Email Marketing 101: 3 Basic Rules

Email Marketing 101: 3 Basic Rules

So your business has an email list. Or maybe you’ve finally decided to build one. Congratulations. Your business, and pockets, will thank you. Because when it comes to the world of email marketing, nothing is more important than the list of your real subscribers. The ones that bring frequent footwork to your website, engage with your blog posts and help increase your sales. Welcome to email marketing 101.

And you just don’t get that kind of activity from purchased subscribers, or those you get from tech-savvy algorithms. They might give you some attractive numbers, but those numbers don’t do anything for your site. And that’s why it’s important to know how to grow your email list – organically. And without violating the legalities of the CAN-SPAM act. Let’s start with that.

Follow CAN-SPAM Act

In 2003, George W. Bush signed the CAN-SPAM Act into law – “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing.” It is designed to help regulate how businesses and organizations build their email lists and distribute emails to their recipients.

Let’s go over the basic requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act to ensure you don’t find yourself in hot water.

CAN-SPAM rules:

  1. Be honest when it comes to your header information – including the accuracy of the “from” and “to” sections.
  2. Your subject line should not be deceptive; it should be clear and reflective of your content.
  3. Admit that your email is an ad. You can get creative with how you do this, but your recipient should understand that what you’re sending is ultimately an advertisement.
  4. You need to tell your recipients where you’re located – always include a valid, physical address.
  5. Make opting out easy. You don’t want your recipients to have to spend several minutes or open various windows to opt-out of your newsletters/emails. The CAN-SPAM Act requires every email you send to have an opt-out option.
  6. Once someone chooses to opt-out, quickly remove them from your list. Legally, you must remove opt-outs within 10 business days, but the quicker, the better.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. Whether you use a virtual assistant or share some of your email marketing workload with someone, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring all emails are compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act.

It’s best practice to add only those that opt-in voluntarily to your email list.

So that high school friend you ran into last night and exchanged business cards with? Don’t add their email address to your list and start sending them your newsletters or promotions. Because (1) – you don’t have their permission and (2) they probably aren’t interested in your emails.

You’re better off building a list of people who like and enjoy your content, open your emails, and engage with your site. Those are the ones who are more likely to convert from simple subscribers to loyal customers.

So how exactly can you build a strong email list? What will get people to want to subscribe to your emails?

Build your email list organically

Simple but surefire ways to build your email list

Content upgrades

Content upgrades are an email marketer’s best friend. At least they should be. Basically, they’re opt-in bribes, or lead magnets – bonus content your website offers in exchange for a visitor’s email address. Make sure your opt-in is relevant to your specific blog post and actually is helpful to your audience. Checklists, printables, cheat sheets, and scripts are all great examples of enticing content upgrades.


Not all news comes from the radio, or seen on tv, or found on popular websites. In fact, a lot of great news content is being delivered to thousands of inboxes every day through newsletters. And it doesn’t have to be just in the category of business and politics. Many popular categories include technology, arts & entertainment, health and fitness, home improvement, and self-help.

Newsletters are also a great way to offer promotions that can only be utilized by subscribers. People love being on exclusive lists. It gives them a sense of importance; and for that, they’ll gladly hand over their email addresses.

Facebook Lead Ads

There are over 2 billion users on Facebook today. So no matter your industry or niche, you’ll be sure to find a good chunk of your targeted audience on this platform. Creating a Facebook Lead Ad allows you to reach out to a specific type of audience and obtain information (including their email addresses) once they’ve hit that call-to-action button. A crisp image paired with catchy copy is sure to catch several eyes. Just be sure to maintain those subscribers by offering fresh, relevant, and share-worthy content.


Now, this might not work for every industry, but giveaways convert really well. You’ll offer free products, information, or resources, that people would otherwise have to pay for, to one (or several) lucky winners. They’ll sign up by entering their information, sharing their email addresses, and even tagging their friends for more entries. You could very easily quadruple your email list in a matter of days.

Gating Content

If you want to see your email list grow, try gating some of your content. That simply means hiding a portion of your post. Put a limit on how much text is visible on a blog post. Once your reader reaches that limit, they must enter their email address to “unlock” the rest of the article. Now don’t get carried away and begin hiding half of every blog post, because your visitor will simply leave.

Gated content needs to be highly valuable. It should be packed with well-written information that makes your reader believe that offering their email address was well worth the exchange. Remember, you want to trade value for value; and to you, another email address on your list is of great value. So be kind and return the favor.

Email Marketing Segmentation

Don’t overlook email marketing segmentation, this is the division of email subscribers into smaller groups based on specific criteria – like geographic location, past purchases, interests, age, etc.

Segmenting your email subscribers can do wonders for your list. In fact, Mailchimp’s data shows segmented campaigns get 64.78% more clicks and 14.37% more opens than their non-segmented counterparts.

It also helps in retaining the bulk of your subscribers. Most people who opt-out of email lists do so because the content isn’t relevant. If you’re sending the right content, to the right audience, at the right time, you’re likely to avoid seeing a dramatic decrease in your email list.

Information that will help segment your email list

  1. Your audience’s preferences. Perhaps create a quick quiz or ask your subscribers to choose options they’re most interested in. This allows you to know what content to send to their inboxes, and what information to leave out.
  2. Purchasing behavior. You can utilize your email reports to find out what your audience is opening up and clicking on. Based on that information, you can add people to an existing group, or create a brand new one.
  3. Location. People are more likely to open up emails if the content focuses on nearby locations or locations they’re interested in.


It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run, or what industry you’re in. If you’ve got a website and want to convert random site visitors into loyal customers who generate sales and constantly increase your traffic, you’ll want to get them in your email list.

And we’ve listed some great ways up there to entice your visitors to hit that subscribe button if you don’t know where to start. You’ll quickly realize how important it is to grow your email list. Just make sure you’re abiding by the CAN-SPAM Act so you don’t find yourself in hot water.

What are your favorite strategies for increasing your business’s email list?



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