Simple Email List-building Hack for Anyone

There’s no question that a good list of email addresses is central to the success of almost every business that does any online marketing, and that’s why about 72 different blogs publish articles everyday with headlines like:

  • My blog post that delivered 12,342 email addresses, or:
  • How to double your email list in one week.

We don’t want to say that those claims are false, but the fact is that – like they say in diet commercials – your results are likely to vary…and by “vary” I mean be far less successful. Further, the real difficult part of establishing your email list is at the beginning of your efforts, when you’re staring at an email list with zero names in it.

However, there is an easy way to get off to a strong start and you already have half of everything you need.

Your Email List

How long have you been sending emails back and forth to people? It’s probably been just about forever and there’s a good chance that a fair number of those people will be interested in what you are doing and may know others who are interested as well.

Let me go down a short side road for a moment and talk about an email legal issue. You can’t download your personal contact list and use it to create a bulk email list on one of the commercial emailing sites, like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or any of the others. You have to have people’s permission to add them to bulk emailing lists.

However, you can email anyone individually from your email account and virtually every email program has a cool feature built into it that makes this fast and easy. This is what we’re going to use in our email list building hack. More on that in a moment.

Your High Quality Offer

Before you start emailing people, you need to have something to offer them and you need to compose a short and courteous email that explains your offer and thanks them for their time. We suggest that you create a checklist, short ebook or white paper that relates to the business you do and what you want to promote. Then pen an email that says something like:


I’ve put together a complete guide to widgets. You can download it here I’m emailing all my friends and acquaintances who I think might be interested in it. If you know anyone else who could use it, would you please forward this email to them?

Thanks in advance and I hope everything is well with you.

All the best,

You direct them to the page where you explain your offer and present an opt-in form to capture their names and email addresses.

Let’s Start Emailing

Now here is where the magic comes in. As I alluded to above, most email software has a very cool feature – it remembers everyone you have emailed over the years. So to start this process, you merely open up a new email message and type the letter “A” in the “To” field. Your software will respond with a long list of recipients whose names start with the letter “A.”

You then start plugging these, one-by-one, into emails. You also paste in the short letter you’ve composed. After you’re done with the letter “A,” you move on to “B” and continue through the alphabet. If you have other things to do, spend a little time each day working your way through all of the names and email addresses. Also, if you have partners in your business, encourage them to do the same thing.

More Ways to get a Stronger Email List

For many businesses, this technique will do a good job giving their email list a strong start. Before we leave this topic, there are a couple more tips we would like share.

  • The opt-in form you use on your site will be linked to the email service provider you choose, so take some time looking over your options. Consider what you are going to require immediately and in the long run. Then you’ll know what features are important to you. For example, how sophisticated will your use of autoresponders be?
  • Don’t forget your personal and professional contacts in the various social media platforms; sometimes you can get their email addresses. LinkedIn, for example, has a way for you to download the email addresses of your contacts. On Twitter you can direct message your contacts.

We hope you can write one blog post that results in 12,342 addresses added to your email list (and if you do, would you tell us your secret?), but it’s not very likely. So, in the meantime, this hack should deliver solid results.