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Article first published August 2014, updated April 2019

Do you struggle to convince your clients or your boss of the importance and effectiveness of email marketing?

Even though you know how effective it is, with social media marketing, growth hacking, and all the other buzzwords out there, it can sometimes be difficult to convince others.

Why build an email list: 7 expert explanations and ways to get you started

Email marketing is one of the primary drivers of traffic to this blog and the main way we communicate with our customers.

We reached out to a few of our friends (who happen to be marketing experts) and asked them to share some insights on how they have used their email list to grow their businesses, and why that list is so valuable.

What is an email list?

An email list is simply a list of emails that businesses have gathered from visitors/customers that would like to receive information, updates, discounts, and other details about your business in a digital format that is sent to their email inbox.

Email lists are important because email marketing is the best way to connect with customers vs. social media. In fact, you are 6x more likely to get higher click-through rates through emails instead of tweets. Also, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.

What is email list building?

In order to take advantage of connecting with customers through your compiled email lists, you need to work on email list building.

Email list building is the act of getting more people to subscribe to your emails. If you have a CTA on your homepage, that would act as a source to build up your email list. The more ways you can encourage visitors to subscribe to your email, the stronger your email list will be.

How do you build an email list?

There are a number of best practices you should follow when building an email list, which we’ll go through below. But first, watch this video for a step-by-step guide on how to build an email list:

 

As mentioned earlier, you want to provide visitors with more opportunities to subscribe to your email. A few ways you can do this include:

  • CTA buttons to subscribe on every landing page on your website
  • Images that pop-up or slide-in on all your landing pages
  • Surveys that are timed to pop-up while visitors are browsing
  • Post about your email newsletter on social media accounts
  • Describe what visitors will get out of subscribing to your email

Here are a few examples of how companies encourage visitors to subscribe to their email lists through their websites and social media accounts:

Here are a few examples of how companies encourage visitors to subscribe to their email lists through their websites and social media accounts:

Source: Kayak

Source: By Regina

Source: Toms

Source: Boss Business Academy Facebook

How to manage and maintain your email list

Keeping your email lists organized is crucial in having successful email campaigns. If you have a bunch of email subscribers on your newsletter list that haven’t been opening your emails, your open rate is going to be low, which will skew your results.

Keep your lists organized by using these tactics:

Segmentation

Segmentation is the act of separating email lists based on personalized preferences. When email subscribers signed up for your email lists you might have prompted them to answer a few questions.

According to a recent email marketing study, segmented emails drive 18 times more revenue than moe general emails.

You can segment their emails based on any personalized information they provided. Some examples of segmented email lists include:

  • User demographics — geographical location, age, gender, etc.
  • User email update preferences — discounts, event details, newsletters
  • Purchase history

Analyze email list data

Just about anything subscribers do on their email is tracked.

If users click through the links in the email you sent them, you can track it. If they opened your email, it can be tracked. If they interacted with your email in any way, it can be tracked.

Stay on top of your email list data to build an effective and successful email list and cater your emails to those analytics.

Re-engage old contacts

If you notice that you have a lot of inactive subscribers in your email list data, send them a re-engagement email. It’s possible they just needed a break from your emails but aren’t looking to unsubscribe entirely.

In fact, research shows that re-engaging old contacts is about 50% cheaper than spending money on converting new visitors into email list subscribers.

Here is an example of a re-engagement email:

Here is an example of a re-engagement email:

Source: Campaign Monitor

1. Neil Patel

Co-Founder of KISSmetrics, CrazyEgg, and QuickSprout

Neil PatelOut of all the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them. Not only does it have a high conversion rate, but as you build up your list you can continually monetize it by pitching multiple products. Just look at ecommerce sites like Amazon, one way they get you to continually buy more products from them is by emailing you offers on a regular basis.

And if you aren’t selling any products, you should still collect emails so you can get people back to your site on a continual basis. For example, if you have a blog, every time you publish a new post, you can notify your list, which will help increase repeat traffic.”


2. Corey Dilley

Marketing Manager at Unbounce

Corey DilleyUnbounce’s email list is the biggest asset we have for driving new acquisitions.  Why? Email marketing consistently generates 80-90% of our landing page traffic when we launch a new campaign, piece of content or product feature. Email allows us to engage our audience in a creative, personalized way that blog posts or tweets can’t.

We’ve been building our email list since before we built our product and it’ll remain one of Marketing’s top priorities until Google Telepathy is released.

Email gives marketers a creative outlet to prove that we understand a prospect’s problem, we can provide a solution and we can do it in a delightful way. Our team often rewrites emails and autoresponders a dozen times to get the wording just right, because every email is an opportunity to relate to your leads and to prove that you’re relevant.”


