Do you know you can try any of our premium WordPress themes for free?Show me the themes

10+ email list building ideas and tools (to easily grow your customer base)


What are some of the most efficient email list-building ideas and tools to grow your audience in 2019 and beyond? Here’s our recommendation!

Building your email list can be overwhelming and tricky; that’s why you need help from relevant and reliable tools. Sure, you can try to grow your list manually, but it takes time and intense effort. And it is something we’ve all done in the beginning. Maybe. Nowadays, if you want to do it quicker and more efficiently, you’ll use some of the ideas tools we talk about in this article. Furthermore, you’ll pair them with some of the tactics we offer at the end of the post. So, let’s dive in.

Email marketing stats

Did you know that:

Top WP Hosting recommended by Meks
  • Email marketing delivers a $32 ROI for every $1 spent?
  • >59% of marketers say email is their most significant source of ROI?
  • 73% of millennials say that email is their preferred way of business communication?
  • 77% of people prefer to get permission-based promo content through emails than through text, phone, Social Media, or direct mail?

Knowing all this, what it is we can do to build our email list and improve customer engagement? In this article, we’ll talk about several ideas to consider when starting to create an email list. Also, we’ll recommend some specific email list-building tools that can help you with it. Try them out and combine them with the tips from the MailChimp for WordPress article and start creating great email marketing campaigns.

Email list building ideas

1. Contests and freebies

Contests and freebies are great tools to gather emails from your audience. Who doesn’t like something for free, right? Think of giveaways, sweepstakes, anything you can give to your audience in exchange for their email address. Just like in a landing page example below, it can be anything from ebooks, whitepapers, to actual products or services you can give for free. Combined with Social Media, it’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to grow your email list.

2. Social Media CTA

And talking about Social Media, why not use its incredible power to gain more subscribers? Like, come up with a specific Social Media challenge, something that aligns with your brand and has value for your followers. Invite them to participate with the clear CTA and follow through with the idea. That can be anything from a smart eating challenge, or how to become a better storyteller or a fitness challenge. The idea is to get people involved, offer a value that is worth giving an email address for.

Another way to use social engagement to build an email list is to use your About sections and link spaces to clearly state the benefits of joining your mailing list. It’s a legitimate way of promoting your newsletter and offers, not to mention you can always pin a tweet or a Facebook post with the CTA, so it’s the first thing people see.

Also, invest some time to find relevant Facebook groups you can engage with. Become a part of the pack, be visible, answer questions, and – when applicable – offer more details and value through email communication.


3. Sign-up widgets

A great and noninvasive way to collect emails is to have a sign-up widget on your blog or site. It can be either in the sidebar or targeted in the middle of specific blog posts or articles that perform well. Just a small box stating something like:

  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Get our best tips to improve your __________. Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter.
  • Sign up for a free _____________ ebook!
  • Be the first to know when our ___________ is out!
  • Join us to receive free offers and discounts

As simple as that. Depending on your audience, your email campaigns, and offers, you’ll tailor the specific offer and guide them through the signup process without irritating them.

4. Content upgrades

Use your most visited content to offer additional value for your readers. Like, if you have an article that talks about mobile photography, provide a list of tools people can use. Something like photo editing apps, video editing apps, something that further benefit your audience in exchange for their email address.

Or, offer a guide or a step-by-step tutorial that explains to your audience how to start a travel blog perhaps, or set up a vlog theme. You get the idea.

As you see, a content upgrade can be anything from a checklist to a recorded webinar or even a printable! It all comes down to you and your valuable, relevant offer in exchange for an email address.

Bonus ideas

In addition to all these tools, how about some bonus tips for improving your list-building efforts? Use photo/video tools to create captivating content that converts! And by that, we mean use tools like Canva or Zoom to develop and record – freely – visuals, short videos, or webinars. Canva is a great freemium tool that lets you create stunning visuals for pretty much any and every purpose you need. Zoom is more and more becoming the next great thing in live chat and enables you to record your video, so it’s good if you want to have a freebie webinar or short lead magnet messages.

Email list building tools

emails and laptop and smartphone

1. Pop-up forms

Pop-up forms are still one of the most sufficient ways to grow your email list. Despite common thinking that they’re annoying above repair; popups work. Just ask Sumo users how they collected 23,645,948 email addresses. Yes, thanks to the pop-up plugin. They serve as a lead magnet, helping in converting visitors into prospects and email subscribers.

With pop-ups, you can catch the audience at the very beginning, during page scrolling, when they want to exit the page – which you might see on our site as well. Done well, it’s not annoying at all 🙂 And if your site is on WordPress, there’s a lot of great pop-up plugins you can try out and use to build your email list, even from scratch. Use them as a subscription tool, exit-intent, registration form, or whatever means you want. Simply read our linked recommendation and see which one fits your needs the best. And feel free to share your top pick!

2. Landing pages

Even a small blog or a website with basic content can still be used for building your email list – if you have a landing page, or even a landing page itself. It’s a one-page website with well-targeted content and an opt-in form. A well-structured and designed landing page, containing the right copy, well-targeted CTA, and opt-in form is a severe magnet for building your email list.

Basically, it’s a single-page site where you share valuable, relevant, and meaningful information in exchange for an email address. It could be anything from landscape photography tips and tricks, low-budget travel tips, monthly entertainment newsletter, free ebook, whitepaper, blogger list… whatever it is your target audience wants and needs in exchange for their email.

So, follow these landing page tips and choose from these excellent WordPress landing page themes and start building your email list!

