Are you considering building an email list, but have some doubts about why it is needed? Many bloggers and business owners don’t realize the importance of building an email list when they’re first starting out.
However most people usually change their mind when they see the impact email lists can have on someone else’s traffic and revenue.
In this article, we will share the top reasons why building an email list is important (with real case studies). We will also show you how to start building your email list – step by step.
In this beginner’s guide, we will cover the following topics:
- What is an email list?
- Why building an email list is important
- Social media vs email marketing
- What marketing experts are saying about email marketing
- What do you need to start building an email list
- How to choose the best email marketing service
- How to grow your email list and get more subscribers
- Finding new list building strategies and resources
By the end of this article, you should have answers to all your questions about building an email list.
What is an Email List?
An email list is a special list of names and email addresses of people who gave you permission to send them updates and promotions from your business.
You can build your email list inside an email marketing software and send bulk email notifications to everyone regarding your blog updates, online store, or other business services.
Why Building an Email List is Important?
According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing on average sees a 4300 percent return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the USA.
Because email subscribers joined your email list from your website and verified their identity by clicking on a link (double-optin), they are extremely interested in what you have to offer. This is why they are more likely to convert into paying customers.
In our business, email list gets 10 times higher conversions than social media campaigns.
This makes sense if you think about the reasons that make email an incredibly powerful communication channel:
1. Email is Personal
Email allows you to land into a user’s inbox. There is no ranking system limiting your reach. It is very direct and personal.
2. Email is Purposeful
To get updates from you, a user fills out a form to signup for your email list and confirm their email address. Someone doing this much work is obviously interested in hearing from you, and they are much more receptive to your message.
3. Email is Targeted
As we mentioned earlier, the user has already shown interest in your product or content. Since you already know what they like, you can deliver them highly relevant offers to get better results. This is called segmentation, and we will cover that later in the article.
4. You Own Your Email List
You do not own Facebook, Twitter, or Google. Your social media campaigns and SEO efforts can go to waste when these platforms change their policies. On the other hand, you own your email list, and it is not influenced by decisions of other businesses.
5. Email is One-on-One
People read email in the privacy of their inbox. The message is not on a public timeline or newsfeed. They can ask you questions directly in private with confidence. This helps build trust and connection.
6. More People Use Email Several Times a Day
You may have heard that Facebook has 1.4 billion and Twitter has 100 million daily active users. What you have may not have heard, is the number of people using Email every day.
Every internet user has at least one email account. A recent research conducted by Radicati found out that there 3.8 billion active email accounts. That’s half the population of Earth.
This is precisely why every smart business in the world has an email list.
Big name brands learned this lesson a long time ago, and that’s why they spend thousands of dollars on social media campaigns to get people to sign up for their email lists.
They understand that email marketing is the best long-term investment with a much higher return because people will continue to get their message at a very low cost for a longer period of time.
Social Media vs Email Marketing
Now you’re probably thinking, wait a minute. What about social media?
In fact, we have been asked several times isn’t email marketing kind of dead with social media taking over everything?
The best way to answer this question is to look at the information Twitter and Facebook ask you before you create an account:
Yup, it’s an email address.
These companies know that emails are the most direct and reliable way of getting in touch with their customers.
Even if you sign up using your phone number, they will keep asking for your email address to help you find friends, for password recovery options, and most importantly to send you targeted email messages.
Here is a view of the social tab in a typical Gmail user’s inbox.
All these emails are from big social media platforms, so they can engage you with the content on their platform and get you to visit their app or website again.
All social media platforms are building an email list because they are smart business owners. This helps their valuation when selling their business.
While social media is a great way to reach your audience, it’s important to keep in perspective the timely nature of social media platforms.
They come and go.
Not too long ago we had MySpace, FriendFeed, Google Buzz, Plurk and countless others. Most of them are either dead now or irrelevant.
Today we have Facebook and Twitter that are prominent, but not everyone enjoys these platform. Some people prefer Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc.
Basically your users are all over the place on different platforms. But studies show that at least 91% of consumers check their email on a daily basis.
We are not saying that social media is not important. It is, and you should explore every opportunity to reach your audience.
However, you should spend more time and effort into something that guarantees higher results.
What Experts are Saying About Building an Email List?
Don’t take just our word for it, listen to what all top marketing experts are saying about email marketing:
Out of all the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them.
– Neil Patel – Crazy Egg and QuickSprout
Getting an email address is the first critical step to figuring out who my reader is, and hopefully in the future, my customer of some sort.
– Joe Pulizzi – Founder Content Marketing Institute
If you’re not building an email list, you’re making a HUGE mistake.
– Derek Halpern – Founder Social Triggers
Email is the most predictable driver of growth and sales in our business. I prefer email marketing over all other traffic channels.
– Syed Balkhi – Founder WPBeginner
Many expert marketers say their biggest mistake was not building an email list when they first started out.
With all the reasons above, we hope that you’re convinced that building an email list is important for all businesses.
Now you might be wondering, how do I build an email list?
This brings us to the next section.
What You Need to Start Building an Email List?
By now, you know why building an email list is so important, and why ignoring it can be a HUGE mistake.
So let’s take a look at what you need to start building your email list.
3 Things You Need to Build an Email List:
- A website or blog.
- An email marketing service.
- High-converting opt-in forms
All three of these are fairly easy to set up, and none of them require programming or design skills.
For the sake of this article, we will only be focusing on the last two items in the list. If you don’t have a website or blog yet, then see our step by step guide on how to start a blog or how to make a website.
Choosing the Best Email Marketing Service
There are tons of email marketing services out there. Often beginners use the free option to save cost, which is understandable. However, some of these free platforms are not the best. Why?
