Podcast Episode

498 – Why You Need an Email List

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Why You Need an Email List

  • Email is personal
  • Email is targeted
  • You own your email list
  • Email is one-on-one
  • Get Visitors to Return
  • You’ll make more money
  • People check email ALL.THE.TIME

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Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode, we are going to talk about why you need an email list and we’re gonna be talking about that all this month right here on Your Website Engineer podcast, Episode 498.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler and today we’re going to be talking about email lists – the power behind them – and really why we should have an email list. I've probably talked about this a handful of times over the course of the years, but I wanted to dig back into this and talk a little bit more about it today. We’re gonna spend a whole month on it because I'm learning a whole lot as my wife’s website – as I constantly refer you to – over at FunctionalMedicineCE.com or PharmToTable.life, those two sides I'm learning a ton working with a marketing person over on the Facebook side and just how to use email lists and whatnot. I see the importance. I see the value firsthand.

So, that’s why I want to report back here and let you know what that type of information is. But first, let’s go ahead. I've got a couple of announcements to share, a plug-in to share of course, and then we’ll dive into the conversation. The first thing is an article over on ArsTechnica.com and this one is about a critical flaw in the plug-in inside WordPress that is called a file manager. This plug-in has more than 700,000 active installs and the attacks came when their exploit was found in the plug-in. It looks like the plug-in has been fixed, that an update has been patched or whatnot, but of course the news has to blow it out of proportion and say that all of these sites are under suspicion or have been compromised or whatnot.

But you want to make sure that you are running the latest version of the file manager plug-in. also, it would be a good idea to run through and use Word Fence and scan through your site and whatnot and make sure that everything looks good on your website. It looks like it is affecting versions 6.0 to 6.8 and it looks like 52 percent of the installations are vulnerable. So, you can update to 6.9 as soon as possible and that will get rid of the risk on your site. I got a link in the show notes Episode No. 498 so you can read the entire article. Up next on the list is Jetpack and Jetpack is in the news and Jetpack 8.9 has new ways to grow subscribers and collect donations. And so you can convert visitors into subscribers with a newsletter signup.

So, that is integrated by Constant Contact. It’s worked into there and so that is the easiest way to get signed up with an email newsletter signup. You could also do collecting donations right on your site. So, there’s a block that’s called The Donations Block and you can go in and set it up so you can choose the different currency. You can have your customers or the folks that are donating either choose a one-time or yearly. You can choose the amount. And then you can specify the amount and you can even turn on the option to show a custom amount. So, that’s really cool and that’s a really neat way to start taking donations if that’s of interest instead of maybe using Patreon where they take a fee or maybe instead of using PayPal for donations, you can do this all built in right there within your dashboard and it just looks really cool. It’s really, really neat.

Again, the link in the show notes for Episode 498 will show you exactly. There’s an animated image showing you exactly how this works and it is really, really cool. And then just some more things: there’s under the hood improvements always, speed improvements and enhancements and whatnot. So, that is the Jetpack 8.9 release. And then there is an article also on WPTavern. It’s on about every other major Mac news site and just how automatic and a WordPress app wasn’t able to be updated a week or so again.

So, if you’re interested in that whole drama, you can go ahead and read about that, but basically there was a problem automatic couldn’t update the app because of the fact that Apple thought they should be allowing in-app purchases so that they could take a 30 percent cut. Well, with the WordPress app, if you’ve ever used it or installed it, it’s basically a way to manage your website. There’s really nothing to buy. So, they would be taking 30 percent of nothing. It ended up being like a – I don't know if it was “misunderstanding” – or what exactly turned out to be the issue, but everything’s resolve. The plug-ins able to be updated and there’s no in-app purchases for a WordPress the app.

All right. Moving on into the plug-in section, and I love to search for plug-ins each week just to find something neat and creative that somebody has done. But this one is called Cool Admin Theme Lite for WP. So, it is a plug-in that basically gives a super lightweight and clean interface for your WordPress admin pages. It’s got a clean design proposal. The plug-in tries to modernize the WordPress admin experience. If you think about it, this is probably I don't know when three point something is when the current dashboard of what we have. That’s probably been since 2012 or 2013. We’ve’ been looking at the same WP admin.

