There’s only one area I wish I had given more attention to when I started my handbag business–growing my mailing list.
It took me years and many missed opportunities before I recognized my mailing list as one of the most valuable assets of my business.
A mailing list gives you the ability to directly communicate with customers who want to hear from you, create relationships and generate income on demand. It is one of the most powerful business tools you have.
Mailing List First, Social Media Second
Most business owners I talk with are focused more on growing their social media following than their mailing list.
I get it. Social media’s low cost and high reach are appealing. Using an email marketing platform to collect addresses and send emails can be costly. If you’re not seeing returns from your emails, it’s not a tool you’re likely to invest time and money into.
What’s really costly though is building a business that depends on social media to communicate with its customers.
Remember years ago when everyone who had liked your business Facebook page would see all of your posts? It was a marketer’s dream. Then the dream turned into a nightmare when the algorithm changed. We all scrambled to figure out how to increase our reach beyond the standard 1%.
We had invested in advertising with Facebook to gain followers and now we have to pay again for the followers to see our posts.
Facebook is a business and they have every right to charge their users and change their algorithm, but your business shouldn’t take a hit because of their decisions.
Your business shouldn’t be dependent upon another business.
In contrast, a mailing list will always be yours. You own it. Your email marketing platform may go out of business, but the list is still yours. In the long term, that’s a greater asset than your social media followers.
Focus first on building your mailing list and second on growing your social media presence. Better yet, use social media to grow your list.
Not convinced that’s the right approach? Let’s talk dollars.
Below is a screenshot from Google Analytics showing the source of my sales for one year.
Do you see that? The revenue generated from my mailing list was more than twice as much as the revenue generated from social media.
In that year I spent 13% more on social media advertising than on my email marketing platform.
It’s important to note that none of these sales happened in a vacuum. Google Analytics is reporting the last place a customer was before the purchase, not where the customer first learned about the company.
A customer who finds a company through social media, subscribes to the mailing list and months later purchases by clicking on a link in an email is recorded as being referred by email.
1. Email has the power to close the sale.
Ideally, we want customers to purchase the first time they interact with us. The reality is it takes several points of contact before a purchase is made.
Email is effective because it gives us direct access to contact potential customers.
These aren’t just any potential customers. They are so interested in your products and services they’ve handed over their email address to you.
Think about it. Most people don’t thoughtlessly share their email addresses for fear of being spammed. They’re selective. And they selected your business.
By giving you their email addresses they’re allowing you to directly communicate with them.
With email you have the opportunity to create a relationship with subscribers, build trust and share what your company is all about. When it’s time to ask for the sale, you have a list of engaged customers who trust you, like your company and are ready to purchase.
2. We need to use it all.
Social media, organic search, paid advertising, mailing lists and face-to-face interactions–they each compliment the others and should be set up to work together.
If I could go back in time, I’d shake my 20-year-old self and say, “why aren’t you collecting these leads?” I cringe thinking of all the opportunities I had to grow my list; the traffic I generated to my website, the potential customers that entered my tradeshow booth, the people I met and the promotions. After their initial point of contact, I didn’t have a way to continue building trust and share with them more about my company. I was relying on them to find me.
I was doing a lot of marketing and using some great techniques, but I wasn’t getting as much as I could out of all that work. I wasn’t intentionally connecting those efforts to my mailing list.
In order for each of our marketing methods to be effective, we need to be using them correctly. It’s not enough to have a sign-up box at the bottom of your website and an email that gets sent sporadically every three months.
Mailing lists should be built with strategy and consistency.
Ready for more mailing list tips? Read “Best Practices for Growing and Maintaining Your Mailing List.”