How To Build an Email List for Free: 12 Easy Tips for Rapid Growth

Last updated on


How to Build an Email List for FREE: Top Ways to Start a Great Email Marketing List

Did you know that the average ROI for email marketing is 3600%? If you’re starting out, you need to learn how to build an email list for free so you can start seeing these kinds of results for your small business.

Building an email list from scratch is hard work, especially when you’re already busy building your online store, creating content, and providing customer support.

Thankfully, building a free email list is possible without letting everything else go.

Building your own list is one of the best things you can do for your business. And we don’t mean that in an “it builds character, you’ll thank us later” kind of way.

When you build your own list, you’ll end up with a higher-quality list—period. Plus, there’s so much you can do to build an email list for free that you don’t even need to think about buying one.

Is it quick? Sure. But you’ll also end up with a low-quality list. Not convinced? Here are 8 reasons why you should never buy an email list.

In this post, I’ll cover some awesome ways you can use social media and your existing website to grow your email list for free.

Throughout the article, I’ll discuss CTAs (calls to action). CTAs are clickable buttons and linked text that encourage users to take action. In our case, that action is signing up for your email newsletter.

With these tips and your killer content, your list will thrive quickly. Let’s learn how to build an email list for free without further ado.

How to Build an Email List for Free With Social Media

Social media is an excellent way to stay engaged with your customers and generate new leads. Here are some ways to leverage social media to build your email list without opening up your wallet.

1. Add a CTA to Your Bio

Instead of using your bio to talk about how much you love the beach, why not use it for a call to action that’s going to build your email list?

Here’s an example from Instagram, but you can do this with any social media platform. And, don’t worry, people will figure out that you love the beach by how much you post about it.

Instagram profile of @jasminestart. Bio includes a CTA link to a landing page for her free digital course

Jasmine Star keeps her bio fun, sprinkling several emojis among to up her keywords. Also, notice that she uses the word “free” in her call to action. When users click the link in her bio, they’re directed to a landing page about her free guide. In order to receive the guide, they must sign up for her email list.

2. Pin a Tweet with a CTA

X (formerly Twitter) lets users pin an important post to the top of their feed which presents an excellent opportunity for a call to action. Pinned post appear first whenever someone visits your profile page, so make sure you’re using the space to your advantage to build your email list.

Here’s an example of what a pinned X post could look like:

Screenshot of OptinMonster's X profile, showing a pinned post that includes a link

To pin a tweet to your profile you just click the gray arrow to the right of the tweet and select Pin to your profile.

Simply pin any post that includes a link to a webpage with your email signup form.

3. Create a CTA Post on Instagram

Yes, you can run Instagram ads the same way you can Facebook ads, but we’re talking “free” here, folks. Instagram does link allow links in their post captions. The best way to create a call-to-action post for Instagram is to create a nice image with text that says “Link in bio”.

These are a great option if you create a lot of lead magnets or content upgrades (which we’ll cover later). Here’s an example of an Instagram post that directs users to find the CTA link in the profile’s bio.

daniel dipiazza instagram post cta

4. Set a CTA on Your Facebook Page

You can include a action button on your Facebook business page to encourage visitors to sign up for your mailing list like Florence-Lauderdale Public Library:

Screenshot of Florence-Lauderdale Public Library's Facebook page, which includes a button to sign up for their email list.

You can add and customize your action button in the settings for your Facebook business Page:

Facebook business page setting where you can choose the type of Action button you want on your business page. We've selected "Sign Up"

5. Create a Subscribers-Only Facebook Group

Exclusivity is a great way to grow your list. By starting a Facebook group only for verified subscribers, you not only encourage signups, but you encourage signups from people who are genuinely interested in what you’re offering.

Screenshot of the OptinMonster Inner Circle Facebook Group

In our Facebook group, we post tips to help people get even better results from OptinMonster and get to know other OptinMonster users. There are also fun contests and support is available to offer guidance.

Facebook groups are great at building community and giving you another way to offer additional value to your subscribers and customers.

6. Pin Your CTA to Pinterest

Pinterest is an incredibly powerful visual search engine that is great for marketing. You can use a free tool like Canva to create beautiful, pin-worthy images to go along with your calls to action and pin away.

elna cain pinterest post

If you want to know more about using Pinterest for marketing, check out our post.

7. Use Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are great for engagement. While you can’t include links in your regular Instagram posts, you can include them in your Stories.

As this image from Instagram shows, you simply choose the sticker tool from the top navigation bar and select the “Link” sticker to add a clickable link.

Image from Instagram showing how easy it is to add a link to your Stories

Struggling to create just the right CTA? Get inspired by our massive list of more than 700 power words or, if you need more guidance, check out our post about writing the perfect call to action.

How to Build an Email List for Free Using Your Existing Site

Do you remember when everyone thought that websites were on their way out? And businesses began shuttering their sites in favor of Facebook Pages?

