How To Create An Email List That Works For You

by | May 12, 2022 | Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your customers and create loyal fans. It’s also an effective way to market your business, promote your products, and send out important announcements.

Email marketing is an extremely cost-effective way to stay in touch with your customers and create loyal fans. By sending out newsletters, email campaigns, and other types of messages, you can reach a large audience at a low cost. 

I won’t lie, to create an email marketing system for your brand, does take some time, but once it’s in place, the hard work is done.

In this article, you’ll learn what’s involved with setting up your own email system from beginning to end.

What is an Email List and Why Do I Need One?

An email list is a database of people who have requested to be added to your email distribution list. When you create an email list, you are giving yourself the opportunity to communicate with your subscribers on a regular basis and encourage them to buy your product or service. The more people who subscribe to your email list, the more likely it is that they will hear about new products and services that you have to offer.

There are a number of reasons why you may want to create an email list. Maybe you’re a business owner looking for ways to grow your business, or you’re an individual looking for ways to stay connected with friends and family. Whatever the reason, creating an email list is a great way to get started.

What is the Best Way to Build My First Email List?

We all know that email is the most effective marketing channel, but how do you build your email list? There are many ways to build your first email list. Here are some of the most popular ways.

  • Give away something valuable in exchange for an email address. This could be a free e-book, video course or webinar. This is called a Lead Magnet, Freebie or Content Upgrade. This is the method we’re going to focus on in this tutorial.
  • Ask people to share your website with their friends and followers on Facebook or Twitter and in return give them a free download of your ebook or video course.
  • Offer an incentive for signing up to your newsletter such as a free gift, discount code or access to exclusive content.
  • Offer the chance to win something by entering their email address into a competition drawing, again with an incentive for signing up such as a chance to win.

Identify Your Target Audience

When it comes to email marketing, you need to clearly identify your target audience. Your email list should be as specific as possible in order to maximize your reach and conversion rates.

It’s likely that you already have your target audience or ideal customer identified.  But if not, you’ll want to do that exercise before going any further. 

Here are some tips for identifying your target audience:

  • Think about the types of people you want to reach. Do you want to send an email blast to everyone in your contact list or only those who have purchased from you in the past?
  • Consider what interests your target audience. Are they tech-savvy? Do they like gardening or cooking?
  • Take into account demographics such as age, gender and location.

These “categories” are called segments.  Where you group people so you can send them the right type of email. 

Segmenting Your Email List

Segmenting your email list can help you focus your marketing efforts and get the most out of your list. By separating your subscribers into different target audiences, you can more easily personalize your messages and increase the likelihood that they will be acted on.

There are a variety of ways to segment your email list. You could divide people into categories such as age, location, or interests. You could also create separate lists for people who have already made a purchase from you, people who have not made a purchase but have shown interest in what you offer, and people who have never bought from you before.

For example:  You wouldn’t send a sales email to a customer that already bought your product.  You would send this email to your subscriber list.  On the flip side, you wouldn’t send an email on how to maintain their widget to your subscriber list.  You would send this email to your list of customers that bought the widget.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to keep track of which groups are performing the best and use that information to improve your marketing campaigns.

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Choosing Your Topics For Email Campaigns

When choosing your topics for email campaigns, keep in mind the type of customer you are targeting. If you are selling products or services to individuals, focus on topics that relate to their interests. If you are selling products or services to businesses, focus on topics that concern them directly.

Come up with an initial list of 10 topics.  If you’re still not sure what you can write about, here are some prompts to get you started:

  • How to Save Money by Doing X
    (How to Save Money by Doing Laundry Twice a Week)
  • How to Do X
    (How to Bake an Eggless Cake)
  • The X Best Ways to Get X Without X
    (The 5 Best Ways to Get Your Puppy to Sit Without Using Treats)
  • We Need to Talk About X.  It’s a X.
    (We Need to Talk About Your Website.  It’s Hurting Your Sales.)
  • x Vs X:  Which is X?
    Keto vs Paleo:  Which is Better for Weight Loss?

Tip:  a great place to get topic ideas is  You get 2 searches for free and all you need to type is a keyword.

When you have your initial list of 10 topics, pick the one that most excites you and write your email.  This is a draft, so write it in a Google Doc or Word Document and save it.

Sidenote:  your first few emails will be far from perfect and that’s OK.  With practice and feedback from your audience, each email you write moving forward will be better than the last.

