As the name suggests, an email list contains email addresses of people or site visitors who showed interest and gave permission to send future promotions and updates. Email is one of the most cost effective and quickest modes of communication and is still the most preferred way of sending commercial promotions and updates. Statistics show that more than 70% random site visitors would not come back to your site. So how do you retain site visitors and make them come back for more? The answer is building email lists, which is the most cost-effective and widely used mode of retaining and converting visitors into leads. Despite the popularity of social media marketing and growth hacking, email marketing still remains a more effective marketing channel and the primary driver of web traffic. Many online surveys and research suggests that around 75% people prefer receiving commercial messages through email, especially newsletters.

Why is an Email List important?

Many site owners still fail to realize the importance of email marketing and building email lists and some even confuse it with spamming. Building an email list means you are creating and maintaining a database of people who showed interest in your site and would like to receive future updates and promotions. Many businesses (especially internet businesses) now rely on email marketing to grow and communicate effectively with their customers. Many businesses are even built entirely on email lists and can still be profitable without anything else. This shows how important email lists actually are as they have the potential to be the revenue engine of almost every internet businesses.

email newsletter campaign

Most site or businesses owners who have not invested in building an email list are often unaware of the impact they can make on revenues and conversion rates. In many cases, the conversion rate is as high as 300%, which is significantly higher than any other method. This post not only highlights the importance of building email lists, but also provides information about some of the most popular and feature-packed email list building and marketing tools. So let’s get started and explore some of the most important factors that make building email lists so important.

Email Lists as an Asset

Imaging losing your website, social media accounts and everything you had been doing online to build and grow your business. But if you only had an email list, you probably won’t be so depressed as the list alone would allow you to restore your business in very little time. People have built multi-million dollar businesses on the strength of email lists and consider them as a top priority and their most valuable asset. Even if you are not running a site that monetizes email lists, you can still use them to keep visitors coming back for increased traffic. Email lists are also an asset that you can sell as there is a lot of money involved in them and internet and direct marketing companies are often valued based on their email lists.

Email lists also serve as a financial safety net and allow you to quickly generate some revenue in hard times by pitching subscribers with your own or someone else’s products/services. However, that should not happen too often and is possible only if you have been treating subscribers the right way.

You are the Sole Owner

Search engines like Google are known to continuously change their search ranking algorithms and there is nothing you can do about it. On the other hand, an email list is always yours and no one can take it away from you. Email lists minimize dependence on search engines and uncertainty related to changes in search ranking mechanisms and social media sites. Many businesses start building email lists even before they start building products, which allows them to understand prospects in a better way and come up with better products. As the time passes and your list grows, you’ll notice that the list is enough for sustaining a business, minimizing dependence on search engines and social media sites.

Cost effectiveness, High ROI

Email marketing is the most cost effective way to get in touch with prospects, visitors and existing customers. You can send thousands of emails to your subscribers in just a few dollars and the average cost per email is almost negligible. Email marketing was and still remains the king, but businesses still spend a fraction of their marketing budget on building email lists. Email marketing is particularly effective for small and medium businesses that don’t have huge budgets to advertise in newspapers and run campaigns on TV. Email clean sweeps all other marketing channels when it comes to return on investment and is around 40 times more effective than social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

email campaign report

Email is Personal, Targeted and Trackable

Your subscribers have already shown interest in your content/products/services and gave you permission to send them future promotions and updates. That’s why it’s safe to assume that you already know about their interests, allowing you to tailor the content and segment subscribers more effectively. There is always some room to optimize and personalize emails as they can be tested, which allows marketers to easily recreate what works and ignore what does not.

Emails also land directly into subscriber’s inbox and no search engine can limit its reach. People mostly read emails in the privacy of inbox, which is not like newsfeeds or public timelines that get lost in the crowd. Personalized emails encourage recipients to ask questions directly, which helps build trust and ultimately long-lasting relationships. Trust is the most important element behind any purchase decision and regular email updates help built it through personalized messages. Highly targeted and valuable content makes recipients feel as if someone is sending them one-on-one personal notes. Five to ten highly relevant emails are usually enough to build trust, which should never be abused.

email newsletters

Enhanced Database Profiling

Email lists are the starting point of creating enhanced profiling of subscribers for future communication and highly-targeted messages. A list of email addresses only tells you that the subscribers are interested in your content/products/services, but it does not show what exactly they need. That’s where email marketing plays a vital role and helps marketers profile subscribers based on their individual preferences. You can start by sending an email that contains snippet of information about each product/service. This allows marketers to know which subscriber is interested in which product/service and segment different groups based on their individual preferences.

