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Why you have to start focusing on building your email list right now

· growth,small business,engagement,entrepreneur

By: Emily LaDrig

Recently I’ve been talking with fellow content marketers about businesses that are doubling down on the assets that they own, like their blog and email list. It’s an interesting concept. While social media is definitely still considered the newest, hottest way to market your business, it is overcrowded and harder to stand out and make an impression.

Think about it, when your “fans” are on Facebook they are scrolling through their feed seeing comments and pictures from family and friends mixed in with your latest update, offering or wisdom. They may react or read your post, but then they’re scrolling right on by and engaging with another friend.

Far too often we focus on just gaining followers on social media. The higher the number the better chance of engagements/conversions, right? Well, that isn’t always the case. While social may be your biggest audience, it may not be your best audience.

Part of what I do here at Excelerate America is work with a cohort of small businesses each month that take part in our 30 day challenges. One small business owner that participated in our Let’s Get Social challenge, which was all about upping their social media presence, was surprised when I told him that he didn’t own his social media following. He thought of his social followers as his online community.

But, it’s really not. It is an online community, but it is not HIS online community. These people are not fully engaged with him, nor are they actually where his customers are coming from. Did you know that only about 1% of your Facebook followers see an organic post from you? 1%, that’s crazy. You put all that time into gaining followers and only 1% of them actually hear from you on a consistent basis.

Developing and nurturing a list of contacts that are yours is still incredibly important and useful

Compare that to email marketing. Typically, you will get 20%-30% of your email list to open and read your email. Much better than that 1%, right? Just think if you were able to be in regular contact with thousands of prospective customers. And not through advertising, but through a subscription to your content that people proactively requested because they want to hear from you.

Going back to the business owner that took our Let's Get Social 30 Day Challenge. After he realized that he didn't own his social followers, he went back to review his email distribution list. While it was smaller than his Facebook followers, it was full of former, current and prospective clients. I suggested that he run a test. Instead of promoting his thought leadership directly onto Facebook, why not turn this content into a blog and use it as an incentive to get people to subscriber to his email list? He took my idea and ran with it. While developing the blog and content took a bit more time, his email list has grown exponentially. Also, it is packed with the right people that will turn into customers.

The plus of an email list is that every person on your list receives your email. It’s much different than finding a piece of content in a news feed, even if it’s personalized. You can go for a few days without checking social media or video chatting with your friends and family, but most people check their email several times a day.

Obviously, you can’t just start emailing people randomly and expect to see great results. The best email campaigns start with the best lists, so building a targeted email list should be your number one priority. Even great emails, with brilliant design, engaging copy, and unique value propositions can fall short if your list isn’t in order.

The secret to a great list

You have to give people a true reason to opt in, something that they are willing to trade their email address for. These days people try to avoid as much junk as possible and so in order to truly grow your email list, you have to make sure that you’re offering an opt in that is worthy of the exchange. Some examples include:

  1. Provide a free download- This is the most common way to build your email list. Offering customers a free eBook, whitepaper or guide is a great way to capture emails and showcase your industry expertise.

  2. Create a survey- People love giving their opinion. This is a great way to secure emails plus learn a little bit about what your audience is interested in. Win win!

  3. Offer a discount code- This is easy and effective, especially if you offer a product. Let your audience try out your product at a discount and then email them so they become repeat customers.

You should have three main priorities for building a quality list. In order, these are:

  • Quality. You want real information from real people who check their email frequently.

  • Relevance. These people should be genuinely interested in your brand and fit your target audience.

  • Volume. If the first two priorities are squared away, you can start focusing on quantity.

To build volume, do something useful, which is worthy of people’s attention and makes it easy for them to subscribe. Remember, if you just churn out the same stuff as others in your industry, you won’t attract or retain your subscribers.

What I want you to do next, is to go to your own email inbox and review the emails that you pay attention to. What do you like about them? What grabs your attention or makes you want to take action? Those are the same things that your customers are going to notice about your emails. Go, right now, and get building!

Emily LaDrig is the Chief Execution Officer at Excelerate America, a 2nd stage business accelerator that helps small businesses excel and grow in the digital economy. Have questions about building your email list? Or, do you have another suggestion you've found to build up your list? Hit her up at

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