Why Building An Email List Should Be Your Number One Priority

I’m still amazed that almost no one in the web design niche is serious about building an e-mail list.

You see, I’m very familiar with the online marketing world, and everyone there seems to be obsessed with  conversion rates, open and click through rates, autoresponder sequences, and other things like that.

Yet, talk to people in the web design niche, and it seems that nobody cares. The thing is, though,that if you want to build a successful online business, you should not only care about building an e-mail list, you should make it your number one priority.

What DOESN’T work: selling right off the bat

People rarely buy something from someone right off the bat. They usually read their blog for a while, follow them on Twitter, join their e-mail list, and then, some time later, they decide to make a purchase.

In short, people tend to buy things from individuals and companies that they trust, and building that trust takes time.

Nathan Barry illustrates it very well with this analogy:

Imagine you and I meet for the first time on the street. After a quick introduction I ask,

“Do you by chance work with software?”

“Yes, I’m a developer.” you respond.

“Perfect! I just wrote a book about designing better web applications. Would you like to buy it?”

How many copies do you think I could sell this way?

Nathan points out that this scenario seems completely ridiculous when described as an in-person encounter, but many entrepreneurs do the exact same thing online, then wonder why they can’t make any sales.

People who have never heard about you before click a link and find themselves on a landing page that immediately asks them to buy whatever it is that you are selling. Is it surprising that they never come back? Fortunately, there is a better alternative.

What DOES work: giving a lot of value way before you make your offer

People tend to buy things from individuals and companies that they trust. You are not likely to get someone to trust you by bombarding them with endless sales pitches: people trust those who prove themselves by adding value over an extended period of time. Only when you have gained that trust you can expect to sell something.

E-mail marketing is an excellent way to do that:

  • You offer people something valuable as an opt-in incentive (e-book, video, course, etc.)
  • Few days after they have subscribed, you send them another piece of valuable content, something that helps them solve their problems
  • Then, few days after that you send them another article or another video that adds value, and you keep doing that.
  • ONLY when you have given them a lot of free valuable material you make your offer.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t, since the whole process is automated. You only  need to create that content and set up the autoresponder sequence. Then, you can relax, and watch the sales come in.

“Money is in the list.. Unless your list doesn’t give a shit.”

It’s important to keep in mind that e-mail marketing is useless if you don’t do it in the right way, though.

There are two main things that those who try to sell via e-mail struggle with:

  1. Building a profitable e-mail list. Nowadays, most people are bombarded with opt-in forms and freebies from left and right, therefore they are wary of giving their e-mail addresses to someone. How do you present your offer in such a way that your potential customers want to subscribe to your e-mail list?
  2. Maintaining a profitable e-mail list. There’s more to e-mail marketing than simply collecting a bunch of random e-mails: you have to keep your list “warm” if you want to make any sales through it. How do you run your list in a way that makes your subscribers eager to buy your products?

These are the topics that I will cover in-depth in my upcoming articles this month.

Make building an email list your #1 priority!

The reason why most people don’t focus on building their e-mail list is because it’s damn hard. It’s much easier to play around with social media than it is to set up a high quality autoresponder sequence.

Don’t take the easy route, though, because a profitable e-mail list is the most valuable asset you can have as an online entrepreneur. Make it your #1 priority.

P.S. I’d like to quote Derek Halpern: “If you’re not building an e-mail list, you are an idiot!” ;)

About the author: Agota Bialobzeskyte is a writer and online entrepreneur who firmly believes that web designers and web developers all over the world could greatly benefit from learning more about online marketing.

This article was originally written for Foundertips.com, a blog started by Dainis Graveris, founder of 1stWebDesiger.com.


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  1. I agree. Technology has made a very cold, disconnected place we live in. People are too much in a hurry all the time
    to be bothered with a phone call. But they can sit for hours hooked to reading Facebook , is this anyway to stay social media craze
    connected with friends or family??

  2. I absolutely agree. We need to understand that people may chance upon your site and having got to your site through a search is not guarantee that they are ready to buy. They may be just surveying. Looking around for what all are available. May be that they do not even clearly understand how the kinds or services we offer online works. At that time, attempting a sale would be ridiculous.
    I read that it takes about 6 to 7 messages through multiple channels to reach a potential customer before they can choose to buy. Ads are one way but emails are the best way.

    • Agota Bialobzeskyte

      Exactly! :)

  3. Kathleen Dwyer

    Great post! I’ve been struggling with whether building a list made sense for me. Reading this gave me clarity – I need to get started on developing content and get the ball rolling! Thanks for the push :-)

    • Agota Bialobzeskyte

      I’m glad you find this post helpful! :)

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