Ep. 56: The Growth Tool That Can Help You Increase Revenue: Email Lists - with Jenna Kutcher

Learn about email lists with Jenna Kutcher!

Want to build a loyal following of people who are excited to buy what you're selling? Stop spending your valuable time on the wrong marketing channels, and prioritize an email list. So says Jenna Kutcher, a digital marketing expert and host of The Goal Digger Podcast. After attracting thousands of followers on social, but seeing so few convert to customers, Jenna learned about the power of owning an email list - and she hasn't looked back! It's the number one ways she drives sales in her business.

You'll learn how to start a list, where to find your first subscribers, and how to grow and maintain a list.  Plus, the surprising benefits of an email list - beyond the high ROI.

(06:40) Where to find your first subscribers

(07:25) How to use your email list to test out new business ideas

(09:40) The TWO things you need to focus on as an entrepreneur

(11:00) Tacticts Jenna uses to drive followers from social and the podcast to her list

(14:30) How to make time for your email list

(15:50) Don't make these two mistakes with your email list!

(18:00) Convinced? Here's how to start your listLearn how to go from zero subscribers to an engaged list that lasts. Sign up for Jenna's FREE Email Building Master Class at jennkutcher.com/list. It only happens once a year - don't miss out!

Key Takeaways:

1. When Jenna started her list, she created a free downloadable PDF called "Five Ways To Grow Your Instagram Following". It wasn't pretty, but it did the job. She created a little signup form to gather emails in exchange for the PDF. She shared it on her own socials, but also in Facebook groups she was a part of and Pinterest.

2. How to use your email list to test out new business ideas: Jenna offers different freebies in exchange for peoples emails. If she gets a lot of sign ups, she knows the offer is exciting enough that people are willing to give up something of value in exchange (their email address). Using that information, she might turn that idea into another product.

3. The TWO things you need to focus on as an entrepreneur: Your first priority has to be growing your email list. The second is to use any other efforts you put forward to grow your list. Her number one measure of success for, say, a social campaign is how effective it is at growing her email list.

4. In The Goal Digger Podcast, Jenna shares value ads from her email list and lets them know how they can sign up.

5. Her email list is the number one way Jenna drives sales. "Social media is meant to be the handshake. Email is where you sell." People are on social to be distracted, educated, entertained. People are more ready to buy when they're in their email.

6. The average entrepreneur spends hours in their inbox. Add a bit of strategy and, instead of going one-to-one, you can go one-to-many. This will give you insights into what people want so that it's easier to sell, and it creates a group of people who are excited to buy when you're ready to sell.

7. Don't make these two mistakes with your email list! 1. Don't bury your email sign up on your website. 2. Don't send out an email only when you want to sell. If you serve your audience and show up regardless whether you have something to sell, they'll be ready to buy when you have something to sell.

8. Where should you begin? First, think of two different offers that would be valuable to your listeners in exchange for their email. By providing two different offers, you get insight into what your audience wants from you. This can stop you from going too far down the wrong path. Second, use your existing channels, such as your podcast or socials, to talk about the valuable freebies available on your email list.

9. Learn how to go from zero subscribers to an engaged list that lasts. Sign up for Jenna's FREE Email Building Master Class at jennkutcher.com/list. It only happens once a year - don't miss out!

Episode Transcript


Andrea Marquez: I've been hearing a lot about the power of an email list or a newsletter and how much that can contribute to your growth and success as a business owner. It helps you reach people that want to hear from you and you get to own your audience, something that you can't have by just using social media. But how do you start an email list and how do you maintain it and push out content consistently? And beyond just owning your audience, what other benefits come from it?  

To answer these questions, I'll be talking to Jenna Kutcher, the host of one of the most popular marketing podcasts, and also one of my favorites, The Gold Digger.


Jenna Kutcher: One of the things that I'm obsessed with when it comes to being an entrepreneur is looking at the return on investment, with the main investment being our time.  

I have two young kids, I don't have a ton of extra time, and so anytime that I'm spending in my business, I want to make sure that it's worth it, that it drives real results, that I can have the receipts to back it up. And so when you think about an email list and serving it, is a lot easier than you're making it out to be because instead of screaming to the masses like you are on social media, you are reaching out to the people who have already exchanged something valuable to them to get something valuable from you.  

