Note: Listen to this post instead using the audio player below, and consider subscribing on your favorite podcast player!
How many email subscribers do you need to make money? This is a question that I get asked quite frequently, and unfortunately it doesn’t always have a straightforward answer.
While I won’t be able to give you an exact number to strive for, I’d like to point out some variables that can affect your earnings per subscriber, and try to help you come up with an accurate target for yourself. Because while it is certainly possible to make money even with a very small mailing list, it’s also possible to have thousands of subscribers and still not earn very much.
Therefore, anybody that tells you that you need X amount of subscribers to make X amount of money, does not understand what they’re talking about.
To gain a better estimate however, let’s look at a few variables:
Variable #1: Your Market
One of the biggest factors will be the market that you work in.
Let’s look at two extremes to illustrate my point.
Let’s say you sold machinery that automatically bags items, to be used in factories or order fulfillment centers. This is an extremely specific market, with an extremely specific type of person that would buy it. The average sale price could be in the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.
On the other end, let’s say you run a blog discussing the video games you’re playing at the moment. You monetize through affiliate offers.
Both businesses have 500 subscribers.
Which business is likely to make more money from these subscribers in the next 6 months?
If you guessed the industrial machinery supplier, you’d be right. In fact, it wouldn’t even be close. The leads in that market could be worth hundreds of times more, whereas the leads in the video game blog could be near-worthless – especially if the blogger is targeting games that are primarily consumed by people under 18.
Variable #2: Lead Quality
Some leads are more qualified to become buyers than others.
Before we talk about acquisition, let’s look at something as simple as demographics.
Leads from Tier 3 countries (India, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc.) are generally worth a lot less, as people from these countries tend to have less purchasing power. If you were to ask somebody to spend $50 on a product, that would seem like a lot more money to someone in a Tier 3 country.
Not to mention, if you sell a physical product, you will also incur additional shipping costs, which makes things even more difficult for a buyer.
However, an even deeper level to determine subscriber value is determining where they were at in the buying process, when they subscribed.
Somebody who has already shown an interest in the exact product you’re selling, is far more valuable than somebody just doing research.
To illustrate with an example, my baby product brand runs a blog, as well as a store on the same website.
People who opt-in to our mailing list from our store are more than 6x likely to purchase a product within the next 30 days, vs someone who opts-in from an informational blog article.
Therefore, the numbers required to make an additional $1,000 / month from each of these two list segments are radically different. If you want to attract higher quality leads, write content that attracts people that are further along in the buying cycle.
Variable #3: Your Email Marketing System
Lastly, the amount you make per subscriber will be heavily influenced by the effectiveness of your email marketing system.
In fact, the difference between an average email marketing system and a great one could be more than 10-fold.
That’s not an exaggeration – exceptional email marketers can take the same list, and make more than 10x the amount of money from it.
It’s not enough to simply target the same email blasts to everyone. In today’s world, you need to be sure that you’re delivering the right messages at the right time.
I use ActiveCampaign to run my personal brand’s email marketing campaigns. To illustrate how complex everything is, here are a few examples on how I segment subscribers:
- People that opt-in from different pages on my site get different lead magnets, and different follow-up campaigns.
- Based on what emails they open and click-through, I can build a profile of their interests and dislikes.
- I track whether they respond to benefit-driven, fear-driven, or curiosity based subject lines.
- I track whether they respond more frequently to positive or negative based messaging.
- I track what products they’ve viewed, purchased, and consumed.
…And that’s only a sample.
By doing this, I can ensure that my messages actually resonate with the specific people they’re going out to, which works wonderfully for providing the most value – both through content and through product promotions.
If you’d like to learn more about how to create profitable email marketing systems for your business, I highly recommend investing in my email marketing course.
Clearly, not all email subscribers are equal. Some are likely to make you more money than others, and that’s okay.
By having an accurate picture in your mind, you’re better able to make forecasts about the numbers you’ll need in order to scale.
At the same time, you can speed up the process of making money from your email list by writing content that appeals to higher-quality leads, and working to improve your overall email marketing system as a whole.
I hope that this has helped you in some way, and if you have any questions about it, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
To your success,
– James McAllister
Thanks for sharing. I do agree with you that quantity is not always quality.
Still we need to look at the bigger picture and always strive to improve.
Tekkaus recently posted…New Subway Spicy Mayo Chicken & Hot Pepper Chicken
Well said! When we constantly look for ways to improve the quantity and the quality of our leads, our businesses are certainly going to grow!
James McAllister recently posted…Amazon Affiliate Program – Pros, Cons, And FAQ
Hi there! Great post…do you recommend Mailchimp por email marketing campaigns? I’ve hear good thinks about it.
BNext recently posted…BNext: Tarjeta sin comisiones para usar en tus viajes
Hey there, thanks for stopping by!
I don’t recommend Mailchimp to anybody that’s running a commercial business. My number one recommendation is ActiveCampaign and after that it would probably be GetResponse.
You can’t go wrong with either of them!
James McAllister recently posted…You Are Vulnerable – Decrease Your Company’s Reliance On Social Media
Thanks a lot for sharing this awesome info . Your article is excellent and informative.
i personally like the lead quality point, its really important and follow it .keep it up with such great content
Hey Ashmayu, thanks for visiting!
You are right, lead quality is extremely important and can have a huge effect on how much the average email subscriber will make you!
James McAllister recently posted…Social Media: The 6 Stages Every Future Customer Must Go Through (To Actually Make Money)
Still, we need to look at the bigger picture and always strive to improve. Thanks for sharing. I do agree with you that quantity is not always quality.
Usama recently posted…220 + Free Udemy Course [Top Rated Udpdated Daily] 100%OFF
Well said Usama! Quantity and quality are both important, but if your leads will never buy it doesn’t really matter how many of them you have hahaha.
James McAllister recently posted…Link Whisper Review: How I Built 811 New Internal Links With Link Whisper
Not all email subscribers are equal, that’s true. But some of them can definitely worthy. Excellent post always love to read you.
Hey Natalie, that’s definitely very true, which is part of the reason why it can take some time to fully know all of your numbers. Many people buy nothing, many people buy something at least once, but a few people buy everything including high-ticket offers. These big spenders can drastically impact the average value of a subscriber despite making up a low percentage of your subscriber base.
James McAllister recently posted…Your Company, Or Your Life?