Except you have no idea what to send the people who are throwing their email addresses at you.
And without anything to send them, they’re just meaningless names on a list.
Which begs the question…what should you send the people on your email list?
In this guide I’ll give you 15 email types to send to your email list, what to include in them, and when to send them.
But remember: this isn’t an exact science. Your email autoresponder series is a creative process. Some of the emails won’t make sense for your business, and some you’ll find yourself using time and time again.
Without leaving you hanging, these are the 15 types of emails you can send your subscribers.
Let’s start with the first one your subscribers should be receiving...
When you convert new subscribers to your email list, it’s like you’re starting a new relationship.
You’ve already successfully courted them, but there’s still so much they don’t know about you. And if you jump in too quickly, it could freak them out and drive them away, breaking up with you forever...a missed connection, if you will.
In email marketing, when a subscriber breaks up with you, they do it through unsubscribing.
It’s not them. It’s you.
That’s why you need to send this email - and why it should be one of the first emails your subscribers receive when they opt in.
Your welcome email is like an accelerated “getting to know you” period. It should thank the new subscriber for signing up for your email list, tell them a bit more about you and why your website exists (and what’s in it for them), and begin to build rapport with them.
Danavir from CopyMonk.com does this well:
In this email, include a call to action of what you’d like your subscribers to do next, like join your Facebook group. Take advantage of that action taking momentum they gained by signing up for your list!
When somebody first subscribes, they don’t know what to expect from you.
And hey, if they subscribed from an opt-in offer or a content upgrade, they might not even know that by opting in for that upgrade, they subscribed to your email list.
This is a good opportunity to set the expectations around when they can expect your emails, what you’ll be sending them, and to build anticipation and buzz so they open your future emails.
That’s where an expectation email comes in. You can create this as a standalone email after the welcome, or include expectations in your welcome email.
This email should include:
When you set the expectations, your subscribers won’t be thrown off when they see your name crop up in their inbox. As more people open and take action from your emails, it sends a message to the different email clients (like Gmail) that you’re legit and not an evil spammer.
I’m going to call you out on it…
You love silver bullets.
Those quick fixes that magically solve everything. It’s not just you. I do, too. But the problem is that silver bullets come from the land of unicorns with gold-plated manes that vomit rainbows of glittery confetti.
They don’t exist. Even though silver bullets are non-existent, there’s something that comes pretty close: tools.
So one email that will delight your subscribers is a list of tools you use. Include a mix of free and paid tools (including affiliate links if possible) to help your audience reach a goal or achieve an outcome.
Steve Chou from MyWifeQuitHerJob.com does this in one of the emails in his autoresponder series:
Steve included some affiliate links and free tools to help his audience build an online store. What tools can you send your list to help them achieve something you
This is meta...
But if you’re struggling with what to send your email list, there’s a way to get your subscribers to tell you exactly what to write your next email about to absolutely delight them.
And that’s asking them.
Asking your audience what challenges they’re experiencing on your topic not only helps make your job as a content creator far easier as you begin to receive answers, but it also provides you with great market research into exactly what your audience wants.
As a huge bonus, they’ll respond with the exact words they use to describe those challenges, which is perfect for your sales copy, content, and even emails.
Plus, nobody likes a new friend who only talks about themselves.
Within the first couple of weeks of your new subscriber being on your list, send them an autoresponder email inviting them to hit reply and let you know what their challenges are around your topic.
To maximize the amount of responses you’ll get, let your subscribers know that you’ll read each one (but only if you truly will do it). You’d be surprised as to how many more responses you’ll get.
Have you ever gone on a date with somebody who won’t stop talking about themselves?
They have a story for everything, and are so self absorbed that they never even ask you one single question about yourself or your life.
It’s annoying, right? A complete deal breaker for most of us. You don’t want your emails to be like that, do you? It’s a two way street, and should be approached like a conversation. As an entrepreneur and marketer, you want to know as much about your subscribers as possible.
