use this discount"

"10% off"

"Sale ends tomorrow"

Do you think another offer to join a mailing list using one of these incentives is really going to work?

You need to stand out.

You need to do something different.

So don't use the offer of discounts, newsletters or updates to get people on your mailing list.

You Need to Stand Out To Build an Email ListInstead, consider using something exciting - maybe an offer of exclusive content.

Or maybe you can offer to unlock something, when they join your list?

Give them something which will make their life easier - perhaps you can give them a free product sample, or free training.

Is there a free guide you could offer related to your niche?

Perhaps you can offer free templates or something else that makes it easier and quicker for them to get their desired outcome?

Make it something so exciting that would be silly not to subscribe and get it.

Now it's time to talk about how to...

Step 5. Avoid Tire-Kickers and Freebie-Seekers

Don't Get Tire-Kickers on Your Email ListWhichever freebie you use to build your list defines the nature of your list and profits moving forward.

If you offer the incentive of a discount to join your mailing list all of your subscribers will be discount seekers.

Most entrepreneurs don't even think about this.


And then they wonder why their mailing list is unresponsive the first week after prospects subscribe;

Because their subscribers grabbed the discount and then are never seen again.

You need to avoid the tire kickers.

To do this, you need to emphasise your offer early on, don't leave it too late.

Otherwise you'll face resistance from your subscribers.

Think carefully about what would make your ideal prospect truly want to give you their email address.

"Your freebie needs to be something so irresistible people would gladly pay money for it."

Not a discount.

Not a newsletter.

Something they cannot ignore on this topic.

Your next step to building your email list is...

Step 6. Create The Perfect Freebie to Build Your List

The Perfect Freebie to Build an Email ListIt starts with your prospects.

The first thing you need to think about is what is the best format of freebie for your prospects.

Do they have a preferred learning method?

Is there one way you think they would like to get their hands on the freebie more than another?

It's easy to fall into the trap of creating a freebie that's easy for you and that you think is really cool.

Just put yourself in the shoes of your prospects - this is the #1 rule of how to build an email list, fast!

What do they really want?

How would they really like to get it?

And how can you over deliver?

Once you've come up with the angle of what your freebie is going to be, and a headline to try and evoke curiosity to get people to request it, then you need to give people what you promised.

We'll talk about the simple steps to create various freebies in a moment (whether it's a PDF Report, an Audio MP3 or a free Video).

And you might want to consider giving away from than one thing because;

"The quickest way to build trust and get sales is to give your subscribers MORE than you promised."

Whatever it is you used as a carrot, to attract somebody to enter their email address and subscribe to your mailing list, you also need to make sure you give it to them instantly.

On that note, let's move onto...

Step 7. Deliver Your Freebie This Way

How to Deliver Your FreebieThere are two main ways you can deliver a freebie.

First, you can put it on the thank you page.

So the moment that somebody subscribes to your list, on the very next page, they get the item.

This is pretty cool.

It's really quick.

It gives people instant satisfaction.


You don't have to worry about your email going astray.

However, let's think about the main objective here - what you're trying to do is build an email list, fast.

You can offer an amazing freebie and just deliver it straight on the thank you page and get a big list;

But it won't be responsive.

Just because people have subscribed to a list, doesn't mean they are getting your emails or that they will open them, and click on them.

Here comes the rub...

"You need to make sure you get people to go to their inbox, to get your freebie."

If you deliver it on the thank you page, many people will never go to their inbox to see an email from you.

They will just grab the freebie directly from the thank you page and disappear into the ether.

You don't want this.

Example Thank You PageYou want to every subscriber to become an active member of your mailing list.

What I do on my thank you page is very simple.

I tell them I've just emailed them and that their freebie is on the way.

I ask them to check their spam trash and promotion filters.

Then I tell them what the From: email address will be.

In addition, I also include direct links to Gmail and Outlook so people are just one click away from checking their email.

Next, you need to...

Step 8. Leverage the Power of Your Thankyou Page

Thank You PageThe real estate on your thank you page is some of the most valuable you can have as a website owner.

That page will be viewed more than any other page, email, or content that you email out to your list. (Thanks Dean Holland for your insight on this!)


Because 100% of people who subscribe will see the thank you page.