3. Joe Pulizzi

Founder of Content Marketing Institute

Joe Pulizzi“An email list is critical because you can’t build your content on rented land. So many brands and companies build their audiences on Facebook and Google+, which is fine, but we don’t own those names – Facebook and Google do. If we are thinking like real media companies, the asset is in the audience. Getting an email address is the first critical step to figuring out who my reader is, and hopefully in the future, my customer of some sort. If our goal is to drive sales or keep customers happy in some way, we first need to get them as part of our audience.

If I have one regret as a business owner, it’s not focusing on building our email list earlier in the process


4. Noah Kagan

Founder of SumoMe

Noah Kagan”After you wake up what is one of the first things you do in the morning? I know for me it’s checking my email; it’s like Hanukkah / Christmas morning when all these wonderful communications have been piling up over night. Some of them are annoying, but this is the preferred method of effective communication now and in the future.

When you give up communication to your customers through Facebook or Twitter you are now at the mercy of them allowing you to talk to your customers.

When you email it gets in your customers inboxes. Then it’s up to you to make sure you are sending things your customers want to receive.

Email is the most scalable way to make sales with new customers and build deeper relationship with deeper customers.

Let me give you a specific example:

AppSumo.com is a 7-figure business and 90%+ of our revenue comes from emails

Too many companies don’t ask website visitors / customers for their email address.

Why are you doing amnesia marketing? Make it easy for yourself.

  • Let your customers know when new products come out.
  • Let your customers see what you go through in building your business.
  • Feature your customers to your other customers.

Your customers WANT to hear more from you than you realize.

I’m not saying email is the end-all be-all but it’s been our magic ticket for the past few years. I encourage you to try it out and see the results for yourselves.

Every person I’ve talked to who has an email list now, always says “I wish they would have started sooner.”


5. Ramsay Taplin

Founder of The Blog Tyrant

Ramsay Taplin“Two words: protection and promotion. Protection: Google is constantly changing its algorithm and, sometimes, you can end up with a penalty without even knowing what you’ve done wrong. In that situation your mailing list is the only real protection you have.

Even if all of my search rankings disappeared tomorrow, I’d still be able to promote my blog to tens of thousands of people via email.

Promotion: Nothing gets engagement like email. Twitter, Facebook, etc. is almost irrelevant by comparison. If someone has given you their email address they are ready to engage with your content or products. And, best of all, they’ll help you promote it so you can get more email subscribers.”


6. Nathalie Lussier

Digital Strategist at AccessAlly

Nathalie Lussier“Building an email list is crucial because it’s the best way to build a relationship with potential customers in an intimate way. You’re not just a status update that’s there and gone; you’re right in someone’s inbox, where they receive other important communication from their work, family, and friends.

Emails wait in someone’s inbox until they’re read, and when you write really useful emails people might refer to them more than once, because emails are easily searchable, too.

People consume email differently than they do other media, and it still converts to sales better than other mediums at this point. The more people you have on your mailing list, the more potential buyers see your marketing messages, and I see spikes in sales every time I send an email.

Plus, when you build an email list it’s “yours” – you don’t have to worry about a third party changing the rules on you. For contrast, a free service like Facebook can decide to decrease the reach you had with your fans to encourage businesses to pay for ads, but you don’t have these types of restrictions when someone has given you permission to send them useful emails.”


7. Francisco Rosales

Founder of SocialMouths

Francis Corosales“There are many reasons why building a list is important, but I’ll go with a topic that’s popular at the moment: Reach.

Today, you’re able to reach an average of 1-2% of your Facebook Fans, the same way a very small percentage of your Twitter following sees one specific Tweet.

Email is not perfect either, according to studies, 22% of emails sent get lost in the junk or spam folders or are blocked by ISPs. But that still leaves you with an average of 78% messages delivered.

At that point, the lifespan of your message will be decided by your recipient, your email will sit in the Inbox as “unread” until it’s acknowledged.

This is the reason you keep getting clicks even several days after sending the campaign. On the other hand, the lifespan of a social media post can range between a few hours to only minutes.

Email is, by far, the most effective communication platform between your brand and its audience (or most of it).”

Wrap up

If there is one thing that business, content, and conversion rate experts agree upon, it is that building an email list is vital. Don’t be the business owner that misses out on engaging with your audience, driving new business, and protecting yourself from changes in search and social algorithms. Be the business owner that uses adequate email building tactics, so you don’t have to regret not building your email list sooner.

Have you been working on building up and keeping your email list? Sometimes it’s easier to get things done with automation, and you can do that with emails too. Check out these automated workflow ideas to keep your subscribers engaged.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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