Subscription Box Basics

Beginner Email List Strategies with Jo Harris

January 29, 2024 Julie Ball
Subscription Box Basics
Beginner Email List Strategies with Jo Harris
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

New to email marketing? Feel empowered today with the wisdom of Jo Harris, professional conversion copywriter and the beautiful mind behind Virtual Mama. We cover 3 tangible tips to cultivate your email list—from garnering your first ten enthusiasts to hitting every milestone en route to your launch list goals. Join along as we brainstorm lead magnet ideas and share how stay consistent with our own email marketing.


Links mentioned:

The Virtual Mama on IG

Jo's List Lingo course

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Speaker 1:

So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball and I'm Renee Gonzalez, your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs wanting to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper and let's have some fun. Hey everybody, and welcome back to Subscription Box Basics. I've got a special guest today. Her name is Jo Harris and she is a conversion copywriter and founder of the Virtual Mama. So basically, she writes high converting sales copy. That means it makes sales and she's here today to teach you three ways you can build an email list and grow your subscription box business. Jo, welcome to the podcast.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much for having me, Julie. I'm really excited to be here with you today.

Speaker 1:

Thank you. I'm glad you're here too, because I talk about email lists from time to time, and especially in my course. I want to make sure people don't overlook them. It is such an important part of launching and growing your business, so I'm so excited to hear your take on things. But first, why don't you give yourself a little introduction so people can get to know you?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I am a conversion copywriter and I was not always a copywriter. When I started out, it was really from a posture of, ok, I'm newly married and I'm planning to have kids and I want to figure out how I can use the skills I have to contribute to the home and be there for my family, and so that really started this whole journey of learning about entrepreneurship as a mother, and eventually one thing led to another and I really I landed on copywriting, something that I love, using skills. I already had my interest in marketing, and so it's been quite a journey, but really fulfilling one. So I love speaking to other women about business. It's awesome.

Speaker 1:

So when did you start your business?

Speaker 2:

So I technically started, I think back in like 2019. Ok, I didn't have I don't think I had the official name yet at the time, but that's when I really started taking those and when I say small, like super small baby steps towards starting a business.

Speaker 1:

Love it, love it, and so you've been in the game before AI was in the game, I don't know. I checked with you in advance to make sure this wasn't a trigger because, as a copywriter, there's a lot of people have a lot of feelings about AI. So real quickly tell us how you feel about AI as it pertains to copywriting.

Speaker 2:

It's so funny. At first I hated it, yeah, and I was like I don't want to think about this, I don't want to be asked about it, I just don't want to deal with it.

Speaker 1:

I don't want to lose my job because of it.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to be honest, I never had that fear. Oh yeah, I never had that fear, and I thought it was silly when other copywriters would think like AI is going to take over copywriting, because if you really understand what copywriting is, then you'll know that, yes, ai has a place and it can produce text, but when it comes to everything that goes into writing high converting copy, can AI really do that? No, they're not going to be able to approach it the way human can. So I never really had that fear and I think that I'm not against it. I think there's a place for it. It can assist you in generating ideas. If you need content right, like a quick social caption or something like that, it can produce that. Is it going to be as personal? Is it going to sound like you? Is it going to be as amazing? No, but it'll quote unquote get the job done if you want, like a springboard, just to get started.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, the way I look at it is a blank sheet of paper or blank canvas can be really overwhelming, intimidating, like it can make me drag my feet and just not do the thing that I'm supposed to do. So a lot of times I'll just start with AI and I'm like OK, what do I do here? Like give me a list of five topics I can talk about for subscription box businesses or whatever, because I'm in it so deep and sometimes I overthink it and even though I tell other people not to overthink it, I'm prey to that as well, so I use it just to get me started. All right, now we have that out of the way. Let's talk a little bit before we jump into the three ways, like what really is copywriting? Because you said just writing isn't high converting sales copy, so dissect that for us.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that is such a great question, julie. I love this question. So a lot of people don't know what copywriting is, and I understand right and they can confuse it with things like blog writing or writing social media captions and things like that. So copywriting, in essence, is advertising. It's speaking in a way that resonates with the reader to get them to take an action. So sometimes and most of the time, that involves selling a product or service. Sometimes it's just getting them to take an action and it's not necessarily selling them something in exchange for money, but it's selling them on an idea, on whatever action that you want them to take, and that's different from content such as a news article or a blog post or social media captions, which can inform, educate or inspire the reader. Mm-hmm.

