Email Lists: The Most Important Aspect of Email Marketing

The most important important part of your email marketing campaign is its recipients. After all, without a mailing list, there’s nowhere for your emails to go. A huge part of email marketing lead generation. Lead generation is the practice of collecting a potential customer’s email address. Every time you acquire an email address, you’re generating a lead that could potentially turn into a sale. And since the main purpose of email marketing is to turn possible subscribers into loyal customers, leads are pretty important.

Build your mailing list

The moment you start generating leads, you’ve begun building up your mailing list. How do you go about getting those leads? Email marketers typically use one or more of the following strategies.

Website prompts

One no-cost way to build your mailing list is to create a prompt on your website asking customers to provide their email addresses. Marketers love this technique because it doesn’t require any additional budget and it’s a single tactic that makes all the difference.

Users visit websites for a reason. If they’re visiting your website, they are at the very least intrigued by your brand to some extent. So, it’s a great idea to add a prompt on your homepage that encourages them to provide their email. You can even offer them something in return, like a discount code or some kind of free content. A website prompt is a digital banner that calls on a website visitor to act in some way.

Display ads.

Display ads are graphic ads on websites and apps through banners comprised of photos, text, or videos.

When used in an email marketing context, they will include a place for the internet user to fill in their email, or it will link them to a learning page where they can sign up. When the email is filled in, the lead is generated, and the email is added to the mailing list automatically.

Display ads are an effective way to build up your mailing lists, but keep in mind that they do come at a cost. At many organizations, there is no budget allotted for list building. You may want to focus on some best practices that don’t require spending. Recall that when someone creates a website or a blog, they have the choice to opt into the Google Display Network, and if they choose to do so, the ads will appear on their site. Those are display ads.

Social ads

Another great way to get email addresses added to your mailing list is through the use of social media ads. Social ads are paid advertisements on social media platforms targeted to social media users. Some social media channels offer ad formats specific to lead generation.

For example, Facebook has lead ads. These are similar to display ads in that they combine text, images, and a URL that links to a website where customers can learn more or buy products. However, these ads feature a form, where users submit personal information such as their name, email, or anything else the advertiser chooses. And, rather than existing on a website or blog, they exist on social media.

Let’s say a book publisher wants to build up their email list using Facebook lead ads. The publisher provides an incentive for people to sign up for their list. Anyone who adds their email to the blank field can download one chapter of their newest book at no cost. All they have to do is sign up by providing an email and agree to the terms and conditions set by the brand.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Let’s talk about search engine marketing related to your email marketing campaign. Recall that SEM is the increase of a website’s visibility in a search engine through paid advertising. If you are using to search for something, you will see some paid text ads above the organic results. This is an example of search engine marketing. One way to build your list using SEM is to include a discount or other type of incentive written out in plain text in your ad, enticing those who subscribe immediately in the ad copy.

Another way is to use SEM specifically for email marketing lead generation. So if a customer is browsing a website, they may see an ad for your company with a form included directly. They can fill out the form that results in them subscribing to your list.

One way to get additional emails without added cost is to rely on customer referrals and forwards. A customer referral is a word of mouth initiative that encourages existing customers to introduce their family, friends, and contacts to become new customers. Think about how much you trust your best friend or closest family member. Think about how much you trust your best friends or closest family member. If they told you you’d like something, you might believe them.

Customer referrals are incredibly valuable to the business. Research has found that people are four times more likely to buy a product when they are referred by a friend. If your brand has a loyalty or a referral program, you can offer subscribers points, discounts, or credits toward their next purchase; in exchange for them sharing a referral link with friends. Or you can keep it even simple and ask them to forward the email to friends. The goal is to get another subscriber and possibly another customer, and referrals and forwards can help you achieve that.

While we are talking about building your list, it’s important to discuss the ethics around handling Personally Identifiable Information, or PII. PII refers to any data that could potentially identify a specific individual. When people share information with a company, it’s important to use it in ways that build trust and for only the intended purpose.

Segment your mailing list

Segmentation is the practice of dividing an email subscriber list into smaller groups based on criteria like interests, location, or purchase history. Once you build an email list, you need to segment it. A company can deliver the most relevant content to its subscribers. The more tailored and personalized the email is, the more likely subscribers to enjoy their emails, which can result in sales and brand loyalty. Most companies segment their lists by geography, psychographic characteristics, demographic data, and behavior data.


