When I first started learning about online businesses, I was worried about their integrity. What would happen if thing went really wrong? I mean worst-case-scenario wrong.
If you’re a blogger, I’m sure you’ve thought about this before – right?
If something goes wrong with your clothes store, you still have the physical clothes, which you can sell to get back some of your investment. If your freelancing business loses all its clients, you can always find more and reuse your portfolio.
What happens then, if a website gets lost and you somehow cannot recover it? All the years of hard work, writing amazing articles, straight-from-the-heart personal accounts and building backlinks- is it all gone?
Not if you have an email list.
What Is An Email List?
Have you ever heard this phrase?
The money is in the list.
An email list can often be the difference between you online business becoming an incredible success and it withering away over time.
In essence, an email list is basically just that: a list of emails. These aren’t just any emails, though. They’re the emails of people who have signed up for your newsletter or to get one of your free gifts.
These people have gone from mere readers to subscribers. They’re just one step away from becoming paying customers.
Once they sign up and confirm their email address to prove they’re not spam accounts, they can receive emails from you through your email service provider. The provider I use and recommend is GetResponse – they provide a really good service and it’s way more cost-effective than the alternatives.
These emails can be broadcast emails, where you send a single email to your entire email list or an autoresponder, which is a series of automated and times emails.
Autoresponders are where the true power of an email list lies – more on this later.
Note: I have been asked before if this can’t just be done within Gmail for free. Yes, you could send bulk emails to a maximum of 100 people, but this would soon become super tedious, and you wouldn’t get the amazing automation power of autoresponders.
An Email List Brings Insurance
Going back to the previous catastrophic, absolute worst case scenario in which your website completely vanishes. This is actually very unlikely given that hosting companies like Hostgator automatically backup everything for you, but let’s say it happens.
Your email list would remain intact, which could be a real silver lining.
These are the people who have trusted you enough to give you their best email address, so you can bet they are your biggest fans.
Because email lists are kept by a separate entity – an email service provider such as GetReponse – you’ll always have access to them, and can even export it into an excel spreadsheet.
A simple email to your subscribers explaining what has happened with your original site, and directing them to your new site would take 5 minutes to write and would gain a large part of your previous readership.
Email Marketing is Super Effective
Email is one of the most widely used forms of communication. Over 200 million emails are sent out every single minute. This means that if your business uses email marketing you’ll probably find it’s you most effective form of communication.
You see, social media is great because it has an incredible reach, but it’s easy to get lost in a sea of noise. The same goes for your blog posts – you’re competing with thousands of other distractions on the internet for a piece of your readers’ attention.
Email is different. It’s more personal.
I don’t know about you, but my inbox is a sacred place where I only allow the emails I care about the most. I’ll immediately unsubscribe from all the blatant marketing emails I get from companies whom I once gave my email.
I’ll only allow emails from friends, and this is precisely where an email list is a powerful tool.
I am subscribed to lots of email lists from different bloggers and entrepreneurs. Through their emails, they’ve built a bond with me, to the point that it almost feels like I know them personally! Like we’re friends.
Their emails have proven that not only do they really know what they’re talking about but that they’re also people who were once in my situation and have managed to get to where I’d like to be.
A great example of this is Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You To Be Rich – catchy name, I know! He’s an entrepreneur who sells what I hear are some of the best courses on starting online businesses.
If you sign up to his email list, you’ll get some incredibly deep emails which show you some insights on his daily life and his story. While it seems like he’s writing these emails personally to you, it’s all automated.
It’s All About Automation
Like I mentioned earlier, what makes email marketing so effective is the ability to write autoresponders – a series of emails that get automatically sent at time intervals once someone joins your email list.
Ok, that sounded too technical…let’s use an example because that’s definitely the best way to learn.
Let’s say you run a blog that specialises in distilling vodka.
You’ve also gone ahead and created a course teaching your customers what equipment to buy and what techniques will distill the best vodka. You’ve made sure this is the best course there is out there on this pretty niche subject, so you’ve priced it at a few hundred bucks.
Now, you’ve noticed that when people get to your site they read your content – maybe even your About page – but they’re just not buying the course. So you start to build an email list with an autoresponder.
