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6 Powerful Ways to Build Email Lists

Building an email list is more important than ever in 2022 and beyond. The scope and vibrancy of your list will determine how strongly your prospects and leads respond to your lead nurturing attempts. But it’s one thing to say, “I need to build a list now!” and another thing entirely to know how to do it.

So, in this article, we’re gonna go over what list building means, as well as a few must-read tips for building a list you can rely on to consistently fuel your region’s economic growth.

List building for EDOs

List building is the process of creating a collection of email addresses of people who have consented to receive communications from you about your region. Note the second part of that sentence. Just as important as the email address itself is the consent required to contact them.

Building a list is important because you can control exactly what your audience hears from you and when they hear it. You can craft intricate and carefully managed email campaigns, segment your audience based on what they respond to, and more. Even more importantly, you’re not relying on third-party platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or other social media to get your message out there. (This is what’s called “owned media.”)

There’s a reason 81% of B2B content marketers in reported using email newsletters to get their message out:

Digital Marketing Content Types Economic Development

Draw in FDI readers (with content)

Ultimately, all list building strategies are built on the idea of reciprocity. You need to convince people to exchange their email addresses – along with their consent to receiving your emails – in exchange for valuable content you’ll offer on your own website. There are a ton of different and specific techniques you can use, and we’ll go over just a few of them right here.

Gated content

Gated content is content – frequently longer content, including whitepapers, reports, and the like – that requires the prospect to enter their email address to access it. When you’re gating content you’ll want to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Always ensure the content you’re providing is accurately described on the email collection page. Don’t oversell it. People will feel ripped off if they provide their email address in exchange for content they feel was misrepresented.
  2. Make the gating process as simple as humanly possible. You’re always going to be striking a balance between the information provided by the prospect and the speed and ease with which they can access the information. You may wish to just ask for an email address. Others might also ask for a full name and company name. Still, others may ask for even more. It all depends on your circumstances.

Subscription boxes

Many companies include options for readers of their content to subscribe at the end of each of their blogs, articles, and other content. For a few reasons, it’s best to put these opt-in fields at the end of each page. First, you’ll be relying on the principle of reciprocity to get users to sign up. As in, we gave you some cool content, why don’t you give us something in return?

Second, people are more likely to want to read more of what you’ve got to say if they’ve already read – and enjoyed – something else you’ve written. Very few people will subscribe to a publication sight unseen.


Popups that ask for email addresses come in a lot of shapes and sizes. You’ve got exit-intent popups (which appear when you direct your cursor to the back button), entry popups, and even timed popups that appear when a reader has spent more than X number of seconds on your page.

Popups, while controversial in some circles, work wonders in the collection of email addresses for lists (the data below speaks for itself). But they need to be implemented properly to minimize audience annoyance and maximize list-building potential. Truth be told, we rarely see a lot of economic developers using popups. We get the fears. The economic development world is not the typical B2B or B2C world. However, they can be used tastefully and effectively for newsletter subscriptions to niche reports. From experience, they will help EDOs build that precious database they need so badly for proper lead nurturing.

Some tips for proper popup utilization include:

  1. Don’t show the popup immediately. Give the user at least a few seconds to get settled on your page
  2. Never show the popup more than once to the same user
  3. Never hide the popup close button
  4. Once the user closes the popup, keep it hidden for at least 30 days

Actual human beings!

Websites are increasingly experimenting with that most secret of weapons in list building: real live humans. Many sites now offer accessibility to real people via the live chat option. You can do this too. It’s especially useful when you train your folks to promote subscriptions to your newsletter or other content in exchange for your audience’s email addresses. Hint: It can even be done with bot.

The power of newsletters

There’s a reason that everyone and their cousin has a newsletter. It’s a great way to encourage your audience to voluntarily hand over their email addresses. You’ll want to keep the advice about reciprocity from earlier in mind, however. If you get someone to subscribe to your newsletter, you absolutely must ensure that you’ve got high-quality content going out on a regular, predictable schedule. Otherwise, people might feel hoodwinked.


Webinars are an excellent way of putting people in seats and getting attention on your region. At the same time, a webinar signup is an excellent opportunity to ask for consent to email your audience member (via an optional checkbox) about the area you’re promoting.

Tap into LinkedIn

LinkedIn has a ton of boss-level marketing opportunities you can use to take your email list up a notch. A pro tip that economic development professionals will love is that you can upload your database of email addresses into the paid LinkedIn advertising interface and use the platform to smart-target people. LinkedIn advertising is a great way to build your list by using pay-per-click campaigns and programs such as display advertising, PPC, dynamic or native advertising, and sponsored InMail.

One more way to supercharge your list

There’s yet another way you can inject some steroids into your email list. Use Gazelle to reach out to prospects one-on-one and build awareness of your region in that way. You can always ask for permission to add the contacts you make on Gazelle to your list and, once you’ve got their permission, nurture that lead like crazy! Gazelle can also be leverage to target executives in LinkedIn. Not familiar with Gazelle? Gazelle is a powerful database designed specifically for Economic Developers so that they can identify growing companies.

Build databases with value

At the end of the day, if you’re remembering to provide the people on your list with valuable content they actually want, it’ll be tough to go wrong. On the other hand, if you’re trying to do it “the easy way” (which is actually the hard way), no amount of emailing or salesmanship is going to save your list.

So, remember: Offer valuable content to get emails and consent, then nurture those prospects with more interesting and useful content. It’s that simple!

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