Email Marketing: Is Email List Building Still Worth It?

For years  now, marketing experts have said that to grow a business, you need to build a mailing list. Is this still true?

Build a following and fuel them upWe hear advice like: “The money is in the list”.  It comes from marketing giants like Dan Kennedy, Copyblogger’s Brian Clark, and others.

Other smart people will tell you that email is passe, old hat, or even dead and you don’t need an email list to succeed:

(While reading, PC Magazine launched  a pop-up to get my email address. So I don’t think they really believe email is dead either.)

Even in my very own small world, there’s real proof in the numbers.

The People Who Volunteer to Get Your Updates are Worth Special Notice

Even a small list at an early stage can show you the value of building and engaging a band of voluntary followers.

There was a new business I have had the honor to help. The marketing uses two mailing lists: 1) professional contacts gathered from business activity, and 2) strangers who subscribed to get the e-book on the website.

The first campaign sent the same press release to each list at the same time. But the groups responded very differently —

Known Contacts Volunteer Subscribers
Opened message 13% 37.5%
Clicked link 0 1.8%

Takeaway:  The voluntary followers had more than twice the open rate of people who knew the business owner.  The only clicks to the website came from subscribers, not his contacts.

I hope it encourages you and excites  you to see the potential to find new interest in your work from people you don’t know.  The next question is –  how do you nurture that interest?

It takes more than faith, a blog and a website to get the phone ringing. It takes effort to get to know and interact with the people your subscriber list introduces to you.

How to Turn Fleeting Website Visits into Business Opportunities

The web is a great way to find new people. But a visit is a fleeting interaction. If you want return engagement, you need a way to connect with the visitors most likely to pay more attention.

One great way is to get subscribers. Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram run on subscribers.  You sign up, share news, and follow other users. On YouTube, the most successful entreprenurs make sure to tell you to subscribe to their channel.

  • “Did you like this video? If so, subscribe to my channel, and it would be amazing if you shared this wit all of your friends” Marie Forleo’s standard closing on MarieTV (133,302 subscribers and counting).
  • “If you’re new or your finding my video for the first time, go ahead and click subscribe right now. That way you’ll know when I upload a new video and it’s free” Zak George, dog trainer with 194,494 subscribers.
  • “Subscribe now” Last frame, Rhett and Link’s Good Mythical Morning (4.7 million subscribers)

The best structure to re-connect that we have as small business owners is the newsletter sign-up. For the small business website, the quickest, easiest path to re-engagement we can get at the lowest cost is freely given permission to send email.

Put more bluntly,

That’s a little harsh.  If you’re not using an email list to build a following, you’re just missing out on a powerful source of fuel for your business. Running without a list is like trying to drive up a mountain with an empty tank.  Even though it takes time, money and effort to attract a following, it’s to build an asset: an following. A good following can be the force that pulls you up the hill.

Having the right subscribers and followers is the gateway to getting the clients you want. It starts as you offer your ideas for those you want to help. Set up a signup box (using your choice of tools like Mailchimp, Aweber, Constant Contact or others). Forget about trying to be all things for everyone.  Single out those who show they value what you say, so you can explore their interests, intentions, and business.

A Special Wish To You For 2015

If there is one gift I could give you all as we turn toward a new year, it would be this:

I wish for you the joy of gathering a tribe, and getting to know the people in it. I hope your work on this will be fun, like a game: “What can I create and send to help those I want to help? What will they find most interesting and important?”

Of course it is hard work. Thinking about your customer, writing, posting and tweeting takes focused effort. We all fall into publishing slumps. I hope the goal will encourage you: the opportunity to find great clients through those who subscribe. The subscription is the best low-cost tool we have to begin the process of making strangers into followers, fans and clients.

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