13 Ways to Build Your Email List For Free

You don’t need a large marketing budget, you just need these strategies for building your email list – at no cost.

This article isn’t written to convince you of the benefits of using email marketing. You already know that “the money is in the list,” and that email marketing has an ROI of over $36 for each $1 spent.

In this article, we take a look at 13 ways to build an email list so you can communicate more effectively with your customers and get better results from your marketing strategies – all without having to pay a single cent. 

Ready? Let’s get into it. 

  1. Integrate email sign-up forms on a social landing page
  2. Personalize your CTAs
  3. Capture email after an online sale
  4. Use a live chat tool to gather emails
  5. Pop-up survey or quiz
  6. Offer discount codes to those who sign up
  7. Use social media captions
  8. Host giveaways and contests
  9. Host free webinars
  10. Reach broader audiences through guest posting
  11. Repurpose your content
  12. Build your email list off-line
  13. Add sign-up forms and optimize the process

1. Integrate email sign-up forms on a social landing page

One of the easiest ways to get email addresses from social media followers is to connect with your audiences across different channels using a single link.

This can be done by simply creating a landing page with the sole purpose of collecting email addresses. You can then share the link to this landing page in your profiles. Once people click to that page, they can sign up for your email list or view any other calls to action you want them to take.

You can collect email subscribers by connecting your email sign-up forms to the page and then sharing the link in your social media bios.  That said, keep in mind that email subscribers are only going to join your email list if you offer them some type of value in return.

For example, let’s say that your audience is most likely interested in growing they’re social media following.  Instead of stating “Sign up for my email list,” it’s better to say “Sign up for my email list and get an exclusive PDF to learn how to grow your social media following.” 

This makes for a better value exchange.  Instead of the reader giving you their email address, they’re now giving it to you in exchange for a valuable download that till help them and their business.

2. Personalize your CTAs

Another tactic to help you build your list for free is to create personalized calls to action for each of your blog posts or landing pages. This way, you’ll appeal to relevant visitors and entice them to sign up for your list. 

Remember, people who come to your web pages are searching for something specific and so if your call to action meets their unique needs, you’ll boost your conversion rates significantly. 

For example, if you get a lot of visitors to your “How to build a blog” article, then you might include a super-relevant CTA such as “Click here to download a free blog creation checklist.”

Here are a few tips to make your CTAs more effective:

  • Use humor in your CTAs
  • Clearly describe the value you’re offering in your CTA
  • Encourage visitors to sign up immediately
  • Include a CTA on your “About Us” page
  • Use a scroll box so you CTA is always visible

3. Capture email after an online sale

Including opt-ins in your checkout is yet another effective strategy for gathering email subscribers for free. 

The majority of online shoppers expect checkouts to ask for personal information. And, when buying something, they feel more secure and chances of them submitting fake emails or emails with typos are very low, as they know they will receive confirmation of the order via that same email. 

This will also help to maintain a healthy list by improving the quality of your new email signups. 

You can leverage this information to include an opt-in to join your email list as a simple and non-invasive way to get people to join your mailing list subscription.

In fact, third party selling sites such as Etsy require that customers opt in to your list in order to email them. Failing to do so is a violation of Etsy’s privacy rules.

Just remember to follow GDPR rules which state that the checkbox option shouldn’t be pre-checked.

Example of payment checkout with subscriber to newsletter option


You can integrate a live chat widget on your website or social media and use it as an email form. This way, you’ll be able to automatically collect emails during live chat conversations with visitors. 

If you don’t have a live chat widget, it might be a good idea to consider installing one because you’ll get the added benefit of quick, easy, and natural customer service

And, by creating a frictionless experience for your customers, you not only continue building your list but you can boost customer satisfaction. 

Note: Use the same strategy in the comments section of your blog by making email a requirement before someone can post a comment.

5. Pop-up survey or quiz

Another way to get more people on your email list is to offer a pop-up survey or quiz that appears to the viewers after they’ve gotten some value from your content. 

This way, they’ll be more inclined to join your list to get more helpful content from you. Some people make the mistake of asking for the visitor’s email before the person has had a chance to become invested in the content, making it unlikely that the visitor will give a positive response to the request. 

Additionally, you can increase engagement with pop-up surveys or quizzes by embedding gamification functionality into your emails. This transforms traditional surveys into fun ways to entertain your email subscribers, encourage engagement, and receive feedback. 

6. Offer discount codes to those who sign up

You’ll entice more people to sign up for your list by offering discounts.

The great part about it is that you can use it off-site to build your email list. Social media, in particular, is a great place to promote the discount code and encourage people to sign up to your list in exchange for the code.

Example of a discount code after providing email address


This is a powerful mailing list growth strategy that can be used with various modifications, including overlays on landing pages or static embeds in product pages. 

Social media offers many different ways for you to build your email list for free, such as: 

  • Embedded sign-up buttons
  • A call to action on your social profile
  • Sharing posts that invite people to sign up
  • Reposting user-generated content
  • Polls, quizzes, Q&A, etc.
  • Promoting limited-time special events to drive traffic to a landing page
  • Using lead forms via Facebook Ads

… the list goes on.