These are the people that have literally raised their hand and said, “I want more of what you've got”. And so you are speaking to the people who are already curious and invested in what you've created. And so it is an entirely different conversation than the one that you're trying to have or the one that you're trying to use to sell that is likely falling flat.


Andrea Marquez: Jenna figured out how powerful an email list can be early on in her career, and she'll be sharing all the steps she took to build her list so you can be just as successful. I'm Andrea Marquez, and This is Small Business, a podcast brought to you by Amazon. Today we'll talk about how you can build your email list even if you think you don't have time for it, because an email list can be a lot more rewarding than you think.


Jenna Kutcher: For every email subscriber you have on your email list it should equate to one extra dollar of revenue per month if you are serving that subscriber. And so imagine if you even had 250 people on your email list what that could equate to in terms of results for you. Food for thought, because adding one more follower to your social media following doesn't actually reap a lot of results. And so where is your energy going? Where's your focus going? This is exactly why email list building is our number one priority.


Andrea Marquez: We'll be giving you loads of actionable steps that you can use to grow your email list. But first, let's hear how Jenna realized she needed an email list.


Jenna Kutcher: So it's an embarrassing story. For my career trajectory I started off as a wedding photographer, fully self-taught, used my camera to get out of my 9-to-5.


Andrea Marquez: Jenna's business was growing and doing well, but eventually she felt burnt out.


Jenna Kutcher: I'm sure there are some people listening where you hit this place of burnout, you maybe achieved this level of success, and yet you are so burnt to a crisp that you can't imagine doing the same thing for years from now, that's where I was at. And so I had hit six figures, I was so grateful for that goal, but when I reached it I felt empty and I knew something had to change.


Andrea Marquez: Jenna realized that she was a lot happier when she was making less, so she decided to book half the number of weddings the following year.


Jenna Kutcher: I cut back my salary in half, but the one thing that I got back was my time. And when I got back my time, I started getting curious about other areas of business, other ways of running businesses.


Andrea Marquez: And that curiosity led Jenna to hire her first business coach.


Jenna Kutcher: And on the first coaching call, I show up, I am so proud of myself, I had 10, 000 followers on Instagram. I thought he was going to be so excited. And we get on the call and he asks me, he says, “How big is your list?” And I legitimately thought he was talking about my to-do list, and I was like, “Well, I'm writing blogs, I'm posting to Facebook, I'm creating content for Instagram. My list is long”. And he was like, “No, no, no. How big is your email list?” And I was like, “Well, I have a following on social media…”

And all this sudden he's like, “No, an email list is an asset that you own”.  

And that day he pointed me to a podcast about email list building, and I felt this feeling deep in my gut of I was already doing all the things I couldn't imagine adding on one more thing, but it clicked for me that I was building my business on space I didn't own space, space I couldn't control. Social media, I had no control over that.  

And so that was a day that I started growing my email list, and that was many, many years ago. And so I am so grateful that he wasn't duped by what I was doing on social and challenged me to think a little bit bigger because that started the whole email list building journey that I've been on ever since.


Andrea Marquez: At the time, Jenna was starting to pivot into other areas of business, so there were a few barriers she had to overcome before she started building her email list.


Jenna Kutcher: I was trying to figure out who am I even serving? What do I say to them, and how do I get them to sign up? What does this all look like? I was also really afraid of the tech. It is amazing that I know how to plug in my microphone and turn my camera on these days because I am not that comfortable with tech. And I think that's a limiting mindset belief, but also just something that is a reality. I could write and speak all day, but when I go to link up softwares, I start to panic. And so tech really scared me.

And the last thing was is that when I was thinking about time, let me be honest, that social media felt sexy to me, right? It's a number that people can see. It's this badge of honor, so to speak. Growing an email list is kind of unsexy. No one is actually peeking under the hood to see how many subscribers you have. And so I really had to let my ego die in a way to focus on why this mattered and where I was going to get that time from, which ultimately was coming from social media.


Andrea Marquez: I love that you said mindset because our next episode is with Amy Porterfield and she's like my best friend.


