When I say “email list,” what pops into your head?

For some, it’s excitement, thinking about making connections, sales, and becoming a marketing pro. For others, it’s more like a groan, thinking about tech headaches and another chore on the never-ending to-do list.

But however you currently feel about email marketing, the truth is, you NEED an email list in 2024. Let’s talk why.

*This post contains affiliate links, clearly marked with an asterisk (*). If you click on these links and make a purchase, I may earn a commission.

What Exactly is Email Marketing?

Alright, let’s break it down.

Email marketing is all about sending emails (obviously!) but from your business email, not your personal one. And we’re doing this through a professional email marketing platform (like my favorite, ConvertKit*).

Yes, it takes some time, but the rewards? Huge. But remember, aimless emailing is a no-go. It’s like any aspect of your business – blogging, social media – you need a solid strategy.

The Big Wins of Email Marketing

  1. Direct Connection: Email allows you to reach your audience directly, unaffected by social media algorithms.
  2. Building Relationships: Regular, valuable emails foster a connection with your audience, making you a go-to name in your niche.
  3. Encouraging Action: Whether it’s to download something, sign up for a webinar, or check out your latest piece of content, your emails get your audience used to following your lead and loving it. This sets the stage for future purchases.
  4. Guiding Customer Journeys: Tailored emails can guide potential customers from problem recognition to seeing your product or service as the solution.
  5. Security in Uncertainty: Owning your email list means you’re not solely reliant on platforms you don’t control.

A Brief History Lesson on Platform Dependence

Remember when Facebook pages were all the rage? Then bam, algorithm change, and organic reach went down the drain.

Or Instagram in 2016, when it said goodbye to chronological feeds, hurting a lot of organic reach.

And let’s not forget Vine’s shutdown – a hard lesson for those who didn’t have an email list as a backup.

And even SEO, as cool as it is, isn’t bulletproof. Google’s always changing the game. So, while you’re enjoying the high life with social media traffic and Google love, remember that things can change in a snap.

Why Email Lists Are Non-Negotiable

Bottom line: relying solely on social platforms is like building your house on rented land. Why not create something you own and control?

Building an email list isn’t just smart; it’s essential for lasting success and direct communication with your audience.

So, are you ready to start building your most valuable asset?

The 4 Essential Stages of Email Marketing

Email marketing might seem complex, but it’s really about mastering these four key stages:

  • Stage 1: Getting Set Up – Choosing your email marketing platform and defining your goals.
  • Stage 2: Growing Your List – Creating compelling lead magnets to attract subscribers.
  • Stage 3: Communicating Regularly – Regularly engaging with your list to build a relationship.
  • Stage 4: Automating – Setting up automated emails and funnels for sales on autopilot.

By identifying where you are in these stages, you can focus on the right strategies to enhance your email marketing efforts.

Let’s dive deeper into each stage!

Stage One: Getting Set Up

If you’re at the very beginning of your email marketing journey, don’t sweat it. Everyone starts here, and the key is to dive in as soon as possible. Trust me, it’s never too early to begin.

The First Big Move: Choosing an Email Marketing Platform

The first order of business is signing up for an email marketing platform. This is non-negotiable because trying to do email marketing through your personal email is a big no-no. It’s not just about spam laws; it’s also about functionality. Your personal email account simply isn’t cut out for this kind of heavy lifting.

Why Personal Email Doesn’t Work for Email Marketing:

  • Legal Issues: Using a personal email for marketing violates spam laws.
  • Technical Limitations: High-volume emails through personal accounts get flagged as spam, affecting even your regular business communication.

ConvertKit: My Go-To Recommendation

For starters, I personally recommend ConvertKit*. They’ve got a great free plan that supports up to 1,000 subscribers. While it doesn’t include all the bells and whistles like fancy automations, it’s perfect for getting your feet wet without spending a dime. You can get a feel for the platform and upgrade as your list grows.

Check It Out Yourself:

Other Notable Options

There are plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to email platforms. Active Campaign, Flodesk, MailerLite, MailChimp, and Drip are some notable names. If you’re looking to set up high-performing sales funnels, ConvertKit and Active Campaign are the top choices, in my experience.

Key Takeaway: Don’t Get Stuck in Analysis Paralysis

  • The most important thing? Just get started.
  • You can always switch platforms later if your needs outgrow your initial choice.

Your Action Step in Stage One

Sign up for an email marketing platform.

