11 Creative Ways To Engage Your Email List

Engaging your email list boils down to one simple question:

How can this email benefit your subscribers?

In other words, how can you help them? We all agree the end goal is to convert your subscribers into customers, but by helping them on the frontend you’re building trust and creating deeper relationships.

Be a resource to your subscribers by sharing business hacks, asking intentional questions, and engaging in conversation. So many companies pump out emails that end up getting cozy with the spam folder because of the lackluster content and shameless self-promotion.

Convince and Convert found that 44% of people make at least one purchase per year based on a promotional email. Now that’s a number to pay attention to.

Creatively engage your email list with these eleven practices and you will experience higher conversion rates and deeper trust with your customers.

1) Write Like You Talk

Stop writing stuffy corporate emails.  

No one wants to read that.

There is a difference between sounding professional and sounding boring. The best conversations in life are the ones where people are being authentic. Why should your email conversations be any different?

Make people smile and feel understood by being yourself.

Tips on sounding like a human being:

  • Call them by name and mention how you know them (where you met, mutual connections, etc)- Dale Carnegie reminds us that calling someone by name, to them, is one of the sweetest and most important sounds in any language
  • Throw in some funny – Humor is great, just don’t lose site of the initial goal for sending the email
  • Be clear- Do not add excess copy because you think it “sounds good”. Keep it simple
  • Write like you speak- This is the most important tip. Keep an authentic voice throughout your copy that sounds like you

2) Talk About Your Personal Life

Give people a behind the scenes look.

Storytelling breaks down walls when you decide to let people into your personal life. We all have lives outside of our work (hard to believe sometimes, I know), and it’s important to share those stories to find common points of interest amongst your subscribers.

Don’t be afraid to mention that you recently got married or picked up woodworking. In other words, don’t be afraid to be human through your email.

James Carbary, the founder of Sweet Fish Media, decided to share an adorable wedding photo from his wedding this past month.


If you only talk about your product, that will be the only avenue for people to relate and engage with you. Tell them a little about yourself, and then you can intentionally begin to foster and build those relationships.

3) Ask Your List What Their Favorite Podcasts Are

….like asking them what their favorite podcast is.

Ask the question as a call to action to one of your emails, and watch the engagement that happens when you treat your list like real people instead of just letters and @ symbols.

Plus, you’ll probably learn about a few podcasts that you’ve never heard of before!

4) Share Your Favorite Web Tools

Web tools are lifesavers.

They are created to save time, money, energy, and are meant to be shared! Sharing your favorite web tools positions you as a resource to your subscribers. Share the tools that have helped your company grow and become more efficient.

At Sweet Fish, we love sharing the tools that have made our lives 100x easier on our Tick Tock podcast (a podcast dedicated to sharing time-saving tools with busy entrepreneurs and marketers).  

5) Ask Your List What Their Favorite Blogs Are

This one is super similar to #3, but equally as effective for engaging your list.

If I were on your email list, and you asked me what my favorite business blogs were…this is what I would tell you.

Shameless self promotion: If you don’t have the time or energy to focus on creating valuable content for your blog, give us a shout and we can take care of it for you.

6) Share Your Favorite Books


If they’ve subscribed to your email list, they have an interest and/or respect for your company.

Tell your subscribers the books that have shaped you and your business and why. Jot down a brief overview, how it impacted you, and link them to where they can buy the book.

Peter Thiel’s Zero to One and Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How To Sell Your Story In a Noisy Social World are both instrumental for entrepreneurs learning how to build and market their businesses.

7) Struggles

Now that you’ve given your subscribers valuable and applicable content, start listening.

Be a sounding board for them to discuss their struggles and understand goals that aren’t being met and why. Knowing what your subscribers are struggling with is the perfect way to create opportunities within your business to help them.

Three important tips when engaging in email conversation:

  1. Ask one question at a time. Keep it simple. Touch on a single pain point or question.
  2. Make it easy for them: Only require them to “hit reply” to answer your question. This makes it easier for them and lowers the chance of losing them through a linked survey.
  3. Collect answers: When you receive replies, create a folder where you can file them away and keep for future use.