Jenna Kutcher: Oh really?


Andrea Marquez: She's literally my best friend in the whole world. Well look at that, we didn't do that on purpose listeners. But you brought up two points that we really dig into in episode 57 with Amy, how to figure out who you're serving and how to manage your mindset and the importance of staying positive. So I'm wondering, once you figured out who you were serving, what was the first thing you did?


Jenna Kutcher: I created this freebie and it was like five ways to grow your Instagram following, and it was a downloadable PDF. I don't even think I knew how to make things pretty at the time. I'm pretty sure I made it in Microsoft Word and exported it as a PDF. And so I just had a little sign-up form and I absolutely did leverage the audience that I had, but I was also savvy enough to go to other audiences. So Facebook groups that I was a part of, I started sharing about my freebie there. I later on learned the power of Pinterest. That is a huge way that we grow our email list, and it doesn't necessarily matter how many followers you have on Pinterest. And so I always start with who's already there, but expand out and think about how you can reach other people. And that's exactly what we've done in our list building process.


Andrea Marquez: Jenna was also dipping her toes into the education space and was using her freebies to test out different ideas before she created a program about it.


Jenna Kutcher: One thing I think people don't realize is that starting an email list and creating different freebies is the perfect low risk sampling ground to see what people actually find valuable. A lot of people create an offer because maybe once they did a poll on Instagram or they asked five of their friends, “Hey, would you actually buy this thing?” And people said “Yes”. And then when they went to collect their credit card information, everybody balked and backed out. And so starting your email list and thinking through this value exchange, it allows for people to really put some stake in the game and give you something of value in exchange to get what you've created.  

So over my career, we have used different freebies and PDFs and ideas as a testing ground to say, does this have legs? Will people actually find this valuable, or is this just an idea that lives in my head that shouldn't go any further than that? And so I think that a lot of people get intimidated by email list building, but the truth is it's a beautiful place to experiment and to really get your audience to take action with you. Action beyond just liking and commenting on social media.


Andrea Marquez: That's such a creative way of using an email list. You get to see the demand on the products or services you want to offer your customers, and it gives you the opportunity to pivot before you invest too much time or money into your idea. And an email list also gives you the opportunity to sell your products or services without sounding too salesy.


Jenna Kutcher: I think that one of the biggest problems that entrepreneurs face is one, they hate selling, right? I've never really met a lot of people that raise their hand and they're like, “I love to sell my thing”. This gives you an opportunity to serve people before you ever go to sell to them. And I think this is so important. If you're going to get somebody results for free, they are going to be far more likely to pay you for whatever it is that you have to sell.


Andrea Marquez: If we've managed to convince you that you need to start and grow an email list, you might be getting overwhelmed at the idea of maintaining it and creating content consistently, especially if you're already doing the same for your social media. But...


Jenna Kutcher: I'm going to let you guys in on a secret. So I believe that there are only two things you have to focus on as an entrepreneur in order to drive results. Two things. I think we get so caught up in the million things that we could do. The first priority has to be growing your email list. The email list is an asset that you own, it's something you can control, it is virtually algorithm-proof. The second thing that you need to focus on is any other efforts that you are putting forth in your business, the goal of those efforts should be to grow your email list. That's it.  

So the goal of my podcast is to convert listeners into email subscribers. The goal of my Instagram is to get people off of Instagram onto my email list. The goal of Pinterest is to show my pins to get people to land on my website and opt in for my email list.  

Every effort that I put forth on the internet, and I have a complex system, all of those efforts, the number one goal and the number one way we measure success is not on those platforms themselves, but in how effective they are at getting people off of those platforms and into a place that we own and can control, which is our email list.


Andrea Marquez: So you might want to completely distill your marketing efforts into two things. One, prioritize growing your email list and serving your audience there. And two, the goal and objective of other content you produce should be to grow your email list.


Jenna Kutcher: Whenever we work on an episode, we are always thinking, do we have some sort of value offer that is a logical next step for our listener? Because here's the thing, real marketing has no dead ends.  

