How to Start an Email List For Free

This entry is part [part not set] of 2 in the series Social Marketing for Property Owners

How to start an email list for free


Building an email list with MailChimp

It is very important to start building your email lists; and for more than just marketing to them. Here are few reasons why:

  1. Email lists are owned by you, unlike social followers which can be taken away from you at any time.
  2. Engagement is typically much higher on emails than on social shares (although snapchat is very high).
  3. Email data gives you great insight into who your customers are by knowing where they sign up and what kind of thing prompts them to sign up.
  4. Email lists can be marketed to directly through email, and through custom ad audiences.
  5. Email lists can be used to make look alike audiences. 

In this post, I will show you how to get started with a MailChimp account to start collecting emails. I’ll give you a quick example of how to share a sign up link in a way that will actually get people to sign up and finally, I will offer a few of my thoughts on effective email marketing. The first goal will be to get 100 or so sign ups, so you can move on to the next article, building custom and lookalike ad audiences for marketing and remarketing.

Why Mailchimp?

Mailchimp is free if you have under a certain number of signups (I think it is 2000) and is inexpensive after that. Plus, it integrates into WordPress, Facebook Ads, and about anything else useful. I used to use Constant Contact, but I have found that even though they are a premium service, they are not as easy to integrate more expensive to boot. So if you like the more expensive, worse product, stay with them. 

Getting started: (by the way, I am not being compensated by Mailchimp. I just like them).

  1. Sign up for a free account at Follow the directions to set up your account.

mail chimp sign up

2. Make a new list by clicking on “lists” on the menu bar.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 1.39.31 PM

3. Select “Create List” on the right

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 1.40.18 PM

4. Then create a new list.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 1.42.35 PM

Fill in all of the form and click on Save on the bottom. You have your list all set!

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 1.43.57 PM

Now that your list is set up, all you have to do is get people to sign up.  You can do that through an embedded form or by a link. You can put embedded forms on key landing pages of your blog or share the link on social media.

Here’s where to get a link or a form:

  1. Go back to the list page, by hitting “lists” on the menu bar. A list of your lists will be visible.
  2. Click on the name of the list you just created (or the one you want to get a link or form for).
  3. This is the list’s page. You can upload members and do all sorts of things to the list here, but to get a sign up form or link, select “Signup forms”Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 1.48.09 PM
  4. You will be brought to a page where you can choose from one of several options. Here’s my screen:Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 1.50.02 PMYou can see where it is easy to get your embedded form or a popup for your site. But, I want to show you where to get a shareable link that can go on Social Media.
  5. Click on “General forms” on the image above. It will bring you to the sign up forms page. This is where you can get a shortened url that is easily copied and pasted into any pin, tweet, share, or made into a link on your page. You also have the ability to make a QR code too. Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 1.52.05 PM

Simply take your sign up form URL and use it in a social share. Here’s is an example I used for my Northern Minnesota vacation homes. In this tweet, I told everybody that I will be emailing a special the next day. I used hashtags for my region, and added the link to my signup form so they could get my email. It’s as easy as that!

That, my friends, is how to build an email list for free! I expect 0-2 signups each time I tweet. As you get better with optimizing when, what, and where to share, you will get increasingly better results. Make sure you have an image. Images increase engagement multi-fold over plain text. Did you see the cute image I used? I have an app called “Word Swag” that places this text on the images. You can see my Youtube Video of that here:

Quick Thoughts on Email Marketing

I have a couple of comments about email marketing though, make sure you think about what you want to share and how often you will share it. The reason is you need to be able to tell people WHY they should sign up for your emails. Will it be just for deals? Will it be to stay informed with events? Will it be to learn how to use your product or to teach something? With my vacation properties, I give a good mix of this. I don’t think many people enjoy just seeing me send out special after special. Worse, I don’t think it is very effective. I am pretty sure I used to have regular customers who would pay full price but they know my scheme too well. A deal should be a deal. Don’t offer things to the point where people come to expect one. As an alternative, I like to add good content to my blog like a day trip or a tourist attraction and share that to my email list. The bottom line is to mix things up and make your emails worth reading. That way, people will continue to open, share, and act on them.

After developing your initial strategy, you are ready to start building your email list(s). There are three ways I recommend you start:

  1. Tell your customers in the store, online, or by whatever means you communicate them that they can sign up for you list.
  2. Share on social media. By the way, one great trick is to offer a coupon if they sign up, or to do a giveaway. I know some people who say the get hundreds of sign ups for giveaways. In the example I gave above, I told them I would email them a discount for the cabin the following day if they signed up.
  3. Last, and I think you should wait a bit on this one, pay to boost a post, tweet, or pin that points to your email signup. When you have enough of them to understand what works for you, you can start small and see the results. As you get more comfortable, you can spend more and more. I spend hundreds of dollars a month and get email sign ups for various prices, a good one for me will be about $0.60 per email sign up. It can be done cheaper, but I have a very specific audience and I don’t care about getting lots that are junk. 

You will start building your lists in no time. It may not happen over night, but think of long-term success. That is our goal.

Wouldn’t it be nice in 1-2 years to have 5000 people you could email to share a last minute deal to fill you up? That is the goal here. In the mean time keep building. In the next post, I will share how to use this data to target ads.

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About Chris 759 Articles
Chris Ashbach is one of the founders of Dan330. Chris is a pilot and avid outdoorsman who loves fishing, hunting, camping, and exploring. He loves taking kids (especially his own) on trips to share his passion of the outdoors. Chris is also a gardener, volunteers at Let's Go Fishing, and teaches Sunday school. Chris holds a MA in Organizational Leadership and is faculty at a local university in Minnesota; teaching undergraduate business classes.