How to Build an Email Waitlist (18,000 Pre-Launch Email List)

Jan 14, 2022 4 min read
Rand Fishkin Interview: How I built a large pre-launch email list

I caught up with Rand Fishkin on how he built an 18,000 person strong email waiting list to launch SparkToro. We also chatted about the future of marketing: skills & untapped opportunities.

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This week, I interviewed Rand Fishkin.

You may know him as the founder of, a company with +$50m in annual revenue that's used by marketers worldwide.

He's recently left Moz to found SparkToro so I caught him at the perfect time to ask: what marketing tactics are you using to launch your new startup?‍

He launched earlier this year to an email waiting list of 18,000...that's a lovely audience to have before the company has even started.

I had to find out how he did it, so in this episode we cover:

- Rand's SparkToro journey

- 4 methods used to build his audience

- Rand's advice to marketers just starting out

- What Rand thinks is the untapped opportunity in marketing right now.

Listen to the episode above, or dig in to this outline of the key points👇

Pre-Launch Ideas: How to Build a Pre-Launch Email List

When Rand launched SparkToro earlier this year, he'd already spent a couple of years building up a large waiting list (Rand notes that the average 25% open rates are attractive about email over social media or PPC).

During the pre-launch period, Rand offered users credit on the platform ($100 to use in the next two weeks so they could get a reduced rate) to encourage people to test the product—alllowing the to iterate and get testimonials to use for the official launch.‍

Testimonials for SparkToro

SparkToro started on a strong footing: an 18,000 email waiting list. I asked Rand which strategies he use to build that list, here's the answer (in order of importance):

Content Marketing to Build Your Email List

Rand wrote a ton of content focused on the problem SparkToro was built to overcome.

Clearly, he knew that evangelising the problem was a way to get customers interested, and it is because it's a contentious point.

Let's look at that.

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