Perhaps Phoebe Buffay is the most enterprising character in Friends. With an unconventional education background, Phoebe worked some odd jobs in her career. Before becoming a masseuse, she mugged people on the street. She also had brief stints as a telemarketer, Monica’s waitress and catering partner, and an extra on the set of Days of Our Lives.

But Phoebe’s true passion is her music, and although she never reached superstar status, she still understood the importance of marketing herself.

After performing a set at Central Perk in the season 6 episode “The One with Ross’s Denial,” Phoebe gets on the mic and says, “If you want to receive emails about my upcoming shows, then please give me money so I can buy a computer.”

phoebe buffay playing guitar at central perk email buy me a computer
NBC / Warner Bros. Studios

This episode aired in 1999. With the advent of social media and other technologies, digital marketing has changed dramatically in the last twenty years, yet Phoebe’s emphasis on an email list still holds true.

The Case For Your Email List

It seems that many brands and entrepreneurs have lost their appreciation for email marketing in the age of social media. While it may be a thrill to watch your Instagram or Twitter followers rise, you’re better off attracting email subscribers.

Here’s why your email list is your brand’s biggest marketing asset:

  • An email subscriber is an engaged lead or customer. Rather than passively giving you a thumbs up, double tap, or follow, someone on your email list trusts you enough to let you contact them directly. They’ve raised their hand and said they want to hear from you, and were willing to provide you with access to their personal inbox. Fuel that fire with amazing content they want to receive.
  • You own your email subscribers. Okay, don’t freak out, I’m not saying that Instagram is going away. But what if it did? When you build a list of email subscribers, you are empowered with something that is 100% yours. Don’t solely build an audience on a platform you can’t control.
  • You have direct access to your audience. With email marketing, there’s no need to worry about an algorithm that prevents your content from being seen. Aside from complying with a few spam laws and content guidelines, there’s nothing preventing your message from getting delivered.
  • You can send segmented, tailored messages. Unlike your social media followers, you can divide your email subscribers into segments based on where they are in the customer journey. You can write custom content that is strategically designed to influence specific groups. 

How to Get the Most Out of Email Marketing

Well, as Phoebe mentions, step 1 is to at least have a computer. Here are some other steps you can take to maximize your success with email marketing:

  • Write an amazing subject line. What good is your email if nobody opens it? Take some time writing a subject line that will compel your audience to read what’s inside.
  • A/B Test. Many email marketing platforms, like ConvertKit or MailChimp, offer A/B test functionality where you can learn what subject lines are performing best. Strive to create two versions of every email so you always gain a helpful audience insight.
  • Track and monitor. Tag your email list links with Google UTM URLs so you can do a deep dive on your website analytics. You can see how much traffic your email drove to your website, as well as what actions the visitor took after reading the content.
  • Automate. What other marketing tactic works while you sleep? Spend time developing a drip campaign that sends pre-written emails to your audience based on their actions. An example of a drip campaign is a series of welcome and onboarding emails sent to all new subscribers. You can write this content once and it continues to work for you!

How Not to Build Your Email List

With good intentions of building their email lists, many companies add a subscription form field to their websites. These forms are usually introduced with a line of copy that says “subscribe now to receive updates” or “sign up for our newsletter!”.

This is quite possibly the laziest, least inspirational way to compel your audience. These “updates” sound like junk, and I have no idea why I should be interested in your newsletter.

Instead, entice your audience with content they’d look forward to receiving. Tell them exactly what to expect and how your messages will enhance their lives in some way.


Ready to Build Your Audience the Right Way?

Do you have a list building plan? Or as Phoebe would say, maybe you don’t even have a pla.

phoebe buffay i dont even have a pla

One of the best strategies for building your email list is using a lead magnet. A lead magnet is an incentive that you offer to your audience in exchange for their email address. It also starts off your digital marketing relationship on the right foot by providing your audience with something they can use!

For a list of lead magnet ideas to help you get going and build your list, enter your email address below! I promise, I’m the last person will will send you spam 🙂