I feel like there’s a lot of data and information available explaining just how beneficial it is to grow your email list for your business.  With a return-of-investment (ROI) of $36 for every $1 spent, email is a cost-effective way especially for solopreneurs to market themselves and their business.

I’ve preached about the wonders of email many times before and it is one of the best practices if, like me, you want to stop relying on social media for your small business.

Despite oodles of data showing how effective email marketing is for making sales, it seems to be something that a lot of small business owners still don’t prioritise.

A common reason I hear for not getting started with email marketing is that it’s just too time consuming.  And sure, email marketing can take longer to set up than say, an Instagram account but the irony is that your mail list takes up far less time in the long run.  

In fact, to get the same ROI from your socials, you’re going to be putting in a helluva lot of time making new content, interacting, posting and keeping up with relevant trends like short-form-video.

Benefits of using email marketing vs. social media only

You own your contact list.

Unlike social media, you own your list of acquired audience emails.   You can keep a hard copy, digital spreadsheet or use email marketing software to keep track of your email contacts. 

On social media, you don’t own your followers.  If there’s a glitch on the social media platform which sees it crash, you cannot access your followers at all with no way of retrieval. 

There’s also other tech glitches to contend with. For example: many users are experiencing their accounts being disabled or even hacked, with difficulty accessing support to rectify by the Meta platform.  This results in no access to their business Facebook or Instagram accounts. 

I’ve seen this happen across the board, some accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers.  Imagine having to start all over again after years of building a following to 100K? No thanks.

No algorithms to contend with.

Another common reason I hear as to why business owners haven’t started email marketing is they feel they won’t be consistent. 

The beauty of electronic direct mail (EDM) is that you don’t have to be consistent in order for it to be effective. 

I’ve known businesses that have acquired over 500 emails through a valuable lead magnet, without having a strategy or nurture sequence in place.  Your email contacts aren’t going anywhere. 

There is always time to target your contacts and it doesn’t have to look perfect!  This is also where a nurture sequence is so valuable to set up for your email subscribers.

email-nurture-sequence-template

What exactly is an email nurture sequence?

An email nurture sequence is a series of automated emails at timed intervals that someone receives when they subscribe to your email list.  The idea is that you nurture a relationship through these emails with the goal being your subscribers will convert to customers.  This is sometimes referred to as a sales funnel.  

The best thing about setting up a nurture sequence, is that it is automated and does the work for you (sometimes while you sleep!) 

For small business owners who are doing ALL THE THINGS themselves for their business – it’s gonna save you bucket loads of time.  A nurture sequence doesn’t require you to show up daily and can be tweaked or updated with minimal effort.

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How to start getting email subscribers.

Before you think about setting up your nurture sequence, you need to think about how you’re actually going to get people on your email list. 

Sure, you can just ask if they want to sign up or create a pop-up that asks if they want to sign up for your newsletter.  But, have a think about how many emails we receive these days – there’s a lot of noise in our inbox and as consumers we can be pretty picky. 

If you have something of value to offer your audience, it’s more likely they will be happy to hand over their email address.

1. Choose your email marketing platform.

You’ll want to begin by establishing what program or software you’ll be using to set up your mailing list.   I personally use MailChimp because it was free when I started in business (and still is for up to 500 contacts) and there’s a lot of free online tutorials and information available about how to set it up.  

Is MailChimp the best email marketing program out there? 

No, I don’t think so.  But I know how to use it, it works fine, it’s affordable and it’s a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it for where I’m currently at in life and biz.

2. Create an irresistable lead magnet.

The next step is your lead magnet (aka email opt-in) which enables you to secure an email lead. This is something of value you can provide to your audience in exchange for their email address. 

Common types of lead magnets:
  • Free trials
  • Discounts
  • Downloadable guides
  • eBooks

Reminder: You don’t always have to have a perfect lead magnet to build your subscriber list.

You can simply include a check-box on checkout for your customers to opt-in to your email marketing to help retarget these previous customers.

I’ve built a large portion of my email list with guests from my Honest Biz Brunch events. 

My audience signs up to the waitlist for these events in order to have first access to tickets.  This has proven to be a measured and sustainable way to build my email database.

Set up your landing page or signup form

A way for customers to access your lead magnet is often through a landing page.  This is usually a simple web page dedicated to providing information about your lead magnet, with space for your audience to enter customer name, email address and any other contact details.  

You can create a landing page through your website or using your preferred email marketing provider.

How many emails to include in a nurture email sequence

I recommend a minimum of 3 emails.  In saying that, there’s no right or wrong amount of nurture emails for a sequence.

Remember, you’re wanting to nurture these client relationships, not dive straight into a hard-sell (ew).

It comes down to your individual marketing goals as well as reviewing your results for your campaigns after you have started sending them.  It can be a bit of trial and error to begin with. 

See what content is resonating the most with your subscribers.  Most email marketing platforms have metrics available so you can review each email campaign. 

