I wrote this originally as a guest post on Blog For Profit last year. After listening to Infusionsoft’s Joe Manna give his PodcampAZ presentation, I thought I’d repost it here since the reasons haven’t changed.
I’ve slightly updated and edited this to reference some changes since last year. Enjoy.
Email marketing is one of those touchy subjects. Some love it. Others fear it or don’t understand it. Some recent conversations on Twitter say it’s dying or (fill in with new technology of the day) is an email killer (this conversation has been going on for over the last year). When I hear these statements I know this means email marketing will be around for a while.
While building and maintaining an email list can involve a little work, the rewards are well worth it. I’m not going to go into list maintenance, segmentation or, marketing strategies here. And, don’t let those scare you from starting. This is to help you understand why email marketing is important to you today and why you want to build an email subscriber list as soon as possible.
1. Everyone Online Has At Least One Email Address
This is probably the most important reason you want to build an email list. Email is the only form of online communication where everyone participates in. It’s the biggest social network online.
A fraction of all people online have a Facebook, Twitter or Google+ account. Although many people are flocking to drop their brands into these playgrounds, they’re only hitting a small percentage of the online population.
Before you can even sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or virtually any other site on the Internet, what’s the one thing they’ll ask you for?
Yes, they’ll probably ask you for your name and password however, all these sites will ask you for an email address.
Why is that?
Because everyone has an email address.
People read their email. (I’m going to ignore spam and email delivery issues here.)
Unlike most social media options, email sits in an a recipients inbox waiting patiently to be opened. It doesn’t matter if your reader is on vacation. In seven days, when they return from the beach, your email will still be sitting there waiting to be read and it will be one of the first things they go through when they’re back online.
Which leads me to…
2. Email Is Important To People Online
Many people hop on Facebook everyday to find out what aunt Gertrude is up to in Florida. They play their games, share links and patriotic sayings, but they don’t wonder, “What’s the next important business message I’m going to get on Facebook?”
Email is different.
We check it regularly to see if anything important has come in. We have it automatically load on our phones so we can be accessible where ever we are. You never know when your next big deal will come in. Email is where we go to really find out “what’s important?”
Yes, we all expect some junk in the inbox. It’s just like traditional snail mail. We sift through it eagerly searching for something more exciting than the “new process for putting covers on the TPS reports.” We want to see what exciting friend has emailed us. We check to see if smelly Stan down the hall was fired yet.
Email marketing is where you come into the picture. This is where you provide a small escape from the day-to-day boredom of life. You have the opportunity to give your list something of value and brighten their day.
Email is where you’re mixed in with friends and business. You’re on the same playing level. You’re important and that is where the money is.
3. You Own Your List
Over the past couple of years the online marketing masses have flocked to Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+. They preach loudly, “You can communicate directly with your audience.” And, they’re correct. Social media provides wonderful tools to do that. Social media marketing is a great form of permission marketing. You get real time interaction and the ability to create a quick and easy following with hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of followers and fans with a few simple clicks. But, what if?
What if, with a few simple clicks, Facebook deletes your personal or fan pages? What if Twitter’s fail whale makes a permanent appearance and never leaves? Chances of it happening are slim, right? But, what if?
These are great places to start a conversation and engage readers however, once you’ve been kicked off you’re out of the conversation. You don’t own your content. You don’t own anything.
You can’t access your market anymore. And, if you don’t have an email subscriber list you have absolutely no way of contacting your readers to tell them what happened. None. Bummer. Your marketing strategy was just flushed down the intertoilet.
An email subscriber list is yours. It’s yours to have and to hold, until death (or unsubscription) do you part.
Because it’s your list, you can download a copy and save it to your hard drive. If you have issues with your email provider, you can move it to another provider and magically continue business with little, if any, interruption.
And, since it is yours, it’s an asset to your business. Bonus! If you someday decide to leave or transfer your business you’ll have a tangible asset of value to sell to a buyer and increase the value of your business. (I’m not talking about buying email lists. That’s stupid and don’t ever do it. EVER! I’m talking about selling your business and how an email marketing list, like a customer and prospect list, increases the value of a business.)
