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How to Build an Email List

Email marketing helps you build a relationship with your customers. Here’s how to combine pop‑up forms and Facebook ads to start growing your list in a few simple steps.

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Email marketing helps you not only to build a relationship with your customers, but gives you a proven way to nurture leads and convert them into long lasting customers. 

No matter what type of business you operate, an email list is the most important element of a successful marketing strategy. With that list, you can share your story, promote your business, and showcase your products, all while turning subscribers into paying customers.

Online businesses that want to attract potential customers can use opt-in forms in their website to attract sign ups, experienced content marketers use lead magnets to generate leads. You can also combine pop‑up forms and Facebook ads to start growing your email list in a few simple steps.

In this recipe, you’ll learn how to quickly build a list from scratch by combining 2 of Mailchimp’s most powerful tools: pop-up forms and Facebook ads.

1. Create a branded opt-in pop-up form for your website

Pop-up forms provide visitors with a quick, convenient way to share contact information and subscribe to your list while they’re browsing your site, making them a powerful tool for audience growth. They’re easy to add to your site, and they’re proven to work—our research shows that Mailchimp users have seen their list growth rate increase by an average of 50.8% after adding a pop-up form to their site.

Here are few tips to take into considerations before you start building opt-in pop-up forms:

  • Choose an attractive headline: Make sure to include a good headline that will describe one important benefit that your potential customers will have by subscribing to your email list.
  • Relevant description or Tag line: include a brief and clear description line, that will help you increase the conversion rate for your subscription.
  • Simple form: Include only the necessary contact information, like name and email address.
  • Include a call to action into the subscribe button. Make sure to use non-generic call to action that will invite visitors to click right away.

Mailchimp users have seen their list growth rate increase by an average of 50.8% after adding a pop-up form to their site.

Build a pop-up form in 3 steps

  1. Design your form.

  2. Set your display timing.

    • Tip: Align the timing of your pop-up form with the average amount of time a visitor spends on your website. Set the form to appear immediately (or with a 5-second delay) if people aren’t inclined to spend much time on your site. If visitors have a tendency to browse, consider a 20-second delay or a scroll-based trigger when someone reaches the middle or bottom of your page.
  3. Generate the code and, if necessary, paste it into your site’s HTML or through your website builder.

Set the form to appear immediately (or with a 5 second delay) if people aren’t inclined to spend much time on your site. If visitors have a tendency to browse, consider a 20-second delay.

Next, create marketing campaigns to find your people with Facebook ads

Every marketing expert knows that Facebook ads help you reach new audiences—and find new customers—by targeting people who’re similar to your existing contacts. In fact, we’ve found that targeting an audience that’s similar to your Mailchimp list can lead to a 29% better ROI than interest targeting alone.

But Facebook ads aren’t just used for selling stuff, but also to generate leads by collecting emails through ads that link to your landing pages with opt-in forms. In just a few steps, you can create an ad that drives people to your site so they can quickly and easily sign up for your email list.

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Create a Facebook ad in 3 steps

  1. Target people with similar interests.
    • Tip: You’ve collected a lot of information about your existing customers, now you have the opportunity to put that data to work for your business. Facebook analyzes the profiles of the contacts on your Mailchimp list, then creates a lookalike audience based on shared interests, behaviors, and demographics.
    • Tip: You can A/B test to compare how a custom audience of your recent website visitors and lookalike audience of likely subscribers perform when trying to generate leads to increase conversion rate optimization.
  2. Design your ad, complete with your website URL.
  3. Set your budget.
    • Tip: Your budget represents the maximum amount of money you want to pay to run your ad. You can choose to spend any amount you’d like—even as little as $5—and you’ll only be charged for each person that clicks your ad.

Bonus: Turn on a welcome series

Now that you’ve got the pieces in place to start growing your list, you’re ready to start using some marketing automation features and create a welcome email that automatically sends when new people subscribe. You can use this email to offer a discount or exclusive content, promote your newest or best-selling products, share success stories or simply thank new subscribers for their interest in your business.

Tips for Building Your Email List

Email lists are valid, verified email addresses from users and visitors to your website. Collecting emails for marketing and outreach is an important way to share information about your organization, while also having the opportunity to craft unique messages based on the page or location where a user first interacted with your sign-up option. Below are important considerations to help build this list.

1. Have a Strong Call to Action (CTA)

The CTA persuades readers of your content to do something. In this case, you want to craft a strong CTA that encourages them to have a reason to submit a valid email address they regularly use. With that information, you can tailor messages directly to them to market your products and services.

With a weak or non-existent CTA, the visitor experiences difficulty in trying to engage with you. This results in a lost opportunity to engage.. Compose a CTA that will promote an interest in them providing their email address.

2. Personalize What You Can

Personalized interactions are always better than generic appeals. Combined with a well-worded CTA, carefully crafted "pop up" ads can have a high conversion and engagement rate if strategically placed on your webpage. Adding an "opt-in" form in your navigation or as a footer also offers a subtle, if somewhat effective, way to cultivate new email leads. Offering exclusive content or coupons to those who share their address is another great idea.

3. Use Multiple Social Media Platforms

Select the social media platforms that best meet your demographic to build email list profiles that will allow you to expand opportunities. This process may involve some trial and error, but by having various social media accounts, you can determine which ones offer the best match for the people you want to reach. You may want to include options on your page for email updates and CTA statements, as well as incorporate surveys, forms, and support buttons.


Instagram has more than one billion active users each month. Known for its high engagement rate and tradition of influencer marketing, Instagram also has a tendency for its Instragrammers to engage with business profiles and apps. You can mention your newsletter or add webpage links to your Instagram bio. Consider offering an Instagram contest or giveaway. Also, make effective use of Instagram Stories.


The use of TikTok has exploded over the past two years. Growth in TikTok users is especially strong among the Gen Z and Millennial demographic. As TikTok continues to grow and surpass Google as the top website, this platform with its well-developed algorithm deserves strong consideration if you want to reach the right users at the best time and build followers while collecting email addresses. Use TikTok's Lead Generation and lead magnets, go live, and create ways for them to interact.


Influencers and marketers have long noticed the importance of Youtube as a social media resource. As you set up a page with videos and add new content, encourage viewers to subscribe to your email list. Add a link to the webpage that harvests emails from users and informs visitors to your Youtube page that if they provide their email address, you can suggest other videos from playlists you have developed. Add a video to welcome people to your page. Consider making commercials touting your website or email list. Comment on other videos, too.


Ads and profiles on Facebook are long-established ways to build email addresses for your firm. Facebook ads can target a very specific audience and allow you to transform leads into loyal, long-lasting customers. Companies engaged in e-commerce regularly use Facebook ads as a cost-effective way to build email lists that are closely aligned with the demographics they seek to reach.

Offer Incentives

Offer incentives on the platforms you use that give visitors something for agreeing to share a valid email address. These could include coupons, discounts, free items, and enrollment in a loyalty program. A discount may include a gamification option, such as giving them a "free spin" to determine the discount.

Measuring your success

After publishing your pop-up form and Facebook ad, monitor your reports to keep track of your progress and learn exactly how many new people join your email list. Once you have a baseline, consider adjusting your messaging, timing, improving user experience and other variables to see how your conversion rate is affected.

Build an email list that works for your organization

Remember that people frequently change email addresses, so be sure to delete inactive subscribers every so often. Also, never waste your money on purchasing an email list from an outside vendor. Some of these lists may have spam traps that may make future outreach attempts from you to certain websites get flagged as spam.

Need help with your email campaigns? Let Mailchimp do the heavy lifting.

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