How to Create a Lead Magnet:  The Incentive

To create a lead magnet that works for you, start by thinking about what your audience wants and needs. What types of information are they interested in? What topics are they passionate about? Once you have a good idea of what your audience wants, start brainstorming ideas for lead magnets that would fit their needs.

One way to generate leads is by creating an ebook or e-course that helps people achieve their goals. This type of lead magnet can include tips, tricks, and advice on topics like weight loss, personal finance, or getting organized. You can also create a lead magnet specifically targeting your audience’s industry or niche. For example, if you’re a real estate agent, you could create a lead magnet featuring tips on how to negotiate better deals. Or if you’re a doctor, you could create a lead magnet that focuses on how to keep your patients healthy.

Another way to generate leads is by offering free samples of your products or services. This type of lead magnet can include things like emails with tips on how to save money on groceries, recipes for healthy dinners, or guides on how to start a business online.

Once you have a good idea of what type of lead magnet will work best for your audience, start brainstorming ideas for content that would fit that particular lead magnet. For example, if you’re creating an e-book or e-course lead magnet, think about topics like why people need the information in the lead magnet and what they can do with it once they have it. If you’re offering free samples, think about what types of samples you should offer and how you can market them to your audience.

How to Gather Leads: Types of Opt-in Forms

There are a few different types of opt-in forms that can be used to collect email addresses from potential customers. Some of the most common types of opt-in forms simply asks for contact information such as a first name and email address.  If you’re giving away samples of a physical product, you’re form will work differently as to capture a mailing address and possibly charging for shipping.

The best type of opt-in form to use will depend on the goals of your business. If your goal is to generate leads or sign up new customers, then using a simple opt-in form is the best option. If you want to send periodic marketing updates or offer special discounts or rewards to those who sign up, then using a form that asks for additional contact information may be more appropriate.

You can place your opt-in form on your home page, in blog posts or anywhere else on your website where it makes sense.

For now, just make a note as to the information you want from your target audience.  Keep in mind that the more information you ask of your potential subscriber, the less likely they will signup.  Keep it simple and easy for them. First name and email address will always work.

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Choosing the Right Email Marketing Tools

Now that you have your first email written, your lead magnet ready and an opt-in sketched out, it’s time to put it all together.

Email marketing tools can be very helpful in building a list of subscribers. However, before selecting an email marketing tool, it is important to consider the needs of your business.

For example, some tools are designed for larger businesses while others are more suited for smaller businesses. It is also important to consider the type of email marketing you would like to pursue. For example, automated email campaigns are great for driving traffic to your website but may not be the best option if you want to build relationships with your subscribers. Ultimately, it is important to choose an email marketing tool that will fit your specific needs and goals.

There are many email marketing tools available that can help you to manage your campaigns more effectively. But, which one should you choose?

Here are just a few of the email marketing tools available to you (the ones I’ve used are marked with *)

  • MailerLite*
  • ConvertKit
  • FloDesk
  • Constant Contact
  • Infusionsoft (best for established brands or large companies)
  • Active Campaign*
  • HubSpot
  • Aweber*
  • MailChimp*

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on MailerLite because it has a lot of features, it’s economical and their free plan is generous with features that will get you started.

MailerLite is a complete email marketing tool, landing page builder and website builder for businesses of all shapes and sizes. MailerLite is based on simplicity, not due the lack of features, but for ease of use. Features include easy to use tools such as a Drag & drop email builder, landing page and website builder, and an robust subscriber management interface and helpful reporting.  You can create groups to segment your audience and schedule email campaigns in advance.  You can even automate much of your workflow.

The Importance of Personalizing Your Emails

There is no doubt that personalized email marketing can be a powerful tool for driving results. Email recipients who receive personalized messages are more likely to open and click through the email than those who don’t.

Here are three tips for creating personalized emails that work:

  • Include personal information about your target audience. Use their name, title, company name or product category in the subject line of your email so that you can connect with them on a personal level. This also gives you an opportunity to highlight any relevant content in the body of the email.  (MailerLite includes this feature in their free plan)
  • Keep your message concise and to the point. People have limited time and attention spans, so keep your emails short and sweet without sacrificing important information or data points.
  • If appropriate, be conversational, like you’re talking to your audience in person.  If you’re a dog trainer, being conversational with a casual tone will resonate with your audience more than if you wrote your email with a corporate tone.   On the flipside, if you are a doctor, and your audience are other doctors, you will want to use professional language.  But if your audience is your patient, you’ll want to use words they’ll understand.  Clarity in your words will always win.

