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Nurturing and Converting Your Email List – With Emma Sidney

On today’s episode of The Engaging Marketeer, Darren speaks to Emma Sidney about her business, Sparkle Society, and how she coaches clients on making a difference through email marketing.

An expert on all things lead magnets and landing pages, Emma gives her advice on how best to persuade prospects to offer their details in exchange for “freebies”, with the aim being to convert audiences into paying customers. Below is what she had to say:

Darren: It’s a very unusual name isn’t it, Sparkle Society.

Emma: Well, I’m passionate about many things, and think of myself as being quite creative, so I think Sparkle Society fits with what I do. I kept talking about how I wanted to help businesses “sparkle” and stand out, so it just sort of came from there really!

Darren: So, it doesn’t come from Twilight then.

Emma: Sadly, no!

Darren: Well, let’s talk a little bit about marketing, because one of the things you do is help people with their lead magnets, and their email marketing. For anyone listening to this who doesn’t know, how would you define a lead magnet?

Emma: Typically, a lead magnet is a piece of content that has value, which you offer for free. You offer it in exchange for their email address, so that they come into your “email world”, as I like to call it. Therefore, you know you can build a different relationship with them via email, but it’s always about adding value and providing something. It’s like the first step on someone’s journey with you, outside of being on social media, which can be quite a cavernous thing. It’s a way to build that relationship with your customers a bit further – in my opinion, anyway.

Darren: And for anyone listening who has a business with a social media following, they might be thinking “why do I need a lead magnet? Why do I need to get people onto my email list?” What would you say to those people?

Emma: Well, there’s nothing wrong with using social media, but you aren’t always seen, necessarily. You might need to put out quite a lot of content for people to see and connect with you – it’s a busy space. As much as some people will say, “oh, I don’t open emails, so why should anybody else open my email?” – actually, a lot of people do open and read emails still, and want to connect that way. It’s a good way for somebody to get to know you and your business, and what you have to offer.

Darren: So, in your opinion, if you’ve got a lead magnet, what’s the best way to get somebody that follows you on social media to convert?

Emma: Like everything, it’s about understanding what you are as a business. It’s about thinking about the whole journey for your customers, and the first step is to make it very appealing. It can be as simple or as complicated as you like – it just needs to get your customers on board.

Darren: Do you have a certain way that you title them – and is the title important?

Emma: I think a simple approach is usually best, rather than trying to overcomplicate things. It should be just what it says on the tin. I think this can be quite controversial, but I do think it can be useful to use something like ChatGPT. You can put the details of your lead magnet in, and what the aim of it is, and ask it to come up with some titles for you, which you can tweak yourself. It’s only when you put it out there that you’ll see whether people actually want it. If it’s out there and people aren’t getting it, and aren’t signing up for it, then you can always make some amendments. It’s not necessarily the wrong thing – you just need to look at your title, and other elements, and think to yourself, “how do I change this? How could I do things differently?” It’s never going to be perfect, because that’s just not real life.

Darren: And when it comes to landing pages – do you think there’s anything that a landing page absolutely needs to have, in order for it to make people want to convert?

Emma: I believe it’s about how you talk to the person. If you’re trying to talk to everybody in the world, it’s not going to work – it needs to clearly say what problem it solves, what it’s about and who it’s for, so the customers are clear on what you’re offering. It’s got to talk to that person you want to appeal to, because generic stuff doesn’t work.

Darren: When someone goes into the list, you’re presumably using email marketing autoresponders to communicate with people once they sign up, so that they’re getting automated messages over a period of time – how do you like to structure those in terms of time frames, and what you’re actually sending?

Emma: Well, when it’s a lead magnet, the traditional thing is that it goes into a welcome email sequence, which is a series of emails that, again, is taking them on a journey that’s about value. It’s saying this is what we have to offer, and they can then get to know you as a business. It’s like a nurturing sequence, which is the term I prefer. Again, frequency depends on your audience. For some people, getting a daily email can be too much. Generally, I like to do a welcome email sequence that goes out every couple of days, because I feel that’s a little bit gentler, but that’s more for my audience, who are businesspeople, and will probably get quite a lot of emails. Over time, you test it to see what people do and don’t open – when they’re dropping off – and then you come back to it and tweak it. These things aren’t something that you just do and leave – you need to do tests to improve your process.

