Does Email List Building Work for Brick and Mortar Businesses?

A couple years back I consulted with a business owner who wanted to grow his email list.

His idea was to hire me to turn me loose on his home page, which at the time was a kind of a “showcase” for his services…

And have me rework it into a high-converting landing page to funnel new signups into his email list.

One problem though:

The prospects who visited his home page were looking to buy TODAY.

Many of them made a beeline for the “request a quote” form.

And if we had forced them to sign up for his email list first, it would have been like putting up a “Sorry, Closed” sign on his business.

Sending his prospects into the eager arms of the guy across the street.

Not good.

Reader Shae, who runs a marketing business for “brick and mortar” outfits, is facing a similar dilemma. She asks:

I would love to get your thoughts on whether small business owners should focus on building their list at all or instead focus on a different call to action instead such as getting people to call them or some other action.

For example, with both the recruitment and online life insurance broker, they have both never really thought about building a list in the same way as you or I or online entrepreneurs do. While they both blog, doing a content upgrade to incentivise people to give them their email address is not something they ever consider because they both prefer that people make an enquiry about their actual service or call them direct (they both have phone numbers on their site).

So I guess my question is how can they focus on building a list and collecting email addresses at the same time as well as focussing on other specific call to action at the same time such as getting people to make enquiries about their business or call them?

I.e. with the life insurance guy, after every blog post he provides, his CTA is to get people to submit for a quote. So how could someone like him focus on building an email list and also submitting for a quote at the same time?

The lifeblood of a service-based business is piping hot LEADS—not just email addresses, but real, “I’m ready to buy today please call me now” honest-to-goodness leads.

In some cases, if the customer doesn’t call right then, you’ve lost the sale.

They’re not likely to call later even if you get their email address.

So yeah, you can definitely get too aggressive with email list building and cut off your supply of leads (bad bad bad).


Shae’s clients aren’t doing it right either.

Slapping a “request a quote” form at the bottom of a blog post is kinda like a used car salesman shoving a filled-out contract as soon as you set foot on the car lot—whoa buddy, slow down there.

So what’s the right approach?

This is one of those cases where the answer isn’t either/or, it’s both/and.

But when do you ask for an email address, and when do you push for a quote?

The answer, as always, is to put yourself in the shoes of the customer.

Ask yourself:

How did they get to this page they’re looking at? And where are they in terms of making a buying decision?

If they wandered into a random blog post from a Google search, and they’re just collecting information, then pushing for a quote RIGHT NOW isn’t likely to work.

A content upgrade + followup sequence would likely be much, much better.

If they’re looking at the home page, or viewing some other page with more detailed information about the company and it’s products/services, THEN the appropriate call to action is to submit a quote, pick up the phone, etc.

Match the call to action with where the prospect is in their “journey,” and you’ll see more of them eager to take the next step with you.