Why you need an email list for your business

May 10, 2018

So far we’ve covered why you need a website for your business; now it’s time to discuss one of the most important things that your business needs: an email list.

What’s an email list?

An email list is a collection of email addresses from people who’ve given you permission to email them, and it’s really important that you only email people who’ve given you permission to email them! If you obtained someone’s email address when they purchased something from you, don’t send them emails about things unrelated to their purchase—unless you clearly indicated that you’d be doing so when you collected their email address. If you misuse an email address you run the risk of being labelled a spammer by an unhappy email recipient, and your subscribers’ email service providers could start sending your emails into the junk mail folder as a result.

With all the cool, new social media out there, email might sound “so 1995”, until you read the following four reasons why email rocks and why you need an email list for your business.

Email is still the best way to reach people

I love social media and chances are that you do too, but the problem with social media is that it’s a huge distraction! You go on Instagram to respond to a comment you received on your business account. One hour later, you find yourself on a random Instagram page that curates images of curvy women and the men who love them (true story). So what happens next? Well, if you’re me, you say “Enough is enough!” and you turn off social media notifications on your phone (it helps but it doesn’t fully solve the problem). Or maybe you decide to go on a social media fast.

Email is different: we don’t usually lose an hour of our lives checking email unless we’ve been on vacation. Most of us also don’t purposely go days without checking email, and there are stats that indicate that we don’t treat email the way we treat social media. According to stats compiled by OptinMonster, email is used by more people than social media, is checked first thing in the morning more often than social media, and people prefer to receive permission-based promotional messages through email than social media. The biggest issue with reaching people on social media is that thanks to the algorithm (how social media platforms decide what you see and when), people who’ve followed you on social media won’t see the majority of your posts because most social media platforms prioritize showing you “viral” content. With email you have easy access (usually in reverse chronological order) to every email that’s sent to you; you get to decide which ones you open and respond to.

Email marketing allows you to build a personal relationship with your subscribers

Email marketing is not about sending spammy emails to people, telling them to buy your product; it’s about building a relationship with people who’ve told you that they want to hear from you. You build a relationship by sending valuable information to your email subscribers. If you sell chalk, for example, your valuable emails to potential customers could include information on how to make your chalk last as long as possible, the best way to clean chalkboards, or pictures of inspirational chalkboard art. In addition to providing this information, you can mention your products or services, but this should only be done after you’ve given your subscriber a lot of value for free, with no strings attached.

Imagine if you had to sit down and draft an email to each of your subscribers, one after the other: that would be intense! Thankfully, there are a number of email service providers that help you with the automation and delivery of your emails so that you can draft your email sequence once and have the emails delivered—or dripped—to recipients based on when they join your email list. This ability to automate your email marketing is powerful because it frees you to engage in real time on social media, and to write blog posts.

If you ask subscribers to share their first name when they join your email list, you can take your automation a step further by inserting the subscriber’s name into your emails—this gets a wonderful response when it’s done well, but make sure you’ve inserted the code that does this properly: we’ve all gotten an email that says Hello {insert first_name} or similar and it’s kind of awkward! Also, don’t use the recipient’s name too often in your email—it can come across as overly familiar.

With advanced email list management, you can create groups of recipients and fine-tune what each group receives. For example, some subscribers to my email list may only want DIY editing tips, while others who would rather hire me to edit their work might only want to receive emails letting them know when my editing services are on sale.

Email marketing allows your business to stay on the minds of potential clients or customers until they’re ready to invest with you

In a perfect world, you’d release a product or launch a service, announce it on your website and on social media, and sell out immediately. The reality is that people have to hear about your offering at least seven times in some cases before they buy it. Along with blogging, email marketing is a great way to keep your business on the radar of your potential client or customer—just make sure you’re providing value and not fluff because your email subscriber can and will exercise their right to unsubscribe at any time and you’ll have to start nurturing a whole new subscriber from scratch.

With an email list, no matter what happens, you can always start again

One of an online business owner’s worst nightmares is having their social media account or website hacked. Before you smile and say that you’re too “under the radar” for this to affect you, let me tell you what happened to me. A website that I had owned for many years was hosted on a server that hosts other websites for other people. It turns out that one of those websites belonged to someone who was doing something illegal and during the course of the investigation, all the websites on that server were taken down, even those that did not belong to the criminal! Thankfully, I had a fairly recent backup of my website, so instead of losing years of blog posts and comments, I lost a couple of months’ worth of content, but it was an unpleasant event and as a result, I now do daily and weekly backups of my websites. What would you do if your clients no longer knew where to find you online?

If your social media account gets hacked, and you’re fortunate enough to get your account name back so you can rebuild, that’s a win. But how do you let your followers know that your social media account name has changed?

If you have an email list, having your website or social media accounts eliminated for whatever reason gets downgraded from a business catastrophe to an inconvenience. You can simply email your list, let your subscribers know what happened, and direct them to the new location of your website or social media account. It’s also handy to have the ability to communicate with your current and potential clients and customers when short-term things happen, like your website going offline temporarily while you upgrade it, or you going “off the grid” for three months while traveling the world.

Getting started with an email list is easy: MailChimp* and Mailerlite* both offer free versions—sign up today and if you have any questions about setting up your email list, leave them for me in the comments below.

*These are affiliate links which means that at no additional cost to you, if you were to purchase something from MailChimp or Mailerlite, I’d be rewarded for referring you—but you don’t need to buy anything to start using these platforms!

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Copy Editor

Elevate My Writing is a copy editing service for online business owners. You’re the expert on what you do; my job is to take what you write about what you do and polish it so that you make the right first impression and present your brand in the best possible light!

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