How to Build an Email List Without a Website + [Some Must Have Tools]
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So, you've finally started a business. You have the product idea, or even the product itself, but wonder how to get it out there.
You know you need a website, but also know that it will take months before you have enough traffic. Well, worry not, for you might not need one right now.
In this post, I will show you how to build an email list without a website.
Why Do You Need An Email List?
Email lists are some of the most treasured assets in digital marketing (check out great ways for how to make money with digital marketing).
According to experts like Neil Patel, Nathalie Lussier, and Ramsey Taplin, email marketing outperforms social media marketing by a long shot. With an email list, you get to connect with the prospect on a personal level.
Thanks to segmentation and personalization, you can send people different emails depending on their interests and stage in the funnel.
With social media, however, your content will be viewed by everyone as it is, and the very best you can do is post different types of content.
Another reason you should build an email list is websites lose rankings all the time, get hacked, or face other issues.
If your website goes down, you can rely on your email list until the website is up and running.
Can You Build An Email List Without A Website?
Yes, you can. There are many platforms you can use to build an email list, including LinkedIn, Medium, Quora, webinars, social media channels, guest posting, and referral programs (check out the best referral program ideas).
To effectively build an email list, you need to offer value to your audience. Remember, they are sharing their personal email, and many people don't like subscribing to just anything they find online.
In this article, I will show you how you can create content on free platforms like LinkedIn, medium, and Quora, how you can create lead magnets and incorporate them in the content, and how you can increase the chances of people opting into your list.
But this doesn't mean that a website isn't essential. It would help if you started working on one as soon as you've built a sustainable list.
But for now, some tools you need to create an email list without a website include:
- Email marketing software like ConvertKit, GetResponse, and MailChimp
- Landing page builders like Leadpages or Builderall
- Webinar platforms
- Lead magnet or opt-in offer
- A source of traffic
How To Build An Email List Without a Website
Below are some of the best tools and some actionable steps.
Medium is a great place for people who want to share their thoughts, write about what they're passionate about, or even try affiliate marketing without a website.
And you can use it to build an email list too.
Started by Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter, Medium is a blogging platform that allows you to post any type of written content without having to worry about registering a domain or designing a website.
The good thing about Medium is that you have access to their internal traffic, which can be in the thousands.
All you have to do is write interesting content and add a call to action at the bottom, asking readers to subscribe to your email list.
Nicole Bianchi tried it and once got up to 500 subscribers from one article.
Garin Etcheberry also wrote how he gained 160 subscribers in a few days with his first article on Medium.
Besides gaining subscribers, you can also make money on Medium with their Partner's Program.
In this program, you get paid every time someone reads your article.
Some writers earn thousands of dollars, which could supplement your business earnings.
How To Use Medium To Build an Email List
Below are some actionable steps to leverage Medium even when you don't have a website.
Step 1 – Create a Medium Account
Access Medium’s official website. You have an option to use your email or Facebook account to create the Medium account.
Step 2 – Choose Your Interests
Medium has a wide range of categories to choose from.
Even though you've not built a website, you most likely know what categories your business is in and what your audience may be interested in.
Besides reaching people interested in your business, you also have access to content from other businesses.
That way, you can learn what works for them and what doesn't on this platform.
Step 3 – Update Your Profile
Under the avatar on the top right corner, click on “profile” and enter your details. You can write a bio, add a profile picture, and describe what your business does.
Make sure the photo is the same photo you use on other social media accounts.
Step 4 – Post Your First Story
Articles on Medium are called stories. Below are some tips to make sure your content reaches a bigger audience.
- Post in related publications: Publications are like major journals within Medium where people post related content. Anyone following this publication will most likely read your article.
You can find these publications by using tags, looking for lists within Medium or other websites, or finding top writers.
Or you can use a tool like Smedian to find relevant publications.
Below are some publications about digital marketing.
- Use tags: When you're about to publish an article, you'll be asked to choose tags. Make sure you choose tags related to your business, which will make your content easier to find. If you were to publish about affiliate marketing, below are some tags that would appear.
People love getting things for free.
When you genuinely offer something for free, most of them will feel obliged or have some sense of loyalty by buying a product, or in this case, by subscribing to your email list.
The good news is, even though you’ve not built a website yet, you can still offer a giveaway on your social media channels or leverage another company’s audience.
How to Offer Giveaways Without a Website and Build Your Email List
Below is a step-by-step process.
Step 1 – Choose a Product for Your Giveaway
The first step is to select a product that your audience would love.
For instance, a freelance writer could offer free entry to premium tools like Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or Copyscape when building an email list.
