Building an Email Marketing Database

Email marketing is a crucial part to any online marketing strategy. It is an inexpensive and effective way of communicating with customers and nurturing prospects. In order for this channel to be effective marketers must build up their database. There are a few key ways to do so and it is extremely important to the success of a company’s email marketing strategy.

Buying or building lists by scraping the web for peoples emails is frowned upon and even regulated due to the Can-Spam act. In short the Can-Spam act is “a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.” (Federal Trade Commission, 2009) It protects users from getting bombarded by unwanted and irrelevant emails. It is because of this companies must be strategic with how they build their database. These databases ideally are very large and consist of a company’s target market and customers.

The first and simplest way to build your list is to place a newsletter sign up widget on your site. This can be done very simply through Mailchimp or Constant Contact by setting up how you want your form to look, then copy and pasting the HTML code into your site. It gives users the ability to add themselves to your email database.

This next form of marketing has a few different names, some call it inbound marketing, some call it content marketing but at the end of the day its just another way to generate leads to build your list and fill your sales funnel. This is a relatively new concept and companies like Hubspot and Marketo are very successful due to the fact that their software automates this process. The way people do this is by developing content that speaks to their audience. The content strategy is key! Some examples of content are blog posts, social media Posts, web pages, etc. (Hubspot, n.d.) Once you get visitors to your site from these you generate offers and put more in depth content behind a form on a landing page. Once a stranger fills out the form, they are then part of your database! You can then nurture these people via email marketing until they are ready to buy.

Another way of building your list is a very controversial one. Many people are very much against it, others have whole affiliate marketing programs in place to handle it. It is called media buying or affiliate marketing. According to Brick Marketing Affiliate Marketing is “a technique where other publishers and websites will promote your business. Basically the way it works is that an affiliate is rewarded every time a visitor, customer or sale for your business is generated through an advertisement on their web site.” (Brick Marketing, n.d.) We use this form of marketing where I work because we have gotten to the point that in order to scale the company at the rate we want to, we need to build the database faster than we would be able to without utilizing this strategy. Just to clarify, this is very different than buying a list! Publishers host our content on their websites and when people download this content, we are charged a small fee and we acquire that persons contact information. A list buy is just when you buy a random list of names and blast them with emails when they have never interacted with your company.

The last way is to make sure all your customers are in your database. When people buy from you, you can either add to the terms of service that you’re allowed to email them or put a check box within the checkout process that asks if they would like to receive email notifications. Your customers should be the most engaged part of your database. When we send out emails to our customer base we see upwards of a 35% open rate whereas when we send to prospects we see around 20%. Email marketing is a great way to keep your customers in the loop, communicate sales and inform them when you release new products. They already have shown interest in your company so there is a much higher chance they will buy from you again!

These are the few top ways of acquiring emails to build your database which will in turn help drive more revenue to your online business. When it comes to list building you should be thinking quality over quantity. Companies can waste a lot of money blasting millions of emails out to an disengaged group which will , in turn, negatively affect their sender reputation and cause their emails to go to spam. Once your emails start going to spam, your ROI on your email marketing strategy goes down the drain!


Brick Marketing. (n.d.). What Is Affiliate Marketing? Retrieved May 3, 2014, from

Federal Trade Commission. (2009, September). CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from

Hubspot. (n.d.). Inbound Methodology. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from