Some platforms mislabel themselves as “email marketing service” when in reality all they offer is free blog subscription via email. This allows your users to receive an email update every time you publish a new blog post.
But that’s not true email marketing. Here are some of the downsides of using a free blog notification service:
- You can’t send out private email newsletters. To send an email, you will have to publish a new blog post, which means that the information you want to share will have to be publicly available first.
- You can’t personalize the email message. It will be delivered in the same format often with no branding or personalization.
- You can’t categorize subscribers by interests, demographics, or content type.
- There is no reporting. You don’t know how many people got the email, what percentage of users opened it, and how many of them clicked on your links.
- If you later tried to move to a paid service, your users will have to re-confirm their subscription. Many of them will not do it, and you will end up losing subscribers.
This is why we ALWAYS recommend using a professional email marketing service right from the beginning.
Yes, they cost a little bit of money, but they are an investment in your business which pays huge returns.
The benefit of professional email marketing services are:
- You can send private mass emails to your subscribers.
- You can see subscriber activity and group your subscribers based on actions they take.
- You can run A/B split tests to see which email subject line, content, and offers work best with your subscribers.
- With reporting tools, you can see which country you have the most subscribers from. You can adjust your time zone preferences, and send emails at the right time.
- Last, but definitely the most important, you can see the email addresses of all your subscribers.
There are hundreds of professional email marketing services available. To make it easy for you, we have compiled a list of the top email marketing services based on ease of use, cost-effectiveness, features, and performance.
For small businesses, we recommend using Constant Contact because they are one of the largest email marketing services in the world.
They offer a 30 day free trial. This gives you plenty of time to set up and start seeing the results. At the end of 30 days, your email list would likely be paying for itself (cost $9 / month). Use our Constant Contact Coupon to get 20% off.
If you’re looking for something more advanced that includes powerful marketing automation, then we recommend using HubSpot, Sendinblue or ConvertKit. They are both very popular among business owners, and they come with free trials as well.
Once you have signed up with an email marketing service, the next step is to add opt-in forms to your website to allow your users to subscribe.
Growing Your Email List and Getting More Subscribers
Did you know that more than 70% of visitors abandoning your website will never return? It’s true, just look in your Google Analytics and look at the percentage of new vs returning visitors.
That’s why you need to convert every website visitor into an email subscriber before they leave, so you can send them relevant messages to bring them back.
An average internet user spends just a few seconds looking at a website. This gives you very little time to engage them. If your email sign up forms are not noticeable, then users will leave without ever subscribing to your website.
The biggest mistake that we see beginners make is not strategically placing high-converting opt-in forms.
Some WordPress themes come with built-in sidebar widgets, but they don’t convert as well.
Your email marketing service may also provide you with codes to embed in your theme, but that requires you to know how to code.
This is why we recommend our users to use OptinMonster. It is the most powerful conversion optimization software that helps you convert abandoning website visitors into subscribers and customers.
Instead of adding boring sign up forms to your sidebar, you can easily create high-converting opt-in forms like lightbox popups, floating header and footer bars, slide-in scroll boxes, fullscreen welcome mat, inline forms, and more.
But what makes OptinMonster really powerful is the behavior automation and personalization features. OptinMonster allows you to automatically show different opt-in forms based on where the user is coming from, which page they are visiting, and what they are doing on your website.
For example, the Exit-Intent® feature track your users mouse behavior and show them a targeted opt-in form at the precise moment they are about to leave. This helps you convert abandoning visitors into subscribers.
That’s why influencers like Michael Hyatt, Neil Patel, and Social Media Examiner use exit-intent on their websites. It helped Social Media Examiner add over 95,000 new subscribers in 7 months.
Nicolas Gagne, a small business owner, combined Constant Contact with a single exit-intent optin to grow his email list by 500%. This helped him triple his revenue from his online store (see the full case study).
Note: OptinMonster was started by WPBeginner’s founder, Syed Balkhi, because he wanted to get more email subscribers, faster. It helped us increase our email signups by 600%. Due to popular request, we released this tool for public, and currently, it’s the most recommended lead generation software in the market.
Aside from OptinMonster, another tool you can use to quickly grow your email list and social media followers simultaneously is by using a viral giveaway plugin like RafflePress.
It allows you to use giveaways to turn your website visitors into brand ambassadors. As a result, you get more traffic, email subscribers, and social media engagement without buying any paid ads.
Give it a try.
List Building Strategies and Resources
Having the right tools is crucial, but knowing how to use them properly is what makes the most difference.
In your email marketing strategy, the most important thing you should plan out is segmentation.
What is email list segmentation?
Email list segmentation is the process of grouping your subscribers, so you can better personalize your emails based on interest.
It helps you get higher open rates and click-through rates. This definitive guide to email marketing has all the information you need to segment your email list like a pro.
If you want to start growing your email list quickly, then see our tested and easy tricks to grow your email list faster.
If you’re not sure how to create an opt-in form, then see this 63-point checklist for creating a high-converting optin form.
Content Upgrades are the highest converting opt-in forms. It’s a technique where you offer bonus content at the end of your popular blog posts. These usually convert 5 times higher than a regular opt-in. Here are some content upgrade ideas that you should check out. We have a complete guide on how to effectively use content upgrades in WordPress.
There are a lot of different ways to capture email leads, and we have covered them in detail in our beginner’s guide to lead generation in WordPress.
It does not matter what kind of business you run, what kind of website you have, or what industry you are in.
If you have a website, and you want to turn your visitors into returning customers, then you need to get them in your email list.
We hope this article helped you understand why building an email list is important and helped you get started on the right foot.
You may also want to see our guide on how to add web push notifications to your website. This is another way to connect with visitors after they leave your website, and we recommend running it in conjunction with an email list for maximum results.