If you’ve built products already, you can offer them as a giveaway. If you don’t have a product yet, you can partner with other companies and use their products as your giveaways.
You’ll be surprised at how many companies will gladly offer you their products to use as giveaways.
Better yet, they can also promote the giveaways on their channels.
Step 2 – Use a Landing Page
A landing page is one of the best ways to encourage people to take part in a giveaway.
Instead of creating a website, a landing page is just one page, which gives the audience more information about what they can gain from joining an email list, or in this case, taking part in the giveaway contest.
It simply has more information than an opt-in form, but not too much information like you'd find in multi-page website..
You can use GetResponse, Builderall, or ConvertKit to build the landing pages and the mailing list.
For instance, with GetResponse, you can segment your list based on how they respond to the giveaway and how they respond to your emails in the future.
GetResponse can also help you choose the giveaway winner with a computerized method.
Step 3 – Promote Your Giveaways
Once you have the product and landing page, you can promote the giveaway on your social media channels, Medium, or even through ads.
After the stipulated time, pull the participants and choose a winner.
While there are only a few winners, you can maintain other participants' emails and start nurturing them into leads.
3. Social Media
Social media channels are another way to build an email list without a website, at almost no cost.
Let's look at each and how you can use them.
How To Build an Email List Using Facebook
Facebook is the largest social network, with over 4 billion users and 3 billion active users.
Below are effective ways to leverage this user base.
Step 1 – Grow Your Facebook Following
You can start growing a following right from your Facebook profile (find out how with a simple Facebook poll). This is by posting content related to your business and connecting with people in the same industry.
The key is to post regularly, both informational and fun content, to keep the followers engaged.
Posting regularly establishes you as an authority in your niche, so when you post an opt-in, they will be more inclined to join your email list.
Step 2 – Create a Facebook Page
After creating your profile, customize your Facebook page to show what your business does, and frequently post on the page too.
When people come across your profile or your posts in groups, your page is their next stop.
You can make posts in groups or on your profile asking people to follow your page. Or, you can use Facebook ads, which are easy-to-use and highly effective.
Step 3 – Create a Facebook Group
A Facebook Group is an online community where only people interested in your type of business will join.
I've seen groups work several times where you start by sharing lots of information for free and moderate the group.
Then, when it's time to introduce an opt-in, people will readily join since they already trust you.
Facebook groups can also be an excellent source of traffic when you finally build your website.
Besides having a group, you can leverage other Facebook groups in the same niche. But make sure you follow the group's guidelines and ensure you're allowed to post links and promote yourself.
How To Build an Email List Using LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an excellent place to connect with prospects, clients, and even employees.
While it was once known as a place to post your resume or hire professionals, LinkedIn has since grown into a blogging/social media platform.
You can now post long-form articles, share the articles you posted on Medium, or chat with people through the messaging feature.
Step 1 – Grow Your LinkedIn Following
Like Facebook, you can also grow your following by posting regularly. Once you know people like your content, you can start asking them to join your email list.
According to Tim Queen, the best way to build an email list on LinkedIn is to use a lead magnet. This is a freebie or opt-in that you give potential customers in exchange for their emails.
Lead Magnets can include:
- A free eBook
- A downloadable version of your article
- Free tips
- Case Studies
- White Papers
Step 2 – Combine LinkedIn With Medium
You can also combine Medium and LinkedIn in your campaign.
A good example would be to write an article on Medium, create a lead magnet with a tool like Beacon, create a landing page with a tool like Leadpages, and create a campaign with an email marketing software like Drip.
Once you’re done, you can link to your landing page and lead magnet from your LinkedIn and Medium articles, which will increase the number of opt-ins you get from your audience.
How To Build an Email List Using Instagram
Instagram is famous for visual content (photos and videos). What you might not know is you can turn your followers into an email list.
Step 1 – Link to a Landing Page from Instagram
For starters, after creating a landing page, you can place the link on your bio. This landing page should tell them what your newsletter is all about and why they should join.
You can also create a content strategy where you frequently share content and mention your email list and what's in it for the subscribers.
After sharing meaningful content, remember to add a CTA (Call To Action) asking them to subscribe.
Step 2 – Use Instagram Stories
Another way to use Instagram is to use Instagram Stories. These stories come in different formats, which include clickable links and questions.
You can use the clickable links to attach your opt-in form or use the Questions format to gather feedback. In both ways, the viewers can leave their emails.
Step 3 – Sweepstakes
To increase your chances of growing a larger email list, organize giveaways or sweepstakes, and design them so that people have to share their email to take part.
According to a study conducted by Tailwind, you can increase engagement on Instagram by 70% when you use giveaways.
How to Build an Email List Using Pinterest
Pinterest is a search engine that uses visual content.
