If you’re anything like me – just starting up a small business – you may feel …well… kind of stupid creating an email list. You may be starting out with a grand total of zero subscribers and having such a list might seem sort of pointless when you can simply connect and communicate with people on social media.
But, even if you have no one presently on your list to send an email to and even if your social following is strong, it is important to set up the infrastructure for an email list, offer your website visitors the ability to subscribe, and start working on growing your email list size.
Reasons You Need an Email List (Even If You Have No Subscribers)
1. You Own Your Email List
The most important reason to start an email list, and put serious thought into growing it, is that you own your list. Regardless of which email platform you use, the data is your property. If you are unhappy with one email provider, you can move your list to another. Of course, subscribers can always opt to unsubscribe, but the list is yours.
2. Your Social Media Following Is At the Mercy of the Network
Unlike your email list, which you “own,” your social media audience “belongs” to the platform and, therefore, your ability to communicate with your followers is at mercy of the platform. Stories abound about platforms shutting down user accounts (for whatever reason, justified or not) and wiping out huge follower lists in the matter of a few minutes.
3. Social Platforms Control Who Sees Your Content
What’s more, social platforms routinely change their algorithms and those changes can severely impact your ability to reach your followers. The most recent major Facebook algorithm change, for instance, privileges personal posts and posts with many comment interactions. This makes it much harder for business posts to be seen, even by a page’s longtime followers. The point of these changes is, of course, to push business users to pay to boost posts and to invest in ads on the platform. If you have a limited budget, these changes can put you in a bind, making your email list even more important.
4. Social Media Platforms Come and Go
Finally, social media users are fickle. Platforms that were once extremely popular (lookin’ at you, MySpace) fade out of use as other platforms pop up. Even Facebook, still the busiest and largest social networking site as of this writing (November 2018), has taken some serious heat this year and may indeed be on the decline.
Setting up an email marketing list is an important way to ensure you have a solid community of followers, customers, and supporters that is not at the mercy of a social platform or the whims of social media trends.
5. Email Marketing Is Still a Strong Source of Online Revenue
In addition to being a “safe” collection of contacts that belong to you, your list of email can also become a solid and steady source of revenue. Email subscribers are statistically more likely to click on links in emails than social followers are to click on links in posts, meaning you have a better chance of converting an email subscriber into a client or customer. And, at the time of this writing, email still outpaces social media as a source of online donations for nonprofits and sales for for-profit companies.
How to Create an Email List in 10 Minutes or Less
You can set up a new list in as little as 10 minutes, and often for free. There are many email list services that are free to start and only charge once your list has grown to a certain size. Some good services that offer free services for small lists are: MailChimp, SendInBlue, and Drip.
Once you sign up for a service, you will want to grab a sign-up form or opt-in link for your website and build out a branded email template so you have a template ready for when you start sending email.