Customize your own email list building plan so you have clear strategies to attract quality leads and turn them into your #1 fans.
By Joanne Homestead
Hey, future email list building rockstar!
Building your email list can feel like climbing Mount Everest. You’re at base camp just staring, staring, and (some more) staring – terrified to take that first step. Because once you start? There’s no turning back. Up ahead, there’s only death-defying, low-oxygen, precarious edges of impending doom to navigate.
Okay, maybe it’s not that extreme, but still.
Starting your email list is daunting.
You’ve got those nagging questions holding you back, or maybe you’ve started your list (good for you!) but stalled out.
Will people even want to hear from me? Why is no one signing up for my freebie? What if everyone starts unsubscribing? What do I even talk about in my email newsletters? How annoyed will my subscribers get seeing me in their email inbox every freakin’ week????
Here’s the little secret to building and growing your email list: Just start.
Yes, even with your panic face.
It’s okay if you don’t have it all together.
The key to successfully building your email list is to take that first step.
Yep, that’s it.
And the earlier you start, the more thankful your future entrepreneurial self will be.
Woops! Almost forgot to mention the next little secret: Start with strategy.
A strategic plan is what’s going to:
- attract quality leads
- turn your said leads into raving fans
- have your peeps throwing their wallets at you when you sell
The nice part is that you don’t have to build your email list alone.
So, take that first step, and I’ll guide you through the unassuming crags of freebie-land, the impassible-no-one-is-signing-up ice fields, and the slippery slope of everyone-ignored-my-sales-emails.
Before we start climbing, let’s set the strategic foundation so you become the next email superstar, building real-life relationships, for your very own impactful and profitable email list.
Why Even Build an Email List For Your Business?
“Build an email list.” That’s what everyone and anyone says in the online business world, even your aunt is telling you to build your email list. Well, maybe not, but she’ll be the first to sign up.
Especially after the great social media outage of 2021, every biz owner who had an email list was smugly writing an email saying, “See? While everyone else keeps frantically tapping that refresh button on their phones to get back on Instagram and Facebook, I’m still communicating with my peeps cuz I gots myself my email list.”
Besides having direct communication with your peeps, email marketing is one of the most effective marketing platforms with a jaw-dropping-slap-in-the-face 4,200% ROI.
That means for every $1 spent, you get $42 in return.
Comparatively speaking, though you may get similar reach on social media as open rates on emails, the click-through rate is significantly HIGHER for email marketing.
Higher click-through rates means better chances of converting your ideal leads into happily paying clients or customers. What’s more, you don’t need to fight the social media algorithm.
Take a moment to consider these *sexy* email vs social media stats here:
- Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter (McKinsey)
- Over 90% of consumers check their emails daily (Hubspot)
- 94% number of people who say checking their email is the number one reason they get online (Marketo)
- 91% of consumers check their email at least once per day on their smartphone (ExactTarget)
- 95% the amount of people who consider email newsletter content from a recognized brand to be useful (Salesforce)
Building your email list is a smart move to grow your business.
Remember we’re climbing Everest – it’s all about the long-game with email, but the rewards you reap are priceless…or should we say priceful?
Step 1: Set the Purpose For Building Your Email List
Before you start perusing the gobs of email service providers (ESPs) out there on the interwebs, and letting those emails flow, walk upriver to identify the source.
There are several important reasons to identify the source, your grounding purpose for your email list.
- nailing down the exact purposes will direct the types of content you’ll include in email sequences and newsletters
- your goals will help you decide which metrics to track for email copy and segmenting optimization
- clarity on your goals will lead to higher conversion rates
Let’s ensure your emails will provide delicious glacial water (AKA aligned email content and strategy) for your readers to delight in.
To get to the source, your grounding purpose for the email list, think to yourself, “Okay, so I want to start an email list, and even my aunt is telling me to start one. Lemme see how I will use email marketing for my biz.”
Ask yourself, “What do I want to use my email list for? “
To identify and clarify the goals of your email list, here’s a list of purposes for your email list with examples or guiding questions:
- Building brand awareness
- Familiarize your audience with your values, and send them value-packed emails that keep you top of mind
- Generating and nurturing leads
- Do you want your email list to deliver 75% of leads for your services or program?
- Is your email list a supplemental platform to generate leads?
- Automating nurture and sales
- Are you looking for ways to generate passive income?
- Do you want to automate your buyer’s journey to save you time and effort
- Increase website traffic
- Direct subscribers to your website if you’ve got affiliate links, blog posts, or a collection of digital products for your audience to peruse
- Promote webinars & new programs
- You want to track and automate your invitations to provide a personalized experience for your email audience
- Are you looking to launch a course without social media?