For a long time, people have assumed it's just a place to pin DIY ideas, gardening ideas, cooking recipes, or fashion-related content.
But you can actually build your business and grow your email list using this platform. It's also an excellent source of traffic that can supplement the traffic you get from Google.
That is, of course, when you build your website.
So, how can you grow your email list using Pinterest?
Step 1 – Create a Pinterest Account
Start by creating your account, preferably a business account, and update the profile to show what your business does.
Even though you don't have a website, you should at least have a logo that people can associate with your business or niche.
If not, use photos you use on other channels to make it easier for prospects to recognize you.
Below is an example of Neil Patel’s profile.
For starters, he uses the same headshot you’ll find in most of his accounts. And he uses keywords related to what he does.
Step 2 – Using a Lead Magnet with Pinterest
Once you have set up an account, you need to think about a lead magnet.
That's right. Regardless of the platform you use, a lead magnet and a landing page will play a significant role in getting people to sign up.
And for higher chances of success, make sure you create several lead magnets and landing pages based on what your subscribers may like.
You never know which one will convert.
Step 3 – Pinterest Pins
Pins are Pinterest's version of posts, and they can reach a wide audience depending on how you optimize them.
To increase the chances of conversion, pin the lead magnets and the content you post on Medium and LinkedIn.
Make sure the viewer knows that they’ll be getting value from your posts by incentivizing the pin.
Step 4 – Join Pinterest Group Boards
Like Facebook groups, Pinterest's Group Boards can help you reach a large audience and get content ideas.
Search for relevant group boards using the search box or platforms like PinGroupie.
There are two different ways to request to join a group board; you can comment on the group owner's pins or reach out to them directly.
Step 5 – Automate Pinterest
Another good thing about Pinterest, and other social media platforms, is that you can automate the pinning process.
You have two options; Hire a VA from sites like Fiverr or Upwork to handle the Pinterest side of the business, or use automation tools like Tailwind or Buffer.
Tailwind is quite popular. It allows you to schedule your pins, and you can even join Tailwind Communities, where you help each other grow your Pinterest accounts.
How to Build an Email List Using Twitter
Content creators often use Twitter to share their blog content. But there's another way to use it. And that's by posting your lead magnets, opt-in offers, or landing pages.
Since Twitter users are used to seeing blog content, why not offer more value by packaging a content upgrade, a freebie, eBook, or a recorded webinar to collect their emails?
How to Build an Email List Using Sniply
If you’ve not created lots of content, you can share other people’s content using Sniply and use it to get people to sign up to your email list.
You can do this by creating an opt-in offer, then create a “Snip” using content from other websites in the same industry, and share it.
Owned by LinkedIn, SlideShare is a search engine that allows people to search for visual content.
Marketers and content creators create content as slides, optimize them, and upload them to millions of users who use SlideShare every day.
In an article posted on Smart Blogger, Eugene Cheng shares how he generates up to 2 million views and at least 400 new subscribers every month.
And guess what? You can use it too.
You can create a content upgrade for the content you publish on Medium or LinkedIn. If you don't have any content in mind, check what your competitors are doing to get content ideas.
Then, within the content, add CTAs asking people for their emails.
SlideShare’s paid version allows you to integrate your email marketing campaign if you’re using platforms like HubSpot.
But if you’re using the free version, linking to your landing page or newsletter is still a viable option.
Once the slides and CTA are integrated and published, you can promote them on other platforms or even use ads.
5. Guest Posting
One challenge of building a website is generating traffic.
And to generate traffic, you need to rank your content or leverage social media channels, which can take time and be pretty costly.
But you can avoid all that for now and use another blogger’s traffic through guest posting.
This is where you reach out to a blogger with an authority website in your niche and request to publish an article on their blog, where you'll also attach your opt-in form or landing page.
Below are some steps to follow.
Step 1 – Find Reputable Websites for Guest Posting
There may be thousands of websites that run a business similar to yours, but not all of them will accept guest posts.
Below are some ways to find guest posting opportunities.
- Search your business’s keywords along with the words “submissions” or “write for us” or “guest posts”. For instance, if your business is about gardening, you can search “gardening “write for us”. All websites about gardening that are looking for contributions will appear.
- Try reaching out to your favorite blogs. Since you may have been following them for some time, you know the type of content they publish. You can also check their website to see if there are any posts by guest writers.
- Find websites that your potential customers read, go through their content to find out what type of content they publish, and reach out to them. This way, you’ll have access to high-quality traffic with a higher chance of subscribing to your email list.
- Use tools like AllTop to find top blogs in your industry.
