Episode 146: Marketing Myth Busting: The Money Is In Your Email List

A couple weeks back I received an invite from a virtual event organizer. You know the type of event where they have 15, 20 or sometimes more speakers on various topics? 

Well, this organizer had reached out because she wanted me to talk about Profit Without Worry… but a couple things caught my eye on this pitch. 

First, they wanted people who had email lists of 10,000 or more and second, they not only wanted my time but they wanted $2,500 in money to promote this event. 

Um, no. 

First off, I’m not giving anyone money to promote THEIR event where I also have to show up and provide content free of charge. Plus, I have no say in how they use that money to promote. Not happening. 

Second, why the 10,000 people on your email list? I was curious so I reached back out and asked for clarification on that point. 

Here’s what the organizer said: “We only want serious online influencers in our event. If you don’t have at least 10,000 subscribers, we know you’re not serious or successful, so we don’t want you connected to the event.” 

I mean…WOW.

Let’s break this down because I’m super tired of hearing people tout email subscribers as some sort of metric of success.

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The Number Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

Let me tell you, I've worked with clients who make multiple six-figures who have ZERO email list because that’s not how they work. 

And, on the other hand, I’ve worked with people who’ve had 20,000 or more email subscribers and they’re basically running a non-profit because they never make any money from their list. 

I also know people who’ve purchased email lists — which you should NEVER do — and they pad their numbers that way. 

I know people who never delete people off their lists even after they’re completely unsubscribed, inflating their subscriber count a ton. 

Let’s set a couple things straight here. 

First, do you need an email list? Maybe. It depends on how you sell to people.

I have consultant clients who sell to CEOs, CFOs, CTOs and others in very senior management at big companies. You’d better believe they are NOT sending standard emails to these guys. Their communications are one-to-one and they manage it through a CRM system, personal connections and more. There’s no email blast and they’d probably never tell you how many people are on their list. 

Second, just because you’ve got 10,000 people on your email list doesn’t mean you’re making money. At all. 

A few years back I began working with a smaller company that had over 40,000 people on their email list. 

Every time they’d send out a new YouTube video, their open rates were through the roof. I’m talking like 65 – 70% open rates. I actually couldn’t believe it the first time I saw their numbers. 

That’s like 26,000 or more people reading each value-added email and the click-through rates were super high as well. 

However, whenever they wanted to sell a product, program or service their email open rates fell off a cliff. They’d go from 26,000 people opening the email to around 400 people. And of those 400, very few would actually buy. 

Why? Because they had an amazing community of freebie lovers and they’d trained them that as a business they’d send out so many freebies their email subscribers didn’t ever need to buy. So they didn’t. 

They also didn’t really know how to integrate sales into their overall business process, but that’s a different story. 

The bottom line is that whenever I hear someone bragging about or demanding a certain size email list I’m skeptical. I’m skeptical about the quality of that list, I’m skeptical if they have a list of buyers or a list of names. 

More than just being skeptical of whether or not their list is actually people who BUY, I’m skeptical of their approach to business. Because a Profit Without Worry business isn’t about attracting every email possible so you can strut around bragging about the size of your list. 

Instead, it’s about attracting ideal potential buyers. It’s about serving them in a way that helps them and builds your business. It’s about treating each email as a human and not just a throw-away commodity. 

Find the RIGHT People (Not Just ANY People)

Listen, I know this first hand. Back in 2013, I bought into this whole “your money is in your email list” idea. At that time, building an email list was all about getting featured in prominent blogs. 

I was doing a lot of career coaching then, so one of my pitches was to Brazen Careerist. When my post was featured there, I went from less than 100 people on my email list to over 4,000 within a matter of weeks. 

I thought to myself — “SCORE!!! Look how easy this is! Now I just need to make some offers and I’ll have lots of money coming in.”. 

Guess what? That didn’t happen. At all. 

I never took the time to understand what my email audience wanted. I pretty much treated them like my paying clients who were mostly Microsoft employees. I was talking about things important at Microsoft but not really anywhere else. 

Also, I never thought through the sequence of what needs to happen after this Brazen Careerist person opts in for my freebie? 

As a result, of those 4,000 people I never made one single sale. Not one. And it wasn’t for lack of trying! I was talking about things these people weren’t interested in, so they tuned me out. It was because I counted my money before I served. It was because I treated these people like a commodity. 

I’ve never made that mistake again — because it cost me a lot of time and money and it created a lot of feelings of failure since my business wasn’t growing as I thought it should. 

How do you know if you’ve got an email list that will grow your business? 

I’ve got a challenge for you. Pay attention to every company and online business person you get an email from. How do those emails make you feel? 

Do you feel like they’re trying to help you and support your goals? Or do you feel like they're either sending you a ton of info with no action OR just trying to push, sell and sell some more? 

Before over-investing and over-emphasizing your email list growth, focus on what you’ve got NOW. 

Get to know them. Ask them questions. Get insight into who they are. 

It’s amazing when you know how to interact with your audience — even if it’s only 10 or 20 people on your list — but once you start really engaging them with meaningful marketing and offers that help, you’ll be thrilled to see your profitable email list growing. Because people will share you, share their work with you and before you know it you’ll have a great community built of people who want to buy from you. 

It doesn’t happen with silly tricks to magically explode your email growth. It starts with rolling up your sleeves and really getting to know your potential buyers. 

Create Profit Without Worry – one system at a time. I’ll show you how to attract a steady flow of buyers without all the hustle with this free download →  5 Steps To Profit Without Worry.

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