The more information you get from the people on your list, the more targeted your marketing, the less time you have to spend on it, and the more you can sell.
So in this email you’re asking them to respond back to you with information about themselves.
Unlike the helper email, you’re not asking just for their challenges with your topic. In this email you’re asking them about their lives and experience with your topic in general.
This email also gives you insight into the exact type of person who you’re attracting onto your email list. You can gather information about your current and target customer, which will make it far easier to market to them.
One of the best things about having an email list is that you have a group of people who you can ask to take action on something - and who will usually follow through at much higher rates than the general public.
So that means that when you have a goal you want to achieve - or even simply want testimonials - you can just send an email.
Jeff Goins did this with his email list when he wanted to get more book reviews for his book The Art of Work:
As you build rapport with your subscribers, they’ll want to support you, and will often go out of their way to help you out.
Your email subscribers are some of your biggest fans.
They support you, provide a ton of great market research data, and are often the people to share your content and buy from you.
So they deserve to be treated every once in awhile.
Let’s go back to the dating analogy. When you’re courting somebody, one surefire way to impress them is to surprise them.
Just like that woman you’re trying to impress, there’s no better way to delight your current fans and subscribers than giving them unexpected freebie or gift.
Every once in awhile, send your subscribers a treat - maybe a worksheet, a video, or a tool to help them out - something that will come as a nice surprise and remind them that it was a good idea to subscribe in the first place.
Check out how Brenda from Crave the Benefits does this:
With a free printable shopping list exclusive to her subscribers that she sends monthly.
What can you spoil your subscribers with?
If you’re just going to send your email subscribers the same content you publish on your Youtube channel, podcast, or blog, what’s the draw to subscribe?
I mean, besides the “saving them from having to check your website constantly” thing (which, by the way, they won’t).
That’s why you have to send your list exclusive content.
Remember how I said that you should be treating your subscribers like gold? That means sending them information that is exclusive to just them.
He sent an email to his list with rapid-fire traffic tips that were exclusive to his subscribers.
What can you send to your list that is exclusive just to them?
One of the best ways to get your content in front of more eyes is by sending it to your email list.
That means content you publish for everybody. So you’re not just sending exclusive content - they deserve to know about your public content as well.
There are two ways you can do this - one through content emails, and one through content teasers.
Before you choose, you should think about what your priority is. Is it:
Traffic? If so, go for content teasers.
Getting your content in front of your subscribers? If so, go for content emails.
Once you’ve established your priority, think about your call to action. What do you want your audience to take action on? Do they need to be on your website to take action? If so, chances are you’ll be better served going for content teasers.
When most people think of an email list they think of an RSS feed that pushes email straight to the inbox of “subscribers”.
In this type of email, you’re sending the entire piece of content, and different email service providers call this different things:
Aweber calls this Blog Broadcasts
Mailchimp calls this RSS to Email
ConvertKit calls this RSS to Broadcast.
You can set this up in your email service provider to pull from your RSS feed automatically and email your list every time you publish content, or you can take the time to style the emails yourself for a more personalized tone.
If your goal is to get your subscribers back to your website, however, you may prefer to take the next path...
Content teasers are a great way to get your email subscribers onto your website because they are meant to excite your subscribers about a piece of content you’ve published, leading to the link (which is the main call to action).
Amy Porterfield uses content teasers for her new podcast episodes:
And if you publish more often, you can do teaser summaries like Sumo does:
Because the reader doesn’t consume the entire email in their inbox, content teasers get your audience back to your website, so they can take action on your calls to action, share your content, and leave a comment.
Remember that epic piece of content you worked so hard on?
The scary thing is that after that content has marinated for a little while, your new visitors and email subscribers will never see it.
That is, unless you get it in front of them again.
When you’re consistently creating content, it’s easy for your older content to slip into the archives, never to be consumed by your target audience.
