Do You Need An Email List?

By July 13, 2012 Internet, Marketing
With Facebook and Twitter dominating the social media landscape and providing you with all the contact you need, why should you consider adding email to the mix too?

“I don’t want to be a spammer”

That’s what a lot of people say when I ask if they have considered starting an email list.  There is the widely held opinion that most emails from anyone you don’t know will likely be spam and, quite understandably, nobody wants to be associated with that sort of unsavoury behaviour.

None the less, talking to your fans, clients or customers via email has its advantages over simply posting on Facebook or Tweeting alone.  I’m not talking about your bog-standard emails which you may send to confirm the details of a sale or gig; I’m referring to the kind of emails you might send to inform people about a new product or service, or to keep them up to date with what you’re doing.  It seems to me that Tweets have taken over a huge chunk of that usage – especially among performing arts professionals.

Why Consider An Email List Instead?

I understand why a lot of performers and side-line businesses have abandoned email marketing – maybe that’s not true; they haven’t abandoned it, so much as they just weren’t really using it all that much in the first place.  Email marketing is not as easy as a blanket post to Facebook or an instant Tweet to all of your followers.  Chances are, you were already using those two social networks before you began promoting your business or venture on there, so are more familiar with them than you might be with setting up an email list.

The “Email is too much hassle, I’d rather just send out a Tweet to everyone at once” is one response I hear a lot.  So what’s the difference between sending out an email and a Tweet?

Cut Through The Noise

If you think about your own Twitter timeline and how rapidly it fills up with the Tweets of all the people you are following, then you’ll know that it can become a crowded space.  When you Tweet the details of your next gig, or latest product offering, your message is competing for attention in your followers’ timelines with what Joe Blogs had for dinner and who Jane Doe met for coffee.  Depending on what time of day you send your Tweet out, it can quite quickly get pushed further down the list and maybe get missed all together.

Most people are a little more selective about who they give their email address out to and as such pay a bit more attention to the content of their inbox.  If people have signed up for your email list, then they want to hear from you and that means the same message about your gig or product should have a better reach than a Tweet or status update on Facebook.

Get More Insight

When you setup an email list, one of the handy features you get is the ability to track how people respond to your messages.  Do they open it, bin it, forward it to someone, click any of the links inside?  You can measure all these different things and get an insight to how well your marketing is being received and the reactions people have to it.  Using this information, you might be able to figure out that you have a better rate of response using certain pictures or wording, or at particular times of day or at weekends.  Although you can gauge a response on Twitter and Facebook by the number of re-Tweets and Likes etc. the information you can gather about your sent emails often goes a lot deeper and might help you tailor you next message far better.

Talk To The Right Crowd

Say if you’re in a band and you collected the email addresses of people who attended your gigs and you also had the email addresses of all the people who’ve downloaded your music; what you’d have there are two ‘segments’ of your audience.  It’s a fair bet to say that the people who came to your gig would probably be interested in hearing about the next one.  With email marketing, you can contact just the people you want to with the information which is likely to be the most interesting to them.  Consider the ability to email people saying something along the lines of “Hey, was great to see you at our last gig, we’re performing again next month.  If you book now, and quote this code, you’ll get a fiver off the door price.”   With email you can reward loyalty and build relationships in ways you can’t when speaking to everyone en masse.

Say More To Them

With a Tweet you’re limited to how much info you can squeeze into each one, but with email you’re free to layout your messages how you wish.  Many of the email list providers offer free templates which you can use and customise to include your logo, latest headshot or band pics, and links to videos or your website.  You can often integrate social media ‘Like’ and ‘Tweet’ buttons within your emails too for a really powerful campaign.

How To Get Started

If you think an email list would be useful for you – and perhaps it’s not… that’s fine too; I mean we don’t have one.  If you are interested though, what you’ll need to do is signup with an email service.  This can often be done for free (there are of course limitations on how many subscribers and how many emails you can send out a month on a free plan, but the numbers a typically pretty generous and you can always upgrade later).

  • iContact – iContact offer a free plan with a limit of 100 subscribers.  They have a range of templates you can use to create your emails, or you can make your own.  Whilst the number of subscribers and monthly emails they let you send are lower, they do give you access to many of the same features as you’d get on one of their paid plans.
  • Mailchimp – Mailchimp are another great email list company.  They have a ‘Forever Free’ plan which allows you to have up to 2000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails per month at no cost.  Those numbers are more generous than iContact, but the trade-off is some of the functionality, but if you don’t need those bells and whistles, it’s an ideal way to get started.
  • Aweber – Aweber don’t offer a free plan, but their service is very comprehensive and they have a huge selection of templates and sign-up forms.

All of these services allow you to manage your subscriber lists and place sign-up forms on your webpage and Facebook pages so that people who want to sign-up can do so.  If you’re collecting email addresses manually (at a gig or event for example) you can log-on and add people yourself.

More importantly, these services also allow your subscribers to manage their subscriptions and update their details or remove themselves from your list if they wish to do so.  With so much unwanted spam email in our inboxes, running a permission based email list will not only make you look professional, but will ensure that your messages are responsibly delivered to the people who want them.

Best Of Both Worlds

As I mentioned earlier, not everyone will need an email list.  You have to decide if it can bring value to what you have to say and how you share with your audience.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other though; when used in conjunction with other social media tools, email marketing can add a powerful dimension to your online strategy.

As always, if you’d like any assistance with getting setup or for more information, please get in touch with us anytime.