The Nonprofit’s Guide to Email Marketing

The Nonprofit’s Guide to Email Marketing

If you work at a nonprofit organization (NPO), then you’re already quite familiar with the unique set of challenges nonprofits face when it comes to building an effective and sustainable marketing strategy. 

With scarce resources, relatively limited staffing, and leadership attention spread thin across numerous areas, investing in cohesive marketing efforts can often take a backseat to more pressing matters.

But having a marketing strategy is absolutely crucial to bringing in new donors and ensuring your organization gets recognized by the right people. And the most effective (and accessible) marketing tactic NPOs can put their effort towards is email marketing.

Email marketing is far from dead — and this is especially true in the world of NPO marketing, where personalized messaging and relationship building are keys to success. Plus, building an email strategy is usually less expensive and time consuming than other strategies.

In this post, you’ll find out how your nonprofit can stay connected with donors and bring in excited new prospects through email marketing.

→ Download Now: The Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing [Free Ebook]

Why does email work for nonprofits?

Studies show that email continues to offer the highest return on investment of any outreach strategy, making it just about as close to a sure bet as you can get. McKinsey reports that an email marketing campaign can deliver a return of $40 for every $1 spent. This makes email the channel with the highest ROI that nonprofits can use to reach prospective donors.

Additionally, since 91% of all US consumers still use e-mail daily, email can enable NPOs to reach audiences that might not otherwise engage with their marketing efforts on social media networks. 

Email Marketing Best Practices for Nonprofits

Commit to Regular Sends

Nonprofits are often stretched for resources, and it’s easy to set marketing aside for matters that seem more pressing. However, regular email marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your organization. A content schedule for your emails can keep you on top of them so you can steadily grow your donor base.

Making email sends an “always on” part of your marketing strategy will play a big role in your success on the channel. “Always on” doesn’t mean that you’re bombarding your email list with constant messages — it means that you’re committed to consistency in how often you send your emails.

Sending informative emails on a predictable schedule (instead of only when you’re actively running a campaign or seeking donations) will help nurture your audience towards deeper forms of engagement (like donating or attending an event) in the future. Remember: the goal is building long-term relationships. 

Setting the right cadence for your emails is important to keep the members of your list engaged with your organization. When you’re first starting out, this requires a careful balancing act, as you don’t want to send too few emails but you also don’t want to veer into potential spam territory. More on that in the next section.

Be Wary of Spam Folders

If regular email sends are a new part of your strategy, and your audience is only used to hearing from you on a less-frequent, one-off basis, starting to send more emails on a more frequent basis could trigger some users’ email clients to send you to the spam folder. 

Email deliverability can be a complex subject, but here are a few important things to remember if email is becoming a more regular marketing outreach tool for your NPO:

  • Don’t directly embed forms or include attachments in your emails (linking out to web pages with forms is a better practice).
  • Send your emails from a recognizable address — if you can, avoid sending from a address. Use a name your readers will recognize.
  • Lead with informative subject lines instead of direct calls for donations (you can check out our blog post on picking great email subject lines here).
  • If you’re starting a new email project and are sending emails to a list that isn’t used to such frequent sends — let them know what’s going on! Tell your readers that you plan to start sending more informative emails, and most importantly, give them the opportunity to opt out. It might seem counterintuitive in the short term, but cleaning disengaged folks off your email list is important to the long-term health of your email program. 
  • For more tips on improving your email deliverability, check out our blog post on the subject here

Leverage Personal Connections with Your Audience

Your nonprofit’s cause is (hopefully) personal to everyone on your email list. Personalizing your emails is one technically simple — but potentially super powerful — step that you can take to utilize that personal connection to attract donations and deepen engagement with your organization. 

First, make sure you’re using an email tool that enables personalization. It might be an investment upfront, but having access to personalization features will greatly improve the value your audience gets out of your email sends. 

