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How to grow your email marketing database

May 2022
Kate Fawcett

In a world full of GDPR restrictions, it’s gotten a little trickier to build up an email database. This has meant many marketers have needed to get more creative with how to generate a data list filled with quality contacts. There are plenty of ways to do this, so before you go hunting for data lists online that come with a hefty price tag, these solutions may just allow you to attract a collection of contacts who are really interested in what you have to offer.


The last couple of years have seen a rise in webinars. Not only do they help us learn a thing or two on specific topics, they also became a really effective way to harvest data. In order to join a webinar, registers need to give up their contact details. Whether they actually view the webinar live or not, you now have their contact details for future comms.

Being GDPR compliant, customers must have the option to receive future comms such as newsletters or product announcements. Not all users will opt-in, so it might be worth offering an incentive to attract more subscribers, e.g. sign-up to receive regular discounts or for news on future launches, etc.

Free content downloads

If you offer free digital downloads then make sure to add a simple download form before the user accesses the file. The same can be done for something tangible such as a free sample or a quote. Just be sure not to create a barrier for customers who want easy access to information and ony use a form for content or information that will have a value or worth to them.

Customer enquiries also give you insight into what they are interested in. If they’re requesting more information about a certain product or topic then always follow it up with further information to keep the lead warm.

Of course, you’ll still have to ask users if they want to be opted-in to future emails on the product/services you’re advertising before you can do this so that you adhere to GDPR.

Social media lead generation adverts

You can create lead gen adverts for social media where the user has to fill in a form directly on the platform. This is a great way to attract a potential client base from social media. Both Facebook and LinkedIn offer this format, so you have lots of targeting options for finding the right contacts.

With Facebook advertising, you can target users by interests, job title and location. You can also target potential customers using Facebook lookalike audiences which are created from existing audiences and can help to optimise audience reach.

LinkedIn offers more detailed targeting for reaching a professional audience. You can create an audience of individuals based on things like what industry they work in, their company size, job function, and years of experience.

You’ll need a link to your privacy policy for these adverts. Both platforms require this so people know what will happen with their data once they’ve filled the form in. With any lead campaign, make sure you’ve thought about what your audience is interested in and have provided a suitable incentive for them to submit your form, whether it’s access to exclusive content, or a special offer.

Run a giveaway

Giveaways are one of the best ways to generate a big following or engagement for free. With email giveaways, you could first post about the giveaway on social media and then explain that entries will be counted by filling out a form. Again, don’t forget your GDPR opt-in!

Once you’re ready to announce the winner of the giveaway, you can contact them directly and ask if they’d like to receive any future communications from you. You should also email all other entries to let them know the giveaway is closed and they can opt-in to hear about any future giveaways if they wish.

Add existing contacts to your mailing list

Your email database doesn’t have to include only new contacts. Your existing customers will want to hear regular updates from you as well. Whenever someone makes a purchase, or requests a service from you, you can set up a form that includes a tick-box to opt users in to receive future emails from you.

This is one of the easier ways to build your email database as the contacts are already aware of your business. Sending regular emails to existing customers is also a great way to remarket yourself. Whether you are contacting users about other products, special offers etc. these emails can lead to repeat business if done well.

Depending on the offer you can include in your email, users may be tempted to forward your email to their friends or family. This could result in more people signing up to receive future emails from you as you are contacting customers regularly and always have something to offer.

You can really get creative with building your email database. Running webinars, creating free downloads etc. are a fun way to connect with your audience whilst also building your email list. If you need help with any of the options we’ve mentioned above, we’d be happy to talk you through how we’ve done the same for our clients.

You can also see some of the work we’ve done on our case studies page.