build your email list with woohoo

How To Build Your Email List: Turn Your Store Visitors Into Subscribers

Email is one of the most important marketing strategies for eCommerce stores. Be it for transactional purposes, keeping existing customers engaged or nudging visitors to make a purchase, the channel gives you the opportunity to strike a 1:1 conversation with the shoppers. While the channel still remains as effective as ever in driving sales, it is becoming tougher to convince online shoppers to share their email address with the brand. In this article, we’re sharing a few hacks to build your email list without sounding too pushy.

Email – Still an effective channel to drive sales

Emails give you a platform where you can strike a personalized conversation with the shopper. Be it promoting products you’d like them to check out or even asking them for feedback on a purchase when strategized well, a store can generate $80,000 worth of sales from the channel as Rhone did.

In fact, Campaign Monitor analyses the performance of email marketing for online stores across the world. Their report suggests that emails still deliver an ROI averaging at 440%.

But the biggest challenge today isn’t creating a personalized email campaign. It is getting your store visitors and customers to subscribe to receive your emails in the first place.


With platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and others making it so simple for a brand to take their products online, the number of stores is growing by the day.

More brands are able to take their products to a global market. Online shoppers have more options to choose from. All is well till you realize it is also making it difficult for each of those brands to acquire new customers and keep their existing ones engaged.

The number one reason being – while most brands are spending on SEM campaigns, not all of them are able to establish a channel for consistent communication with their visitors. Simply put, online stores struggle to turn their visitors into subscribers.

And there’s a good reason why online shoppers don’t want to subscribe to your emails.

build your email list - why people don't subscribe


Well, if you take all the above into account, do you really blame online shoppers of being skeptical about sharing their contact details? The answer is NO and at the same time, you can’t ensure all online stores follow a more methodical approach to emails to stop bugging shoppers!

So what can you do to build your email list?

Smart hacks to build your email list

1. Gamify your email popups

Most likely you store has a standard popup in place to build your email list. This popup is a simple engagement window that asks the visitor to subscribe to your newsletters. You are either offering a small discount coupon, free shipping or promising to send deals to their inbox to nudge them to convert on this email popup.

But the same strategy is being used by ten thousands of other online stores. So why should a visitor turn into a subscriber on this email popup?

That’s why you need to revamp your popup strategy and gamify the shopper’s experience.

Instead of the conventional approach, present the shopper with an interesting and quick-to-play game on the popup itself. Let them ‘win’ the discount code instead of receiving it for sharing their email address – even though after playing the game, they do have to share their emails to receive the coupon.

build your email list with woohoo

Since the first goal here is to engage the shopper and not be too pushy, the conversion rates on this gamified email popup are much higher.

This hack can be used for both first-time and returning visitors to build your email list.

Ready to get more subscribers from your email popup? Create your first game today!  

2. Offer exclusive discounts to subscribers

In our blog on using consumer psychology to get more sales, we mentioned how the typical online shopper loves knowing that they can have access to exclusive deals and products. The FOMO will make them want to keep a tab on these products and be the first to get their hands on them.

Now bring the same strategy in to build your email list.

By smartly adding a little copy to your subscription boxes and email popups, let the shopper know how joining this exclusive circle benefits them. The best that works here is a promise that they would be the first to receive discounts and get access to exclusive or premium products that come in limited stock.

Here’s how Evereve does it. The message is simple, crisp and clear.

build your email list like evereve

3. Start a referral program

Want to be even more subtle about the way you build your email list? Set up a referral program, or have both in place.

This tactic actually makes use of your existing customer base to grow your email list. Here, you ask your existing subscribers and customers to invite their friends to your store via email and in turn, win in-store cash or coupons that they can avail in their next purchase when one successfully signs up.

Simply put, you award your customers for getting you a new subscriber or a customer. But be careful, you want your messaging to be crystal clear here. You want your shoppers to feel they will earn something valuable out of inviting their friends to the store.

But at the same time, you need to incentivize completing the action for the shopper who is invited too. Else, why would they sign up to receive your newsletters or purchase from your online store, just because a friend of theirs did?

Goldbely does this right with a simple win-win strategy for both the customer and the invited shopper.

build your email list with referrals

4. Build a loyalty program

In times when the competition is increasing by the day, it is important to build out a loyal customer base for your online store. That’s where a loyalty program comes in as an effective strategy to not just keep your retention rates in check, but to also build your email list.

To use this strategy, you need to follow the same approach of rewarding your customers for coming back to your store for more purchases – in short, being loyal. But you ask them to sign up or share their email address in order to avail the loyalty perks.

This works because you’re not asking them to subscribe upfront. You’re asking them to subscribe simply to send them what they have won – subtle and effective.

5. Offer them an alternative

No matter what strategies you put in place, there will always be a segment of shoppers who don’t want to subscribe to your emails. But you can still build your email list without asking them for their email addresses.

How? By offering them an alternative and let them subscribe to web push notifications.

Web push notifications don’t ask a shopper to upfront commit and share their email address. All the shopper needs to do is ‘allow’ a brand to send them notifications on their device – pretty much similar to how mobile app push notifications work.

Here’s how it shows up on Headphone Zone.

build your email list - web push notifications

You can use web push notifications to then win the trust of the shopper by sending them offers and product recommendations that suit their interests the most. And then build up to ask them to subscribe to your email list to get access to exclusive discounts.

Let’s just call this, winning the shopper’s trust with a smaller commitment before asking them for their email address.

Always continue to build your email list

The one thing we learned from thousands of online stores is that you should never stop building your email list. With more and more stores coming in to target the same shopper market with similar products, it is important to establish a channel of communication where you don’t have to battle the noise on social media and other digital platforms – the conversation remains one on one and more effective.

So if the strategies above help you build your email list, don’t hesitate to test newer approaches to using them to further improve your results.

Ready to build your email list faster than ever?

Create your first gamified email popup today.