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How to Create an Email List that’s Highly Engaged

how to create an email list
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how to create an email listWith such a huge emphasis on businesses going online, there’s a stark difference in how people connect.  Rather than picking up the phone or physically engaging with people, entrepreneurs (like you and I) are being pressed to create new ways of creating depth, meaning, and trust with people who may be interested in our advice, products, or services.


While social media, blogs, and search engines may be great resources for driving traffic, there’s a missing ingredient that keeps entrepreneurs on the cyclical wheel of driving traffic and acquiring new customers if they don’t know how to create an email list that’s highly engaged.  The problem with staying on the cycle of acquiring new customers is you miss the key ingredient that creates a longstanding business (return customers and referrals), and you limit your success because you don’t have compounding efforts.




Let me illustrate it this way…


The Story of Willy and Bob


Willy has always had a job, but deep down inside he’s always wanted to start his own business.  After 10 years of working the same job, the executives announce the business will be closing down.


Willy believes this is his sign.  He decides, it’s time to start his dream business.


He takes his severance pay, and create his online business.  He buys his domain name, sets up his website, and begins driving traffic to his website using paid advertising (mostly from Adwords).


He’s ecstatic because it seems like it’s working. He’s having $5000+ months!  But, when Google changes their algorithm, his business crashes.


how to create an email listWilly’s friend Bob also worked at the same place.  He and Willy agreed they would both take their severance pay to start their own businesses.  Bob started slower because he wanted to do market research and identify a gap in the market that he could fill with his resources.


Bob bought his domain name www.whattodowhenyourelaidoff.com, and he began writing the best content he could on what to do when you’re laid off.  He was not making money as fast as Willy starting off, but he was having steady growth.  He focused his content around solving problems for people who were laid off.  He researched his audience and empathized with them immensely.  His readers said, “Bob understands me better than my mom or my spouse”.


Bob had a huge competitive advantage.


Everyday, Bob was serving his audience, creating new content and sharing it (sometimes using paid methods and sometimes organic), and he took time to add new skills.  He learned SEO, how to curate relevant content for his audience, and email marketing.  When Google switched their algorithm, Bob had an email list of 10,000 highly engaged people, and his sales were unscathed.


Can you see the difference?


The Goal of Email Marketing

how to create an email listThe goal of email marketing is to get to know your potential customers.  In my previous article, we talked about How to Increase the Conversion Rate by learning Psychographics.


Email marketing and networking are the primary methods that internet marketers use to learn the psychographics of their potential customers.  In their video on Email Marketing, Melanie Beckler said something profound, she said, “I don’t think of email as a method of marketing”.  She went further to explain how many people (“marketers”) think of email as a method for pitching their products, making sales, and getting conversions.  Since they see email as a method of satisfying a selfish desire, their emails are dissatisfying to their readers, soon lose their relevance after people see that the email is not a service for the client, but instead is a way to satisfy their “bottom line”.


In contrast to the common misuse of email, email marketing should be a method of establishing new relationships with the people who are the most supportive of your products and services.  Can you see the change in dynamics there?


You want each email to be a relevant service to each subscriber.  In order to succeed at staying relevant to your audience, you have to:


  • Choose an email marketing service provider with segmenting and tagging capabilities
  • Create several prompts to engage your audience
  • Think of your blog as the top of the iceberg
  • Tell stories
  • Open loops
  • Respond
  • Tag and Segment


If this sounds like alot, keep reading because I’ll explain each component further…


1. Choose an Email Marketing Service Provider


how to create an email listNot all email marketing services are created equal.  Each has different benefits.  Some appeal more to people who are thinking about themselves, and some appeal more to people who are thinking about their audiences.


Which do you think will create a longer term business?  The business owner that focuses on himself (Willy) or the business owner who focused on his audience (Bob)?


Let’s think about common competitive advantages of email marketing software.  Some email marketing benefits that satisfy a Willy are:


  • It’s reasonable price
  • It sends out my broadcasts to all of my readers
  • It’s simple
  • It’s easy to set up

Some email marketing benefits that satisfy a Bob are:


  • It helps make sure I don’t send out irrelevant emails to readers
  • It helps me get to know my readers likes and dislikes
  • It makes it easy to engage with my readers

Can you see the difference there?


