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Email Marketing: How to Build an Email List + Why Businesses Need One

Ah, email marketing.

Tried and true, email marketing is still one of the best ways for small business owners to communicate with customers.

Similar to social media, we are all pretty much always plugged into our inboxes because it’s so accessible. We have it on our phone, on our computer, on our refrigerator…yes, you read that correctly. I’m the queen of unnecessary purchases and I bought one of those Samsung refrigerators with the tablet in the door…no regrets, it’s fantastic.


There are so many good reasons why your business needs to implement email marketing, but these are the top few:

  1. Your list belongs to you.

  2. Email marketing is a direct line of communication from you to your customers.

  3. You can automate and schedule your emails, saving yourself SO. MUCH. TIME.

  4. Email providers can generate some pretty nifty reports that are extremely useful.

  5. IT’S FREE TO START (so why not!?)

Your list belongs to you: Social media in general is great. Just about everyone is on some form of social media, and while it may make you look super popular to have thousands of followers, it really doesn’t do you that much good because you have zero ownership over those followers. Zuckerberg could decide to throw in the towel tomorrow and your followers could vanish into thin air, with you having no say in it whatsoever. Basically, having a page on social media is just renting space from that platform. You don’t own it.

Email marketing, on the other hand, is the opposite. The email addresses that you collect belong to you. You can download and archive them so that they will never be lost, even if something were to happen to the email provider.

Email marketing is a direct line of communication from you to your customers: Long gone are the days when you could post a status on Facebook and all of your followers would see it. Now, thanks to Facebook’s new algorithm, a very tiny portion of your followers are able to see what you post…unless you pay for it. Yep, as shitty as that is, you can’t even share things with the following that you worked so hard to build without having to spend some pretty serious coin.

With email marketing, you don’t have to pay extra money to send an email to your entire list and you don’t have to wonder whether or not people saw your email…because email providers tell you! Email marketing is truly a direct line of communication between you and your customers, making it invaluable for businesses.

You can automate and schedule your emails, saving yourself SO. MUCH. TIME: It’s true. I send out an email to my list once a week with updates, announcements, business advice and tools for business owners, and I don’t want to miss weeks when I have other things going on. And let’s be real, I always have other things going on…we all do! So my saving grace is scheduling and automation. I can pre-write a year’s worth (or more) of emails and schedule them to go out whenever I want them to. “Set it and forget it” is one of my favorite descriptions because that is truly what it is! You put in the work initially, and then you let your email provider take the reins from there. To learn how to grow your email list with content upgrades through Mailerlite forms, go here!

You can also set up automation for your emails which is SUCH a time saver. Let’s say you want to send out a welcome email when someone joins your list (which you absolutely SHOULD be doing). Unless you’re a business superhero with tons of time on your hands, you aren’t sitting at your computer waiting for people to subscribe to your email list and then personally emailing each one of them. If you are, more power to you…but I for one, am not. In walks automation. You can set up triggers and pre-design emails within your email provider software that automatically send out when someone subscribes to your list, purchases your product, etc. etc. etc. It’s a win-win. Your customer gets instant communication from you no matter what you’re doing at the time. Now THAT’S what I call working while you sleep :). Read about how to use Mailerlite automation here!

Email providers generate some pretty nifty reports that are extremely useful: It’s true. I’m not a big analytics person (I’m actually horrible with numbers and data used to make me feel faint) but as a business owner, you need to be…or you need to pay someone else to be, because it’s WAY important.

On social media, unless you’re paying to run an ad, you really have no idea who has seen what you posted. You don’t know how many of your followers read what you post and you don’t know who clicked and who didn’t. It’s frustrating and a pain in the ass, but it is what it is. Another reason why email marketing is amazing: the reports!

This is a report from an email that I sent to a segment of my subscribers – and it’s a great overview of the analytics that Mailerlite displays.

  • Total Emails Sent: This is exactly what it sounds like…the total number of emails you sent in that campaign. This particular email was sent to the people on the waiting list for my new eCourse – so there were 71 total emails sent in this campaign.

  • Opened: Also exactly what is sounds like…this is the number of people who opened the email out of the total number of emails that you sent. Opening rates vary from business-business and industry to industry – for me personally, my average open rate is typically anywhere from 25-40%. Statistically, the highest open rates are in the hobbies niche and the lowest are daily deals/coupon emails – because who doesn’t hate those.

  • Clicked: Again, exactly what it sounds like. This is the number of people who clicked on links within your email. This particular email didn’t really have any links to click other than my social media accounts, so the only click that registered was a click to my Free Resource Library. You can see the list of links that were in this particular campaign at the bottom of the report.

  • Unsubscribed: Number of people who unsubscribed during this campaign – woohoo – goose egg! It’s hard not to take it personally when someone unsubscribes from your list. I can still remember the first unsubscribe notice that I got…and I can even tell you what email address it was! But as time went on, I’ve learned that it’s a good thing for people to remove themselves from your list if they’re no longer interested in what you’re offering. I would rather have a list of 100 dedicated readers who are interested in my products than a list of 100,000 that will never buy from me. So let them weed themselves out and don’t worry about it!

  • Spam complaints: Uh-oh. If someone flags your email as spammy, it will show up here. Don’t be obnoxious by sending emails constantly and always trying to sell stuff, and you should be in the clear.

  • Hard bounce: A hard bounce means that the email was not delivered and “bounced back” for whatever reason(s). Two common reasons are: the email no longer exists or the email server blocked your content. Typically, larger companies (especially banks and law firms) have pretty strict email servers that filter out anything that seems spammy. Regular email servers such as Yahoo or Gmail are usually a little more lenient and aren’t so quick to tag things as spam.

  • Soft bounce: Like a hard bounce, these emails were not delivered, but for different reasons. Usually those reasons are: the inbox was full, the email was too large or the email server was down…something like that. If your email provider records bounces repeatedly from the same email addresses, it may “clean” those email addresses from your list.

  • Reading environment: This is how your email was read (webmail, mobile or desktop). All of my opens from this campaign were from webmail.

You can also view Subscriber Activity which shows the entire list of people you emailed and whether or not they opened it, how many times they opened it and what they clicked on. It’s extremely insightful and a great way to track your email marketing efforts!

It’s FREE to start: Yep, TRUE! There are multiple email providers that are 100% free to get started with. I used to use MailChimp and ultimately switched to Mailerlite, but both are completely free to start an account with. After you’ve reached a certain number of subscribers, you have to move into a paid plan. But with Mailerlite, even the paid plans are extremely affordable…starting at just $10/month!

Email Marketing: How to get Started

Like I said before, Mailerlite is what I use for my own business, and I can’t sing their praises enough. They’re always a step ahead of the competition in terms of automation, templates and just about everything else. It’s FREE and incredibly easy to get signed up – first, start by going to their website here, and then follow my FREE step-by-step tutorial! (You can download that here!)

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