It’s official: everywhere one looks for advice about doing business online (one of my 2018 goals), the advice is the same. We have to have an email list. In theory, this sounds good. It even sounds easy. Then, like everything else on the internet, as we tune into the details, the number of specific pieces of advice, tools, and techniques is mind-boggling. First we need a way to capture emails. Then we need a way to manage the list of emails we’ve captured. Email capture and email list management are new business sciences unto themselves.
The Basics Of Email Capture And Email List Management
- The first thing to know about email is we need a way to capture email addresses. This means:
- We need to have a way to entice an audience member to share it. This means:
- We need valuable content or a service to exchange for it.
- Once we have the email address, we need a place to store it, optimally, with all our other email addresses.
- There’s an entirely different science about what to do with a list when we have one.
Email Capture To Email List Management Process Flow:
Content -> Audience -> Value Exchange For Email Address Via A Form -> Subscribers -> List Management
I’ve concluded the place to start is the tool I’ll be using as my primary list storage mechanism (the last item of the process flow above). Everything else related to the online business has to be able to communicate with and use this mechanism. It’s easy to choose a cool tool like Sumo.me or Tiddly.link because it’s a neat way to capture email addresses, then realize there’s another set of hoops to jump through to get the email addresses from the capture tool to your primary list management tool. Eventually I also realized these tools are probably great additions to a robust system that already effectively captures audience attention and email addresses, but these are optimizations, not foundational tools. Unless you have hours and days to learn how to use and integrate every new email capture tool with the list management tool, you’ll do well to start simply.
What I Recommend
I recommend starting with a single tool or platform that’s a little more like a Swiss army knife, as opposed to trying to learn and integrate several different tools into some cohesive platform. Ask me how I know… I’m now undoing some of the decisions I made a year ago, just to get control of the mess I’ve created. In fairness, when I started just over a year ago, I was aware of fewer integrated tools than I know exist today. Furthermore, each is adding new features quarterly, so the reasons to choose one over another, or one in addition to another, are changing every 3 months. For example, Mailchimp has added features that make it easier to select as a good place to start. Even just a year ago, it was not so much.
Follow The Money
Also important to consider: Many of these tools have monthly fees. While it doesn’t seem like much to pay $3.50 or $7.99 or $24 a month for one or two tools, pretty soon $100 a month is going out the door to buy email addresses at a net cost of $25 apiece. Ouch. These are leads, not gold bars. Let’s simplify and learn some things before we over-invest.
What I’m Doing Now
Now, I’m eliminating one-off tools and moving back to a single platform as much as possible, at least for now. Focus and simplicity really matter. As I better understand what works and what doesn’t, I can tweak and invest where I see potential and ROI. Remember, the goal is simply to have a way to exchange value for email addresses, and to have a simple means and place to manage these email addresses. We still haven’t gotten what we do with these emails once we have them.
Some Places To Start (By No Means An Exhaustive List)
Email Capture Tools (The Basic Means Of Capturing An Email)
- Pop-ups (like Sumo.me and Mailchimp)
- Tiddly.Link (enables you to capture email addresses from links you share on social media)
- Forms (like Sumo.me and Mailchimp and 262 WordPress Plugins as I write this)
- Purchase a list (if you know exactly what you want to do with it, and are willing to pay)
Email List Management Tools (from just a database, to a full-featured CRM)
Techniques (an online marketer must create or acquire something of value to give away)
These are just some of the tools and ideas I’m familiar with, have dealt with, now use, or plan to use. There are dozens of others in total. So far, it’s been an adventure, cobbling together a system, seeing the interplay between the parts, and assessing the benefit of each.
Continuous Improvement is about continuous measurement. Lean Startup is about continuous experimentation. Is there really a difference? Plan-Do-Check-Act. As I drop redundant tools (of course, investing in the time necessary to learn how to replace them with a new tool), it will be interesting to see the results, set a new plan, rinse and repeat.
Consider And Act
- What do you know about email list capture and email list management that I need to know. Will you share with me?
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Also published on Medium.