My Embarrassing Email Confession

Can I tell you something?

This is something I’ve never really shared with anyone before, so I’m a little nervous. And, to be honest, a little embarrassed.

Okay…. Here goes…

… I don’t have an email list.

There. Whew. Man, it felt good to get that out there.

While it’s not entirely true that I don’t have an email list, I’ve never once sent an email out on it, which is good because, frankly, I don’t have a single subscriber (although if you want to be my first, you can sign up using that fancy looking signup form off to the side there).

email list virgin.jpg

So why am I embarrassed by the fact that I don’t have a mailing list, you ask? Well, because I’m an online marketer and I know the value of having a mailing list, both from a finding clients perspective and a building (and maintaining) relationships perspective.

In other words, I know I’m leaving money on the table by not having one.

“But,” I hear you saying, “I don’t have a list and I’m doing just fine.”

So am I, but that doesn’t mean I should be ignoring such an easy and obvious channel for my business.

But, isn’t email dead?

Nope. Not even a little bit. Everything you can think of has been inaccurately declared dead over the years, from Mark Twain to blogging. Have those things died? Nope (okay, Twain is dead, but at the time he was still very much alive).

In fact, not only is email not dead, it’s still one of the best ways to market your business, communicate with your prospects and help get people started in your funnel. Plus, you get a killer return for your investment. Take a look at this great post from the folks over at Constant Contact. They talk about how you get $38 dollars back for every $1 you invest in your email marketing. That’s a pretty darn good return. Really good, when you think about. Email marketing essentially starts paying for itself immediately.

That’s a far cry from something that has been declared dead a few times over.

As if that wasn’t good enough, check this out. In this post, 89% of marketers say that email is their primary method of lead generation.

Remain top of mind (while being yourself)

If numbers aren’t enough to convince you that email lists are the way to go, let’s talk customer relationships.

I can’t think of a better way to build up your relationship with customers (past, present and future) than with email.

Think about it. You write a little email, hit send and, almost like magic, it’s right there in front of everyone who’s ever expressed an interest in you. Even if they don’t open every single email you send, you’re still remaining present in their mind just by appearing in their inbox.

Along with being a great way to remain visible, email is an excellent way to let your hair down and tell some stories. They don’t always have to be sales-y or pitch something. You can have fun with your emails. Add some personality, even if you’re not a personal brand. It really makes a difference. Especially if you can pull of goofy and weird really well (like my good friend Justin Blackman can).

You can show off your human side with your blog, as well, but email puts it directly in front of your audience, even if only briefly. They don’t have to make a point of going to see if you’ve updated, like they would with a blog. It’s just there, waiting to be read.

Sarah Anderson, the email super genius over at Spitfire Scribe, says that personality is the way to go. “I find I get more of a response when I share a story,” she said. Sarah also found that showing up regularly and showing opinion and personality make all the difference in the world in terms of keeping your list engaged.

Not only does it pay to keep your emails personal, but Sarah has found that people respond better when they’ve been on your list for a while and have become comfortable with you and what you are capable of. “The more you tell your story, the more they see you as a real person, not an internet marketer,” she said.

As I’ve talked about in the past, when you take the time to tell your audience stories, you build a connection. This connection can be just the thing that’s needed to transition someone from casual reader to customer. It’s not always going to happen immediately, but taking the time to nurture that relationship pays off.

No wasted words

You know what’s sexy? Segmentation is sexy.

I say this because it’s not only perfect for figuring out where people came from, why they signed up for your list or what they do for a living (not all of this is obvious, but if you can figure out stuff like this, it helps to know it), but it also helps you figure out what stories to tell each segment.

Why do you want to do this?

Well, it’s simple. You don’t want to waste your time (or the time of those on your list) by telling someone a story that isn’t relevant. Someone on your list who has already purchased from you probably doesn’t need to see the story of how you started your company again (unless you’ve got a new reason for it). Much like the person who’s in the same industry as you probably doesn’t necessarily want to hear all about the things that you took away from the conference you were both at least week.

Enter segmentation.

This is a beautiful way to tell the right story to the right person. You don’t have to bog down your returning customers with your six email sales pitch for something they already have, so you create a new one. Maybe something on how they can maximize their usage of that product.

Similarly, you don’t want to offer advanced user tips to first timers, or those who haven’t even purchased anything from you (yet).

Segmentation, says Sarah Anderson, is a good way to narrow down your offer and make the right pitch to the right people. You can figure out the pitch that’s going to be most effective, based on the segment that they are in.

This is your chance to shine and create as many unique streams of emails as you’d like. Focus on one person, but talk to a whole group of similar people. This might seem like a lot of work, but remember, you’re reaching out to hundreds (or thousands) of people in these segments. The effort you put into creating good segmentation can be very beneficial down the road (especially if you start offering services of products aimed directly at those segments).

So… wanna be my first?

By dropping the ball on email for so long, I’ve probably lost a lot of business. In fact…


It’s cost me. I know that.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. If you haven’t already started up an email list, get one going now! If you’ve been collecting emails, but not using them, start emailing your list. If you don’t yet have way too many emails showing up in your inbox everyday from people like, maybe take a minute to sign up for my list. What I lack in experience, I promise to make up for with enthusiasm (the link is just off to the side).

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