If you’ve had “start email list” on your list forever, you’re not alone. Many of my clients put off starting their email list because it feels overwhelming. One of my clients (a pretty well known fitness professional) has a list of 500 subscribers that he has never emailed once. It’s not because he doesn’t WANT to, but because it’s another thing on the to-do list and unfortunately it’s been over-complicated by so called marketing gurus.
What I often tell my clients is to think of their email list as an extension of their social media. Yes, you have to learn your tool, but you don’t need to have a crazy 20-step funnel to start.
You need to do one thing if you’re going to win at email: show up consistently. Just like you tell your personal training clients. They have to put in the work consistently to see change. The same is true with your email list.
So how often should you email your list?
The simple answer is: once a week.
In fact, 60% of people report they want brands to email them “at least weekly”. Sending a weekly newsletter is the perfect frequency to stay top of mind with your subscriber, it allows you to add ongoing value with new content and offers and doesn’t “feel” like too much to them (or you).
Sending a weekly email gives you some space between emails for real life interaction so you have stories and funny things about life to weave into your emails. For example, you might have a training session with a client where they tell you about a problem and you work through it together. You know if one client is facing this, chances are the rest of your audience can benefit from your solution too, so now you have relevant, and timely, content for your next email.
It’s also realistic. You want your content to be helpful and thoughtful. Pumping out daily emails or even 2-3 a week while staying on top of everything is unrealistic, and how many of us can offer THAT much insight every day? Unless you have a full time email marketer on staff (even then, it’s a lot).
So the general rule is once a week, but let’s talk about different scenarios that call for different frequencies.
Scenario 1: You’re just starting out without a product or service to sell
This is the BEST time to start your email list. It gives you time to build up your audience and see what resonates before you try and sell anything.
Let’s say you’re training full time or you own a gym, but you’re ready to start working on your online business to make passive income. You know an email list is key, but getting an email out the door can feel like a huge undertaking when you’re already working full time.
The biggest hurdle is learning your tool and setting aside the time to write (or record) valuable content.
In this stage, keep your content simple and re-purpose it across platforms. Think of email as another social media platform, except the audience on your list is willing to lean in more and you get a direct line to them (buh bye algorithms). What are you sharing and saying on social media that’s working? Continue all of this in your emails.
We tend to over-complicate email, thinking we need to have an entire funnel and plan built out before we go live – but you don’t. You only need one email when you start, which is a Welcome email to welcome your new subscribers. Get a full rundown of why your Welcome email is so important here.
Here are a few weekly newsletter ideas to get you started that don’t require a blog, article or your own website:
- If you’re planning to go live on social media, invite your subscribers to join you live on Instagram or Facebook and let them know to send you questions related to the topic so you can cover them.
- Take a post that got a lot of engagement the past week and use the comments and feedback to illustrate the takeaways to your subscribers. Ask them their opinion.
- Check in. Ask how you can help them and encourage replies. As a general rule of thumb is you always want your readers to click somewhere (back to your site, to your blog, to your product) but asking for replies is a great way to get your audience more engaged. You’re saying “hey, I’m a human on the other end and I appreciate you.” Try this: Hey there, I wanted to check in and see how things are going. What’s one thing I can help you with right now?” See how that feels like it was written from a friend? That’s how you want your emails to feel.
Want to go next level with your reply? Send them a personalized video reply. Read about how to do it here.
Your main priority when you start is to be consistent. You don’t want to ghost your subscribers.
If a weekly email feels overwhelming, commit to bi-weekly. It’s enough to stay top of mind with your subscriber and not so daunting to make you feel stressed out. It gives you enough time to create high-value content, while working your full time job. It’s also frequent enough for you to get familiar with your email tool (which is key to being successful with email).
On that note, if you’re just starting out, please make sure you LOVE your email tool. Take the time to learn how to use what you need, and forget about all the extra features for now.
Many people start with Mailchimp because it’s free, but it’s not as user friendly as some other platforms. I switched from Mailchimp to ConvertKit for this very reason. They just opened a Free option where you can have a landing page, so you don’t need your own website to start, and 500 subscribers you can send broadcast emails (weekly emails, but no automation). It’s a great place to start.
Scenario 2: You’re just starting your list AND already have a product or service to sell
If you have a product or service to offer, you’ll want to have more frequency for new subscribers in the first two weeks. The more recent a subscriber is, the more likely they are to purchase. Therefore, winging it and sending emails as you have time won’t equate to sales.
In this case, it’s imperative you do the leg work in your email tool and set up a Welcome Sequence. This way, your subscriber is taken on a journey from the moment they sign up, and you can trigger the exact email sequence you want them to receive, on the exact days you want them to get it.
A great place to start is to set up the first week so it’s automated, and then build onto it so you have a full two weeks or whatever length best suits your business.
Your sequence should begin with a Lead Magnet to get potential clients to sign up, and your first email should deliver this immediately. This is a freebie you give in exchange for someone’s email. It should include something that helps your audience solve an immediate need or problem they have.
After delivering your Lead Magnet, you want to follow up with another helpful tip. Think: How can you add more value and wow your subscriber. The goal is to make your subscriber feel: “wow, if their free stuff is this good, imagine what their paid stuff must be like.”
Once you’ve delivered two emails with high-value content, pivot into selling. The days of 12 or 30 day long nurture sequences are gone.
Keep in mind the subscriber’s path to joining your list. They likely follow you on social media or were referred to you by someone, so you don’t need to spend weeks “warming them up.” Give massive value on the front end, both on social media and your initial emails, and you can feel confident pitching your services.
No matter how long your automation, keep in mind you need to SELL AT LEAST 3 TIMES before you move on to another offer. Your subscriber won’t open every email, just like they won’t see every post on social media. So you can’t sell to them just once and expect sales to flood in. You have to keep showing up and keep talking about your services, while offering value to them.
Also a very important thing to note, in his book Ask, Ryan Levesque states that you should only expect to convert 1% to 10% of traffic on the same day. In his business, and the companies he consults for, the remaining 25% to 75% of sales come from follow up emails.
I see the same conversion with my clients.
I put together this chart for a client to show the importance of ongoing email marketing. I took their sales data and compiled it to show conversion by recency (how many days did it take the subscriber to purchase after they signed up for email).
You can see 53% of conversion happens in the first week after someone subscribes, with 8% of subscribers converting the same day. These are very high numbers.
This is where having your email list, being consistent and staying top of mind is key. You could be leaving 47% of sales (or more) on the table if you don’t consistently market to your subscribers. To be successful, you have to play the long game.
Most people give up too soon. You will not get it right first thing out of the gate. Take that pressure off and just start.
Don’t wait until you have everything perfect. Start with your Lead Magnet and launch that first. Then build your next email and so on. Do it in stages, otherwise it feels too hard and you’ll never get it built.
Winning at email means playing the long game.
You might get crickets at first. You may not see a ton of replies. You might send an email that completely flops. That’s how everyone starts. But, stay rooted in being helpful, consistent and useful, and you’ll be successful with email and using it to grow your online business.
What should you do next with your email list?
Take my 8-question assessment and find out what’s missing from your email list. I’ll send you a blueprint with the next three proven methods to add to your email marketing (and why they matter). No 7-layer funnels or 10-persona segmentation. Real, battle-tested methods I’ve used for years and with my private clients.