3. Live chat plugins

Live chat feature is an excellent customer support service and can change the way people perceive you and your work. Not only that, but can also serve as a lead magnet to help you collect new addresses for your email list. Live chat is an instant help for visitors that can easily convert into an email list-building tool in all those situations that require more conversation. Show people you’re there for them at any time, for instant help, then drive them to an email conversation when needed. You can see a detailed list of recommended WordPress chat plugins & how to set them up in our article to choose the one which best aligns with your site and business.

4. Email marketing services

It’s safe to say that the email marketing service can improve or break your list-building efforts, which is why it’s crucial to choose the right one. You need a reliable tool, has enough features and options for you to deliver the best email campaign to your target audience. Not to mention, it will work as your sidekick, automating a tremendous amount of work for you.


So, from building an email list to communicating to your subscribers quickly and productively, MailChimp was and is one of the best tools to use. Offers free use up to 2000 email subscribers, so it’s a No1 tool to use if you’re starting your list-building campaign and/or have a smaller email list. The price for more than 2,000 email addresses starts at $9.99/month. Why I love this email marketing service the most is that it comes as a pretty handy WordPress plugin so that you can use it with ease on your blogs and sites. We have it covered all in our detailed guide to MailChimp for WordPress you should check out to set up everything nicely


Cakemail is an excellent email marketing service for those who want to expand their audience but don’t have a huge marketing budget. You can sign up for Cakemail’s Free Plan with no credit card required and keep it until you’re ready to upgrade. If you want to scale your campaigns, you can choose from various growth and premium plans starting at $7/month. All email marketing plans include analytics, email designer, subscription forms, and unlimited users.

Constant Contact

Apart from MailChimp, there are tools like Constant Contact that help you not only in building your email list but also in managing your email marketing campaigns and deeper engagement with your community. The tool gives you 30 days of free tryout to get familiar with all the features. The price of Constant Contact starts at $20/month.


GetResponse is another great email marketing service that comes as an all-in-one tool to grow your email list. Moreover, you can use it to create landing pages, marketing automation, and campaigns as well as webinars! All the great ways to gather new emails from different aspects of your communication. After the free 30-days trial period, the price for GetResponse starts at $15/month.


Then, there’s Mailigen; a cloud-based email marketing service specialized for small businesses. You can use it to create, send, and automate your emails as well as collect new subscribers and build an email list. They also have a 30-day free trial period with no credit card required. The price for the service afterward starts at $10/month.


Mailjet is a tool you can use forever free for up to 6,000 emails per month! It’s an email marketing service that enables you to build, send, and monitor your email marketing campaigns at scale. Its subscription forms tool, helps you build your audience and grow your contact list with ease. The pricing for bigger lists and email marketing campaigns starts at $8.69/month.

5. Facebook Ads

Facebook Advertising is an awesome way to build your email list. Specifically, Lead Generation Ads feature:


This type of ad drives more sales leads, such as email addresses, from people interested in your brand or business. Once you define your objectives, audience, budget, and schedule, and create a lead form, Facebook will deliver your ads to the right people to help you get the most leads at the lowest cost.

Facebook advertising is a great way to get emails from people that matter to you the most quickly and easily. For more details on how to set up your Facebook lead ads, visit their in-depth guide.

6. Surveys

For example, Survey Monkey is another must-have basic email list-building tool you should try. Doing a target audience research needs some new topics to cover or simply want to see how people perceive your product, service, or brand? Use Survey Monkey to ask them, offering the results in exchange for their email address, and voila! Get yourself an email list pretty quick!

Email list building tactics

1. Always be value-oriented

What’s in it for your audience, why should they willingly give you their email address? Answering that question will help you tailor the right offer/value/benefit that will result in collecting emails from your target audience.

2. Be relevant

The key to a great email list building is to know your audience and what it is they would need from you. It’s what helps you tailor the right content/offer/product/service that matters the most, that will convert in you receiving their emails. People don’t want to be disturbed, let alone with offers they don’t want or need, so do your research and prepare a tailored proposal they would gladly like to receive.

3. Google is your friend 

Dig deep into your Google Analytics as well as Search Console to find out which content performs the best. Then, think about how you can upgrade that content with an attractive offer that will get you more emails. It should be something that directly answers the search intent and offers a solution or a clue to whatever it is people searched for. An excellent conversion tactic, for sure.

4. Less is more

When creating an offer, a landing page, subscription/sign-up form, ask only for necessary information. People really don’t want to be bothered to fill in infinite spaces; in most cases, an email address and a name are more than enough. Ask for more info, and people won’t take time to fill it out, let alone leave their email. To successfully collect email addresses,  keep it short and straightforward.

5. Be creative

Your blog or website is your canvas to play on in the first place. Think of all the places you can put and include a lead magnet CTA that is meaningful and noninvasive. From email subscriptions to various opt-ins, free offers somewhere in the posts, to Tell-A-Friend CTA, exit pop-ups, and live chat plugins. Each of these tactics has only one goal – to collect emails, so unleash your creativity and think of the ways to use them throughout your site.

email list building ideas and tools pinterest image


Hopefully, we were able to give you an answer to the „How to grow your email list“ question. Use any of the ideas, tools, and tactics to build a high-quality email list that will give you more conversion rate opportunities. And do come back to tell us how these tips and tools helped you in your business 🙂


Tags: , ,

Ivana Cirkovic

Ivana is a Digital Marketing, PR and Social Media consultant with over nine years experience in the field. She is also a WordPress enthusiast and an active member of WordPress community who lives online almost 24/7. In love with Twitter, WP, photography and NYC.

Try theme now for free!
  • Access to a copy of the demo website
  • Full access to the theme options
  • No credit card required

* We will send you an occasional newsletter with special offers, news & theme updates but you can unsubscribe at any time.