As a platform for testing creative elements

Email marketing and communications is not only a great way to retain visitors and keep them updated, it’s also an excellent platform to test drive creative elements. For example, email marketing campaigns can help determine the images that generate more clicks, subject lines that work better than others or color schemes or banners that grab more attention. This allows marketers to use creative elements that work better for different segments.

Why use an Email Marketing Service

Retaining Customers and Building Trust

Maintaining email lists and reaching out subscribers regularly is a great way of showing that you care, which builds trust and strengthens loyalty. Email lists are essential in retaining subscribers and allow businesses to stay in touch with their customers through the entire product lifecycle. Email is also one of the fastest modes of communication and around 90% of subscribers check their emails on a daily basis. This allows marketers to reach subscribers before postcards from competitors reach them and dramatically increases customer retention.

The Best Long-Term Investment

Email lists are arguably the best long-term investment businesses can make that offer great ROI and a more personalized customer experience. Social media marketers would tell you how beneficial social media marketing has become, but even social media relies on emails to stay in touch with users and keep them in the loop. That’s probably why social media sites require an email address to sign up because they know it’s the most reliable and direct way of communicating with users. There is no denying of the benefits of social media marketing and it’s always worth exploring other options to reach a wider audience. However, email marketing generates much better results and offers a more cost-effective and engaging way of communicating with the target audience.

Checklist for creating an Email List

Gone are the days when only geeks were able to build websites, setup opt-in forms and email marketing services. Now even non-technical users with no coding experience can do these things. All you need to start building an email list is a blog or website, opt-in forms and an email marketing service and none of them is too difficult for a novice user to setup and use. There are hundreds of email marketing and opt-in form services available and many of them are free. We have already covered Best WordPress Popup Plugins and Best Email Marketing Services in separate guides that make it easier to select the best providers.

Growing an Email List

Opt-in forms are one of the most effective and easiest ways to build email lists and there are thousands of such plugins available. Although some WP themes come with pre-built sidebar widgets, they are not as effective as paid, high-converting and engaging opt-in forms that offer advanced features and placement options. OptimMonster is one of the most feature-rich WordPress opt-in form plugin followed by Bloom and ThriveLeads. OptinMonster also offers faster page load times and better performance for most sites and offers a great balance between performance and features. It also offers some additional features such as Exit-Intent Technology that automatically displays an opt-in form when it detects a visitor is about to leave. You may like to have a look at our complete guide for Best WordPress Popup Plugins for detailed comparison and features.

Free Vs. Paid Email Marketing Services

Starters often opt for free email marketing services to save some money, but that’s not something we would recommend. Not only free services lack personalization and branding options, they may also require subscribers to re-subscribe when you move to another paid solution. Luckily, paid marketing services do no cost a fortune and are available at nominal charges. Considering the ROI email lists offer, paid email opt-in form and marketing services are just worth it. Paid email marketing services allow you to:

  • Send highly-targeted and personalized messages
  • Track subscriber activity
  • Conduct A/B split testing
  • Categorize subscriber by interests or other factors
  • Get deep insights into behavior and habits
  • Have complete control on the email list

Building Email Lists Faster

Selecting the right tools is important and a first step towards building email lists, but using them properly ensures that you get the desired results faster. Segmentation is one of the most important elements of an email marketing strategy and allows marketers to segment subscribers into groups based on their preferences. Proper segmentation means better personalization and targeting and ensures better open and click-through rates. Offering users bonus content at the end of posts or blogs is commonly termed as Content Upgrades, which are considered one of the most effective types of opt-in forms and deliver much better results than regular opt-in forms.


Search engine rankings and social media sites are more like rented lands, while emails lists are something that belongs to you. Smart businesses understand the importance of investing in building email lists and consider them their long-term assets. Email is the most cost-effective, scalable and reliable way of engaging with subscribers, generating sales and building long-term relationships. Many businesses make the mistake of not asking for visitor’s email address as they are most likely not to visit that particular website again.

Building email lists allow marketers to timely update subscribers about new promotions, updates and other happenings. Most site owners and marketers who already have an email list wish they had started earlier. But it’s never too late and instead of leaving your business at the mercy of search engines and social media sites, it’s better to start building your own email lists right now. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter almost become irrelevant when we consider the effectiveness of email as a medium of communicating commercial messages. Unlike social media posts that quickly fade away in the crowd, emails sit and wait in the inbox until subscribers read them. Instead of putting all your efforts into reaching 1-2% of your Facebook fans, why not start building your own email list and reach 90% of the subscribers who are more likely to react via email than any other channel.

About The Author

Oliver Dale is the founder of Kooc Media, an online company which has been working with WordPress since 2009. He has written hundreds of posts about WordPress in that time and founded two theme companies which provide free and paid themes to millions of users.

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