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In the second episode in our deep dive series on email marketing, Magan Ward and I discuss the many pain points associated with growing your email list. Chances are you’ve encountered at least one of these pain points before, whether it’s low conversion rates or being afraid of sounding too “salesy.” Listen in and walk away with a better understanding of email list obstacles.
Magan is an educator (with a strong southern accent) who knows 150% what the struggle is when creating an email list, and the opt-in, and the welcome sequence, and the millions of other details that we handle while doing all the things as we run this digital biz. She took her email list that was suffering, grew it by 77.9%, and increased her open rates to a consistent 35 – 55% and she helps others do the same.
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🎧 Listen to Episode 77 of The Systems & Workflow Magic Podcast featuring Time Management Coach Anna Dearmon Kornick
Dolly DeLong: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Systems and Workflow Magic Podcast. I am your Systems and Workflow BFF Dolly, and this is episode 85, but part two of the Growing Your Email List Series featuring Magan Ward, and we are going to be diving into some pain points of growing your email list.
Magan, you’re gonna laugh at me. For some reason, I saw the word pain points and I thought of the sitcom Growing Pains. I know, so like, random.
Magan Ward: You’re aging us now. So some of these younger listeners are gonna be like, what?
Dolly DeLong: Growing Pains? Mike Seaver what? Anyways, today’s episode is gonna be jam-packed because as we, right before we hit record, we were just discussing all of these points.
We were adding more to them, as we were thinking of new ones. And so I wanna encourage you, you may want to listen to this episode several times, take notes, and just see what pain points hit you the most because you may need to face these pain points and see how you can get over the hump of this pain point so that you can grow your email list effectively, strategically, and yeah. So let’s just dive in, Magan.
Magan Ward: And you mentioned, Dolly, when you mentioned growing pains. We are gonna talk about that a little bit in another episode too, because there are some growing pains that can come along with growing your email list. But before you get to that point, one of the challenges that we all face as business owners is how are we gonna reach a wider audience to attract new subscribers, and it can feel incredibly daunting. And sometimes we don’t know where the heck to start.
So I know that is a big pain point and sometimes can be a total roadblock, and then you just freeze and say I’m not gonna do that because it just feels like too much. I’ve got too much else on my plate. I’m too busy with other things.
Dolly DeLong: Yeah, and going along the lines of that limited reach, which is definitely a pain point for sure. I have experienced that pain point. I know you have experienced that pain point as well, Magan, and for me, my mindset around that is I just don’t have a big enough marketing budget to do Facebook Ads or Meta Ads.
So of course all of these other people are gonna have a wider reach than me because I am, to be completely honest to the listeners, I am doing everything organically. I am not depending on Meta Ads to grow my list yet, and I am still at the organic stage of my business. And so I want you all to know, it is possible to grow your email list organically, but it does feel very limited at times.
Magan Ward: I too have grown my list pretty much all organically. I just started running some ads very recently. It’s too early to tell if it’s making a difference but everything I have grown so far has been organic. And the same for my clients too that you heard about in the last episode, who didn’t have much of an email list at all, but had this massive social following.
They cannot even run ads. They are a true crime podcast and I guess because, in the nature of everything, Meta shut them down a long time ago and will not even let them have an ads account. So there are no paid ads anywhere. That’s not even a possibility for them. So we had to be very strategic and grow organically for them. So that’s just to say it’s like Dolly said, it’s very possible.
Dolly DeLong: Yeah, and I know we’re gonna hit up on this at another point, but like limited reach and limited time can go hand in hand together. So you may have limited time with where you want to show up because I know the more “more time” you may feel like you have, you could, you may be thinking then, of course, I can be on Instagram and TikTok and Facebook and LinkedIn and Pinterest and YouTube and do podcast interviews or host my own podcasts.
And then of course my email list will grow. But I know that this may sound discouraging, but hear me out, like listeners, hear me out. You have to really be strategic where you decide to show up on your business, and it is true, the more platforms you are on, you have the potential to grow your email list even more because you’re reaching more people organically on those different platforms, but I’m not encouraging that. I don’t want you to hear me and then say Dolly suggested I need to be on more platforms so I can reach more people. I’m just saying that will naturally happen, the more platforms you are on. But don’t stretch yourself out too thin.
I know I’m saying two different things, but I want you to see it from both sides.
Magan Ward: Don’t, I’m gonna get on a soapbox, try to go viral just to go viral because what goes viral may be something that has nothing to do with your business, and that does not bring in the right audience. You don’t wanna get stuck with all these random stranger followers that aren’t the ideal audience that isn’t gonna buy from you.
