If you’re in the entrepreneurship space for any length of time, you’ll hear about how important email list building is. It is one of only two digital marketing assets that you own and control yourself. The other one is your website. It is the currency of joint ventures and many lucrative types of speaking engagements. It is just a cool thing to have.

That’s cool and all, but how do you build a list if you don’t have one? And how big does it need to be anyway?

How Big Does Your Email List Need to Be?

Like most questions of this type, the answer depends on what you want to do with it.

Generally, 1,000 is the threshold at which you can start thinking of your list as significant. That said, the old adage applies: it’s not the size of the boat. It’s the motion of the ocean. (That might be the wrong adage.)

If you have a list of 1,000 people with a 2% open rate, then you don’t have anything to be excited about. On the other hand, if you have a 200 person list with a 48% open rate, then you’ve got something pretty powerful.

This is why buying a list is so ineffective. It’s also why you shouldn’t put every person you meet onto your junk newsletter list. (No, I don’t need to hear about the latest mortgage rates.)

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To put it simply, assuming your open rates are 15-20% and above, 1,000 puts you in the game, 5,000 is the minimum for many summits and joint ventures, and beyond that more opportunities build.

Is List Building Worth the Trouble?

email list building is worth the trouble

Yes, email list building is worth the trouble. Email marketing is an effective way to drive traffic to your website and land sales online or in person. Consumers identify it as their preferred brand communication channel, and according to Litmus, email drives an ROI of $36 for every dollar spent. This is an incredibly high return.

There are also softer benefits. Email marketing is a great way to add value and reward your customers. The third and fourth Relationship Marketing Principles are “In established relationships, continually reinforce the decision to buy” and “Good customers expect to be rewarded.” Email marketing supports your efforts in both areas. 

Finally, email marketing gives you an opportunity to build relationship equity as part of your customer’s journey. This is the value that your customers see that goes beyond the functional benefits of your product or service. This is your brand and it provides competitive insulation. Otherwise, you have a product with a name that’s no better than all your competitors.

How Do You Build Your Email List?

How the heck do you get 1,000 people to be on your email list when you start with zero?

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

If you want to add 1,000 people to your list in a year, that means you need to add 80 per month. 20ish working days per month, and that’s 4 per day.

How many people do you meet every day? I meet that many people every day, but I’m a professional connector. You may not be.

Even if you aren’t spending all your time making connections, you still meet people. Prospects. Networking events. Heck, you can reach out on LinkedIn or Facebook and invite people to join your list.

Add 4 per day, and you’ll have 1,000 in a year.

You can read more email list-building tips in this post: How to Implement Small Business Email Marketing.

What Do You Share On Your Email List?

I know what you’re thinking. I just told you not to add every person you meet to your “junk newsletter list.” So, how can you add every person you meet to your list?

Easy. Don’t have a junk newsletter list! Share valuable, interesting content that people want to read.

Nobody wants to get a newsletter. They don’t have time for it, and they rarely offer meaningful value. A newsletter tends to be an email with a collection of links to various articles. The consumption of such a piece is a serious undertaking requiring a time investment.

I don’t send a newsletter. I share content. Everything I write is either something that my personality is stamped on so people feel they’re getting some authentic Michael Whitehouse, or it’s something supporting and promoting someone in my community that my audience may be interested in.

Here are some tips for good email content:

  • One topic per email – Nobody has time for a newspaper in their email. Your email should have one point which can be grasped relatively quickly. We’d rather get three emails than one overwhelming email with three points.
  • Make it short or make it interesting – Either make it something they can read in a minute or less, like an event announcement, or make it a story or other engaging writing that holds their interest (for example, a brief discourse on how to get a thousand-person email list.
  • Don’t be pitchy – You can pitch, and you can sell, but you’ve got to make your audience feel that you respect them and are offering them some value. If you want to sell a program or product, open up with an interesting story. Alternatively, use the email to promote events (that provide real value) at which your product will be offered.
email list content strategy is similar to social media

We follow the same 70:20:10 content/messaging strategy in email marketing that we use for Social Media.

  • 70% of your content is focused on value creation and nurturing your audience.
  • 20% should deliver curated content, sharing content from other sources that your audience will value.
  • 10% of the content can focus on promotions.

This strategy can be used within an email. For example, the “PS” is a great place to mention a new or existing product or service. It can also drive single-topic emails, as described above.

Email List Building – Conclusion

We’ve covered whether or not email list building is worth the trouble. It is. 

We’ve discussed list size and determined that it’s not the size of your list that counts; it’s the quality. An engaged list of one thousand is more valuable than a non-responding list of ten thousand. 

We’ve given you some email list-building tips. This is a much bigger topic and warrants its own post.

We’ve also described some ideas and approaches to the content that you should share to create an engaged, active email list.

Obviously, there is so much more to this subject, but these are some quick tips and just enough information to get you that thousand-person list by this time next year.

Source: A version of this content was first published on guywhoknowsaguy.com

Author: Michael Whitehouse

Michael Whitehouse is The Guy Who Knows a Guy. He offers his services as a networking concierge, making connections and building strategic alliances around the world. He is the host of the daily Morning Motivation Podcast and the Guy Who Knows a Guy interview podcast.