The Finding Your Focus Podcast is now called The Tiffany Farley Podcast! Previous content shared on findingyourfocus.co will now be hosted here at tiffanyfarley.com. Same great content- just a fresh home and look!
In this episode, I want to share with you 5 reasons that you NEED an email list for your business and the action steps you can take to get yours started today!
First I think it’s important that I start by explaining what an email list actually is and why you should care about one
if you own a business, or even if you are thinking of starting a business in the near future, because whether you are in the creative industry like photography or graphic design- maybe you run a coffee shop, or you’re starting a gym- whatever your business is- whether it’s online or a physical storefront- you are going to want to know what an email list is and why it matters enough to have one.
An email list- or often referred to in short as “your list” is a list of email contacts that are collected over time that allow you as a brand to send out announcements, special offers, sales, relationship building content, and free valuable resources to help market and grow your business.
If you have an email address, which, I’m going to just go ahead and make the assumption that you do, you are already familiar with email marketing MORE than you probably realize. When brands and businesses send you emails about sales they are having- or a new product that’s being offered- they are using email- YOUR email- to market and grow their business.
It’s a direct line of communication between their business and your inbox. Now, you already might be thinking- Hold up Tiffany- I HATE that kind of emails- I never want to be the business that sends annoying junk mail to my clients and customers! Well- that’s a good thing. Because neither do I.
Caring about what you send your clients and customers and how you market your business to best represent your brand- that’s really important. So let’s keep talking about WHY email marketing is so important- when it’s done right, and when it’s done in a way that truly serves your audience.
One of the most important things you can keep in mind when it comes to marketing your business- is knowing where you own your audience and where you don’t.
Think of it as owning vs renting.
And what I mean by that is you can build your Facebook Page Likes and Your Instagram Following and Your YouTube Subscribers- but you need to remember that you do not own any of those platforms. Essentially, you are actually BORROWING those platforms.
I know it’s not a happy thought- but the truth is- Instagram could lock you out of your account tomorrow. For no reason at all! Your account could get hacked and you might have to start over. Crazy stories and glitches happen, often without cause.
What if your Facebook Page just disappeared? Or what if good ol’ Zuckerberg changed the algorithm AGAIN? Reducing your organic reach significantly so that next to none of your followers are even seeing what you post anymore.
The thing is- if you are solely depending on those platforms alone to connect with your business audience for your sales and your bookings and sharing about your new products and offers-it’s just not wise. Because it’s NOT your platform. You can use them, and definitely should, but you’re not in total control of them.
And that my friend, is where Email Marketing comes in. It’s not new, but I am telling you, it’s still relevant- and there are more creative ways you can implement this marketing strategy than ever before. It doesn’t replace the value of marketing your business using the platforms of social media- not by a long shot- but building and nurturing an email list is SO important to include in your marketing efforts.
Your email list can be one of your business’s most valuable assets. It’s a direct line of communication between you and each person in your audience.
SO. Need some further convincing? I want to give you 5 Reasons I think you NEED an email list for your business.
Number One. Your email list is something you own. Unlike social media where you are using a platform that does not belong to you and can change their rules and reach and even your access at any time- your email list is a line of communication that YOU are in charge of.
Let me ask you a question- if Facebook locked you out tomorrow- would you have a trusted way of connecting to your business audience?
If your Instagram account got hacked would you be able to fill seats to that online course or sell that new product or service?
Your email list is valuable, and it’s not rented property. It’s an asset you own, and you can be control of.
Reasons Your Business Needs an Email List Number 2- is that the lanes are more crowded now. And what I mean by that, is there’s a lot of noise out there. Marketers are intensely competing for consumer attention like never before. You can’t go on a social platform without seeing a business ad or some kind of promotion.
I mean just think about it- Everyone is trying to sell you something. But Email marketing is one of the ways that you can stay connected with your audience in a personal way, and nurture that relationship that brings a person from having little to no idea who your business is or what you offer- to being a loyal customer and fan.
Listen, I too get the kind of promo emails in my inbox that I wonder- when did I sign up for this? Who is this even from? And yes, it’s annoying and I either trash it without even opening it, or I open the email just to quickly unsubscribe. But at the same time, I can ALSO think of a handful of brands that send me emails that I almost ALWAYS open and read from start to finish.