Real true marketing always has the next invitation. Now, not everyone's going to RSVP yes to that invitation, but you have to keep putting it out there. You never want to end any piece of content, whether it's a blog post, a podcast episode, anything, with somebody asking themselves, “Okay, great. But now what?” You always want to extend that invite.  

And so even yesterday I was recording an episode for The Gold Digger podcast, and inside of that episode there were multiple mentions of different ways that people could sign up for my email list through value ads that made entire sense based on the topic that I was teaching on. And so you can either start with that email list building thing as the goal and the objective of that episode, or you can incorporate it organically into the content.  

Either way, we can't even access who our listeners are, so we can't be in touch with them to let them know what we have going on. And so if we don't actually try to get people off of the platforms, we're doing them a disservice because we're not actually able to reach out to them when we have important information to communicate.


Andrea Marquez: So Jenna, we've talked about having freebies to get people to sign up for your email list, but what actually goes into the emails you send out?


Jenna Kutcher: I lead with the idea of the jab, jab, jab, right hook of serve, serve, serve, serve, and then sell. And honestly, I don't even like using the word sell. It's more like an invitation for an offer. And so when we look at what we're sending out in a month, we're sending people additional resources, we're pointing to the podcast, we're sending just straight up encouragement with no links. We're letting people in behind the scenes. We're sharing about exclusive offers. It's just this rhythm that we've created, this life force in our business.  

My email list is the number one way that I drive sales and results in my business. If somebody told me everything's going to disappear tomorrow but you get to choose one thing, it would be my email list. It has been said in the marketing world, if you want to double your business, just double your email list.

And I have seen that to be true time and time again. The same is not true for social media. I love social media. I work so hard on social media, but I am not as confident that I could even make a sale on social media because social media is not built for us to sell. We're all seeing that right now with the algorithm and people are running their heads into the wall of why is this not working? Social media is meant to be the handshake. Email is meant to be where you sell. When people go into their inboxes, they are much more poised for purchase than when they're on social media.

People are on social media to be distracted, to be entertained, to be educated. They're not there thinking, I'm going to pull up my wallet. And so it's just so interesting to me because people are getting so frustrated with the systems and the platforms they're on, but they're not actually pausing to ask themselves, what is the intent of this and how do I play the game well so that the system works? And I think that's where people get frustrated.  

And so my email list is the hands down number one way we drive results, and I think people are missing out on this opportunity to do the same. Again, you're reaching people who are already interested and curious in what you're selling versus trying to convince the masses who are probably not even hearing you.


Andrea Marquez: But what if as a small business owner, I don't have time to write an email every week.


Jenna Kutcher: I'm going to ask you a question. Are you writing emails every day?


Andrea Marquez: I certainly am, yes.


Jenna Kutcher: Okay. So what would it look like if you were able to write one email and reach a bunch of people? I think the average entrepreneur spends hours in their inbox every single week, hours. So what would it look like to add a tiny bit of strategy to work you're already doing? And instead of going one-to-one, you're able to go one-to-many. It's actually not that much work. This is actually going to save you so much time because you are going to learn how to anticipate people's questions before they can ask them.  

You're going to learn to serve them before you can ever go to sell to them. And you're going to get insights and information into what people actually want so that your offers actually sell. It's actually not that hard. And one of the things that I really love to teach is what would it look like if you sat down and just mapped out the next month of whatever that is?  

So whether it's one email a week or one email a month, I'd argue that it's going to take you one to two hours. You're already spending that time going back and forth with one people when you could actually make something that reaches more than one person with a goal and an intent and an ability to drive a real result.


Andrea Marquez: But there's two mistakes that you might want to look out for when you're starting an email list.


Jenna Kutcher: The number one mistake that people make when they go to start an email list is they bury a little thing at the very bottom of their website that says, “Join my newsletter”. Who wants to join a newsletter these days? I already get so many emails in my inbox, I don't need another one if I don't know what value you're providing me. And so growing an email list is actually way easier than you're making it out to be because you just need to find something that your audience will think is valuable, valuable enough for them to exchange your email address for.


Andrea Marquez: And the second mistake is only using your email list when you're trying to sell something.