Speaker 1:

So you're thinking like join my email list, you need some really good copywriting to get them to take that action. Yes, all right. All right, we'll give it to us. Tell us some ways that we can grow our email list and, as we know, that's going to grow our subscription box business. I would just be honest in that if someone said social media versus email, which converts better for your subscription box business, every single time I'm going to say email.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm, absolutely, and that is true across industries, for sure. And so, yeah, email marketing is so important, and I'll add this to piggyback on what you said is that you don't own your social media account, right, so anything can happen to it. We don't want to think that way and hopefully nothing happens, but you don't own your social media account, so when the algorithm changes or the interface changes or the brand name changes, like I did with Twitter, it's like you have no control over that. So you need a way that you can stay connected with your audience, and when you have their email address, you have your audience in your back pocket. You can reach out to them any time and you know that most likely that email is going to land in their inbox, versus social media posts. You don't know if they're even going to see it. A very small percentage of people are going to see that post versus the percentage of people that are going to see your email in their inbox.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, ok.

Speaker 2:

Give us some tips, ok. So number one is that you really need to give people a strong reason to give you their email. You don't want your newsletter, your email list, to be all centered around just your product. Right, you want to think about what value can I give that piggybacks on my offer. That adds more context, more value. So one way to do that is to create what is called a lead magnet, and that simply is just a digital product, usually a digital product that you deliver for free in exchange for their email address, and you want it to be really high value. And your listeners may or may not have heard of this before, but I really have to hit on this because it's so important to think high value, because people are in non-dated now with marketing. It's not enough to be like join my email list or let's stay connected, or here's a coupon, right, that doesn't always work. People are so much more hesitant now. So you want to think about okay, my subscription box, what is this doing for my customer? What problem is this solving in her life? What is this doing for her? How is this helping her reach her goals? And then taking that and thinking about what kind of content can I create around this in my email is going to add more value to her life, and if you think about it from a point of how can I serve her better Instead of just how can I get more email subscribers and keep them, then you are going to win with email for sure. Love it.

Speaker 1:

Okay, let's just have some fun and let's brainstorm some lead magnet ideas. So I'll just give you a couple ideas of what we've done in the past, as you think of some potential ones too. So one we've given playlists, links to Spotify playlists and so we had one for Sparkle Hustle Grow, my former subscription box called Girl, you're a Boss, and it had all these just empowering women songs, and so that one was really popular. We did a download you were talking about a digital download. We did one that was Mindset Magic, and we covered four different topics of mindset that our subscribers went through. One was like imposter syndrome, and then we gave them some solutions and some resources if they had it. So there was that one, and then a habit tracker. So one month we were doing a theme where the entire box contents were all about habits, and so we had a downloadable habit tracker. Now that one to me wasn't like high value, but it was one that was just a quick win. You know what I mean. It was easy to create and we could give it out for free.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely, I love those ideas. Those are really good. Some ideas that come to mind for me is you can start as simple, and I always recommend starting simple right, because if you try to aim too high, then you get overwhelmed and you don't want to do it. Yeah, exactly, it's true for all of us, even me. So start with something simple, like it could be a checklist or a template, and then from there you can build on it and grow into a video training that may be deep dives into a theme of your box for that month, and by doing that like you're giving more value but you're also tying it back to your offer to help you be more profitable. You could create something like how to xyz in 20 minutes, like I love the quick one idea, right. So, and and when you get really specific, like that it really draws people in. Oh well, only 20 minutes to get over my imposter syndrome or my mom guilt, something like that.