They thought your one video was hilarious, and that’s fine. But just trying to chase that, I don’t know. I’m just not, I don’t like the idea of chasing something viral, that’s just not me. And not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but just be very careful what you’re putting out there as far as whether is it truly going to move the needle in your business. Is it truly gonna bring in the right people?
Dolly DeLong: Yeah. I love that you shared that so much. So I guess with this, just be very strategic about where you decide to show up, you might be brand new in your business and you might be thinking “I don’t know where my audience is coming from,” and that kind of leads me into point 2. The reason why you may be feeling some pain points in growing your email list is just not knowing how to read your conversion rates. You have no idea where your audience and your new leads are coming from, where your cold leads are coming from, or you also don’t really understand the importance of setting up tracking through Google Analytics, or you haven’t set up a Facebook pixel code.
Magan Ward: And to go along with that, Dolly, of tracking and knowing where that traffic is coming from, you can let’s say just for example. I know we talk about organic, but for example, if you’re running Facebook ads, you might wanna run those to a very specific page and then have a very specific tag or segment inside your email marketing provider for people that sign up on that page, because that’s gonna give you even more data.
You can look at Google Analytics. This is how many people, say a thousand people landed on this website this week from those Facebook ads. Then you can go into your email marketing provider and say, look, I had 500 people sign up just this week. So it’s a very basic, simple example. Just for the people that don’t like to do math, and it’s a little too early in the day for me to be doing math anyway, so there you go.
There’s a 50% conversion rate, so you can really get a good idea there. So it is a good idea to already have all of that set up too, but, another pain point that goes along with this is if you see low conversion rates. So let’s say you had a thousand people come in and then you only had a hundred people sign up, that’s 10%.
No, that’s not 10%. That is 10%.
Dolly DeLong: Yeah, that is 10%
Magan Ward: I told y’all. It’s too early for me to be doing math today.
Dolly DeLong: Hashtag math.
Magan Ward: I’m actually pretty good at math, but not this early. I need more caffeine. But having those low conversion rates can feel daunting. It can feel discouraging, maybe, but also, 10% is a really good conversion rate for a landing page.
So go in knowing that. But you’re like a thousand people and only a hundred of them that it’s a pretty good conversion rate. But there are things you can look at to tweak. So if you want to improve that, so you know, think about it.
Dolly DeLong: I was gonna jump in and say from a, I’m putting on my branding photographer hat right near as far as imagery goes or as far as and how everything looks like visually on your page, that could be a factor why it’s not converting.
Magan Ward: And keeping your copy very clear because I have seen some really not-so-cute landing pages, but their message is clear, and their copy is clear. They have a very clear headline. It’s very bold. Maybe they have a really solid sub-headline and then the signup form. And that’s really, technically that’s all you need.
And some imagery, like you said, or maybe it’s a mockup of a PDF that you created and just having those very basic things on there is, that’s truly all you need for a solid landing page.
Dolly DeLong: I would say something that I noticed about really great landing pages is that I know a lot of people talk about the importance of this, and this is so true, you need to provide a transformation statement of why this client, who is a potential client or potential lead who’s landing on your landing page, no pun intended, why do they need to exchange their email address for your PDF or your freebie or whatever lead magnet you are offering to them? Invite them to know the transformation that they are going to experience instead of having fluff copy, cutesy copy or funny copy, witty copy, or copy that is industry jargon that they may not understand, but you think, oh, this is so clear.
Magan Ward: Exactly, and I know that our copywriter friend Emily, hey Emily, if you’re tuning in, and she really talks about having those, so that statements, grab this thing, this free thing so that you can do X, Y, Z, and that is a transformational statement and telling them what it’s gonna do for them.
Dolly DeLong: So there’s not just one reason why there is gonna be a low conversion rate growing your email list. There might be multi-faceted reasons, and this is why when we look at email marketing, growing your list is the long game. Give yourself time to tweak that copy and then test it out and then tweak even the landing page speed load, how it loads up can be a huge factor as well.
I know that there are websites that test out the speed of your website, so test that out. And then also test out the visuals, maybe swap out some visuals every quarter just to see if that could affect the conversion rate as well.
Magan Ward: And you need to let it sit and I’ve said this before, let it sit and percolate, as my grandmother would say, an old Coffee maker. But you do have to let it sit and work and really watch because just taking one week’s data is not gonna be enough necessarily. You need to watch and see because you might have more traffic come through on week two, three, or four.
