These are difficult times for 99% of businesses out there, and many are looking for ways to grow their online sales. One common thought is to start emailing people to get them to come to your website. This is actually a valid idea, as email continues to be one of the major drivers in not only getting traffic to your site, but in promoting sales and driving revenue. We recently did a bulk email for one of our customers to her list and you could actually measure the sales that came in as a result! But what if you have previously ignored growing your email list and are now needing to grow online sales because of the Covid19 issue? I recently had someone reach out to me and ask if they should purchase an email list. This was my response:

Building an email list is a delicate and time consuming task, but I do not recommend purchasing a list. I’ve tried it, and have spoken with many others who have tried it, and it never works – for a couple of reasons: 1.) purchased lists are not emails that have opted-in to YOU, so they see it as spam, and 2.) these lists are often outdated and full of errors.  

The thing about email lists is that unlike the number of social media “likes”, the number of people on your email list is not a vanity metric – no one except you knows how many people are actually on your list, so no one cares. Instead, what matters is what percentage of people on your list actually open your emails and read them. For most lists, this is only about 20%, but it is possible to get as much as 40% of your list to actually open your emails with great subject lines.

The number of people on your email list is not a vanity metric – no one except you knows how many people are actually on your list. Click To Tweet

This percentage of people that open your list is tracked by email service providers and they rate you with a reputation score. If your score drops too low, they consider you a spammer and stop delivering your emails, which makes matters even worse. That of course is one reason why you don’t want to purchase a list, as your reputation score will drop. Here is an example of my email report for this month. You can see that I have a reputation score of 99%, an open rate of almost 70% and a click through rate of 8%.  Almost none of my emails bounce and I have zero spam reports. Those numbers are all extremely good.  

Then we are back to the question, how do you grow an email list? Like I said, it won’t happen overnight because it is built on the know, like, and trust factor which requires time to establish. There are two good ways grow your list:  

1. Create an irresistible offer that you put on your website. This is known as a “Lead Magnet”. I have a great course on this that is available from Udemy (https://www.udemy.com/course/lead-magnets-email-lists/). Basically, the offer should be so strong that the person visiting your website will gladly give you their email address in exchange for what ever it is that you are offering. In fact, it should be so strong that they will willingly share your offer with others. Of course, somehow they need to learn about your offer in the first place – that is where marketing comes in. You need to tell everyone about your offer at tradeshows, on your social media posts, in your email signature block, and through Facebook ads. If you do advertising, don’t try to sell them your products – instead send them to your Lead Magnet.  

Somehow they need to learn about your offer in the first place – that is where marketing comes in. Click To Tweet

2. Find someone in your industry or a closely related industry that already has a large list. Offer them something (money?) to send out a mailing on your behalf. Since their large list already has a relationship with the person sending it and they already know, like, and trust that person, they will be much more responsive to opening the email. This is often accomplished via an affiliate arrangement. For example, if you knew someone who sold cookware that had a large list, they might send out an email to sell your hotpads. You would add a tracking code to a special link you set up for them so that you would know where a sale came from. When someone purchased your hotpads from that link, you would then pay the cookware company a commission on that sale, which grows your list.  

Once you start to grow your email list, there is one other thing that is really important, and that is to send out emails on a regular and consistent basis. Your emails should not be asking for a sale each time, rather they should be informational and helping to grow your know, like, and trust factor with your readers. If you are not emailing your list with great content on a regular and consistent basis, they will soon forget about you. And if you only email them whenever you are trying to sell them something, they will unsubscribe. Sending out an email once a month asking your list to purchase from you is a really bad idea, unless you are sending out great informational emails at least once a week and then you add in a special promo now and then.  

Your emails should not be asking for a sale each time, rather they should be informational and helping to grow your know, like, and trust factor with your readers. Click To Tweet

There is one other thing you can try as an alternative or supplement to emails, and that is text message marketing. The average open rate for text messages is 98% compared to 20% for emails, and most people open text messages immediately. Text message marketing can work great. But like email, you must organically grow your list of subscribers, not purchase a list. We offer a program that allows you to create a unique keyword for a special text-only number, such as text FREEBOOK to 3035298804. Like emails, this works best when the incentive is an offer that they really want. This works especially well for retail shops, as they might have a sign right next to their cash register that says, text VIP to… and save 15% off today’s purchase. That is kind of a no-brainer for them to do that in order to save 15% on the spot, and the store then gets their cell phone number. Once you build up a list of cell phone numbers, then you can send out bulk messages to your list just like you would send out an blast to your email list, offering them a reason to come back into your online store.

Lots of people are now scrambling, trying to get their online business going. But an ecommerce website is not a magic pill. You can’t just start blasting out emails to a purchased list and start growing your revenue. This is something that should have happened long before this pandemic hit. But it is NOT too late! Create an irresistible offer, take out some ads, put out some YouTube videos, create some great content that people are interested in, and start driving traffic to your site. You CAN grow an email list and email is a great way to let your customers know about your offerings.