Worried about coming off as creepy or not sure where to start? Rachel Leist, the Senior Director of Automation at HubSpot, advises folks new to email marketing personalization to focus on personalizing emails based on actions your email recipients have taken on your website, instead of any personal data you may have collected about them in your contact management system.

Leist explains, “A good rule of thumb is to personalize around actions someone took on their website. Personalize around things like pages that were visited, topic of recent conversion, and of course name and company. If a person receives an email that refers to an action they took on your website, they will not be as nervous as they would if you were personalizing around specific personal information you happen to have on them.”

Segment Your Database

A segmented email list can help you ensure that the right person receives the right email at the right time. While everyone on your email list believes in your organization, you don’t need to send every email to them. Each person in your database is at a different stage on their journey with your organization, and the emails they receive should reflect that.

For example, someone who has donated $5 to your organization in the last year is probably not as engaged as someone who has donated $1000 to your organization in the last month.

Factors like donation amount, events attended, and actions taken on your website or social media channels can all be important indicators of engagement level, and shouldn’t be ignored when you’re sending out emails.

More engaged audience members will likely respond more positively to more frequent emails, while folks with fewer touch points should received fewer emails giving them more basic information about your NPO. 

Test, Analyze, and Adapt Accordingly

Finally, running an email program is not a “one and done” marketing strategy. You can’t just set it up and keep doing the same thing. It requires you to take note of key performance indicators and make changes to your approach periodically based on those factors. 

While industry benchmarks can be a useful starting point of comparison when you’re just beginning to flesh out your email strategy, remember that not all NPOs are the same, and not all NPO audiences are going to respond the same way to emails.

To start, keep track of a few key email metrics, measure them with each email send, and look for trends over time. Our article on email marketing metrics for beginners offers a helpful starting place if you’re not sure what to track.

Examples of Nonprofit Fundraising Emails

Want to put together an effective fundraising email? Check out some examples to get a sense of what yours can look like.

Alzheimer’s Association

This email from the Alzheimer’s Association requests donations but also outlines several other ways that its supporters can act for its cause. However, the request for a donation remains the focal point of the email, with a call to action to donate and a button allowing the reader to do so featured prominently in the middle of the email.

The Trevor Project

When folks first sign up for your emails, it’s a good indicator that they’re feeling engaged with your mission. Check out this automatic welcome email from the Trevor Project that introduces the organization to a new subscriber and requests a donation at the end. Your audience wants to help – don’t make them wait!

The International Rescue Committee 

The International Rescue Committee faces the urgent task of assisting people in conflict zones and disaster areas. They waste no time in showing how subscribers can help its mission. In this email, the IRC tells the recipient what steps they can take to make a concrete impact on their work.

The IRC knows that each of their subscribers is ready to take on a different level of commitment, so they recommend different actions that people can do to support them, from signing up for texts to starting a fundraiser.

The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art

Check out this email from the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art for a different spin on fundraising. Unlike most nonprofit emails, this one looks like it could have come from a department store. If your nonprofit has merchandise to sell, consider taking a cue from retailers and create emails that showcase your products for a good cause.

Free Email Marketing Software for Nonprofits

Want to use professional email software for your nonprofit without breaking the bank? There are several free versions of professional marketing software that you can use. Check out what some of the most popular programs offer to find the right one for your needs!

HubSpot Email Marketing Software

HubSpot offers a free version of its paid email marketing software that integrates with its also-free CRM software. Users can run a sophisticated marketing campaign and get access to forms, landing pages, and Facebook, Instagram, Google, and LinkedIn ads, as well as templates They also have access to contact management and live chat capabilities to optimize the experience for each subscriber. There are also traffic and conversion analytics capabilities for campaign optimization..


Want to reach lots of people with beautiful, personalized emails? Sender could be just right for you, as it has extensive HTML editing and personalization capabilities. Sender also has impressive analytics capabilities that allow you to track the delivery and opening of individual emails. Sender also helps you build individual profiles of your recipients to further optimize your strategy.