Since you’re so confident that your course is the bomb you decide to give away the first lesson for free – in exchange for an email address. This is called a Lead Magnet, and it’s meant to do just that: attract email subscribers who may become customers.
Once you get an email subscriber, you’ve set up an autoresponder that goes something like this:
- Welcome email, delivering the lead magnet – sent immediately, or day 0.
- Follow-up email asking how they enjoyed the lead magnet, and if they have any feedback – sent on day 1.
- Email with links to some of your best blog posts so that subscribers can get a feel for your content and see that you know your distilling – sent on day 3.
- Introduction to your course – day 5.
- More info on your course and testimonials – day 6.
- The big offer – this is where you make the big offer and go all out. This is when your leads will the be the warmest. If they don’t buy from you now, they probably never will. – sent on day 7.
After setting this up, you see your sales skyrocket and wonder why you didn’t do it earlier!
This is quite a basic autoresponder, and there’s definitely an art to it, but something similar to this is very effective for online businesses who want to sell something.
This series should not only get sales, but also some vital feedback from your target audience. You can then use this to improve your site, course or services.
This about this: every single person that joins your email list will receive this sequence of emails. If you’re getting 10 daily subscribers, think how many potential sales you could make!
Can you see why email marketing is so powerful?
How to Build an Email List
I’ve seen way too many blogs and websites without an email list. They have no way to capture emails and turn visits into money. This is a shame because there is so much potential!
The other thing I often see is people not using their email lists. They may send out an occasional email here and there, but they’re not taking full advantage of autoresponders to drive their subscribers to some sort of offer.
I know some websites are created for fun, but I’d wager that most want to generate some income.
Related: This is How Blogs Make Money
So if you’re a blogger who hasn’t got an email list yet, this is what I recommend:
- Think about what you could offer your audience. It could be a cheat-sheet, an ebook or a free video. Anything with a high perceived value that your audience would be happy to get in exchange for their email address.
- Set up an account with GetResponse. This is the service I use here on Escaping to Freedom, and I’m more than happy with it. It’s more cost-effective than the competition and has tools that you’ll need in the later steps.
- Create the lead magnet – this should be kick-ass. Make sure your subscribers get a great first impression from you. One of my lead magnets is a PDF called “The 7-Step Guide to Escape the 9-5 and Live the Life You Want”. I used Canva to create it.
- Design opt-in boxes to place across your site using GetResponse itself. Include one on your sidebar, after each of your posts and on your homepage. Experiment with having a pop-up as well, as they are incredibly effective.
- Write an autoresponder series of emails to be sent automatically when new subscribers join your email list, leading to one of your products affiliate links or even offering your services.
- Keep testing new lead magnets, opt-in boxes, titles and designs. Always take a data-driven approach to get the best results. That’s the engineer in me talking 😉
Go through these steps and you’ll soon accumulate a sizeable email list that you can leverage to take your website to the next level!
A Case Against MailChimp
Most bloggers who start out begin collecting emails with MailChimp because it’s free up to a list of 2,000 emails. I considered using them as well when I started, due to the savings I would make.
The biggest problem with MailChimp is that the free version doesn’t let you send autoresponders! This was the main reason why I decided to look for a better email service provider and ended up getting GetResponse.
Getresponse only costs $15 per month, which is a small amount considering the fact that it allows you to create effective autoresponders, opt-in boxes and even landing pages.
How I’m Using My Email List
Pat Flynn, who I really look up to, has often said that this is one of his biggest regrets:
One of the biggest mistakes I made as a blogger and business owner was not starting an email list right from the start.
I definitely took note of this and began my own email list within a few days of starting my blog. I’ve now grown my list to just under 350 people – small numbers for most bloggers’ standards, but the grown has been exponential – and I’ve been able to use it to drive traffic to my blog and to get the opinion of my readers.
In fact, a few weeks ago I asked my list whether they’d like to see monthly income reports from me – the results were great, and they lead to my first income report last month.
Later this year, one of my goals is to create a course. I don’t know exactly what it will be about yet, but wanna guess how I’m going to find out?
By asking my email list!
I will be very open about this whole process later this year, and I’ll certainly be leveraging autoresponders to drive sales. Stay tuned!
PS. If you’d like to see an example of a lead magnet that’s been working really well, join my email list below: