Every writer, creator and entrepreneur needs an email list. It’s that simple. If you aspire to publish and sell a book, create and sell an online course, or market and sell a product, you need to have an audience of engaged people. An email list is how you create that audience.
Building an email list is by far the best way to build long lasting connections with people, which is the basic definition of marketing. Without an email list, you will always struggle to get your products and ideas to spread.
So why should you build an email list? Well there are many reasons, but here’s 3 of them:
1. It’s better than social media
In the first few weeks that Gary Vaynerchuk came out with his book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook,” Gary sold about 25,000 copies (according to Nielsen BookScan).
At the time of his book’s release, these were Gary’s social media numbers:
Twitter – 1,016,311
LinkedIn – 152,735
Facebook – 147,604
Instagram – 34,563
Pinterest – 15,778
That’s a combined total of 1,366,991 followers. Now imagine all the time and hard work needed to build a social media following like that, only to sell 25,000 copies in the first few weeks. That’s only a 1.82% conversion.
But what about your social media? Consider how much time you’re spending on trying to build your own social media following with the hope that it will convert into sales. This process could be quite frustrating for a lot of people.
If you’re focusing a large amount of your time on growing your social media following with the goal of selling a product or building an engaged audience, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. Don’t look at social media as a mass communication tool. Instead look at it as a 1 on 1 tool and focus on building your email list for mass communication.
2. You own your email list
What would happen if you built an audience of 100,000+ people on Twitter, Snapchat, or YouTube and it shut down? You’d probably have some problems. But if you had built an email list, you wouldn’t be affected by things like that.
So many brands spend so much time building their audience on Facebook and Twitter. The only problem is, they don’t own that distribution. Facebook and Twitter does. If one day, Facebook decides to change their algorithm that decreases the reach your posts can have, you have a problem. Or if Twitter makes some bad decisions that lead it to fail, you lose the audience you spent months and years trying to build.
The truth is, even though social media is a large part of online business today, it’s actually not the most powerful asset a business can own. When it comes to an online business, social media is important, but not nearly as important as your email list. With email, you don’t have to go through media channels to access your audience. Instead, your message can be delivered straight to your readers. You control your own distribution channel, rather than using someone else’s.
3. Better engagement
People consume email differently than they do other media, which is why email converts better than any other mediums. On Facebook, for example, you’re able to reach an average of 2-4% of your fans with a post. Similarly, only a small percentage of your followers on Twitter will see your tweet. Email, however, reaches an average of 78% of your audience.
More importantly though, email sits in your reader’s inbox until it gets acknowledged. Your emails aren’t just a tweet or a status update that’s there one second and gone the next. You’re right in someone’s inbox. This is why you can continue to get clicks on a campaign for days, weeks, and even months after you sent it out. On the other hand, your audience only has a few hours to a few minutes to see your post or tweet on Facebook or Twitter before it’s too late.
Email isn’t dead
You’ve probably heard that “email is dead” or that it’s better to use Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook these days. This just isn’t true. Email is still the most popular way people communicate online. Yes, communication online has changed, but as Barry Gill from the Harvard Business Review says,
“Email is not dead, it’s just evolving. It’s becoming a searchable archive, a manager’s accountability source, a document courier. And for all the love social media gets, email is still workers most effective collaboration tool.”
Here’s what a few marketing experts also have to say about email:
Neil Patel, co-founder of KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg and Quick Sprout, says,
“Out of all the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them.”
Ramsay Taplin, founder of The Blog Tyrant, says,
“Nothing gets engagement like email. Twitter, Facebook, etc. is almost irrelevant by comparison. If someone has given you their email address they are ready to engage with your content or products. And, best of all, they’ll help you promote it so you can get more email subscribers.”
Tim Grahl, the book launch marketing expert who has helped launch many books to become NY Times and WSJ bestsellers, has tested the power of email marketing in his book marketing agency. Grahl found that email was nearly 100 times more effective than social media in selling an author’s book. This is also true for musicians, entrepreneurs, and retailers, who are using email to spread their ideas and build their brand.