If you’re looking for variety in your emails, Sendinblue has you covered. This program includes over 70 responsive templates for emails that can be designed for any screen. The free version also gives you the ability to send 300 emails a day. You also have the ability to use A/B testing to find the right email content that works and segmenting options to make sure the right person receives it.


SendGrid specializes in email campaigns that are tailored to individual preferences. Its free version gives you access to a wide range of personalization tools, including APIs, Webhooks, STMP Relay. You’ll also have granular control over who receives your emails with a wide range of delivery optimization tools. There are also sophisticated email editing and analytics tools that allow you to optimize them for your target audience.

You don’t need to be a professional marketer to get professional results from email marketing for your nonprofit. However, you do need to set some time aside to do it. The good news is that there are few other investments you can make in your organization that will pay off like email marketing. Get started today if you haven’t already and you could generate more buzz for your organization than ever before!

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How to Choose The Right Email Marketing Agency

How to Choose The Right Email Marketing Agency

Nothing converts like email.

Email beats all other marketing channels and can generate $37 for every $1 you invest. 

Even though email marketing can generate a ton of revenue, it’s still not easy.

You need to know which email tools are best, how to use them so you don’t end up in spam folders, and how to create emails that convert.

Even for fully-staffed marketing teams, it can be overwhelming.

Email marketing agencies are perfect for overcoming these challenges.

They know how to use the tools and run fully-scaled email campaigns. They can also distill your brand and offer into great campaigns that generate revenue.

Today, I’ll walk you through how to choose an email marketing agency that’ll help you unlock all the business value email holds. 


Well, let’s start from the basics.

Know Your Goals and Desired Outcomes

Before you jump straight to the top email marketing companies and pick one to work with, it’s a good idea to pause first.


You’ll get much better results.

Famous email agencies, like the ones I’ll recommend, usually have a track record of overseeing successful email marketing strategies and campaigns.

However, it’s never a one-size-fits-all situation. 

Some agencies only excel when working on specific projects or campaigns. Others drive better results when working with specific kinds of businesses. 

Knowing your goals and desired outcomes with email marketing gives you the right lens to evaluate different agencies and know which one is best for your needs.

Not to mention, it’ll help your agency get started a lot faster. The clearer the goal, the better the outcome.

Let’s take a look at some examples. 

Example #1: Build and grow your email list

Without an email list, you can’t do email marketing. 

And if you have a small list of, say, 33 email addresses, you’ll never get the full benefits of email marketing either. 

The first step is to build your email list.

You’ll achieve this by choosing an agency with experience executing list-building campaigns to get your first 100, 1,000, or 10,000 email subscribers.  

Take yourself, for example. 

You won’t give a company your email address for nothing, right? 

Absolutely not! We all get enough spam as it is.

Similarly, most people would only subscribe to your email list in exchange for something valuable. 

In the digital marketing world, this could be an ebook, a checklist, or other forms of relevant content promoted to the audience whose emails you’re targeting. Consider choosing an email marketing agency with experience creating and promoting amazing content. The better the content, the faster your list will grow.

Example #2: Increase your email open and click-through rates 

Low open and click-through rates will destroy your list. 

If your open and click-through rates are low, you’ll run into a cascading series of problems:

  1. Your audience isn’t seeing your offers. That’s less revenue.
  2. Email service providers like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo will notice your low performance. Then they’ll flag you as spam or stop delivering your email altogether.
  3. Now your open and click rates get even worse.
  4. Even if you improve your campaigns later, they won’t deliver nearly the same results.
  5. Improving your email reputation is REALLY hard.

Instead of risking this email cycle of doom, it’s a good idea to partner with an agency that knows what they’re doing.

They can look for early signs that something’s wrong, course-correct early, and keep your email reputation safe.

In this case, look for an email marketing agency that is exceptional at developing strategies and tactics to help increase your open and click-through rates. 