But, an underutilized, yet super effective method is to add a CTA within captions so you can lead users directly onto a platform where they can sign up for your newsletter. 

While some platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter allow for posts to have a direct URL for readers to click on, other platforms like Instagram or TikTok require you to direct users to “click on the link in my profile” in order to get them down the right path.  

When crafting your captions, make sure your calls to action’s are compelling and well-written. It should be clear what users need to do next and your CTA must guide them to your sign up page as shown in the example below:

CTA within social media post


8. Host giveaways and contests

People love giveaways. When you offer them the chance to win free stuff, they will be more than happy to part with their email address. 

Just keep in mind that while giveaways are great for building an email list for free, you might find that your list is filled with people who are not very engaged since they only signed up just to win a prize, as opposed to signing up to hear from you. 

That’s why it’s recommended that you take the time to brainstorm ideas for giveaway prizes that would be irresistible to only your dream customer

For example, you might offer a free membership to subscription-based accounts on online course platforms and similar channels, or perhaps giving the winner free access to premium services on-site. This will help ensure that only those who want to be a part of your community will enter the giveaway, which in turn will help build a sense of community and loyalty among subscribers.

9. Host free webinars

If you have an engaged audience, a free webinar is a perfect way to convert many of them into email subscribers. 

In fact, webinars can even help you get people who didn’t know about you to subscribe after hearing about the webinar you’re hosting. 

They register for the event with their email addresses, and since webinars have such a high perceived value, which means you will likely grow your list significantly compared to other list-building strategies.

If you’ve never run webinars before, this list of webinar software will help you compare and contrast your options. 

10. Reach broader audiences through guest posting

If you write articles for other blogs in your industry or become a guest on some of the more popular podcasts in your niche, you will open yourself up to brand new audiences that you might not have been able to reach otherwise. 

This offers you a huge opportunity to grow your email list (for free) by simply including a call to action at the end of your post or podcast where you direct people to your own website or landing page where they can discover the opt-in form for your email list. 

Once they get there, present them with your email list sign-up form with the promise of receiving more value if they join.

11. Repurpose your content

There are a lot of things you can offer visitors to your website or social media as a way to convince them to give you their email. 

For instance:

  • Downloadable podcasts
  • Premium articles on your blog
  • Free video courses
  • Packs of thematic graphics
  • Ebooks, whitepapers, reports, etc. 

However, rather than start from scratch to create new content that your audience will find relevant and appealing, why not simply repurpose the content you already have and package it in a different format that your readers, viewers, or listeners might appreciate. 

For example, let’s say that you have 100’s of blog posts on your site and you’re looking to repurpose the content to get additional email subscribers.  

One of the ways that I’ve personally done this is by using the blog posts as a script and creating YouTube videos on a completely new YouTube channel.  Within those videos, I urge the viewer to click in the description to join my email list for a free course called IGNITION to start a blog of their own.  

Example of how to repurpose content

Another example of this that I’ve tried is asking readers of my software review content to sign up for my email list to receive access to an exclusive tutorial of the software that they’re interested in.  

Roughly 95% of what I cover in those exclusive tutorial videos are the exact same thing that I cover in the actual software review that they originally viewed.  While this may seem strange because most business owners assume that they’ve read everything on the post, I assure you they haven’t.  

If you elect to make videos from blog posts, I have to give a shout out to Movavi as I’ve found them very simple to use for this exact purpose.

12. Build your email list off-line

Most of the tips in this article are designed to help you build your list online, but there are quite a few offline channels that you can use to help you get more subscribers.

  • In-store: If you have a physical store, you can convert your foot traffic into list subscribers by offering sign-up forms in-store or at your checkout desk.
  • Trade shows: These events are great opportunities for you to network with customers directly, as well as other business owners, wholesalers, etc., and encourage sign-ups.

13. Add sign-up forms and optimize the process

At the foundation of any email list are opt-in forms on your website to encourage users to join your email list.  Whether this be on specific landing pages solely built to get email signups, or on website pages throughout, this is a crucial part of any email building strategy.

While it’s great to include these forms, a simple way to increase the email signups you get from these forms is to optimize and test the actual form used and their placement to increase your opt-in rate.

For example, let’s say that on a single page you get 3 people to sign up for your email list with every 100 visitors.  You then decide to test the form placement and move it above all of your content on the page and notice that 6 people now sign up for your email list with every 100 visitors

By simply changing the placement of the form, you’ve doubled your email opt-ins.  While this scenario may seem far-fetched, it’s a lot more realistic than you may realize and that’s why testing is key. 


The free email list-building strategies listed here are incredibly effective and will help you create a killer subscriber list from thin air. 

Pick one strategy and implement it today so you can start watching your tribe grow. 

Of course, the more strategies you can implement, the faster your list will grow. Just make sure you get the first one working well before moving on to the next to get the most from your efforts.

Which of the list-building strategies outlined above do you find the most appealing? Share thoughts in the comment section below!

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