Many companies, large and small, see email marketing as a relic from the past, nothing more than an antiquated method for engaging customers from the early days of the internet.  There is much that has gone into the building of this perception from the negative reputation that all marketing emails are “spam”, or that sending them out is a waste of time due to email service providers likely labeling them as such and blocking them.  All of what I just said is true, but to think that email marketing is a dead, ancient, useless, or a waste of time, you would be very mistaken. 

Here are a few statistics to think about:

  • There are over 4 billion daily email users
  • 59% of surveyed respondents say that marketing emails have influenced their purchases
  • ROI for email marketing can be as high as $36 for every $1 dollar spent.
  • Revenue from email marketing is estimated to reach 11 billion dollars by the end of 2022
  • 64% of current small businesses use email marketing to target new and recurring customers

Email marketing is a tool, and as with all tools, the use is what matters most.  Sometimes I use my hammer in the garage to build things that are quite beautiful and have a lot of value (at least I think so) and other times the hammer gets used to destroy drywall.  Sometimes its only value is to get thrown across the garage at drywall.  If you send out 10,000 emails to completely random people with a subject line that says “Hi, Please Buy My Shit!”, and then follow it up with a poorly worded and poorly presented email all you are doing is using the hammer to destroy drywall.  Those types of emails usually get blocked, increase the possibility that future emails will also be blocked, you damage your business reputation by sending them, and you frustrate people who could be future customers by truly spamming their inbox if it makes it through the filters. 

The first step in email marketing is actually understanding the distinction between marketing and selling.  In fact, there’s a reason it’s called “email marketing” versus “email selling”.  Selling involves convincing people to buy a product or service that maybe they aren’t ready to buy or haven’t even thought about.  Marketing is about knowing and understanding customers so well that the product or service sells itself.  Marketing is all about finding customers that are ready to buy and then simply informing them or presenting the product or service. 

When starting a business, as I know too well, there is a ridiculous amount of costs.  The bills seem to pile up from everywhere for things that you could have never forecasted. It’s like standing on an ant hill where each little ant is a bill that comes out of nowhere to crawl up your leg.   This puts a lot of pressure on new business owners to make sells and drives your personal mindset towards an absolute “need” to make some sells.  This mindset however, is contrary to the marketing versus selling approach.  The customer’s needs should be the focus and your business and the selling will take care of itself. 

To see what mindset you have with your own business, ask yourself a few questions.

Am I selling something that I love and am passionate about or just selling to try and make money?

Am I trying to build a brand and name recognition or simply focused on profits?

Do I think of people as human beings or just transactions?

Am I trying to provide something of value or trying to take or get something from someone else?

If you can say to yourself that you do truly care about your customers and want to provide value to the marketplace, email marketing is going to be a powerful tool in your sales toolbox.  If you could care less about the customer and just want to stuff as much money in your pocket as you can, this whole thing is probably a waste of your time.  Successful email marketing is about relationships with customers, understanding them, and providing value that is a win for your business and a win for them as the consumer. 

By now you may be asking yourself, “But how do I find people who are ready to buy what I have to sell”?

It’s a good question and what all companies are asking themselves.   

The Ways to Build an Email List

At the end of the day, email addresses are personal and personally I don’t like giving mine away.  I’m a hermit at heart (also known as introverted) and to be bugged by other human beings, via the information super highway or otherwise, seems to extract a portion of my lifeforce.  That said, if you’re going to get my personal email address, there are only a few ways that you can do it.    

  1. Capture the email address during a sell.  This could be in a brick-and-mortar store or during ecommerce that can be used to help generate repeat business.  People may be frustrated at inputting it during a sale, but they almost always appreciate sales confirmation emails with shipping updates.
  2. Offer a free product or service that requires the input of an email address.  If I’m going to give out my email address, I better get something of value in return.  This could include the following:
    • Free education videos
    • Informational newsletters
    • Trial offers
    • Physical goods that could be shipped to a physical address.
    • Downloadable software
    • Free shipping or discounts to subscribers
  3. Steal it or purchase it from someone else who stole.  The roots of spam and other things deemed unholy.  Don’t do this.  It’s counterproductive to good business and competes with the Nigerian lottery winner scams.  Basically, just go back to number 1 and 2 on this list. 

Once you have a list of good emails that represent past customers or those that have at least shown some interest in your product or service, it’s time to move on to a whole bunch more stuff. Namely, email service provider options and what goes into writing emails that actually sell. 

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