Jenna Kutcher: And I've seen this happen in so many entrepreneurs lives, where all of a sudden they haven't posted in two months and now they're on and they're talking about this thing that they've got to sell. And so I think that the mistake that I made in the past and that other people tend to make is that they forget the power of serving.  

Even yesterday, we sent out an email and it was just about encouraging. I have been in seasons of burnout and I was just talking about it to my audience and letting people in. And there's so much power in allowing somebody to say, “Me too, I'm not alone. Oh my gosh”. And it connects you. And so when you create a rhythm around your marketing, you'll be showing up regardless of if you have something to sell. And you'll be serving people so that when you go to sell, you have this list that is ready to be launched to.

And I think that it shifts, again, that feeling of selling, selling now becomes a service because these people are like, what is the next step? The next step is to invest in whatever that is, whether it's a product, service or an offer. And so when you're serving so well, people are ready and excited for what it is that you're launching. And so I think that a lot of times we as business owners we're like, “I've got nothing to say on the everyday life front”, and then all of a sudden we're like, “I've got something to sell”. And we miss this opportunity to serve and connect in the middle.


Andrea Marquez: Hearing you speak about all of this, I feel like we should use This is Small Business as a case study. If I want to give my listeners more resources and stay connected between episodes and also reach people who don't listen to podcasts, where would you recommend I begin if I want to start an email list?


Jenna Kutcher: So the first thing I would do is think of two different offers that you think would be interesting for your listeners. So kind of look at what some of your top episodes have been or what questions you get asked the most. Now, the reason why I would do two different offers is that you're going to get insight into what people think is more valuable. There are so many data points in email marketing that can help guide the direction forward.  

So here's a quick story. When we were trying to grow our family, my husband had a deep desire to be a stay-at-home dad. And in between him leaving a career and being a stay-at-home dad, he started a health coaching business. And before he even had a website or a business name, I knew the power of email list building. And so I said, “We're going to start growing your list before you have anything to sell before you even know what you're called”.

And so in his health coaching business, we created two freebies. One was stay at home workouts that you can do with no equipment. So it was like five, 10 minute workouts you can do from home. And the other one was our exact grocery list and meal prep menu for the week. And he totally was going to build an entire business around stay at home workouts because he had saw as an entrepreneur how hard it was for me to get movement in.  

And he was gung ho on this whole business idea. We released these two different freebies and leveraged the small audience that he had at the time, and we saw that the meal prep and the grocery shopping list 10x'd the at home workouts. It saved us from going too far down the wrong path for a business and really helped his branding, his copy, speak to people that wanted it.  

So I would encourage anyone listening to have two different opt-ins that are slightly different in nature so that you can actually start to get insight and data into what people think is interesting enough to exchange your email address for.


Andrea Marquez: And how would I use the podcast to grow the email list?


Jenna Kutcher: I would make sure that even in the intro of your podcast, you could say, “Hey, we've created this free productivity calendar. Go get your copy. This has been amazing for our listeners. Here's why we put it together”. At the end of the episode, say the same thing. When you're recording content, if there's a way to integrate it in, if you're talking about your calendar, plug it again.  

Then on the next episode, you could do something totally different like the five tools we can't live without at This is Small Business and have that. You can start to get that insight and information. To reach people that are not podcast listeners. One, you can reach them with the podcast in different ways. So you could do little clips on social media and talk about it. And then again, push to that freebie. It's actually not that complicated and it'll give you so much insight, again, into your die hard audience who want to go the next step for you.


Andrea Marquez: So it's A/ B testing what I'm hearing. So what we're doing at the beginning based on the content that has already performed well with our listeners?


Jenna Kutcher: And you could do that. And if somebody's listening and they're like, I don't even have content, I can't see what's performed. Take two different ideas you have. Most entrepreneurs have no shortage of ideas, we have a bajillion ideas. Start with one and then see if you can add in a second and promote them both the same amount, however you're promoting it, wherever you are. If you're on Facebook and you have 100 friends on there, promote it there, see what people are curious about. But again, that insight is going to guide you forward. And in the meantime, you're growing your list.


Andrea Marquez: Now let's take a look at how you can apply all this information and grow your email list if you're a product based business.