Speaker 1:

Super valuable, yeah and so true, I know that even we are created today in this podcast, we have three ways to grow your email list when you break it down into manageable chunks like that, that it is such an easy, like you said, quick win, like it's quick for us to create, but it's also a quick win for the recipient. They can get it and they're like, okay, which of these three they're not gonna have, like analysis, paralysis? They're like let's pick one of these three ideas and roll with it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly, just so, keep it simple for yourself and then build on it. That is like one of the best things that you can do for yourself.

Speaker 1:

Yes, okay. So if you're listening and you're stuck right now and you're like, okay, what is my lead magnet gonna be? Dm us, renee, and I will be happy to Throw out some ideas and brainstorm with you. We love to do that type of thing. So if you're stuck on a lead magnet and this is the one you want to try, let us know and we'll help you out. Okay, carry on with your tips.

Speaker 2:

Yes, okay, so fun. So the second one I am a big believer in this one. Okay, that is to set incremental milestones, and what I mean by that is if you are starting your email list from scratch, for example, and you think about how can I get 500 subscribers, that is going to overwhelm you so much and it's going to feel like this mountain you cannot climb. So what I recommend doing and I teach this in my email marketing course listening Go is to start with your first 10 subscribers, because if you can make a list of 10 people who might be interested in your subscription box Most likely you can yeah, then you. That is so much more manageable and you're most likely going to convert those people. They're going to be interested in your lead magnet, in what you're doing, and so that's gonna give you a quick win. That, in turn, gives you momentum. When you have momentum, you feel encouraged to keep going and keep pushing forward. But when you have this big, lofty goal of a hundred, five hundred, a thousand and you're trying to hit the goal without looking at the Steps you need to take to get to that goal, it's just it's gonna feel hard. So break it up into incremental milestones, maybe give yourself a certain amount of time and say within this amount of time, my goal is to get 10 people on this email list. Once you got 10, get your next 10, right, get to 20, and then your next goal can be 50, and then bump it up to 100, and then to 150, and then keep going up from there, and it's gonna feel so much more doable when you do it that way.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and celebrate those wins in between along the way. Yeah. So in subscription box bootcamp a lot of people will ask me well, how many people do I need on my email list? And so in our world, in the product-based subscription box world, for launch, I recommend people try to 10x their sales goal. So say that they wanna have 10 subscribers their first month. They need to have at least 100 good email addresses. If you want to launch and sell about 50, let's just say 50 subscribers in that first month, which you can do, it's doable. That's right around what I did when I first launched. You wanna shoot for 500 good email addresses. I'm not talking about bots, I'm not talking about just anybody. I'm talking about people who are actually interested in your subscription box and along the way you're gonna nurture them. But if you say I need 500 people on my email list and I'm starting at zero, that can be intimidating. So I think that's really great advice. Break it down into milestones, celebrate along the way may change your strategy too. To get you those first 10, maybe you do reach out to friends and family To get to 25, post it on Facebook and ask people, tell them what to do, say please support me in this new venture. Things like that. A lot of times people they think, build it and they'll come. But no, you have to ask, you have to tell people what to do and you have to seek out that target audience too. To fill up that email list.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and it doesn't have to feel intimidating. I love your tip of 10Xing. I think and it's so true and that's so important for us to understand as entrepreneurs that 100% of your list is not going to turn into sales for every single person. It's gonna be a portion of that. So, exactly like Julie said, whatever number you want to, you have to do the math backwards.

