Building a Better Email List: Where Do I Start?

By Tess Wittler

iStock_000007780000Small My business, Tess Wittler Writing Services, recently announced that it has joined the Constant Contact Partner Program as a Solution Provider. As a Constant Contact Solution Provider, TWWS clients can gain access to easy-to-use email marketing, event marketing, social media marketing and even online survey tools to help them build stronger, lasting customer relationships. (And you know I am all about helping my clients build strong relationships with their customers.)

One of the benefits of becoming a Constant Contact Solution Provider is that I can share with my clients the “best practices” in the industry. One that often hangs up even the best marketers is building an email list.

Before you begin compiling your email distribution list, you must, must, MUST select an email marketing provider, such as Constant Contact. (Other popular providers include Aweber, MailChimp and iContact.) The days of sending emails to dozens of contacts (or more) using Outlook, Gmail or AOL are over. There is no quicker way to get labeled as a “spammer” by your email hosting company than by doing this. Plus it is unprofessional. So don’t.

Now, to get off my soap box about the imperative importance of using an email marketing service, let’s move into the heart of this article – building your email list.

The best place to start when building a better email list is with your House List. This is a list of your customers, clients, and individuals with whom you have a business relationship. These can include:

  • Current customers
  • Individuals who have requested information from you
  • Survey respondents
  • Customers who have called in for support and/or repairs
  • Local media members with whom you have an established relationship
  • Members of professional organizations that you have met and established a relationship

Your email list needs to be “permission based,” which means it comprises the names of people you have a pre-existing business relationship with.

Often when speaking with clients, this “permission based” topic leads to the question, “So if I am at a networking event and I gather business cards, does that mean that I can add them to my list?” And my answer is always, “It depends.”

Some questions to ask yourself include: Do you feel comfortable adding them to your list? Did you have a “real” conversation with this person? Did they express interest in hearing from you again? If you answered yes to one of these questions, then add them to your email list. If you can’t remember what they look like or one important fact about them, then my recommendation is to leave them off your email list … until you know them better. You aren’t going to build a strong relationship with a potential client if your first move is to annoy them with email.

(Personally, I use a scrupulous checklist of criteria when adding someone to the Jottings email list. I don’t add people onto my list unless I feel extremely comfortable, and that feeling usually doesn’t happen after one conversation – sometimes, but not always.)

Remember one of your key goals with your email newsletter is to build stronger relationships with your clients and prospects. As long as you keep that in mind, most likely you will not go wrong.

Another no-no: Don’t purchase an email list. For one, email addresses change constantly, which usually makes purchased lists a bad investment, yielding poor results. Secondly, the individuals on purchased lists will more than likely consider your email “spam,” and spamming is just bad for business.

Furthermore, don’t scour the Business Journal or LinkedIn looking for emails to add. (This happened to me last week with one of my LinkedIn connections, and it drove me mad!)

To reach individuals you don’t know, a separate marketing strategy should be developed – to introduce your company and services/products to them. Don’t slap their name onto your email distribution list and call it good. Don’t be one of those companies … please!

The bottom line is this: When customers are satisfied about receiving your email newsletter, complaints decrease and deliverability improves. Additionally, an engaged customer is one that also feels closely connected to your company and this results in a stronger relationship. And a stronger customer relationship is a lasting and profitable one.

Are you a Jottings subscriber? Get communication and marketing tips along with exclusive insights and offers! Jottings is an email newsletter published on the first and third Tuesday of the month by Tess Wittler Writing Services. View a previous issue here…

For more tips and updates, connect with me! FacebookLinkedInTwitter

Share this post with your friends

1 thought on “Building a Better Email List: Where Do I Start?”

  1. Thank you so much for this suggestions brilliant examine; this is the sort of consideration that retains me although out the day.I have eternally long been wanting close to to your web-site precise after I seen about these from a near pal and was joyful when I was in a position to explore it best suited following looking out for a while. Being a seasoned blogger, I’m delighted to identify out other folks taking gumption and including in direction of the community. I just desired to analysis to present my gratitude on your post as it’s pretty pushing, and tons of world-wide-web writers don’t get the credit they will need to have. I am optimistic I’ll be back again and can send out a couple of of my contacts.

Comments are closed.


We are a boutique-style content marketing agency that caters to the home building and remodeling industry. Our focus is on creating tailor-made strategies that fully acknowledge and embrace the distinct qualities of our clients’ businesses.


Content Marketing Strategy
Email Marketing
Lead Generation
Project Stories
SEO Copywriting
Website Analysis and Development


Home Builders / Remodelers / Speciality Contractors / Home Builder Associations / Architects / Engineers / Construction Software / Building Material Suppliers / Building Materials Manufacturing

Hubspot SEO Certified
National Association of Home Builders logo
BIA of Washington logo

© 2007-2023 | Tess Wittler Marketing, LLC | Content Marketing & Consulting | Lake Tapps | Tacoma | Seattle | Washington

Scroll to Top