What You REALLY Need to Know About Email Lists

Jenna Kutcher 

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January 9, 2019


Listen, I get it. Starting an email list seems overwhelming. The learning curve is just too high to even get started and if you do get it up and running... What the heck do you have to talk about? Tune in to this episode to hear all of Jenna's thoughts on how to get started.

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know by now that email list marketing is my thing. My weekly emails are an intimate place that I write what I call “love letters” to my girl boss audience looking for encouragement and no-fluff education on running their businesses, with a little self love mixed in for good measure. I share what I’m loving lately, whether that’s fashion, home decor or lifestyle topics, and I love to do a weekly roundup including podcast episodes, new blog posts, new items in my shop or whatever else is going on in my personal life or business that’s on my heart.

Listen, I get it. Starting an email list seems overwhelming. The learning curve is just too high to even get started and if you do get it up and running… What the heck do you have to talk about? I was in your shoes once and I dragged my feet for a long time thinking my business was doing just fine as is. The truth is, it was doing fine, but my dreams were big and I could have never gotten to where I am today without my email subscribers. These are my truest, biggest fans. When I ask for feedback, they respond. When I ask for a favor, they are happy to help out. When I have new things to share, they are genuinely excited about it. And, when I have something to promote, they buy. These are my people and I could not imagine my business without them.

I want you to reframe how you think about email marketing from an old fashioned, salesy, just another thing you need to do and learn for your business, to an opportunity in today’s world to connect, serve and engage with the exact right people that you want to attract in your business. By the end of this episode, you’ll have enough motivation to just go ahead and get started with this for your business.

Social media by itself isn’t cutting it

Wait, what? Did you not expect that from me considering my absolute love of Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook? Listen, I’m not telling you to quit those things, not in the least. But hear me out here.

Have you ever discovered someone on social media that you just love every single thing about them? Maybe they serve up content that is exactly in line with what you need or you’re incredibly inspired by them. You are a hard core fan girl. You like, engage with and comment on every post. Now, have you also ever had a time where you think to yourself that you haven’t seen posts from that person or business lately, gone to check out their page and missed so many of their posts and were disappointed? You wanted to see it all, you would buy anything they put out, read any blog post — but it just didn’t reach you? What the heck!

Don’t let this happen to your fans and followers! Did you know that only 6% of social media posts are even seen by your audience? And a message is 5x more likely to be seen in an email than via Facebook? All of the social media sites are heading towards a “Pay to play” model (Facebook owns Instagram, so get ready). We need to do better than 6% if our businesses are going to be profitable. And if it’s difficult to reach even the people who are dying to hear from us, how are we going to expand our reach and grow our audience?

Let’s take this a step further and imagine what we would do if social media someday disappeared? You might laugh to yourself as I say that, but seriously guys — I hate to break it to you, but we do not own our social media followers, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg does, and what if one day he decides to change his plan in any way that impacts your business? There’s also the possibility of things happening like your account being hacked and losing your followers or getting banned for one reason or another out of your control.

We don’t have control over social media and more importantly, we can’t offer an actual experience via social media. Because of this, our goal on social media should be to give an introduction, the handshake and invite them to a place like your website where you can paint a more complete picture of who you are, what you do and take them on a journey aimed at converting people to your list. Social media is an important part of this strategy because it is the first step, but we have to continue the process on our websites and email marketing strategies so that they are all working in tandem.

Emails generate more action

Did you know: 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through emails than social media? And 66% of consumers have purchased something directly from an email. Why? Think about your mindset when you’re scrolling social media: you’re there to be entertained, inspired or to catch up on what friends and family are doing. You are not shopping and in fact, seeing something for sale there can often be a turnoff. It just doesn’t always feel right. People expect sales type messages more via email and therefore are more open to them. And being more open to them means being more likely to actually click through and purchase.

