How to monetize a subscriber list

This came through from the WP Elevation Facebook group.  It’s a pretty common question, asking how to generate revenue and sales from a current list of subscribers.

Below is not only the question but also how I would actively solve this problem.  There’s an entire plan for how I would monetize a subscriber list.

“I have 10K+ email subscribers on my list but I am unsure on how to monetize this list or keep them engaged. All of them have subscribed via my popular blog posts to download the PDF’s.

Any thoughts/suggestions?


The goal:

Monetize a current subscriber list.  Specifically, can we drive at least $1 worth fo value from each subscriber i.e. 1 x $10 000 sale or 1000 x $10 sales?

Even more specific?  Generate at least $1 worth of revenue per month from each subscriber.  The launch period is 3 months and we want to generate $10 000 in revenue during a 3 month period after the launch period.


  • A numerically large database of subscribers
  • Subscribers who have downloaded PDF’s, guides or read blog posts from the list owner.
  • Open and able to marketing and sales promotional emails


  • We might not have marketed or sold to them recently
  • Products being sold might be new to them or this market
  • This is our first attempt at monetizing this particular list


I reckon that of 10 000 people, at least 1 is going to buy.  It’s that simple.  I’d like to estimate that 10% of the list will spend between $9 and $37 each.  So roughly 1000 customers generating between $9000 and $37000.

If our list is engaged, sees enough value in our business, trusts us enough and we’re enough of an authority – sales aren’t a problem.

Plan of action:

1. Last activity

First we need a serious look at what the last action was that each subscriber took.  When did they subscribe?  Why did they sign up and when was the last activity on their list?  The longer ago they engaged, the harder it’s going to be to sell to them.  If we’ve been regularly emailing them with decent stuff, newsletters and guides – then releasing a product to them isn’t going to be a problem.

2. Segmentation of interest

We now need to segment what they’re interested in.  For example, if we know that they’re more interested in SEO, then a social media guide might not suit them.  On the flip side, if we have a mixture of businesses, like solicitors or ice cream shop owners, then their business objectives are going to be different.

The easiest way to segment interest is-

  • Why did they sign up?  What were they hoping to achieve when they signed up?
  • What’s their industry and therefore what’s their biggest problem?
  • What are they responding to now? I.e. If you’ve sent 3 emails, one about SEO, one about email marketing and one about social media, which did they respond to?

3. Target metrics

Once we’ve got activity and segmentation, we can look at target metrics.  This might sound corporate buzzword bullshit, but all we’re doing is putting a stake in the ground and saying:

“I think that subscribers who are interested in SEO, who have been active within 1 month, are more likely to open an email about SEO”

This is all we’re doing, setting out what we think is going to happen.  We can then say that a 10% open rate for that segment is good, and a 3% click rate would be acceptable.  These are target metrics.  A goal that we can measure, related to a particular segment or market.  What we’re looking for, is a goal that determines whether we’re successful, or moving towards our final objective.

There are two options when it comes to how we measure our target metrics.  We could either segment up our list and send each segment one email that we think will resonate, all at once.  Or we can send 5 emails to all segments, over a period of time, and see what resonates with who.

If you’re got clean, accurate data, then the first option is right for you.  If you’ve got a mixed bag in your list, then start by sending everything over a period of time.

4. “Find products for your customers, not customers for your products”

By segmenting and looking at our email list data, we can make reasonable assumptions about what people want to buy.  This is where your products come in.  You need something to sell to the people that are subscribed to you.

We have our target metrics and we have an idea that shockingly, people who downloaded a guide about SEO, are probably more interested in SEO.

At a very high level, the emails that you’ll send, to your list will look like this.

  1. Send specific emails to specific segments that build value.  Free content, blog posts, videos, download etc.  Anything to start revving the engine of people that you know are interested in a certain product.
  2. Send a variety of value building content emails aimed at specific audiences too.  For example, if you know your email subscribers are flower shops, or accountants or based in California – tailor your content to suit the audiences.
  3. Based on the results of the emails sent out, you start sending sales emails promoting a product that you know people are interested in, to an audience that you know are engaged.

You’ll need to sift through the data, be specific and look for tale-tale numbers.  For example, if your flower shop based emails had a 30% open rate and a 15% click rate, that’s a good indication that your audience is based in that or similar industries.

If your emails about social media have an open rate of 4% and a click rate of 1%, that’s probably a good indicator that your audience ISN’T interested in social media.

Purely from a process standpoint, the emails that I’d personally send are like so:

  1. VALUE EMAIL – BLOG POST : How flower shops can rise up Google’s ranks for local searches
  2. VALUE EMAIL – BLOG POST : The 5 fastest ways that flower shops can generate revenue online (even without a website)
  3. VALUE EMAIL – VIDEO : Here’s how 3 flower shops generated more customers in February that on Valentines day
  4. VALUE EMAIL – BLOG POST : The 5 SEO secrets that all website owners need to know (that their web designer doesn’t know)
  5. VALUE EMAIL – BLOG POST : Why Google is costing you traffic and what you can do about it
  6. SALES EMAIL – SALES LETTER : The SEO rank pack that secures your website from dropping ranks *Note: This is where you introduce a product*
  7. SALES EMAIL – SALES LETTER : If you liked our post on how flower shops can rise up Google’s rankings, you’ll love this
  8. SALES EMAIL – SALES LETTER : WARNING! Flower shops that ignore this WILL loose traffic from google

5. The product

Now we’re going to introduce the product to our list.  The EASIEST possible product that you can create is a low cost, low investment video and PDF series.

Take what you do know about your list and create something that they’d buy.  Simple as that.  Expand on what you’ve already shown them.  Create checklists and swipe files that does the boring work for them.

For example, a product for SEO interested flower shops could be

  • A website audit checklist that lets them cross off the important website needs to search optimize their site
  • A video guide on how to use the checklist (seriously, explaining your products is SUPER valuable)
  • 7 blog post templates (think headline, intro, problem and 3-5 points) to help flower shops SEO their site
  • A video explaining the blog post templates

Package this up, create a landing page and charge $10 for lifetime access.

6. The up-sell

Can you provide the same results faster, and with more automation?

The ONLY thing you need to do to create up-sell opportunities is to ask “can I provide, and would you like the same results FASTER and with MORE AUTOMATION?”.  I.e. If you’re interested in search optimizing your flower shop website, would you like those same results faster and with less work from you?

Once you’ve made your first sales, offer a consultation course or for you to do the work.  People who have bought have CLEARLY identified a need and an interest, so why not hop on Skype or send a few emails asking if they want to accelerate and grow those results?

The truth about monetizing a list

Look, the truth is that if you know WHO your list is and WHAT they’re interested in, monetizing a list isn’t impossible.  But don’t fall into the trap of just trying to find money in the list.  These are people and businesses who need your help.  They’re looking for assistance and guidance and you can offer that.

Get specific about what you offer and rather than ask “how can I squeeze money from my list?” ask instead “how can I add more value to those members so they’re willing to pay me?”.

Am I talking bollocks?  Is it impossible to monetize a list or have you tried and failed miserably?  Or does this open up a world of possibilities to you?  Let me know in the comments below.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.