Your Email List: The Center of Your Content Marketing Strategy

Email lists are at the heart of all content marketing strategies
It’s been said. If a big part of your marketing happens on social media, you need to know that you are running your business on rented real estate. You don’t own the platform, the algorithms or even your followers. You have very little control over a lot of your variables and I don’t know about you, but that scares me.

Case in point.

There is this super awesome business coaching and skills training program that I am a part of. When I say super awesome, I mean SUPER AWESOME. Join it, and you become part of a network which offers crazy value in the form of access to two business mentors who seriously know their stuff and share it plus a program that offers up skill and cross-skill opportunities in just about every area of online biz management you can think of (bootstrapping your business, signing up clients, packaging and pricing yourself, writing rockin’ proposals, building your website, learning your way around MailChimp and Convertkit, mastering the Facebook advertising thing – tip of the iceberg!!!)

Back to the point I need to make. This super awesome program once had a Facebook group. Hundreds of engaged members. High-value content. Weekly Facebook Lives. Lengthy conversations and debates about everything related to starting and managing a business in the online space. I had notifications set to “All posts” for this one. Anyway, we woke up one day to find the Facebook group gone. No warning. No explanations. Facebook had shut it down.

As a member, I was devastated. All those times I had clicked “Save post” on a discussion thread that presented a learning opportunity – gone. All those Facebook Lives I planned to catch up on when time would allow it – gone. Needless to say, things got a little bonkers. Our mentors went into fix it mode, quickly starting a new “home” for the group and working very hard to find us all again. Facebook must have received a ton of “what have you done… this group is important to me, my business and hundreds others… please rethink this.” messages from us.

Long story short – a new group was set up very quickly, and like sea turtles, many of us found our way back home. Oh and, in the end, Facebook decided to reinstate the group. Go figure.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is “social media = rented real estate.” Your website and email list, however? All yours. No matter where you are in the entrepreneurial or freelancing journey, having a website to direct all your marketing efforts to and consciously growing/nurturing an email list from day one is the way to go. The existence of an email list means you have been granted permission by people who value what you have to offer to get back in touch with them. That right there is gold.


The List Building Thought Process

Perhaps because it’s easier and a little more tangible – many online business owners feel that they just need to blog x times per week or write x articles per day. This is a dangerous mindset because they’d be scheduling tasks, instead of working on results. Whatever you’ve decided your schedule to be, this is not the only lever for a successful online business.

Your key to a successful online business is knowing where to spend your time for maximum results and driving your list growth needs to be one of them. A key part of doing this well is going in with a plan for your list. By this, I mean having clarity around not the just the how of getting people on your list but also the what you’re going to do once they get there. What kinda content are you going to send their way? What does that journey through your email list nurturing process look like? What’s the end goal?

When you have that figured out, here are a few quick tips:

  • Start, and start early.
  • Numbers don’t matter as much as results. Having 50 highly engaged people who value what you’re about on your list is always going to be better than having 500 disengaged people. When presented with an offer, the 50 you have will convert better. Period.
  • Take the time to automate and optimize your process. Skip this part of the setup and you won’t be doing yourself any favors in the long run. You want a way of putting a compelling enough offer out there so that your ideal client avatar is happy to give you their email address (your opt-in mechanism e.g. opt-in boxes, sales, and landing pages). You want a way of collecting and storing this data securely (your email service provider e.g. MailerLite, MailChimp, ConvertKit, Infusionsoft). And, you want a way to be able to get in touch with your people, tailoring your interactions with some or all of them in a scalable fashion (again, your email service provider.)


Grow Your Email List

That said, here are a few start points that will help you make the most of your list and protect yourself from changes in search and social algorithms.

  • Content upgrades. These two words make up an amazing strategy for putting your list growth in overdrive. The concept is simple. Alongside your blogs and strategically positioned throughout your website, you would offer your readers a valuable resource. Even better – offer post specific resources. Look around and you’ll see this strategy in play on every awesome site. Examples: Amy Porterfield’s podcast episode no.154 on “7 Content Creation Ideas to Use When You’re Feeling Uninspired” offers readers a “10 Days of Inspiration One-Pager” as a free download – in exchange for your email address of course. Neil Patel’s recent blog post called “Is SEO Dead?” (Spoiler alert: it’s most definitely not) offers help with growing traffic and/or conversion to sales – in exchange for my email address of course. My business mentor (and idol!), Julie Stoian, put out a blog post titled “14 Reasons Your Facebook Ads Aren’t Performing Well {and there aren’t more than that}” and offers access to a free Facebook Ads 5-day Masterclass. And here’s the thing. These content upgrades aren’t placed apologetically at the bottom of a post. They are featured strategically at the top, in the middle, at the end of these posts. You’ll see opt-ins placed on home pages, sidebars, and high traffic pages. Also, there isn’t a need to go crazy and create 1 resource per blog post. There will be overlaps and there’s nothing wrong with offering the same upgrade across a few blogs.
  • Use your Facebook Page or Pinterest account to promote an offer that requires an email address. Promote offers on your timeline or create Pinterest boards where you pin well-designed covers of your opt-ins. And be sure to add social sharing buttons to the landing pages and thank-you pages you send them to so you encourage your leads to share those offers.
  • Leverage your business’ YouTube channel. Add calls to action and links in your videos to encourage people to subscribe to your list, and don’t forget to include links to relevant landing pages in your video’s description too.
  • Encourage your current email subscribers to share your emails by including social sharing buttons and an “Email to a Friend” spiel in your emails. That way, you’ll gain access to a whole new network of friends and colleagues who might just look you up and sign up to your list.


Try all of these methods (perhaps not all in one go) over the course of your business to help build your email list. And don’t stop. The larger your email list, and the more targeted it is, the more valuable a resource it becomes. Be prepared to evolve as you gain new insights – know what works, what doesn’t and adjust your approach as needed.