But 15 years later, websites are still around and still considered vital to a comprehensive online presence.

A website can be a powerful tool for growing your email list for free. Here are some ways to keep your website relevant and engaging.

8. Create Original Content

Whatever industry you’re in, creating original, quality content will get people interested in your brand. Plus, content throughout your site can be search engine optimized to make sure that your site is showing up in search engine results.

When you drive more traffic to your site, you’ll have more opportunities to get people to subscribe to your email newsletter. And if you’re content is top-notch, they’ll be happy to sign up!

Have a look at our ultimate SEO guide for actionable steps you can take to drive traffic, boost authority, and generate leads and sales using your site.

Need help getting started with content? Check out our 8-step guide to create a successful content marketing strategy. Or, take a look at these clever content marketing examples for inspiration.

9. Offer Lead Magnets and Content Upgrades

We’ve already mentioned lead magnets, but let’s talk about them more specifically.

A lead magnet is a special offer that website visitors only get if they sign up for your email list. Popular lead magnets include:

Lead magnets and content upgrades are very effective for generating leads because they offer something of value in exchange for contact information.

Here’s an example of one of our lead magnets:

lead magnet exit intent delivery

Learn more here: How to Create a Lead Magnet: A Step-by-Step Guide (+Examples)

10. Upsell Upcoming Products

Typically when you see the word “upsell,” it’s related to increasing sales, not signups. That’s what makes this one of the coolest lead generation techniques we’ve seen in a while, and we think more people should use it.

How do you do it?

The tech company FiftyThree would show related products that weren’t yet released. They had a “Notify me” CTA button for each of these upcoming products.

fiftythree notify me cta

Once shoppers click the “Notify me” button they were presented with an email optin:

fiftythree upsell optin

If you have an exciting new product launch coming up, use that excitement to build a great email list for free.

11. Optimize Your About Us Page

If a visitor is looking at your About Us page, it’s safe to assume that they’re interested in learning more about your brand. Just adding a simple blurb about the benefits of doing business with you and including an email signup form is enough to generate new subscribers.

Beardbrand includes their signup form at the very bottom of a long page about their company:

12. BONUS TIP: Do More With Your Popups and Exit-Intent Offers

Our last tip isn’t completely free. But, if you’re interested in investing a little bit of money, OptinMonster is a wise move.

We can’t stress enough how effective our optin campaigns are for lead generation. And they’re super easy to create and use.

With our Exit-Intent® technology you can show popup offers as people are exiting your site. That way, you can collect their email address before they go.

Exit-intent popup example

In addition to the standard popups, did you know that you can add inline optins to your site? You could easily add an inline optin at the end of each blog post to increase signups. These optins are unobtrusive:

how to optimize facebook ads with landing pages with OptinMonster's responsive optins

There you have it!  A dozen easy ways how to build an email list for free by using social media and your own existing website.

Once you have your free email list, you can use these resources to develop an effective email marketing strategy:

Interested in seeing how OptinMonster can make your lead generation dreams come true? Join today!

Get Started With OptinMonster Today!

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

CTA background
CTA thumbnail

Over 70% of visitors who abandon your website will never return! Learn how to unlock the highest conversion revenue from each of your website visitors!

Add a Comment

We're glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our privacy policy, and all links are nofollow. Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.

2 responses to “How To Build an Email List for Free: 12 Easy Tips for Rapid Growth”

  1. Virginia Sanders Avatar
    1. Jennifer Butler Keeton Avatar

Popular Posts

Connect with us:

Start Making More Money Today with OptinMonster

Start Getting More
Leads & Sales Today
with OptinMonster!

Popups work, and you can get started for a few bucks a month. What are you waiting for?

Create and launch smart capture forms
today in minutes. What are you waiting for?

In only 7 months, we added more than 95,654 names to our email list using OptinMonster’s Exit Intent™ technology. We strongly recommend it!

Michael Stelzner - Best Lead Generation Tool

Michael Stelzner

Founder Social Media Examiner

I hate popups, so I was hesitant to try one on my site. But the results from OptinMonster exit-intent popup speak for themselves. I doubled my subscription rate immediately without annoying my users. I haven’t had a single complaint. My only regret is that I didn’t start using OptinMonster sooner. I can only imagine how many subscribers I could have added to my email list! If you have a blog, then I highly recommend you start using OptinMonster. I’ve researched them all, and it’s the best in market.

Michael Hyatt - WordPress Lead Generation

Michael Hyatt

New York Times Bestselling Author Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

Exit-intent popups have doubled my email opt-in rate. When done right, you can see an instant 12% lift on driving sales. I highly recommend that you use OptinMonster for growing your email list and sales.

Neil Patel - WordPress Popup Plugin

Neil Patel

Founder QuickSprout