Episode #5: How to Figure Out What to Send Your Email List

As a small business owner, you're probably feeling the pressure to start growing your email list. Good! Growing an email list will be one of the best things you can do for your business. And while it's hard work, growing your email list is only half the battle. 

Once you've started to collect email addresses from your subscribers, you're challenged with figuring out what you're going to send them. You've probably heard time and time again that email marketing messages need to be packed full of value since you're entering the "sacred place" that's your subscribers inbox. You're also probably terrified about the dreaded "unsubscribes", but don't worry, I got you. 

I get asked this question all the time. People spend so much time and effort growing their email list that once they have one, they freeze and have no clue what they can send them. In this weeks episode I dive into exactly how you can figure this out. This formula is something I do with all of my clients. Be sure to listen to the full episode for all of the juicy details but in short, here's what you need to know.

When developing your email marketing strategy, start by asking yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Why do I want to use email marketing? 
  2. How will my email marketing content differ from the rest of my content?
  3. How often will I commit to emailing my list?

Asking yourself these 3 questions will help guide your overall email marketing strategy and help you get really clear on the goal of each email communication you send and how it ladders up to each of your overall objectives.

1. Why do I want to use email marketing in my business? 

Don't just incorporate email marketing into your business because you think you have to. First, know your why. This will help you get clear on the types of emails you'll send to your list and why you're sending them. 

Perhaps you want to use email to:

  • build more personal relationships with your subscribers
  • encourage a back and forth dialogue with your subscribers because this isn't something that's easily done through social media or blogging
  • learn more about your audience through conversations, questionnaires, surveys and polls
  • generate revenue

2. How will my email marketing content differ from the rest of my content?

Each content marketing channel is different and therefore each channel should have a slightly different strategy when it comes to delivering content. Before you start sending emails to your list, you'll want to get an idea of how your email marketing content will differ from the rest of the content you publish on the web. 

Perhaps your email marketing content will be:

  • shorter and punchier than the rest of the content you produce (this is what I personally prefer)
  • deeper and more in depth than the rest of the content you produce as a way to get more intimate with your subscribers
  • a round up of all of your other content pieces out in the world to make digesting your content easier for your audience
  • entirely exclusive to your subscriber list as a way to make them feel extra special. 

3. How often will I commit to emailing my list?

Now, there is no one size fits all strategy when it comes to how often you email your list. It has to do with your audience, the type of content you're sending and the type of business you're in. Before committing to a certain cadence of emails, decide how many emails you can send, consistently, based on your bandwidth. If you can only send 2 emails per month to start, that's OK. But once you decide on that amount, make sure you're consistent with it.

My suggestion to all of my clients is to start with a 1 email/week cadence if they can. A weekly email allows you to start consistently providing value to your subscribers, build a trusting relationship with them and start to learn quickly about what works with your audience and what doesn't. If you're only emailing your list twice a month, it's going to take longer to get an understanding of what types of email content resonates well with your list based on how they interact with your emails (opens, clicks, unsubscribes, etc.)

Consistency is very important when it comes to email marketing. "Consistency breeds legitimacy" is one of my favourite quotes from Emily Thompson of Being Boss Podcast and it's so true! If you're consistently appearing in someone's inbox and providing value then they're more likely to trust you and your brand and ultimately feel more comfortable purchasing from you.

Next, you'll want to split all of your email communications up into 3 main buckets:

  1. Educational Emails - 50% of all emails
  2. Promotional Emails - 30% of all emails
  3. Personal Emails - 20% of all emails

This mixture of email marketing content has proven to be successful in both my professional career but as well as with all of my client work and it's a formula that you can apply to any business, regardless of industry. 

Educational Emails

Educational emails should make up the majority of your email marketing campaigns. These emails are the ones that are jam packed full of free value that'll help position yourself as the expert in your field, educate your subscribers on why they should care about what you have to say/offer and help them to eventually make a more informed purchase decision. Sharing relevant and valuable content to your area of expertise will help keep your business top of mind for your subscribers so that they immediately think of you when they're ready to buy. 

Here are some examples of educational emails that you can send your list:

  • Free downloads, worksheets, e-books, etc.
  • Round of other helpful & relevant articles that may not always be your own
  • Exclusive content from you that they can't find anywhere else online
  • Recap of your most popular blog posts (this helps you repurpose your old posts!)
  • Round of all recently published content to make digesting the content easy for your subscribers
  • A list of your favourite tools for running your business or creating your products
  • Digging up an old blog post that performed well and rewrite it in an email 
  • Summary of FAQ's you get from your audience and answer them all in one place

Promotional Emails

At the end of the day, we're all business owners trying to run a business which means you need to generate revenue. Email marketing has higher conversion rates than most other forms of online marketing so it's an excellent tool for when it comes to generating revenue for your business. 

Even though sending "sales-y" emails sometimes feels slimy, you need to do it. You can learn how to send sales-y emails while also staying true to your brand and your voice. Practice makes perfect.

Here are some ways that you can send some "sales-y" emails that'll leave your subscribers feeling encouraged to buy from you:

  • Testimonials/Reviews
  • Curated product lists (what's new, customer faves, holiday themed, etc)
  • Services package breakdown
  • Portfolio items
  • Case studies
  • Limited time offers

Personal Emails

Because email communications happen within the inbox and aren't plastered all over the internet, it's a great way to get personal with your subscribers and show more of your personality. Being real with your subscribers is super important. It helps humanize your brand and make you more relatable to your audience. I recommend you try to infuse some more personal communications into your email marketing strategy as a way to nurture and grow those relationships. Because remember, people buy from people they like. So be yourself and you'll ultimately increase the likelihood that your subscribers will purchase from you. 

Here are a few ways you can send some more personal emails to your list:

  • Share recent experience, struggles, learnings with your list and write to them as if you're writing to a friend or family member. Encourage them to share similar experiences with you.
  • Give them a behind the scenes look on how you run your business or create your products.
  • Share your income/traffic/volume reports as well as learnings on what's worked well, what hasn't, etc.
  • Get to know your audience better by sending them surveys, questionnaires, polls or simply asking a question and encouraging them to reply with their answers.


Alright there you have it! You know have a straightforward formula to figure out what you can start sending your email list. Again, I encourage you to listen to the full episode of the Learn to Love Email podcast where I dive into this formula in way more detail. You can list to the podcast episode at the top of this post or in iTunes.