Book a Demo
Back to Blog

14 Ways to Build Your Email List From the Ground up

Darren DeMatas
Darren DeMatas Author

Without a quality email list, your eСommerce business is dead in the water.

Email is hands down the best way to communicate with your audience, build trust, and increase sales. Unlike Facebook and other social media, once someone gives you their email address, you have a direct line of communication. You can build a list of 100K FB fans, but only a small percentage of them will actually see your posts.

The difference is simple; With email marketing, you can make the rules and control the customer experience. With social media, you can’t.

If you’re not actively building your email list, you’re missing out on potential customers.

Let’s face it. Almost all of your visitors will come to your online store and leave without buying anything. If you can capture their email, you can start ramping up your digital marketing and turn them into paying customers.

Still not convinced?

Email delivers the highest ROI for marketers
Email beats social by 40x for customer acquisition

Monica Eaton-Cardone

If you want to increase customer acquisition and marketing ROI, you need to grow your email list. But how?

We’ve reached out to some of the most prolific online entrepreneurs and email marketing experts to get the best tips for growing your eCommerce email list.

#1: Know Your Audience

Who do you want on your list? Seems like a simple question, but you can really mess this up. With a high-end luxury product (high involvement purchases), you might turn off your ideal buyer with discounts. You’d be better off trying to lure them in with a buyer’s guide. Selling consumable products online, on the other hand, is a low involvement purchase, so discounts might be the best way to grow that list.

The Volume Discounts addon for X-Cart will configure percent and fixed fee discounts for your online store. 
Price: Free

Once you have your buyer persona’s defined, you can better tailor your messages. Better messaging will result in an email list that turns into dollars.

This is why knowing your list is the most critical first step. Here’s what the experts say:

Barry Feldman
Jordie van Rijn
Maddy Osman
Sharon Hayes

Do It: Know Your Audience

  1. Create A Persona
  2. Determine If Your Products Are High Or Low Involvement
  3. Map Out Their Buying Decision Process [+ Infographic from CommuniGator]
  4. Make A List Of Ideas/Offers For Each Stage

#2: Offer Definitive Guides In Exchange For Email Addresses

Once you have a good idea of what your audience will like, it’s time to create some content. A content upgrade is additional information that is not on the page. For example, on a category page for diamond rings, you could offer an in-depth buyers’ guide or a case study in exchange for their email address.

Blog Module. This SEO-friendly addon for X-Cart makes it easy to create a blog and manage your content.
Price: $89

Informational blog posts are another great place to use this strategy. I wouldn’t recommend putting “Content Upgrades” on product pages, though. You don’t want to distract people from adding items to their cart.

Robbie Richards
Jeannine O’Neil

Do It: Content Upgrade

  1. See Which Page Generates The Most Traffic
  2. Think Of How You Can Easily Upgrade The Content
  3. Create That Content as a PDF
  4. Write A Call To Action To Get The Additional Content
  5. Add A Link That Triggers An Email Lightbox Pop-Up

#3: Use Pop-Ups to Grow Your Email List

Love them or hate them — pop-ups work. Really well. If the offer is relevant, people will not think twice about entering their email address.

Mailchimp addon for X-Cart will help you build custom subscription forms on checkout and registration pages for your email campaigns. 
Price: Free

Victoria’s Secret is a lightbox pop-up that hits you right in the face.

Victoria's Secret pop-up
Tim Watson
Arlen Robinson

#4: Offer a Discount In Exchange For Email

Larrimor’s allows users to select what products they are interested in. This is a great way to segment your list and learn what your visitors are interested in.

Larrimor's Discount

Discounts are a tried and true method for building your email list. Just make sure you don’t give too big of a discount that you lose money or value.

Eyal Reich
Shane Barker
Zac Johnson

Do It: Give Discounts to Grow Email List

  1. Set Up A Coupon Code

The Coupons addon for X-Cart should help you build your email list using subscriber-only coupon codes.
Price: Free

2. Create A Popup

The Popup Anywhere addon for X-Cart will help you capture customers’ attention and build your email list.
Price: $99

3. Deliver The Promo Code Over Email

The Justuno app for X-Cart will let you tack on single-use and bulk coupon codes to pop-ups, banners, slide-ins, and follow up emails.
Price: Free

#5: Run A Contest On Facebook to Create a Killer Email List From Nothing 

This is actually one of the FIRST things you should do when starting an online store. You can build your email list and Facebook fans all in one.