And also installing something like heat maps. That is very beneficial as well. There are a couple of places that have heat map capability that’s very easy to use, and it’s free to install on a landing page so you can really watch where people are clicking, where they’re scrolling, where they’re stopping, exiting out, at what point are they exiting. Because you might see them scrolling and suddenly they’re like, not interested. So then you need to look back and say, okay, I need to work on my headline. I need to work on that above-the-fold area, which is, what you see when you first land on the page so that you can better improve that landing page.
Dolly DeLong: Yeah, and like Magan was sharing, do this one step at a time. Don’t fix all the things. And then you won’t know exactly what you tweaked to help, leverage your conversion rate to be higher.
Magan Ward: Yeah. But if you’re tweaking just one little small thing at a time and it starts to improve, hey, maybe that was the problem, and then maybe later you’re like, okay, I’m gonna tweak this other thing and see if that also improves.
Dolly DeLong: Yeah. So I’m gonna give you all an example of low conversion rates. Actually, no, maybe this doesn’t really go well with a low conversion rate example, but this just came to my head and I wanted to encourage you all. So earlier this year, as you may or may not know, I led the Systems and Workflow Magic Bundle, so the 2.0 version, this was way before my 3.0 version, the Summit and I had a landing page all about them, I’m calling it the funnel bundle and I decided to do some testing on it as well. And Magan knows the numbers behind all of this because I shared all of this information with her because she was helping me out with conversion rate and I actually had a very high for me, for my size of business. I had a very high conversion rate.
And the copy was very it communicated exactly what this bundle was about, what the transformation promised. But it wasn’t a copy problem. It wasn’t an image problem. I wasn’t getting enough traffic to the landing page because my audience again, that limited reach, I had a very limited reach of who because I wasn’t doing ads of any kind.
I just want to help you all piecemeal this together and in your mind like a puzzle piece. Like sometimes a lever or a puzzle piece you may need more traffic to widen your reach. Kinda like point 1, widen your reach so that you can have a higher conversion rate and to better impact the bottom line of your email list.
Magan Ward: And another point to bring up is being afraid to sound annoying or afraid to sound too salesy. I hear that a lot. I actually have on my wall a list of roadblocks and struggles and pain points where I’ve surveyed my audience, and it literally says that on here so many times. It says, “I feel too salesy” and”I’m not confident enough to start selling to my audience”.
And the thing is, when someone gets on your email list, They should have a really good idea that eventually you are going to sell to them, so it should be known that you’re going to, so I don’t want you to just get caught up in that and not do it for that reason.
Dolly DeLong: And you all we have to remember, we are all in our businesses for a purpose and for a reason. And having an email list is just like a little slice of the pie of our business and we need to operate our business. We need to create an income, we need to make money to better impact the bottom line of our business.
And so if you are so, here’s how I think of it too, the opinions of other people that’s not gonna pay your family’s income or the bottom line at all.
Magan Ward: So I got my very first, I called it my very first mean email, and I know that some people are probably like, you’ve never gotten one before? It’s true. I think most people are like, I just am not into this anymore. I’m gonna unsubscribe and they just let themselves out the door without making a fuss.
And I got my first mean email from a guy, and at first, I was like, who do you think you are? Which by the way, who do you think you are? You could have just unsubscribed and moved along, but whatever it was, I said it hit a nerve with him and he wanted to make a point to tell me something that I was doing wrong in my business before he unsubscribed, so it’s gonna happen.
Did I reply? No. Was he worth my time? No. And so that’s why I didn’t, it’s not worth your time and your energy to be upset about any of that stuff, so you just have to grow a little bit thicker skin about those kinds of things and just move on. Just delete the email and move along.
Dolly DeLong: And think about it this way, would that person ever say that to your face? Probably not.
Magan Ward: No.
Dolly DeLong:. So it probably means they are too cowardly, afraid. There might be something going on in their own life that they feel like, oh, I need to lash out in some weird way through email where they can’t see me, but they’re still reading my words.
So just, I look at that as some weird, insecure insecurity.
Magan Ward: What do we say? Hurt people hurt people. Yeah.
Dolly DeLong: Yeah, and you have full permission, if you have some negative people on your email list who are writing back after you send an email and it’s making you feel insecure about growing out your email list. It’s making you question, why I have an email list. And it’s you narrowed into I got one or two negative comments back. You have full permission to delete them from your email list.
Magan Ward: So say you have a thousand people on your email list and you get one bad email.
Dolly DeLong: Mm-hmm.
Magan Ward: Come on. That’s a very tiny percentage of your email list. That’s one person who may have been having, they may have been having a really bad day, so just brush it under the rug and move along.
Dolly DeLong: Yeah, and maybe just send a screenshot of it to your Biz Bestie and just laugh it off or I do this with Magan all the time.
Magan Ward: You can vent. Yeah, find somebody you can vent to.
