Why You Don't Need an Email List to Start a Business An email list is important, but it's not necessary to start.

By Nathan Resnick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Marc Romanelli | Getty Images

There's no denying that email marketing plays a huge role in the growth of many successful businesses. Unfortunately, some digital marketers become so caught up with the idea of building a booming email list that they think it's the only way they can achieve huge growth and lasting success.

It isn't. An email list can be a great way to keep in touch with your sales leads, but there are other strategies and methods that can help your startup make it through the first five years when approximately half of all new businesses fail.

For email marketing to be truly successful, you typically need to grow your list organically. For most businesses, that isn't going to happen overnight. However, the following strategies will help you better promote your brand to lure in new customers and leads while building your email list along the way.

Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

Content marketing

Effective content marketing can help potential leads discover your business in a more positive light than an unsolicited email ever could. Publishing a guest post on a well-known site with high readership is a great way to encourage new people to visit your own website, sign up for an email list or start a free product trial.

Smarter networking

We've all heard how networking is important to success in the business world, but far too often, we associate networking with uncomfortable business luncheons where everyone is more focused on making a sales pitch than actually connecting with other professionals.

It doesn't have to be this way. If you express a genuine interest in others, you can put yourself in a much better position to build lasting business connections.

Says Sterling Griffin, a sales and business coach, "When I get asked the famous question 'What do you do?' I respond by turning it around and asking, 'Well, I do a few things, but what's your story?' When I ask about them (showing I care about them), it's like Christmas came early and they found an unexpected gift under the tree. Then, when they finish sharing their story, they inevitably ask about mine. And since I showed I care first, they respond by caring back about my answer."

While these interactions require more one-on-one, in-person work, they can also result in some of your most valuable leads. Someone you've formed a genuine connection with is far more likely to take a lasting interest in your business.

Related: 4 Ways to Market Your Business for Free

Facebook lead ads

While Facebook's incredibly large user base can make it seem like an intimidating area to focus your marketing, the social media giant's advanced targeting metrics make it an ideal tool for customer outreach.

As I've noted in the past, carefully selecting your campaign parameters is vital for a successful Facebook advertising campaign. You need to make sure your message matches the interests of your target audience while also presenting a clear call to action that encourages customers to sign up for your email list, follow your page or buy your product.

Hashtags aren't going to make or break your Facebook advertising efforts, but continually optimizing your campaign's copy, targeting and call to action will allow you to achieve a better cost per impression and conversion rate so you can gain new customers.

PPC and landing pages

You can't ignore the power of Google and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. While search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns can take months to deliver noticeable results for your business, PPC advertisements can bring in new customers the day after your campaign begins if you adhere to proper messaging and targeting practices.

Of course, quality PPC ads aren't enough to build a customer base. Your landing page should also be a top priority, as this is where interested users are actually going to decide whether they'll sign up for your email list or place an order. A clean, simple design that highlights your headline, the key benefits of your product or service and a signup form can ultimately make all the difference in generating sales and leads for your business.

Related: Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan


As the above tactics illustrate, building a booming email list -- and more importantly, a solid base of loyal customers -- isn't out of reach, even if you're starting with zero email subscribers. By using the above tips as a starting point, you can achieve the necessary growth to get your business on the right track.

Nathan Resnick

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Sourcify

Nathan Resnick is a serial entrepreneur who currently serves as CEO of Sourcify, a platform that makes manufacturing easy. He has also brought dozens of products to life over the course of his career.

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