How to Build an Email List to Grow Your E-commerce Business

Richard Sutherland
July 23, 2019
Traffic acquisition
Adquisición de tráfico

Why Have an E-Commerce Email List?

Growing an email list is a very important part of any company’s online presence. It keeps the customer up to date on what the company is doing, and it provides offers and incentives that will increase the company’s revenue over time. It allows the company to gauge and record customer engagement and interest in certain parts of the company or what the company is doing overall. 

Growing one’s sales can be a challenge, and doing it right begins with focusing on first-time visitors. These people will need the most persuasion and convincing to initiate the purchase sequence. 

Email marketing is one method towards making this happen. It is the go-to method for saving otherwise lost sales, and it has performed well in many, many industries. 

Research data reveals that businesses can average $440 return on every $10 spent on email marketing, and the average conversion rate for getting page traffic from email marketing hovers above 6%, which is great compared to most other methods.

Starting an E-Commerce Email List

One must first build a list of email subscribers, and that list will grow as sales are generated. The list should ideally be quite targeted, aimed at influencing the most-likely customers. 

It takes some work to convince someone to provide his or her email address on the first visit to an e-commerce site. It may make sense to offer a discount or a gift for that valuable information — their email address. Even if opt-ins are initially low, the power of automation means it costs you almost nothing to begin building a list.

Good Email List Factors

Building a valuable email list requires a lot of effort, and some key features it should have are quality, relevance, and quantity.

The most important thing your email list needs is quality. The information must be obtained first hand. Do not buy email lists, as that is an ineffective waste of money.

For maximum relevance, one should aim to target only people who directly express interest.

Finally, and least importantly, once the method for obtaining new email signups has been refined as many new people as possible should be obtained — this is the quantity factor.

Segmenting your Audience

Tagging users based on their site actions and the products they buy is one way of segmenting your audience into sectors while using their geographical information is another opportunity that must be seized upon. 

The list can then be segmented and personalized, which will help it grow faster. When emails are directly targeted to readers’ individual needs and interests they are much less likely to click that unsubscribe button. 

Segmenting properly: 

  • increases open rates,
  • lowers unsubscribe rates,
  • gets you higher customer retention, and
  • results in fewer spamming complaints. 

Segment by Interest

Good segmenting leads to good targeting, which means that every email the subscriber receives will be relevant to his or her interests. 

Remember, some regions will engage with things based on their specific cultures, so aiming each email to fit its target audience not only looks more professional but also makes far more sense. 

Improving segmentation remains the key to lowering those unsubscriptions — and while segmenting by geographic location is an easy way, it is hardly the only method. 

Segment by Behavior

It is important to remember that quantity is only worth it if the right people are targeted. Just mass emailing everyone is ineffective, and it must be determined which subscribers prefer which types of emails. This optimization will maximize sales. 

Improving segmentation and increasing engagement should be the top two priorities for email marketers. The two really go hand in hand with one another, as proper segmenting will increase engagement on its own. 

The strategy is to get the most relevant material into the hands of those most likely to engage and spend money, and the profits that result from this methodology can be immense. 

Continue to refine and tweak the process, and the result will be very high engagement and many return customers. 

Growing an E-Commerce Email List: On-Site Methods 

To grow your email subscriber list, your website is the first tool to start with. Getting the email address of people who are interested shoppers but who did not make a purchase on their first visit to the site is a top priority. It’s the place to begin building the list. 

Avoid harassing them for this signup. There are always more opportunities in the future, and freebies can serve as a great incentive for enticing consumers to sign up. The idea is to offer the consumer as much as possible without intruding on their personal space. Keep it simple. That is the best route to take.

Popups and Notifications

Timing and location are key here. One must avoid making the website too annoying for users. Having some pop-up ads that interfere immediately with the process is one quick way to turn away visitors. Push notifications must wait, too. It is vital that the site can be explored further without annoying encumbrances. 

Annoying the visitors will only kill the conversion rate and prevent building an email list. It is a violation of the trust, authority, and the credibility of the website to have an annoying offer pop up that the visitor is not even interested in (usually). However, with smart notifications, offers can be put in the right location to maximize the conversion rate. 

The customer experience must remain first, and then one can focus on delivering the “right message at the right time.” If the ad comes too soon in the process, it scares the consumer away or frustrates them. The appropriate timing ensures that they are being “hit” with the message at just the right time, as intrigue builds over your brand and site. 

Navigation and Footer Form

One place to put the email sign-up form is on the website’s navigation or footer, where it is unobtrusive. It can even go in both places, as having a signup form on the website is a fairly standard and effective option. It should not be the only effective way, but it is imperative to include it on the site. 

Where? The best place is in the footer. The footer is still a great and commonplace for the signup form. After the customers have navigated through the main page, they have had the chance to browse the site and have a good feel for the brand and product. They can then make an informed decision about whether to join the email list, and this is a bit different from having the opt-in form in the header because it might ask visitors to take that leap too soon. Timing, again, is the crucial element here. 

If the list option is presented at the right time, the engagement will be high and a large email subscriber list can then be built. 