With the Wishpond integration with X-Cart, you’ll be able to grow your mailing list and find more fans by running various types of contests on your website and social media.
Price: Free

There are a few ways to run contests on your Facebook page. Contest For Pages is an app that I’ve used. But you can use other tools as well:

Mike Allton
Nicole Knoll
Jason Ehmke
Jim Belosi

Do It: Run Contest to Increase Email List Subscribers

  • Decide On A Prize (Worth At Least $50)
  • Set Up Your Contest Using One Of The Apps Above
  • Make Sure Email and Like Is Required
  • Announce The Winner On Facebook and Email
  • Follow Up With A Discount Code For Everyone Else

#6: Create An Email Opt-In Landing Page

You can’t just rely on pop-ups to build your list. Having a dedicated landing page that you drive traffic to (via navigation links) is essential.

Srish Agrawal
Helvis Smoteks

Do It: Create A Landing Page

Step 1. Create an awesome landing page or blog post — something that stands out from the rest on this topic or industry.

Drip‘s vast collection of design templates will let you build wonderful landing pages to grow your email list.
Price: Free

Step 2. Then, you need to create a lead magnet that’s a “no-brainer”, and it’s so good that you must get it.

Here are a few examples:

  • We created an article with 128 growth hacks and an eBook with 140 growth hacks. If you liked the 128 tips, you’d want the 12 more in the eBook. No-brainer, right?
  • Russell Brunson, the king of marketing funnels, uses books as lead magnets. He creates these killer landing pages and offers FREE eBooks — you just have to pay for shipping!

Step 3. Make sure this landing page or blog post brings traffic month-over-month. With stable traffic flow, growing subscribers won’t be an issue.

Here’s my 3-step-guide:

  1. Do keyword research and find high search volume (10 to 1,000 searches per month) and low keyword difficulty score (0 to 20) query.
  2. Then do on-page optimization. Add this keyword to meta tags, URL, H1 and H2 title, first paragraph, and text’s body.
  3. Last but not least. Get a few backlinks to make sure the content ranks on Google’s first page.

Step 4. Monitor the traffic and optimize for higher conversions. Google Search Console (Search Traffic -> Search Analytics) shows the best optimization opportunities and helps to see how people find your content so you can re-optimize your page.

#7: Include An Email List Signup Form Everywhere & Test Them

Like we said before, there are lots of places to put your email call to action. Sidebars, footers, pop-ups, and navigation menus are all fair game. Start building your email list with the easiest one — pop-ups. 

Newsletter Subscriptions addon for X-Cart makes it easier for your customers to subscribe to your updates and helps you grow your email list.
Price: Free

You can find many amazing email pop-up examples to get your portion of inspiration. You can also test the timing of them.

The key is to test, test, test.

Standout.net CTA
Tamara Gielen
Scott Hardigree
Jeff Lenney
Joe Daley

#8: Tap in Social Media Promotion [+ Landing Page] To Grow Emails For Your Online Business

Once you have a landing page, you can leverage social ads or sponsored posts to drive traffic to them. You can also directly ask for emails on Facebook. This tried-and-true way of collecting email addresses is still around because it works. 

Monica Eaton-Cardone
Julie Herndon

Do It: Social Promotion

  1. Set Up Your Landing Page
  2. Set Up Instagram and Facebook Ads
  3. Create Ad Copy and Promote Your Landing Page Offer
  4. Pin the post to the top of all your social media profiles.

By the way, if you are too shy to directly pitch your email newsletter on social media, you can include a link to your blog or landing page in your email signature.

#9: Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment is when people visit your store, add something to their cart, but don’t complete their purchase.

ProFlowers heads-up

We have an entire chapter on this. For cart abonnement techniques to work, you have to ask for their email address early in the purchase process. 

