How This Startup Company Collected Over 20K Email Leads in One Month

There are so many ways to collect customer email addresses. Collecting emails by the boatload can be great, but only if they are targeted specifically to your demographic. So, the question is, how can you collect tons of targeted email addresses a month?

This month, my company, Plate Crate, collected 24,887 email addresses through a few different channels.

Here’s how we did it…

Why email?

Emails used to have open rates of 90 percent in the 1990s. Back then, email was such a novel concept, we hated getting tangible mail in our actual mailbox and loved the new concept of electronic mail.

I used to open everything in my email inbox and vigilantly read it through. However, that’s drastically changed. We now live in a world in which the barrier to entry for crafting emails and building email lists is so low, everyone and their mother is sending emails. What’s the point of emailing customers just to add to their inbox?

The point is, don’t just add to their inbox, add value to their lives. The reason you started a company, whether you sell soap or software, was to add value.

Today’s emails are becoming more and more about merely selling products and services, instead of building the vital relationships and trust that are necessary to establish prior to selling your product just once, let alone building lifetime value with your customers.

Emails are great, but the right emails are what will make your business grow.

In addition to creating essential relationships with your leads, email is also essential because you own it!

Let’s say you have 100K followers on Instagram. You’ve accumulated that following over the last five years in business, but you don’t own that information. At any time, Instagram could change their rules, business settings or cease to exist entirely.

Keep in mind, this goes for any third party app.

Protect yourself, and the valuable customer data you’ve accumulated. Get your leads off of these third-party platforms and into something you own.

Email is a great way to do this. And while a particular ESP (email service provider) company could collapse, you should back up your email contacts on Excel lists on your computer and on your hard drive.

What to use?

Email service provider

There are so many tools out there to get started with your email marketing efforts. Here is a short list of some ESPs that are great for startups.

You’ll want to explore the features of each in order to choose the correct fit for your business:

Pop-up and exit intent

Most of the above email service providers will have a “pop-up” feature you can embed on your website.

Using a pop-up feature is a great way to obtain the email addresses of your best leads as they visit your website. We use the pop-up and exit intent provider, Picreel. Not only can Picreel set triggers dependent on the page, length of time on-site, or percentage of a page a lead viewed, it also has exit intent pop-ups.

This means that when a lead’s mouse scrolls off the website (to exit the page, for example), you can trigger a last-ditch pop-up to collect an email address. Usually these last-ditch pop-ups are your heaviest incentive.

Plate Crate

By using Picreel and having these defined rules, we collect email addresses from over 9 percent of our traffic.

In the past month, we’ve collected 1,241 email address from this pop-up alone.

Results: 1,241 emails


You now have some key best practices in place for email marketing: a way to harvest leads into emails, a place for the emails to be stored, and a way to send emails.

Trade value for email addresses

Creating value for a lead is a great way to ask for an email address. Think of it as a trade between you and your leads. This does not mean just giving away free products or services. On the contrary; our goal isn’t just to collect money from customers, but to create something valuable to improve their lives.

The way we’ve created value for our leads with Plate Create is through fun and engaging quizzes using Survey Monkey.

Since Plate Crate is for baseball players, we asked ourselves, “How can we make a fun and engaging quiz for our leads to participate with?”

The answer? We created a quiz called, “What does your glove say about your personality?”

If you’re a baseball player, this might pique your interest. We created a short eight question quiz asking questions like, “Do you sleep with your glove or leave it in the garage?” and “How long have you had your glove?”

We ranked each question with a score, and in order to get your results at the end of the quiz… you guessed it: you must enter your email address.


Users then receive their quiz results, along with a short thank you for participating, and a triggered email thank you with a coupon code for Plate Crate. This was all completed by linking Survey Monkey to MailChimp through Zapier.

Zapier allows for different applications to work together to create custom triggers for campaigns like these.

Results: 4,546 emails

Collaboration is key

Our most successful email collection campaign came from collaborating with companies that have similar leads.

We partnered with two companies in the same space (baseball) as Plate Crate. We each provided about $500 to $1,000 in gear for a giveaway that we all promoted.

Each company promoted a link to our giveaway page through WooBox, a giveaway management software company. Leads gave us their email addresses in order to enter the giveaway. They also had the option of sharing the link on their Facebook page for additional entries to the giveaway.

The key to a strategy like this is creating value. The two companies Plate Crate partnered with were much larger, with much bigger email lists and audiences than us. Why did these companies choose to partner with us? Because we provided them with incredible value.

We organized the giveaway and introduced two companies who wouldn’t have thought to work together otherwise. Our pitch was, “If you promote this giveaway a few times through your email list and social media channels, and donate some product, we will deliver you tens of thousands of email addresses.”

We provided an easy solution to make the marketers look like heroes to their companies. The result of this campaign: 19.1K email addresses of baseball players in our demographic (with five days to go as I’m writing this article).

partner campaign

Note: We made a landing page for each participating company so we could track individual company engagement and conversion. The total number of emails collected by adding results from each landing page is 19.1K.

Results: 19.1K emails

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The results are in

Let’s review the results from the three campaigns above:

1,241 + 4,546 + 19,100 = 24,887 email addresses

Through best practices, a little creativity, and providing value to our leads, we collected 24,887 email addresses in a little under 30 days.

The exit intent pop-ups offered an incentive for the leads to subscribe to our newsletter (provide us with an email address in exchange for $20 off). The quizzes we made were fun and engaging. The giveaway provided an opportunity for our leads to win a massive prize.

When thinking about your email marketing efforts, the main question to ask yourself is not, “How can I collect more email addresses?” but rather, “How can I provide enough value to my leads, so they will gladly trade their email address for it?”

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