Most people have heard that email marketing can be a very effective tactic to drive leads and sales. However, there’s one problem with the examples we hear over and over again…

The case studies are typically about enormous lists of 100,000+ engaged subscribers. By engaged, I mean they are already actively opening and clicking on the emails the business is sending.

Sound familiar? When you hear those stories, you probably get excited because the stats are so impressive, but then you likely get depressed when you realize your email list is not that big and not very engaged…

But don’t worry! Email marketing can still be very effective even if you have a tiny list. I’ll even prove it to you with a case study. Then I’ll dissect the case study so you can apply the lessons to your own email marketing.

Email Marketing Case Study (1)

Case Study: Don’t Underestimate a Small List

Since we’ve all been brainwashed into believing we need enormous lists of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of subscribers, we naturally underestimate small lists.

For example, do you think it’s even worth emailing a list of 45 contacts?

I bet your first thought was, “No.  It’s not worth the effort to write and send an email to a list that small.”  In fact, many businesses make that decision every single day.

By making that false assumption, I guarantee you’re leaving money on the table! How much money? Based on my experience, you could be missing out on over $1,000.  That’s how much one of our clients, a chiropractor in San Francisco, generated from a list of merely 45 prospective patients.

We didn’t do anything fancy either.  We simply drafted and sent a 3-part email sequence to the 45 contacts to promote a discount “Summer Tune-Up” service.  The campaign had a defined start and end date so we announced the promotion, sent a reminder a week later, and then a final reminder right before the deadline.

Oh and I should mention these emails were 100% text with no graphical design.  If you can type a basic email, then you can run this email promotion to your own list.  It really was that simple and our client was able to bring in just over $1,000 in new business from only 45 contacts.

OK, I’ll admit the list of 45 contacts were not cold.  The contacts had heard of our client and had expressed some interest in his services because they filled out a contact form on the website.  

That brings us to the first key takeaway…

Takeaway #1: Your Subscribers Must Be Engaged

I can’t emphasize this point enough so I’m going to repeat it again.  You must have engaged subscribers in order to convert these subscribers into customers.

If your subscribers don’t know, like, and trust you, then you’re in for a steep uphill battle to drive conversions.  The beauty of email marketing is that it’s one of the best ways to build a relationship with subscribers and it’s this relationship that makes it such a great tool for driving sales.

So how do you get your subscribers engaged?

It all starts when the subscriber first joins your subscriber list.  Do you have a welcome email or sequence of emails?  If you don’t, then make that a key action item on your to do list.  

Here’s an example of the welcome email we send to all of our new subscribers so you can see this in action:


Of course you’ll need to edit that depending on how exactly the contact was added to your subscriber list and what you’ll be sending your subscribers.  

Then after you’ve welcomed your subscribers, you need to keep them engaged.  This is where a lot of businesses fall short.  The reality is that after a few months (or just weeks), your subscribers will forget you even exist.  That is, unless you remind them!

That’s where sending a consistent, valuable email newsletter comes into play.  Now, I can feel all the eyes rolling at the thought of an email newsletter, but trust me, this is important.  Unless you can maintain an engaged audience, you’ll never be able to convert subscribers into customers.  It’s as simple as that.

So commit to sending a valuable newsletter to your subscribers at least monthly to stay in touch. Don’t focus your newsletter articles on selling. Instead, provide helpful information that your subscribers would want to read.  Leave selling to dedicated promotional emails, which we’ll talk about next.


Takeaway #2: You Must Have a Compelling Offer

There are two types of emails you can send to your subscribers:

  1. Valuable content designed to keep your audience engaged
  2. Promotional content designed to convert subscribers to customers

In the section above, I was talking exclusively about valuable content to keep your audience engaged.  I purposefully led with that type of email first because it’s the most important.  If you fail to provide value to your subscribers, then the best promotional email in the world will fail.

Of course, if you never send any promotional emails, then you also won’t drive any sales… So you need to strike a balance.  As a rule of thumb, I recommend sending more valuable emails versus promotional emails, or at the very least send an equal amount of each.  

OK, now let’s focus on what goes into your promotional emails.  By far the most important factor in whether or not your promotional email will work is your offer.  Do you have a compelling offer?

In the case study above, our offer was a discount of about 63% off the normal fees for a Summer Tune-Up.  That’s a pretty strong offer and it led to a strong response from the small list of 45 subscribers.

But an offer alone is not enough.  You also need a CTA, or call to action.  Here’s where businesses can overly complicate things.  

What is the easiest CTA from your subscribers’ perspectives?  Is it to click a link?  Call?  

No, it’s to reply!  If you’re not using the “reply” CTA, then make sure to incorporate that into one of your future promotional emails.  It not only gets a strong response because it’s so easy, but it also helps with deliverability of future emails.  As more of your subscribers reply to your emails, the ISPs (internet service providers) will see that as positive engagement, which leads to improved deliverability of your emails.

Let’s take a look at how this works in practice:


As you can see from the screenshot above, the email promotion was 100% text so it looks like a 1-to-1 email sent directly from the doctor to the patient.  Then at the bottom of the email the call to action is to “simply reply to this email or call”.  

We sent the email above to announce the promotion, then followed up 2 more times before the deadline, which helped get the procrastinators over the line.

On the surface, this campaign looks overly simple.  However, it has all the key ingredients we talked about above.  There’s a compelling offer, a call to action, and the email list was engaged.  When you have all 3 of those key ingredients, then I guarantee you’ll see strong results like we did with our client.


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