CarID's account signup page

You also need a Shopping Cart Platform that can handle this:

Abandoned cart reminder works perfectly with X-Cart eCommerce platform. It will automatically send abandoned cart notifications to your users and turn your deserted carts into sales.
Price: $165 

Larry G. Maguire

#10: Create a Long-Term Content Strategy

More and more companies choose to rely on content creation strategies to generate leads, grow their audience, and improve brand awareness. The reason is pretty obvious: create viral content and provide information that brings value, and people share it. The more people share it, the more website traffic you generate, the more eyeballs you get on your ’email signup forms’.

You can either hire content marketers in-house, or use guest blogging forces. Read on to find out more.

The content strategy might seem too hard to carry out and it takes time. Yes, it’s true. But once the cycle of growing subscribers kicks in and you’ll start getting valuable leads, you won’t regret it.

#11: Take Advantage of Guest Posting To Grow Your Mailing List

For guest posting to work, you need to have a full-time copywriter or a subject matter expert that likes to write. Guest posting is a tried and true audience building tactic, but it has gotten spammed over the years by link builders.

The idea is to find sites in your niche that have an active blog. Reach out to them and see if there’s a way to guest post on their site. This way you can gain exposure with their audience. For your post bio, link to your landing page.

Do It: Guest Posting

  1. Find Sites Your Audience Visits
  2. Write Your Guest Post Pitch
  3. Create Content For Their Site
  4. Add A Link To Your Landing Page

#12: Partnerships

You shouldn’t isolate your eCommerce store from other effective websites. You can host events on social media. You can also run a massive giveaway with other online stores with the goal of building a huge list.

Tim Bourquin

#13: Add Opt-In Instructions To Thank You Page

A bunch of email subscribers is meaningless if all the emails end up in their spam folder. Once they opt-in, send them to a ‘thank you’ page that gives them whitelist instructions.

Opt-in instructions in the Selfstartr blog

It seems like a small thing, but it shows people right away that you care about the email relationship.

Remember to include an unsubscribe link. Otherwise, your users will send your email into their spam boxes, which is way worse.

#14: Keep People On Your List With Email Autoresponders

Segmenting your list and sending relevant messages is a must. You have to keep a clear separation between (potential) customers and tire kickers.

Active Campaign addon for X-Cart will help you quickly set up email autoresponders for some repetitive tasks.
Price: Free

When you are setting up your lists, try starting with two:

  • Transactional: These are people that have purchased from you, registered for your store, or abandoned their cart.
  • Informational: These are people that want content or deals from you. But have not made the step to purchase.

You can consider slicing it up more depending on your goals.

Sean Ogle
Karen Talavera
Nick O’Neill
David Jaeger

Do It: Email Automation

  1. Create an informational autoresponder email sequence that includes a sale offer in the 4th or 5th email. 
  2. Create Your Transactional Emails

Over To You

A huge thanks to all the expert contributors to this post! If you’re struggling to get traction on your emails, check out every chapter of our eCommerce email marketing guide.

By the way, the next chapter is going to be about all sorts of transactional emails. You’ll learn:

  • why your customers love these emails so much;
  • where transactional emails can go wrong;
  • what you can do about it.

All with examples and takeaways.

Go to Chapter 2
Go to Chapter 4


Darren DeMatas
Darren DeMatas Social Activist, Entrepreneur, Ecommerce Investor, Agency Founder

Co-Founder at Ecommerce CEO and Orbit Local, Board Member at Three Grains of Rice Missions, Darren has an MBA in Internet Marketing and 10+ years of experience marketing retail, manufacturing, and Internet marketing corporations, 7-figure brands and startups online.

Want to See Your Store in Action?

Leave your contact details and we will reach out to set up a personal demo.

    By proceeding, you agree to the Terms of service, and authorize X-Cart to send you promotional messages via SMS and Email. You can opt out any time.

    Thanks, you’re booked!

    Our team will follow up shortly, either by email or phone, to schedule the date and time for the X-Cart demo.

    Case Image

    Meanwhile, learn how LittleDiode doubled down on efficiency and increased revenue with X-Cart.

    Read More