Simply building your email list misses the point

July 16, 2020

Okay, okay, we’ve all heard about the importance of growing your email list—and for good reason. 

  • In comparison to Facebook posts, emails that land in your subscribers’ inboxes are six (!!) times more likely to be read. 
  • You own your list—and don’t have to answer to algorithms
  • 77% of people prefer email over all other marketing methods

But, aren’t we missing something here? The point isn’t just to build a big email list. The point is to serve and connect with your subscribers in a meaningful—and profitable—way. And just like we’ve seen on Instagram where emphasis has shifted from number of followers to rates of engagement, it’s better to have a smaller group of email subscribers who are eager to click open every message from you that lands in their inboxes. 

Yet, time and time again, I’m shocked to talk with business owners who leave hundreds and hundreds of people on their email lists absolutely hanging out in the cold. Maybe there is a quick welcome email and the occasional self-promotional broadcast. The majority of the time, though, it’s just crickets.

These business owners want to deliver emails. They know they are leaving money on the table. They plan to do something, someday… maybe. But time goes on and those potential clients or customers who willingly handed over their email address instead move onto the next. 

[Read next: 4 essential steps before writing your email sequence]

Here, in my professional opinion, is what I think really holds people back from serving their email lists—more than time or money. The reason is feeling like they don’t have anything to say.

Which is, let’s just be real, is a bad excuse. Because what are those same businesses doing every day on social media, when talking to clients or when networking? “Saying valuable things” is right!

That’s why if your email list is even going to stand a chance, you need to sit down and set these intentions. Seriously—write out the answers to these questions…

  1. What kind of content are you going to deliver?
  2. How often are you going to commit to serving people?
  3. Why is this worthwhile for your business?

This practice led Laura Matteson of Illustrative to finally connect with and nurture her email list. As she says, “Email acts as my little helper so I know my people aren’t left wondering what’s next or how things are going.”

Need some inspiration for your email list? Here’s more from Laura…

1. How do emails help you connect with your audience in a new way?

Email allows me to provide gifts, create a story and start a conversation with my audience. I love being able to tuck digital gifts into my emails through links and when I have something I think my list would want to hear. 

2. What’s the benefit of creating email sequences?

Being able to automate my emails and knowing that they all go together to create a clear journey helps me welcome new friends while I’m busy with clients and raising my kids. 

3. What have you learned about your audience through email marketing?

I’ve learned what they love and what they aren’t interested in. I’ve learned they love empowering stories and connecting in a human way with their audiences.

4. How do you integrate visuals into emails?

I personally use a visual header that’s the same in every email so they recognize who it’s from. I also add in posts from Instagram, quotes for them to keep and GIFs to convey an emotion. I find that visuals make the email friendlier and clarifies a point that may take a lot of valuable words to say. 

5. How do you think visual elements help your emails stand out?

They know who the email is from, they are shareable and they help the eye move through the email all the way to the end. It also breaks up the text nicely so the larger stories aren’t too overwhelming.

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