8) Know What They Like

Be genuinely interested.

Focus on them and learn what type of content peaks their interests. Use that information later to create email and blog content that your audience wants to consume.

Below is the email we send to every person that signs up for one of our content upgrades (the day after they sign up):

Subj: Quick question
Hey there,
I saw that you downloaded our <insert name of content upgrade> yesterday, and I had a quick question for you.
What type of business content do you enjoy reading most?
Sales, content marketing, productivity, social media, or something else?
If you send us a quick reply, it’ll help our team write content that people actually wanna read 🙂
By sending this email, we’re putting our finger directly on the pulse of what our audience wants to read.

9) Ask Why They Haven’t Purchased Your Product

Find the roadblocks.

If they haven’t purchased your product or service, find out what is blocking them from converting to a customer. It could be because they don’t need what you’re selling, or it could be because your product is good it’s just not exactly what they need.

If this is the case, there is opportunity to grow and reach more needs than you are currently aware of. Ask about what your product or service is missing and what would it take to get them to make the purchase.  

If you’re looking to dive deeper into how to discover what people desire and ways to give it to them, ASK by Ryan Levesque is a book worth picking up.

10) Feature them

The most engagement we’ve ever received with one of our emails, was from an email that had the subject line: “I want to feature you”.

To give you some context, James (our founder) is a contributor for Business Insider and the Huffington Post. He wrote this email because he wanted to feature quotes from individuals on his email list in one of the upcoming articles he was writing.

So he sent the email and told everyone what he was doing. Here’s what the email looked like:

Our team is turning up the heat on our guest blogging efforts…
I’m currently a contributor for the Huffington Post, our first post for WP Curve went live earlier this week, and I recently started talking to an editor at Business Insider about writing there as well.
Why does that matter to you?
Well…because I want to talk about YOU on these insanely popular blogs. (And if you didn’t know, getting a link to your company’s website from a popular blog helps your SEO)
One of the posts that I’ll be pitching next month is titled “14 Things Nobody Tells You Before Becoming an Entrepreneur”
So if you’d like to be featured in this guest post (not sure where it will land yet), just tap “reply” and tell me something you wish you would’ve known before becoming an entrepreneur.
Looking forward to hearing your response!

This email was a phenomenal way for our founder to start building real relationships with our email list…by offering them tangible value!

Even if you don’t write for big publications, use the same tactic James used above — but write the article for your own blog. Your email list will still jump at the opportunity to be featured on your website.

If you’re curious, here’s the link to the Huffington Post article that James wrote based on the responses he received from the email above: 14 Things They Never Tell You Before Becoming an Entrepreneur

11) Ask for the Best Advice They’ve Ever Received

Be open to accepting words of wisdom.

A sign of a good question is one that makes you tilt your head and glance up at the sky. Get their juices flowing and head tilting by asking them the best piece of advice they’ve ever received.

It creates an opportunity to reflect and gives you a glimpse into major turning points in their life and business. Let them share moments that changed the course of how they do things.




Engaging your email list is about creating a two-way street.

When drafting an email, be aware of how the reader would flow through your email, scan it, and absorb it.

A useful guideline to follow when creating engaging emails is the AIDA formula. This will grab their attention, harness their interest, craft a desire in their minds, and call them to take action.

Open up the conversation to actually feel like a conversation and not just a one-way ask or billboard for your product.

Struggling with your company’s blog? Check out this free 5 part email course. You’ll learn how to turn your blog’s readers into paying customers.

Paige Southard

Paige is Marketing Director at Sweet Fish Media, a podcast production service for B2B companies. She’s a writer, speaker, host of The Content Marketing Show: a podcast dedicated to helping marketers crush it with content, and a proud mom of a miniature dachshund.

Posted on November 12, 2015 in B2B Sales, Content Marketing, Small Business Tips

Paige Southard

About the Author

Paige is Marketing Director at Sweet Fish Media, a podcast production service for B2B companies. She's a writer, speaker, host of The Content Marketing Show: a podcast dedicated to helping marketers crush it with content, and a proud mom of a miniature dachshund.

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