The two examples above were to show that your goals and desired outcome with email marketing go a long way in determining what agency to choose. 

They were also to demonstrate that no agency is a one-size-fits-all for all email marketing problems. 

Set your goals first, then look for an agency that specializes in those goals.

6 Characteristics That Make a Great Email Marketing Agency 

There are hundreds of email agencies out there. Maybe thousands.

And if you visit the websites of these agencies, every single one claims to be the best. 

But what characteristics make an email marketing company great? And how can you vet and choose an agency to work with?

1. Great Content Creation

Think of all the emails you receive from other companies. 

Do you know why you can’t wait to open and engage with some, but would ignore, delete, or unsubscribe from others right off the bat? 

In most cases, it’s because you don’t value the content of those emails. 

Amazing content keeps people opening and reading. Then when you send an offer, they’re willing to consider it.

Great content is the core of any serious email strategy. 

Check to see if they focus on a process for crafting engaging email content. The best ones always do.

2. An Impressive Client Portfolio

Excellent email marketing agencies didn’t achieve that status overnight. 

They worked with dozens or hundreds of brands to execute successful email campaigns. 

Because of this, they should have plenty of top-tier brands in their portfolio. And case studies that show you exactly what was done.

Not all of this can be shared publicly. But when you’re exploring options with agencies, ask for examples during your initial calls. The agency should have plenty of examples to point to. If they struggle to come up with some, look elsewhere. 

It’s a great way to quickly vet agencies of all types.

3. Thought Leadership 

Exceptional email marketing agencies are always on top of email trends. It’s constantly evolving and you don’t want to work with someone that’s using tactics from 5 years ago. 

An easy way to check for this is the agency’s blog, YouTube channel, or their own email list. Within 20-30 minutes of consuming their content, you should learn a ton. And it should all be cutting edge. 

That’s a good sign they’ll be able to apply those same tactics to your email campaigns.

4. Deep Expertise with Email Tools

Great agencies will have used them all.

If you ask them which tools are best, you’ll quickly learn:

  • Which are most popular
  • Strengths and weaknesses of each
  • The handful of tools to avoid

But don’t worry about which tool they recommend. Pay attention to their depth of knowledge when speaking with them. They’ll probably start by recommending a single tool. Then as soon as you ask any follow up questions, they should have plenty of qualifications, nuance, and detail to their answers.

You should get the feeling that the agency knows this stuff cold. If not, find someone that does.

5. Has Specific Rules to Avoid Spam

If you’ve been hit hard by spam flags, you might need an agency that specializes exclusively on reviving domains with negative email reputations.

Most of us don’t need to go that far. 

But you absolutely want to work with an agency that knows how to stay out of the spam box.

Also ask new agencies about how they stay out of spam, their processes to keep things clean, and early warnings that they like to look for.

You should be blown away with the thoroughness of their answers.

If not, keep looking.

6. A Great Company Culture

By choosing an email marketing agency to work with, you’re entering a business relationship with another business entity.

So, before you proceed, check that their company culture fits with yours.

Without a good fit on culture, you’re going to get email campaigns that don’t jive with your brand. You could anger your audience and turn them away. Or play things too safe and leave money on the table.

There’s no right answer on culture, just make sure their culture and yours fit well.

Ask for samples of recent campaigns that they’ve done. They’re likely to do similar work for you.

How to Work With an Email Marketing Agency

Working with an exceptional email marketing agency isn’t like dashing into a grocery store, filling your cart, and dashing out in a few minutes. 

There are steps you’ll need to take that ensure your partnership with one leads to business growth via email marketing. 

1. Align your in-house team

Most email marketing agencies won’t work in isolation but as an extension of your in-house digital marketing team.   

Hence, to ensure a smooth partnership between you and them, you should:

  • Have meetings with stakeholders in your company to align relevant teams on the need to work with an email agency.
  • Communicate how the agency’s work would impact your business and why it is necessary.
  • As needed, appoint employees to work directly with the email marketing agency. 