Every single day, people are opening, reading, and engaging with email way more that social media. This is because email still plays a critical role in people’s lives. If you have something you want to market, whether it’s your personal brand, ideas, or a product, you need an email list. If you don’t have one, then you’re in trouble.
How to quickly build and grow an email list
Whether you’re a writer, a musician, or a retailer, building your email list should be your number one goal. But how do you actually get started on setting up and growing your list? Here are 5 things you need to do:
1. Get a good email marketing service
There are a lot of email marketing providers out there. In fact, way too many for an individual to try each one extensively. So let me save you some time. If you’re new or you like simplicity, I recommend signing up with MailChimp or AWeber. If you want something more technical, I recommend InfusionSoft or ConvertKit.
2. Offer something for free
People already receive too much email everyday. Their inbox is crowded, and they’re not actively looking to add more to it. So the question is, why will someone give you permission to send them even more stuff? Well, it’s because you’re going to appeal to their self interest.
People are naturally self interested so you have to answer the question that everybody has which is, “What’s in it for me?” Why are people going to want to subscribe to your email list? The simplest and best strategy for this is to give something away for free. This can be whatever you think your readers will find valuable, but it’s a way to reward subscribers with something other than just your regular content.
Here are a few ideas:
1. A free eBook: “Sign up now and I’ll send you a free copy of my eBook How To Build An Audience As A Writer.”
2. A PDF with Tips: “Sign up now to get my free PDF 4 Things You Can Do To Save 40 Hours A Week.”
3. A Course or Walkthrough: “Enter your email below to receive my free book launch marketing course.”
4. Podcasts or Interviews: “Click here to download and listen to my podcast explaining how I grew 20,000 subscribers in one year.”
Providing an incentive for people to sign up to your email list can be a difficult process for a lot of people. Mainly, because people get stuck in trying to make their giveaway perfect. Don’t worry about that. You can always change it and improve it as you go. The important thing is to just start.
When it comes to building an audience, something is always better than nothing. Whatever you do, don’t just say “Sign up for my newsletter.” This method fails because it makes it all about you, not the reader. Whatever you offer people, make sure it answers the “What’s in it for me?” question.
3. Email your list something at least once a week
In the beginning, don’t overcommit yourself to sending your list something once a day. Start small and work yourself up. The important thing is to be consistent. As Bruce Lee said,
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
When you’re just starting out, sending your list something new once a week is perfectly fine. Your main goal however is to add value and be helpful so that people continue to read and pay attention to your content.
4. Always be generous
Don’t see your email list as yours. Instead, see it as theirs. When people give you permission to talk to them, you’re given an important responsibility. You can either choose to be generous and share ideas or you can spam and interrupt. As marketing expert Seth Godin says,
“If your email promotion is a taking, not a giving, I think you should rethink it. If you still want to take the time and attention and trust of your 4,000 closest friends, think hard about what that means for the connections you’ve built over the years. There are fewer promotional strategies that are worth trading your reputation for.”
5. You don’t need a 100,000+ person email list
The biggest myth about earning a living online is that you have to have a huge list. Not true. In an interesting article, Kevin Kelly argues that in order to be successful, you don’t need a huge audience of people following you. Instead, he argues that you only need about 1,000 true fans who care deeply about the work you create.
Kelly says a thousand true fans are enough because if they really are true fans then they’ll be happy to spend at least $100 a year into you. And with 1,000 true fans, that equals about $100,000 a year for yourself, which is a great living for any individual. This concept of only having to find 1,000 true fans is great because 1,000 is a feasible number for anyone to accomplish. As a marketer, it’s your job to build trust and cultivate these kinds of relationships with your audience.
The secret weapon of list building is hustle. It takes a lot of hard work to build and grow an email list. You may think you don’t have to build an email list, but if there’s one thing that business, content and conversion rate experts agree on, is that building an email list is crucial to your online success.
If you resonated with this article then please subscribe to my personal blog where I talk about the best ideas from the books I read. And as a thank you, you will get a free copy of my eBook How To Become A LinkedIn ‘Top Voice.’
Thank you for reading! Have a beautiful day.