Why Your Website NEEDS an Email List: A Sumo-Sized Guide

Bonus Material: 7-Day List Building Course

You’re the CEO of your business. 

But you’re not just the CEO. You’re also the CFO, the CMO, and the COO. 

So you might think you don’t have time for email marketing. Between meetings and content and social, not to mention oh I don’t know… actually developing your product… you’re maxed out. 

Plus, it costs money to collect emails, right? You can’t afford to even think about email marketing right now. 

But I’m here to show you that you can’t afford not to. 

Aside from the fact that email marketing has the highest ROI of all of the marketing channels available (which we’ll get into), it also dominates in almost every other aspect of your business:

  1. Your Email List is Your ATM
  2. You Have Complete Control Over Your Email List
  3. Your Email List is a Dirt-Cheap Marketing Platform
  4. Email Marketing Buries Social Media Alive
  5. Your Email List is A Product Validation Machine
  6. Your Email List Provides Traffic (At the Push of a Button)
  7. Email Marketing Allows You To Get in Front of Your Audience Whenever You Want
  8. Email is Like Having a Full-Time Salesperson 24/7
  9. Your Email List Inspires Connection
  10. Your Email List is A Window Into Your Audience’s Minds

Even if you don’t have time to engage in all of the marketing channels available to you, that’s ok. Stop everything except for email marketing

Let’s first clear up what email marketing even is, and then we can get into why you can’t ignore it. 

The most daunting thing about starting with list building is not knowing where to start. So I've created a FREE beginner's list building course to make it super simple to get started.
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What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a method of engaging with your customers through email - emails that you send, and they give you permission to send to them

Yup, contrary to what some believe, email marketing is not spamming people who didn’t give you their emails, crossing your fingers and hoping they open it and buy from you. 

It’s a form of permission marketing, where your customers are giving you permission to market to them in an intimate setting: their inboxes

Effective email marketing usually includes collecting emails through a “lead capture” (a pop-up, email collection form, landing page, or other) and sending high-value content to those subscribers to engage with them. 

Only after this engagement do you sell to them. 

So you might be wondering how email marketing differs from content marketing. After all, you’re creating content for your email subscribers, right? 

Content marketing usually supports email marketing. In fact, most other marketing platforms support email marketing (or are most effective when they do). 

email list

No marketing channel should take email marketing’s place.  For example:

  • Your Instagram and Facebook presence should be used as a platform upon which to build your email list. 
  • SEO should be used to get traffic to your website so you can convert those visitors to email subscribers
  • Content should build authority and attract your target audience so they sign up for your content upgrade and grow your email list. 

But if you’re using these marketing channels as direct channels currently, you might be wondering why you should even consider switching direction to support email marketing.

Your Email List is Your ATM

You’ve probably heard it before: your email list is your ATM.

But you might wonder whether it’s true. Can you seriously just send an email and expect a flood of cash?

Well… yeah. Kind of. 

That’s because email marketing has the highest ROI of any other marketing platform available

If you spend $100 on email marketing, you can expect a return of $4,425.00. 

And even the lowest stat I’ve been able to dig up on email marketing is that it has an ROI of 3800%. Not only that, but it’s been the most profitable marketing channel for ten years in a row

That’s not too shabby right? This alone should convince you to focus on email marketing. 

But if you’re crazy still unconvinced, here’s some more data that should convince you that email marketing is worthwhile. 

For ecommerce alone, in 2014 email marketing drove over 27% of all Black Friday sales and an additional 23% of Cyber Monday sales. 

percentage of sales driven

Compare this (low cost channel) to only 16% of sales being driven from paid search ($$) and only 1.6% being driven from social media. 

Can you afford 25% fewer sales?

And can you afford to spend the majority of your time marketing on channels that are driving far under 2% of your sales?

I bet not. Even if you have a blog, a SAAS business or you sell digital products, email marketing packs the highest return. 

Don't have an email list yet? No problem. Click here to get the FREE crash course to start your email list today.

