As part of Blog Prefect’s Email month, I am covering email lists, the most obvious and important element of an Entrepreneur’s arsenal. It is also one of the trickiest elements to master.
And here’s the part where I feel like a fraud.
The truth is my email list is not exactly thumping with noise right about now. If BlogPrefect’s email list was a disco, there would be some very unhappy owners wondering why the beer stock numbers haven’t changed in months. My other blog doesn’t even have one yet.
“You are doing it wrong!” I hear the big wigs cry.
Which is exactly why I’m the guy to cover this.
Why You Must Build Your Email List Sooner Rather Than Later
Blogging Marketing Mix in Detail
Blogging has a marketing mix. It’s not like the pick and mix sweet buffet that many children rot their teeth on. We are getting into the business suit now boys and girls, so listen up.
- Q: What then, dear Headboy, is a Marketing Mix?
- A: Exactly what it says on the box. A mix of marketing avenues.
What Types of Marketing Exist in a Blogging Market?
Social Media Referral
Your efforts here either repays through organic (unpaid), or paid links. Social Media provides light returns for high effort expended. In the early days where your numbers are small, the gains and click-through rates will be weak.
The disproportionate nature of such returns forces the need to boost through with paid advertising either to gain following to further reap, or simply to sow. Law of attraction wins out where high visible reshare and like factors spool the viral engine to success. Prepare to explode on the launch pad in the early days grinding for traction in a bloated market of competitors.
Advertising (by means of a third-party)
There are a number of locations where you can gain access to advertising. Adsense is one but there are others.
Each agency uses virtual billboards and technology to follow the target demographic around the internet.
As long as you know what you are promoting and what kind of audience you want to attract, everything is golden. If you are not all that sure, prepare for losing money hand over fist.
Possibly the only reason you’d be tempted to go this way is if you have a product and a marketing budget. If you are a standard opportunist without that budget then this option is unlikely to be for you.
Many blogging entrepreneurs start out with no product to market. They instead move to attract a following so that they can design a product to meet that market’s desire.
The problem is that bigger competition has most likely already got it covered so you will have to do something truly unique or outstanding in order to make a difference.
Developing unique qualities takes time that many Entrepreneurs don’t have the patience for.
Through interlinking between blogs of like topic backlinks are established. Unfortunately backlinks don’t provide as good a return as they used to and Google doesn’t measure these links as favourably. Backlinks are not without drawbacks despite how useful they can be.
Backlinks were cracked down on because black-hat creators went too far in trying to artificially boost their traffic. These over optimisations were penalised in algorithm changes made by Google.
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation makes the titles and content used for each post look attractive for the search engines. This includes; Keywords and their density, quality of the article, the authority of the website, the ranking of the page on a search engine and a number of other nefarious criteria.
SEO is a dark art and a science. The process is influenced by algorithmic filtration and the illusion of fairness.
Email marketing and Bookmarks feature as direct traffic. Email marketing goes directly to the inbox of the recipient and provides an unadulterated link back to the blog. A bookmark sits on the browser and takes the reader directly to that page.
Out of the Mix, which would you pick?
Direct is the best choice and here’s why.
- You already have permission.*
- You hand deliver your audience the destinations you want them to look at.
- Your viewers are motivated by a relationship with you and your work.
- You can self-promote without penalty.**
* If you abuse that permission by hitting your viewers with anything that isn’t directly relevant, you may lose the audience.
** The audience can punish you if they don’t like what you are promoting by choosing to ‘vote with their feet’.
This term is market-speak for the total number of people you can reach. Your reach is only “Potential”. As I make reference to many times, you cannot get 100%. You won’t even get 10%.
Your grasp of your audience in most of your other forms of marketing is restricted by the platforms that provide you that reach.
These media corporations want your filthy lucre. In translation, filthy lucre stands for money or more business suit and tie; advertising revenue.
The fat controller wants to provide a better service to the audience therein is motivated to be aggressive on stamping out synthetic marketing unless it is paid for.