Because they share valuable content that I’m interested in. They are from a business and brand I choose to stay connected to.
And the key- is that- is all of their emails aren’t trying to sell me something. But when they do sell something- I am much more likely to buy from a brand that I know and trust and have been following already- than I am someone I have never heard of. Having an email list, that you share valuable content with, is a way to be heard above the noise because you’re nurturing that brand relationship on a deeper level.
A third reason your business needs an email list is because you can get creative and make it anything you want! Maybe you are thinking to yourself, “Man- I just wish I were better at writing because THEN I could really use email marketing to grow my business!”But here’s the thing to remember- with technology today- you can get SO incredibly creative with the way that you send emails to your customers and your clients. There’s no rule that says you HAVE to send a written email of just text!
You can share images.
You can link to a video- even just one that was recorded on your phone!
You can attach an audio file and READ your email to your customer and create this really personal, branded line of communication.
And honestly- that’s actually how I ended up even getting brave enough to launch this podcast in the first place. It all started when I began to send audio in my emails to my list, and my audience responded SO supportively every single time I did- saying how much they loved how personal it was, and howas a mom she could listen to it on her school commute and how it stood out in their inbox as something different and unique.I could see that using my voice, was actually building such a stronger connection with my audience. It helped me to be brave enough to do this podcast and put myself out there as a brand more.
The options with email marketing are endless.I would seriously recommend signing up for a variety of different business email lists that are out there just so you can get ideas for what you can do. Pay attention to the subject lines that get you to open the email. See what kind of content keeps you interested. Did you click to their website or their offer? Why or why not?What was it about that email that was great to you? What do you think could have been better? And then take notes on those experiences and see them as examples of what to do and what not to do in your own email marketing.
Number 4. A fourth reason that you need to have an email list for your business is because YOU are a forward thinker.
You may be thinking that you don’t “need” an email list today- but what about one year from now? Will you be glad that you had decided to collect emails of potential clients and customers over this next year? You never know WHEN you are going to wish you had that loyal, brand following email list. I personally think that it’s important to be collecting emails and building your list, even before you have an exact plan for how to use it. I don’t want you to get stuck there, but I do think too many people wait too long to just start their email list.
Not having a sign up for emails much earlier in my own business is one of my biggest regrets! So even if you are feeling like you just can’t even think about email marketing right now because you are working on so many other aspects of building your business and even if you have NO idea what you would even send people for content if you had their email addresses-know that it is still incredibly beneficial to be collecting those emails even if you don’t plan on sending emails out on a regular basis or with any kind of strategy yet.
BecauseWHEN that big idea comes to you down the road- WHEN you decide to launch an online course or host a workshop
WHEN you open an online store or start offering a new kind of product or service- whatever it maybe- you already have a list of some of the right people to send it to.
So even if you don’t know HOW you are going to use your email list at the start- remember WHY you need one and start collecting emails even before you have a strategy for exactly how you plan to grow your brand and business using it.
And number 5 for reasons that your business needs an email list is there’s no such thing as build it and they will come. When I first rebranded my business and was about to launch my first professional looking website, I had a friend who was ahead of me in business share some really wise advice with me that I still remember to this day. She said, “Remember, even though your new website is beautiful, and you put a lot of work into it and it really shows your new brand well- publishing this website doesn’t mean that your inbox is going to automatically flood with inquiries.”
She told me, “Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a ton of inquiries just from having a new website.”
And let me tell you- that was a big wake up call for me because she was right. I was kind of thinking that a new website was all I needed to grow my business. That people were going to see how professional I was and how I had my act together online- surely they would book me just because of that.
But that’s not the case. There’s a lot of work and a lot of strategies that go into HOW people come to your website, and how YOU stay connected with them once they do. Email needs to be in your business marketing arsenal.It allows you to stay in contact with your audience that isn’t seeing every Instagram post. That isn’t pulling up your Facebook Page just to see if you shared anything there today.You want to stay in front of your audience as a website and a brand, and email marketing is a powerful tool to do that.
Am I sharing this with you as someone who is perfect at it as a business owner myself? Far from it. But I am working on improving how I use it because when I take the time to do it well, I see amazing results and am reminded of its effectiveness.
Ok, so let’s break it down into action steps- you’re listening right now and you’re saying- “Yes! This is what I need- you’re absolutely right- I need an email list for my business- but gosh I just don’t have a clue where to start.”