- Strengthen engagement
- Email is a more intimate and personal marketing strategy that can get your subscribers feeling like bffs with you
- Directing to your main marketing platform
- Do you want to direct them to your blog, podcast, youtube channel, or social media platform?
- Do you want your email list to work in tandem with your other marketing platforms?
- Growing sales & revenue (imagine this one as a large neon sign and blinky arrows)
- Do you want to make more sales for you? Or do you want your email list to be your main source of revenue?
If you can’t narrow down the purpose of your email list, then ask yourself what the purpose of your business is. Is it to make an impact? Generate passive income? Earn X amount per month? Flexibility of schedule?
Okay, we’re trekkin’ along to building your fan base, those fabulous peeps lining up to fork over their money because you can solve their problem easy-peasy.
Step 2: Detail Your Ideal Audience Member AKA Customer Avatar
What?! We haven’t even left basecamp yet??
I know, I know. Earlier, I pepped you to basically sprint up Mt. Everest, but trust me, setting up this foundation is well worth the longevity of your email success.
Now, we’re on to magnetic attraction.
Who do you want to attract to your list?
You don’t want anybody walking off the digital streets, and joining your email list.
Sure, starting your list with your auntie as your #1 fan reader is totally fine, but we definitely want to start growing your email list with ideal QUALITY leads who actually want to book your services, buy your programs or courses, and refer you.
Get real specific to envision your ideal audience member. Think about their pain points, objections, dreams, and fears. I know you’ve got it all in your head, but actually write down the details for content strategy planning.
Where are they in their customer journey? Did they just stumble upon you for the first time? Have they already watched you in action via live streaming or a recording? Have they been following you on social media or listening to your podcast, and are interested in your services?
Knowing where your peeps fall on the customer journey allows you to curate emails that match their needs.
A mini-example, if you will:
Someone in the awareness stage, meaning they bumped into your brand for the first time, isn’t ready to buy. You’ll want to curate a lead magnet or emails that provide value in the form of an actionable win. If you can show them with a lead magnet or blog post that you can help them, then you’ve started building the know-like-trust factor that will lead to *drum roll and cymbal crash* conversion.
Real quick: When I say conversion, I mean humans buying from humans. Your subscribers aren’t faceless shadows, but real people. They laugh, they cry, they buy.
Speaking of conversion, it’s time to get your crampons on ‘cuz we’re venturing into the unassuming crags of freebie-land.
Step 3: Create a Lead Magnet That Leads to Conversion
Okay, be honest.
Did you skip Steps 1 and 2 because you’re like, “yadda yadda yadda…just get to the good stuff. I wanna start building my email list”?
Honestly, that’s perfectly fine.
Feel free to wildly skip around.
There are no should’s and need to’s, BUT (yes, that’s a big but)…
…It is massively helpful to set your intentions and foundation first.
Think of it this way.
To successfully summit Mt. Everest, and not turn into a frozen popsicle along the way, you’ll want all your foundational tools and clarity of mind because you’ll get hit by the journey’s ups and downs and brain fog (like, why am I doing this again?!).
So, set yourself up for success.
Email marketing is a long game, and the clearer you are with your goals, purpose, and audience, the more success you’ll have in the long run.
Now, *cracks knuckles* let’s get to creating a lead magnet that leads to conversion.
First, you want to attract QUALITY peeps to your build and grow your email list. This is where a strategic lead magnet comes into play. Not only do you want to immediately join your email list because you’ve got a free gift that solves a problem for them, but you also want your gift to give them a quick win.
That means a no-fluff lead magnet with sustenance.
By fluff, I mean they stay in the realm of conceptual (the WHY) instead of coming down to the concrete (the HOW). Don’t get me wrong. The ‘why’ is absolutely important, but a strong lead magnet showcases how you can help your peeps go from conceptual to tangible.
If your freebie gives your readers a quick win, a taste of tangible success, then you’ve proven that your strategies work for them.
This is the first seed to plant that leads to raving fans flocking to book your services, join your paid programs, and buy your courses.
Here are different types of lead magnets to build your email list roughly in order of least to most commitment from your peeps.
- Create a simple checklist that your peeps can easily refer to. For instance, you can develop a checklist of morning routines to start your day off right.
- Curated List
- Curate a list that appeals to your audience, such as “50 Facebook Groups That Allow Free Promotion”
- Share a template of your highly systemized workflow in Trello, Asana, Airtable, etc.
- Course Outline / Book Outline
- Simply make a pdf version of your course outline so your peeps
- How to guide
- Keep your how-to guide simple like 3-4 steps on how to make a killer vision board that actually works
- Free Facebook Group
- Social media much? You can ask for your lead’s email address when they ask to join your Facebook Group.
- Template / Worksheet / Swipes
- Use a google doc or Canva to create a template or worksheet around your expertise (e.g., mindfulness, goal setting, joy, career transitioning) for your peeps to follow.