Doing this ensures team alignment between the agency and your company. Also, it keeps the agency in sync with your values, company culture, and the goals for choosing to work with them. 

2. Discovery session

As you first go out to contact an email marketing agency, they won’t jump straight into sending you a proposal or contract. 

The best email marketing agencies act like doctors who only prescribe after they diagnose. 

And to start diagnosing your challenges and goals with email marketing, expect to fill an inquiry form, followed by a discovery session.

3. Research & strategic recommendations

Before making a specific proposal, any good email marketing agency will do an extensive round of research on your current campaigns. This will include things like:

  • Signing up for your lists and looking at your current campaigns
  • Mapping out your signup flows
  • Checking landing pages and signup offers
  • Looking through social profiles and email funnels from other channels

Once they have a complete picture of where you are today, they’ll be able to put a proposal together.

4. A working contract with project deliverables

A typical work duration with an email marketing agency spans several months. 

To take on that kind of scope,agencies usually prefer to send a formal proposal and contract for you to sign.

Take your time and this stage and go through the proposal in detail. You should feel great about every piece. If you have any concerns, work through them now. It’s really easy to change scope, budget, or goals now.

Once you fee good about it, get the contract signed. 

5. Onboarding

Expect an onboarding process customized for your team after you sign the contract. 

During this step, the agency will usually ask for all your internal document and tool access. Expert to send them invites for your Google Analytics and email tools. Also put together every piece of internal documentation that you have on your email campaigns. The more info they have, the better. 

From here, the agency will get started on the work and should have regular check-in calls along the way.

How to Find The Right Email Marketing Agency For You

To choose an email marketing agency that’s right for your needs, the steps I recommend are: 

  1. Be sure about your business goals and desired outcomes from email marketing.
  2. Consider agencies with the characteristics above. 
  3. Choose an agency with expertise in the area you need help with. And where possible, also prioritize those that have worked with reputable brands.  
  4. Finally, know that email is part of your digital, and by extension, content marketing strategy. Hence, it’s best to choose a company with bandwidth for those. 

To help, we reviewed hundreds of agencies and found these to be the best.

The 5 Top Email Marketing Agencies 

#1 Neil Patel Digital – Best For Email Content

Every time you send an email, people unsubscribe.

That hurts the long-term prospects of your email list. 

Since every email has a real cost and makes your list smaller, it’s best to make them count.

The best way to do this is with great content. Your unsubscribes will be lower, your list will be more engaged, and you’ll generate more revenue in the long-run.

Content, including email content, is one of the core areas of expertise at my agency, Neil Patel Digital

#2. InboxArmy – Best for Full-service Email Management

InboxArmy comes highly recommended, as a full-service email marketing and management company. 

This agency’s services include email strategy development, template design, email automation, and other. 

InboxArmyserves companies such as Airbnb, LandCentral, and Jockey. If you’re looking for serious email pros for your B2C company, I’d reach out to them. 

#3 Fix My Churn – Best for SaaS Onboarding Emails and churn

Fix My Churn works with SaaS companies.

User onboarding emails are a very unique skill set. The content, CTAs, sending logic and tools are completely different. If you want to improve your SaaS emails, you really need experts in this area.

Fix My Churn applies top-level SaaS copywriting skills to create email onboarding and churn-eliminating sequences to turn free and trial users into happy, long-term customers. 

Led by its Founder and SaaS email expert, Val Geisler, Fix My Churn has earned a reputation as an email marketing agency for SaaS companies like Buffer, Aweber, Podia, InVision, and others. 

I’d also consider them if your have any type of subscription offer.

#4 Action Rocket – Best for Enterprise Email

Action Rocket needs no introduction as an email marketing agency for enterprise companies. 

This agency even works with leading email software companies like Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, Litmus, and others to shape the email marketing space.

Using its vast years of experience, Action Rocket strategizes and develops custom email and CRM programs for enterprise companies, including Marks & Spencer, the BBC, and others.