Different email metrics provide different insights:

No one metric is going to provide you with all the information you need to make decisions. However; they can give you a starting point for editing your nurture sequence and other email campaigns.

Open Rates – This can reflect how enticing your subject line and preview copy are, the frequency of emails your subscribers are receiving (e.g. too many and they may just stop opening them altogether) and deliverability of your campaigns (i.e. are they going to spam?)

Click Through Rates (CTR) – Click throughs are the activity or action that your subscribers take after actually opening and reading the email content.  A higher click through rate means higher engagement and interest in what you are including in your email campaigns.

Unsubscribes – This is indicative of when a subscriber is no longer interested in the email content you are providing.  There are many reasons people unsubscribe from email lists.  As I mentioned earlier, sometimes it’s simply a case of wanting to declutter their inboxes. If you are seeing large unsubscribe rates following a campaign, it’s time to review your email content, intervals and number of emails sent and tweak accordingly.

Tip for reviewing your unsubscribes: Take note of the numbers but don’t go down the rabbit hole of seeing who unsubscribed.  It can be hard not to take it personally if you see a friend unsubscribe from your emails but the underlying reason(s) is usually not personal and so, it’s easier to conserve energy and get on with more important things.

email-nurture-sequence

How long should the delay be between automated emails?

You will find all sorts of data and recommendations around this.  Again, there is no right time interval between emails.  It is dependent on your individual business products, services and marketing goals.

A great example is a product based business with lead magnet that offers a discount for new customers – your nurture sequence could be over a week vs. multiple weeks or months.  This is because if someone is signing up to your email list purely for the discount, there’s a good chance they are ready to purchase from you and won’t require as much nurturing.

Whereas, if you are nurturing your potential customers towards a high-ticket product or service, you’ll generally want to extend your nurture sequence over a longer period. 

As consumers, we often need more time to decide on a significant purchase and so you’ll want to spend more time building your client relationship by providing value without selling.  You can also start by introducing low-ticket or lower priced offerings, before more expensive packages, products or services. 

In the email nurture sequence template below you’ll find suggestions for intervals but I recommend reviewing your email metrics periodically and tweaking as needed.

email-nurture-sequence-template-blog-image
Divi WordPress Theme

Free Template for a 5 – email nurture sequence.

Below is a simplified example of a 5-email nurture sequence.

I’ve used copy that is similar to my own current nurture sequence. 

The object of my email automation here is to encourage people to download my beginners SEO ebook or book my content writing services.

Email 1 – send your freebie

Timing: Send immediately after subscribing.

This first email is also known as your welcome email.  Keep it simple by saying thanks to your subscriber for signing up and provide them with your promised lead-magnet. 

Best practice for subject and preview text:

  • Don’t use  too many emojis (but include one or two)
  • Ensuring you include the name of your lead magnet so when your subscriber sees the email in your inbox, they immediately recognise it.

Email copy example:

Subject: 5 Tips For Growing Your Business Without Needing Social Media

Preview Text: Your free 5 page guide inside!

Email Body:

Hi!

Woohoo! Welcome to the <business name> party!  Thanks so much for being here.

Access your free <insert lead magnet> by clicking the link below.

Until next time, 

<name>

Email 2 – follow up your freebie

Timing: 5 days after sending email 1.

I like to use this email as a follow up from your freebie/lead magnet.  I personally also reshare the original lead magnet as a cue for subscribers to take action and get the most value out of your opt-in.

Most email marketing programs also have automations where it resends your welcome email to subscribers if they haven’t opened their welcome email.

In this second email you’ll want to follow up whether they need help with their lead magnet or provide additional information to continue them on their journey with your freebie.  Obviously, the type of follow up you provide depends on the lead magnet in the first place.

Email copy example:

Subject: The first step to get off the social media merry go round 🎠…

Preview Text: …and still make max sales in your business!

Email Body:

Kicking your social media habit is hard. Especially when you feel like you *need* to be on there for your business.

But what if I told you <first name> that the first step to stop your mindless socials scrolling isn’t to put the phone down…

It’s to create an epic email lead magnet.

Why?

Because breaking a habit is hard. So if you’re going to continue to spend bulk time on social media – you may as well be trying to convert your audience to email subscribers.

Because unlike social media, you own your email database.

If you need a little inspo – check out my article with 11 Email Opt-in Ideas Guaranteed to Boost Your Subscriber Rate.

I hope that helps!

<name>

Email 3 – About You

Timing: 3 days after sending email 2.

This email is an opportunity to share more about you and your business.  Introduce yourself, give background as to why you started your business and the pain points you help your customers solve.

Tip: You don’t have to write an essay or include your full bio.  If this information is available on your website (in something like an About Me page) you can include a link to read more. 

This is also helpful for getting more eyeballs on your website and encouraging your subscribers to spend time having a squiz around your site.

Email copy example:

Subject: Started at one blog and now we here 💁🏼‍♀️

Preview Text: How one blog lead to being fully booked in business

Email Body:

Even though I rave about blogging now – I haven’t always been a blogging stan.