Dolly DeLong: And we just have to laugh it off and be like I bet they’re just having a bad day. And just in your mind, give them the benefit of the doubt and then just delete and unsubscribe for them. Help them out the door.
Magan Ward: Yep. So another thing that I know is a roadblock as well is not knowing exactly what to create as an effective opt-in or lead magnet. And we’re probably gonna talk even more in-depth about that throughout the series. But that goes along also with a lack of clear purpose. So I’m gonna combine these Dolly a little bit, and a lack of strategy.
If you don’t have in place your end offers or the end results that you want to provide. Without this, you might not have a lead magnet that is leading your subscribers on the journey toward those paid offers. I’m gonna use an example because I just created a new lead magnet fairly recently because I slightly pivoted to also offer products to help business owners create their first digital product.
So all my lead magnets are email marketing only related. So I needed one to take them on this journey of digital products. So what I created was a list of 80 digital product ideas. Otherwise, those other lead magnets wouldn’t have fit well, as I have pivoted slightly to offer this additional product line.
And so now I have an entire group of people that wanna learn more about creating digital products, and I have them segmented a certain way in my email marketing provider. So as you’re thinking about creating your lead magnet and your opt-in, I know that sometimes it can feel like I don’t know what to create.
Well start at the end, what are you gonna sell to them? And then start working your way backward and find something that can be an invitation to them, an opening, in a way.
Dolly DeLong: Yeah, I know another point of this could be a limiting belief about a pain point about growing your email list is just thinking about time constraints. You’re worried you don’t have enough time to devote to list building, and you all, this is actually a very valid point because a lot of us are not only juggling, and owning our own businesses, this may be a first-time venture for you.
You may be a spouse, you may have children, you are juggling a lot of responsibilities. And then to add this, you might feel like it’s a pressure of, oh okay, great, now I have to grow out an email list because Magan and Dolly are telling me I have to grow an email list but how, where am I gonna find the time to do that?
And I do want to encourage you to listen in to I forget the episode number, but I’ll link it in the show notes, but it featured Anna D. Kornick and she is a time management coach and she speaks about these time management tips and hacks that she offers to all types of business owners on finding time to devote to growing out their email list.
But I will say this, if you, I know everybody has at least, I’m not trying to minimize this, but everybody has at least one hour a week, extra per week to do something. And can you at least devote starting out one hour to your business work hours, business work week to dedicate to laying out a foundation for growing your email?
Magan Ward: Do you know what I did recently? It wasn’t, it was before the winter holidays, the Christmas holiday to create more time because I knew I had something on my phone that I knew was sucking my time and it was TikTok. Now I’m not telling y’all what to do. I’m not saying go delete TikTok. I’m just saying, if you are like Magan and you have something that you find yourself scrolling a little too much take it off your phone.
Dolly DeLong: Yes. Yes.
Magan Ward: But really just what… And it may be something else totally different that has nothing to do with social media, but I did, I found myself scrolling way too much. I would get sucked in and it usually started because somebody sent me a funny one and they’re like, oh my gosh, you can relate to this.
You’re gonna love this nineties reference, and whatever it was. And then what did I do? I kept scrolling. I didn’t watch the one and move along with my life. I kept scrolling, so it was a problem. I admit it, and then I just removed it completely from my phone and I found myself being so much more productive.
So I’m not telling you what to do, but if you have something like that, maybe you need to manage your time a little better too like I did.
Dolly DeLong: Oh, one thing I do, Magan as a mom, cause I know a lot of my listeners are moms who are also running a business, who are also managing their household, all the hats, at the beginning of every quarter, I reassess my husband’s schedule, my schedule, any work-related events. I know I have on my planner, my son’s school schedules, and then that way I create a new working schedule for me at the, again, I reassess this every single quarter, so not at the beginning of the year, because not every week and not every month is gonna be the same for me, and I know it’s the same for you, Magan. We constantly are reassessing, okay, where can I devote time to build my email list, build my business, not just like work one-on-one with clients and do photography and then do systems and workflow education, but where can I actually do the long-term game of building out my email list? And so again, it’s going in and reassessing your schedules.
Magan Ward: Yes, absolutely. Now, I know there’s one other pain point that we wanted to make sure that we touched on today, and that is cost. And I know some email marketing providers do charge a fee, obviously, but there are some that are free, so I don’t want that to be a barrier in your way. If you are just starting out, if you don’t have a huge budget yet, it’s okay to just go try it out.
MailerLite is one that I highly recommend getting started with, but ConvertKit and I’m not sure what Flodesk’s current monthly charge is, but I don’t think it’s terribly expensive.