If you want serious muscle behind your email strategy, reach out to them.

#5 SmartMail – Best for Ecommerce Email

SmarMail is our recommended email marketing agency for ecommerce businesses. 

Every business model has its own unique challenges with email and ecommerce is no exception.

You need cart abandonment emails, promotional emails, lifescycle emails for repurchases, and receipts with guaranteed email deliverability.

This agency excels at helping online stores acquire, convert, and retain customers by strategizing and launching email marketing campaigns based on automated triggers across buyers’ lifetime cycle: 

SmartMail has an excellent track record, helping ecommerce companies generate about $187 million in revenues. Their clients include French Connection, Skechers, and others. 

Get Email Right to Drive Growth

Email marketing isn’t going anytime soon. It is here to stay.

And it generates a ton of cash. Choosing the right agency will get you that growth a lot sooner.

Set your goals, then start looking for the right agency for you.

Even if you plan on doing email inhouse, the right agency can get everything set up correctly from the beginning. That will save your team a ton of time and prevent disastrous mistakes like getting all your emails stuck in the spam folder.

How Much Is An Email List Worth?

How Much Is An Email List Worth?

Everyone keeps telling you that email marketing is the backbone of most online business models.

And I agree.

A popular study by DMA found that for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42.

insane ROI

That’s an insane ROI.

But what does that tell you about the value of your email list?

What what is the worth of an email subscriber to your business in monetary terms?

How much value do you gain by adding an additional subscriber to your email list?

You should know the answers to these questions becuase it has a direct impact on the overall profitability of your online business.

If you don’t know the answers, I’ll tell you exactly how to find them in this article.

I’ll tell you exactly how to calculate the value of your email subscribers and use it to measure the ROI of your marketing campaigns.

Keep reading.

In any business, it is important to know how much your email list is worth. Especially if you have a blog and rely on subscribers to make income.

And to really know what our email list is worth we need to break it down to each individual subscriber and look at much they are worth.

Knowing your subscriber value is the key to being able to estimate your direct income from your list and is an important metric for email building. It’s even more important than your opt-in rate and your unsubscribe rate.

To make this really clear, the reason why it’s so important is because I’m assuming you’re not just growing a business as a hobby, but you’re actually trying to make money from it, right?

And in order to make money, it’s important to understand the different actions it takes for an email to turn into a purchase.

Clickthrough-Rate And Conversion Rate – The Key Metrics To Track

You and your team should be keeping track of 3 key email marketing metrics:

How many open the email
How many click the link inside your emails
How many unsubscribe

Lucky for us, we can break these steps down into metrics to help us calculate how much our email list is worth with the Click Through Rate (CTR) and the Conversion Rate (CR).

Let’s skim these over:

What is Clickthrough Rate (CTR) in Email Marketing?

Clickthrough Rate (CTR) in email marketing refers to the percentage of your subscribers who open your email and click on a link in your message.

CTR stats often come off as underwhelming. And unfortunately a low CTR means fewer leads in sales which will affect your income 🙁

The first step is to find out what is the average click through rate you should aim for.

Although it’s a little difficult to gauge since many sources say different things. It also depends greatly on the industry in which you are in.

For example, according to Mailchimp, email marketing and advertising has an open rate of 16.48% and a click through rate of only of 1.74%.

That means if you send out 1000 emails, 165 will be opened and your link will be clicked by 17 people.

But as you can see here in Mailchimp’s chart updated in March 2018, these numbers change drastically from industry to industry.

mailchimp stats

Here are some extra tips to boost your CTR:

Build Trust With Your Subscribers

You can’t sell to your subscribers unless they trust you. There’s already a certain level of trust between you and your subscribers since they’ve willingly joined your email list.

But you need to grow and build this trust by sending them high-value email content regularly. Instead of trying to sell all the time, share tips, experiences, and actionable insights with your subscribers.

