If you’ve been running an online boutique for any period of time you’ve probably heard it said: “the money is in the list?”
Well in this article you’re about to discover – in exact detail – how you can start an email list from scratch.
Not quite ready to read this entire go-to guide (and take action)?
No problem, below you’ll find a brief outline of how to start an email list from scratch.
- Decide what your email list building lead magnet will be
- Design and create your lead magnet
- Create your landing page – so new subscribers can join your email list easily
- Add your new subscriber welcome email to your service provider
- Check everything is working – send the email to yourself & check links
- Promote your email optin like crazy – using free and paid strategies
- Follow up with your subscribers with an automated email sales funnel
As you can see this guide on how to start an email list from scratch is pretty extensive, so if you want to go deep you’re going to need a pen and notepad, and you’ll probably want to bookmark this page to come back to as you go through the process.
If you already know the basics about how to start an email list, then you may want to skip the first few chapters. Just use the chapter guide and handy links below to jump to the information you need.
How To Start An Email List: Chapter Guide
- What’s an email list
- Why you need to start an email list for your online boutique
- How to get new subscribers to your email list
- Different types of lead magnet you can offer (which are not a discount)
- How to quickly and cheaply create your email optin offer
- How to create a list building landing page in minutes
- How to write landing page copy that converts
- How to write your first email sales funnel for your online boutique
Ready To Start An Email List From Scratch?
Over the last few years I’ve learned a fair bit about not only building email lists–but converting those subscribers into customers (more on that in another post).
In my latest campaign, I helped my client build her pre-launch email list to 781 subscribers in just 10-days.
But it wasn’t always that way.
For the first few years I didn’t even realise I needed to start an email list.
Saying that, even when I wised up, for a long time afterwards, truthfully my email list growth just limped along, and I got disheartened.
But as I learned how to rapidly build my email list – then convert those subscribers into customers – growing my email list became a priority for my business. And if you’re reading this post, it’s probably a priority for you too, so let’s not waste any more time and dive in.
Let’s start at the beginning – and yes, we’re going back to basics. And no eye rolling allowed now, I told you we were going to cover all the things.
WHAT IS AN EMAIL LIST ?
This is an easy one.
An email list is a database of people who have given you their email so they can stay in touch with your brand.
Now, there’s one thing I want to make clear here. Just because someone purchased from you, does not automatically mean that they agree to be on your mailing list – even if they gave you their email. I really don’t recommend using this as an email list building strategy.
While instances of finding yourself on the wrong side of data protection law with regards to this might be rare. It’s worth remembering that if you operate out of Europe (especially countries like Germany) there are strong data protection laws in place.
This is why you’ll find many email service providers have double opt-ins, meaning that even though you signed up (or not, as may be the case) to a certain mailing list. Before you’re actually put on that email list, like for real, you’ll get an email from that email service provider requesting that you re-confirm you actually did choose to sign up.
If you’ve ever seen an email subject headline like the one below, then you’ve seen a double opt-in.
Now, I’m not advising you follow my lead here.
But, I turned off the double opt-in option on my email service provider years ago.
Reason being, I found when I was paid to drive traffic to a landing page, this double opt-in meant the amount of actual subscribers who ended up on my email list compared to the number that joined… didn’t add up!
So now you know what an email list is, and that there are some regulations and best practices around how you build your email list, let’s dive into why you need one for your online boutique business.
Especially as I think the data may actually surprise you.
WHY YOU NEED TO START AN EMAIL LIST FOR YOUR ONLINE BOUTIQUE?
If you’ve been using social media as your primary marketing channel for your online store, you’ve know doubt already noticed that the reach of Facebook, Instagram and even Pinterest dammit, ain’t what it used to be.
If fact, a white paper published by Marshall Manson from social@ogilvy found that the organic reach brands get for their posts on Facebook has crashed. And it even went as far as to predict:
that organic reach of the content brands publish in Facebook is destined to hit zero. It’s only a matter of time. –- Marshall Manson, Social@Ogilvy .
But if that’s not enough to convince you to start an email list, like now, here are another few reasons which, in my opinion, make this an open and shut case.
1. Ownership of your data
Let me ask you a question…
Do you own Facebook or Instagram?
Hmmm… that’s what I thought.
Let’s look at a hypothetical situation –that’s not that hypothetical–but you’ll see what I mean.
So, you wake up one morning ready to post and engage on Facebook, only to discover that good ole FB have shut down your business page and group?
You go to log into the ‘gram, and something’s not right.
You can’t access your account.
YOU’VE BEEN HACKED.