You Have Complete Control Over Your Email List

Imagine building your house on a plot of rented land. 

No laws are in place to protect you or your house on this rented land, and your landlord… well, he kind of sucks. 

He could evict you at any time for any small infraction. Play music too loud? Dismantle your house and rebuild it elsewhere. 

Sometimes, your landlord decides to plant a huge tree to reduce your visibility, or takes away a chunk of the land away, or even locks you out of your house because of something you’ve apparently done. 

The landlord controls everything from what color your house is painted, to what type of plants you have in your garden, and even how many visitors you are allowed to have

If you follow the rules meticulously, your landlord will let you have friends over. Maybe they’ll even help introduce you to new friends. But he knows that he owes you nothing.

Sounds sort of like The Hunger Games, doesn’t it? Why would anybody go along with that?

But that’s exactly what you’re doing when you build an audience relying on Google or social media instead of an email list

google analytics

Google can (and does) change up their algorithm anytime they please. Often, at the detriment of email marketing (by penalizing sites with email capture forms on mobile, for example). Google’s business is based off of getting business owners to pay for ads. They want you to rely on them for traffic. 

If Google were to give you the smackdown, or if (more likely) a more authoritative website were to climb up the rankings in the search engines and overtake you and you’re not email marketing, you should be scared. 

You’re effectively waving bye-bye to your business. 

And that’s just Google. Almost every single social media channel is moving toward algorithmic feeds, if they haven’t already

When Facebook decides to change their algorithm such that it’s not in your favor, you can’t do anything about it. You built your Facebook following on rented land.

But if you have been email marketing, it might still hurt… it’s just not going to take you down. 

Your Email List is a Dirt-Cheap Marketing Platform

SumoMe has a healthy 33,000 Facebook likes. You should become one of them.

Even so, when I posted this awesome guide to our Facebook page, only around 1,200 of our fans saw it. 

sumo facebook post

That’s around 3.5% of the people who like our page. And that’s because Facebook wants us to press that little blue “Boost Post” button for the rest of ya’ll to see it. 

Yup, you read that right. You have to pay to get in front of your own audience on Facebook. 

The truth is, a 3.5% “organic” reach on Facebook is good. And that makes me sad. 

We can’t even reach the very audience we already worked so hard to grow and cultivate without giving Facebook money for the privilege. 

Don’t think this is just a Facebook problem, either. It’s the same whether we’re talking about any social platform, and even non-social platforms like search engines. 

Thousands of websites, blogs, and companies jockey for the top spot for any single search term. Makes sense, too. More than 33% of the clicks from organic search go to the top spot. 

organic search traffic

So to generate real leads from search engines, you have to pay for it. And even so, paid search generated only 16% of the 2014 marketing sales stats. 

Yet your entire email list can be reached with the cost of a couple of clicks of a button and the monthly cost of your email service provider. 

No other marketing channel allows you to reach hundreds or thousands of qualified, engaged leads, at the time you want, on your terms, with your marketing message for so little money. 

Still not convinced? 

Email Marketing Buries Social Media Alive

Even aside from the incredibly high ROI and the lack of control social and search engines give you over your marketing… oh, and the high cost of getting in front of your own audience on social, what about these numbers?

  • Links in emails are 6x more clickable than Tweets
  • Landing a new customer is 40x more likely on email than it is on social media.

Want your email marketing to support your social media? 

The subscribers on your email list are 3x more likely to share your content on social media than a visitor from another source (maybe social itself!).

And finally, an average of around 4.25% of email marketing leads will end up buying something from you. This is amazing when compared to the fact that just: 

  • 2.5% of visitors from search engines and 
  • 0.6% from social media will become paying customers.

I probably don’t have to tell you this, but this results in thousands of dollars more revenue every year for your business. 

Yup, no matter what type of business you’re in.

Email marketing is good for ecommerce, blogs, consultants, freelancers.

But wait! There’s more...