Speaker 1:

I think that you don't have to put the pressure on yourself. You don't have to be the next FabFitFun. You don't have to have 100,000 subscribers to be successful. Like I said, I launched with about 45 people the first month and I was super happy with that. Did I hit my goal that first month? No, but it gave me momentum, like you had talked about. Yeah, that's awesome, I love that and just a quick side note that if you're listening and you think like 10X, that's a 10% conversion rate. That's what we see a lot at launch. If you are actually nurturing that email list but beyond launch, that number's gonna drop way down low. Usually, websites are gonna convert somewhere around. I've seen the average go around 1%. These days 1 to 1.5%. So don't take that 10X goal throughout the entirety of your business. That's talking about like building up the excitement for that launch.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, I think between one and 3% is a lot more realistic, for sure. Yeah yeah, and the higher quality of the lead, and when I say lead, what I mean is, like the users in your list, the higher intent that they have of interest in your subscription box, the more likely you're gonna have a higher percentage. So it is good to make sure that you are targeting people who do have a genuine interest and you're not just chasing the numbers.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, you find out where your target audience is hanging out. You know who your target audience is because you've done the work. You've thought about who is this person? Where do they shop? What are their hobbies? You've thought about that as you've niched down your box idea until you gotta figure out where they hang out. Okay, bring on the rest of the tips.

Speaker 2:

Yes, okay. So my third tip is to consistently send irresistible emails. Amen. So this is really important because once you get people on your list, you have to understand that they can unsubscribe anytime, and so you wanna make sure that you are consistently giving value and making your emails fun and enjoyable. So you wanna build on the theme of your box for sure. That's really important, right? Like how I mentioned, what is it doing for your customer? What problem is it solving? What joy is it bringing to her life? Things like that. And then create those emails, and also at a regular cadence. So what I mean by that is are you gonna send out one email a week? Are you gonna send out two emails a month? A monthly email? Whatever you do, you just wanna be consistent. So think about what you can manage, okay, and then you can always increase from there. If you can manage only two emails a month, but you make those emails really good, that's better than you scrapping something together that's subpar and writing every week. So always focus on quality over quantity, but just make sure that you are consistent. So some tips I have there is infuse your personality. The personality of your subscription box should be so alive in your emails. When they open it and read it, it should give them a taste of what it's like to open your subscription box. It's like giving them a taste of that to make them excited to buy from you and partner with you in this journey that they're on. And also you do want to promote your business within your emails. But just make sure that you are keeping your customer the hero in the story that you're telling, because I think a lot of businesses, because of just they, just don't know they make the emails very focused on their product, on their business, on their service, whereas that's going to turn people away. So just make sure you are speaking to one person, make sure each reader is feeling like you are speaking directly to them and make them the center of that universe, the center of that story that you're telling.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's so interesting to think about how I would maybe go back and flip the script on some of my own emails. I love that concept, making them the hero of the story. And what you said about consistency, man, it's so easy to do that with a subscription box business because that's the nature of the business. It's like rinse and repeat. And so, listeners, as you think about, maybe you have a 30 day sales cycle because you send a box every month think about the same concept that you can send each month. So, for example, the first email of the month would be the theme announcement. What is this month's theme and what's the transformation that the customer is going to have by experiencing it? Maybe another? I guess I should call them topics. So another topic would be a sneak peek. Give them a little sneak peek behind one of the products that's going to be in the box. These are very easy things that we as subscription box owners can, like I said, rinse and repeat every single sales cycle.

Speaker 2:

That's exactly, and think about small things that you can do to bring extra delight. So at the bottom of your email, can you add a little life hack that's going to be related to your subscription box that's going to add that extra delight, that extra joy, and give more value. Maybe it's a list of some books or podcasts that you're listening to related to the theme. Yeah, like, just make it fun, infuse personality and just think about your customer as your friend. How would you talk to your friend? What recommendations would you give to your friend? How would you write this email to a friend?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, one of the things that's really helped me in writing my own emails. Lately, we shifted our email template to be section, because it allowed me to compartmentalize what I wanted to share with them. When I sit down and I write, I don't feel overwhelmed and what's? One quick tip.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love that. I love that I do something similar with my emails. I usually start out and I'll share something inspirational that is going to really help people move forward in their business, and then I also share a podcast episode, and then I'm an entrepreneur of faith, so I'll share a Bible scripture and it just creates this regular cadence for me where I know in my template what I'm going to write there. And another tip I have is keep maybe in your phone a notes app or something like that ideas that come to you Great idea. Because I've noticed that the best ideas come when you're not trying to think about them. You could be walking down the street, driving somewhere, just waiting in line, and so you're going to get all these great ideas and then when you sit down to write, you may not get those ideas. So having a bank of ideas that you got throughout the week, it's really going to help you and set you up for success. That's something that has really helped me.