Darren: So, it’s about constantly monitoring the results, and seeing how you can improve it to get a better result.

Emma: Absolutely, yes.

Darren: Do you have any particular tips for subject lines for emails, because obviously emails are notorious for not being opened – often not being delivered or going into Spam folders. How do you cut through the noise to make sure your email gets opened?

Emma: Again, it depends on your audience. It’s about being clear in the beginning, so that the frequency of emails come as no surprise, and your subscribers won’t feel like they’re being bogged down. Again, ChatGPT can come up with some really good email subjects – you can write your own emails, and ask it to come up with a subject line that is appealing. You can also test your subject lines, and send it to different parts of your audience, and see what works, and what doesn’t. Personalisation can work for some audiences – so, when you capture their details, some email tools will let you tag them in the subject header, which your audience might appreciate. A lot of this will come down to who the people you’re talking to are, and their expectations.

Darren: It’s so true, and it’s always worth bearing in mind that you’re not your target audience. Just because you don’t like to receive daily emails, doesn’t mean that your clients don’t. I come across this all the time, particularly with web design, and people saying, “oh, I don’t like that web design, it’s not right for me” – it’s like, well, it’s not made for you, it’s made for your target client.

Emma: Absolutely. I have a background in neural linguistic programming – I love all the brain stuff – and there is a part of the brain called the reticular activating system, which filters out junk and helps us achieve our goals. So, if you’re not talking to the your audience’s reticular activating system, they’re going to filter you out as junk, basically. We just need to put ourselves in our audience’s shoes as much as we can, by getting out of our own self – the ego – sometimes.

Darren: So, when you when you work with a client who wants, or maybe already has, a lead magnet that isn’t working, what’s the process that you use?

Emma: At the moment, I’ve recently started to do a lead magnet audit, so I can go through and look at the whole journey and offer advice on where things can improve. In terms of creating, I have an existing course, and different things in terms of where we sit down and work through it. I have a framework that I follow in terms of the problems, the solutions and the bigger picture. It all comes from experience, and trial and error. When I started off as a nutrition life coach, years ago, I used to create freebies all the time, but they never led anywhere. This was about 10 years ago, when lead magnets were new, and I just couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting sales. It’s all about seeing where you’re going wrong, and making adjustments continuously until you see improvements.

Darren: It’s interesting what you said there, about when you started creating lead magnets for nutrition that didn’t lead anywhere. There’s probably business owners out there thinking, “well, that sounds like me. I’ve created lead magnets, I’ve put them on the website, people have downloaded them and then … nothing.” Where do you think the process goes wrong, and what’s the missing step that you were missing before, that you’ve got now?

Emma: I think it’s two steps. The lead magnet definitely needs to be linked to an offering – so, if you’re a service-based business, for example, it needs to be linked to the service, so it solves a problem for your audience. The other thing, which a lot of people don’t do, is how you’re actually nurturing your email list. If you just whack out a random automated sequence that doesn’t necessarily tell them that they can buy something, or send them the odd newsletter, it doesn’t necessarily help your business, especially if you go into the mindset of “oh, people aren’t even going to read this email, anyway.” You need to be thinking about how you can nurture these people, and again, it’s about making all of that link together, and making sure your customers are aware of what you’re offering. It’s all about creating that experience, and that journey – not just sending them a random email once a month, which isn’t very well thought out, because then people definitely won’t want to open your emails.

Darren: Incredibly, we’re out of time – if anyone out there is interested in what you’ve just said, and loves the idea of learning more about lead magnets, or maybe getting a lead magnet audit, what’s the best way for them to get in touch?

Emma: The best way is to find me is through Facebook and LinkedIn – they’re my two favourite places to hang out, so people can reach out to me there!

Darren: Brilliant – I will pop the links in the description underneath the video. Thank you very much for being on the podcast Emma, I’ve loved talking to you.

Emma: It’s been a pleasure, thank you.

More about Emma:

Creator of Sparkle Society, Emma offers bespoke courses and coaching on how best to nurture your email list, and convert curious prospects into paying customers. You can connect with Emma here:



About your host:

Darren has worked within digital marketing since the last century, and was the first in-house web designer for video games retailer GAME in the UK, known as Electronics Boutique in the States. After co-founding his own agency, Engage Web, in 2009, Darren has worked with clients around the world, including Australia, Canada and the USA.



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