A Step-By-Step Guide To Grow Your Email List When Starting From Scratch

If you've been following along very long, you know how powerful your email list can be. Seriously, it's where the money's at yo! I mean, the average click through rate for social media is about 0.5% vs. the email click through rate at 3%... that means your audience is SIX times more likely to make a purchase from you via email.

Uh yeah.... so if you're not already implementing email marketing into your biz. Now's the time homie. But no worries, even if you're thinking to yourself, 'those numbers sound awesome...I need to get on this ASAP', and you're starting from scratch. Or, you've started a list but just can't get it to grow for the life of you, today's post is just for you ;)

P.S. Want to create eye-catching images for your opt-in forms, email newsletters, blog posts? I've put together a list of the BEST places to snatch stock images fo' FREE! Click HERE to download the list


step-by-step guide to growing your email list when starting from scratch

I'm giving you a complete step-by-step guide to help you grow your email list, even if you're starting from scratch. Because let's face it, we don't always know what we're doing, and there is a TON of information on the internet about email lists.

But, a tiny percentage of that information is for people just starting out with their list, in this stage of their business. And even a tinier percentage have actually tried and tested their methods on their own e-commerce business.

So here I am, giving you the information I wish I had when I first started Lot801. (would've made me a LOT more money, a LOT faster)


Step 1 - Have An Attractive Website

Your website is a reflection of you and your brand. Aaaaand it better look top notch. Think about it... if you were to land on a website that was hard to read, cluttered and all over the place, and this website was asking you to join their mailing list, you'd run as fast as you could away. (am I right or am I right?)

If their website looks like this, I can only imagine how their emails look. NO THANK YOU! I don't want that cluttering my inbox.

Okay, so you don't have to have the most amazing website ever. It just needs to look like you spent longer than a day working on it. Put some thought into the design, how it looks and be sure that it's on brand. 


Step 2 - Create An Opt-In In Your Header

Let your audience know you want them to sign up for your emails list by making a bold statement up front and center. Adding an opt-in form is an awesome way to do that.

On my homepage over at Lot801, I have a slideshow in my header with 4 images. One of those images being a big bold opt-in.

Sure, I'm announcing my latest sale, latest collection, upcoming print releases, etc... but I make sure my audience always gets asked to join my email list. And there's no better spot than right at the top of my home page.

A Step-By-Step Guide To Grow Your Email List When Starting From Scratch


Step 3 - Have An Announcement Bar

Oh man do I love announcement bars. An announcement bar is placed at the very top of your website, making sure no one misses your latest announcement. It's basically the very FIRST thing your peeps see when visiting your website.

Make your announcement bar a clickable button, directing your audience to "click here" in order to sign up for your email list/newsletter. Once they click, it takes them to your opt-in form, allowing them to sign up in a matter of seconds.

Even if I'm currently running a sale, I keep my announcement bar as a prompt to sign up for my email list. I've noticed that it converts higher. I've temporarily changed my announcement bar to reflect my latest sale and people still click on it more when it's directed to my email list.

Crazy huh? Who would've thought.

Take a look at my current announcement bar below. You'll see that it's right there at the top. Now you can change the color, font, style, text and size to whatever you like.

For me and my brand, black and white seems to do best ;) For now.

A Step-By-Step Guide To Grow Your Email List When Starting From Scratch


Step 4 - Add At Least 2 Additional Opt-In Forms

Let me tell you a little story. I was on one of my favorite website to shop from, you know, doing some window shopping before payday. 

Well a pop-up appeared asking me to sign up for their email list in order to receive 20% off my next purchase. I quickly clicked CLOSE because I wasn't planning on spending any money that day.

But then I came across the most amazing jeans (I KNOW you know how hard a good pair of jeans can be to come by) and I instantly changed my mind... I'm spending money today. lol

Of course I wanted to use that 20% off coupon I saw in the pop-up earlier, but I scrolled around everywhere looking for an email sign up form. I swear I was 15 pages in deep and couldn't find one anywhere. So I completely gave up and left. I had every intention to come back later and buy them, but I totally forgot and went on with my day.