How to Setup an Email Autoresponder (welcome sequence)

Setting up an email autoresponder can help you to manage your correspondence more efficiently. You can create a welcome sequence that sends out a series of automated emails to your new subscribers. This will help to connect them with your content and keep them updated on what is happening with your business.

Your first email will be the delivery of the lead magnet and depending on the email marketing tool you’re using, you can setup a series of automated emails called a “welcome sequence” once a week for the next few weeks.

In order to create a successful email list that works for you, start by writing a series of emails that you’ll put into your email marketing tool on auto-pilot.  There are many ways of creating a welcome sequence and note that this isn’t carved in stone.  It can be changed at anytime and should match the personality of your brand.  

  • Email #1:  Welcome your new subscriber, introduce and deliver your lead magnet. 
  • Email #2:  An introduction to who you are and how you help people.  You can also invite your new subscriber to connect with you on social media.
  • Email #3: Check on how they enjoyed the lead magnet and ask for feedback. If they have any questions or concerns, be sure to address them personally.
  • Email #4:  This is where you can share about how your product or service helps people including benefits.
  • Email #5: Share a case study about a client who’s used your product/service and how it helped them.  You can also include a discount code or some type of incentive.  
clear hour glass with brown frame

Send Emails at the Right Time.

The best time to send an email is when people are likely to be open to receiving it (during their work day, for example, or at certain times of the day). You can also send timed emails during promotional campaigns (such as before a sale).

For example: if you’re a meditation coach and your target audience is a mom who works from home, sending your email before 9am might not be suitable as she’s busy getting the kids ready for school.

Promote Your Lead Magnet on Social Media and Pinterest

There are a few ways to promote your lead magnet on Social Media and Pinterest. A free strategy is creating a post let’s say for Instagram talking about your lead magnet and sharing a link where people can opt-in.  You can also create a pin with a link to your website for Pinterest.

Sidenote:  if you use Pinterest as part of your email marketing, writing blog posts around your topic and having landing pages will be of great benefit to you.  Here is an example of a landing page on my website.

How Often Should I Send Email Messages to My Email List?

Once the welcome sequence has been completed, you can segment the subscriber. This can be setup in your email marketing tool automatically.  No manual work required.  If the customer did not make a purchase, move them to a group called something like “Warm Leads”.  If the subscriber made a purchase, move them to group B, such as “Customers”.

Now that you have two segments, you’ll create different types of emails for each.  If you only have one product or service, you can email your customers training, bonuses or additional content to help them.  For your warm leads, you can share content around the topic to keep them interested.  Just because they didn’t buy in round one, doesn’t mean they won’t buy in round 2.  After a few more value based emails, you can slowly make the offer again.

It depends on the type of email message that you’re sending and the frequency that you want your customers to receive it. For example, if you’re sending out emails about your product or service, it’s probably a good idea to send out messages every couple of weeks. However, if you’re mailing out promotional materials (like coupons or free samples), it may be more beneficial to send them less frequently – maybe only once a month. It’s also important to consider how long people will be interested in hearing from you – if they unsubscribe within a couple of weeks, then it might not make much sense for you to continue mailing them messages. Ultimately, the best way to know how often to send emails is by testing different frequencies and content to see what works best for your audience.

A standard that I’ve seen work well for myself and clients is sending an email once a week.

Analyze Results and Optimize

One of the most popular ways for analyzing email campaigns can be found inside your email marketing tool, which helps you identify how well your email campaigns are performing and where you can improve them.

Depending on the tool, you can run tests, see what links subscribers clicked on, checked what devices subscribers used to open your email, how many emails bounced, who unsubscribed etc.

For example:  if 90% of your subscribers used a mobile device to read your emails, then you can minimize the number of graphics in your emails and make sure you’re using a font style that’s best for mobile viewing, such as Open Sans.

By taking these steps, you’ll be better equipped to reach your target audience, maximize the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts and just make the experience for your subscribe more enjoyable.


Creating an email list that works for you takes some effort, but it’s well worth it in the end. Follow these tips, take advantages of tutorials with your email marketing tool provider and you’ll be on your way to running email marketing campaigns that connects with your target audience.

Until next time, stay inspired.



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