Paid Search to Build Email Database

Google has a stranglehold on the internet. Between and subsidiary sites like YouTube, more than 90% of internet searches take place through this one company. Thus, running paid ads on Google has become a necessity for most businesses with any kind of marketing budget, but it’s not always a cost-effective way to generate leads or sales.

Paid Search to Build Email Database

Enter email marketing…

Email has a median ROI of 122%; over 4x higher than other marketing formats – including paid search. It’s the top form of communication for business professionals and the preferred channel for lead generation.

In this post, we’ll review how paid search can play a primary or secondary role in helping you grow your email database. This is a very effective strategy, even if you’re already using paid search for more desirable goals like generating leads, sales and signups.

Search engine traffic is high-quality traffic

The best way to gauge the value of your traffic is by monitoring your conversions. But there are other metrics that can help you determine the quality of traffic coming in from various referral sources.

In Google Analytics, the Acquisition report breaks down traffic in a variety of ways, including by source (e.g., Google, Bing, Facebook) and medium (e.g., CPC, organic, direct).

The metrics to review are listed under the “behaviour” category and include bounce rate, average session duration, and pages per session.

  • Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page.
  • Average Session Duration: The average amount of time your visitors spend on your website.
  • Pages per Session: The average number of pages viewed by your visitors over a given time period.

By reviewing the above three metrics and (ideally) combining this data with conversion totals and rates by traffic source, you get a pretty good idea of which websites refer meaningful traffic.

Chances are, the best referral sources are coming from organic search engines followed by internal email campaigns.

Paid Search to Build Email Database

A screenshot of a Source report in Google Analytics.

In the above chart, metrics highlighted in yellow are from paid search, metrics in green are from organic search, and purple indicates direct traffic.

While bounce rate is high overall, you can see that paid search (in this case, traffic from Google and Bing), was the highest conversion source. Visitors also spent about a minute on the site from Google’s paid ads (the top source of traffic for this company).

But there’s still a lot of waste here.

Over 80% of visitors coming from paid search are only visiting one page. So, capturing email addresses from these visitors is an excellent way to make paid-search traffic more valuable, enabling you to reach out to visitors who didn’t initially convert.

When paid search meets email

Paid search can be effective. But email can be more effective. Combining the two is an extremely effective long-term strategy for building new business and increasing revenue.

There are a few different ways you can leverage paid search to help grow your email list without making email sign ups your #1 goal for paid media. Even if you’re already running paid search, you can benefit from the traffic you’re driving to your website right now – including the people who end up leaving without buying (or otherwise reaching out). This is how:

  1. Get them before they leave

You’ve probably seen it before when you visited a website and clicked the “back” button – a pop up requesting that you enter your email address to stay in touch / sign up for a newsletter etc.

Paid Search to Build Email Database

Example of an email pop-up aimed at visitors leaving a site.

Turns out, this is a great way to build your list. On average, 6% of users seeing an email pop up will leave their email address.

  1. Ask for email addresses often

Ideally, you’re sending paid traffic to a customized landing page that has one clear goal. Realistically, 40, 50, or 60 percent of paid traffic is bouncing off of that page without converting.

Email popup request forms (see #1) or – even better – email signups in the primary navigation of your website mean that every visitor is a potential subscriber. This can be effective even if your landing page doesn’t contain much navigation (landing pages should always link to your homepage).

  1. Offer an incentive that matters to people

Why do you, personally, subscribe to company email lists? Answering this question can help you create valuable content for your own customers.

It can be as straightforward as offering a coupon (e.g., sign up and get a 15% discount on your first purchase) or, for a B2B company, maybe it’s information you’re peddling (e.g., sign up to get the latest industry updates from our blog).

Whatever the incentive is, the goal here is to attract the interest of your paid-search visitors, so that they’ll be motivated to subscribe even if they don’t make a purchase or complete your primary goal.

  1. Keep the form short!

Shorter is better when it comes to email signup forms. If possible, stick with one or two fields (name, email address, done!) Each new field increases “friction” – or the likelihood that someone won’t complete the form. There is a lot of research out there to back this up.


As with all initiatives, it’s important to track the performance of your paid search campaign. This is easy to do by setting up a goal in Google Analytics (or your tracking software of choice). Make sure you include email signups as a conversion goal in performance reports.

On average 2% of your website visitors will sign up for your email list, but the top 10% of marketers have a signup rate of nearly 5% – that’s five out of every 100 visitors. This adds up, especially when you’re driving a lot of paid search traffic to your website.

Using paid search to build your internal email list can help justify the expense of your paid ads. It’s a great way to communicate the value of paid search when the time comes to plan your future media budget.




Paid Search to Build Email DatabaseRyan Gould

Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services

Elevation Marketing

An expert search, social and content marketer, Ryan leads Elevation Marketing’s digital strategy department, helping brands achieve their business goals, such as improving sales and market share, by developing integrated marketing strategies distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion. With a proven track record of energizing brands, engaging audiences and managing multi-discipline marketing teams, Ryan is a respected expert in achieving consistent results through creative design, thought-provoking narratives and innovative problem solving.