At this point, it's pretty clear that just about every business — online or otherwise — needs a website.
It's a 21st century must-have.
But there's another critical thing that you need, and it's not as immediately obvious.
You need an email list.
This is just as true for businesses that are totally offline — like brick and mortar bars and restaurants, or repair service companies — as it is for online businesses like Shopify stores and affiliate sites.
It's the key to reaching the right audience at the right time.
As long as people have willingly and knowingly opted into your list, you're golden.
There are tons of places you can set up email capture forms, but it's something you need to do.
Your email list is a big collection of warm leads. You already know that these people are interested in what you're selling.
If they weren't, they wouldn't stay subscribed to your list.
That makes them the perfect target for new product announcements, limited time coupons and discounts, and other promotions that spur sales.
In a recent blog post from Smart Passive Income, the author describes how taking email marketing seriously paid off for their own business, in a big way.
An Email List
The biggest mistake I made (and I made it twice) was not starting an email list right away.
On GreenExamAcademy.com, I didn’t build an email list mostly because I had no idea that I could.
I thought it was a fancy thing big brands had access to, and because I was so new to online business back in 2008, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Eventually, I found out what an email list was after a mastermind group I was involved with suggested I sell my second product—an audio version of my LEED exam study guide—to those who had purchased the ebook version.
“It’s always easiest to sell to those who have already bought from you,” I was told.
Well, the problem was I had no idea how to reach out to those initial customers, other than one by one via email.
I got the email addresses from the PayPal notification emails that were sent to me, and after sending over 500 emails, I was eventually banned from sending emails for about a half a day because I was sending too many within a specific time period.
I made the same mistake again when starting SmartPassiveIncome.com.
The site was launched in October 2008, and I didn’t begin collecting email addresses until January 2010—almost a year and a half later.
That time, my excuse wasn’t about not knowing—it was that I didn’t think it was the right time. My site had just started, I wasn’t planning on selling anything, and I didn’t see the value in it.
So I get a few email addresses—maybe. So what then? Why is that important?
When I finally started to collect email addresses back in 2010, the importance of email became very apparent, very quickly.
And as time went on, the reasons for having the email list revealed themselves even more.
At first, I saw a direct correlation between emails that were sent, and spikes in traffic to the website.
This came because of broadcast emails about new posts that were published, and also the influx of visitors to older posts from my archive that were linked to some of the first few emails in the autoresponder sequence.
I also saw that emails that were sent to my list became great conversation starters.
I was able to have a direct interaction with my audience because of it. I could ask questions and get answers back.
I could get feedback for my work to help improve it. And, it also just showed people that I was a real person who took the time to reply.
Then, in 2013, something crazy happened—my website was hacked.
SPI was down for an entire week after a DDOS attack left the site unusable, and during that insane week as I was trying to get things back online, I was still able to keep in contact with my audience to let them know what was going on.
It showed me that even if my site was gone, I’d still have my email list so that I could set up shop elsewhere if I needed to.
That’s huge for peace of mind.
More recently, when I made the decision to start creating my own products, the email list I’ve built has been instrumental in the success of the launch campaigns for those products.
For more information about setting up an email list, from what provider to start with to how to begin to segment your audience, click here for a free How to Start an Email List tutorial.
You can read about more essentials for a successful online (or offline!) business over at Smart Passive Income.