Creating your own list might sound daunting at the beginning.
But it is not as hard as it looks and there are not that many moving parts to make it function.
This article aims to cover everything you need to know to start your own list.
No advanced strategies. No difficult tech work. And no false promises.
If you came in as a complete beginner. You'll come out as someone that can grow a list and make money from it.
1. High-level View
Before getting started with anything, I want you to understand the regular flow of a subscriber from the moment he first sees your newsletter landing page to the moment he buys.
- You promote your landing page
- New subscriber enrols in your list
- Redirected to a post-subscription page (optional)
- Receives welcome sequence emails (optional but highly advised)
- Potential sale
- Potential sale
Now let's get to know the tools that will allow us to gear this all together and write emails that people want to buy from.
Before diving deep into how to build your own list. Let's understand why you need a list in the first place.
There are several reasons but, I'll list my favorite.
You own the medium. You can't be "banned"
It's a more personal way to reach your audience
You can create automation that work for you while you sleep
With that in mind, what you want to accomplish with your list is the same as what you want to accomplish with your social media platforms.
Build strong relationships
Promote your offers
And to make that happen. You want to adapt your message to the medium.
Because at the end of the day, what matters is getting your message across. Only through that you can build trust and persuade people into buying your offers.
And that means writing engaging emails your subscribers want to read is key.
If they're reading the email. And if they're resonating with the message. They will click-through which is ultimately what you want.
To do that I like to follow a few guidelines.
Here are my personal 7 rules:
Conversational tone (I + You)
Write as if I was writing for one person only
Use power words (Cheat sheet here)
Don't be boring (write light and fun copy)
Use pattern disruption: Bolding and underlining text, PNG, GIFS
Use transitional phrases (i.e. with that being said)
Write about interesting topics people want to read about
Alright. Now that you know the elements of a good email...
Let's talk about how you can pull the sale.
Note that there are innumerable ways to do that, but they all fall back into the same principle:
Email Sales Principle: You sell the idea or the outcome to get the link click, and the landing page sells the product.
This implies knowing how to write curiosity-based emails, which is all about creating a mental image at the head of your reader.
You can do this by adopting the old axiom:
Show don't tell.
A good mental model you can adopt to write emails that drive curiosity is to:
Tell the what and the why, and sell the how.
3. Email Service Provider
Now that you have an idea of what you want to create and what you want to do with your emails...
Let's get our hands dirty and pick an Email Service Provider which is basically our operations command center where we will create our landing page, automation, and broadcasts.
Almost every ESP does the same thing, but some are more expensive and restrictive than others, that's why I highly recommend using:
It is the one I use, and it has a lot of advantages like:
- Being able to promote affiliate products
- The ability to create automation even in the free version
Essentially this is the only software you need to run your list.
- Create a landing page or a form to collect emails
- Create email automation
- Send regular broadcast emails
4. Landing Pages
4.1. Squeeze pages
Let me start this chapter by addressing the elephant in the room. 🐘
You don't remotely need a professional squeeze page to collect emails.
Heck, as far as I know you can just gather the emails by hand (but I fairly discourage you doing so.)
For me, a landing page serves to communicate to a newcomer what he can expect if he subscribes to your email list.
Yeah sure if your audience already knows you and if they've been with you for a while that might not even be needed, but for the average-case scenario, that should be the standard.
So here's a simple framework you can use:
Benefit-driven bullet list
Tell people why they should join
The second row is what I call the "optional" row. It is not necessary. And if you decide to include it - you can take one of those two paths.
And although a landing page one of those components still converts - I like to include more copy to make sure people know what they're signing up for.
As far as the headline and the call-to-action go, I usually follow a golden rule for each.
Headline: Grab attention and display your USP (unique selling proposition)
Learn how to make more course sales
2x course sales using story-based daily emails
Call-to-action: Benefit-driven call-to-action
Write better emails!
Squeeze Page Examples
It is as simple as going to either Landing Pages or Sign Up Forms and follow along using their templates.
4.2. Post-subscription Page
Once people subscribe to your newsletter, you have a few options.
- Keep them on the same page
- Redirect to a default thank-you page
- Redirect to a custom made thank-you page with a short introduction or free resources
- Redirect to a page where they can book a call with you
- Redirect them to a landing page where you try to sell on the spot (great for low-ticket products)
This is entirely up to you and how you want to structure your funnel.
For the custom-made landing pages I highly recommend using carrd.co as it is a no-code, drag-and-drop, fast and non-expensive website builder.
When you're creating your landing page, click on the subscription form, and then on the submission button and decide whether you want to push new subscribers to.
5. Building The List
Let me be upfront with you.
Building your email list takes time.
It is often tedious, and a game of putting in the necessary reps.
It can be discouraging but it's one of those things that you just can't ignore.
With that being said, there are two ways of promoting your list.
For the passive ways, a few ideas are:
- Having a form on your website
- Promote it on your blog articles
- Having the link to your squeeze page on your social media bio
For the active way:
- Promote it on social media
- Buy solo ads on udimi.com
- Run Facebook ads
If you're still starting, I would stick with the organic ways before trying any paid list building.
A general rule in the email marketing world is to use a lead magnet to attract people inside your list, here's a short definition:
A lead magnet is a short piece of content that you give/sell to new subscribers to incentivize them to join your email list.
I will not expand on it here because I've written a full blog article with everything you need to know.
This is where the fun begins. And automation is one of the reasons I love email so much.
Automation is just code doing the work for you. It's something you write once and has the potential to be read by hundreds of thousands of people.
And although having sequences in place is not crucial, it sure is an asymmetric investment in your business you shouldn't ignore.