Speaker 1:

I do the same thing. I feel like we're on the same wavelength here. I use the Built-in Reminders app. Are you familiar with that on the iPhone? Yeah, yeah. So what I love about that is it puts it in a little list, and so I can make my big long list of maybe it's email ideas or podcast episode ideas, and then, as I do them, I click off the list and then it disappears. It's just so satisfying to check something off a list, right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, oh, I love that, and I've done the same thing in my notes app. I make it a bulleted list and then like oh yeah, check them off as you go so you remember what you already talked about.

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm, I love it. Oh, these are such good tips. They're simple tips, they're not going to be overwhelming, and so, listeners, our challenge right now to you would be to pick one of those tips. We talked about giving them a reason to join your email list. So do you have some sort of PDF download? And if you don't have something like that, you can always run a quick giveaway too. We talk about using KingZumo software for giveaways all the time. That could get you started, but you still have to write the converting copy on that page so they know what they're going to win and what's in it for them. So give them a reason to join your email list. Number two was set your goals and create milestones so that you are celebrating your success along the way and it's not overwhelming. And number three was consistency. So create some sort of cadence that you're consistently going to email your list and that you could create some sort of template. Like Joe and I both have to help keep yourself organized, but again, if you need help coming up with ideas for your emails or ideas for your download or your giveaway, just DMS, we will talk shop with you. So, joe, thank you so much for all of these tips. Now, I know you have a email marketing course, so why don't you tell everyone a little bit about that?

Speaker 2:

So the course is called List Lingo and it's a very ABC123 kind of course, because what I have found is that a lot of entrepreneurs, when they're starting out, they know that they need to build an email list, but it feels really intimidating. They don't know all the marketing lingo, they don't know what steps they need to take or they might be intimidated by, like, the technical side of it, of like how to set it up. So what I did is I created a very starting from scratch course that walks entrepreneurs through how to build an email list from zero and get their first 500 subscribers, and I walk them through every single aspect of it, everything from how to create their lead magnet, how to even write copy for their landing page. I teach them the technical side of setting it up and then I teach them how to actually grow their email list and different strategies that helped me, and I also include some advanced strategies as well so that when they get past those milestones, they know what direction to take to create even more momentum with that.

Speaker 1:

So it sounds like it's this marriage between the skill sets needed for email marketing and copywriting. And if you're listening and you're like, oh, imagine if I had 500 people on my email list what that might mean for my business, Then you definitely need to check out Joe's course. So we'll make sure we have all the links in the show notes. If you want to tell everyone where they can find that and where they can follow you online too, we'll make sure that we put those in the show notes as well.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely so. You can find the course at the virtual mama, and that's mamacom slash list lingo, and you can also connect with me on Instagram. I'm very active there. My Instagram is at the virtual mama, mama.

Speaker 1:

Perfect. Thank you so much again, Joe. This was a lot of fun talking through this with you. Thank you for that. The tips were great and I hope to see and hear about a lot of our students taking action based off of what you've shared.

Speaker 2:

Oh my gosh. Yes, me too. And honestly, if you're listening and you take action on any of these steps, hit me up on Instagram and let me know so I can celebrate that with you.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and if you have a new lead magnet and you share about it on socials, tag us and we'll share about it. It'd be great.

Speaker 2:

So exciting. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1:

Yes, thanks, joe again, and everyone for being here today and listening, and we'll see you in the next episode. Bye, bye, bye.

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