How to Build an Email List From Scratch

Email List

When you’re first starting out in building your dropshipping business, it can be difficult figuring out how to get your first sale.

How do you know what marketing channel to use? How can you be sure that you won’t spend hundreds of dollars on paid ads to drive more traffic to your website, only to find that you haven’t gotten any additional sales?

As a beginner, you don’t have months of time to waste on trying to build your SEO rankings. And you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend testing paid traffic when results aren’t guaranteed.

No one wants to invest a lot of money, get no return, and have no idea where they went wrong.

That’s why investing time in generating free traffic can be a great way to get your business off the ground while keeping high margins.

One of the best ways to get sales with no upfront investment as a beginner is by building an email list. These quick and easy tips below will show to how to build an email list from scratch.

Why Email Works

Email subscribers are the most responsive compared to audience members that are pulled from other platforms.

70% of people say they make use of discount codes that they receive through email, and 60% of people say that receiving special offers is the top reason that they subscribe to a company on email.

The best part is, building an email list from scratch is completely free. Some email providers don’t charge any money up to a certain number of subscribers, and other platforms offer free monthly trials for new users.

The reason email is the best way to build an audience is because it’s the only platform that you actually own. Think about it — Facebook could change their algorithm overnight. Twitter could go out of business.

The truth is, every other platform besides email is borrowed.

But your email list is yours. You can communicate with your audience directly, and because they opted in with the intention of getting your special offers, you’ll also see a higher rate of purchase from your email list.

People on Facebook don’t log in with the intention of seeing your ads. In fact, only 16% of your fans will actually see the updates you post to your timeline on Facebook.

Here’s an even more surprising statistic — over the past four years, online retailers have quadrupled the number of customers acquired through email. Other platforms like Facebook and Twitter didn’t grow nearly as much.

Why Email Works

Source: Custora

In addition, studies show that the lifetime value of members of your email list are significantly higher than many other popular channels.

How to Build an Email List From Scratch

Source: Custora

Because people are trained to respond to email, it can also be a major tool for driving traffic to your website. Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo, found that email generated more traffic to his page compared to certain social media channels.

Facebook advertising and generating traffic through social media channels can work, don’t get me wrong. With the right strategies, you can drive traffic to your e-commerce store and generate sales from Facebook.

But considering the benefits and ROI you’d reap over the long term of building an email list, it’s a important focus on that as well so that you don’t leave money on the table.

In this post, we’ll cover a couple of tactics you can implement right away to grow your list as quickly as possible.

Guest Posting on High Traffic Sites

Almost all forms of marketing boil down to one thing: going to places where your target audience hangs out, providing them with valuable content to bring them over to your site, and then trying to sell them on what you have to offer.

Guest posting on high traffic sites in your niche is a simple, free way to get in front of your target audience, provide them with valuable content, then link back to your site so that they have the option to purchase your products.

For example, if you have a store that sells stylish clothes, you could google something like “fashion blogs guest post” to find high traffic fashion blogs that accept guest posts.

Guest Posting on High Traffic Sites

Some relatively high traffic fashion blogs that are within reach for beginner e-commerce entrepreneurs to guest post include The Budget Fashionista, Creative Fashion Glee, All Women’s Talk, and more.

Once you find a list of top blogs in your niche that accept guest posts, you can visit their site and check the guidelines for guest posting. For example, The Budget Fashionista has a list of criteria and a step by step process for submitting a guest post listed here. Here’s the contribution page for All Women’s Talk.

When writing a guest blog post for another site, be sure to first understand their target audience and what they’re looking for.

For example, if you’re writing a blog post for a site that caters to budget conscious women in their mid 20s, you might write an article about how to build a celebrity style wardrobe without breaking the bank.

Sometimes, you might find a great, high traffic blog in your niche that doesn’t have any criteria for submitting guest posts. However, it’s often the case that they’ll still accept them on a case by case basis — by providing them with valuable content, you’re actually doing them a service.

