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Email Marketing: How To Build Your List From Zero

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Business Advisor and Ecommerce Mentor Email Marketing How To Build Your List From Zero

Building an email list is one of the fastest way to grow your online business. 

It was certainly one of the most important methods I used to grow my own ecommerce business. 

We'd send out an email, every week @ Sunday 6pm without fail and the tills would ring.

Quite simply, it works.

So, how can you build your list, even if you are starting from zero? 


Make Email List Building A Priority In Your Business

Emailing your list to bring people back to your website is the ecommerce version of achieving regular footfall outside your physical shop.

You wouldn't put off working on eye-catching window displays and signage encouraging people into your store if it was located on the street, so why are you not working on the ecommerce equivalent!

According to Campaign Monitor, audiences are 6 times more likely to click through to your store from an email, than clicking through from Twitter. You are also 5 times more likely to get noticed via email than on Facebook.

The biggest statistic that may just shock you into action is that there are 3 times the amount of email accounts out there, right now, compared to all the Facebook and Twitter accounts combined.

That's a huge potential audience via email.


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And we all know social can't be relied upon to drive your online footfall anymore...

Audiences are getting fatigued, they don’t always stick with social media platforms or use them regularly. Plus, platform owners such as Facebook have total control over who see's what.... and they ARE limiting who see's your content and how often.


This all means that audiences on social media may well miss important posts and promotions from your business. 

They simply won't see it. 

On social, unless you put paid advertising behind a post, there is no guarantee your carefully worded promotional message will reach the people you care about. 


The One True Constant In Your Business

All is not lost. 

An email list is the one true constant route to online footfall that you have, and importantly, unlike social media, your company owns that data.

It's a true asset for your business. 

Over the years people have created deep routed habits and a compelling need to frequently check their emails, so you will be catching their attention each time they load.

Appearing in your customers inbox is a one to one, private moment to wave hello and say "hey, why don't you come back to my store and stay a while"...

And that's why it needs to become a fundamental pillar in your business growth plan.


Get The Basics Right

Now you realise that you could be missing out on a huge audience - what’s next?

You need to build your email list up from zero and start collecting potential customers email addresses.

According to Ecommerce CEO 97% of your website visitors leave without buying anything.  Can you imagine having 97% of people walking into your physical shop and then walking straight back out again?  Yikes!  We would be scrabbling to find out why.

Yet, we can quickly turn that 97% around by acquiring their email addresses.

We then create tailored email marketing to remind them to visit our store and convert them into potential future customers.

The best ways to start collecting emails TODAY in my view are;


1) Collect Emails With Pop-Ups

These pop-ups are often placed on the homepage and for my clients we focus on making sure they look attractive and eye catching, encouraging the audience in with an offer. In order for them to receive their offer, they need to fill in their email address adding them to your list.

You can create free downloadable content for your audience, or give them a voucher. Whatever you choose, make it stand out and make it an offer they won't want to miss.

You can get immediate pop-ups, delayed pop-ups which appear after a certain time or a constant form that sits at the bottom of the web page.

I find with my clients that exit-intent pop-ups often have the greatest success - this is when a pop-up appears as a website visitor is about to leave.



2) Interactive Sign Up Forms

This creates a fun and unique way for your visitors to hand over their email address. You create a game out of the sign up.

For example; they may have to spin a wheel to land on a prize but they only get the prize via email afterwards.

This type of engaging and entertaining way of signing up is a great way of attracting your audience. If you use Shopify as your ecommerce platform, you can discover apps such as; Spin a sale, Wheelio and Omnisend.



3) Embed A Sign Up Form On Social Media

Most email marketing tools have the ability to link to your social media.

This allows your followers on Facebook to be able to sign up to your emails. You can point your followers in the right direction and entice them with an exciting offer.


4) Reach Out & Connect

Join Facebook Groups and Forums relevant to your Industry under your personal profile, connect in a real way with real people who share your interests. 

Start by asking questions and if the connection is reciprocated, add them as a friend request.

Once on your friend list, share your business page details and invite them to sign up for your free downloadable content / giveaway.


5) Competitions

Competitions are one of the most effective and proven ways to attract a fresh audience to share their email addresses with you.

They can be launched and run across social platforms, direct on your website or in partnership with a key influencer in your industry. 

However you do it, always make sure your audience understand that as a condition of entry into your competition, they will be subscribed to marketing emails. 



Regular Email Campaigns

Once you have started to gather emails, you can create exciting and persuasive marketing campaigns and hard reasons for customers to return to your store.

For example, you could send out birthday emails, seasonal money off coupons or a free gift at check out.

And don't forget your abandoned shopping cart email sequence.  It's the perfect way to use email to encourage people to come back to the store. 

The opportunities are endless.

Be creative with it; check in on national holidays and create content around them too.

Choosing Your Email Service Provider

Email marketing is easier than ever before with the right tools. As CEO of your product business, all you have to do is ensure email gathering opportunities are in place and create persuasive content.

I get asked all the time which email marketing tool is best for product businesses?  Here's some of my favourite;

  • Klaviyo.  Seamlessly integrates with Shopify and is my go-to preferred option because it is so easy to set up automated sequences to welcome new customers to your store and create loyalty flows to encourage returning shoppers. 


  • MailChimp. MailChimp is good for beginners and those with less than 2000 signups on their list as it's currently free up to this level, which is why I've put it on the list. You can create tailored content and MailChimp have handy guides for newbie users so you don’t feel lost. 


  • Drip. Drip is an Ecommerce CRM. This platform allows you to connect with your email list using easy to use drag and drop tools. It is user friendly and is a great platform for multi-channel marketing campaigns.


There are many more options in addition to those above.  A quick Google search will help you discover more and it is worth comparing as you will have your own unique criteria and needs.

I recommend to my clients to always think about what is best for your business as you scale.  Look carefully at the recurring monthly cost commitment as your list grows to make sure you aren't creating an onerous beast of a monthly payment and see how that changes as your list grows.

Overall ease of use and integration with your other business systems will also be essential.


Make It Happen In Your Business

Email marketing is such an effective and vital pillar needed if you are to successfully scale your ecommerce business and global brand. 

If this has been on your list to do for the last year and you keep putting it off or you're procrastinating (I see you!) ... today is the day to start.  When you see conversions happening because of this simple method and your business growth accelerates, you'll be glad you did.


Next Steps:

  • Start right now!  Step 1 - add a pop up to the homepage with a freebie download or coupon in return for the customers email.  Collect that email in your newly opened Email Service Provider account. 
  • Relentless list building is an essential skillset for all online entrepreneurs. Competitions are a great way to get started and build your confidence in encouraging sign ups.  Try it for your business and see the results.  Always remember to give something of genuine value first before asking for an email address. 
  • Don't forget to actually use your list!  There is no point building a lovely list of your perfect people and then not actually using it to communicate with them... Make it a regular drumbeat action to ensure that you send your latest news and promos to your audience on a regular basis. 
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