With that being said, I'll just cover the welcome sequence as I feel it is the most important one.
6.1 Welcome Sequence
By definition, a welcome sequence is a series of emails that are triggered on subscription and sent automatically for every new subscriber.
It is important because it is the first impression someone will have from your list.
For a lot of people it can make or break a new subscriber.
As far as length goes there's no one-size-fits-all solution, but as a rule of thumb you should aim to have around 5 to 7 emails.
That should be enough for everything you want to do.
I don't want to overcomplicate this.
There are only three goals your welcome sequence should seek to fulfill.
- Welcome your new subscribers
- Build a relationship
- Sell your offers
Ideally, you want subscribers to go from not knowing anything about you, your journey, and your offers to know you, trust you, and want to buy from you.
I don't want to enforce you any framework as this is bespoke to every business, but I will give you a framework to write a great welcome email (the first from the sequence) as it is by far the one that gets the most engagement.
I'll write a short example on each topic.
This is by far not something you must follow to a tee, but I believe it gives you a good idea of what you can do.
1. Welcome people
Ever looked back and though on how BRILLIANT a past decision was?
You can pat yourself on the back. It's safe to say this will be one of these moments.
2. What does this says about you
If you're here, it means you want to write better emails so you can sell more offer to your audience.
I take my hat off to you, not everyone is smart enough to figure out investing in email marketing has such a great ROI.
3. Talk about your experience
I started my journey not too long ago.
I was having trouble pushing my offers to my audience, and being present only on one channel wasn't driving the traffic and revenue I wanted for my business...
That's when I stumbled on the list of a mentor of mine.
The best thing?
He was running his business using email as the only traffic channel.
I was perplex, so I became addicted to studying his business model so I could replicate it.
A few weeks down the line, and I was making sales like clockwork .
4. Tell them what they can expect
I cracked the code and now I'm teaching students all over the world doing the same, and well...
If you're here, you're bond to learn a thing or two about the subject.
There's a caveat though.
I really do care about teaching people, and because of that...
I send daily emails and daily promotions. If that's not your thing, feel free to unsubscribe.
No hard feelings.
5. Cliffhanger to keep them wanting to read
But if you're serious about using email to drive revenue for your business...
Stick around because over the next following days I'll teach you exactly what I did to go from zero to building a list of over a thousand subscribers that pay me a large chunk of money every month.
I will expand too much on strategies here because I've written two short articles about that already.
You can ready there here:
First of all head over to Messages, and click on Campaigns.
Click on Create a Campaign and select the Welcome Series Template.
Once you have this campaign active, it will be sent exclusively for new subscribers.
You can add or remove emails as you please.
Your broadcasts are your day-to-day emails.
First of all, what you should do is decide a consistent schedule.
I always recommend my students to go for at least 4 emails a week, but sending 2 a week consistently is better than just sending when you remember you have a list.
A great way to craft engaging emails is to follow the well-known AIDA framework.
I've written a full blog article on that with a real example.
Content Generation Strategies
Stories are everywhere.
You can NEVER run out of stories. It doesn't matter if it's...
- An old story
- Something that happened to you
- A recent story you just read in the news
Stories are entertaining and will have people coming back for more.
All you need to do is find relevant stories for your offer that can help you push the sale forward.
And that's easier than you might be thinking because once you know your offer from the inside out.
You can easily see analogies and create connections almost everywhere.
If you've ever received testimonials, critiques, questions, or opinions from your audience, you can easily grab that and turn it into a great email.
The secret is to use it to funnel down people into your offer.
Seen a tweet or a take that you highly agreed or disagreed and would like to further give your opinion?
Quote it on your email and expand on the topic with your arguments.
That's as 'soft selling' as it gets.
Head over to Messages > Broadcast and click on the Create a Message button.
Once you're done you can further choose who should receive that email based on segmentation and you can schedule a date and time to send it.
8. Content Planning Strategy
This is where most people get confused and fail to plan.
That leads to a lack of results which snowballs heavily and discourage them from keep going forward.
Here's my approach...
Pick an offer to promote
Outline a logical sequence of emails following the prospect awareness principle
Promote inside every email
Include some type of urgency or scarcity throughout the sequence (optional)
It is that simple.
And your offers can range from your own products, to affiliate products, to your own services.
Get creative, and make sure to have at least 4 or 5 offers you can rotate so you're not always sending out the same offer.
Again, remember the key here is to write emails people want to read, else nothing can save you from making no sales.
As far as the outline of this series of emails goes, I like to start by using the light-bulb method, which I describe in the article below.
A great way to keep people interested in reading your emails throughout the sequence is to use the cliffhanger method which I've already exemplified above but it's essentially leaving questions unanswered strategically.
9. Mental Models
The number one thing that keeps people from thriving is not having the correct mindset.
As cliché as it might sound I've found this to be true over and over again.
So here's a set of mental models you can adopt. Ignore this at your own risk.
Write to entertain
This is a long-term game
Always be building the list
Lurkers lurk, buyers buy. Promote more
Not every email will drive sales - but it might be pushing the sale forward
It's your list - you're the one that decides on the tone, content and frequency
I know it is hard to get start when you're at 0 subscribers and $0 on sales.
But I can guarantee it is all worth it a few months or years down the line.
The time will pass regardless, might as well use it to build the list.
10. Learn More
I've just scratched the surface with everything I've laid out in the article above.
I have a full-blown guide with done-for-you templates, strategies to build the list, create automation, and make money from it.
And because you've shown interest, I want to reward you with a special 20% discount code on my Email course.
Affiliate Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links to products. I will receive a commission for purchases made through these links.