The answer is simple.
Email yields far more sales than a website by itself.
Why You Need To Build an Email List
As the saying goes, “the money is in the list”.
Yet too many website owners fail to build an email list when they set up their site.
They think: surely it’s my website that attracts customers and makes the sales?
Often business owners just don’t think email will achieve anything for them. Or else because they associate email with spam.
When I first started in online business, I too made this mistake.
The fact is, email marketing is one of the most important marketing channels of all.
You’ll notice that practically every professional website out there asks you for your email address.
There’s a good reason for this.
Email enables you to build a list of prospects who can become your customers.
Who then become customers who buy from you.
What Are The Advantages of Building An Email List?
Email is Fast
Pretty well everyone now has an email address which they log onto at least once every day.
Not only that, but with smartphones nowadays, they often check their email several times a day. So your message will reach your prospects very quickly.
Email is Direct
Email gives you direct contact with your prospects.
You don’t have to go through a social media website. You already have their direct email address.
Email gives you a way of communicating directly with your prospects and customers.
An Email List is NOT Spam
There’s a difference between unwanted and requested email. Unwanted email is spam. You never asked to receive it, and yet they send it to you.
Requested email is email which the recipient has expressly asked to receive. For example by means of entering their details into a subscriber box to receive a newsletter, updates, offers or whatever.
For that reason email marketing is sometimes also know as “permission marketing” – because you have the permission of the recipient to send them email messages.
What is Double-Opt-In Email?
Most email subscriber systems also use something called “double opt-in”.
This is a procedure whereby when your reader enters their details into your email subscriber box, they are first sent an email asking them to confirm that they do actually want to receive future emails from you.
In the US, this “double opt-in” procedure for email subscriptions is also required by law.
You might think that double opt-in is a nuisance or a hindrance to building your list. It isn’t. Here’s why.
Double opt in is a safety mechanism. For your readers, for your email list service provider, and also for you.
It means you can be sure your business is not spamming anyone with unwanted emails. It also protects your email service provider because their email servers could become blacklisted if they are found to be being used to send out spam.
And because your subscribers are required to confirm by return of email that they do actually want to receive your emails they are more likely to be quality prospects.
So double opt-in email is a winner all round.
Email Shows You Have An Interested Prospect
If the person weren’t interested in what your website is offering or saying, then he or she wouldn’t bother to sign up to your list.
The fact that your reader has subscribed to your email list shows they are interested in what you are offering.
The act of signing up to your email list is in itself a first sale.
Email Builds A Relationship of Trust
Your email list enables you to provide an information service to your community.
Provided that you do actually offer useful and valuable information and offers in your emails, then your subscribers will be grateful and will trust you as a result.
Should You Offer An Incentive To Sign Up To Your List?
It’s a standard rule of thumb in email marketing that you should always offer your readers an incentive to join your email list.
This is because people always like getting things for free.
You can offer your new subscribers a free gift or free downloadable resource such as an ebook, a quick guide, a piece of software or whatever.
Some people – myself included, would say that it can be better NOT to offer a sign-up enticement.
In this way, you let your readers decide more freely whether or not to join your subscriber list purely on the basis of whether or not they really like your site or your blog.
The argument here is that the prospects on your list will then be of a higher “quality” than if they signed up chiefly just to get their hands on your freebie offer.
This is a bit of a dissenting view – and I agree it doesn’t always apply and nor is it always the best policy. On different sites, I variously run some email sign-ups with a freebie offer, and some sign-ups without.
What you can always do is to test. Try offering sign-ups for a while with a freebie and then for a while without and see what results you get.
Should You Ask For Your Subscriber’s Name As Well As Email Address?
Opinions here also differ. Generally the tendency is for sign-up rates to be higher when you only request the subscriber’s email address.
Again, it’s partly a question of quality of sign-ups versus quantity of sign-ups. The only real way to know for sure in your case is to test each version.
What Should You Email Your Subscribers About?
You should use your email list to provide useful information, offers, tips, advice, news and on on which is relevant to them and related to your business and your products and services.
This can be in the form of a digest of your latest blog posts, latest news from your site, or a specially written email or a fully fledged newsletter.
Make sure you write your emails using proper content marketing principles.
Content marketing is a whole subject in itself, but basically it means getting your reader interested in what you offer, providing something useful to him or her, describing a solution to their need, and finally including a call to action.
This call to action does not have to be an immediate prompt to buy – “click here to purchase xyz”. It can be a referral to a post or article on your site, to another sales page, or to an affiliate link.
Always provide information and value first and foremost and demonstrate how your offers provide value to your readers and meet their needs.
Should You Hard Sell To Your List?
Opinions here vary. But I would say: basically no.
There are some people that pound the hell out of their mailing lists, sending sales pitch after sales pitch.
I pity the recipients of those sort of emails. I also pity the people that send them, because they are showing that they understand about as much about content marketing and email marketing as a bull in a china shop.
The hard sell approach may yield some sales, but the rest probably switch off, or unsubscribe – for good. No one wants to be hit over the head with heavy incessant sales pitches. So they are not doing their business any good.
