Thursday, February 16, 2023

Tips for Optimal Email Marketing That Will Engage Readers & Grow Your Email List

by Susan U. Neal RN, MBA, MHS @SusanNealYoga

A large email list is crucial to your writing business. You don’t own your followers on social media, and the social media site can kick you off their platform at any time. But you do own your email list. If you have 1000 email subscribers who know and trust you, then you’ve got loads of potential product purchases. 

Opt-In Gift

The subscriber journey begins with your lead magnet (opt-in gift). You could have a lead magnet for one journey like my healthy living path, and another lead magnet for another segment of readers such as author coaching. Offer an enticing gift so the reader believes it is worth giving you their email address. 

Have your ideal reader in mind when creating your opt-in gift. Match your lead magnet with your brand so the people who download your gift are a good match for relationship building. You want your subscribers to be interested in opening your subsequent emails because they identify with your brand that was initially presented in your lead magnet. 

Some great ideas for gifts include checklists, quizzes, videos, audios, guides, and PDFs. The gift should be short, creative, and only address one problem. Start by listing the problems your reader wants you to solve for them. How can your opt-in gift and items you put in your email sequence resolve those issues? 

What result does your gift provide the reader? Put those results in the title of your gift and include two unique identifiers in the title. For example:10 gluten-free recipes you can cook in 30 minutes. For other tips on creating a title, see How Writers Can Create a Great Lead Magnet Title

Your lead magnet should be at the top of your website, so viewers do not have to scroll down to see it. Use a 15 to 30 second time delayed pop-up to advertise your free gift because pop-ups work. 

Initially create something simple for your gift like a PDF and see if people download it. If they do, then create an audio, video, guide, or e-book to go with it. You don’t want to invest a lot of time creating an opt-in gift that no one downloads.

Your gift should circle back to what you sell. For example, I publish healthy living books so my lead magnets Reboot Your Metabolism and Gluten Intolerance Quiz work well. I don’t sell meal plans, so having a meal plan lead magnet wouldn’t work. 

Next, you want to guide them through the email automation sequence, and lead them to your book, course, and coaching program.

Subscriber Journey

Figure out the journey you want to take your email subscribers on, so they learn who you are. Think about how you can connect to the reader and build a relationship with them through your email sequence. How can you benefit them? If they were sitting in your living room what would you tell them?

Ultimately, you want your subscriber to know, like, and trust you. This should be your goal. You don’t have to solve all of their problems at once. But through your emails you should solve many of them.

Build a journey for your ideal reader starting with step zero in your lead magnet and then, through the email sequence, add each step they need to take. Provide free gifts and affiliate links to products. 

For example, I started with free printable appendices from my book, 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates as my opt-in gift. In my email sequence, I used one of the seven steps in seven emails as part of my email automation. Your book topic can help you figure out what to include in your emails.

After you get their email address, send the subscriber the free gift followed by a welcome email sequence of 2–3 emails within one week. Thereafter, email your list every 7­–10 days so they know who you are, what you’ve been through, and how you can help them. If you’re a fiction writer, maybe you can take them away to a distant land or on an adventurous quest.

Lead Magnet Link Name, Landing Page, and Email Marketing Service

Buy a domain name to use as a link for your opt-in gift. For example, I have and It is easier to remember than These short names provide a natural avenue for me to tell listeners about them when I am interviewed on podcasts. 

The opt-in gift landing page should answer what the reader will receive from the gift. This page needs to entice them to subscribe to your list. Please check out my landing pages by clicking the quiz links in the paragraph above. Use your branding colors, and make this page pleasing to the eye.

Next, you need to choose your email marketing service. Some good ones include Constant Contact, Active Campaign, ConvertKit (here is my affiliate link), MailerLite, and Klaviyo. Most email providers give a free version for you to use until you get to a high number of contacts. You don’t want to pay for an expensive subscription service until you build your list and make money from selling your products. 

Newsletter Fundamentals

An email newsletter or automation communicates beneficial information to the subscribers. It should be emailed every 7–10 days and could include a story, advice, or anything useful.

If you’re going to automate your newsletter then all content needs to be evergreen (continually relevant) and not connected to current events, seasons, or holidays because you don’t know what time of the year the subscriber will receive the email. 

Think of your newsletter as a relationship builder. How can your knowledge benefit them through what you’ve experienced? What would make your newsletter reader walk away feeling as though they received something valuable? For example, one of my emails asks the reader to email me back with their questions. Yesterday, a subscriber responded to a question from an automated email. I immediately answered her. 

At some point in your emails offer them a product whether it’s your book, course, or an affiliate link to someone else’s product. For example, I sell the pamphlet, How to Prevent, Improve, & Reverse Alzheimer’s and Dementia for $5. That’s more profit than I receive for my best seller, 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates. If you would like to create a digital product, take my Course: Create & Sell Digital Products.

Don’t send offers with no freebies and no relationship building. Edie Melson uses the five to one rule for social media, and this could apply to your emails as well. Give your subscriber five benefits before providing them with one of your offers. You want your reader to think, I love getting those emails, so they will open them.

Now that you’ve created the newsletter content, it’s time to write your subject line. This line must be so enticing it makes the email worth opening. To determine if your subject line evokes reader emotion use the advanced marketing headline analyzer at

Grow Your Email List

You can grow your email list by writing guest blogs and articles. Add a link to your free gift at the bottom of the blog or in your bio. You are welcome to submit a guest blog for my Healthy Living Blog at or Christian Indie Publishing Blog at Both websites rank high on Google and have thousands of monthly viewers. 

Next Steps

Now that you’ve learned about optimal email marketing, here is a list of steps to get you started. 
  1. Create your opt-in gift. 
  2. Create the landing page.
  3. Buy a domain name for your lead magnet.
  4. Choose an email marketing provider.
  5. Connect your lead magnets landing page to your email marketing provider.
  6. Create an automated welcome email sequence (2–3 emails in 1 week).
  7. Create either a newsletter or automated email sequence (sent every 7–10 days). 
  8. Track and evaluate your email rates at least quarterly.

For more information, please check out my Course: Optimal Email Marketing at May God bless your email subscribers’ journey with you!


Susan U. Neal, RN, MBA, MHS: Susan’s mission is to improve the health of the body of Christ. She has her RN and MBA degrees, as well as a master’s in health science. She is a CERTIFIED HEALTH AND WELLNESS COACHwith the American Association of Christian Counselors. She published five books, the Selah award winner 7 STEPS TO GET OFF SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATES, CHRISTIAN STUDY GUIDE FOR 7 STEPS TO GET OFF SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATES, HEALTHY LIVING JOURNAL, SCRIPTURE YOGAa #1 Amazon best-selling yoga book, and YOGA FOR BEGINNERSwhich ranked #3. She published two sets of Christian Yoga Card Decks and two Christian Yoga DVDs that are available at CHRISTINAYOGA.COM. Her digital product HOW TO PREVENT, IMPROVE, AND REVERSE ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA is a great resource. To learn more about Susan visit her website SUSANUNEAL.COM You can also connect with Susan on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and INSTAGRAM.

Featured Image: Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash


  1. This is an awesome post. I'm working on this very thing. I had a respectable email following with a 35% open rate. Then when I got my first contract, I let the whole thing die. Time to start over...

    1. Julie, that was a superior open rate! So you ghosted your list for a while. But you can simply explain, in your first email to them, how busy you were with writing your book. You're in CIPA, so the course will be out next week after the live take-action workshop.

  2. What a wealth of information, Susan!

    1. Your welcome! I took a $600 email marketing course so I can invest in my CAN and CIPA members, and teach superior content at writer conferences. I love to learn!