Yet despite your desperate pleas, Instagram are unresponsive. And POOF! Just like that the 5573 followers it’s taken you 12 months to grow are gone.
Think I’m being a bit of a naysayer and this is unlikely to ever happen to you? As the evidence below proves, you might want to think again.
And let’s not even get into the dreaded Instagram shadowbanning–Where you post content as normal, but Instagram has decided they’re not feeling you, making your content invisible.
So invisible, in fact, you might as well not even bother.
Now, I can’t speak for you, but personally I don’t like them odds!
Digital share cropping social media is nice to bring in some traffic and sales, but I’ll be damned if I let it be foundation for my whole business.
That’s why you need to start an email list, and make it priority. It’s the only marketing channel (aside from your website) that you actually have any control over.
2. More engagement = more mind share = more sales. Kerrching!
When a visitor to your online boutique takes the time to give you their personal email address, it’s not only a signal of interest in your brand, but also a signal of trust.
But here’s another thing you’ve probably not considered… or made the most of. Email subscribers have higher long-term engagement with your brand than non-subscribers, quite simply because you have the ability to repeatedly direct them back to your site.
Which is what I want to cover next.
3. More traffic to your online boutique (and blog) from people who give a shit!
Getting people to click off of social media to your website so they can view your product or content is tough – especially on platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
This is where your email list really comes into its own. See here’s the thing, when you email your list about your new product launch or blog post (I do the latter more than the former) those people who click through are genuinely interested.
Whether they stay interested is on you, but unlike social media, when you’re in someone’s inbox you’re not vying for their attention – while they’re cyberstalking their ex on Facebook. Oh! That’s just me ha? Okay.
HOW TO GET NEW SUBSCRIBERS TO JOIN YOUR EMAIL LIST (or not… )
Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a variety of opinions on what’s the quickest and cheapest email list building strategy.
But if you’ve been running an online boutique (or planning to open one) for any period of time, you’ll likely have noticed that the most commonly used sign up ‘bribe’ is a discount.
Now, I have a problem with that tactic.
Not discounts persee, but using this as the one and only carrot to get people to give you their email, and I’ll explain why.
Think about your own online shopping habits : when was the last time you signed up for a measly 10% discount from an unknown brand you just discovered online… then actually used it?
Go on, I’ll wait….
Here’s the problem with relying on the discount method to help you build your email mail list from scratch.
In many ways you’re attracting the wrong type of email list subscriber.
Someone who’s not really engaged with your brand message or product and is just looking to save $3.49c.
Discounts are a great tool to generate sales, but they shouldn’t be your primary business model. And if they are… you might want to rethink if that’s the type of brand you’re really looking to build?
Below you’ll find a video where I share the top 10 rookie mistakes I see new online store owners making. And if you’ve been in business for more than 6 months, but are still not grossing $2k per month of more – chances are you’re probably making several of them.
So now you’re probably asking yourself, if I’m not offering a discount to start my email list, then what?
Well I’m going to share with you 5 different types of email list building optins you can offer new subscribers that aren’t discounts.
DIFFERENT OPT-IN OFFERS & HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Okay, remember I said I’m a visual person?
We’ll while I could just write what I’m about to share with you, I think it’s best to let you see it in action. Especially as it proves it kind of doesn’t matter what niche you’re in, if you get your thinking cap on there are lots of freebies offers you can use to start your email list.
Check these out.
- Do you sell activewear or supplements ?
What do you people buying activewear want? To get in shape, stay in shape, and look fine af, while doing it. Recipes are your friend.
- Sell clothes designed to be worn on the beach?
Help all those women going on their first vacation, or who STILL haven’t learned the art of packing light after their 34th trip, get it right.
- Sell a bath, body, or skincare products… especially the high-end kind?
Get your women putting themselves first with a reset blue print.
- Sell plus size fashion?
Get your women inside of your private insiders club where they can talk fashion, fit, and feeling fabulous whatever their size with other women who understand them.
Really I could have given examples for days, but you get the point right?
Saying that, even with all that opt-in offer inspiration, if you still decide to go with the discount offer at least position it right.
Look how Orglamix have made their discount a ‘gift card’.
This simple wording works wonders not only for how your customer views your brand, but whether they even take you up on your discount offer.
Okay, so even after all those examples on different types of offer you could have to help you start your email list, you might be wondering: what, EXACTLY, should I be offering to entice visitors to my online boutique to give me their email address?
Well my answer to that is stop guessing, and start investigating.
You know the old saying ‘seek and you shall find’ ?
Well the same applies in this situation, and really the investigation doesn’t have to be long and laborious or sleazy and unethical.