After that, it's all downhill! 🙂

For this reason, some people use a thank you page to make an offer.

This is all down to your primary objective though...

If you really want to build a list of true value, that becomes a long term asset for your business, then you need to get people on your mailing list who are responsive.

If you make an offer on the thank you page, the chances are you will turn people off.

And they won't even go to check their inbox.

Keep things simple.

"We are all goldfish - we want things quickly and easily with the least amount of hassle."

Send the Freebie to Their Email InboxDon't repeat things on the thank you page, that you've already explained earlier.

Just tell them how to get the freebie in the initial email;

Give them the freebie, the subject line should be

"Here's your freebie, as promised."

And then when they open up the email it should be a quick;

"Hello, here's your stuff..."

And a link to go and grab it.

Don't be tempted to put more stuff in that first email, to make an offer, build credibility or do any of those things.

"Give people what you promised right away and they will be more responsive to your emails."

That is a huge credibility-builder, right there.

Also make sure, whenever you are creating your landing pages or thank you page that you actually check how everything looks on your cell phone.

Most people are now surfing the web and using social media, etc. with their cell phone.

If you create your pages, specifically for PC or tablet, you'll be missing a large chunk of your audience.

So over-deliver with the freebie you give and follow up quickly by giving that item to them.

And also start as you mean to go on;

The first email sets the tone of the following emails you will send people.

"Get in, deliver value, get out!"

Audacity Audio ToolIn terms of the freebie itself, don't be afraid to sell your offer inside the freebie...

If people have taken the time to actually go through the free thing you've offered, they are very qualified.

You could include a link to make a sale at the end of the freebie.

Your freebi could be an audio, in which case you can use the free tool Audacity.

Maybe you're looking to create a PDF report, where you can use either Microsoft Word or a simple PDF creator.

Or maybe you're offering a video and you might want to consider something like Camtasia.

Okay, you've got your freebie, so now you need to...

Step 9. Get an Autoresponder to Collect Email Addresses

Build an Email List with GetresponseAn autoresponder is a service that enables you to collect email addresses and send emails to these subscribers.

It stores a database of everybody who has joined your email list.

You can then set up scheduled emails in advance, which go out at certain times.

You can also do live email broadcasts to your email list.

And you can have a sequence set up in advance so that an instant email is sent out every time somebody opts in.

Use Getresponse AutoresponderAnd they all receive the same sequence, over a period of days.


You cannot do email marketing without an autoresponder.

Many autoresponders are trying to branch out into other areas of marketing - some are adding funnel builders...

Others are adding landing page builders.

And others still are creating additional services such as webinars and automation.

The most important thing to consider is;

Do they have a good reputation and do your emails get delivered?

Everything else is just the cherry on top.

"I've been using Getresponse for over 20 years and highly recommend them."

Here's why - they have three things I love;

Great deliverability rates, very quick customer service and low prices.

Plus they also offer a free 30 day trial.

Getresponse also has a landing page builder.

This can make it easy for you to get started building your email list.

Great. Now let's discuss how to;


Step 10. Create the Best Opt In Landing Page

Email Optin Landing PageYour headline is the most important thing.

The first words that people see on a page have the biggest influence on whether they take action or not.

For this reason, you should spend a good amount of time creating various headlines.

You can then put them away for a day or two...

Revisit them after a couple of days choose your favourite.

You should also try and split-test the headlines on your page.

Many website builder and landing page builder tools enable you to do split testing like this:

Split Testing Your Optin Page

Even if you do a simple A / B test of one headline versus another you will find one gets you much better results.

You can keep repeating this process to improve your optin rate further and further over time.

Keep your landing page short and simple.

You can include bullet points on a opt in page but it's really the main headline, and the text that is closest to the optin button / box, which is going to have the biggest impact.

"If you've done everything else right, and you're driving targeted traffic, then you've done a lot of the pre-selling of getting people to join your list already."

It shouldn't take a lot of words on your landing page if you've pre-framed well beforehand.

Make sure the opt-in box or button is above the fold.

Make Your Landing Page Mobile-ResponsiveWhat this means is - it appears on the first screen when viewing, without having to scroll.

Make sure this is also the case when viewing on a cell phone.

In fact, always have your phone out, and within easy reach, so you can look at your webpages, as you're creating them.