After all, visitors are not coming with the idea already in mind of signing up for the list. And people like to protect their contact information because it is often sold to bigger companies. 

The emails should also be somewhat sparse once the email address is obtained because most consumers report that too many are sent, and those are just viewed as spam. It leads to unsubscribing, and it is important that the email offers are creative and offer something to the consumer.

Starting a Post-Order Drip Campaign

One way to do this is to start a drip campaign after a customer has ordered. Too much personal information required only becomes one more reason for the consumer not to subscribe. 

There is a reason to send emails. Emails can be sent upon order confirmation, an email stating the item has shipped, confirmation of the package delivery, and as a “how did we do?” final message. 

These four emails provide the chance to get the customer on the subscriber list, and keeping it to a one- or two-click signup is best. People are not usually looking to disclose too much personal data, and so asking only for a name and email address is usually best. 

Offering free guides to related topics is another example of a trick that can gain some followers for the list. 

The important thing is that the list is built at minimal cost and without imposing too much on the consumer. Doing both those things ensures success. 

Growing an E-Commerce Email List: Off-Site Methods 

There are many ways to build an email list off-site. Using sign up buttons, running ads, creating questionnaires, holding contests and giveaways, and utilizing social media influencers are some of the most effective and efficient forms of accomplishing this vital task for any business. 

Using a Signup Button via Social Media Networks 

Using social media to encourage people to sign up to an email list is a common form of driving interested customers to sign up for an email list. 

People generally go to a brand’s social media page because they are already interested in that particular brand. This provides a great opportunity to give people more of what they already want. 

Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others are all required forms of customer engagement these days, and while they may not all be friendly to adding links to them, there are always workarounds that can be accomplished through applications such as Linktree, which allows multiple links to be posted on an Instagram bio. 

Adding a call to action button on a Facebook business page is another great example of this as well. Filter your subscribers into categories so they can keep track of what social media outlets are bringing in the most people. 

Running Ads to Drive Traffic to a Landing Page 

This method of building an email list involves selling a product or providing an offer that interested people can click on and be taken to a landing page that collects their information. 

If you offer high-end cooking equipment, then a link to a free cookbook could be posted on a Facebook ad that transfers people to a landing page where they can download the cookbook and their information will be collected to add to the email list. 

As Facebook allows for targeted advertisement, this could further help to get the exact demographic that the business is searching for. 

Creating Questionnaires to Engage with a Target Audience and Collect Email Addresses 

Surveys and questionnaires are now easier than ever to create, and more and more businesses are utilizing their popularity in order to build engagement with their audiences. 

These surveys allow a business to get precious feedback on the kinds of reactions people have to their products, as well as collect information on the kinds of products and blog posts that their audience wishes to see in the future. 

These questionnaires can contain incentives such as ad discounts or prizes attached to them after completion as well as being used to promote a new product that will soon be released to the public. 

Once the surveys are filled out, the information contained in them can be added to the company’s email subscription list. 

Contests and Giveaways on Social Media to Increase Engagement and Build the Email Database

By holding contests and giveaways, target consumers are encouraged to engage more with the business, but also to share their engagement with others. 

Adding a component to the contest or giveaway where the audience has a higher chance to win the more they share is a great way to boost engagement in business, especially early on. 

These contests can also be a great way to team up with other businesses that are marketing to the same target audience so that the reach and the power of the contest are far greater than it would have been alone. 

Utilizing Influencers to Build Lists 

Influencers have established their place in the social media marketing world. Businesses now routinely reach out to influencers who already have access to the target demographic that the business is trying to sell to. Offering sponsorship deals and free products to these influencers in exchange for exposure to their audience can quickly help to jump-start a business and build an email subscription list quickly. 

Try Many Different Strategies 

Photo by HostReviews

It’s important for any business to understand that there is no one perfect strategy when it comes to building a customer base or an email list. Many different strategies will need to be undertaken in order to know which of them are successful and which of them are not. 

Being able to measure results and tweak strategies when needed is of the utmost importance to any successful marketing campaign. 


Building an email list is vital for all businesses. If the task seems daunting, just take it slow and remember some simple steps. 

  • Add a signup form to the home page of the company website. A good place for this is at the bottom where the footer is. 
  • Be sure to add notifications to the site that give a reason for the audience to want to engage with it. 
  • Make sure that any purchases from the website have an email field added to them so that all customers must provide that vital information. 
  • Every step in the shipping process is an opportunity to email a customer to let them know about their order and to convince them to sign up for the newsletter or engage further. 
  • Be sure not to send all email to all customers. This will do more harm than good. Begin segmenting target markets and only send information relevant to each so that they will all take emails seriously.

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About the author

Richard Sutherland has worked in online marketing and search engine optimization for over 15 years. Excited about how we can offer the customer a streamlined, personalized online experience, Richard looks for every way to increase conversion percentages with a high return on investment.

Sobre el autor

Richard Sutherland tiene más de 15 años de experiencia en marketing online y optimización de motores de búsqueda. Apasionado por ofrecer una experiencia inteligente y personalizada a cada consumidor, Richard está constantemente buscando nuevas maneras de incrementar la conversión y, con ella, los retornos a la inversión.

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