Your Email List is A Product Validation Machine

If you’ve ever even considered building a product for your blog or online business, it’s crossed your mind before. 

And if you’ve actually built a product or launched a service, the thought probably cropped up constantly:

What if nobody buys and I’m putting in all this work for nothing?

I’m not going to lie. This happens online. A lot. It happens to people who fail to do one of two things:

  1. Know their audience
  2. Validate their idea. 

Sure, you can get to know your audience without an email list. Or… you can get to know who you think your audience is without an email list. But this stuff doesn’t tell you  much about the people behind those demographics

google analytics graphs

But even if you throw up a survey on your site to ask some crucial questions, how do you know it’s not the tire-kickers or the one-stop shoppers who are trickling through?

Building an email list can help you do this by allowing you to ask specific questions of your audience -- and expecting a flood of responses. 

My side project helps people build profitable Etsy shops. In my autoresponder sequence, I send out one email asking my subscribers a few questions to help me understand what they’re struggling with:

etsy store blog

Which has led to hundreds of responses like this:

etsy email example

Which I’ve used to build out the course content:

email list

Meaning I’m finding out exactly what my audience wants, and giving it to them.

Sure, I could ask on social media, but the people who answer might not be part of my audience. That information is even worse than no information at all, because it can lead to analysis paralysis, or worse: you going off in the wrong direction.

Not worried about validating your product because you haven’t even built it yet? 

Even if you don’t have a product or a service yet and you just have a blog, your email list will be the ones to tell you what to create for them!

Your Email List Provides Traffic (At the Push of a Button)

At the click of a button, could you get hundreds (or thousands) of eyes on your content, sales page, or website?

Could you send a flood of traffic to whatever page you wanted to… whenever you wanted to?

We can. 

And we don’t have to do anything shady, pay for it, and the traffic is qualified, valuable traffic -- not just spammers who will leave in 2 seconds. 

That’s because we have an email list. And an email list is the best traffic generating tool available on the face of the planet

After we published this article, we wanted to get the word out about it. So while we waited for Google to pick it up, we emailed our subscribers: 

google analytics page views

Giving the guide an initial boost in traffic, comments and shares. 

When we shared the article on social, it brought in some traffic...

google analytics referrals

But it was a fraction of the traffic boost from email.

The best part is that it doesn’t stop there. Your subscribers are far more likely to share your content than a random passerby who found you through another channel. 

By emailing your subscribers, it will pay dividends as they share it with their friends.

Email Marketing Allows You To Get in Front of Your Audience Whenever You Want

I recently re-launched my course on how to sell on Etsy to be evergreen. I didn’t have the time to re-launch the course over and over again. 

So I took it to all of my marketing platforms to promote the course. 

  • I posted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram
  • I published an article on the blog
  • I sent out an email to my email list

And it’s a good thing my course is evergreen now, because if I didn’t have an email list there’s no way I’d have reached enough people to actually sell it on a launch

That’s because when you rely on Twitter, Facebook, or even search engines to reach your audience, you can’t control the timing of when your audience sees the post.  

  • You can’t control when your audience checks Twitter (and you can’t control how far down their feeds they’ll read)
  • You can’t bank on your audience visiting your website regularly (or ever, unless they get a reminder)
  • You have very little control over when (or if!) Google will rank your content. 

And social media is turning toward algorithmic feeds. Updates from friends and family will land at the top of users’ newsfeeds. But updates from Facebook pages like yours? They’ll suffer. 

Only around 2.5% of your Facebook fans will see your posts. And that stat is from 2015.  What does this mean for you? It means that even if you have 10,000 likes on Facebook, when you post, only 250 people will see it. 

And who knows when? 

But you can control when you send your emails

etsy email results

And since the average person checks their email far more than 4 times each day, your email list is the only accessible audience you can get in front of when you need to. 

Not after your promotion ends. Not whenever they happen to stumble upon it in their Twitter feed. And not on search engine time. 

Email is Like Having a Full-Time Salesperson 24/7

Let me guess. 

