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I have people on my email list, now what?

Subscribers who stay engaged ask more questions, offer more feedback, and buy more products. How do you make sure when you send out your newsletter it doesn't just sit unread? In Chapter 12, you'll learn how to keep an engaged audience that opens, clicks, replies, and buys.

Once you have people on your email list, you want to continue growing your trust and relationship with them — which means they need a reason to keep opening the messages you send over time.

So how do you keep people engaged? What do you say? Khe Hy found that asking questions opened the door to conversations.

Khe Hy

“The best way to keep subscribers engaged is to ask them questions. I use questions in the body of my email and the subject line. I ask them, ‘What do you want me to write about? What are you struggling with? What is a challenge that you’re currently facing?’

If you engage with your readers, people will respond, and I engage them. I’ll say, ‘What’s something you wish I wrote about?’ And then it makes you more relatable, more approachable, and you are listening. They are telling you what they want to hear about.”

Your subscribers can offer a wealth of ideas and feedback, but they may not assume they can just hit reply and start a conversation. By asking questions, you invite them into a dialogue with you where you can gain a better understanding of what your audience needs and how you can serve them.

Let’s check out some other strategies for keeping your list engaged.

Keep your list engaged with a value-packed onboarding sequence

Becky Mollenkamp’s email open rate is around 50% which is nearly double what’s considered to be a high open rate. One of the strategies she attributes her success to is using an onboarding or opening sequence to make sure her new subscribers are getting a ton of value right away.

Becky Mollenkamp

“Once you get them to sign up, what comes next really matters. When people get on my email list, they don’t go into my regular emails or sales emails right away. I give them the thing they asked for and show them how to use that thing.

I do some things to help people self-select whether they own a business or not, so I can speak specifically to the people I’m talking to about what they have going on.”

Periodically remove uninterested followers from your list

Becky also points to her practice of regularly cleaning or culling her email list. This means if someone on her list hasn’t opened, clicked, or replied for a period of time, she removes them. Removing people from your list seems counterintuitive, but Becky explains why it makes a lot of sense.

Becky Mollenkamp

“I don’t have a giant list. If I didn’t take the time to cull my list, which I do regularly, I would imagine my list would probably be up to 10,000 people now, which is still not a huge list by a lot of people’s standards.

But instead, my list is about 3,000 and that is because I purposely try to keep it small. I do a lot of scrubbing of cold subscribers and try to keep only the people who actually engage with my list, which is why my open rates are at almost 50%, which is high. And that’s because I make sure that I have people on my list that actually want to be there.”

Be human, and be helpful

Em Connors points to authenticity and providing a lot of value as key strategies for driving higher engagement.

Em Connors

"I just try to be human, I don’t want to be a robot. I use extra words that make it sound like I’m talking to someone. When I first started writing my email and creating my website, I felt like I had to talk a certain way and have perfect grammar when that wasn’t the case at all.

When I pretend I’m texting my best friend, or I’m emailing my best friend, or talking to a friend, it just takes a weight off my shoulders that was making me think I had to be something other than myself.

Keeping people engaged is also about giving a lot of value. I think they’re afraid if they don’t open the email that week, they may miss something.”

Experiment with different email formats

One of the ways Em provides value and makes her emails more engaging is by using an interesting template .

Em Connors

“One of the things I’ve done is I have a format that I follow for all my newsletters. It helps me write them and I think people like to know what to expect. I’m not a writer and it intimidated me to stare at a blank screen and have to think of something to say.

So I was doing research on newsletter formats and I came across James Clear, who’s the Atomic Habits author. His newsletter format is 3, 2, 1. Mine is three ideas to move your business forward, two things I’m loving right now, and one tip. That just helps me feel like it’s like fill-in-the-blank.

Usually, the newsletter is three ideas to teach you about something and two things I’m loving. My background’s in fashion and I lived in New York City for a long time so I like to share little things like that. I’m not going to share it on my main feed, but in an email, it’s kind of fun to share, ‘Oh look at this top I got,’ or ‘This is how I know when my plants need to be watered. Try this gauge.’ It’s random, but it just gives me that creative freedom.

And then for the one tip, I typically share my highest-performing social media post.”

Em’s approach is great because it combines an interesting format with some of her authentic experiences and ideas in a way that helps her make a deeper connection with her audience. Sharing pieces of who you are, while maintaining healthy boundaries, can help your audience find connection points with you through common interests or experiences.

You don’t necessarily have to get personal to find those connection points. Khe Hy sometimes ties in popular culture or events to find common ground with his subscribers.

Khe Hy

“I try to understand what other content my readers are consuming. Are they listening to this specific podcast or reading this new book? That gives me an entry point into another thing to write about. If all of my readers are following a specific TV show, is there a way to weave that into my storytelling, into my links, into my blog post?”

These are just a handful of ideas you can start using right now to keep your email list more engaged which hopefully leads to more opens, more clicks, and more sales. It’s okay to take your time with these and not rush right into making sales. 

People join your list because they want to get to know you, so let them

Becky Mollenkamp stresses that allowing your audience to get to know who you are is what ultimately turns subscribers into customers.

Becky Mollenkamp

“Don’t forget, it’s ‘Know, like, trust, and then buy.’ A mistake I see people making is thinking, 'I got them, I better hurry up and sell them something.’ I think my open rates are high because people know me. Because I take that time to make sure that they get to know who I am.

I show up authentically and I speak conversationally so they feel like, ‘That’s an email I want to read’ and ‘I don’t think she’s going to hit me with a bunch of sales pitches every two minutes.’ And I think that helps.

You also have to know your business. It may be different for a product business than it would be for what I’m doing. But for creatives trying to sell a service or something that we make, people want to know the creator, not just the product or the service that person’s selling.”

Becky brings us back to a theme that has come up a lot in this chapter and throughout this whole guide. When you show up authentically–creating things you enjoy, being yourself, connecting your experiences and expertise to real problems–you make it easier for your audience to connect and engage with you. You don’t just attract followers, but you build an audience of fans.

As you’ve gone through this guide, I hope you’ve come away from each chapter with ideas and inspiration for your creator business, and that you feel excited and confident about growing your audience.

This is the end of the guide, but not the end of your journey. If you haven’t already checked out our online course, Get Noticed! , you can head there to find worksheets and additional resources that will help you put this information into practice. 

On behalf of all of us at Podia, thank you for spending this leg of your journey with us, and best of luck as you grow your audience.

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