The Truth About Building An Email List from Scratch

We’re excited to welcome Jen Wilson, email marketing strategist, to the MOB blog! Learn more about Jen at the end of this blog post.
You’ve heard it everywhere, “the money is in the list”.

As in, your email list.

You scour the resources online and you get started. You can’t wait to build your huge email list of adoring fans and eager customers.

I know. You’re still waiting.

There are truths that aren’t spoken about on the internet about building an email list.

First, the stuff you see online leads you to believe that building an email list is the way to earn major profits, even for brand new entrepreneurs.

Yes, email marketing is the most profitable digital marketing channel, by far.
Yes, building an email list is a smart idea, even for new entrepreneurs.

But what isn’t said is that building an email list for new entrepreneurs can be incredibly difficult.

You see people online who brag about getting thousands of people on their email list in 30 days.

It must be pretty easy, you think to yourself.

What you don’t know is how they did it. For example, they may have had a thousand people sign up for their list, interested only in a free giveaway.

A list of a thousand people that only want free stuff is worthless…they’re never going to buy from you.

Building a list of quality prospects interested in you and your business takes time.

Know this—a legit entrepreneur who is able to build an engaged email list in a jiffy is an outlier. So, if you’re slogging your way through it, and progress is slow, you’re not alone.

Second, you believe growing an email list is simple…build a lead magnet and they will come!

The truth? Yes, it’s simple. But not easy.

To create a good lead magnet, you need to know a fair amount about your ideal client. And for most new entrepreneurs, you just don’t have this info. Not yet.

Then, your lead magnet product should thoughtfully and intentionally prod your prospect along their buyer’s journey. Again, it may sound simple, but in reality, it’s not always easy to figure this out.

Here’s the thing—the lead magnet is part art and part science. When you’re first starting out, it’s going to be a lot more art than science, until you get more experience and objective data from real people (aka your ideal clients).

At first, give yourself some grace from the pressure of creating the one, perfect lead magnet.

Consider it a test.

And finally, you may have built the perfect lead magnet, but you’ll still have trouble getting people to opt in if no one knows it exists.

In other words, you still need to drive traffic to your lead magnet.

There’s a lot of moving parts to create a great lead magnet, so if you find yourself stuck at any point along the way, it’s completely normal. You’re fine!

Finally, you might believe that getting people to opt in to your email list is the hard part. Now that they’re on your list, selling is easy.

You’d be only half right.

Yes, it was hard to get people on your list in the first place.
Yes, it was hard to make sure they were the right people.

But there’s still more work to be done.

The next order of business is to nurture and build relationships with your subscribers in your emails. Are you greeting and welcoming your new subscribers into your world with an automated (and really epic) welcome series?

Then, because your audience isn’t necessarily ready to buy when you’re launching your program or unveiling a new product, you should consistently email your audience with quality and valuable emails.

They’ll buy when they’re ready, and usually only after you’ve built up your “know, like, and trust” factor with them.

So, if you’re ready to throw in the towel with your subscribers because you haven’t sold anything to them yet…don’t. It’s a long game.

To sum up, here’s the truth about building an email list and email marketing:

1. Building an email list can be an incredibly difficult and slow process, especially if you’re just starting out. Set realistic expectations and don’t get discouraged at the slow pace.

2. Creating a lead magnet is simple, but not easy. At first, it’ll be more art than science. Consider your lead magnet a test, and don’t forget that you’ll need to drive traffic to it.

3. Once you get people on your email list, you may not be able to convert them to a paying customer right away. Send your new subscribers through your welcome series, and nurture the relationship in their inbox over time to build your know, like and trust factor. Play the long game.

Like anything else that’s worthwhile in life, email marketing is hard. Stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with loyal subscribers who want to buy from you.

Congratulations, mama, for doing the hard things. You got this.


Jen helps you write e-mails and create sticky lead magnets that build relationships with your subscribers and get them itching to open, read, click, and, of course, buy your stuff!

Connect with Jen here.

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