When you’re choosing an email service provider, think about which entrepreneur you want to be like: Willy or Bob.  For me, I chose Bob.


Convertkit enables me to get to know my readers thru the tagging and segmentation features.  Others who also have similar email marketing desires choose Convertkit, Drip, or ActiveCampaign to perform similarly.  However, Drip and Activecampaign are a little complicated for the average (me included).  Convertkit offers engagement features and analytics that can help build an email list that’s highly engaged and stay relevant to them.


2. Strive to Stay Relevant


how to create an email listRemember in our story of Willy and Bob?  Willy had no real way of staying relevant aside from choosing ideal keywords for his ad campaigns.  While paid traffic is a great way to drive traffic to a website, it’s not a sufficient method to engage with them.


If you rely on paid traffic without any other back office email marketing methods, rather than being a trusted advisor to your audience (which is the positioning we want), you simply stay as a commodity in competition with every other product or service creator in the market.  Your audience will not get to know YOU separate from everyone else.  Your competitive advantages stay unclear and you have no retention, no substantial reason for repeat sales, and business success would be a slim chance or fluke.


Instead, Bob scaled slower, but he had a stable growth cycle.  He could be using the same traffic generation methods as Willy, but the part that set him apart was that he focused on establishing relationships and valuable skills.  Before he started offering products or services, he chose to learn how he could maximize his benefit to others first, then he aggressively focused on being the best at filling the hole in the market.  Service is the most important, so if you spike your growth, but bring lots of people to a bad customer experience, you create a bad reputation rather than achieving the goals you desire.


Lay one brick at a time: identify a problem, identify a solution, innovate quality service, drive traffic, test, improve, then scale.  Building a business takes time.  Be patient.


The key to staying relevant may sound like common sense, but think thru it for a second…


Think about what the client wants and subordinate your desires to that.


Take a few seconds to chew on that.


3. Think of Your Blog as the Top of the Iceberg


how to create an email listDo you see how deep the iceberg goes into the water?  The top of the iceberg is the smallest part.


Creating blog content is important for any business using internet marketing as their marketing method.  Whether you choose to create content by writing, creating audio, or creating video, elite marketers will tell you “Content is king”.


There is a queen though.  The blog is only the top of the iceberg.  Remember Willy?


Willy paid attention to the tip of the iceberg so his business collapsed whenever Google had a “mood swing”.  I’ve seen many aspiring internet entrepreneurs (myself included) fall into the trap of spending most of their time and effort on the tip of the iceberg rather than on what REALLY matters.


The people who’ve given their email addresses have indirectly said “I believe in you”.  Their belief in you may be very shallow when they give the email address, but it’s your sequence, your ongoing effort that transforms a skeptic into a person who says “I really like (your brand)”.


You want the relationship you build with your email list to become an individual experience unique to your brand and your readers.  You want them to feel like “he/she gets me in ways no one else does”.  Your opportunity to prove that you “get them” on a deep level happens in your emails as you learn their psychographics: their beliefs, their values, their entertainment activities, and what makes them “tick”.


4. Use Marketing Automation Workflows


how to create an emailJust because you’re getting to know someone on a deep level, doesn’t mean you can’t use marketing automation workflows.  Andre Chaperon is a legendary marketer for his use of marketing automation workflows.


He creates automated sequences with opportunities for you to self-select different workflows to go thru.  You can use the functionality of Convertkit to create workflows like this.  Not everyone should be presented the same offers.  Not everyone will be interested in your broad niche.


Chaperon suggests having different segways where one sequence channels readers into another that is more relevant to their interests.  Regardless, there should be basic email automation workflows you should consider.


5. Tell Stories “Soap Opera Sequences”


Another key term Chaperon created was “soap opera sequences” or “SOS’s”.  He believes in using the power of storytelling to keep your readers engaged.  He says using storytelling is like “crack cocaine”.  People naturally are wired to want to know “What happens next?”, and they ponder what happens so much that they anticipate your next email.


If there is a way you can break down your topic of expertise into a story with fragments told daily and climaxes, then Chaperon suggests you’ve found the recipe to higher engagement on your email list.

6. Open Loops and Peak Curiosity


how to create an email listWhen Willy’s business crashed, he had to move back with his parents.  At 30 years old, he felt so disappointed with himself.  He felt he hit rock bottom, then he had an epiphany.


