mailing list

5 Simple Ways To Make Your Email List More Effective

I’ve given a lot of advice over the years about how to get more people to join your mailing list, but how can you get the most value out of your list once people subscribe?

Here’s a few simple things you can do to maximize the results you get from your mailing list, no matter how many subscribers you have…

1. Ask Questions

I recently made a change to my Free Tips Newsletter mailing list and it’s had a remarkable impact.

I used to have it set up so that whenever somebody subscribed to my list they would get a confirmation email that thanked them, told them to expect the first tips soon, and invited them to connect with my various social media accounts.

That email was fine, it worked well, but I decided to experiment with something else – asking a question that was about them more than it was about me.

Now when people subscribe to my list, this is the first email they get:

Hi [NAME],

I just wanted to reach out and say thanks for your interest in Connected Comedy!

To kick things off, I’d love to hear a little about your background, goals and challenges – it’s different for everybody, so the more I know about what you’re looking for the better the advice I’ll be able to give you.

Let me know – thanks!


The result has been that almost every person that subscribes to my list responds to that email and tells me a bit about themselves and what they’re looking for.

Most people also comment about how surprised they are to see that I actually care who they are and how unexpected it is to get an email like that after subscribing to a mailing list.

This one simple question has changed their entire perception of what my mailing list is about and what to expect from me in general in a positive way.

That’s great, but that’s not all it’s done.

It’s also given me helpful information about my subscribers – who they are, why they subscribed, what they’re looking for, etc. – that allows me to provide them with more value and things they’re more likely to find helpful.

I typically respond with some specific suggestions and it takes what initially was a very passive relationship – somebody who subscribed to a mailing list not knowing what to expect – and turns it into a legitimate personal connection which is WAY more valuable for both parties.

While the people who subscribe to your mailing list most likely won’t be seeking advice the way my subscribers do, you can easily come up with your own relevant question to ask subscribers when they first sign up (or at any point for that matter).

It’s really about starting a conversation with them so you get to know the people that are interested in you enough to join your mailing list and give them a chance to get to know you better.

You might want to ask them how they heard about you, why they subscribed to your list, or even something as simple as who are their favorite comedians.

Anything that can start a conversation with you and that could give you some insight that could help you provide value to them (and you) down the road.

2. Deliver What You Promise

Here’s a simple suggestion that most people don’t follow – make sure you deliver what you promise to people who join your mailing list.

If you tell people you won’t just send them spammy show promotions, then don’t just send them spammy show promotions.

If you promise them no more than one email a month, then don’t send them an email every week.

If you promise them a free album download, then give them the free album download.

Whatever you promise a subscriber at signup, make sure you live up to it. And if you have to change your promise – for example, maybe you planned to send a monthly email but now want it to be weekly – make sure you tell your subscribers.

Be open and transparent with them so they don’t feel tricked.

A successful mailing list is based on trust (as is a career by the way), so you want to make sure people know your word means something.

3. Use Targeting And Segmentation

Hopefully, you’re using a mailing list provider like Aweber (this is my recommendation and here’s why) or Mailchimp to manage your mailing list.

If you are, it will allow you to easily segment your list so that you don’t have to send every email to every person on your list.

You want every email you send to people to be relevant to those people. Don’t send emails promoting your New York show to people that live in Miami – that’s just begging them to unsubscribe.

It’s fine to send some emails to your full list, but use targeting and segmenting of your list to ensure nobody gets things that aren’t relevant to themĀ  in order to retain your subscribers.

And even if you don’t use Aweber or Mailchimp, you should look for ways to segment your list – even if it’s as simple as keeping a spreadsheet to track where your subscribers live or where they were when they joined your list.

4. Make It Interactive And Fun

This is somewhat related to my suggestion that you ask questions to your subscribers. Again, instead of thinking of your mailing list as a one-way communication platform (you blasting out your message to your subscribers), think about it as an opportunity for two-way communication.

It’s easy for your subscribers to hit reply to your email and respond with whatever you prompt them to do, so look for interesting and fun ways to take advantage of that.

There’s no shortage of things you can do to spark interaction – have them suggest topics for your podcast, ask you questions you can answer in future emails, send you bizarre things they’ve found online that you then share on your blog, or any other creative thing you can come up with.

Making your mailing list more interactive will once again show your subscribers you care and are paying attention to them. It will also make your emails more fun and help you use them to build community. You want to get to the point where your subscribers are excited to get an email from you, not just putting up with your emails.

And one of the best ways to get them excited is to make them feel like they’re a part of it.

5. Don’t Worry About Starting Small

No matter how many subscribers you have, you’ll always want more.

But don’t confuse that desire with a false belief that there’s no value to be had from your list unless you have hundreds or thousands of people on it.

Even if you only have a handful of subscribers, you can still get value from a good email list. Remember, email is still the most effective way to get people to actually see what you send them (the percentage of people who see your emails is roughly 10x as many as see your social posts).

Instead of focusing on all the subscribers you don’t have, focus on the opportunity to engage with the ones you do have.

Those people are the beginnings of your fanbase and the more connected they are to you, the more supportive they will be, and the more likely they will spread the word about you.

A lot of this is about perspective.

For example, a comic may have 100 people on their mailing list and never send them any emails other than the occasional show promotion, even though it’s likely that 50+ of those subscribers will see whatever they send.

Meanwhile, that same comic is promoting their new video on Twitter non-stop to 500 followers, but not realizing that only 25 of their followers actually see their posts.

Recognize the opportunity you have in your mailing list and don’t get distracted by the illusion of social media as being a more effective platform for reaching fans – it’s not.

And remember that all things start small, but the ones that provide value eventually get big.

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