So let’s fix that real quick shall we?
To have a sign-up form, or what we call “opt-ins”, so that people can begin joining your email list- you first have to decide what email marketing platform you want to use!There are many different platforms you can choose between to host your email marketing with these days, but let’s keep things simple right now and I’ll just briefly mention two of the most popular email marketing platforms for small businesses who are just starting out with building their list.
One of the most widely used platforms for email marketing is called Mailchimp. Mailchimp is a great place to start because they offer a FREE plan for accounts with less than 2000 subscribers. So if you were thinking this was going to be one more thing you “needed” to grow your business but it just was going to cost you money you didn’t have to invest yet- Mailchimp might be a great fit for you.
Many creatives also love Mailchimp because of their relatively easy to use drag and drop designer, providing you the opportunity to create very visual, branded emails with images and fonts and colors- they really make that pretty easy for peopleso if you’ve ever received an email that was beautifully laid out and was really branded and maybe thought to yourself, how in the world did they make this?
They were probably creating that email inside a platform like Mailchimp!
Now, a benefit of using a platform that is widely used is that you will find a library of tutorial videos on YouTube that will teach you how to get started- step by step.
For my own business I use a platform called Convertkit instead of Mailchimp because they make targeting a bit easier in my opinion. There is a monthly cost to Convertkit, but the features make it worth it for me. So, when I say “targeting” and how Convertkit makes that easier for me, I mean that they make it easy to send specific emails to specific subscribers.
So, remember how I was saying a few minutes ago that I also would never want to be that business that was sending emails to people who thought I was being too spammy or salesy? Well, the way you avoid that is truly only sending content to people who asked for it. So by using Convertkit, I can send an email to those on my list who wanted to get updates about this podcast. I don’t have to send that email to my entire list.
Or maybe they signed up to be on the waiting list to be the first to hear when my next photography workshop opened up. I don’t want to send that workshop email to someone who isn’t a photographer because it’s not relevant to them.
So yes, that may sound kind of advanced if you’re just getting started, but I just wanted to give you a small peek into the possibilities. As you grow your list, you will most likely begin to have subscribers with different interestsand so sending targeted emails instead of just one massive email that everyone gets – will help keep your audience from unsubscribing because the emails they receive are interesting to them.
Of course, there are many different platforms you can choose- way beyond Mailchimp and Convertkit– but those are a great place to start in your research.
Ok, so after you choose your email marketing platform- the next question of course is- How do I get people to sign up?!
Email marketing isn’t new, and as you well know, you’re bombarded online with people and companies and brands who are asking for your email address. Landing in someone’s inbox is a privilege, and it’s going to take more creativity than a little box on your website that says “sign up with your email to get updates” as an incentive to convince someone to hand their email address over to you.
However, it’s a great place to start. Truly, even that, is better than NOT having an email sign up at all. Your email marketing platform is going to have different options for sign up forms.
If you are using a Squarespace website, you can connect your sign up forms to your Mailchimp list in just a couple clicks. This makes adding an email sign up form on your website fast and easy. You can even choose to connect your contact form or other website forms to your Mailchimp list- adding those who fill out that specific form to your email list automatically. I encourage you to really just start paying attention to all the different ways that brands and companies are asking you for your email to start getting some creative ideas.
So after you choose the email marketing platform that’s right for you, whether it’s Convertkit or Mailchimp or something else that fits your business well- adding an opt-in or a sign-up form to your website is the next step. Often this works well on the contact page, you can have your contact form, and then have a form on that page that says something like “Sign up with your email below to receive our announcements and updates.”
But don’t be discouraged if your list doesn’t start rapidly growing just because you added a sign-up form like that to your website. Let’s be honest, If you just say “Sign up for our newsletter” most likely the only person who is going to sign up for that….is going to be your Mom.
One of the most effective ways to significantly grow your email list is to offer something valuable to your audience FOR FREE
IN EXCHANGE for their email. Think of it as a value exchange. If you want them to give something to YOU (their email) then what valuable thing are you promising in return? When you think of it that way, “announcements and updates” doesn’t really sound very valuable to your audience does it?
I have seen so many creative opt-ins over the years- I am always paying attention to the email opt-ins that I found myself compelled to sign up for and taking notes on why- so I can apply that success to my own business. I pay attention to things like that because it helps me to learn more about what really (and sometimes surprisingly) works!
