Why email lists?
- Create content, and wait for the organic search results to catch up with you. Users will find the website on search engines anyway and get to your website
- Socialise with other bloggers and website owners of similar nature. Do guest posts, leave comments on a popular site, and steadily see readers coming in from that website
- Advertise on Google Adwords, or similar
- Get your site a presence on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and the like, and start engaging readers who pass by
Emails are not new. They are so old that they are increasingly looked upon as a dinosaur that is about to die any day in favor of newer ways of communication. They will loose out against the new way of socialising including chat, and social media tools. They could never be so off the truth.
Bloggers can rely on social media tools to engage the readers, and there are bloggers who have been really successful in doing that. Broadcasts on social media sites have come to be viewed as non-personal in many ways. Social media sites also do not score as a selling platform. If you want the reader to buy in to your product, service or message, you want some undivided attention for a few moments. That is hard to achieve on social media.
Also, there are too many people who like to keep separate the socialising with friends/family, and socialising with bloggers/experts/other species.
Emails have been an effective way of communication between people in the past, and continue to be so in some shape and form today. There are just too many people who *like* a physical notification, and who feel connected with emails more than the interaction through comments, or through social media sites. Email is the right key to unlock that potential of taking you closer to your audience.
Here’s the number one mistake I made that you shouldn’t – maintain a email list.
Having an email channel on the blog can start as a one-way street, where you try to engage your readers at a more personal level. When you do it right, the audience responds in kind. The street transforms into a party zone, and crowded in a good way.
People subscribed to your emails in the first place because they are interested in your topic. If you tell them things that are good, things that are fresh, and do your bit to increase their knowledge or skills, they will absolutely fall in love with you. The right kind of incentive to open and read email gives you that elusive loyal reader. The loyal reader may not read every post on your website, but feels free enough to engage with you through emails.
The engagement is invaluable. The sheer amount of feedback you receive through emails itself is worth the effort of actually maintaining email subscribers. When people feel connected at some level with you, they will be kind enough to provide you with tips on where they loved your story, where you could improve a bit, and where you were downright silly.
More importantly, you have their attention. If you play it right, that attention can get you an audience willing to actually listen to what you are saying. And hopefully, that leads to more than a few conversions that are beneficial to both your readers and yourself.
What is worthy of an email?
For any new blogger emails are a tricky thing to manage. You just don’t know where to start, or when to stop.
If the blog is entirely new, you don’t know what is the content that is of absolute interest to readers.
Fear not, everyone starts the same. Unfortunately I cannot roll out magic bullets to hit each of your objectives, but can provide a few tips, and lessons learnt through the months:
- Do not let your emails be the drones that summarize the website content, and nothing else. People are smart – they can follow your website through RSS, through Social Media sites and what not. Make emails personal. Build those relationships – they strengthen your reader base
- Emails also have to encourage response/feedback. Some kind of response mechanism for the user to react and provide feedback goes miles in establishing in their minds that they matter
- Readers who subscribe tend to be more loyal than the fleeting types stumbling your website. They are more forgiving of your mistakes. Listen to their feedback and build on that foundation
- Emails must have a call to action. Either it can be the interesting topic for the week/month, your killer post, conversation that they have to look at. It can also be a product they can buy, and add absolute value to their lives!
- Emails have to offer something exciting other than what is found on the website (or can be found in a remote corner that users are sure to miss). This can be a discount to a new product, some exciting news about the website, or invites for candid feedback or surveys
- Get the frequency of emails right. Too many emails and your user base will move away, you send out too few and they loose interest
- Finally, use tools to automate as much as possible so that you do not get stuck with managing stuff rather than creating stuff
How to maintain email lists?
The way out is through the use of effective tools to maintain the email conversation. There are tools that can manage both emails that you want to send out, as well as automatically acknowledge, or respond to incoming emails. These auto responders can be powerful enough to schedule emails, provide a reward (e.g. a link to ebook) for doing certain actions, and automate the heck of your communication.
But, let me give it to you straight. Maintaining email lists through auto responders can be expensive. I would even advice not to start one unless you are clear on what exactly you want to want to do with emails.
Remember I said you can start with a one-way street? You can easily do this and get started with Feedburner feeds. Google Feedburner is an effective way to manage your feeds, and it can also send out posts through emails.
When you become more comfortable, look at the following top 3 options.
Emails are old, but an effective means to spread your word. Email marketing will not go anywhere soon, and is one of the most successful marketing channels today.
Get started with email lists early in your blog. Make the emails interesting and worth reading. Go ahead and try it, and comment on whether emails help.
Let the force be with you.