Jenna Kutcher: You want to create resources that paint your product as the hero. So let's say you have a closet organization system. You could do five ways to give you the closet of your dreams and your product can be positioned in that resource as the hero so that people are like, “Oh my gosh, add to cart”. They're creating value around the topic that their product is a solution for. So there are so many ways to do it, and again it's not selly or spammy, you are literally giving the invitation for the next step for those who are ready to join you on it.  

And I think that there are so many different ways to speak to people so that you're not focused on the features of your product itself, but you're more focused on the end result. What does the consumer truly want? Maybe they want to feel more peaceful, maybe they want to feel beautiful, maybe they want to feel calm.

And so when you think of it in this way, it totally takes out this desire to be like, here are the five product features that people might not even know why they should care about those features, and it helps connect them to their true desired end results while giving them value, again for free, and then kind of being this breadcrumb on the path to purchase of like, “Oh, wow, they actually have a solution for this. I might not be ready to buy it now, but when I get that email two months from now and I'm in a different position as a purchaser, I'm ready to pull the trigger”.  

So it just changes the relationship. And also you learn a different way to speak to your consumers where you're not so feature focused and you're more focused on what is the true result that they want when they buy my product. And I think that shifts the conversation immensely.


Andrea Marquez: Jenna has given us loads of helpful information on why and how to grow your email list. So it sounds like the time to start your email list is now.


Jenna Kutcher: So once I figured it out and I was like, “Wait, this isn't as complicated and scary as it made it out to be”. I didn't want to gatekeep this information. And I think that this is so powerful because we are living in a time where we are building our dreams on rented space. Social media is rented space. And so if you want to build a true asset in your business, I truly believe it has to be an email list.  

So I have a free training, it's called From zero Subscribers and zero Strategy through an engaged email list that lasts. And inside this training, I'm going to walk you through what do you say, how do you start, how do you say it, how does it get delivered? All of the steps that you need to really understand the what and the why behind email marketing.

I'm so excited. I host these trainings live one time per year and it's coming right up. So if you go to jennakutcher. com/ list, that's jennakutcher. com/ list, you can save your seat for this training. I am so excited to lead thousands of entrepreneurs through this because I have seen the power and the actual growth, and again, my email list is the number one way that I drive sales and results, and we have the receipts to prove it. And so I want to help people unlock that potential so that their precious time that they're spending in their business is going to a place that is actually tied to tangible results.


Andrea Marquez: If you're getting a little stressed at the idea of starting an email list or readjusting your marketing strategy, here's what Jenna has to say.


Jenna Kutcher: I know we use the word small business, but I just want to remind your listeners that what they're doing is anything but small. I think that it is so easy to look at people even like me who are a decade in the making and just think we blinked and this came about and it happened, but I want to remind you that the same frustrations and the same mistakes you're making and the same questions you're asking yourself, we've all been there before. And so I just want to encourage you, I just have felt so much lately.  

The entrepreneurs are the people that are changing the world and we're changing the world for our children. We're changing the world for the people who get to experience what we're creating. We're changing our beliefs in ourself and what's possible.  

And so while we might use the word small in front of your business, no matter where you're at on the journey, I just want to remind you that what you're doing is actually really big and brave and bold. I don't want you to ever forget that. Because I think that there's so much power in what we're doing, and I think we're creating this ripple effect that we often forget about. And so I just want your listeners to know that I'm cheering them on.


Andrea Marquez: Beautifully said Jenna. I'm glad we're ending with that because we can all use a little encouragement every now and then. Jenna did a great job of breaking down how to start and grow your email list.  

If you didn't catch all of Jenna's advice, don't worry we've taken notes for you. You can find them at smallbusiness. amazon. com/ podcasts. Reach out to us at thisismallbusiness.amazon. com to tell us what you're up to or what topics you want us to cover. And let me know what you think of the episode by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts, it's easier if you do it through your phone. And if you liked what you heard, I hope you'll share us with anyone else who needs to hear this.  

That's it for today's episode of This is Small Business, brought to you by Amazon. Until next week, I'm your host, Andrea Marquez. Hasta luego, and thanks for listening.  

This is Small Business is brought to you by Amazon with technical and story production by Jar Audio.


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