Create your account, and that’s it – you’re prepped to move on to Stage Two: Growing Your Email List.

Need More Guidance?

If setting up feels overwhelming, don’t worry. My membership program, EXPAND, includes a detailed lesson on setting up and optimizing your ConvertKit account, ensuring your emails land in inboxes, not spam folders. The membership is super affordable and packed with insights to get you started on the right foot.

Stage Two: Growing Your List

Welcome to the list-building phase! If you’ve got your email marketing platform all set up but haven’t really put it to use, this is your arena. It’s all about growing that list.

The Golden Rule: Permission is Key

First off, remember, adding people to your list without their explicit permission is a no-go. They need to opt-in themselves. So, how do you get people excited to join your list? The answer is simple yet powerful: offer something valuable.

The Magic of Lead Magnets

These irresistible freebies, also known as opt-ins or lead magnets, are what you exchange for someone’s name and email. Common examples include:

  • Checklists
  • Cheat Sheets
  • Quick Start Guides
  • Shopping Lists
  • Meal Plans
  • Email Challenges
  • Webinars
  • 5-Day Email Courses

Spread the Word Everywhere

Once you’ve created your lead magnet, it’s time to promote it far and wide. Whether it’s your website, YouTube, podcasts, social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or even live events, every channel is an opportunity.

The Step-by-Step Process

  1. Create a Lead Magnet: This is your hook, the thing that addresses your audience’s core desires and offers a quick win.
  2. Build an Opt-in Form: Use your platform, like ConvertKit, to create a form for your website or a link for social media.
  3. Automate the Delivery: Set up your email platform to automatically add subscribers to your list and send them the lead magnet.

Inside Look: EXPAND Membership

In my EXPAND membership, I guide you through this entire process. We start by analyzing your audience’s preferences, identifying their root desires, and then crafting a lead magnet that perfectly aligns. I’ll walk you through creating the lead magnet and setting up all the necessary tech, both on ConvertKit and your website.

Your Focus in Stage Two

Once everything’s in place – your opt-in form is ready, and the backend is set up for automatic delivery – your job is to promote that link. Keep publishing content that resonates with your ideal audience, and watch as your list grows, almost on autopilot.

Remember: Progress Over Perfection

Don’t stress over making the perfect opt-in right away. Any lead magnet is better than none, and you can always tweak and improve. Keep an eye on your stats, see what’s hitting the mark, and remember, it’s always a work in progress.

Stage Three: Communication

If you’ve got a list but rarely reach out to them, welcome to Stage Three. This is where you develop a rhythm in communicating with your audience. Remember, the key here is to start somewhere – don’t over think it!

The Art of Valuable Communication

Think from your customer’s perspective: What emails would they find incredibly useful or surprisingly insightful? Aim to send content that makes them think, “Wow, this is exactly what I needed!”

Understanding Email Types in ConvertKit (And Beyond)

In ConvertKit, like many platforms, there are two main types of emails: broadcast emails and automation emails.

  1. Broadcast Emails: These are the emails you send out to everyone, or specific segments, on your list. They’re perfect for sharing time-sensitive news, announcements, or updates like new blog posts or podcast episodes. While great for nurturing relationships, they’re not the best for direct sales. They don’t necessarily target specific customer problems or lead them towards a solution.
  2. The Power of Regular Newsletters: Starting with broadcast emails like newsletters is a solid beginning. They help you find your voice, provide value, and get into the habit of regular communication. But remember, just sending out newsletters or random emails won’t build a thriving business on its own.

Laying the Groundwork for More Targeted Communication

Before moving on from broadcast emails, ensure you understand:

  • Your Ideal Client: Who are they exactly?
  • Their Biggest Pain Points: What problems do they face that you can solve?
  • Your Core Offerings: What paid solutions do you offer to address these pain points?

Preparing for the Next Level

Once you have a clear idea of your offerings and your audience’s needs, you’re ready to transition from general broadcast emails to more targeted strategies. That’s where Stage Four comes in – where the real excitement and potential of email marketing lie, and where many have yet to venture.

Stage Four: Automation

If you’re regularly communicating with your email list, know your core offerings, and understand the problems you solve, you’re primed for Stage Four. This stage is all about connecting the dots between your email efforts and actual sales.

