Do you have a healthy and growing email list? If not, why not?
If you’re a small business, you need an email list. It’s as simple as that. Without it, it’s hard to even call yourself a business – you won’t stay top-of-mind with customers, it’s difficult to create excitement about your brand or product, and you can’t sell the way you want to.
Even as companies jump onto the social media bandwagon, they carefully manage their email list because it’s the single best way to convert leads into business – online and off.
What’s an Email List?
An email list is a list of people who have signed up (subscribed) to receive emails from you.
The key here is that they’ve given you permission to send them emails – they actually want to hear from you. They’re not just a fan or a follower, they’re a member of your community – and that’s a much stronger relationship than can be built through social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
Be sure to gain permission before sending out emails. Without permission, sending emails is spamming and is the quickest way to get yourself blacklisted by email service providers (not to mention that people will quickly unsubscribe from your list). Best practice is to use a double-opt-in process when asking people to subscribe.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “the money is in the list.” And it’s very true. Here are 15 reasons why you need an email list.
Benefits of an Email List
1. Everyone Has Email
Facebook may have 800 million users, but far more people have email. In fact, you need an email address to even sign up for a social media account! You can’t be sure of reaching your target market through social media, but you can be sure of reaching them through email.
2. Easily Connect With Your Target Market
Your email list consists of highly targeted people who are interested in what you have to offer. They’ve volunteered to get your emails because they want to hear more.
3. Make Meaningful Offers
Sending emails to a targeted audience allows you to promote your services and products to the audience that is most likely to buy.
Be careful not to overdo the offers – even the most responsive list will quickly tire of receiving nothing but sales pitches. But, when timed appropriately and combined with valuable content, you can make multiple offers to your list with great results.
4. Increase Conversion Rate
The ultimate goal of marketing of any sort is to bring in more business. Email marketing is no different – except for the fact that you can directly track conversion rates (the % of people who receive your marketing message and then go on to take whatever action you’re asking them to take).
Typically, buyers need multiple exposures to your product or service before they’ll buy. They need to develop an understanding of what you offer, the benefits to them, and the pricing and value. Over time, as they start to know and trust your product/service, they come to the decision that they need to buy it.
Regular emails keep you front and center with potential customers like no other marketing method. Keep reminding potential customers why they need you, and eventually they’ll buy.
5. Know Your Audience Size
In a way, your email list is a “captive audience” that is always there for you. In contrast, traffic to your website can fluctuate (sometimes wildly) from day to day – you’re basically waiting for people to stumble upon your site.
You never know how many people will be exposed to new content published on your blog or website. But you know exactly how many people have received your emails (how many people actually open those emails is another issue – we’ll look at how to increase your open rate in a later post).
6. Increase Repeat Traffic
Emails are a great way to generate repeat traffic to your website or blog. Make sure to insert a link to relevant content on your site into each email. Make it worth their while to visit your site.
7. Notify People of New Content
It’s easy to notify people of new posts or website content that they might otherwise miss.
Don’t rely on RSS alone – that’s too easy for people to ignore (how many people check their Google Reader regularly?). Because RSS is delivered through a 3rd party reader, very few people will click through to your site – why should they when the content is right there on their reader? So they’ll miss all the rest of your content and your marketing messages.
Customize your notification email with links to your site, contact information, and more (more on that in a later post) to keep people engaged and help them feel connected to you and your business.
8. Capture Attention
People pay far more attention to what’s in their inbox than they do to what’s online (or, sometimes, to what’s going on around them!). Have you noticed how many people immediately look at their monitor or smart phone when that ‘ping’ announces that a new email has arrived?
9. It’s Not Time-Limited
Email stays in your inbox until you deal with it (e.g., read it, delete it, move it to a folder). If you’re on vacation, it’ll be right there waiting for you when you get home. If you’re too busy to check your email account, the emails will patiently wait until you have time.
But social media posts, tweets, and comments come and quickly go. Blink, and you’ve missed it!
10. Keep Your Audience
A list allows you to more easily keep your audience once you’ve gotten them.
Most visitors to your website are just that – visitors. They come, they look around, and then they leave.
By contacting them regularly through your email list, you start to build a relationship with your readers, a relationship that keeps them coming back for more.
11. Brand Yourself As An Expert
By providing great advice to your readers over and over again, they come to view you as a trusted expert who delivers valuable content. When they need services, products, or consulting advice around your area of expertise, they’ll turn to you first.
12. It’s Easily Automated
Once the opt-in box and/or landing page(s) is in place, there’s very little you have to do to keep bringing in new subscribers. Sure, you may change out your sign-up offer or tweak the subscribe button wording (“Count Me In!” instead of “Free Updates”) but, beyond that, the process is fully automated. No work for you means more time to focus on running your business.
13. Maintain Engagement Over Time
One of the most under-used, but most powerful, features of an email list is the ability to automate the content you send subscribers.
An autoresponder allows you to send out a series of emails with valuable content that your subscribers will appreciate. Simply create the content, specify when the emails will be sent (for example, 2, 5, 8, and 12 days after sign-up, or 3 days after purchase), and let the autoresponder do its job. These timely emails will keep you top-of-mind with customers and help them feel engaged with your business.
14. Do Free Market Research
How many times have you wondered about what your customers really need? What their pain points are? Or how you can best solve their problems? Well, ask them!
Email is a terrific way to gather information directly from your current and potential customers. People may be reluctant to leave public comments on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ pages, but they’re remarkably willing to tell you directly. The more emails they get from you (within reason, of course!), the more they trust you, and the more information they’ll share with you.
15. You Own Your Email List
While you may have thousands of fans and followers on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter, if your account is de-activated or terminated for any reason, you lose all of those fans and followers. You don’t own those contacts, you can’t download them, and you can’t reach out to them through other channels.
In contrast, your email list is yours and yours alone. You can download all the information from your list and store it on your hard drive. If you switch email providers, your list goes with you. If you sell your business, the list goes with it (a valuable asset that gets worked into the sales price).
More To Come!
This is the first in a 5-part series on creating, building, and capitalizing on your email list. Up next:
- How to Choose the Best Email Marketing Provider
- Setting up an opt-in form for your email list
- 20 ways to grow your email list
- How to get people to open your emails