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How to Grow a Strong Email List if You Run a Small Business

Written by on July 08, 2019

If you think that having a small business prevents you from growing a strong email list, you may want to try a different perspective. In reality, the very size of your business allows you to build an incredibly engaged community. However, you do need to follow a few guidelines, and you’re in the right place to get started.

What’s in a number?

The first trap most email marketers fall into is worrying too much about the size of their email list. They feel like it’s not worth it to invest their energy into sending emails, since their audience “is not there yet.” But the only way to get “there” is by being consistent in your efforts, not by focusing on numbers.

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Even if you have a small number of subscribers right now, you can still gain momentum from your email marketing. 

Let’s see how you can make the most of your email list while growing it in a steady, healthy rhythm.

When you craft your content, remember your email list is made of people

Exactly, people like you and I, who love clicking on good, useful stuff and won’t hesitate to delete obnoxious sales pitches. 

This is another email marketing pitfall to watch out for: the idea that email lists are there to serve us. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Marketers need to be of service first, before they can expect any positive results.

So, whenever you plan your content, keep in mind that on the other end of your email, a real human being is going to receive it. Assume they’ll open it – what will they think? 

What would you think if you got your email? 

Look at your marketing efforts from your target market’s perspective.

Always give yourself an honest answer, and tweak your copy until you sound like the person you are. That is someone who’s candid in their desire to communicate and connect. 

According to data from Litmus, in an email, you’ve got between two and eight seconds to make your reader care. As Marketing Democracy Chris Marriott said in an interview with ZeroBounce

Never waste a person’s time. Give people a good reason why they should want to receive email from you.” 

High-quality content is always going to be a good reason.

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Keep your email list neat by using an email checker

We can’t deny it, it’s pure math: the more subscribers you have, the more your chances to convert increase. However, making sure those subscribers are genuine and active is crucial to your email marketing. As a small business owner, you can’t afford to work with an outdated list. 

Email lists go bad quickly. Data shows that around 2% of your contacts become obsolete within just one month. So, before you celebrate your new subscribers, run their email addresses through a reliable email checker to see if they’re valid. 

What exactly is an email checker? It’s a smart tool that scans your email list to determine its quality. 

Are all the emails you gathered valid? 

What’s the risk of getting Spam complaints? 

Have people used temporary emails to get a freebie from you? 

You’ll know once you use an email checker, or email verification service. 

Want to give it a shot? Try a free email verifier to see how it works. 

Always a good idea to verify your email list before sending so that it doesn’t bounce

Also, consider installing an email verification API on your signup forms. Thus, you ensure that all the emails signing up on your list are genuine. The API prevents you from acquiring risky data, such as catch-all, role based, abuse or temporary emails. 

Now, you’re probably going to ask: “Isn’t my email list going to decrease in size?” 

Yes, it will, but it will increase in quality. 

Again, we’re going back to numbers – having lots of bogus subscribers is like having many fake Instagram followers. How is that going to help you?

If you want steady growth, keep a steady sending rhythm

Your small business needs a lot of attention. Providing an excellent customer experience while managing invoices and other tasks is time-consuming. So, it’s understandable that you sometimes feel too drained to even think of email marketing. 

Nonetheless, sending your emails regularly is one of the most important habits you can develop. 

Here is why:

  • it helps you grow a stronger email list by keeping your audience engaged. People love patterns and they actually expect to get emails from you consistently.
  • your Spam complaints will decrease. As people will grow accustomed to seeing you in their inbox, they’ll be less likely to label you as Spam.
  • Internet Service Providers will know that you’re a legitimate business owner. As a result, they’ll encourage you and deliver your emails in your subscribers’ inboxes.
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Final tips to grow your email list and leverage your small business

As you can see, the most important email marketing guidelines revolve around:

  • content quality – send educational and informational emails, not sales pitches.
  • data integrity – maintain email hygiene by removing bad email addresses from your list.
  • consistency – stay committed to your sending schedule to build a strong relationship with your audience and Internet Service Providers.

Now that we’ve covered these topics, let’s take a look at three of the most simple and efficient ways to grow your email list and leverage your small business.

  1. Encourage your social media audience to sign up for your emails. If people follow you on social media, they’ll want to be on your list, too. Make sure they know you have one by posting about it periodically.
  2. Create a content offer. They’ve been efficient for years now, and having one of your own will help your small business gain more authority. Content offers include e-books, webinars, whitepapers or infographics.
  3. Invite people to forward your emails and newsletters. Add a little note at the end of every email in which you motivate them to forward your content to peers and friends. It’s a simple, yet powerful tactic to grow your email list.

Ready to wrap this up?

Having a small business can often be an email marketing advantage. Smaller communities are tighter and establish more intimate and in-depth connections. Follow the tips above and, in time, you’ll grow your brand awareness and email list the right way.


A former journalist, Corina Leslie is the PR & Marketing Manager for email validation company ZeroBounce. She is passionate about communication and helping others email successfully. You can find her on the ZeroBounce blog, where she shares her best tips on digital marketing, copywriting, PR and everything in between. 

You can connect with Corina on her LinkedIn profile.

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