Tips & Advice

6(ish) Ways To Build Your Email List: Pandemic Edition

Johnny McKenna

We’ll be the first to admit, email marketing has it’s flaws. But this direct-to-customer marketing tactic has one of the best pay offs. Ultimately, it’s because so much of e-mail marketing is (next to) free. You may not realize that email marketing generates $38-44 for every $1 spent. Assuming you like that kind of a ROI (who wouldn’t!?), here’s 6(ish) ways to build your email list.

Business to Business Email Collection

Remember the days before 2020 and things like tradeshows and conferences existed? Back then, exchanging an email address for a drawing, scanning for a catalog, collecting business cards, and more were excellent ways to gather B2B contacts. Today, you may have to get a bit more creative. 

In-person visits are still a viable option for businesses that are not WFH-only. Depending on your target market, there are still plenty of businesses “open for business” and potentially even more available for a quick chat with someone stopping in. Do you still have business cards from the tradeshow days? Do any of those businesses live within driving distance? Stop by. Even if the person you have the business card for has left the company, meet the new contact, and exchange emails. 

Can you offer free point-of-purchase materials, merch, or a PDF with valuable content in exchange for an email addresses on your website? 

Business to Consumer


A great way to collect email addresses is to give something of value away for free in exchange for an email address. Whatever it is you’re giving away, make sure it’s something people actually want, otherwise you won’t be collecting very many contacts. A few ways to do this include using a form or pop-up on your website, a social media post, or anything that gets in front of your clients. You could offer: discounts on products, a virtual tool or product, extended trials, or a downloadable PDF with exclusive content. 


Easily one of the most successful strategies you could possibly implement is giving something away. Everyone loves free swag. If your business has any kind of apparel, lifestyle-type water bottles, branded products, or any other kind of swag, run a giveaway that requires entering in an email address to enter. 


Along the same lines as a giveaway, you could offer something of value in exchange for sharing a friend’s email address. In essence, a friend referral program: give us your friend’s email and be entered for a raffle prize. Or if you had a great experience with the product you purchased, give us your friend’s email so we can tell them about it and give you X% off your next purchase. Anything to incentivize them to share an email with you.

Newsletter Sign Up Form

Many companies utilize newsletters to gain emails from their subscribers. Have a form on your website for customers to fill out in exchange for newsletters. Just remember, with newsletters, you’ve got to consistently provide fresh content that provides value otherwise you begin to lose subscribers or get lost in other newsletter noise. 

A good rule of thumb is: nobody wants to read your newsletter. They want content that helps them live a better life.


After a purchase, consider offering mail-in rebates or warranty registration to gain more customer emails and even more information about your customers. 

Remember email marketing is an extremely effective way to reach your customers, both in terms of cost as well as directly marketing to the phone in their pocket. Always be thinking about where and when you can collect emails on your website including help chats, service tickets, or scheduling appointments.

Don’t forget the followup

The worst thing you can do when building an email list is letting it go stale. Remember to implement a email nurturing strategy to help continue to build relationships with your existing and potential customers.

As with all email marketing, remember to follow the applicable regulations in your country for collecting, storing, utilizing, etc. personal information.

Last updated December 1, 2020.