Building your opt-in email mailing lists

A key component of email marketing is building and maintaining your own opt-in list of contacts. The most valuable marketing asset you can have is permission to talk to people who have expressed a genuine interest in your organisation.

How do you grow your list? Where do you start? We're asked these questions all the time, so here are our top dos and don'ts for building your lists.


Put a subscription form prominently on your website or on your business Facebook page. You can automatically create your own subscription form using's form builder (in the Collect section).

Tell people that they can subscribe to your email list on the signature of your normal work emails and link straight through to the form on your website.

Ask existing customers if they'd like to join your mailing list. Legally you don't have to do this, as long as you're emailing them about services that are the same as those they have purchased from you. However, they are your most valuable asset, so treat them with respect and ask nicely!

Give people the option to subscribe each time they interact with you. If you run an event, offer people the option to subscribe when they're there. If you run a shop, have pre-printed subscription cards at the checkouts (make sure you keep a copy of completed requests, for legal compliance).

Spell out clearly why people will benefit from subscribing and how often you will contact them. Make sure people know exactly what they will be receiving and they will be much happier to subscribe; you'll also avoid wasting your time collecting details that will be of no use to you.

Contact new subscribers as soon as you can. Send a welcome note to let them know what to expect: that way, if your next mail out isn't out for a few weeks, they won't have forgotten about you by then. You can send welcome emails to subscribers automatically as soon as they sign up by using our powerful Marketing Automation tools.

Allow people to subscribe to your email list by sending an SMS message. Simply set up a text-to-subscribe service in your account.

Familiarise yourself with local email and SMS mobile marketing laws to ensure your practices are compliant. We've written an overview of the UK laws, but these can vary in different countries.


Automatically add everyone who has ever emailed you to your list. This is a breach of the data protection act and you could face prosecution. Just because someone has emailed you does not give you the right to add them to your mailing list.

Purchase lists. Permission isn't transferable. No matter what a list broker tells you, you will get complaints – lots of them. We don't allow purchased lists of any kind to be used in

Abuse people's trust. The swiftest way to devalue your list is to send irrelevant content to them. You'll get unsubscriptions and complaints but, far worse, you'll damage your brand and people who don't unsubscribe may start to ignore your messages.

Building your SMS lists

Many of the same techniques apply for mobile as they do for email, but here are a few extras that apply specifically to this exciting medium. All accounts are SMS-enabled; simply top up with SMS credits and set up your SMS keyword to start sending.

Collecting numbers using a text-in keyword is quick and easy. You can add mobile numbers to your list by asking users to text in a keyword to the shortcode (UK only – for international customers, the number is 447624802887). For example: “Text SIGNUP to 61211 to join our mailing list”. The user's mobile number is automatically added to your list. You can set this up by adding a new SMS list in the Collect section of your account.

This is a great way to accurately capture data when people are away from their computer – in your store, at your restaurant or in a club, for example. There's no risk of capturing incorrect data as there would be if you get them to fill in a paper form, and people can react to your call to action immediately.

SMS is a very immediate medium so make sure you send a reply when someone subscribes by SMS, so that they know you received their message. You can also use this message to reinforce your promotion or brand message. You can automate this process by setting an SMS reply message for your list.

In Summary – There's no instant way to build your list – the process takes time and effort – but persist. Each name you add to your list using best practice techniques like those listed above is extremely valuable to you and is well worth the effort.

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