You might do it by location, climate, population, language, or environment. This segmentation focuses on the physical location of your subscribers. If your brand is offering free shipping on all orders for October but you’re only offering it in the United States, you will want to segment your list by country so that international customers aren’t misled or confused. You wouldn’t want to send an email written in Mandarin to a German-speaking country, right? If you intend to send emails in a few different languages, consider segmenting by language.

Psychographic characteristics

Psychographic characteristics are based on customers’ activities, interests, and opinions. This includes factors like lifestyles, values, and hobbies. If you handle digital marketing for a local grocery store, you might segment based on dietary preferences. Vegan or gluten-free? Segmenting by lifestyles and diets can help ensure you send useful, targeted content to people, while also ensuring you don’t send anything unappealing or offensive.

If you work for a health and wellness company, your subscribers that enjoy cycling might want to know about the most famous bike paths in the world. But you may have subscribers that prefer running, in which case you’d be able to send them a list of running trails instead, thanks to segmentation.


Demographics data includes information such as age, gender, income level, and family status. Segmenting by demographics is great because it’s based on fairly consistent information, whereas psychographics are more subject to change frequently. Let’s say you handle email marketing for a company that books travel. Your company has a special romantic getaway idea they want to include in their newsletter.

Behavioral data

Behavioral data refers to the actions your customer takes or doesn’t take when it comes to shopping on your website. This is one of the most important categories because it gives you a glimpse into how a customer engages with your specific brand and products. Purchasing habits, spending habits, browsing habits, loyalty to your brand, and engagement with your website, are all great ways to segment your list based on behavioral data.

If you work for a sporting goods store, knowing whether a subscriber is visiting your site for the first time, or if they’ve been a longtime customer, can help you change your messaging and get the right email to that customer. For a new customer sending an email that says it’s nice to meet you, here is 10% off, will work just fine. For a long time customer, you might send an email with a message like, it’s great to see you again, here’s 10% off on your favorite team’s gear. If you want to reward customers who purchase frequently from your website, you’d segment your list based on customer loyalty to your brand. That way, only your most devoted customers receive the most exciting offers.

Segment lists using Constant Contact

Segmenting is the act of dividing an email subscriber list into smaller groups based on criteria like interests, location, engagement, or purchase history. When you segment email lists, you’re able to target and engage with different audiences, so every subscriber gets content relevant to them to deliver better results for your business.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is an online marketing tool that offers many online marketing capabilities. However, we are going to focus only on email segmentation in this part, there are also features to explore if you are interested in becoming an expert in digital marketing.

Segmenting in Constant Contact

To begin, it’s important to understand the different between lists, segments, and tags. Watch Tutorial: Differences Between Lists, Tags, and Segments from Constant Contact to learn more. Once you understand how lists, segments, and tags work in Constant Contact, you can start segmenting.

Next, you will need to create an account. You can sign up for the free trial, or if you already know you’re going to use Constant Contact over a long period of time, sign up as a paid customer.

Consider whether you already have a list or are creating a list for the first time. You can import an existing list into the program, or you can get started with just a few contacts. Visit the contacts page where you can start creating and adding lists.

Add contact in the contacts page
Add contact in the contacts page

Click “Add Contacts” to access several ways to add people to your list. If you will be adding contacts one at a time, click “Create a new contact.” If you have a spreadsheet or file that contains your contacts, you can upload that by clicking “Upload From File.” You will be given a few other options as well, picture below.

Options to add new contacts
Options to add new contacts

Once you have created or uploaded your lists, click on “Segments” in the navigation bar just under “Contacts.” Here, you can start sending targeted emails based on engagement, or you can click on “Create A Segment.” You will be redirected to a new page where you can name your lists and decide how you want to segment them. Click on the “Add A Block” dropdown menu and select one of the options. From there, you can break it down even more.

Create segment by adding a new block
Create segment by adding a new block

Constant Contact allows you to get very specific with your identifiers. For instance, if you want to send a promotional email to subscribers that are fanatics with March birthdays, you can do that.

Create a segment for the coffee lover based on birthday.
Create a segment for the coffee lover based on birthday.

Once you make those adjustments to your list, click “Save” and your list will be created. Head back to the “Segments” panel to look at the lists you’ve created.

Additional Resources:

After you’ve created your segments, we can learn more about creating and sending emails via Constant Contact by watching Tutorial: Create an Email.

For more on other features like click segmentation, watch Tutorial: Using Click Segmentation in an Email.

Happy learning and good luck!

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