How to Start an Email List – Ultimate Guide (2021)

Find out How to Start an Email List Below!

How to Start an Email List

In today’s marketing world, it doesn’t matter that much what you sell. What matters is whether or not people know you exist. And that’s one of the beauties of starting an email list. When you capture new subscribers for your list, you gain a lead magnet that you can then market to at any point in the future. (Of course, you’d want to get to know that persona before or after you delivered value to them.)

This is how email marketing works. It’s how large companies like Apple and Home Depot can send millions of personalized emails to users that seem to know them. This is how they transform even the most casual of users into loyal customers. You can do the same with your own list.

In this guide, I’ll be walking you through the steps, tools, and resources to help you get your email list started today. It’s a step-by-step process and you can complete it in under an hour.

What Is an Email List, at Least in This Context?

It’s a list of people who have opted in to your marketing emails. This can be done in a variety of ways and you’re on this page because you’re ready to get started. They can just be your first set of customers, or they can be the list you’ll use for all of your future product launches.

The point is that you need an active list in order to send emails and market to your customers or your potential customers. (Unless you’re Facebook or Twitter–but that’s not what we’re talking about here.)

Below, I’ll walk you through the steps to start an email list. This will largely be done through MailChimp, a service which I use for all of my email lists. But at the end of the guide, I’ll also talk about great alternatives and provide additional resources.

Note: This guide is here to help you learn, but please note that I am not a lawyer. You should always consider the laws in your specific area before sending out any email campaigns.

Sign Up For An Email Marketing Service

There are a lot of email marketing services out there. But the one I’ve had fantastic experiences with is MailChimp. (See what I did there?) They do have a free account but I’ll warn you now that it’s going to be a bit of a frustration. More on that later, but suffice it to say that I’d love for you to use my affiliate link.

If for whatever reason you don’t want to, here are some alternate services that are worth a look:

The important thing is that you sign up for an email marketing service. There are hundreds of them out there but fewer that I’d recommend. Don’t just look at the price, either. Look at the feature set. Look at how easy or hard it is to use. Just look at the service’s reputation.

After hundreds of hours of pouring over different services, I’d strongly recommend MailChimp to all my clients. They offer a lot of great features, the usability of the platform is top-notch, and they are reputable. It’s what I use and I hope that you’ll consider it too.

Create An Autoresponder

The easiest way to get started with an active email list is to use MailChimp’s autoresponder. Autoresponders let you automatically send emails to new subscribers, and the best part is that you can send either a general message or a series of messages.

There are four different autoresponder categories with four different options:

Welcome series: The default option and it’s a series of emails that welcome a new subscriber to your world. More on this later.

The default option and it’s a series of emails that welcome a new subscriber to your world. More on this later.

Product launch series:

This option is where you might offer the first chapter of your book or the first issue of your publication. You talk a little bit about the book or the publication and ask for subscribers to sign up to get the rest.

This option is where you might offer the first chapter of your book or the first issue of your publication. You talk a little bit about the book or the publication and ask for subscribers to sign up to get the rest.

Transactional series

The option for sending transactional messages to subscribers. For example, if you send an email newsletter every week and wanted to send your subscribers all of the past newsletters, you would use this option.

The option for sending transactional messages to subscribers. For example, if you send an email newsletter every week and wanted to send your subscribers all of the past newsletters, you would use this option.

Unsubscribe series

Here’s the button you’ve been looking for. You can use this autoresponder when you want to send an unsubscribe message to a subscriber.

When you set up the autoresponder, you can choose from among a number of options. You can choose how many emails are in the sequence and whether or not they’re triggered based on previous actions.

The Welcome Series

This is my go-to for most of my email campaigns. While this approach has many names, let’s just refer to it as the Welcome series. In this case, we’re referring to a series of emails that welcome a new subscriber to the series.

The typical Welcome series looks like this:

Welcome: A new subscriber is just reading a welcome message from you.

Introduction: This is your opportunity to get to know your subscriber. You tell them a little bit about yourself, what you’re doing now, and what you plan to do in the future.

The Need: In this email, you tell the subscriber how they can help you meet your goal and why it’s so important.

Call to Action: This is where you ask the subscriber to complete whatever action you want them to take. In this case, you ask them to sign up to receive the next chapter of your book or newsletter.

As with any email to a new subscriber, you want to keep things short and sweet. You want to make it easy for them to sign up and, in this case, you want to stress the value that the book or newsletter or whatever you’re giving them actually has for them. If you can do it within the first couple of emails, you’re off to an excellent start.

When you’re creating your autoresponder sequence, you not only tell MailChimp what the emails will be, but you’ll also be able to determine the sequence. That means you can tell MailChimp when the welcome email needs to be sent out. For example, if that email is a welcome message, you’ll want to wait until someone signs up for your list before you unleash it to everyone.

(There is some science to this, by the way. See The Science of Welcome Emails and the Welcome Mat for more information on that.)

Why the Welcome Series Works So Well

The welcome series is a great way for you to introduce yourself to your target customers. By telling them a little bit about your story, you’re telling them why they need to know you. You’re putting yourself out there, and when you do, you’re trusting your subscribers enough to get to know them better. This is the first step in building an ongoing relationship with them.