Dolly DeLong: It’s not, I think in comparison to others it’s $30 I got in on the beta plan, but it’s $38 a month, which can seem pretty steep. But I do have a code for 50% off. And I know that, yeah, so I’ll put that in the show notes as well, but I know you are a ConvertKit user. It’s been wonderful for you.
Magan Ward: Yes, I do really like it and a lot of my clients use it as well. And I think maybe that’s why they come and find me because they know that I know the ins and outs of ConvertKit. But yeah, I really like it. It’s very user-friendly and it does have a little bit more robust features and integrations so that as you grow you can begin to just grow into that and you’re already there.
I actually follow someone that is, she’s moving, she has a pretty large email list and she is leaving ActiveCampaign and coming back to ConvertKit because she’s not happy at ActiveCampaign.
Dolly DeLong: I’ve heard a lot of negative things about ActiveCampaign.
Magan Ward: So, I’ve heard a lot of issues in the last 9 to 12 months that people are having and people are just, they’re like, it’s not worth it. You’re causing me problems in my own business. So ConvertKit is actually bringing in even more new features that are really cool and that I’m really enjoying right now.
They’ve got, it’s called the Creator Network and I’m getting several new subscribers a day just from being inside that creative network and it’s other ConvertKit users that are sharing me to the world and, I’m doing the same, and putting them in front of my subscribers as well. So it’s really cool.
Dolly DeLong: Can you share your link, ConvertKit link with them? Do they, would they get a discount for signing up with it?
Magan Ward: They might. We’ll put it if there is one. We’ll make sure Dolly has that and put it in the notes. But yes, I do have a link that I can share. So if anybody is interested.
Dolly DeLong: Okay, great. Because I want everybody to have some sort of option to look at just in case now you are like, okay. You’ve convinced me I need to start growing my email list.
Okay. We gave you three options: MailerLite, ConvertKit, and FloDesk. MailChimp is another option as well. So it’s really dependent upon your budget, your business budget. But there are ways. To grow your email list that can fit your budget.
Magan Ward: And if any of you have ever heard me complain about MailChimp, I take some of it back because they have gotten better.
I don’t know if anybody’s checked it out in the last year or so, but, and I don’t remember if they’ve been purchased by Intuit, who also runs like TurboTax and some of these other programs, and you, if anybody’s ever used TurboTax in the US to do their taxes, it is very user friendly if it prompts you, and I think that they have gotten ahold of MailChimp and things are a lot, it’s just becoming more user friendly.
Again, it used to be back in the day, then it got really clunky and you couldn’t find anything, but it’s starting to get a lot better. I’ve been in there a couple of times for a couple of clients and I was like, I was really dreading it, and then I got in there and I was like, this is getting better, so don’t discount it.
They have another, they have a free option available as well if you wanted to start out with that too.
Dolly DeLong: And I do know that if you are listening in and you already have a product or a service that’s based on a teaching platform like Kajabi or Podium, I know that they have email marketing options within their own platform as well. So don’t feel like you have to go out and buy a whole new email service provider.
See within your tech stack if you can utilize what you already have.
Magan Ward: Absolutely. Dolly, I know in our next episode, which will be episode 86 we’re gonna really talk about shifting our mindsets and undoing some myths that surround growing an email list.
Dolly DeLong: Yeah. Yeah. And Magan, I am so thankful that you came on again to, to share these seven different points of pain points about growing your email list. And in recap, if you are taking notes here are some pain points we discussed, I’m thinking about having a limited reach. Because I know that’s a big challenge for a lot of business owners.
Fearing low conversion rates, not knowing why you are experiencing lower conversion rates. And Magan and I shared some factors that may play into that. You may be afraid. Point three, you may be afraid to sound annoying or sound too salesy or even sounding too spammy. And so those are all valid points.
But we shared, again, like some mindset shifts to make when it comes to sounding annoying or salesy. And then point 4, not knowing exactly what should create as an effective opt-in or lead magnet, not having a clear strategy or purpose. Point five point 6. Time constraints. You may feel like you may not have enough time to dedicate to growing your email list.
So why even start? And then, of course, the last point is cost. Like you don’t know how to budget in an email service thread or within your own cost of doing business. So these were some points. That might be a pain point in starting to grow your email list. And if any of these resonate, we would love to know.
So please feel free to DM us on Instagram and let us know if any of this resonated with you and we are so excited to come back next week on episode 86. And make sure you go to the show notes for all the links mentioned. I know Magan has some great freebies to share and I do as well. So just go to the show notes and get all the gold.
All right. And until then you have a streamlined and magical week. You amazing muggle you. We will talk to you next week. Bye!
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