In this case, you can send an email similar to this to the owner of the site through a “contact” page:

Hi [name],I had the chance to go through your blog, and I really like what I see. I love how you talked about [XYZ topic] in a unique way by addressing [something unique they wrote]. Based on your target audience, I think that an article like [insert blog post title] would be a great addition to your blog. If you’re open to it, I’d love to write it for you.Here’s a quick background on me: [insert a 1 – 2 sentence background on your familiarity with their niche].Would it be okay if I sent you a draft to look over?

Within your blog post, you can include relevant links back to your store, or link to specific products where appropriate. Because you’d be driving targeted traffic back to your site, this could help you drive sales.

In the bio below your blog post, you also have the option to promote your business or your email list. For example, you could drive readers to a landing page where you offer a discount code if they sign up to your list.

There’s a variety of content you could write about in your niche. For example, Brooks Brothers — a clothing company which sells preppy clothing — wrote this article about how to tie a bowtie.

It’s a very simple post, but it attracts the right kind of people who would be the target audience of Brooks Brothers.

Create a List of Buyers

Customers have already bought from you are significantly more likely to buy from you again compared to a first time visitor to your site — sometimes by a factor of 60 – 70%.

Adobe found that customers who already purchased one product are 9 times more likely to convert compared to a customer who has never bought before. Not only that, repeat customers tend to spend more for each order they place.

As a dropshipper, margins are the lifeblood of your business. Your goal should be to keep your advertising and customer acquisition costs as low as possible, so that you can make a bigger margin on each product you sell.

You don’t have to spend nearly as much money to get someone who has already bought from you before to buy from you again as you would if you tried to get a new visitor to buy from you.

That’s why it’s so important to create a list of buyers.

When visitors are going through the process of making a purchase, make sure that they have an option to enter their email addresses somewhere during the purchase flow.
Create a List of Buyers

You can then send special promotions to your buyer list, and watch them convert at a significantly higher rate compared to cold visitors.

Use Facebook Ads to Grow Your List

Most people think of using Facebook ads to drive sales for their store, but you can also leverage Facebook ads to build your email list.

When Facebook users click on an e-commerce ad and get taken to a store, most store owners direct them to a product page where they have the option to choose from a select group of products to purchase.

But then, most viewers end up leaving the page.

By capturing some of those viewers’ contact information on your email list, you’ll be able to stay in touch with them later, and increase the likelihood that they’ll purchase from you sometime down the road.

In other words, you’ll be reducing the amount of money you leave on the table by capturing the contact information of potential customers, and sell them on your new offers later. You’ll be retaining potential customers that would have otherwise bounced.

The best way to retain customers who are about to bounce is by including exit intent popups on your site. When visitors move their cursor up to the top of their browser to click on a new tab, a popup would automatically appear that asks for their email address in exchange for something.

You could use tools like SumoMe to set these up at no cost.

For example, notice how Pinup Girl Clothing has a popup that offers new subscribers a free gift with their first purchase if they signed up to the email newsletter.

Use Facebook Ads to Grow Your List

You could offer a discount code for new subscribers, send them a one-time offer on a product, a free gift, or anything else that they would find valuable. This tactic alone could add thousands of people to your email list.

According to RetailMeNot, 71% of people prefer to use coupons that come directly from brands, so you won’t be coming off as too “salesy” by sending them promotional material. Keep in mind that 60% of people say that receiving promotional offers from a company is the #1 reason they sign up to their email list.

There are variety of advanced email marketing strategies that e-commerce entrepreneurs can use to generate sales.

But you don’t need to worry about all those things in the beginning. In the beginning, all it takes to generate sales through email is offering promotions or discounts to your email list weekly or monthly.


Email can be a great tool for e-commerce entrepreneurs to generate more sales at very low cost. In fact, Neville Medhora built his dropshipping business to $4,000 per month through email marketing, until it eventually was sold.

By going to where your target customers are, providing them with valuable content, bringing them back to your site, and incentivizing them to join your email list so you can build a long term relationship, you can capitalize on an audience that would’ve otherwise left your page and never come back again.

What strategies will you use to build your email list? Leave your answer in the comments below.

Want to learn more?

Is there anything else you’d like to know more about and wish was included in this article? Let us know in the comments below!

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