It was annoying! Don't be THAT website (one and done). 

Too often I see small business make the mistake of only having one or two opt-in forms on their website. Don't leave people wondering around aimlessly at your site looking for an opt-in when they need it.

I mention the rule of 7 multiple times in my posts (you know, the rule that says an individual has to see something 7 times before taking action). Well opting in for your email list is no different.

A list of places I have opt-ins on my website right now:

  • Announcement bar
  • Front page header
  • In the footer (showing on every page)
  • In every blog post
  • Pop-Up when you first enter my website

I'm currently working on my website now and will be adding ANOTHER opt-in in the sidebar of my blog. That will make SIX opt-in forms on my e-commerce website. 

Sound like too many? Nope, since implementing more opt-in forms to my website, I've had DOUBLE the amount of sign ups than before. Freaking DOUBLE!!!

That's a huge increase. (do the happy dance with me)


Step 5 - Announce On Social Media

This may be one of my favorite tips because it's what got me my first 300 sign ups. I have about 22k followers on Instagram. That means I've got 22k people interested in my brand and what I sell. Now if I could only get those 22k people on my email list I'd be golden right?

So once I realized this, I went to bitly.com, entered my opt-in form URL and got my shortened bitly link. A shortened bitly link makes it easier to add on your social media accounts. In Instagram, they only allow you a certain amount of characters for your URL... plus, it looks cleaner.

So you put in your full length URL and it'll spit out a smaller URL for the same link. High five!

Once you've got your bitly link, temporarily change your website link to this one in your profile. Then write up a post asking your followers to "click the link in profile" to sign up for your email list.

So this strategy works best if you give them a reason to. Simply asking them to just for shits and giggles, tends to not be so effective.

Something like posting a sneak peek pic on Instagram with the caption "new prints coming out sooner than you think, click the link in profile to sign up for your email list and see the full collection before everyone else". I've found that posts like these, tend to convert a hell-of-a-lot higher than just simply asking them to sign up.


Step 6  - Give Opt-In Incentives

You can't just ask people to sign up for your email list because you're so cool. Heh, try it and see how it works for you lol.

You've got to give them a reason to WANT to sign up. Give them an incentive to encourage someone to sign up. Now you've given them additional value AND they've given you their email address, whoop whoop!

Give them an "offer they CAN'T refuse" <---- in my best Godfather voice.

So I know what question you're gunna ask next... 'what kind of incentive Linds? Give me specifics'.

Well I'm so glad you asked. Below is a list of incentives you can offer your peeps:

  • Discount code
  • Free shipping
  • Style guide (or some sort of guide that makes sense for your people)
  • An exclusive look at an upcoming collection
  • A free e-book
  • Printable (printable Father's Day card, wall hanging, etc.)
  • Member only specials
  • A time saving cheat sheet

All of these options are pretty awesome because they offer FREE value to your audience. Who doesn't love free?

Start giving your peeps a reason to join your email list and I PROMISE you, your email list will start growing faster than ever before.

grow your email list


Start implementing these tips ASAP and you'll start to see your email list grow (high-five). And the best part? All of these things really only need to be done once, once and your list starts to grow on autopilot. No more are the days of you constantly promoting your email list, trying to get people to sign up.... Trust me, I know how it is. It feels like you're trying to squeeze the very last drop out of that orange as you possibly can. Not fun, and completely time consuming.

Now, in order to create some stellar opt-in forms, design killer newsletters and have eye-catching promos... you need some pretty amazing pics (which can be SO expensive). Save yourself some money and instead of hiring a photographer, just download some FREE stock images from my list of the best websites. Just click below to discover this free awesomeness.


Have a strategy that works for you and isn't listed here? I'd love to hear about it. Comment below and let's chat!