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BUILD AN EMAIL LIST FROM SCRATCH in 2023 for Small Business Owners & Brands!

December 21, 2022

If you’re a small business owner or brand and you want to start your email marketing list, today’s video and post are for you! I’m sharing exactly what I would do if I was to build an email list from scratch. These tips will help you build a strong and effective email list so that you can grow your brand online! Let’s jump right in. 

Tips to build an email list from scratch: Business owner and educator Stephanie Kase shares what she would do if she was starting over with her email list

#1: Create a freebie

The first thing I would do to start my email list from scratch is to create a freebie. When I say a freebie, I mean a free download: a template, ebook, checklist, quiz or more. Essentially it’s something FREE you’re offering in exchange for someone’s email list. This freebie should be based around my business and my niche that my audience is actually going to be interested in – and that’s actually valuable. For example, we have the free Reels class where people sign up (give us their email) and get a 1 hour class about using Reels to connect with their ideal audience. We also have a quiz about discovering your next Reel idea and free Reel cover photo templates for Canva. Those are just a few quick examples of a freebie. Again, the main point is that someone is giving you their email address in exchange for access to that valuable resource. 

#2: Add your freebie EVERYWHERE

The next step is to then add the signup form for your freebie everywhere – literally, everywhere. We’re talking all over your website, on your blog, and on your social media. You want to make it super easy for people to find your freebie. Try to avoid general newsletter sign ups – especially on your website. Make it very clear what you’re offering in exchange for their email address. It’s much more enticing that way. Don’t forget to mention your freebie/link if you’re on a podcast or during other collaborations, too (as long as your collaborator is okay with that)! Make sure to get that freebie in front of people any way you can! 

Bonus Tip: In addition to adding your freebie sign up to your blog or YouTube content, consider creating content that is related to your freebie! For example, create an Instagram Reel about your freebie or a YouTube video about how to use the freebie. This requires them to then download the freebie to be able to follow along and accomplish whatever the video is discussing. I gained almost 3K email subscribers by creating a video about how to edit Reels cover photo templates in Canva based on my free Reels cover photo template download. Not only did I get a lot of traction on that video, but I built my email list using that strategy! 

#3: Choose an ESP 

Next, choose an email service provider (ESP). When I look for an ESP, I look for a platform that’s easy to use and enjoyable to work with. I want to find a program that is user friendly but also has great templates and stats to understand the success rates of your emails. Finally, I also want to be able to have access to segments so I can track where my users are coming from, too. With all of that in mind, I want to introduce you to the sponsor of today’s post and video: Mailjet


Mailjet is a beautiful ESP that allows you to create stunning emails without ever having to touch a line of code. Mailjet’s Email Editor makes it easy to create engaging email campaigns, newsletters, and automated emails in minutes. Leverage an array of beautiful pre-designed templates, so that you can focus on building your business! They seriously make it so easy to create emails people want to open! 

Mailjet has a really robust segmentation system within their platform. I love being able to send more targeted messages based on my customer’s interests, attributes, and behaviors. They also have GREAT statistics. Their reports allow me to track how the emails are performing in real time so that I can make adjustments easily. Mailjet’s statistics help to optimize your strategy and help increase conversion rates as you run sales and campaigns. It’s amazing to be able to change things in real time to help your emails perform better! 

I want to give a huge thank you to Mailjet for sponsoring this video! Try Mailjet today for free by using my link! I think you’ll love it – especially if you’re new to email marketing! 

#4: Set up a workflow

Once you have your freebie created and your ESP picked out, you need to create the workflows that allow people to immediately receive the freebie they’ve selected once they give you their email. Using a software like Mailjet will allow you to create a workflow on the backend for this delivery. This is a really important step. The way you do this will vary between ESPs but usually, they’ve got a pretty straightforward process and tutorial to help you out. 

For most ESPs, you’ll create a workflow that’s triggered by someone joining a segment that’s for your freebie. From there, they’ll receive an email containing the link or download for them. 

#5: Consistently share with your email list community

Now that you have subscribers joining your email list, the next step is to utilize that list and share with them regularly. This is a really big part of building your email list. Generally, I recommend emailing your list about once a week. By emailing your list once a week with free value, you can stay top of mind for your customers. Once a week is also manageable for most business owners. The content you share should be valuable to them, and help you create better connections. Obviously, this will vary brand to brand, but a few ideas include: sharing content you’ve posted on other platforms, encouragement or heartfelt messages, personal updates, weekly content roundups, or exclusive content JUST for your email list. As a personal brand, we find that our more personal or emotional based emails are very impactful. 

Emails don’t have to be complicated or long. Take the time to repurpose the content you’re already creating to connect with your audience. Weekly emails might seem like a lot, but a rhythm will come as you do it more! Finally, don’t be afraid to sell or share your promotions! People join email lists to be sold to – so utilize that. 

Bonus Tip: Once you’ve got a handful of emails sent out (probably about 6 months), take the time to review which emails have performed well. Build them into a nurture sequence so that you can take advantage of the work you’ve already done! You can learn more about an automated nurture sequence HERE in our podcast episode

Why Email Weekly?

So, the primary reason that you’re nurturing your email list is because you want to convert these email list subscribers into customers. These weekly emails are priming your audience so that when you go to sell to them, they’re more likely to buy. These weekly emails help serve and love your audience well – it shows that you care about them and their growth. Free content weekly can help you drive better conversion and sales in your business. Our email list has had the highest conversion rate of any part of our brand. The bottom line: don’t be afraid to use your email list to sell. Think about it, you join email lists for codes or promotions, right? 

Other Thoughts on Email Lists 

After you get more comfortable with using your email ist, look for ways to automate your email marketing. You can automate your sales, your nurture sequence, and so much more. Creating an email list that works for you is one of the best ways to make money without having to be active every day in your business! I hope these tips help you feel more confident about starting your email list from scratch!  

More Resources 

I also offer a free one-hour Instagram Reels class if you want more help with how to grow your reach, followers, and customers with Reels in 2 hours a month! You can sign up for that HERE. And, if you have questions or want some extra support, I’ve got a FREE Reels Growth Facebook Community that you can join. I absolutely love getting to chat with everyone and help them work through their questions about Reels!

PS. We’ve started a podcast! If you haven’t checked it out yet, now is the time!  This has been such a fun project since maternity leave and I hope you’ll tune in. If you’re listening and you have ideas about what to talk about next, please send in your requests! I really do want to know what you want to hear about in future episodes. Email me at [email protected] with your questions!! I can’t wait to hear from you!

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