As a busy mum of 3 and FIFO wife, I felt like I didn’t have time to keep up with constantly-changing social media algorithms to market my business.

I was stuck on the social media merry go round, scrolling, reacting, trying to make reels and posting for what felt like HOURS every day. But I wasn’t seeing any meaningful change to my business bottom line.

I invested in learning more about SEO by chance with a 1:1 consultation with an SEO expert. I implemented some of these changes on a blog I wrote about being a FIFO wife, without giving it too much thought.

Next thing I knew, I was getting emails, messages and engagement on social media from other FIFO partners – without even trying!

I implemented the same changes on my custom illustration service page and in the next 12 months, climbed to the top place for relevant searches related to custom illustration. I had a steady stream of enquiries and became fully booked – even having to turn away clients!

And the best part was after a little know-how and setup, I didn’t have to show up every day and had more time to focus on my family and my client work.

This is why I’m so passionate about teaching other women in business the power of SEO and strategic blog content.

You can read more about my business journey over on my website.

I can’t wait to share more about how blogging can transform your small business marketing – stay tuned!

<name>

Email 4 – how you can help your clients

Timing: 2 days after sending email 3

It’s time to focus on the problem you solve for your clients. 

Spend a little bit of your email speaking to your client’s pain points.  This is a chance to prove you understand and have empathy for your readers and highlight your point of difference. 

Take them on a journey and show how you can take them from A to B.  Enhance your email using social proof with real-life examples of client transformations. 

Things like testimonials, client case studies or relevant content like ‘before’ and ‘after’ imagery are impactful in demonstrating how you have successfully helped other people in the same situations.

Email copy example:

Subject: (e.g.) How blogging took Jane from $2K – $10K months in biz

Preview Text: And not an Instagram reel in sight 👏🏼

Email Body:

<first name>, meet Jane 👋🏼

Jane is the owner of XYZ and I first met her at a small business workshop. She was struggling with generating leads in her business and was feeling deflated with lack of engagement or growth on her business socials.

I invited her along to one of my Honest Biz Brunch events to meet other likeminded entrepreneurs to find support and inspiration.

During the biz brunch I took a look at her website and blog content and did a quick audit showing her the tweaks she could make to her content to boost website traffic and potential client leads.

Six months later she sent me this:

“It’s been a while since I first met you at your Honest Biz Brunch but I just had to reach out and let you know how much that day changed my business. 

A few months after making the changes to my website and being consistent with my blog content, I had my first client ever find me through Google!

Now I’m seeing 3-6 leads generated through organic search alone!

I don’t feel constantly glued to my phone anymore and for the first time since starting in business I feel confident and clear about my marketing strategy and have already smashed my half-yearly business goals!…”

And Jane isn’t alone in these results, see what other clients have said too ⬇️

<include more testimonials and feedback screenshots>

If you’re keen to dabble in a bit of collective brainstorming, why not come along to the next Honest Biz Brunch event? You can book your ticket here.

Hope to see you there!

<name>

Email 5 – Sell with a CTA

Timing: 3 days after sending email 4

This is where you introduce your offer and include a call-to-action for people to buy your product or service.

Sending this email sooner than previous follow-up emails is beneficial because your point of difference stays front-of-mind. 

To increase conversion consider including a time-sensitive offer such as a VIP discount, bonus content, or something else of value.

Email copy example:

Subject: The easy way to create 4 quality blog posts in just one month

Preview Text: + Special offer inside! 👀

Email Body:

The most common objection I hear when it comes to blogging for your business, is ‘I just don’t have the time.’

Most business owners know the value of SEO for their website and blogging content for their marketing, but simply don’t have the time to implement all the things.

And this is where I come in!

Introducing <insert package, offer, value>

If you book your Blogging Boost package today, you’ll receive bonus Pinterest pins and socials content absolutely free!

<CTA button>

Feel free to reply if you have any questions!

Happy blogging!

<name>

What to do when your nurture sequence is complete.

After your email nurture sequence is done, you can decide where your subscribers are funneled to.  If you want to get a little bit fancy, you could set up an additional nurture sequence, add a unique tag or segment your audience based on the action your subscriber takes in the email  journey. 

Some businesses will also continue to add emails onto their nurture sequence over time.  You could space these emails out to fortnightly, which is a handy way to consistently share regular content with your email list on autopilot.

To keep things super simple, once completing your nurture sequence, you could add subscribers to your general newsletter/mailing list to use for future ad hoc campaigns.

You don’t always have to be uber-strategic when it comes to the content you share with your email list.

Examples of simple content ideas for regular email newsletters:

  • Sharing blog post snippets or previews
  • Sales or special offers
  • News and current events related to your niche

I like to tag my subscribers according to the category when they enter my email database.  This means I can tailor my future email content to their interests (which would be more likely to = conversions) instead of always sending blanket, generic emails.

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