You may have already heard that email lists are important for growing a business. This is especially true for creative businesses that need to connect with potential customers on a personal level. But is it necessary for everyone? Does your creative business really need an active email list? And why does everyone talk about the importance of email marketing, anyway?
I used to have the same questions. I resisted building an email list for a long time, thinking that email marketing just wasn’t for me. Now I realize how wrong I was and exactly what having an active email list can do for any creative business.
Today, I hope to shed some light on what an email list is, what it can do for your creative business, and how to get one started.
What Are Email Lists?
An email list is simply a list of email addresses from people who are interested in you and your creative business.
In more practical terms, your list is your direct connection to your community.
Depending on the business that you run, you may have more than one list, or segments of your list, for different purposes.
If you are following proper legal protocols, you must build your list through an official email marketing software. NEVER try to use your personal email to set up an email list. It could get you into a lot of trouble. We’ll talk more about that later.
Once it’s set up properly, someone can only get on your email list by “opting-in” or agreeing to receive emails from you.
Usually, people opt into your list for some kind of incentive.
That incentive is called a “lead magnet” and it can be anything from a free piece of valuable content to entry into a raffle.
Once someone has opted into your list, you now have the legal right to contact them and keep them updated about you and your business.
Email is a much better way of doing this than social media because social media sites are run by algorithms that will only show your content to a few people at a time.
Your email list, however, is controlled by you. This means you get to decide how often you contact your community and who will receive correspondence from you. That is a powerful advantage in business.
What Can An Active Email List Do For Your Business?
Having an active email list has a lot of benefits for just about any business. Here’s Why:
- First and foremost, it allows you to communicate directly with your community without interference from other companies (such as Facebook).
- Second, it allows you to contact your community and potential customers any time you want, and as often as you want. There are best practices, of course. But you get to decide how often is best for your audience.
- Third, it gives you the opportunity to have a more intimate conversation with members of your community. As they get to know you, they trust you more, and the likelihood of them purchasing from you goes up.
- Fourth, your email list gives you insight into what your community finds most interesting and important. Analytics tools can help you track what pieces of content get the most interaction, so you can tailor your message to better serve your unique community.
- Finally, your email list can help you drive traffic to the places you need it most. Since the people on your list have chosen to hear from you, they are more likely to listen to you when you ask that they take a certain action.
Could your creative business benefit from having potential buyers right at your fingertips? Most of us would answer yes.
THAT is the importance of email marketing.
How To Start An Email List
There are a few important steps that you should follow when starting your email list.
1. Use a professional email provider
DO NOT try to start an email list from your personal email account! I said this earlier, but it’s worth repeating.
For starters, it’s illegal. To collect emails for your business, you must use a service that follows legal guidelines for sending emails to your community. This includes following the laws in place in various parts of the world concerning opt-in requirements. They also must have an “unsubscribe” option embedded in every email.
This is non-negotiable.
There are several great email providers out there that you can get started with. Many even have a free option that allows you to start building your list free of charge until your list reaches a certain size.
2. Set up a lead magnet
To collect email addresses, offer something of value to your customers to convince them to join your list. Otherwise, how are they going to know that joining your list and reading your emails is worth their time?
Some businesses just put up a newsletter opt-in box on their website. You can and should do this, but this should not be your only strategy for collecting leads. Most people will not join your list for the joy of adding more email to their inbox. Most will only join if you offer them something of value in return.
What kind of lead magnets can you use?
The possibilities are endless when it comes to possible lead magnets. You can offer a checklist or guide, you can offer a free or discounted product, or even entry into a contest.
Whatever you offer, make sure it’s in line with what your business provides. Your lead magnet should be an entry point for potential customers to experience your brand and what your business can do for them.
3. Set up a welcome sequence
Once someone opts-in to your list, you first need to give them whatever you promised them and then you need to welcome them to your community. I recommend doing this through a welcome sequence.
To set up a welcome sequence, start by writing 3 to 5 emails that will welcome your new customer to your community and let them know what you and your business are all about.
Then set these emails up to send automatically over several days, starting when someone opts into your list. Setting these up will save you a lot of time and energy from having to email each person individually.
4. Nurture your list
After people have opted into your list and gone through your welcome sequence, you need to continue emailing them regularly to keep building that relationship.
Many businesses send out emails on a consistent schedule. I like to send out emails every week to keep my community informed and to let them know about anything new and exciting going on with my business.
You don’t have to send emails every week. You can send them more or less than that, but I wouldn’t recommend going longer than a month between messages. If your community members forget who you are and why you are sending them emails, they are more likely to unsubscribe.
Your email list can be the lifeline of your business. It gives you the opportunity to connect with your community on your schedule and talk to them about what you feel is most important in your business.
Every creative business could benefit from building and maintaining an active email list, if only to let potential buyers know when you have new products available.
To get started, follow the steps above and begin collecting emails as soon as possible. Building a substantial list takes time, so the sooner you get started, the better off you will be.