People tend to find that style of email annoying and it gives them the feeling they are being spammed.Even if – because of the double opt-in – they actually aren’t.
If your subscribers find your emails annoying or get the impression that you are relentlessly hammering away at them, it’s very easy for them to delete your mails whenever they come in without even opening them. Or to simply unsubscribe from your list. It only takes a couple of clicks.
This doesnt mean you can’t sell to your subscribers. This is after all the whole point in the first place.
It just means you should approach the task much more gently.
Don’t forget people have willingly given you access to their own email address. So treat it with respect.
The best approach is to provide relevant useful information for your subscribers and always put their interests first.
How Often Should You Email Your Prospects?
This again is a matter of opinion. Some say every few days when your subscribers first join and then gradually tailing off to once a week or so.
The most reliable answer I can give here is: whenever you have something useful and valuable to say, or to offer, to your subscribers. Otherwise leave them alone!
Don’t just email them for the sake of it or because “it’s been a week” or whatever since you last emailed them. That is not a valid reason.
Whatever you do, never let your list “go to sleep”. This means not sending out emails for a long period eg months, and then suddenly emailing them again out of the blue.
If you let a list go to sleep, chances are many of your subscribers will have forgotten about you by the time you come to mail them at last once again, and you could end up with accusations of “spam” as a result.
There are ways of “waking up” an email list which has been allowed to go to sleep, and I’ll being talking about those in a future post.
Should You Use An Autoresponder For Your Emails?
An autoresponder is one of the great things about email marketing.
Some people even refer to their email subscriber system as “the autoresponder”.
Your email marketing account gives you the ability to send out pre-written emails automatically to new subscribers at set intervals.
Usually you will want to set up a series of emails in the autoresponder for your new subscribers to receive.
Whether or not, and how much you should rely on autoresponders to send out emails is a matter of opinion.
Some believe it’s better to write only fresh emails to your list and not to use the autoresponder beyond a couple of initial welcome emails for your subscribers.
I have to say I am also a bit of a dissident here. I find a lot of autoresponder content that I get sent from people is low quality and I tend to dislike it.
The problem is that it’s all too easy for people to load up any old content or a sequence of poorly written emails to their list which they then leave to the autoresponder to send out. It’s the automation thing which attracts them. And this easily leads to spammy-style autoresponder emails.
You can also use your email list service to send your subscribers a digest of your latest blog posts.
Some people say you shouldn’t do this or that it “devalues” your list. Or that you will not be getting the maximum benefit from your list in this way.
Again, I disagree.
It depends on how good and how relevant your website content is. If your content is ace quality, then why shouldn’t you send out a digest of your content to your list for example in the form of a newsletter?
In the case of this site, BreakingOut.NET, my posts tend to be pretty long. So I just send out a short summary which tells my email subscribers what it’s about. They can then click on the summary link if they want to read more and see the full post come up on their browser for them to read.
In the end there’s no hard and fast answer about what is the best email content. It all comes down to what you have to say, the material you are writing about and how relevant and topical it is for your audience.
And what gives you the best overall open-rate and conversion rate.
How to Add An Email Subscriber List To Your Site
It can be possible to run an email list directly from your web-hosting provider. Some providers offer this as an add-on service.
Others expressly prohibit email subscriber lists being run from their servers.
The reason is the risk of being associated with spam is too high for them. Sending out spam can cause their servers to become blacklisted, which is the last thing a web-hosting provider wants.
Even if your provider does offer an email marketing service, paid for or not, I recommend that you instead opt for a specialist email marketing service.
A specialist email marketing provider will give you a much more professional service and the functionality will be much easier to set up on your site.
There will also be less chance of your emails being rejected as spam as they make their journey across the internet. It will also protect your own business email address and domain name from being blacklisted.
The Three Top Email Marketing Service Providers Are Aweber, GetResponse, and Mailchimp
I’ll be taking a closer look at these different services in a later post.
In particular, Aweber have a Special Trial Offer of $1 for the first month.
These are all solid, professional, email specialists which you can rely on. All of these providers offer a range of tariffs. So you can choose the one which best suits your business.
In the opinion of many people, these are the top three best email marketing service providers in the world right now.
These services provide you with the code which contains the email sign-up box facility which you can add to your site. They all have a range of different formats and styles of email box from which you can choose.
All these services provide an online web-based admin dashboard which makes it easy for you to manage and operate your email marketing operations.
There’s a load more to be said about email marketing. In fact email is practically a whole marketing specialty in itself. I’ll be talking about email marketing in more detail later.
No matter what business you are in, or what product or service you are selling: if you have a website and you want your visitors to become customers – and long term customers, then you need to be building an email list.
So don’t delay – get start building your email list right now.
Good Luck with your email marketing. And don’t forget:
The Money Is In The List!
Here are those three email marketing service providers once more:
Aweber at www.aweber.com
GetResponse at www.getresponse.com
AWeber proves it to thousands of businesses every day.
Learn how email marketing software
can get you more sales, too.
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