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There’s not a day goes by where someone isn’t talking about email lists – growing them, using them, adding to them and people unsubscribing from them. Before I got serious about my blogging, I hadn’t thought much about email lists. I had a free account, a few folks signed up through the old WordPress.com system and that was nice. Then I started reading about the importance of email lists and came to realise they were worth spending time and money on building. Here’s a few ideas why.
Definition of an email list
While an email list may sound like some kind of commitment, it quite simply means that someone has agreed to give you their email address and that you may send them emails. There’s a bit of an expectation that you will email them about the topic they have signed up around – so if you signed up here, there would the idea that I would email about blogging news, social media changes maybe the latest posts from the blog or others, possibly even special offers I have or have uncovered. You probably wouldn’t expect an email about finches (one of my other blogs).
People have the options to unsubscribe at any time and that’s okay – you want to be talking to people who are interested and if someone isn’t an unsubscribes, then you aren’t wasting yours and their time on an email. There is usually an opt-in process where the person receives a confirmation email that they have subscribed and maybe a double opt-in process where they have to re-confirm they meant to subscribe.
Reasons to grow email lists
1. Social media changes
One of the big reasons that email lists are all the rage at the moment has come from the dropping reach on Facebook and the difficulty in getting noticed on networks such as Twitter. As WPBeginner put it:
‘You do not own Facebook, Twitter or Google, your social media campaigns and SEO efforts can go to waste when these platforms change their policies. On the other hand, you own your email list and it isn’t influenced by the business decisions of others’
2. It avoids those pesky SEO challenges
One of the biggest jobs when running a blog or an online business is dealing with SEO – search engine optimisation. It is a constantly running battle of managing the latest algorithm changes, primarily with Google, in order to appear as high in those search engine results as possible. But email avoids all of this as there is rating factor for an email – only the person’s willingness to open the email when you send it.
3. Email lists build relationships
Email is a very personal way to communicate, much more so than a general message on social media to 3,000 followers or a Tweet to over 1,000 people that vanishes in 8 seconds. Email allows you to build relationships with people that make them see you as a person, not just a service or an abstract voice. It is also the easiest way to keep in touch – as Melyssa Griffin points out, not everyone will check a blog each day or even social media pages but they almost always check their email inbox.
4. Customer loyalty
Whether you are selling a product, offering affiliate links or simply want people to regularly visit your blog, email customers are the most loyal fans. Studies have shown that people will read thousands of social media status without taking too much notice but if they have subscribed to an email list, then they pay it more attention. That means if you are selling something or showcasing an offer, these people are more inclined to buy. This is often called ‘engaged customers’.
Where the build that email list
So, you are sold on the idea that an email list is a benefit to you but the question then becomes, where do you build this list? That’s where the role of the email subscription software comes in and there are some great ones out there, including my favourite, ConvertKit.
The idea of this kind of software is that you build the list through a range of options. These include opt-in forms that you can put on your website in widgets and on blog posts (there’s a one down the bottom here if you notice!). WordPress does collect email addresses occasionally and you can also use popups or other devices to prompt people to subscribe. There’s a bit of chat lately about the changing face of popups but I think done right, they can be unobtrusive and useful. SumoMe is one I use on my blogs for this purpose.
How to manage your list
I’ll use ConvertKit as an example as it is the one I use. I’ve tried both MailChimp and MailerLite and both were great but didn’t quite offer what I wanted. I like that ConvertKit only charges you for the subscriber as I have five blogs – so if someone was to subscribe to all five lists, they would still only count as one subscriber. The basic level costs $29 a month and allows you up to 1,000 subscribers.
You can segregate your list into sections and apply tags to them and if people subscribe through one of the forms you can make on ConvertKit, you can see where they came from. You can also import subscribers, say if they use a SumoMe popup, and apply a tag to them to add them to a list. They have also recently integrated with the Bloom plugin so if you are an Elegant Themes user like me, you can easily send people to your ConvertKit list from the popups, inline forms and below post forms you can create with this plugin.
The other thing I like about ConvertKit is their sequences. It makes it easy to set up a series of emails to send to everyone that joins a segment of your list or signs up through a specific form, especially if you are selling a product or a service. It is a great way to build relationships and to get to know your email list members.
If ConvertKit sounds like it might be for you, then why not give it a try – here’s a link that tells you lots about their service (and I do get a commission if you decide to go for it after that, so thank you in advance!)
There’s no doubt that email is the way to go to ensure you get your message to people. While social media will always be a big part of our strategies, the ability to email someone and have a much better chance of them seeing what you have to say is invaluable.
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