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What is an email list? (Definition and examples)

Learn what an email list is, why you need one, and examples of how creators like you use email lists in their marketing.

What is an email list?

An email list is a collection of email addresses gathered from people who have signed up to receive emails from a business or creator. These people usually subscribe (aka "opt in") through a form on the business or creator's website. Sometimes subscribers receive a lead magnet —  a free resource or piece of content — in exchange for their email address.

Creators use email lists to send newsletters, updates, promotions, and other types of content directly to subscribers' inboxes. This lets you communicate with your entire audience quickly and efficiently.

You can also segment an email list into smaller groups based on characteristics like location, interests, and purchase history. This lets you send more targeted and personalized messages to your audience.

Why do you need an email list?

An email list is an important tool for creators looking to build relationships with their audience, promote their products and services, and have control over their marketing channels.

Here are a few reasons to start building your email list ASAP:

  1. An email list lets you own your audience . Social media platforms can change their algorithms and policies at any time. An email list is something you own and control, so you can communicate with your audience on your terms. 

  2. Email marketing is a cost-effective way to reach people. Paid search and social ads can be expensive, especially if you want to reach a big audience. With an email list, you can get your message out to a lot of people without spending a lot of money.

  3. Sending regular emails to your list can help you build relationships with your followers. When you consistently send valuable, entertaining, or interesting content to your list, they'll become more likely to share your work (and buy your products!) in the future.

How to build an email list

Here are a few ways to build your email list:

  1. Add an opt-in form to your website or blog

  2. Promote your email newsletter to your social media followers

  3. Offer an incentive for signing up, like a lead magnet or discount code

Remember to always ask for permission before adding someone to your email list and explain what they can expect to receive from you.

PS: Never buy a list of email addresses. It might seem like a quick way to build your list, but it can violate the CAN-SPAM Act , which has penalties of up to $16,000. And nothing makes someone hit “unsubscribe” faster than an email they didn’t ask for.

How creators use email lists (Examples)

Becky Mollenkamp 

Becky Mollenkamp is a mindset coach who helps people make the shift from “small business owner” to CEO. Through her Gutsy Boss brand, she has helped thousands of clients define success on their terms.

The kind of coaching Becky does requires vulnerability and honesty from her clients. Consistent communication through her email newsletter helps establish that trust. “Before people do one-on-one work with me, they usually are on my email list for six months or a year,” she explains. “I’m emailing them every week and for them to get to know me."

Becky has a quiz on her website that tells visitors which Golden Girls-inspired business owner personas they match. Each persona represents a different stage of business ownership, from first steps to experienced professional.

At the end of the quiz, Becky gives respondents the option to join her email list in exchange for “tips on how to be a Gutsy Boss.” When someone signs up, Becky segments them based on their quiz results, then sends them a series of emails highlighting the content and products that best match their needs.

Learn more about Becky's coaching business and creator journey , and check out her strategies for building an audience without burnout .

Cultivating Confidence

Veronica Green is an early childhood consultant and the founder of Cultivating Confidence . Her online courses , workshops, and resources help educators plan engaging activities, understand student behaviors, and build deeper connections through creativity and play.

Building and nurturing her email list with valuable free content is a top priority for Veronica. To grow her email list, she offers her Loose Parts Guide as a lead magnet for educators and caregivers.

Veronica introduces fellow educators to her work while growing her email list — and her heartfelt weekly emails foster connection and trust with subscribers. “I’ve been consistent emailing every single week because I finally made it a priority over everything else, and that’s been huge," she says.

Learn more about Veronica's audience-building strategies and creator journey .

Learn more about building an email list

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