Once they start trusting you, they won’t hesitate to click on your offers and links in your emails.

Nail the Call To Action (CTA) In Your Emails

A Call To Action (CTA) is the link/button in your email body content that invites your subscribers to click on it and visit your offer page.

To improve your email CTR, you need to create compelling CTAs that generate interest in your subscribers.

For example, instead of using a simple CTA like “Click Here” try something like “Activate Your Free Trial Now!”

Do you see the difference?

The second CTA is much more descriptive and sounds inviting.

As a result, it’s likely to drive more clicks.

Segment and Personalize Your Email Campaigns

A segmented email campaign is sent to a well-defined segment of your subscribers instead of your whole email list.

A study by SmartInsights shows that segmented email campaigns have a much higher clickthrough rate (CTR) than non-segmented campaigns

A study by SmartInsights

The reason is simple.

Segmented campaigns are targeted towards the exact problems of your audience as compared to generalized emails.

Frequently Email Your Subscribers

To stay on top of your subscribers’ minds, you need to regularly send them emails (at least once per week).

If you leave them unattended for too long, they’ll forget you because they’re bombarded with emails from so many different brands all the time.

Naturally, they won’t click on your offers when they don’t even remember you.

Improve Email Content

Your email content deserves the same respect as your blog content.

Don’t write emails casually from the top of your head.

Plan them like you plan blog content, create content themes, share actionable tips, and give them real value.

When you give free value consistently, people become more interested in your paid offers and expect you to deliver nothing short of excellence.

You can always use this CTR calculator as well if you are unsure of your numbers.

ctr calculator

What Is Conversion Rate (CR) In Email Marketing?

Your sales conversion rate is an excellent way of tracking the effectiveness of your messaging as well as the product behind the message.

In other words, it is the actual percentage of people that gave their email in exchange for your lead magnet or the number of people who made purchases in exchange for your product.

Math is hard so let’s use an easy example:

If you send an email to 100 people and 10 people buy your product, then you have a conversion rate of %10.

And if you have trouble with calculations, there are softwares that can help you out with this like Google Analytics.

And like the CTR, there isn’t a perfect percentage to aim for your conversion rate. It varies from industry to industry.

Here is a chart of the average conversion rates in different industries by Smart Insights.

conversion rates by industry

Some tips to boost your conversion rates:

Make your offer clear

Tell your subscribers exactly what they’ll get by taking your offer. Don’t use vague terminologies or overly complex copy just to look creative.

Audit your sales landing page

Test different variations of your landing page (A/B Testing) to see which one gets the highest conversions.

Remove any/all distractions

Your landing page should be clear of any elements that can distract the user from your main call to action. Remove unnecessary links, navigation links, side bar, footer links and anything else that doesn’t serve a clear purpose towards your offer.

Use trust symbols on your page

Secure payment badges, money back guarantee, encrypted payment, testimonials etc. add credibility to your landing page and help in removing any doubts your visitors might have.

Test different incentives

Try using different incentives and bonus offers with your core offer to see how they impact sales. Stick with the one that brings the highest conversions.

So How Do We Really Know What Our Subscribers Are Worth?

1. Go see how many subscribers you currently have.

This seems simple and straightforward but consider skimming through your list and shedding a layer. Check out how many have been inactive for 6 months or longer. When I say inactive, I mean the ones who haven’t opened or clicked any of your emails.

Now, throw them out. Don’t be disappointed if you end up losing more than you thought because you can always create a project to get them back. But more importantly, think of ways to get emails from new people on your list.

After you’ve done your cleanup, you can now use the current number to calculate how much your email list is worth.

2. Find out how much revenue you’ve made from that list – over the last year

Calculate your direct revenue from over the last year.

The reason I suggest calculating the revenue from the last year instead of the lifetime value is because it’s possible that your business hasn’t been up and running or making very much income for 3 years already.

