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211: How to start an e-mail list
Episode 1111th February 2015 • Podcasting Experiments • Joshua Rivers
00:00:00 00:28:08

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For several years, I've heard about the importance of building an e-mail list. "The money's in the list," I would hear along with examples of how the person implemented it.

I started an e-mail list, but I never did a whole lot with it.

I rarely promoted it.

I didn't provide a reason or benefit for someone to join the list.

All I've done is use it to send blog post updates, an occasional special post, and a few promotional e-mails.

Well, I plan on changing things!

Since I've heard many things about building an e-mail list, I've tried to compile several of the important elements from different sources. We'll look at:

How to collect the e-mail addresses
What to offer someone to join the list
How to promote the list
Options for ways to use the list

I know that I'm not prime example of how to do all of this, but I'm trying to bring all of this together to help all of us though this process. I'll come back later to report on how things went and how I may change things up.

I also welcome you to join me in building your e-mail list. If you have already started and have some tips to add to this, please add to the conversation in the comment section.
How to collect the e-mail addresses
There are several ways you can start an e-mail list. This list isn't comprehensive, but covers the most popular methods:

WordPress / Jetpack subscribe by e-mail
Mail Poet

I would highly recommend not to use WordPress or Feedburner for collecting e-mail addresses. They are basically just ways for people to be notified of new posts. As far as I know, there's no way to send other e-mails to the list.

Mail Poet is a WordPress plugin that allows you to manage the e-mail list from the WordPress dashboard. I have it installed, but I haven't used it. There is a free and a paid version. Dustin Hartzler of Your Website Engineer has spoken about using it on his podcast.

MailChimp, Aweber, and Benchmark are basically similar services. MailChimp, however, has a free option if you have less than 2,000 subscribers and send less than 12,000 e-mails a month.

Infusionsoft, from what I understand, does more than manage your e-mail list and various campaigns. It can also help with sales and customer management. This is definitely a higher end service (not for the average blogger).

MailChimp is the service I currently use, and I plan to continue with them for the foreseeable future. I have is setup to send the people on my lists blog updates, plus I can send additional e-mails. I plan to start using an auto-responder series soon, which is a premium service for them. I'll talk about this later.
What to offer someone to join the e-mail list
Even with as great of content that you and I create, most visitors are not going to sign up just for blog updates. They would like a bigger incentive.

One great thing to offer is something special that they can download or view right when they sign up. This can be a PDF (e-book, report, worksheets, etc.), audio file, graphic, video, and more.

There was a few months that I offered a PDF ebook to those that signed up for my list. I since removed it. I can't even remember why I removed it!

I plan on implementing this on my list for this site. I have a short ebook written to help people get started with their websites. I've sent an early copy to those already on the list. It's being editing and formatted now, and it will be available for official use in a week or two.
How to promote the e-mail list
There are several places that you can promote your e-mail list. Each one has it's benefits and drawbacks. Here's a quick list:

The Feature Box
Top of Sidebar
After Single Post
The Footer
The About Page