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Do I need to be collecting email addresses from my customers? I invite them to be part of my Facebook group/follow me on Twitter/etc. Isn't that enough?
I have a three letter answer to this question:
Should we go back to eating ice cream now? 🙂
No Brandi… WHY should I have an email list?
Your email list is the only thing that you actually own.
You don't own Instagram followers, Facebook likes, or Twitter followers. When you count on these sites to stay in touch with your customers, you're putting the fate of your business in their hands. Have you heard the story of the company that almost went out of business because Google changed their algorithm?
It's a very real risk you run. Brands invested all of their marketing efforts in building huge followings on MySpace, just in time for everyone to flock to the newest social media channel on the block – Facebook.
And any of these sites can go out of business, change their business models, or just block or delete your account.
Where are all your followers and likes now?
With an email list, you own that contact information. Forever. No algorithms, no changing business models. Just clean contact information that you can use to reach your customers.
Plus, email lists have great conversion rates and can easily give you a channel to communicate with your customers one-on-one. Whether you want to let them know about an upcoming promotion or a new product, get their feedback, or simply share industry news, there's nothing quite like email to make those connections.
Here are a few things you can offer to get people to part with their email address:
- Special pricing offers (especially good for shop owners – online or physical)
- Exclusive content not available on your website
- Early access to content before it is available to the general public
- Freebies like eBooks, downloads, eCourses, whitepapers, video lessons, worksheets, or teaser content from larger products.
- Introductory strategy sessions (like a complimentary email consultation or 30-minute phone call)
- Webinars or other training programs
Of course, once you have people on your list, you also need to keep them there.
4 rules for treating your email list well:
- Don't sell your list to other people. We have trusted you with our email address. Selling that information destroys that trust.
- Give what you promised. If you say you're going to email once a week with content, email once a week. If you promise unique content that's not available on your website, don't just send links to blog posts.
- Balance true value with promotions. It may be tempting to email more when you have a sale going on or a launch. But give your readers credit – they can see the difference between when you're trying to give value to your clients or just drive revenue. This is a sticky one. I've heard others say its OK to bombard your list when you're building up to a launch, and then be out of touch in between. I believe you need to provide real value throughout your relationship with a client, not just when you have something new to offer.
- Be authentic. Your subscribers traded their email address to get more of you. Your voice should be consistent across your blog posts, social media profiles, and emails.
I'm just working on my brand or platform. Do I need an email list more than social media followers?
Even if you're just getting started as a solopreneur, or building your personal brand and platform for future endeavors. Building your email list needs to be part of your strategy, but it's not the only thing. Of course, you don't want 10,000 promotions all over your website, driving readers crazy. You can pick between promoting your super-awesome Pinterest boards, encourage Twitter followers, inviting people to join your Facebook group, or getting email subscribers. Which should you pick?
The real answer is “test for conversion rates, then have a plan to get that email address”.
The short, get started today answer is “ask for the email address.”
As we talked about before, your email list is the only connection point that you actually own. When you build your audience on another platform (like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or even just counting on lots of search engine traffic), you're putting them in the driver's seat of your business. Even if you're just getting started, and don't have a single thing to offer yet, you can ask for email addresses to “keep in touch periodically”.
And both MailChimp and MailerLite have free tools for small businesses, so you don't have to pay until you reach a critical mass of readers. (Both of these links are affiliate links, so if you choose to sign up for either service by clicking here, you'll get a discount when you upgrade and I'll earn a little bit. Win win!)
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PS. I hate SPAM even more than you do. (Not even the bacon SPAM is tempting.) Your email address will never be sold or shared with a third party.
See what I did there? You can do it too!