Every communicator wants her message to be heard. Every creative wants his art to be appreciated. Right? But so many writers and artists don’t get the attention they deserve.
Why? Because they neglect the single-most important element to building a tribe. They forsake one simple, but essential online marketing asset.
The email list
I was talking to my publisher the other day about marketing strategies for my upcoming book, and do you know what the first question they asked me was?
“How big is your email list?”
Not, “How many RSS subscribers do you have?”
Or, “How many ‘hits’ does your blog get?”
Nope. None of that. Just email: the most important tool you need to get your message heard.
Musicians use it to let their fans know their tour schedule. Writers use it to announce an upcoming book. Retailers use it to share special deals and discounts — and drive sales.
It’s all about the list.
Isn’t email marketing dead?
In a word: No.
As someone recently pointed out, if email is dead, why does every major social network ask for your email address before you can create an account?
Because email is still the most powerful way to communicate online.
Every day, people check their inboxes (often multiple times per day). They sit in front of their screen, glued to Outlook or GMail or whatever, constantly refreshing and waiting for more mail.
No, email is not dead. It is very much alive. It’s almost as old as the Internet itself. And in spite of fads and bogus predictions, it continues to stick around and outlast the fads.
The benefits of a good list
I get more “mileage” out of my newsletter than any other platform I have — including my blog. Whenever I send an email to my list, I get hundreds of replies — far more engagement than on any given blog post.
If I send a link, people click it. If I ask a question, people answer.
Why? Three reasons:
- Email is personal. It’s casual and friendly — a great way to build trust with people.
- Email is direct. No middlemen. Your message: delivered straight to your audience.
- Email is private. People can be themselves and openly share what they’re struggling with, what they want, or questions they have (unlike public comments on a blog post, for example).
If you haven’t tapped into the power of a good email list, you’re losing a ton of opportunities. By they, while we’re talking about it, are you signed up for my newsletter? Just drop your email in this form below (it’s easy and free):
The best way to build a list
So how do you get started building your email list? There are a few things you need:
- Get a good email service (like Mailchimp or Aweber). If you are on a tight budget, you could use Feedburner, but it has limited tracking. (Note: Mailchimp is free up to 2000 subscribers, and Aweber offers a $1 month-long trial.)
- Create an awesome signup form. It needs to be obvious and not hideously ugly. If your website doesn’t have a clear opt-in form, then you’re missing out on a lot.
- Offer an incentive. This can be an eBook or a free MP3 download — whatever your readers would find value in. It’s an “ethical bribe” that allows you to reward subscribers with something other than just your content.
This is why I was excited when I saw my friend, Martyn, release his new WordPress theme, “Conversion,” which is all about building your list.
It’s built on Genesis, which is the same framework that Chris Brogan, Copyblogger, Problogger, and others use. What I like most about it is the snazzy feature box widget, which promises an extra 50% more subscribers per month (mine doubled when I started using it).
I spent a month working with Martyn, tweaking Conversion to create a theme specifically tailored to the needs of writers and artists and entrepreneurs who care about building a list.
The result was a clean, content-driven theme that is all about delivering great content and finding your fans. We’re calling it “Tribe” (read more about it here).
If you’re interested in building an email list and using a powerful theme to make it easier, check out the Tribe theme.
Have you tapped into the power of building an email list? What other tips would you share? Share in the comments.
*Photo credit: DeWitt Clinton (Creative Commons)
Disclosure: Some of the above links were affiliate links.