You can either do this by teasing one piece of archived content in your email, like a retro content teaser, or you can take these other approaches to pulling content from your archives.
Have you ever landed on a website and became overwhelmed with all of the information to start digging through?
That’s why a lot of bloggers and website owners establish “Start Here” pages on their websites.
And just like on a website, when your email subscribers first end up on your email list, they can become overwhelmed. There’s so much to do, that it can be difficult to know where to start.
That’s where the “start here” email comes in.
This email is like a roadmap that guides your audience through your website and content in an organized way.
If you’ve been creating content and products for a long time, and you have a portfolio of work that would be difficult for your audience to weed through, providing subscribers with a resource guide to direct them through your content and products can get not only be a great way to get eyes on the content, but also provide a roadmap.
John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire has done this:
This helps your audience through your content while also providing them value.
If you’re fancying something a little shorter, you can always reach back into your archives to your favorite pieces of content and curate them.
Listing your favorite pieces of content with a short summary gives your audience value while also getting more eyes on your archived content.
Instead of going deep into your archives like the other types of archive emails, you’re just picking your very favorite 5-10 pieces of content or curating the most popular posts on your website, like Nat has done:
It’s a win/win.
Look, I get it.
Creating content - whether it’s email content, blog or podcast content, product content - it’s a lot of work. And you have a million other things to do on top of content creation.
So give yourself a break. Train your audience to click on your links, get some good will out there into the internet and share other people’s content so you don’t have to spend the time to create your own.
Cait Flanders from Blonde on a Budget did this with one of her recent emails:
She listed 15 different articles she enjoyed for her audience to read. Good karma, great reading material, and less work.
Aside from content emails, the most common type of email to send your subscribers tends to be a newsletter.
You’ve likely seen List Builders like this all over the internet:
Maybe you’ve even left that as your call to action on your own List Builder (despite that you now know better - tsk tsk).
Newsletters are the granddaddy of email marketing, and they’re exactly as they sound: regular updates that tend to be more personal in nature about the company or individual behind the newsletter.
While I don’t recommend you only send newsletter updates, the occasional or even regular newsletter update can help your audience get to know you better and build rapport with them.
Have something big and exciting coming down the pipeline?
Maybe you’re working on a new product, an exciting project or even just a freebie you know your audience will love. Instead of just sending your list an email when it’s released, why not build buzz and anticipation?
Send an email before your new project is released to get your subscribers as excited as you are about it.
You know how well testimonials work, right?
We’ve told you all about how testimonials can increase conversions, give you social proof and establish you as an expert.
So why not include testimonials in your autoresponder series?
Especially as you’re ramping up toward your sales emails, testimonials for your products, services, and even just content can pique your audience’s interest and establish credibility.
Jonathan Mead from Paid to Exist has done this:
And he tied the testimonial back to a call to action in the rest of the email.
You can showcase the good work you do in your autoresponder series, too, by sending a testimonial email.
How does saving time, building a relationship with your audience and creating content at the same time sound?
Pretty awesome, right?
That’s exactly what you can do with this email. As you’re sending emails to your audience and engaging them with content, you’re triggering some curiosity with many of your subscribers. As they get to know your style a bit, they want to get to know you better, too.
So that’s why this email is so fun - the “favorite things” email. In this type of email, you’re saving time from creating new content by curating your favorite things related to your topic or just life in general. Noah does this with his email list for OkDork.com:
It can be a fun way for your audience to get to know you and give them a unique spin on the regular emails they receive from you.
We see one big mistake over and over again…
You work so hard to get people on your email list and then leave them in the lurch. Days and then weeks and months go by without a single word from you…
Until they forget about you and why they signed up for your email list.
And guess what happens in those cases?
When you do finally send an email, they hit the Spam button faster than you can say “tacos”. And can you blame them? They’ve forgotten who you are.
So STOP leaving your new subscribers hanging. Spend the time to create an autoresponder series that will keep them engaged, interested, and responsive.