Why You Need an Email List and 3 Ways to Get Your First Subscribers | Hacker Noon

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For the longest time, gaining lots of followers on social media was the goal of every company. Now, you can hardly visit a website without getting a pop-up that offers you something for your email address or simply to sign up for the newsletter.

Email marketing is now a billion-dollar industry offering an ROI of $42 for every dollar you spend. It’s impressive. More and more, marketers in all sorts of businesses are realizing that email is king. 

Although not many would say social media is without perks, social media certainly has its limitations. 

Social media is “pay to play,” meaning that if you want to reach people consistently, you need a generous budget. The average organic reach for Facebook is only 3.91%, and Instagram isn’t doing much better at 0.9%. As opposed to social media, when you use email intelligently, your deliverability can be 98% or more. You will simply reach more people.

How many people do you know who have completely abandoned their Facebook, Twitter or other social media account? The reasons people have are endless: they want to use their time more wisely or maybe they’re avoiding an ex. Others have concerns about the ethics of these companies. It’s not very common that people swear off email.

Social media platforms come and go. Remember MySpace? Friendster? There have been a number of social networks that fell out of popularity. It’s easy to think of Facebook as invincible, but its decline in usage has been documented.

On the other hand, email continues to grow.

The number of people using email will

exceed 4.4 billion by 2024. That’s more than half the population of earth.

Comparatively, Facebook has roughly 2.8 billion users.

On social media, you don’t “own” your audience. What happens if you decide to remove your page or account? What about if the company decided to kick you out for some reason? Nobody thinks it could happen to them, but it happens frequently. Whether it’s your decision or not, you don’t take your followers with you.  

On the other hand, when it comes to your email list, you can move it from one email service provider (ESPs) to another, anytime. As long as they don’t opt, your subscribers are yours forever. 

Having an email list you regularly communicate with is plain smart, and it’s never too late to start. So don’t delay — you can get up and running right now!

3 ways to get your first subscribers

Starting an email list — and growing it — can seem like a daunting task. Here are a few tactics you can use to make things easier. 

1. Use sign-up forms 

Place several on your website or blog, and not buried somewhere. Remember all those pop-ups? There is a reason they’re ubiquitous. Businesses know how invaluable email marketing is. Make sure those sign-up forms are visible.

I recall scratching my head looking at the website of a world-famous company to find a way to sign up for their emails, buried several pages away in plain text with a bland hyperlink. I wonder how that’s working for them?

2. Create a content offer 

A great way to entice people is a content offer. Who doesn’t like free stuff? Especially when it’s useful, interesting, entertaining, or all of those things. You should consider writing something to give away, but don’t kill yourself! You’re not writing the great American novel. 

Your content offer could be five compact pages or a 1-page checklist. Before you get it formatted, ask yourself the question, “would I like getting this?” It has to have value and say good things about your brand. Once you’re happy with it, place it behind a gated form that requires an email address to access. 

3. Make the most of social media 

Since you’re there, use it to your advantage. Periodically tell your followers that you have an email list and share the URL that takes them to your subscription form.

One tip would be to make sure they know that what you send in your emails is exclusive, and it should be.

If you’re copying and pasting what you post elsewhere, why should anyone subscribe? It has to be unique, but you can give your social media audience a taste of what they might be missing. 

Take care of your email list

It’s not much different from your car, home, or even your body. If you don’t take good care of something, what happens? Sometimes quickly and other times slowly, anything not maintained will decline. Email lists are the same way.

Be aware of list quality

Email hygiene is the number one way you can protect your very valuable list. No matter what size your list is, there will be email addresses that people abandon. 

Sometimes, your subscribers ditch their address because they’re getting too much spam. Also, they may quit their job and have been using a workplace address. Others are using their school email and eventually, they graduate or change schools. It’s rare someone would unsubscribe from your email list before they switch emails.

For this reason, when you send emails to them, you’ll get bounces. These bounces will inevitably hurt your sender reputation and deliverability.

Use email validation to maintain your list

The best way to take care of your list is through email validation. This means you should periodically bulk verify your list, especially if you’ve never done it. Upload the list to the site platform of an email verification service that you can trust. It will identify all of these bad emails so you can remove them.

You can also use an email verification API on all of your sign-up forms. A good email validation company should be able to help you set one up. It will check any addresses in real-time to keep anything invalid or troublesome off the list to start with.

Don’t take your list for granted

Now that your email list is going strong, send on a regular schedule, which typically means a minimum of once a month. Sending on the same day and time is also very good for your sender reputation.  

Be valuable to your subscribers

Try to be of service to your list, sending content and offers that they will find worthwhile. Remember you’re competing with a lot of other emails. The more incentive you can create for your readers to open and click your emails the better.

Make it easy to unsubscribe

Keep in mind that an email newsletter that appeals to everyone is probably pretty weak. Once in a while, some people will want to get off your list. Make sure you make that process seamless. Not only does this help to avoid spam complaints, but it also fosters better engagement and a more powerful email list. 

Keep getting better

The email campaigns that have the best results tend to be the ones that start with the question, “how can I be of service to my readers?”

From there, they’re always seeking to get better. One thing is for sure: great newsletters do not happen by accident. They are the result of planning, thought, implementation, maintenance and lastly, perseverance. 

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