Here are just SOME of the creative ways that I see brands and businesses growing their email lists:
Number one. A special one time discount.
So almost every online shop or store, after browsing their website for just a few moments- will have a pop-up window that will invite you to provide your email to save 10% off your first order. You type in your email, and within minutes you have an email with a special promo code to use at check out. You save 10% and then become their email subscriber. The next time that shop is running a sale, guess who will be getting an email about it? You!
A second creative email list builder I see used the most is what is usually called a “freebie”.
So this is some sort of free resource that is offered in exchange for your email.For example, I created a free guide for my own email list building all about how to grow your brand and business using Pinterest. This was a relevant topic for business owners like you who are reading these episode notes right now.
I thought about YOU as my audience and knew that YOU would be listening along to these episodes, and I asked myself, what is something valuable I can teach you for free, that you would be willing to exchange your email for?
Now I use Convertkit to deliver that free guide by using pop up windows on my website and even just providing a sign-up form embedded into a blog post about it. For YOUR freebie- you can create a guide, a video tutorial, a template, audio teaching, a checklist, a shopping list- the options are endless! (Updated to add that I now use a brand new platform for a fraction of the cost called Flodesk- click here to try it and save 50%!)
Just make sure you make it valuable. Make it something that YOUR audience- the people YOU want on YOUR email list- to say- “You know what? That sounds like something I need- here’s my email, I will gladly trade you for that freebie.”
Make the sign-up process easy, and share it in multiple places. I recommend having at least one signature opt-in that you can have in more than one place on your website. So keeping that in mind, you also want to make it some sort of evergreen content- which means you can add this to your website and offer it for the next 6 months to a year and it would still be relevant to new website visitors down the road. Creating a free checklist on “5 Hiking Trails to do in August” is not going to be something that someone is interested in come December. So just keep that in mind when it comes to making an effective, long term opt-in.
The kind of content you choose to offer for free is really important when it comes to your big-picture strategy. Who do you want on your email list and why? Maybe you’re a photographer for a certain location that people travel to, instead of where they live. Or maybe you’re trying to just market to that specific location. Maybe it’s a vacation town in Florida or maybe a destination like Paris. You could create a free travel guide- something like- “11 Things to do in Paris that no one tells you about”. Or “7 vacation activities for kids in Destin, Florida.”You want to create content that is VALUABLE and RELEVANT to YOUR specific Audience that YOU want on YOUR email list.
If I were planning on launching an online course that was titled “How to Launch a Successful Podcast from Start to Finish”- perhaps I would create an opt-in that was a PDF that was “My top 5 tools for podcasting”- it’s not going to be an in-depth as my course is going to be- but someone who signs up for that free resource may also be someone who would be interested in buying my course when it becomes available and I want those people on my email list so I can let them know when the course launches.
If I were a wedding photographer and I was looking to have more engaged couples on my email list, I might create a free guide about how to choose the wedding venue that’s right for you. If I was wanting to offer one on one health coaching, perhaps I would make a meal prep sheet with a sample shopping list for week one. If I were a coffee roaster I might offer a step by step guide on how to make the perfect cup of coffee at home.
The key is to know your audience- really ask yourself WHO you want on your email list and what would be valuable enough to them to exchange their email for it.
When it comes to email marketing as a whole, I recommend just starting simple. Choose your email marketing platform and get a sign-up form embedded on your website.
Have your contact forms and sign up forms automatically integrated with your email marketing platform.
Then move into creating resources, and free content opt-ins- that whole value exchange- to make being a part of your email list valuable and exclusive.
And I highly recommend paying attention to what other brands and companies are doing. Really start paying attention to the kind of emails you receive from all different kinds of companies, and how you signed up for those What was it that they traded for your email that was worth it to you?
And of course like anything, remember that consistency is key. And gosh I KNOW- I am totally preaching to myself here too- there is so much power in the simplicity of consistency and choosing to show up, and show up often, and commit to serving your audience in the way you promised.
You got this!!
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
Honeybook- See a behind the scenes video & save 50% off HERE
Convertkit (my previous email marketing platform- updated to add that I now use and love Flodesk! Save 50% Here!)
My Free Guide on Pinterest!
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