Be sure to include a spam or privacy statement underneath your opt in box.

Here's what I use, feel free to copy it;

We take your privacy very seriously. We will never sell your information.

This doesn't have to be long, but you want to give people the peace of mind that their email address is in safe hands.


To stay on the right side of pay per click companies and big tech, you should make sure you have links to your privacy pages, terms and conditions, and contact pages at the footer of your landing page.

As far as the text on the "subscribe" button (or call to action), you should write this from the prospect's perspective;


"Yes, I want access."

"Yes, give me access now."

"I want to download this."

Once you've done this you need to...

Step 11. Use These Simple Strategies to Boost Your Optin Rate

Boost Your Optin RateOne of the key factors when creating your landing page copy is to evoke curiosity...

Use words and descriptions, which make people excited to see what they will get after they've entered their email address.

You need to give them enough information to take action, but not so much that they think they know the full story without even having to subscribe.

I would also highly recommend using a two-step process.

This means people first click on a button, then they enter their email address.

If you have a long form with first name, second name, email address, and so on, all visible, it will turn people off.

Use a simple button.

And then when people click on it, have a simple box that asks for their email address.

I've been doing this for over 20 years, I've made millions of dollars from email marketing and...

"I recommend you do NOT ask for a subscriber to enter their name - it's just an extra hurdle for them and the personalization benefits don't out-weigh the increase in subscribers."

How To Build Email List Using LeadPagesIn terms of the software tools you can use to build an opt in page, there are many options available.

I use LeadPages because it's quick, easy and very affordable.

They specialise in creating landing pages.

They know what works and their pages always look clean and professional.

More importantly, they get good opt in rates.

You can also include an image on your opt in page...

It can help a little to convey what people are getting as the freebie.

Leadpages Landing Page SoftwareYou can show people what they're getting or a visual representation of it, and test it yourself.

This teases people a little and evokes their curiosity.

They want to get their hands on what they see.

Oh and;

Make sure you use the same messaging and angle throughout your email list process;

This means the wording used in the headline, on the button, on the thank you page and inside your first email.

For example, don't say in the headline;

"Download this x y z."

But then on the button, say

"Get access to ABC."

And then in the email, say;

"Thank you for subscribing."

Use the same wording, and messaging throughout.

Okay, great.

You've now got everything set up.

So it's time for the final step...

Step #12. Start Driving Free Traffic

Edit Your Facebook ProfileYou won't grow a mailing list without traffic.

It's a huge area, of course, but let's talk about the basics to help you get your first subscribers.

Firstly, now you have an opt in page, and a domain name dedicated to growing your list, you need to put it everywhere.

You can edit your Facebook profile and add it into the about section, so people can see it there.

You can update your profile header image and include a link from there as well.

Create a Facebook PageYou could create a Facebook page, and have links and regular content there, inviting your friends to like the page, and even advertising to targeted people to grow the page and traffic.

You can then invite people from the page over to your Facebook group.

This gives you more interaction with people and enables you to get more traffic directly from Facebook.

You should of course be using every opportunity to mention your landing page URL to any existing contacts you've already established.

This could be done with email signatures, adding it to your business card, and other merchandise.

You can add your landing page to Twitter, both in a post and on your profile.

If you have a LinkedIn profile you should add it there.

You can also create a corresponding YouTube channel for your email list.

"This is a great way to leverage content, because every time you email, you can create a short video about that email content and add it to your YouTube channel."

Build an Email List Using QuoraPLUS:-

You can add a link back to the landing page from your YouTube channel.

You can blog about your landing page and include a link from the blog to the landing page page.

You could answer relevant questions on Quora and include a link in your profile there, and occasionally in some of the answers that you give.

You could even set up an Instagram account and post related images using website address where possible.

You may wish to run a free webinar where people need to register.

You Can Use Instagram to Grow Your ListThis could give people free training related to your offer, where they need to enter their email address and join your list to attend.

These are just a few basic ideas that you can use to start driving traffic and start building your email list.


I hope you're excited to get started applying these steps, and building your email list.

You can see there is a lot involved to building an email list, but it's all something that you can achieve.

Just take it one step at a time.

And before you know it, you will have a large email list, full of responsive subscribers.

Now grab this free video which shows you how to turn your emails into money;


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