- Swipes are something that you’ve already created that you can share with your audience as an example.
- People looove quizzes. Which character are you from Schitt’s Creek? What flavor ice cream is your personality? (Ben & Jerry’s strawberry cheesecake, thanks for asking). A quiz can help you segment your leads, but it does take extra effort to make. Just be aware that quizzes may not bring in quality leads.
- Masterclass, Webinar, Workshop, Course Module
- This is a great touchpoint especially if it includes video as your leads will come into your email list warmer since they’ve seen and heard you in action. Also, people need to be more committed to sit down and go through the video or audio recording.
- An ebook takes a *bit* more effort, but can generate more leads. You’ve positioned yourself as the expert in XYZ for LMNOP. Bonus: Use a chapter in your ebook to engage leads in your welcome nurture email sequence.
- Set up a week-long challenge to get your peeps taking action with you. Again, since this is a bigger commitment, and people have a chance to work with you for a week (or more), your leads are warmed up. At the end of the challenge, it’s a perfect opportunity to promote your services, programs, or courses.
Step 4: Headlines, Tag lines, Opt-in Pages, Oh My!
It’s time to belay you up to freebie-marketing-ridge.
Just because your lead magnet is free doesn’t mean people will sign up.
With the right tools, you’ll be on the other side free of harm and on your way to a rockin email list.
After you’ve created your fabulous freebie, it’s just as important to market it strategically so it’s eye-catching, resonates, and click-worthy. You want your lead magnet to pique someone’s curiosity like an otter with its puzzle box.
Just like a great book is only as good as it’s cover, a lead magnet is only as good as it’s headline. Make sure to run your headline through a free headline analyzer like coscheduler, so interested peeps will absolutely-no-doubt-must-click-yes to sign up for your freebie.
As someone who is keen on healthy positivity, keep your headline and tagline focused on the transformation and results instead of poking at their pain points.
Headline: “10 Powerful Ways to Survive and Thrive Your Life Transition”
Tag line: Follow these power-packed tips to bring out the best in a life transition, and connect you with your most amazing self.
From this example, you can see how the headline hooks, and the tagline tells the transformation.
Once you’ve created a strong headline and tag line, you’re now ready to create a high-converting opt-in landing page for your freebie.
Here are 8 sections that you can include on your opt-in landing page to make it a no-brainer for people to sign up:
- Mock up image of your lead magnet
- Results / Transformations
- About Me Section
- CTA sprinkled throughout
If you’re looking for an example, check out my opt-in landing page here.
Besides a landing page, you can create embed, pop-up, and sidebar forms for your freebie as well. Sprinkle them generously throughout your website.
When done right, you don’t need to worry about these varied forms pestering your website guests.
They’re more like quiet attendants standing by ready to offer your intentionally-crafted free gift when your guest is ready.
For more ideas on where to promote your freebie sign up, head over to my blog post on how to confidently grow your email list for free.
You’re almost at the summit. The peak is in sight. If your face wasn’t so cold, you could probably taste the victory up ahead.
No Freebie? No Problem
You don’t necessarily need a freebie to get people to join your email list, especially if you’ve built a strong online presence with a consistent brand. You already nurtured intentional connections, and people have that know-like-trust factor with you.
In this case, you can ask these fabulous people to straight up join your email list.
Make sure your email signup form includes how often you email and what they can expect in your emails.
You can ask people to jump on board through any of these three tiers to grow your email list.
Step 5: Nurture the Waffles Out of Your List
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the nurture-before-selling-peak. Take in the view. Ahhhh.
Part of your email lead generation strategy needs to involve nurturing your beautiful leads, AKA building relationships.
Ultimately, higher engagement and human-to-human connections increase your sales while allowing you to make a bigger impact.
Create a welcome nurture sequence to celebrate their action-taking initiative to join your list, introduce yourself in a way that puts your readers first, and harness the power of storytelling to start nurturing your fans-in-the-making.
This is where you thank yourself for taking the time at basecamp to nail down the purpose of your list and ideal customer avatar.
With your foundation laid from Step 1 and 2, you can more easily create content that resonates with your readers and seamlessly funnels into your paid offers. If you want to nurture your email list by harnessing the power of storytelling, grab my free guide here.
Nurturing your peeps is about providing value, specifically to their pain points and mindset blocks, and building brand awareness and loyalty which for you, as a personal brand, means allowing your readers to get to know you and your values.
Wondering how to consistently grow your email list to 30, 100, and 1000 subscribers? Check out my blog post on how to consistently grow your email list without paid ads.
About the Author
Joanne Homestead is an email copywriter and strategist for women entrepreneurs and coaches in wellness, well-being, and mindset. Orchestrating words that compel and sell is her magic sauce.