Email Lists - What Every Business Owner Needs To Know
Today we're chatting about email lists. They're the big thing these days. If you have a business, everyone will say you need an email list.
Here’s why an email list is gold
If you have any idea of selling something, now or in the future, an email list is the best way to market it.
Whether you’re thinking of writing a book, starting a consulting business, selling an online product, or whatever, it really pays to set the stage now. With an email list, you can reach people who are genuinely interested in what you do, and who otherwise probably have no idea that you’re doing it.
Your email list belongs to you - Facebook could change its algorithms at any time and suddenly half your Facebook page followers aren’t seeing your stuff. Not so with an email list. If people sign up, they’re going to receive your stuff.
Finally, your list is made up of your biggest supporters - these are the people who want to hear from you, who trust and rely upon you, and when the time comes, buy from you.
How do I set up an email list?
It’s quite simple. First, you need an email marketing program. I used to use Mailchimp (which is free for the first 2000 subscribers), now I use ConvertKit (which costs from the get go).
Yes, ConvertKit is expensive but it’s also super easy to use and has great features like tagging, opt in forms and sales funnels. I can’t say that I’ll stay with ConvertKit forever but for now, I’m happy with it.
Welcome people to your list
Before you get to content you need to set the scene. You want to welcome people into the fold, not just drop posts on them out of the blue.
Start with a welcome email to kick things off. Say hi and what they can expect from you, and when. Set this up so that it’s automatically sent out when someone subscribes to your list.
Then start on your content. Send weekly emails, same day, same time. Consistency is really important here. Weekly emails are often enough to keep you in people’s minds but so not often that it gets annoying.
What can you send?
I suggest you try and map this out 3 months in advance with an editorial calendar. Oh hell, Lani, I hear you saying, not another bloody editorial calendar.
I know! Believe me, I get it. Sometimes I get lax too and Monday rocks around and I think Argh! I completely forgot to write anything this week and what am I going to say?!? But planning ahead is really the best way to do it.
So…. what can I write every week?
Presumably you’ve got some of that figured out. Some people do an intro and link to their blog posts, podcasts, articles or other regular content. Others do round ups of things they’ve been doing, resources and other news. Maybe you’ll send round new products, planned launches, or whatever your business focuses on.
You want to write what your audience wants to hear. Say you’re a florist. Well, your subscribers probably want to hear what flowers are in season, how to DIY floral arrangements, and all about that big wedding you did last weekend.
Or if you’re a travel writer, tell your subscribers about your famil in Queensland, why you write best when it’s raining, and angst of writing the first draft of your epic novel.
The thing about newsletters is that they’re more relaxed than blog posts. I like to think of newsletters as a bit of a cosy club of awesome, like-minded peeps where you can be a bit upfront and honest with and show more of your personality.
Mix the good with the bad. Include the jetlag, trying to do coaching calls with a sore throat, and working with a sick child underfoot. These are the real experiences that resonate with people.
Okay, I’m inspired! Now...
How do I get people to sign up to my list?
This is the big one, isn’t it? Sure, there are lots of strategies and technical hoo-haa’s for signing people up.
But I reckon that it comes down to 2 simple things - showing people how you can help them with a specific issue, and making it easy for them to subscribe.
Let’s break that down a bit.
What does your audience struggle with? Why should they come to you for answers? You need to see how your unique business strengths intersect with your readers’ core needs.
For example, in my list I target people who want to learn digital marketing strategies that they can implement in their own businesses.
So, my posts focus on step by step guides around social media, SEO, web design, and small business strategy, as well as relevant tools and apps, etc. I want my subscribers to feel confident that they can DIY this “online stuff” with me in their corner.
And second, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to subscribe to your list. Put yourself out there in lots of different formats; people who follow your Facebook page are different to those on your Twitter feed, so be sure to engage both audiences.
How I promote my newsletter
Firstly through opt-in forms on my website. I have 7 main email list opt-ins, some which provide incentives like content upgrades (freebies, eg my small business planner) and others that are just normal sign ups.
I have signups and/or content upgrades on some of my blog posts too.
And I advertise my list regularly on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +. I also promote it on my business Facebook pages, and of course, just among friends and family. Altogether, that’s 5 different ways to promoting my list.
And you know what? It works!
Tell me, have you been thinking about starting an email list? If so, what’s holding you back?
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, SEO copywriter and Squarespace web designer based in Vientiane, Laos. She loves boosting freelancers and small businesses with web design, SEO content and digital marketing strategy. She writes an awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff". Lilani also blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos, just for fun.