How to Learn List Building and Email Marketing From the Experts

Posted by Kristi Hines - January 19, 2011 - Ecommerce - 11 Comments

There are so many courses, ebooks, webinars, blog posts, and articles out there dedicated to teaching you how to build your email list and market to your subscribers in a way to bring in a substantial income. The question is, how should you go about learning effective email marketing to get results?

Why not learn from the experts? Let’s look at how you can analyze the strategy of Internet marketing experts who are successful at email marketing.

1. Create a New Email Address

You don’t have to do this one, but I would highly suggest it if you would like to keep your primary email address free of lots of incoming email. Also, I would recommend using Gmail for this experiment as it has a great organization and search system which might come in handy. If you’re already using Gmail and don’t mind sending lots of email in its direction, move on to the next section.

2. Find Some Known Email Marketers

This part is relatively easy. Chances are, if you frequent blogs as much as I do, you have come across the bloggers that are well known in the making money online and online marketing industry. Some blogs to get you started include:

3. Create a Email Marketing Analysis Spreadsheet

Next, you need to create a spreadsheet. Everyone likes to organize their data in specific ways, and if you prefer another, that is fine. But if you have a Google Account or created one in the first step, then you have access to Google Documents which allows you to create spreadsheets (in the event that you don’t have Microsoft Excel or another office program).

4. Determine How These Sites Entice You to Subscribe

Here’s where we start our analysis. Look at these sites. How do they encourage sign ups? Do they use:

  • Popups? If so, do they use Popup Domination (see example popup designs in this review of the plugin), pop unders (pop ups that appear in the bottom of the screen for a mailing list signup), or other technologies. Generally if it’s a plugin, then there will be a credit / affiliate link to the product somewhere nearby.
  • Opt-in Forms? Look at alternative opt-in form placement, such as in the sidebar, at the top or bottom of blog posts, in the header or footer of the blog posts, or other areas.
  • Free products? Are they giving away a free report, ebook, auto-responder course, or other valuable content?

These are all things you want to note in your spreadsheet, along with any other details you find may lead to possible list building inspiration.

5. Document What Happens When You Subscribe

This is the part that you might want that new email address for. I want you to subscribe to the email marketing pros that you are analyzing and then take a look at their list from the subscriber’s point of view. The first things to note include:

  • Do you get a customized confirmation message or page?
  • What do you get in your first email? Is it a simple thank you, contact information, free product, first part of an autoresponder course, etc.

Be sure to note the things that stand out to you. Jot down the things you like and things you dislike – especially things that make you want to unsubscribe immediately.

6. Note What Are They Selling and How

Most sites that do mailing lists are trying to sell you something, whether it is their own product or affiliate products. Take a look at what they are selling to you through their mailing list and how they promoting it. Some marketers start with their product or affiliate product links in the free product you are getting with your subscription, usually in the form of helpful “recommendations” built into helpful tips.

7. Record Email Frequency and Promotions vs. Valuable Content

Not to say that promotions are not valuable, or that valuable content can’t have promotions for something to buy, but keep track of the frequency you receive emails from the mailing list, after the email(s) including your free subscription gift or course. Also, you will want to keep track of the ratio of emails that are sent purely to be informational or purely to promote something they are selling.

What’s Next?

So what do you do with all of your analysis? Apply it, of course, to your own strategy. On a whole, after taking a look at all of these things, you will begin to get a feel of what is popular, what you are comfortable with, and what is successful and will be able to begin to apply these elements to your own list building and email marketing strategy.

Your Thoughts on Email Marketing Research

Have you ever conducted research to learn how your colleagues or competitors are implementing their email marketing campaign? What other suggestions do you have on what to look for and how to apply it to your own plan for success?

About the Author

Kristi Hines

Kristi is a freelance writer, online marketing consultant, blogger, and social media enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter.
golden homes
golden homes

Studying prominent email marketers and analyzing how their website performs are a great strategy. Most successful email marketers do this too. There's a lot of experimentation in email marketing and list building, for sure. So studying what works just makes sense.

Pension release
Pension release

I get a high conversion from email marketing, about 15% Try other methods like ppc and loss money. Email advertising is so effective, but spam blockers are preventing my message from going through and i am fed up, so I am looking for another method.

S Emerson
S Emerson

Had never really thought about doing the analysis spreadsheet part. Nice suggestion. My recent post How Are You Going to Market Your Business

Amy Garland
Amy Garland

Great tips, Kristi. We tell our clients and other email marketers to do the same, but I love the detail you go into. Sign up for emails and determine what you like about them, what gets you to open the emails and take action. But it's important to remember, just because something works for someone else, it doesn't mean it will work for your audience too. Testing is key! If it helps, we have 50 ways to grow your email list here: Amy Garland Marketing Manager, Blue Sky Factory

Jackie Colapietro
Jackie Colapietro

My comment is not directly related to the article, just to your comment, Are you aware that many of the places that practice FGM are not religious in nature, but cultural. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, let's just ease up on the stone throwing here. Throw them at everyone, or not at all.


Hi Kirsti, Thanks for the great article on Email Marketing. I like your method of reverse engineering the processes of other successful marketers. Cheers, Cade


Kristi as always these are very handy advices. I'm in the stage of searching good newsletters about the theme and studying carefully the points #4, 5, 6 because I'm implementing my own newsletter with an auto-responder as a main fuel. Which is your experience on gmail disposable addresses to avoid being flooded with them? Cheers, Gera


Thank you for the helpful post, Kristi. The fact that everything you mentioned is free and easily accessible will encourage everyone, especially beginners, to try this. Really appreciated your list of folks to follow too. Always helpful to see a variety of ways to do this.


Nice article Kristi the points which u discussed are really awesome. Email marketing is one the best procedure to approach the potential customers.