How To Monetize Your Email List

How to Monetize Your Email List

Whether you’ve heard it before or not, building an email list is still an essential part of any successful business. In fact, email users will top three billion by 2020. That’s a lot of people checking their email.

While there are many upsides to having an email list of loyal followers, one of the biggest is the ability to effectively monetize that email list. A well-nurtured list of targeted subscribers is likely to yield paying customers. But making money from your email list isn’t as easy as pitching your offer and watching the dough roll in. It’s much more strategic than that. Here’s everything you need to know about monetizing your email list.

Reverse Engineer the Process: What Do You Want to Sell?

To determine the best way to monetize your email list, start at the end!

When you start with your goal in mind, you can start building a list of targeted subscribers who are much more likely to buy what you’re selling.

Not sure what to offer? The two most profitable ideas are:

  • Pitch your own products or services. Your subscribers signed up for your list and are now ready to be emailed by you, so, naturally, it makes sense to promote something you created or offer.

  • Share other products or services. No offer of your own? No problem! You can also promote products, services, or programs as an affiliate partner, which can earn you a percentage of the sales.

Create a Targeted Freebie

Now that you have an idea of what you’d like to offer, let’s start building a list of email subscribers who will genuinely be interested in what you’re offering.

It all starts with your freebie. If you want to take your subscribers from free offer to a paid offer, the freebie you create needs to have some strategy behind it.

Your freebie should:

Relate to your bigger offer. You want to start your list off on the right foot and increase the chances that your subscribers will eventually turn into buyers. This means your free offer must relate to whatever it is you’re selling.

Be something your audience wants. In addition to relating to your paid offer, your freebie has to be something that your audience will actually sign up for. If you’re not sure what they want, simply ask them. Go into Facebook groups that are full of your target customers and ask what they’d most like to know. You could do a poll with specific options to see which freebie is likely to convert the best.

Be short and actionable. There are so many free reports, free webinars and free video series out there. Whatever you decide to create, you want to make sure it’s something easy for your subscribers to consume and full of actionable advice.


Freebies that convert include ebooks, templates, workbooks, video series and webinars.

What if you have more than one offer?

The simplest answer is to create multiple freebies and segment your list so they get offers related to what they signed up for. Basically, you always want your paid offer to line up with the interests of your email subscribers.

Nurture Your Subscribers

You’ve got your freebie. You’re building your list.

But it’s not quite time to pitch your offers yet.

Why not?

Because they’re probably still not ready to buy from you. They signed up for your free offer, and they’re loving it. But they still don’t know enough about you (and how you can help them) to make them want to give you their money.

That’s where a nurture sequence comes in. Nurture emails allow you to communicate more deeply with your subscribers while allowing them to get to know you. Plus, it gets you in their inbox on a regular basis. People are much more likely to buy from you when they feel they have gotten to know you.

Here are some ideas to include in an email nurture sequence:

Welcome email. This can be combined with the email you use to deliver your freebie. This email usually introduces the subscriber to you and your business. You may also include information about being on your email list, such as how often you will be emailing them or what you will be sending. You may also want to include other ways to connect with you, such as links to your social media accounts.

Tips and tricks. It’s important to continue giving out free value. Beyond the freebie they signed up for you, you can offer more tips and tricks for your new subscribers. If you have a blog, link to your top articles. Or maybe even put together another short report. You want to give your subscribers even more quick wins, while demonstrating how well you know your niche. The more they believe in you, the more likely they are to invest.


At the end of each email, pose a question and ask them to hit reply to let you know their answer. If you can make the question related to the topic of the email, even better! The point is getting your subscribers used to communicating and conversing with you. Remember, the more they connect with you, the more likely they are to want to pay you.

A quick word about frequency. In the beginning, email your new subscribers every two to three days. Do not spread your emails out too much; you want to stay on the top of their minds.

Pitch Your Offer

Finally! It’s time to put your offer out there.

You’ve nurtured your list and given them a chance to get to know your brand or service. By now, they’re used to hearing from you. They know more about what you do, and they have enough tips to feel  you truly can help them.

They are now primed to buy!

So, go back to your offer in the first step. This can be a product, service, or program that you created, or it can be an affiliate product. As a general rule, if they’ve never bought from you before, you may want to start with a smaller price tag. It’s not always easy to get someone to go from never buying anything from you to investing thousands. It can be done, but it’s usually easier to get them to buy something at a lower price.

Additional Ways to Monetize

The good news: You now have an email sequence that is designed to transform people from subscribers to buyers. The bad news: It’s not a sure thing. Even with the best free offer and an amazing nurture sequence, the open rate for most email marketers is around 37%. Unfortunately, the sales conversion rate is lower than that.

Luckily, you can have more than one offer. Here are some other ideas to monetize your email list:

Luckily, you can have more than one offer. Here are some
other ideas to monetize your email list:

Have a tripwire offer. A tripwire offer is a low priced offer (between $5 and $50) that is usually presented to subscribers right after they opt in. Yes, your subscribers haven’t gotten to know you much yet, but if the offer is desirable enough and inexpensive enough than you’re likely to get some buyers.

Downsell your main offer. When people don’t buy your offer, you can still keep them on your list and offer them a smaller but similar, lower-priced offer. If the cost was an issue for them, this might be a good way to get them on your list of customers. Once they’ve invested in your business, no matter the price, it’s much easier to get them to buy again.

Upsell your offer. Alternatively, if they have bought, you can upsell your offer, too. For example, let’s say your offer was a self-paced course. You can reach out to your buyers and offer an upgrade for 1:1 coaching.

Cross-sell other products. If you have related products, or multiple related affiliate offers, you can cross-sell to your list. If they’ve bought one thing, there’s a chance they’d buy something else that’s related.

Offer premium content. If you share content often, a different way to monetize your email list (and your website!) is to offer premium content as an upgrade. This can be a monthly, yearly or one-time fee for people to gain access to your best content that has been reserved especially for paying readers.

Sell ad space. If you’ve managed to grow your list to record numbers and it’s full of active buyers, you can easily sell ad space to other businesses. Rather than spend the time to build their own list, businesses will seek out other businesses with a similar audience and take advantage of their email list. All you’d have to do is mention the business (or their product or service) and add a link to get paid for it!


Building a list of email subscribers, and then monetizing that list, is one of the highest converting avenues to making money online. But like anything else online, there’s a strategy behind it. Besides avoiding these email marketing blunders, you want to get strategic about monetizing your email list. Start with a free offer that really attracts. Nurture your subscribers and let them get to know you. Then finally, pitch an offer that you know your subscribers will really love.

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