“A list, a list, you’re on my list”

emailbox21The most important thing you can do to build your business is to get people to invite you into their email inboxes. Engaging with people on Twitter and Facebook can be fun, but those are public forums. Email inboxes are their own private space and reaching them there is more meaningful, especially when they have given you their email address because they WANT to hear from you.

Another reason you want your own email list is because it is YOURS. You control it. You will not suddenly lose it when someone else decides to change their platform. Facebook has changed to encourage advertising. Right now, your posts will be seen by about 6% of people who like your page. All your likers will not see all of your posts, but ALL your email subscribers will see your email in their inbox.

Email also allows you to tell your story, in your own way, without worrying about how many characters you use or whether it is short enough to be seen in a post without requiring people to click on “more.”

When they sign up for your list. Your first email will thank them for subscribing and you can ask them about their concerns, what they want to know, what help they need. You can then use this information to provide content for your emails, blog, or even to develop future products.

Why would they give you their email address?

Sometimes I sign up for a newsletter after reading blog posts or other pages on a website because I want to hear more that website. But mostly, I sign up to get the freebee. The best way to get people to give you their email address is to offer them something of value for free. A free checklist, ebook, email course, video course, anything that would be of value to your audience. It could also serve as an introduction to your products and services.

What to do with your email list

An email list allows you to stay in touch. Some people email their latest blog post. Some send a weekly update of what is on their blog or a roundup of articles they think their readers would find interesting. Some people write emails that contain content that is ONLY for their subscribers. You can also have back and forth conversations with subscribers or ask for their opinions about ideas you have for future blog posts or products.

Whatever you put in your emails, you have to make it compelling so your subscribers will continue to open your emails in the future. You have to give them what Copyblogger.com calls “cookie content.” Make them look forward to your emails.

But what about selling, making money?

You can do that also, but put your emphasis on providing something of value to your subscribers first. Make sure they feel that you put their needs first, then they will be willing to hear about what you have to sell.

I unsubscribed from a email list I had just subscribed to because the person kept teasing me with information they wanted to share with me, but only if I purchased the latest chapter for a nominal sum. It wasn’t much money, but each week I got a come-on in my inbox. I got nothing that showed me that the person had anything of real value to share. It was sales, sales, sales, and I unscubscribed. They didn’t try to build any sort of relationship with me before trying to sell me something.

How to start and maintain an email list

You need an email marketing company to help you. If you try to email your list from your own email account and you have more than 50 subscribers, your email provider will probably stop the emails and may even close your account because they think you are spamming people. If you use an email marketing company, they do all the mailing and you don’t have to worry. The companies also have everything you need, from sign up pages, to templates you can use for newsletters, update emails, landing pages, and whole marketing campaigns.

Email marketing companies will also handle double opt-in for your list. People have to respond to an email before they are put on your list. You may not think that you want to give people a way to not sign up, but people who do verify their email addresses are more committed to you and are better prospects than the people who don’t. The object is not to have the biggest email list, it is to have an email list of people who WANT more from YOU.

Plus email marketing companies provide an easy way for people to unsubscribe, which follows good industry standards. Again, why would you want people to unsubscribe easily? Because if they want to unsubscribe, they don’t want to buy from you, so there is no reason to have them on your list.

Email marketing companies

Mailchimp – free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month.
Aweber – first month $1, then $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers
Constant Contact – basic for$20/month
Infusionsoft – top of the line, $199 per month for up to 2,000 subscribers

Where to learn more?

Pamela Wilson and Wendy Cholbi have a free email course to help you get started. Not only is this a great introduction to email marketing, but you will see for yourself how email marketing is done. They have a double opt-in and a four part series about email lists.