How To Turn An Email Subscriber Into A Loyal, Paying Customer

How To Turn An Email Subscriber Into A Loyal, Paying Customer - Duct Tape Marketing“The money is in the email list”

This has become the mantra of marketers everywhere. In fact, most experts agree that an email subscription list is the most powerful tool in your arsenal.

But, building a subscription list is just the start. Enticing those subscribers to buy something is the tricky part.

Nurturing your subscribers to make a sale

You’ve probably heard of the ‘sales funnel’. You pour leads into the top of the funnel, some become email subscribers, and then a small amount fall through the bottom as a paying customer. It looks like this:

Well, one colleague made me see this in a whole new way. He said “It’s more like a mountain. Your leads start at the bottom, and you’ve got to give them a leg up all the way to the top”.

In other words, you have to actively push them up to the sale – every step of the way – rather than simply letting them fall. Subscribers don’t turn into customers without a little ‘nurturing’. Here’s how you do it:

1. Remind them who you are and why they signed up

The first step to securing a sale is building a trustworthy relationship. That means constantly reminding them who you are and why you deserve a place in their email inbox!

Most of us sign up to newsletters, slowly forget why, and ultimately unsubscribe.

With your first few emails, make it very clear who you are and what value you add. The first step to making a sale is not getting unsubscribed!

2. Offer something valuable for free

The best marketing is reciprocal. This is not a one-way street.

Your very first ‘welcome’ email should offer something highly valuable for free. If you used a lead magnet to encourage sign ups (eg. a free eBook, report, or web series), they should get this immediately. There are two good reasons for this:

One, subscribers get a warm fuzzy feeling when they get something for free. It’s a great way to build a positive relationship and experience. And two, it proves your worth instantly. If you can provide value quickly, they’re much more likely to come back and actively look out for your future emails.

P.s. this free content or product should be your best work. This is about rewarding subscribers and proving your value.

3. Do it quickly

This process should all happen very quickly. The longer you leave it to offer value, the quicker they’ll forget about you. If your subscriber gets their first email a month after they subscribed, they’re unlikely to open it, let alone buy anything.

Email is all about small, successive conversions. Make that first quick, free conversion instantly. Then they’re hooked, and you can move on to making a sale.

4. The welcome series

Most websites send their subscribers a ‘welcome’ email and then move onto regular, general newsletters.

Instead, try a ‘welcome journey’. It’s a series of emails all connected and focused on making a sale.

How To Turn An Email Subscriber Into A Loyal, Paying Customer - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit My Emma

One of my clients uses a series of eight emails to tell a connected story from start to finish. During each email, there’s a call-to-action to encourage new subscribers to take the next engagement step.

The first welcome email offers access to a free report and begins the story. The second email reminds them about the report and uses a case study to show its importance. The third introduces subscribers to a low-priced product and continues the story.

It keeps your open rate high, establishes your brand, and gives subscribers multiple entry points to engage and buy.

You can use your email client to automate this welcome series. The first email, for example, is dispatched immediately upon subscription. The second follows two days later, the third after a week etc.

5. Offer your subscribers a discount or exclusive offer

Subscribers on your list should feel like they’re getting exclusive treatment. There has to be some form of reward or bonus to signing up.

One way to create this feeling is through exclusive offers and discounts. This is also one of the easiest ways to convince subscribers to buy something. Again, that first conversion is the most important, so offer it early.

You can use additional tricks here, such as setting a time limit on the offer to compel subscribers to take action. You could call it a ‘one-time introductory offer’. Again, use your welcome series to remind subscribers about the discount along the way.

6. Use tiered pricing and entry-level products

By now, we’ve established the importance of the quick first sale. It’s the entry gate to future sales and long-term custom.

But, naturally, new subscribers aren’t going to jump in at the deep-end and purchase your $1,000 tuition series. However, they might buy a $10 report or webinar. They’re not going to buy a $1500 camera, but they might test the waters with a $20 accessory.

If you analyse your biggest competitors, you’ll probably notice they have a tiered system. See if they’re using low-priced entry products to lure customers in.

Prove your worth, then offer an affordable entry product to secure that first real sale. From there, you can build up to the premium products.

7. Reduce the risk!

New subscribers are still figuring out if they can trust you. Their natural instinct is still a little wary, and they’ll find any little reason not to buy from you.

It’s your job to break down those natural barriers and remove any sense of anxiety. Include testimonials and social proof in your newsletters to show that others trust your service and products.

Offer free delivery to quell any worries about prices. Create a link to a ‘live chat’ or a direct phone number to show that you’re open to customer service.

8. Use a call to action button in every email

Campaign Monitor – one of the leading email marketing platforms – claims that a call-to-action button converts 28% better than a simple link in the text.

How To Turn An Email Subscriber Into A Loyal, Paying Customer - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit Campaign Monitor

Most people scan an email, so they’ll probably glance over a text link. However, they can’t miss a big green button. In fact, they’ll feel drawn to it. Don’t be afraid to be bold. Direct your subscribers where to go next.

9. Remind customers about their empty shopping carts

It’s often difficult to differentiate between casual subscribers and those with an intent to buy.

However, if you subscriber has gone to the trouble of adding items to their cart, they’re a buyer. All you have to do is give them a nudge.

Remind them about the items in their cart and direct them to the checkout.


Building an email list is a core part of any good marketing strategy. However, signing up is just the start! Turning them into a paying customer is the real challenge.

