How to make a tiny 47 emails list get 78.3% open rate and be profitable in the first week

I wrote an automated email sequence email for a small local service business that started selling its services online.

With only 47 email subscribers (a recently started email list), it produced the following results in the first week:

  • 78.3% open rate on the first email
  • 451.90$ in sales
  • Conversion rate of 8.5%

In this article, I’ll explain how I did it.

And why the good old “Buuuut my email list is waaaay too small!” is probably never a good excuse.

The strategies used are based on two powerful marketing concepts used by the best in the biz.

If you have a small local business and have been on the fence on starting to use email marketing with your potential customers – and current customers – this will arm you with the knowledge to turn your small (or big) email list into your most powerful business asset.

Disclaimer: If you have not used your email list yet, you may regret not doing it before…

The two most powerful marketing strategies

The content used in this email sequence is based on 2 fundamental strategies used by the big guns.

Direct-response marketing: A type of marketing designed to create an instant response by encouraging a targeted prospect to take a specific action.

Value-based marketing: A type of marketing designed to give something of great value to a targeted prospect.

As you can imagine, both are very powerful in their own respects.

Both together can become a lethal weapon of mass destruction that will leave your competitors scratching their heads in disbelief.

Analysing the results

Let’s analyse the results from the email sequence:

  • 47 subscribers were in the email sequence
  • 78.3% open rate on the first email
  • 451.90$ in sales
  • Conversion rate of 8.5%

All conversions (sales in this case) are measured by the use a specific promo code which was sent exclusively through the email sequence.

Not that it really matters, but for future reference from the screenshots, the services were sold through Woocommerce and the email platform used was Mailchimp.

Number of emails sent

A grand total of 47 emails were sent in the first week.

Email open rate 78.3
Number of the first email sent in the first week

And yes, that was the complete list at that time…

The reason why I’m mentioning this metric is because I know that there is a misconception about when you should start communicating with your email list.

For some reason, we tend to think that we need thousands of people before you send your first email. And that is false! Especially if you have built your email list with quality in mind (and more on that later).

FYI, the 47 emails for this campaign were obtained as the result of a free evaluation that calculates their carbon footprint based on set fomulas used in the industry.

This is important as the following email sequence and the service offered is highly relevant.

Open rate

The open rate was 78.3% for the first email in the follow-up sequence in the first week.

Why am I only mentioning the open rate of the first email and not the others?

Simple… It is the most impressive!

But also the fact that at the time of publishing this article, most other emails do not have many sends yet and I was so pumped by the results that I wanted to post this ASAP. There will be an updated section to see how results compare in time.

Also, in my defence, the other emails also had a pretty good open rate.

See for yourself. Open rates on first week:

  • Email #1 open rate: 78.3%
  • Email #2 open rate: 69.2%
  • Email #3 open rate: 27.3%

[Updated results, 2 weeks later]

And it seems like the results are getting even better as time goes on!

Here are the open rates 2 weeks later:

  • Email #1 open rate: 77.2% (-1.1%)
  • Email #2 open rate: 72.3% (+3.1%)
  • Email #3 open rate: 37.8% (+10.5%)

[Updated results, 6 weeks later]

And again, it seems like the results are holding up. 92 people have now gone through the first email in the sequence.

Email 1 open rate
Number of people having gone through the first email in the sequence after 6 weeks

Here are the results 6 weeks later.

  • Email #1 open rate: 78.2%(+1% since previous update)
  • Email #2 open rate: 72.6% (+0.3% since previous update)
  • Email #3 open rate: 45.8% (+8% since previous update, a 18.5% upgrade from the first week of data!)

Sales + conversion rate

451.90$ at 8.5% conversion rate. That sounds pretty good.

Sales figure
Sales after the first week running the email sequence

While the dollar figure is not necessarily impressive here, this is with minimal effort in a minimal amount of time. And this process has now been automated for all future email leads, zero effort required.

