Most Internet entrepreneurs know that having a mailing list is very important to your business. You can use social networks to reach out to potential customers, but you need a mailing list to maximize your reach.
Seven Reasons Why You Need a Mailing List
- Email doesn’t come and go.
- It’s yours, forever.
- List members are more committed.
- It’s easy to automate.
- It converts well.
- It drives traffic to your site(s).
- Email is everywhere.
Email Doesn’t Come and Go
Today social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and WhatsApp are popular. But do you remember Myspace? Friendster? Digg? What’s next?
Building your marketing solely on a social network is dangerous, because today’s hot network may become tomorrow’s Myspace. Also, someone else makes the rules, so what works today on Facebook might not work tomorrow. It’s happened already – Facebook used to show all your posts to people who “liked” your page, but now only a small fraction of your posts ever get seen, unless you pay to boost your posts.
In contrast, email has been around for as long as the Internet has, and it isn’t owned by any one company. Which means…
Your Email List is Yours
Your email list is yours – not Facebook’s, not LinkedIn’s – yours. So you can send to it when you like, you can change email providers, and your list can come with you. Nobody can change the rules and take that away from you.
Of course, you need to use your mailing list responsibly. People have given you their trust by signing up for your list, so you must respect that and treat them well, or they’re going to unsubscribe.
But since they’ve signed up…
List Members are More Committed
By opting into your mailing list (probably through double opt-in), your list members have made a commitment to you and your business. People protect their email addresses and give them out a lot less frequently than they click “like” on a Facebook page. Naturally, your mailing list is filled with people who want to be on that list and want to hear from you.
Email Is Easy to Automate
There are several services – free or paid – to automate your mailouts. I use MailChimp; there’s also AWeber and Constant Contact among others. Right now I use the free version of MailChimp but as my list grows, I will switch to a paid version.
All of these services maintain your list of emails, but it’s your list and you can download the list and transfer it to a different service if you like. You can schedule emails to send whenever you like, so a good practice is to queue up some emails so you always have some “in the pipe”… especially for times when you go on vacation or are otherwise engaged.
With paid services, you can automate “drip campaigns” to send sequences of email messages to new subscribers or for sales campaigns. You set up a series of emails, determine the interval between emails, and the service does the rest. In many cases you can even put some decision making into the sequence; imagine asking a question in one of your emails with two links, and having the sequence change depending on which link they click.
You can also “segment” your list so you can send emails to only a particular portion of the list. In my list I have a segment that has signed up for weekly photography emails, so I can send most emails to the whole list but only send the “photo blasts” to the segment.
Email Converts Well
Compared to paid advertising, email converts well.
A “conversion” is an action taken – in general it means the user clicks on a link.
Email conversion rates in “house” mailing lists (that people signed up for) tend to have open rates (person opens the email) around 20-30% with conversion rates from 2-5%, whereas online ads tend to have conversion rates more in the 1-1.5% range (source 1, source 2).
A lot depends on the quality and size of the mailing list. You can basically buy a large mailing list by spending money on ads to get people to join your list, but you won’t get users who are as engaged as those who joined because they believed your list would provide value to them.
My list currently has an open rate of about 50% with a click rate around 35%, but it’s a small list. I expect both of those to drop as the list increases in size.
Email Drives Traffic To Your Site
Through your drip campaigns and other automated emails, you can toss links in to various pages on your sites. For example, my “photo blast” emails often include links to blog posts that tell more about the particular images I am sharing. People do click on them, so that’s more visitors to your sites and potentially more sales.
Email is Everywhere
With the advent of smartphones, you can get email everywhere, any time and it’s easy to engage with it on the spot. If you’re like me at all, you can’t stand that little envelope icon with the number on it – you have to click it!