The Customer Journey: From Awareness to Loyalty

The journey from a person just knowing about you to becoming a loyal customer involves several key steps:

  1. Building Awareness: It all starts with making people aware of your existence through content marketing – blogging, social media, podcasting, YouTube, etc.
  2. Opting In: Create a compelling lead magnet to entice people to join your email list.
  3. Fostering Understanding: Use your emails to educate and inspire. Help them recognize the problems you solve.
  4. Generating Interest: Present an offer that aligns with your emails, piquing their interest in your solutions.
  5. Making the Sale: Launch your product or service, converting a portion of your audience into paying customers.
  6. Cultivating Loyalty: Congratulations! You’ve now got a loyal customer who’s journeyed from awareness to purchase.

The Art and Science of Email Marketing

Your goal is to create a seamless system that takes people from discovering you to trusting and eventually paying you for help. Here’s an example to illustrate:

A Practical Example:

  • Imagine you blog about baby-led weaning.
  • Your lead magnet: A 5-day email course that gives people 5 steps to stress-free baby-led weaning.
  • What follows: A series of educational and inspirational emails about baby-led weaning.
  • The offer: A special discount or bonus for a course or service, exclusive to your email subscribers.

The Magic of Customization

With email marketing, you control the information flow. You can tailor content based on what your audience is interested in, gradually guiding them to your offers.

For Instance:

  • If someone opts in for a lead magnet about email marketing.
  • Over time, I can send them content via email that gets them excited about the value of email marketing.
  • Then I can introduce them to my EXPAND membership, where they can learn more in-depth email marketing strategies.

This process is known as a sales funnel. It might sound complex, but the key is to start simple and evolve your strategy as you gain more clarity in your business.

Bottom Line: Is Email Worth Your Time?

Absolutely, yes! Email marketing, especially when it comes to automation, is a game-changer for your business.

My Personal Email Wins

As we wrap up our dive into email marketing, I want to share some of my own wins in this arena. My hope is that these anecdotes drive home the power of email marketing and how it can genuinely transform your business.

Win #1: Building Deep Connections

Since 2017, my email list has been a bridge to my audience, building real connections and providing genuine help and inspiration. Here’s a snippet of the kind of feedback I receive:

“Hi, Erica. I just wanted to say thank you for your emails and the work that you do with the Facebook group. I get so much value from it. I’m a dietitian in Australia just establishing my online business. So I’m totally soaking up every bit of information that I can from dietitians who have gone before me. Thanks for all that you do.”

Or like this email:

“This is hands down one of the best emails I’ve ever received. The layout is clear and easy to follow. I’m a self-proclaimed email skimmer because so many are full of unnecessary fluff and way too much sales jargon. This newsletter was an easy read from start to finish. And I wanted to click on every link. Fantastic. PS. It sends the message that you care about adding value and are not trying to waste people’s time. Thanks for all that you do.”

How cool is that, right? Who wouldn’t want to feel like you’re providing value and that people appreciate it?

Win #2: Affiliate Marketing Success

Before I ever had any products for sale within The Unconventional RD brand, I was still able to earn some great side-money by promoting other people’s products through my email list.

For example, just by sharing links to events like The RD Entrepreneur Symposium or my favorite WordPress themes, I was able to earn over $10,000 in affiliate income in one year! Without really having a business or formally selling anything.

Win #3: Selling Courses and Memberships on Autopilot

In 2021, I set up an evergreen webinar funnel that led to an automated email sequence promoting my course. I won’t sugar coat it. This took A LOT of work to set up, but once the pieces were in place, it created a stable, predictable revenue stream. Over the last two and a half years, this approach has brought in over $640,000 while only working part-time!

The Big Picture: Automated Revenue Machine

The ultimate goal of email marketing? To build an automated revenue machine. It’s about creating a system that works for you, attracting and nurturing leads, and converting them into loyal customers, all on autopilot. It’s about shifting focus from spinning your wheels for views to strategically filling your funnel and expanding your reach.

I hope my journey and these wins inspire you to embrace email marketing in your business. Whether you’re just starting or looking to refine your strategies, email marketing is a powerful tool for building connections, driving sales, and automating revenue.

Join the EXPAND Community

Ready to take your email marketing to the next level? Join my EXPAND membership community! You’ll get step-by-step guidance, resources, and support to grow your business using the power of email marketing. Check it out at expandmembership.com.

If you found this helpful, I’d love to hear from you. Here’s to your success in harnessing the power of email marketing!

Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.