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The email list: your biggest marketing ROI ever.


Have you ever felt a little like Facebook and Instagram are messing with you and your business?

Just the other day, I had a long conversation with a business owner who has an Instagram following of 32K. He said he’s been increasingly suspicious of how Instagram treats his posts — he’s been noticing that when he takes a break from running ads, he seems to see a huge drop in his post likes and comments. He suspects when he stops paying Instagram ad money, the algorithm buries his posts in his followers’ feeds and his normal posts get fewer likes and interactions than usual.

Now, first of all, 32K followers is more than I can imagine so he’s clearly doing something right 😂. Second of all, it’s hard to prove whether or not his suspicions are correct, but our conversation touched on an incredibly important aspect of modern day marketing:

When we advertise on social media, we’re at the mercy of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

In fact, I’m sure the word “algorithm” will soon be worked into our lexicon as a swear word.

However, there’s one way to use social media to our advantage and then circumvent them for good:

The email list.

While email may feel more antiquated than social media, it’s a list you can grow through your website and is totally independent from the ups-and-downs of social media and their cursed algorithm. An email list is your very own.

But the biggest benefit to the email list is that when someone gives you their email address, they’re giving you permission to reach out to them. In this day and age, it’s the most personal connection we have with our customer.

And because it’s a direct connection with an interested customer, email consistently has the largest ROI of all potential marketing channels. Your email list is your biggest moneymaker.

So how do you grow your email list?

Great question. And at the top level, it only takes 3 steps.

1. Give them a reason to enter their email address.

We’ve seen newsletter signups in website footers all over the world wide web. However, they’re not very inspiring to motivate visitors to enter in their email address.

You can increase email signups by giving your website visitors an incentive to sign up. Perhaps you have a pop-up that offers a small discount for signing up. Or your email list gets first access to your sales or insider information or personalized life hacks. Or if you have any digital content you could give away for free, this is a great place to do that. Whatever benefits you have up your sleeve, leverage them here.

For example, in the header below here, Fernweh Woodworking is offering to send interested visitors a downloadable catalog in exchange for their email address:

Or here, on Her View From Home, they used a pop-up to promote their free digital content in return for the visitor’s email address:

Now that you have a plan to motivate people to sign up for your emails, you’re going to want to make sure you have #2 in place.

2. Next, automate.

If I were to take a guess, you don’t have the time to sit at your desk and send out free digital content or respond to every email sign up that comes your way. And plus, what happens when someone signs up for free content at 2 a.m.?

This is where automation comes in.

But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill automated email from the dark ages of 2010. This is highly personalized, custom email automation that you can build to fit your business.

There are a variety of email automation platforms out there, but the one we’ve come to love is Active Campaign because it builds detailed, automated, personalized email campaigns in addition to having a very useful CRM (and we promise we’re not getting paid to talk about Active Campaign 😉).

But due to time and space, we’re only going to very briefly talk about Active Campaign’s automations and will save the CRM for another time.

I’m not going to lie, learning how to automate isn’t for the faint of heart. But once you’ve uncovered all of its secrets (or partnered with us who have put endless hours in to perfect it), you’ll never—ever—look back.

The most powerful aspect of Active Campaign is the intricate level of personalization. Not only can you create emails that automatically address the recipient by their first name, but you can create automations that begin as soon as they take a particular action.

For example, the most common automation is setting up a series of emails for when they sign up for your newsletter. That usually involves a welcome email and then a couple of extra informative emails that have a time delay to either educate about your business or promote your product in a unique and helpful way to new customers.

But you can go deeper than that. Below is an automation I created for a business that has two types of customers — homeowners and trade professionals — and each customer has a different type of service expectation and language.

So on the email signup, the visitor is required to click whether they are a homeowner or a trade professional. Once they’ve submitted the form, Active Campaign identifies which customer they are and then sends the proper chain of emails that speaks directly to that visitor’s needs and expectations.

And these are just examples of automations you can put into place for when a visitor enters their email address.

Once you have their email and they are now part of your contact list, you can then customize based on a number of their interactions with you. I won’t list them all but, you can also customize automations based on things like:

  • When they visit a particular web page
  • If they buy from your website
  • If they dismiss a website message message or a popup
  • If they click a link in an email they send you
  • And so many more.

As a small business, this level of automation is invaluable. Not only can you offer exceptional service 24/7, you can make sure you don’t miss a single interested website visitor. Even for mid to large businesses, automation like this keeps customers from falling through the cracks.

Once you’ve got your automations built, now it’s time for step #3.

3. And THEN advertise.

Now’s the time to go back to Instagram and Facebook and advertise the socks off of your website.

BUT, from now on, don’t judge your campaign by likes and follows on your social media, judge your campaign by emails added to your list.

And then watch as your automation takes care of cultivating your interested and engaged supporters, hopefully increasing loyalty and sales along the way.

This way you’re using the social media giants to your business’s long-term benefit. And your biggest ROI is no longer at the mercy of big tech.

Last, if you can, don’t go it alone.

I promise we’re not self-promoting here, but we simply know just how.much.work. it is to build your systems. We’ve spent hours learning, watching tutorials, and getting our questions answered by Active Campaign customer service and know what it takes to get it done.

If you’ve got the time and internal help, we highly encourage you to dive in and build your own money-making automated system.

However, if you don’t, we’re here to be your full-service team of developers, writers, and automation experts to get your system in place.

If you’re curious, schedule a time to talk with us about it. We can answer any questions and then—when you’re ready—we’ll work closely with you to create an automated system that fits your business like a glove.


Author: Teegan Nordhues