This is not just me talking from experience. Studies show that 3.57% of people click through on links from email compared to .07% on Facebook. When you’re in someone’s inbox sharing about your products or services, you’re not competing with all the other noise that social media is putting out. You’re also able to share about what you’re selling in a more personal way. With email marketing, you’re able to segment your list so that you’re emailing each subscriber only about what they are interested in hearing about from you. Instead of writing a social media caption that may not apply to all, you can email only the people on your list that raised their hand to say they wanted to hear from you on this exact subject. This allows you to get really specific and detailed instead of trying to talk generally to everyone.

Let’s remove ourselves from the shouting match and create content that’s delivered in a more intimate, targeted and reliable way.

How to Generate Action with Email

There are 3 components to consider:

  1. A strong email subject line to get recipients to click and read: I have a freebie that gives you 50 subject lines to grab and use for your own emails.
  2. Defining your goal with each email (is it to serve? Entertain? sell?) Having this goal in mind from the start will help you better craft your message and provide value.
  3. A strong call to action: This is usually short, bold in text and color or a button, includes action-oriented text, it’s above the fold (meaning they don’t have to scroll to see it). Your call to action should generate the action you identified in your goal. So if it’s to drive traffic to a blog post, purchase a product, sign up for a webinar and so on, the call to action and goal need to be aligned.


A few ideas for selling directly in an email:

  • Work in a story: For example, you could email a client testimonial on how they benefited from your products or services and then include a call to action so they can purchase a similar product or service directly from your email, too.
  • Send an exclusive offer to your email subscribers providing extra value
  • Cross sell other products based on their purchase history with you.
  • Alert them to new offerings or highlight best sellers of the past.
  • Take them on a journey by leading up to a launch with multiple emails priming them for the sale.
  • Abandoned carts: try emailing to people that put your product in their cart but never completed the sale

Emails drive profits

“There’s money in the list”. You’ve heard this. We all have. That’s great for the people who have lists. But I want to emphasize HOW MUCH money is in the list because, truthfully — it was the difference between 6 and 7 figures for me. My email list growth is directly proportional to my profit growth over the last 3 years. I’m going to get really honest with you here to prove this point.

Pre-email list my profits were right around $100,000.
In 2016 I began my email list and profits grew to about double the year before.
2017 my email list was 150,000 subscribers and profits grew to $1.5 million.
In 2018, my email list reached 300,000 and profits are projected over 3 million.

The more I focus on my email marketing strategy, the more profits my business generates. And this is not just true for my business. The online marketing world has estimated that 1 email subscriber = $1/month on average. That rings true for my business pretty closely at 275,000+ subscribers which would put us at 3.3M for the year.

What do you want your monthly income to be? What do you need to grow your email subscribers to achieve that goal? Have you ever thought about how they are related and that by focusing on email growth you are also focusing on growing your profits?

The average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media. What does this mean? It means if I email about something I’m selling and I post about that same thing on social media, the email is 3x more likely to generate a sale than the social media post.

Email grows your customers

You guys, I get it. Growing that social media following count is fun. It’s a public number — people actually know and can see it. They judge you on it. It’s something to be proud of. But you’ve heard me say it before: popularity? It doesn’t pay my bills. Sure, it’s fun to see that number grow and there is so much value in gaining followers. Absolutely. I’m not saying don’t grow your social media followings. In fact, I believe it should be the handshake — the introduction to you and your business and invitation to dive deeper and become a true fan by visiting your website and (hopefully) subscribing to your list so you can continue the conversation.

Here’s the facts on this: Email marketing has acquired 40x more customers than Facebook and Twitter combined. What that means to me is that one email subscriber is SO MUCH more valuable than one social media follower. Grow that social media following in tandem with your email subscribers by inviting them off the app with a call to action to engage more deeply with you.

I believe email marketing is responsible for generating more customers for businesses because it gives us an opportunity to take people on a journey with us. This might look like an email welcome sequence someone receives immediately after signing up that guides them down the path to learning more about you and slowly painting a picture for them about what you’re about. Once they know who you are, you can build trust by serving up valuable free content in your emails before ever pitching them something to sell. This is going to be a better experience that you can build out over the course of time instead of trying to achieve all of that in one simple post. Someone might not be ready to purchase from you right away, but over time their awareness and trust can be won which are key components of gaining a new customer.