What tricks do you use to convert your email subscribers? Let me know in the comment section!

Daren LowDaren Low is the founder of Bitcatcha and co-developer of the free Server Speed Checker. With a decade of experience in website development and internet marketing to his name, Daren is considered a premier authority on all things related to building and managing an online presence.  Feel free to pick his brain by connecting via Twitter

5 Ways to Organize Email Marketing to Achieve Higher ROI

5 Ways to Organize Email Marketing To Achieve Higher ROI - Duct Tape MarketingI like to say that email marketing is like a headed cabbage. It might seem like a simple concept, but it has many layers.

In fact, the deeper you go into the email rabbit hole, the more you realize that there are more things you need to pay attention to and optimize than you had thought.

Before you know it, you can get overwhelmed with ESP features, analytical metrics, and dozens of option forms. This can result in a disease that I call email confusion; companies that suffer from it show symptoms such as low open rate, low click-through rate, and unengaged subscribers.

Luckily, there is a very effective cure for that. If you organize your email marketing effectively, you’ll see the results right away: improved open rates, engaged subscribers, better conversion rate and higher ROI.

In this post, I’m going to share 5 things you can do to organize your email marketing. There is a special bonus for overachievers at the end of the post, so be sure to check it out.


Segmentation is the cornerstone of email marketing because it informs smarter campaigns. By grouping your subscribers based on a set of characteristics, or triggers, you ensure that you send relevant information to a highly targeted audience.

Many email service providers (ESPs) let you tag each subscriber based on the actions they performed, such as buying your product, visiting sales page, or dropping out of the webinar half-way.

To make sure you have good data on hand to segment your subscribers, make sure you set up tagging for every kind of event that’s relevant for your business.

Even if your ESP doesn’t allow tagging, there is a number of ways you can segment your list simply based on campaign activity. Look at the following groups and see how you can serve them differently:

  • subscribers who open most of your emails but don’t click
  • subscribers who click but don’t convert (send them a new campaign with more reasons to purchase your product)
  • subscribers who didn’t open the last email (if it was an important email, re-send it with a new subject line)
  • subscribers who have consistently replied to your emails (they are your biggest fans, so treat them accordingly)


If you’ve been building your email list for a while, you probably have dozens of opt-in forms floating around your website, landing pages, and affiliate web properties.

Many of them probably use similar language or offer the same opt-in freebies.

If you don’t keep those forms organized, you might end up doing double work and wasting time that could be better spent on email analytics or A/B tests.

A big step towards organizing your opt-ins is creating them in one platform, whether that’s your ESP or another tool, such as LeadPages.

Being able to look at a single page with a list of all opt-in forms you own will allow you to save time on creating new ones, analyze and compare their performance and reuse the most effective ones.


You need to have a thought-out strategy and schedule for your email marketing so that the emails you send feel like a coordinated campaign (vs. a series of one-off messages).

While developing a content calendar takes time, it will save you more time down the road, because your marketing team won’t have to go through the same strategizing process for each of the emails they send.

Here are a few details to include in your email planner (you can download an Excel template for this planner at the end of the post):

  1. Email send date.
  2. Email topic.
  3. Owner. (Who on your team is crafting this email?)
  4. Subject line.
  5. Goal. (Examples: lead generation, purchase, event signups, etc)
  6. Target segment / persona.
  7. Send list.


A/B testing is one of the most powerful tactics you can use for developing best-performing email campaigns. You can learn powerful insights about your audience and rely on hard data (instead of your gut) when crafting your next email campaign.

However, the bigger your team is and the more tests you run, the easier it is to get lost in results if you don’t keep them organized.

This is why you need to keep a ledger with all tests that you’re running. If you’re using a tool that helps you organize this — great! If you’re not ready to invest in a tool yet, build out an Excel spreadsheet with the following columns:

  • Test start and end date
  • Hypothesis
  • Success metrics
  • Confidence level
  • Key takeaways

If you want to download a pre-made testing ledger template, there is a link at the end of this post.


Finally, any email marketing manager should always keep a pulse on what other players are doing with email. Which means… they need to subscribe to dozens of newsletters and regularly check them.

I can immediately see this becoming an inbox nightmare very quickly.

Here are a few steps you can take to keep spying on others’ email marketing efforts and keep that business tidy:

  • Create filters in Gmail that would sort different newsletters in respective labeled “folders” (make sure to check off “Skip the inbox” so that these messages don’t distract you in your main inbox)
  • Schedule an hour every week where you go through all newsletters to check for cool campaign and design ideas and examples of excellent copywriting
  • Export the best examples to a shared Evernote folder


Keeping email marketing organized pays off in many ways, the most important one of which is higher return on your investment.

To help you organize your efforts well, I prepared an Excel template that you can use to plan your emails, build an effective email strategy and keep track of all experimentation you’re doing.

It’s completely free, and you can download it right here.5 Ways to Organize Email Marketing To Achieve Higher ROI - Duct Tape Marketing

I’d love to hear how YOU are organizing your email marketing: the tools, the tricks, the smart hacks — please share them in the comments!

Kasey LuckKasey Luck runs Bold & Zesty, a free newsletter about email marketing & productivity. Previously she did marketing at the most active venture fund in the world, 500 Startups, where she grew email list by 25,000 subscribers in 1 year. Connect with Kasey here.

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