We <3 our customers

(and they love us, too)

Nashville is home to a seemingly endless number of amazing nonprofits, but Thistle Farms holds a special place in our heart. After all, they’re an Emma 25 recipient that’s always doing great work in our local community (and beyond).

If you’re unfamiliar with the organization, here’s a little background: Thistle Farms aids and empowers women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. Thistle Farms recently ramped up their email marketing program with the goal of reaching more people with their message of hope and healing. Here’s a look at how Emma’s Services Team helped them grow their email list and achieve greater engagement with their incredibly deserving cause.


Elizabeth Duffey is a senior email specialist at Emma. She lives and breathes email marketing, and her role revolves around helping customers develop build and optimize their email marketing programs.

Elizabeth from Thistle Farms

That’s Elizabeth!

Madelyn Herbert is the e-commerce manager at Thistle Farms. She manages the website, the e-commerce store, their email marketing program, and more!

Madelyn worked one-on-one with Elizabeth to improve two specific areas of Thistle Farm’s email strategy: building a bigger, more engaged list of contacts and providing a better welcome experience to new subscribers.


Your email marketing can only be as successful as the quality of your subscriber list. Because the average list churns 25-30% year-over-year, you need to constantly be growing your audience with new subscribers. That means slapping a random “sign up for our newsletter” form on your website is not a sustainable option.

To help Thistle Farms reach more of the right folks, Elizabeth introduced Madelyn to some creative new list growth methods.


Growing your list ultimately starts on your website, and knowing how and where to use the right tools on your site is important. To help Thistle Farms reach more of the right people, Elizabeth set up their lightbox form on a 7-second time delay. That way, people have enough time to get to the site, comprehend what they’re doing, and sign up for the Thistle Farms email list if they want to. If not, it’s easy for website visitors to exit the form and go about their business.


The Thistle Farms founder Becca Stevens often speaks at in-person events. To capitalize on that presence, Elizabeth helped Madelyn set up a text-to-join program. Here’s how it works: All a person has to do is text LOVEHEALS to 444999, and they’re automatically signed up to the Thistle Farms email list. By including the text-to-join info on a slide at the end of her presentations, they’ve created a simple, frictionless way to gather email addresses from captive audiences at speaking engagements.

Just a few months after launching these new tactics, Thistle Farms was able to grow their list with 6,032 engaged subscribers!


Once someone signs up for your list, it’s crucial to finish the thought started in your signup form by automating an engaging, branded welcome series. Previously, Thistle Farms was using a 4-part welcome series they had set up when they were sending less frequently to their audience. The original series offered new subscribers a nice welcome note, explained their mission and brand a bit more, and gave great testimonials.

As they started sending more emails, however, they realized they didn’t need to cram all that information into the beginning of the subscriber experience. When Elizabeth and Madelyn analyzed the response results, they also saw engagement dropping on the 3rd and 4th emails, so they decided to refine the series.


Phase 1 of the welcome series revamp was a template design update to match their newer, more sophisticated branding. Next, they simplified the content of the series and added an email asking people to manage their preferences to help prevent the drop-off they were seeing on Email #3.

By explicitly asking people what they want to hear about, Thistle Farms is effectively allowing their audience to segment themselves for future email sends. This enables them to send more relevant, targeted emails and get better results overall:

• Thanks to testing, iteration, and the design refresh, the newest version of the welcome series averages a 58% open and 24% click rate.

• Now that they’re able to segment their list from the beginning of the subscriber journey, their average open rates have nearly doubled, rising from 15-20% to 30% across the board.


As you can see, it’s a process. As they work together, Elizabeth and Madelyn continually find creative ways to grow the Thistle Farms email list, and they focus on collecting the data they need from the very beginning of the subscriber experience so they can send people the content they care about.

The key is to never get complacent. Consumers are smart, and the second we stop paying attention to what’s working and what’s not working, we can lose them. Analyze your results and iterate from there to get the best possible email marketing results for your brand.

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