Pivot with your list

I have pivoted in my business and life so many times that what exists today looks absolutely nothing like where I started out or even what my wildest dreams for my business looked like. From a corporate career to photographer to watercolor artist, social media influencer, online shop, speaker, podcaster, educator — my roles are so very different. I strongly believe that when you build a brand that’s centered around finding the right people who are there for you, they will evolve and grow with your business as well.

The thing is, email list works whether you’re product-based, service-based, a brick and mortar shop or an educator. Having a piece of my business fall into just about every single one of those categories, you can believe me when I say that email marketing works for it all. That’s not necessarily true of other marketing strategies and if you ever change your mind, want to switch things up, add another income source, product line or service to your business, you can rest assured that your email list is going to benefit that new endeavor and support you. Email marketing is going to sustain your business for the long haul even if it evolves, so it’s so worthy of our time and energy today.

Email marketing is not an old boring strategy but instead it’s one that we should be paying attention to and prioritizing in our businesses. I hope I’ve got your wheels turning and have you onboard with this concept because it has truly changed my business and I know it can do the same for yours. I have another episode coming out soon all about the new ways I’ve learned to get people to actually sign up for your list and a webinar that teaches what to say and how to serve them so that you can ultimately turn those followers to email subscribers to paying clients. I’ve got your back every step of the way with these resources, goodies and free trainings. Trust me, a year from now — you’ll be so glad you started today.

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  1. Amitha Nayak says:

    Hi Jenna, interesting piece! I do have a couple of queries. How do I subscribe to your newsletter? How does one get started/increase their emailing list?

  2. […] this recently, and I would highly recommend you listen to it too! You can find out more about it here. The bottom line is, email subscribers are worth a lot more to your business than social media […]

  3. […] only that but according to Jenna Kutcher, the online marketing world has calculated the value of each subscriber to your list to be $1/month […]

  4. […] this recently, and I would highly recommend you listen to it too! You can find out more about it here. The bottom line is, email subscribers are worth a lot more to your business than social media […]

  5. […] Episode 221: What You REALLY Need to Know About Email Lists […]

  6. […] something you need to set up right away if you plan on monetizing your blog. You can listen to Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger podcast about why this is so important to do from day […]

  7. […] Goal Digger Podcast, then you know how important it is to grow your email list. According to this post, 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through emails rather than social media. 66% […]

  8. […] What You REALLY Need to Know About Email Lists- episode 221 […]

  9. […] “only 6% of social media posts are even seen by your audience. (https://jennakutcherblog.com/email101/) And a message is 5x more likely to be seen in an email than via Facebook?” […]

  10. […] Kutcher! She has a fantastic blog post about why an email list is important, and I want you to click here to read it. She is a […]

  11. […] market quickly and drive them to a place you can truly connect with them. As Jenna Kutcher says, “We do not own our social media followers, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg does.” So, use Instagram to build your audience, discover insights about them through Instagram analytics, […]

  12. […] In fact, it’s estimated that one email list subscriber will equal $1/month on average (you can learn more about this from Jenna Kutcher here!) […]

  13. Haley says:

    Hello —
    I found this VERY helpful and inspiring. Thank you so much. I started my own email list about 18 months ago after doing the 250 challenge and have 2000 people now. I actually wanted to write to my list about how powerful email marketing can be.
    And I wanted to include the stat about only 6% of a social media audience seeing any given post.

    Can you let me know what the source is for that stat?
    Thanks very much,

  14. […] Jenna Kutcher recommends making sure every email has a strong subject line that stands out in a subscriber’s inbox and gets their attention. She says to make sure every email is written with a clear goal in mind, whether that’s to sell something or just to educate your subscribers on a topic. Finish each email with a call to action so your subscribers know what to do next. […]


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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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