Welcome to 2016!
I hope you found last week’s conversation about Archimedes and efficiency/ effectiveness useful. It’s a good thing to keep in mind as you start what is likely your first day of work in 2016.
On to this week. On December 7, I wrote about the hazards of being a digital sharecropper and the benefits of reaching prospects, clients, and referral sources with your own platform – like a newsletter. On December 14, I wrote about getting started with email newsletters. But first you have to have a list of people to send it to, and many of you asked how to get started. Let’s talk about that.
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
Are you receiving more than one copy of this newsletter? If so, I apologize. To delete a duplicate copy: (1) check what email addresses they’re coming to, (2) pick the email address that you want to stop delivery at, and (3) click on unsubscribe.
Also, writing this newsletter is one of my favorite things that I do each week. And it’s important for me to check in with you regarding what you would like to see me write about. So as we start 2016 …
What issues or ideas are you thinking about right now? What can I do to serve you better? Email me and I’ll try to help … my inbox is always open!
If you want leads, prospects, clients, and referral sources to read your news, personally invite them to start receiving it. It’s that simple.
Begin With the End in Mind
Creating an email marketing list is not a strategy. So it goes without saying that we have to know why we want to create that list. I think it’s to help us move from a 1-to-1 to a 1-to-many business model. That’s my strategy.
Also, if you are going to use the list to send out a newsletter, for example, you have to be committed to writing something that contains valuable content on a regular basis. I hope you find the content I write about useful. And you know this email comes out every Monday at 10:45am Eastern Time. I’m committed.
Before We Get Started
Having a healthy catalog of LinkedIn connections and Outlook/Gmail contacts is NOT an email marketing list. It’s only a starting point.
If you load those connections and contacts into an email service provider, like Constant Contact or MailChimp, and blast out your newsletter, you could be liable for penalties under the CAN-SPAM Act. Substantial penalties. So don’t do that.
Instead, your people must first go through a process of voluntarily “opting in” to be on your list. This is why you need a “call to action” button or box on your website where people can easily do this.
How Big a List Do You Need
I’ve heard that a minimum viable list should have about 1,000 names, probably stemming from Kevin Kelly’s 2008 riff about 1,000 True Fans. But I don’t think this is a hard-and-fast rule. That said, more people on your list are better than less. Still, I would take quality of engagement over quantity of subscribers.
How I Am Building My List
This newsletter currently reaches about 800 fairly engaged people, and I am looking to grow it to 1,000. You might be starting with no list, so how do you get your first 100 names? I don’t think there is one best way to grow your email list. But here’s what I am doing to build mine.
Two of my holiday activities were to (1) clean out my LinkedIn connections and Gmail contacts and (2) build the list of people to whom I write and send this newsletter.
Sounds like self-defeating purposes, right? Reduce the number of people I am in touch with while trying to reach more people for my email list. Subtract then add. You’ll see why I did this in just a sec.
Step 1. I looked at every single one of my 1,300+ LI connections. I’ve been on LI for a long time so some of my connections are no longer relevant. They’ve changed jobs or careers. My BV practice niche has pivoted. So I deleted about 200+ people who I felt were no longer solid connections.
Step 2. I did the same thing with my Gmail contacts. I’ve been accumulating these names for even longer than LI. I probably eliminated 400+ people for the same reasons as noted above.
Step 3. I exported the remaining LI connections and Gmail contacts to separate .CSV files. I saved these files in one Excel workbook. My LI connections were in a blue font and my Gmail contacts were in green so I would know what source they came from.
Step 4. I sorted the combined LI/Gmail list by last name so I could easily spot and delete the duplicates – which I might have missed if I had sorted by first name – e.g., a Joe/Joseph or Dave/David listing with the same last name. The end result was a list of people I believed would be interested in subscribing to this newsletter.
Step 5. If I am writing a newsletter with valuable content … content that will be useful to my intended audience … content that I can use to create a 1-to-many business model then I should be willing to send each and every person I identified in Step 4 a PERSONAL invitation.
My Personal Invitation Process
I am in this process right now. I identified 683 unique connections/contacts that are not currently receiving this newsletter. I am committing to writing 10 emails a day until I reach all of them.
Each email is going to highlight how we know each other and why I think they would benefit from what I write about. I figure I might create 4-5 template invites in TextExpander to make this go faster. I will also tell them they must opt-in at my website, RodBurkert.com.
And this is why I culled my LI connections and Gmail contacts first. I wanted a combined list of people I knew really well. People who would want to accept my personal invitation. For this reason, I am hoping that a high percentage of people I reach out to will opt-in. I’ll let you know how this works out.
This process should work for you, too. If you have questions, email me about your situation.
– If you like what I write about, tell a colleague.
– If something resonates and you want to reach out directly, email me.
– If you think we share common interests, connect with me on LinkedIn.
– If you want a sense of how well your practice is working for you, take this Practice Self Assessment.