All you need to do is go hang around in the Facebook groups or the blogs where your ideal customers hang out, and listen to the conversations that come up the most.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
- Questions that keep coming up?
- Problems people are looking for answers to?
- Things people are complaining about?
Can’t find your golden goose there, go back to your customer avatar, you do have one of those, right?
Take a moment to get out of your ‘seller head’ and get into your customers head, and think about how you can help them.
Okay it happens! Then the next step is to go and directly ask your customers: Hey, I’m thinking of creating xxx, it would be totally free, but I’m wondering if this would help you out? And let their response or lack of one, tell you whether you’re on to something.
And here’s the thing.
Over the lifetime of your business you’ll have many different opt-in offers, heck I’ve got about 8. So you’re not stuck with the email list building lead generation tool you start out with for life, but you do have to start somewhere.
Jump back to chapter list
HOW TO CREATE QUICKLY & CHEAPLY CREATE YOUR OPTIN OFFER
Well the ‘how’ you create your offer really depends on what you decide to go with in the end – but let’s look at some offer examples below so you have an idea:
- Want to offer a free recipe book?
Simply compile your top ten recipes into a Word, Google drive or Pages document, create this into PDF, download it, and BAM, you’re done
Now, nobody likes a thief, so if you’re using recipes you found elsewhere (and images, especially images) make sure you credit the originator.
- Want to offer a packing list?
With a little bit of image clipping – thank you Polyvore – and Canva – making PDF download as a lead magnet to help you start an email list, can, luckily, be achieved in a few short hours.
Don’t have a few hours? Hop onto Fiverr or Upwork and hire someone to make it for you. For $50 or less you’ll have a cute looking handout that delivers on your promise.
- Want to offer a 7-day reset guide?
Simply open up Google Drive, select one of their free templates, find yourself some fabulous free images or use images you already own.
Sit down and write and edit your guide, then put it all together and within 2-3 hours you’ll have created yourself an opt-in offer that you can use to entice people to join your email list.
Granted it won’t be the most elegantly designed document on earth, but seriously, it’s free so it doesn’t have to be. Use this version to start an email list, and change it up when you’ve got more time.
- Want to create an ‘insiders’ club?
Then what the heck are you waiting for?
Hop on over to Facebook, create your private group. Hop back over to Canva, create an attractive banner for the group. Hop back over to Facebook, add the banner – and you’re done.
One of my ‘insider’ club groups has over 8K+ members, but it gets better….
… I’ve also built an email list of 4k+ and many of those new subscribers start out in the free group.
- Want to give away your how-to tutorials?
This is the quickest and easiest of opt-in offer of them all. And here’s why it’s one of my favorites – it makes the content you’ve already worked hard to create, work even harder for your brand.
I consulted with Sarah Henson of Dolls & Daydreams on how she could use her free tutorials as a lead generation magnet. Look what she had to say below on how this email list building strategy helped her explode her list.
HOW TO CREATE A LIST BUILDING LANDING PAGE IN MINUTES
In my experience this is usually when most online boutique owners start to panic – especially if they’re not particularly tech-savvy. I know I did.
If you haven’t already get signed up with an email service provider, many new store owners choose Mailchimp when they’re starting out. Usually because this is the first one they hear about, but often the deciding factor is because it’s free.
Now, I’m not knocking MailChimp, but I will let you know that the free option doesn’t allow you to get the most value out of your mailing list. For this reason (and so many more) my personal recommendation is ConvertKit.
** Click this link to discover all of my preferred ecommerce marketing tools? Click the link.
Now, I’m going to show you how to create a landing page so you can start your email list using the tools I actually use. And the best thing is… it takes less than 30 minutes.
This method especially works if you’re building your online boutique the authority ecommerce way – with a WordPress blog attached to a Shopify store.
ConvertKit is one of the best email service providers available, and even if you’re building your store the old school way, Shopify store & integrated blog (meh), instead of the authority ecommerce away, you’ll find the ConvertKit integration as smooth as butter.
Get a free 14 day Shopify trial here.
How to Start An Email List Using Convertkit (step-by-step)
**This is NOT a sponsored post it’s all my own opinion. I am, however, a Convertkit affiliate.
Login to your ConvertKit dashboard and click the link to create a new form.
Next, you’ll come to a page that asks how you want to gather your subscribers, you need to select the landing page option.
You’ll then be taken to a number of done-for-you templates you can select from.
Admittedly there aren’t too many choices, but pick the simplest one (the most successful email list building landing pages are very simple).
