How to Build an Email Marketing Program You Can Be Proud Of

A laptop a tablet and a phone on top of each other displaying an email account and a list of emails

how to build an email listIf you don’t use email marketing already, building a program can feel a little like standing at the foot of Mt. Everest, contemplating a hike to the summit.

The obstacles seem insurmountable:

  • You don’t have a mailing list
  • You’re not sure how to build an email list
  • You don’t know how to use the email marketing software
  • You don’t know what to write about in your emails
  • You’re afraid you’ll send out the wrong email to the wrong group of people (it happens to the best of us)

But we all know:

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. –Lao-tzu

Like everything worth achieving in this life, an email marketing program has to start somewhere.

And in order to build it, you have to be willing to start from scratch.

Starting your email marketing program from scratch

What does “scratch” look like?

If you have an email list on a provider you’re not happy with, your first step is to migrate it to a new email service provider company.

This may seem daunting, but these companies assist with migrations every day, and they want you as their customers. It may take a few days, but it’s do-able.

If you have no list at all, you may feel intimidated by the time and effort needed to build one.

This doesn’t last long: if you create something worth exchanging an email address for, use it to invite people to your list, then make it easy for people to invite others, growth will happen.

If you don’t know how to make your emails look good, and don’t want to send out marketing that makes your business look unprofessional.

The good news here is that with so many emails in our inboxes, oftentimes the best way to stand out is to keep your design simple. In a world of clutter, simplicity stands apart. And — lucky for us — simple emails are easier to design.

Use a combination approach

The best email marketing programs use a combination of autoresponder emails and broadcast emails.

Let’s take a look at each:

Autoresponder emails are a series of emails that are sent out once someone signs up for your email list.

They’re delivered over time, and each email is spaced out by a predetermined number of days or weeks. On any given day, someone on your email list may be receiving message #1, someone else is on message #7, and someone else is on message #18.

Some of the best uses are auto responders are:

  • A series of lessons delivered over time, one per email, like this one
  • A series of emails to help someone clarify their information and make a purchasing decision
  • A follow-up series sent out after a purchase is made to share additional information, encouragement, or resources

One of the best characteristics of autoresponder emails is that you set them up once, and can pretty much ignore them as they go out to the people who sign up for your information automatically.

Broadcast emails contain time-sensitive content that’s sent out to your entire list at the same time.

Good uses of broadcast emails are:

  • Newsletters
  • Special announcements
  • Sales or coupon offers
  • Event information

Think of broadcast emails as megaphones that deliver information to everyone at once.

Feeling discouraged?

It is a lot to set up.

But email marketing is worth the effort: as you build lists of interested prospects, current customers, and repeat buyers, you can communicate with each group using a helpful voice that builds your relationship over time.

And it doesn’t have to be anything like climbing Mt. Everest when you know the shortcuts to success.

Here’s the email provider I use (and love)

I am a proud ConvertKit customer and highly recommend their email marketing service! It’s delivers the perfect combination of power and ease of use.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is an online educator, author, keynote speaker, and the founder of BIG Brand System. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?

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8 thoughts on “How to Build an Email Marketing Program You Can Be Proud Of”

  1. Thank you for posting this article. I have recently started looking into building a list and have looked at free email providers that have an autoresponder. Are there any that you recommend, or do you recommend only using a paid service provider?

    • Hi Henry,

      Good question. I believe email marketing is important enough that you should pay for it. There are services that are very reasonable and allow you to scale up when your list grows.

      I have a short (4-part) course that covers email marketing basics. Part of the course is a comparison of the major email marketing providers that includes what they offer, how much they charge, and how easy they are to work with.

      The course is free, and if you’d like to sign up for it, you can get it here:

  2. Nice post Pamela.

    I’ve always wondered why email marketing does not get the love that it really deserves.

    In my opnion, it is the most powerful money making strategy that a marketer can learn.

    It’s more much stable than SEO, and it is the primary marketing method for 81%
    of small businesses.

    Just mastering this skill alone can set you for life.

    I tell anyone who is new to internet marketing, focus on learning how to build a list first, then worry about learning other skills like SEO or social media marketing if you want to.

    Once again, great post.

    Keep up the good work.


    • Thanks, Fred. I’m a believer!

      I don’t see our inboxes being replaced any time soon, so building an email list seems like a smart investment.

      Thanks for your comment.

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