[Updated results, 6 weeks later]

6 weeks later, their sales have exploded.

Here are the results:

Sales since emails
Net sales after 6 weeks of implementing email marketing

Now we’re talking. They just had their best month online since I was brought in to help with their sales process.

This is currently changing the trajectory of their business and they are now evaluating how they can invest more into their online sales and keep the growth going.

Here is an interesting progession from before/after emails were implemented:

Emails started here
Results over the last year before vs after implementing marketing

The strategy used with this small email list

The strategy involves many components that led us to these results:

  • Traffic from quality information articles
  • Having a lead magnet of great value for a targeted person (free custom evaluation)
  • Having an automated email sequence providing more value and offering to solve a problem related to the content with a service

These are the reasons why the results were quite good for this small business.

Let’s check every point in a bit more detail to see how you can replicate this strategy yourself.

Getting quality traffic

The emails in the email list came from SEO traffic. From about 10 SEO optimized information-rich articles, visitors are offered a free relevant evaluation. A form with fields were required to be filled and submitted to receive the free evaluation.

Since I was also involved in the SEO process, here is some data that led to building this lead generation channel.

Search console seo
Building an effective email list can start with minimal traffic

As you can see, once again, the data is good and they did not need a million visitors per month to start building their email list.

Having a powerful lead magnet

The lead magnet is your opportunity to connect with someone by asking permission for continued contact in exchange of a valuable something that is linked to your field of expertise.

In exchange for some of their contact information, you need to give them something of equal or greater value.

It is always recommended to offer way more value than what you are asking for, as this will create good will and position you as a trustable authority.

In our case, the lead magnet is a free full evaluation to know and understand your current carbon footprint, which for the right people, is worth sharing their email for.

Here are great lead magnets you can use to get started quickly:

  • Exclusive information packed e-books
  • Courses
  • Tools
  • Calculators

Having an automated email sequence

The automated email sequence is where the magic is made, provided it is well taken care of.

By having direct contact with list members, you can share ideas, stories and valuable info directly with them.

At this point, they trusted you enough to give you their contact info. Don’t blow it.

Yes there will be some offers and money to be made with your email list, but for this to happen, you have to continue the relationship with more valuable info.

Don’t see your “newsletter” as a newsletter, because I’d bet most people don’t care about a newsletter. See it as a discussion you are having with individual people, because that’s what it is.

Help them get to where they want by sharing through email.

It also helps to write persuasively when an offer is part of the email.

The exact 4-step email sequence I used

Here is the exact email used to generate the results seen previously.

Email #0: Evaluation

Side note: This is “email 0” as it was handled by the website server and not by Mailchimp and therefor no open rate data is available.

For the first email, the goal was to deliver the evaluation results immediately after the person had opted in (the lead magnet).

Since in this case the business’ core offering is directly correlated, an immediate offer was made for them to purchase on the spot (with a special coupon code).

Email #1: Follow-up

The second email was sent to follow up 2 days after the initial optin. This serves as a reminder of the evaluation results as well as the special offer made.

Simply a heads up and letting them know that their results were in if they had missed them.

Email #2: Value

The third email is value-based. It talks about a controversial problem and suggests an article describing 23 tangible solutions to that problem. This is not an optimized landing page per se, but more like a blog post.

Since the article is hosted on their website blog, there are call to actions to learn more about what they do and buy their service embedded in the page.

There is also a short reminder about the offer at the bottom of the email (P.S. style).

Email #3: Value

The fourth offer is also value-based. It talks about another controversial problem and suggests an article about the subject.

Once agan, since the article is hosted on their website blog, there are call to actions embedded in the page.

There is also a short reminder about the offer at the bottom of the email (P.S. style).


And that’s how the results were generated.

As you can see, the strategy is rather simple. And that’s often what usually works (KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid).

It is however important to note that the structure, the messaging and the offer were all aligned.

Now, for anyone that has a small email list, you at least know that it is possible to get positive results.

Get at it!

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