Now it’s time to start crafting the compelling copy designed to give your potential subscriber all the biggest benefits of signing up for your freebie – in as few words as possible.
I love ConvertKits two-step opt-in. There are many who don’t, but the psychology behind it is that the first click is the micro commitment, and that most who click once – on reaching stage two… will definitely leave their email.
With ConvertKit you get the option to add another image here, and space for more copy for you to bring your message home.
You’re pretty much at the finish line.
ConvertKit gives you the option to host your landing page for you. This will probably be your best option if your online boutique is built using purely your Shopify store.
However, if you’re building an Authority Ecommerce business, you’ll love the optin to download their WordPress plugin, which will allow you to host your landing page on your WordPress site using your branded url.
EXAMPLE OF A FINISHED CONVERT KIT LANDING PAGE
Step #1 the micro commitment
Step #2 the juicy details
Note** I recommend asking for both the first name and email address. I’ve written more about why in other posts and you’ll find a link of resources at the end of this mega post.
HOW TO WRITE LANDING PAGE COPY THAT CONVERTS
If I were to truly dive into copywriting, an essential skill for all online marketers, this post would become 6k+ words. So here’s what I’m going to do instead.
Using an example you should be already familiar with by now, let’s break down the different elements of the landing page, why they are there, and how and why they work.
The landing page elements are laid out from 1-10
1.Craft your headline – Attention
Your headline should make it clear exactly what your new subscriber will get for giving you their email address. Don’t be fancy be specific.
2. Craft your sub headline – interest
Think about why your ideal subscriber would really be interested in what you’re offering. What’s their fear, challenge, problem, desired end result.
In the example it’s how to look stylish on a 7-day vacation without taking your whole wardrobe.
3. Second sub-headline – deepen the interest
Take the core pain point your offer solves, and go another layer. Tap into the emotion that your customer feels and what they’re trying to relieve themselves from. In this case the stress of packing and the secret to making it stress free.
4. Call to action #1
This is the first time you’re telling your ‘would be’ subscriber what you want them to do in non-ambiguous descriptive terms.
5. Body copy
Help your subscriber imagine the end result?
How they’re going to be or what they’re going to know as a result of what you’re about to give them. In this body copy we also used it to position our advice (therefore our brand) next to a brand our ideal customer desires to own.
6. Call to action #2
SUBSCRIBE is probably one of the laziest non-inspired cta’s out there, but if you can’t think of anything better this still does the job.
Page two – this is the screen your subscriber sees only once they have clicked the subscribe button on given that first micro commitment.
7. Call to action #3
Posed as a question, we’re letting the would be subscriber know, yet again, that they need to take action to get what’s on offer.
8. Call to action #4
Direct instruction of what they need to do to get the guide, and letting them know to check their email to make sure they have it
9. Visual of what they’re getting
The visual wasn’t used on the first screen, but used here it helps the subscriber get a glimpse of what they’re getting, and you may have noticed the images ties in with the aspirational brand referenced on the first screen.
10. Reminder on the graphic
Sometimes when you make a good offer, people might get to wondering is it really free – so putting a couple of clear reminders in your copy and visual will help this sync into the subconscious mind, making them leaving their details – name and email – the most logical next step.
If you’re reading here, I have to congratulate you. This post on how to start an email list from scratch stands at nearly 4k+ words – so I know if you’re still reading you’re ready build a list of email subscribers that makes your business money. That’s why I want to ask you a question.
Now, you know how to start an email list from scratch, what next?
HOW TO WRITE YOUR FIRST EMAIL SALES FUNNEL FOR YOUR ONLINE BOUTIQUE
See, getting the email is only first step – the easiest step in fact.
However, it’s what you do after you have the email that decides whether your email list is s profit centre for your business or just another expense.
That’s why I want to let you know about my email sales funnel training, designed specifically for online store owners.
This masterclass runs just over an 1hr, and is packed with detailed training on why having a sales funnel is essential for your online store, but more than that, it breaks down exactly what should go into your sales funnel email sequence, and why.
If you’re ready to ramp up your email marketing with a repeatable, scalable, process that will help you to rapidly increase the amount of sales you make from your email list subscribers, this masterclass is for you.
- What an email sales funnel is, and how it will ramp up revenue in your business (when done right!)
- Why you need a funnel (especially if you haven’t even started building your mailing list)
- Expert tips for writing your sales funnel… which will drive sales months after your write it!
- A 6-part sales funnel outline my clients and I use to generate $$$ in sales every day (that you can use to)
There are also a few sweet bonuses, so if you’re ready to go to next step, and not just start an email list from scratch, but make it profitable, I’d suggest you check it out right here.