7 Steps to Building the Perfect Email List

If you build it, he will come. ~Field of Dreams, 1989

Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner,  was an inspiring movie about an Iowa farmer who hears someone whisper the now-famous words, “If you build it, he will come“.  The farmer, Ray, is ridiculed for following through with building a baseball diamond on his land.  In the end, many great players of the past emerge from his cornfield to play on his baseball diamond.  Mark Kuhn has done something similar by building a tennis court on his Iowa farm. (though I haven’t heard of any ghosts appearing yet).

7 Steps to Building the Perfect Email List

The point of my story is that it all starts with a dream, an idea, a desire to build something meaningful.  For the purposes of this post, I’m going to show you 7 steps to building the perfect email list.  If you build it, they will come.


Step #1 – What is the purpose of your emails?  There’s a fine line between providing valuable information and sales.  Add self-promotional information conservatively.  People who feel like they’re getting a sales pitch every time they get your emails will unsubscribe.  Instead of WIIFM (what’s in it for me), try the WIIFY (what’s in it for you? approach.  Engage and connect with your contacts  by giving them information that will help them with their pain points.

Step #2 – How will your emails be delivered?  There are free and paid services that will do the heavy lifting for you.  Constant Contact provides pre-designed templates that can be customized with your branding.  If your list is under 2,000 and you won’t be sending email blasts more than 12,000 times per month, MailChimp’s free service can be a great option for you.  If you want to keep track of your business, emails, drip campaigns and more, Ixact Contact is something to look at.

Step #3 – What type of auto-responder works best for you?  An auto-responder is a preset email designed to automatically send after a particular form has been completed.  Let’s say you have a free e-book about marketing a home during the holidays.  You can set up your auto-responder to allow an immediate download upon completion of the lead capture information.  Alternatively,  you can set up an email to automatically send to the contact with the download link.  This ensures that the contact’s email address is correct.

Step #4 – Have you set up your landing page?  Create a landing page for your freebie.  WordPress themes and plugins are great for creating landing pages.  Include compelling content, graphics and your lead capture form.  Add share buttons to your landing page.  This provides more opportunities for  contacts to share your information with family and friends.

Step #5 – Don’t forget the thank you.  Set up your auto-responder to include a thank you message.  This can be directed to a page within your website or by email.

Step #6 – Make your new subscribers feel welcome.  This can be done personally or via your auto-responder.  Send a welcome email and make sure they received the download they signed up for.  Include the link as well as your contact information for any questions.

Step #7 – How often should you send emails?   Someone who has subscribed to your newsletter will expect to be notified once a week or once a month.  Sales emails should follow the 80/20 rule.  80% of emails should be sales-free.  20% of the time is acceptable for sending an email that contains sales information.


When it comes to email list building, quality is more important than quantity.  An organized contact list that is used on a regular basis is gold!

Take the time to put these 7 steps into action.  You’ll be building trust and showing off your expertise to people who really want to hear from you.

7 Steps to Building the Perfect Email List