Sales is the bane of your existence

Getting your products and services in front of the right audience. Convincing those people to click onto your sales page. Crafting your pitch, and making it just so

Crossing your fingers and hoping that somebody - anybody - will buy. And then having to do that over and over again every day, week or month

Could you imagine automating this? Having a built in salesperson who would do the selling for you while you slept, went on vacation, or were tending to other things in your business?

Surprise! You can.

etsyhowto example

You can do this with email marketing

With an automated sales sequence, your email marketing works for you 24/7. Yup, even when you sleep.

It puts the sales on autopilot so you don’t have to hustle for every sale. Hustle once to create your email marketing sales campaign (or just hire a copywriter):

etsyhowto sales funnel

Put the sequence in your autoresponder and let it trickle out to your email subscribers…

No matter what time zone they’re in or what else you have on your plate.

No performance reviews, no hiring expensive employees, no writing paychecks.

Your Email List Inspires Connection

Visiting a website is like speed dating. 

Random analogy, I know, but bear with me. In speed dating, you have around a minute to figure out if you want to spend more time with each prospective date. Most of those prospects aren’t for you. 

But there are a couple who you wouldn’t mind hearing from again. And those are the prospects who get a repeat visit

After further vetting, you narrow it down to one, maybe two people. Those lucky people are the ones who get your phone number. 

When you give them your phone number, you’re inviting them to connect with you further. Converse with you, ask you on a date, build a deeper connection. See if it goes anywhere. 

When your visitors give you their email addresses, they’re choosing you as one of the lucky few. You’ve passed the speed dating rounds. 

The exchange of email addresses is the beginning of building a meaningful relationship with your audience

You can then start to get your subscribers to know, like, and trust you. And remember: people buy from people they know, like, and trust. 

email list

Part of the reason this works is because it triggers the mere exposure effect. This is a psychological tendency to like things and people they have more exposure to. Research has proven this

When you show up in your audience’s inboxes a couple times a week, you’re triggering that crucial “like” part of this equation. When you give them repeated value through your emails, you’re building trust.

These elements build a relationship with your subscribers, which leads to -- you guessed it! -- profit. 

Your Email List is A Window Into Your Audience’s Minds

Have you ever wished you could peek inside your audience’s minds and find out exactly what they’re thinking?

What they want, how they process certain information, why they buy, and perhaps most importantly… why they haven’t bought from you yet

This is data that many large companies would spend big money to get. Yet even if you’re a small blogger with a single, $100 digital product… 

You can get this data for free at the click of a few buttons and strikes of a few keys. That is, as long as you have an email list

With an email list, because you’ve spent the time to engage with your audience and build a relationship with them, you can ask them personal questions. 

Questions that will help you determine what’s wrong in your sales funnel. 

Questions like: Why didn’t you buy?

Noah Kagan asked this question of his email subscribers by sending them a survey after a less than impressive launch of How To Make a $1,000 a Month Business:

ok dork first dollar survey

He used the information collected in the survey to increase his conversions, improve his sales copy and sell more of the course.

ok dork email example

Without an email list, this is just guesswork. You have no idea why your audience didn’t buy, because you can’t ask them directly. 

How to Start With Building an Email List (Even If You’re at Ground Zero)

If you’ve avoided email marketing up until this point because:

  • You thought it was expensive
  • You find the tech confusing, or
  • You just didn’t know where to start,

 I’m going to boil it down for you and make it insanely simple

Because now that I’ve convinced you that you need to be engaging in email marketing (because you definitely do), I don’t want to leave you hanging. 

I’ve created an email list building crash course to show you exactly what you need to do, step-by-step, to start building your email list

If you follow this FREE course, within 7 days you’ll have your email list set up, you’ll have written your first emails, and you’ll even have landed your first 100-500 email subscribers. 

No excuses. 

Click here to get the FREE crash course to start your email list today.

Not tomorrow, not next week. Today. Because every day you’re not engaging in email marketing, you’re giving up big money in your business.