Step 2 – Pitch Guest Post Ideas
Once you've found several websites in your niche that are accepting guest posts, it's time to craft a pitch.
Even though the blog owners state they accept guest posts, you still have to make it worth their while since they probably receive thousands of requests from spammers.
Most of them will have some guidelines about pitching; these may include the title of the post, average word count, topics to avoid, etc.
Make sure you adhere to these guidelines.
It's also good to approach them professionally by telling them about your business, what it does, and why you think it’s important to have your blog post on their website.
Step 3 – Follow Up
Don’t submit the guest post and abandon it. Follow up, observe the comments, and if you can, respond to them.
This helps you build trust with the prospects and helps you identify what they need.
6. Be A Guest on a Podcast
Podcasts are another way to leverage other people's traffic to grow your email list.
But they are better than guest blogging since prospects get to have a deeper connection with you, and they can get instant feedback if they have questions.
Below is how you can use podcasts.
Step 1 – Find Podcasts in Your Niche
Podcasts have become very popular nowadays. Therefore, you will most likely find a podcast in the same industry you're in or podcasts your prospects love listening to.
You can also use a directory like Apple Podcasts to find podcasts in your industry.
Step 2 – Pitch Your Podcast Idea
Once you find a couple of podcasts, you can now start crafting a pitch.
Pitching to a podcast is like pitching for a guest post. Go through the podcasts' content and website content, if they have one, to get an idea of their content policies.
Step 3 – Promote Your Email List
In every podcast you appear, create a landing page to help you collect the listener’s emails.
It would also be great to mention your email list throughout the session. You can also offer a lead magnet to the listeners to sort of “bribe” them to join your email list.
Quora is one of the best places to find people who are already interested in businesses similar to yours.
It's a platform where people ask questions and get answers either from industry experts or fellow prospects with a lot of knowledge on the subject.
You can take advantage of this by answering the questions and adding a CTA to your landing page or newsletter.
To effectively use Quora, start by customizing your profile to show who you are, add a good bio, and add a link to your newsletter or landing page in the bio (for more strategies, check out our guide for how to make money on Quora).
If possible, offer a lead magnet right there on the bio.
Below is an example of Elna Cain’s profile.
As you can see, in the third sentence, there's a link to her landing page on helping writers earn their first $1000.
Then, find questions that haven't been answered or those with poor answers. Answer these questions and add a CTA towards the end of the answer.
Avoid adding the link at the top of the article since that can be off-putting.
8. Referral Programs
Word of mouth is one of the best ways of building a business when you're not that popular.
You can leverage its benefits by incorporating a referral program in your email marketing strategy.
For instance, you can adjust the lead magnet to offer a discount, freebie, or any other offer when email subscribers invite their friends.
You will tap into more prospects who probably wouldn’t have come across your Medium content, Quora, or any other platform I’ve mentioned.
And since they trust their friend, it’s likely they’ll subscribe too.
PayPal and Dropbox, some of the largest companies in the Fintech and cloud storage industries, respectively, are the best examples of the benefits of referral programs.
PayPal offered bonuses to their new users when they invited other uses, leading to a 7% daily growth.
Dropbox replicated this strategy by providing extra storage space and increased their subscribers from 100,000 to 4,000,000 in just 15 months.
9. Free Webinars
Webinars are other ways to attract prospects and turn them into email subscribers.
Why? People love video content and even prefer it over written content.
And no, you don't need to start a YouTube channel, which takes even more work than building a website.
All you need is a webinar hosting platform like Zoom, GoToWebinar, or WebinarJam.
Second, find a webinar topic; either by repurposing your most popular content or using tools like BuzzSumo.
Third, create a registration landing page where people register using their emails.
Unlike most of the other methods, where prospects have to read the content first, with webinars, they share their contact information upfront.
So, make sure your landing page is professional and informative.
It would also help if you hosted the webinar with a well-known person in the industry. That way, you establish trust and leverage their traffic.
You can also promote the webinar in a podcast, a guest post, Quora, platforms like Medium, your social media channels, or through ads.
Better yet, record it and use it as a lead magnet in your future campaigns.
10. Reach Out to Your Contact List
If you go through your contact list or your inbox, you may find people who would be interested in subscribing to your email list.
This could be friends, family, classmates, coworkers, clients, or one-off contacts.
You can also ask them to refer you to their friends.
And there you have it. You probably already knew most of the tools I've mentioned, but didn't know they could grow an email list. Well, now you do.
Make sure you get good email marketing software, build converting landing pages, and offer opt-in offers that prospects cannot resist.
Creating valuable content on LinkedIn, Medium, social media, SlideShare, or appearing as a guest on podcasts and blogs will help build your authority.
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