You’ll learn more about his epiphany later…


Did you see what I just did?


You were learning about Willy.  You know he started a business, he was doing well, his business crashed, and now he’s at his lowest low.  Naturally, readers don’t want a story that ends like this and they want closure.  Leaving the story open is what Chaperon calls an “open loop” in a story.


When you have an open loop and anticipation built that the loop won’t be closed until the next email, it creates high engagement.  Chaperon and others have used the strategy of opening loops to create anticipation and high open rates on emails.


7. Email Beyond Pitching Products

Do you have anyone you’re excited to hear from?  I do.


When the relationship has enough elements of curiosity, excitement, and selflessness, it becomes exciting to hear from the person.  Remember, you want to see yourself as a “trusted advisor to others” and you want them to see you that way.


You can’t be a trusted advisor when it looks like you always want to sell or promote something.


8. Respond to Your Audience


how to create an email listWe (entrepreneurs) can be so guilty of having “Willy” tendencies.  It’s so easy to get satisfaction from the immediate fixes like sales, referrals, warm leads, and so on, and miss the longer term metrics.  It’s easy to focus on traffic and people at the beginning of the purchasing cycle rather than responding to emails of customers further into the funnel, but losing focus of responding to your audience is a RECIPE FOR FAILURE.


The competition online in comparison to the demand is still fairly low, so there’s plenty opportunity for people to make lots of money from impersonal flukes: ads, high traffic, and slapping affiliate links.  This may not be the case for long especially with the growing interest in internet businesses.  Additional competitive advantages will be needed as the internet becomes a more competitive marketplace.


The evergreen competitive advantages are: outperforming, outworking, and out-thinking, creating great customer experiences – AND – genuinely connecting with clients on a psychographic level.


Until you hit the grave, you have not “arrived”.  We need to stay humble.  Stay receptive.  Don’t busy ourselves with what Stephen Covey called “Quadrant 1,3, or 4 activities”, and instead, focus on quadrant two: the important but not urgent activities including cherishing our most supportive followers: our clients (free or paid).  Let’s make sure we’re:


  • Responding to emails
  • Responding to comments
  • Building relationships with people who are interested in us or what we offer
  • Take advantage of every opportunity to be a trusted advisor in the marketplace


9. Use Tagging and Segmenting to Learn Interests


how to create an email listRelevance is key in marketing and sales.


Tagging and segmenting gives you the opportunity to stay relevant to your audience.  Tagging and segmenting means that you won’t present the same offer to everyone on your email list, but wouldn’t that make sense if it’s not relevant to them?


Can you imagine if Jeff Bezos (the founder of Amazon) emailed you about each new product uploaded onto Amazon?  Wouldn’t that be a pain in the ______________(you fill in the blank)?


Don’t do that to your audience.  Tag and segment, and be okay if you only present offers to a small fragment of your audience.  Continue learning your audience and creating new and exciting offers.  Find affiliate offers that can solve problems your audience may have.  Find other opportunities, but let’s not be lazy.


Jay Abraham says, “Outwork, outperform, and outthink your competitors”.  Being relevant and satisfying our customers is our job (as entrepreneurs) in email marketing and overall business.


Here’s a Playlist of Videos I Love on Email Marketing


This playlist has really inspired me regarding email marketing and I created it because I’d love if it could inspire you too:



Final Words on How To Create an Email List that’s Highly Engaged

The goal of this article was to show you how to create an email list that’s highly engaged.  Hopefully, you have plenty of new ideas for how you can use preeminent email marketing to create massive success in your business.  If you have questions, I’d love to help you out.  Please leave them below.


If you’d like help starting or growing your online business, I’d love to help you out.  Please create your FREE account with Wealthy Affiliate and I can walk alongside you in your training as you learn to start and grow a massively successful online business.


If you want the full works on how to start a business: the legal, the accounting, the internet marketing, conversions, and so on, I’d love to escort you thru the whole process in my FREE “How to Start A Business in Ten Simple Steps” e-course.


Now, it’s Your Turn…


Have you had success with creating engagement on your email list?  What did you do?  Do you have tips, tricks, or insight on email marketing?  Share your questions, comments, concerns, or recommendations below.

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