If the fat controller can throttle you back to a portion of your audience they can sell you on advertising to the rest and to those outside your sphere of influence.
There is no limit on reach in your marketing list. The only true limit is the number of people you have in that list. This means that you can send an email and everyone on that list receives it. It does not mean that everyone on the list who receives the email will open it but I’ll go into that in the limitations below.
Email Lists Are Evergreen
This means that as long as you’ve reached a decent subscription count that remains stable in gains vs losses, you are going to generate a constant stream of predictable traffic to your blog and to your website as a whole. This helps boost up your figures to Google who will score you higher in authority which means you will get more Search Engine traffic in those articles that are well placed.
In analytical terms, you will see a gentle spiking pattern based on the days that you see your content posted. Email lists generate that predictable traffic you need each time you push out an article you spent valuable time on.
When I say predictable traffic
It will be predictable within a range. The truth is you never get 100%. It just doesn’t happen. What can be predicted is that you will get a healthier share of engagement than you would from simply publicising your post on social media or hoping that somebody stumbles upon it via a Search Engine. I’ll go into this in more detail below.
Whilst big wig bloggers do speak about the email list as a ‘panacea to all ills’ there are some limitations and hiccups to email lists:
You are not guaranteed to get every member of your email list open and perform the actions you want every time you post. The “open rate” can be a small percentage of the whole. Having said this, potentially the engagement factor is higher in an email list than on a social media site. Regardless, if you have a tiny list you are only likely to capture a percentage of your list each time.
Click rates, those people opening your emails and deciding to take action, are less than the open rate. You may have readers who take no action.
In fact, your list can go through some decay over time leading you with these types of subscriber.
- Leavers – Subscribers who up and leave.
- No open – Subscribers who never open your emails, either sending them straight to delete or just leaving them to pile up like your unfulfilled dreams.
- No action – Subscribers who never click links in your emails.
Motivating subscription is tough. When you’ve built your list but nobody shows up. Remedial action requires you to perform extra marketing activities to capture those followers and it isn’t that easy initially. You can use a weight of number strategy later to encourage more attraction to a list. My free guide to making guides provides another insight into how bloggers can capture readers through offering an incentive.
Automation doesn’t always work. Humans become bored after a certain length of time. This is why big wig bloggers and prolific brand owners modify their approach over time. Freshness in presentation is important but hard to quantify. Sometimes it is more of question of “How long can I leave it until it starts looking tired?” which is likely to be the wrong attitude.
HTML based emails get blocked by spam filters or placed in promotion inboxes. Running an RSS feed may not be the most effective way to go as a result. The problem is, do you have time to go manual? Creating a manual email to your list takes longer and doesn’t have the benefit of as much interactivity.
Email List Providers Cost Money
The service isn’t free. Except Mailchimp which starts out free but will eventually cost when you hit a subscription/email threshold. Free options will not provide you the flexibility of the professional alternatives which burdens you with a demand on your ROI (Return on Investment).
Having a drain on your rations from the start puts you under the cosh. You could argue that at least the money you pay to gain reach is transparent but you’ll be left to claw it back.
Why Start Now?
It is going to take you a while to figure out the best way to present your email offering so it is better to have everything tested even if it means that some of your early subscribers have a rough experience.
Your audience is your most important asset. Email provides a good way of retaining that audience as long as you continue to satisfy their needs.
The strength of the incumbent members of your niche is increasing by the day. New entrants are also popping up on a daily basis. Barriers to entry in entrepreneurial endeavours on the internet are very low. (It does take a considerable length of time to make a healthy profit for a green initiate however). You will need to start collecting a loyal audience.
It is an essential part of your marketing mix.
It can be low maintenance. The minimalist approach works well with email marketing.
The sooner you start, the sooner you start to learn and adjust. It is going to be horrible at first but eventually you will find ways to attract and retain your audience. Email subscribers are not an asset you should leave to gather later.
If you have found this article useful or feel it could use something more, feel free to leave a comment.
Featured image from Pixabay by werner22brigitte