And it’s possible that you haven’t even been actively selling or tracking your income. If you have, feel free to use the last three years in your calculations.

If not, using the last year will give you a much better/accurate calculation.

So within the last year you need to figure out 2 things:

How much revenue you’ve made directly from your list.
How much revenue you’ve made indirectly from your list.

Yes, there is a difference.

What I mean by “directly” is the income you’ve made from people opening the email, clicking the link, entering their payment info and buying something. Those are profits you made from sending the email.

Indirect is income from everything else not email related and should be put aside while making this calculation.

3. Okay, let’s calculate

Now that we’ve got our number of subscribers and last years income that we’ve made as direct revenue from our email list, let’s do the math.

Here it goes:

Number of subscribers/last year’s income = subscriber value

To make it extra clear here is an example:

You have 2500 subscribers.

Last year’s income was $10,000 strictly from direct income.


SO, in this case your subscriber value would be 25 cents per subscriber.

And your email list would be worth $10,000.

Optional extra step: Calculating Our Time As Expenses (not For everybody)

This isn’t for everybody and only for people who want to calculate every aspect of their email list value.

Most online entrepreneurs don’t calculate their time as expenses into their business. But if you’re somebody who does, then this parts for you!

And we must not forget about our overhead costs for email production and our time writing these emails.

This means the time that it took you to write and fabricate the email, as well as how much you pay for your email service provider.

Depending on the kind of emails you send, it’s easy to work up to 3 hours for one weekly email. That’s a good chunk of time.

Here are some examples of typical costs of sending out emails on the regular:

Email service provider – $40 per month = $480 per year.

Your time – 2 hours per week. Let’s choose a random amount and say our time value is $80 per hour. Cost per week = $160. Cost per month = $640. Cost per year $7,680.

Template design = $300.

These add up to a total of:

$8,460 in total costs.

So now if we take last year’s direct income and subtract the costs:

$10,000 – $8,460 = $1,540

$1,540/2,500 (number of subscribers) = 0.61 cents subscriber value.

0.61 cents subscriber value.

Whoooh.. Go take a break. You deserve it. That was a lot of thinking and math.

Bonus: How to figure out your time value

What do you make each day? How many hours do you work?

Let’s say you make $200 per day and you work 8 hours per day.

$200/8 = $25

Your time value is $25/hour

Check out this guide from To sum up what they said, a more in depth calculation should go as follows:

PV = FV / (1 +r)^n

And just to clarify this,

PV = present value of email list
R = Interest rate that will be earned
N = number of periods before money is needed
FV = Future Value

Check out this time value calculator to see what your time value equals.

What’s Next?

Now that you have your subscriber value, you can go ahead and add this number to whatever analytics software you are using. You can incorporate a dolar value to your goal.

And now, you can also use your subscriber value to measure list building tactics.

Let’s say you are running Facebook Ads and paying 30 cents per new subscriber. Wow! This is half of your subscriber value, which means more money for you… At least it seems that way.

But remember to always consider your overhead costs, specifically your time value.

How much time are you spending managing these Facebook Ads? Some of us, and I must admit guilt to this too, spend at least an hour per day just looking over accounts and ditzing around.

That means if your time is worth $80/hour, you are spending that amount an hour per day. Where you really need to be careful is the number of subscribers you are gaining per day from these Ads. If you’re only getting 10 new subscribers, with time costs and other overhead costs involved, you are now spending $8 per subscriber, not 30 cents.

Here is a break down of that calculation:

$80 (time value per hour)/10 (subscribers per day) = $8 paid for each subscriber.

To lessen this amount, stick to just doing the necessary things and use your time wisely! No ditzing around.


There are so many components that go into the calculation of your subscriber value and once you’ve got the magic number, you can really gage your list building tactics and how much money you’re allowed to spend in order to make a profit.

It can also make you realize how important having an email list is and how to manage it properly.

Just remember that your time does cost money, possibly quite a lot of money, too. So be careful with it and use it wisely.