Everyone tells you, as a business, you must have an email list. An email list is everything. “It’s all in the list,” as the saying goes.
But then you look at your list and you wonder why a list is so important. Your list hasn’t done anything for you lately. You email your list regularly and tell them about special deals and offers. But you rarely hit the industry-standard open rate of 20%, and fewer than 1% click through to your offer. The rate of new sign-ups equals that of unsubscribes. Just kind of dribbling along.
You must wonder what all the fuss is about. Here’s the answer.
When done right, your email list becomes the way you get new business. Stop! It doesn’t have to be a big list, but it does have to be a highly engaged list.
So how do you do it right? Jon and I talked about this and came up with these 6 secrets to a successful email list.
Make the list about your customers, not you or your business: Your customer, or new business lead, signed up for your email list for one reason: to get valuable information in their inbox. That’s all they care about. So, if you give that to them, they’re only going to want more.
Let’s be very clear on what “valuable” means. A valuable email solves a specific problem your customer has. It should be immediately useful to your customers.
If you don’t know what problems your customer has, it’s time to find out. You can’t fake this. With the availability of information online there’s really no excuse for doing so. First, identify your aspirational list. Who is it that’s not on your list, that you want to sign up?
Start scouring the web to uncover what your target audience cares about and wants to understand. Comments, reviews, blog responses, tweets, maybe even questions asked through the Quora.
Pay attention to the language they use as closely as you do the problems they have. If you’re selling auto parts for people who modify their cards for more speed, you’ll want to talk about decreasing drag, body kits, and import tuning.
In case you couldn’t tell, this is a never-ending process. Your customer’s needs will evolve.
Stand out from the crowd: I don’t care what business you’re in – someone else is also doing this work. Why should someone sign up for your email list as opposed to someone else’s?
Because it’s yours. Your personality combined with your particular expertise makes your email list a one-of-a-kind email a person can’t get anywhere else.
For example, I personally subscribe to and love Neil Patel’s “blog post” email. A friend recommended it to me 6 years ago, saying, “He’s brilliant when it comes to best practices in digital marketing.” I’ve read his weekly email every time ever since, and I can say he’s not so much cranky as he is blunt about the facts. He’s also funny and on-point. His emails are valuable to me, and I look for his email every email newsletter because I want his point-of-view.
Test, tweak. Test, tweak. And test some more: Let’s assume you’ve made an about-face with your email marketing: it’s all about the customer, you’ve researched their problems, and you’ve offered your singular point of view. You have a hypothesis and now it’s time to test.
You want to examine the performance of the following:
- Format of the email (length, HTML or plain text)
- Headlines (action-oriented, clever, include the first name of the person)
- Delivery times (morning, evening, day of the week)
- Link colors and more
The way to do this is through A/B testing or splitting the list.
You also want to test only one thing at a time so you don’t muddle the results.
Track your data. A Google spreadsheet can work just fine. But don’t just gather the metrics. Analyze them too.
This is also an ongoing process. No need to hit a home run out of the gate! Make incremental changes and improvements.
You don’t need to be consistent with your email schedule. Surprising your customers can shake things up and pick their interest. Yes, some people prefer regularity. As in the previous example, I like reading Neil Patel’s eMail every time.
But I also subscribe to email lists where I don’t know when I’ll be getting something. I like this approach too. When they do email me, it’s bound to be great content whether it’s out of the blue or not.
Caveat: You don’t need to be consistent, but you do need to be regular. Don’t let that list go cold! I recommend not letting more than two weeks lapse between email engagement.
Send a genuinely personal email from time to time. Connect with one of your subscribers at a time. It takes time to do this, but the reward – strengthening a connection with someone – only builds trust and credibility.
Ready to get started?