#5 Get A Powerful List Building Tool

A key to success in email marketing is to use a variety of tools to help you stay organized and grow your list. It also helps to make sure that you automate as much of the process as possible. For example, you may have a newsletter that you have to send out every Thursday, but you may not want to keep having to create the list every time you have to send that email.

That’s one of my favorite things about Aweber. Aweber is an email marketing tool that allows you to import and export email lists. You can load a list into Aweber, and then use that same list for all of your emails. That way, you’re only updating one system whenever you add a new subscriber or change an email address. You don’t have to worry about forgetting to add a new subscriber or having a typo in an email address. You can just set it and forget it.

There are a lot of Aweber features that I won’t go into here, but I’d suggest checking out their homepage.

I use Aweber specifically for the import/export aspect. I also use them to help me schedule my emails, which is something I’ll talk about below.

#6 Grow Your Email List

This is the part where you actually grow your list and ask your current subscribers to let you know if their information is up to date.

Here are some examples of words and phrases that you might want to include in your unsubscribe message:

  1. Your subscription to [list name] was successfully unsubscribed.
  2. You have been unsubscribed from the [list name].
  3. You have been removed from the [list name].
  4. Did you mean to unsubscribe?
  5. Are you sure you want to unsubscribe?
  6. Do you still want to unsubscribe?

Similar to the welcome message above, there are some questions you can add to the unsubscribe message. You’ll want to ask your subscriber one or more of the following questions:

  1. Who should I send my next email to?
  2. Where can I send your next email?
  3. What email address should I have in here?

If you want to keep your list clean, you should also tell your subscribers what types of messages (i.e. newsletters, marketing, etc.) they’re signing up for and let them know that they can unsubscribe at any time. It’s a nice gesture and it shows that you respect your subscriber’s space.

The key to an effective unsubscribe message is making it easy for the subscriber to bypass the unsubscribe process. You don’t want them to have to scroll through pages and pages of text to get to the button that lets them get off your list. You want it to be visually obvious that they’ll have to click a particular button.

Each subscriber takes a different amount of time to sign up for your information. For some, it might be a month or more before they do it. But for others, they might sign up on the same day. The key is to get them to subscribe and then move them along your funnel.

There are three key points to this

Get them to subscribe. If they’ve already subscribed to your list, you need to get their information from them. You should use the automated autoresponder to get them to confirm their information.

Get them to confirm their information. If they’ve already started to opt out, then you have to provide them with another incentive to stick around. Make it easy for them to stay on your list.

Get them to go along with the autoresponder process. This is where you typically use the Welcome series. Make it easy to understand and relevant to them. Tell them why they want to stick around and what’s in it for them to do so.

#7 Placing Optin Forms

Opt-in form placement is very important. If you have a valuable opt-in offer, you’ll quickly want to capture subscribers for it. However, you also need to make sure that you’re not placing the opt-in form in a spot where it’ll get overlooked. Here are some great places to put your opt-in form:

On the Inside

You can place an opt-in form right inside of your email. Using an opt-in form inside of your email allows you to capture subscribers faster than if you were asking for their information on your website. If you’re sending an email and you want them to opt-in on the spot, then a form inside of your email is absolutely the best place to ask for their information. What’s even better is that you can specifically name your offer after the main benefit of signing up.

On Your Blog

Another great place to put your opt-in form is on your blog. Whether you have a sidebar opt-in form or you place the form above all other content on your blog, you can increase the exposure on your opt-in form.

On Your Website

If you have a website and you’re waiting for visitors to sign up for your list, keep an opt-in form on your website. You can keep the opt-in form in a sidebar or in the footer of your website. Make it easy to find on your website, so you’ll be able to capture the attention of your target audience.

On Social Media

This might not be the optimal solution, but if you have a social media profile, you can post your opt-in form once it gets approved by Facebook or Twitter. Just be sure to make it explicit that this is the link to sign up for your list. You can also put links in other additional places, including custom images, tweets, or pins.

On Social Media Profiles

This is an option that a lot of people overlook, including bloggers. People who use social media to promote their blog or other sites might not realize the advantages of having an opt-in form on their social media profiles. If you use Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to get more website traffic, then you should also add an opt-in form to your social media profiles.

Comment Sections

The comment sections on your blog might be a goldmine of leads and subscribers. If it’s a blog comment section, then you want to move those discussions into email. You don’t want to make it too hard for them to sign up. If they want to get back to the post as soon as possible, they should sign up for your list.

The last thing you’ll want to do is start using automation. You might have overlooked some options in this post where you can use automation.


Email list building management tools make it very easy to grow your email list. You can build targeted lists very quickly and easily, as well.

There are three major components to email list building. The first is to get subscribers in the first place. The second is to get them to confirm their information. And the third is to begin to establish that communication cadence with them over time. If you do these things right, you’ll be well on your way to growing your email list and bring in a maximum amount of subscribers.

Snag Success Author Adam

About Me

Hi, I am Adam. The founder of this blog Snag Success & many other niche sites.

I’m a full-time internet marketer. I have done Dropshipping, Youtube, Affiliate Marketing, and a ton of other online businesses!

I share a lot of the tips and tricks I learnt along the way. I discuss various tools, courses, deals and discounts on here as well.

A lot of the times you will end up saving a ton of money on great products from my blog!


I’ve put a ton of research & effort writing this blog post to provide you with the best information I can.

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Appreciate It! ♥️

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