4. It Is Pure Permission Marketing
When a reader signs up for your email subscription they’re raising their hand and showing interest. They want more information. Give it to them.
If you’re using a double opt-in email provider (you are using double opt-in, right?) you’re ensuring your subscriber actually wants you to contact them. First they give you their email address. Next, they have to click a link in an automated email sent to confirm they signed up. These are hurdles for them to jump through. It’s a qualifying mechanism. This is permission marketing.
Now it’s up to you to keep them happy.
Many “big shot” internet marketers get you on a list and then pummel you with affiliate offers for every big launch that comes up. That’s not a great way to run a strong permission marketing list. It does work but you’ll lose a lot of the list over time and constantly need to look for new subscribers. If you want to keep your list active provide value more often than you’re promoting offers.
Send a newsletter every month or two weeks. Provide unique content not available on your site. Hint at the next big idea coming to their inbox soon. Give them a reason to stay subscribed.
They’ve given you permission. They’re not just a fan or a follower, they’re a member of your community. A member is more valuable than any Facebook fan or Twitter follower.
Give your subscribers a reason to stay on your list because you want to scream…
5. Show Me The Money!
Visitors come and go. Maybe they’ll click on a banner ad or buy your product but once they’re gone, they’re gone.
If they subscribe via an RSS reader then they’ll read your content in a 3rd party reader and rarely visit your site. They miss all your money making mechanisms on your site.
Email allows you to send them the post, a teaser, or whatever copy you want to use to drive your subscriber back to your blog or shopping cart. It forces them to see your ads and other money making mechanisms on your site.
Plus, and here’s the fun part, you can email special offers for your products/services without publishing it live on your site. If you want to have a special money making weekend you can send an email or two that lead back to a special page on your site with a unique offer just for subscribers. Or, you can send an affiliate offer of a product you recently fell in love with and want to share with your email subscribers. Either way, it’s a more responsive way to making money than publishing a post to your site and hoping people will see it. It’s the original social media business strategy.
6. Email: The Original Social Media Listening Spot – Bonus Reason!
Social media marketing is about jumping into the conversation going on with your customer and prospects right now. Well, when you have an email marketing list you can easily ask for a response to whatever topic you work with. It’s a targeted social media marketing campaign.
Consumer behavior can be changing and fleeting. If you want to know what’s going on in the mind of your customer, you can spend all day monitoring and waiting for people to mention you and the subjects you’re involved with. Or, you can send an email to your email list and ask them to email you their thoughts.
Many people are afraid to leave comments on blogs or make public statements to you on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ pages. They don’t want to be publicly embarrassed.
Email is considered private. It’s between two individuals. When you treat your subscribers with respect and ask for opinions you’ll get them.
Direct marketing, to me, has always been about the relationship you have with your customers. You have to be open and willing to accept all responses. Treat them with respect, listen to their opinions, and you’ll be in a better position to respond if you hear something along social media channels.
How Soon Will You Start?
If you have any experience with direct marketing or permission marketing you may have heard, “the money is in the list.” If you haven’t started building an email list then I hope this is a friendly jolt to start building your email subscriber list today.
It doesn’t require much effort to maintain and, just like other pieces of the online marketing puzzle, once you start you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. It’s the best way to build a relationship and create customer loyalty.
If you’re using email now, what motivated you to start building your list? If you’re not, what’s stopping you?
If you haven’t signed up for email updates yet, do it now below!
Here are some more popular email providers I recommend.
- Aweber – Probably the most popular and respected system out there. This is great option for new or experienced marketers. Their support is top-notch.
- Mailchimp – Has been growing rapidly and a great start for those new.
- SendPepper/OfficeAutoPilot – They’re easy to use and offer growth for fully automated marketing.
- Infusionsoft – When you’re ready for fully automated marketing system.