So, this has a really great take on what this could look like. The free version is there in the WordPress repository and then the pro version has some more things like you can hide the WordPress logo from the admin bar. You can use your own logo in the admin bar. You can replace all the WordPress logos everywhere with your own logo. You can add a custom icon to the admin area. You can replace logos on the Gutenberg side. And then there’s emojis. That’s the other thing I forgot to mention that you can replace the menu items with emoji images instead. And so if you wanted to just do that instead of having the post and the pages, you could just use the emoji images, which is kind of neat.

So, if you’re interested in getting a refresh your WordPress admin dashboard and what that looks like, I highly recommend checking out Cool Admin Theme Lite for WP and that’s in the WordPress repository and then there’s a link from the WordPress repository to that pro version.

All right. Let’s go ahead and talk about email newsletters. I've been with a ton of different companies when it comes to email providers. I started with Mail Chimp and Mail Chimp had a free account that worked up until 2,000 members. I still have that grandfathered account, so I use that for some testing and a few other things. And they still have the 2000 plan, that free plan, on Mail Chimp, but it’s quite limited. You can’t do a lot of things that I'm grandfathered in because I started so many years ago, but Mail Chimp I started there. I know that I went to Benchmark Email for a while. I was using an email newsletter plug-in inside of WordPress itself and I was using … What else have I used? I've used a handful of things.

I'm on ConvertKit now and I'm really, really digging ConvertKit and we’ll talk about how you can set up a free account over at ConvertKit, which is really cool. But let’s go ahead and talk about first why we need to have email lists. You know there’s so many ways to send messages and to check things. What do you check on a normal basis? You’re always checking Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or LinkedIn or your messages app or you’ve got all kinds of stimuli are coming towards you. But the coolest part about email is, first off, email is very personal. It is designed to come directly to you. It lands right in your inbox and there’s no ranking system to limit your reach.

Think about if you do a Facebook post, maybe you have 20,000 people following you on Facebook and then you say, “Oh, here’s my latest blogpost” and now all of a sudden you only get a fraction of the people that are signed up for your page to actually get those notices. You’re in Facebook’s hands. Let’s see the same thing with Instagram and some of those others. Not every person is going to see everything that you post, but with email it’s very personal. It goes directly to the person, which I think is a big strategy – a big idea. So, that’s our first item. The first one is email is personal. It lands in the email’s user box. You can directly send a message to somebody. Now whether they read it or not, that’s a different problem, but it’s sent directly to you and they will not miss a message. The next one is email is targeted.

So, you can target and deliver valuable information depending on their interest. So, for an example – and I don't think I started this and at one point I was going to – I was gonna send out an email and I might have started it in ConvertKit. I'd have to double check. But my thought process was I could send an opening email once you signed up for my email list and I could ask you some questions. I could say, “Oh, hey, which topic is more interesting to you – this one or this one?” And then depending on which link they click, they can be put into buckets. So, my thought was I wanted to know who are brand new to WordPress and then who are intermediate users and then who are the advanced, the developer, the people that are building websites for clients and doing that sort of thing.

So, with ConvertKit you can have different things like that. You can put them in buckets. Then you can have an email list go to different places. Granted, it’s a lot of work to set up these boxes, but to get the emails to get you funneled into the right direction to get you information that’s useful, that makes a lot of sense. For an example, like Pat Flynn over at SmartPassiveIncome.com, he’s got an email list that’s got hundreds of thousands of people on it. But when you sign up, it asks you like, “Oh, have you started a business yet?” or “Do you have a podcast?” or it kind of funnels you into an area that you’re most looking to do. And I think it’s really powerful. Instead of getting the firehose of information about setting up a podcast all the time when you have no desire to set up a podcast. Maybe you have a YouTube channel.

Those email messages are not valuable to you. So, you can be very, very specific and very, very targeted with email, which is another reason why email is very, very beneficial. Another thing on my list here is you own your email list. You don’t own Facebook. You don’t own those Google SEO rankings. All of those things are not in our control. You know Google come out tomorrow and change the SEO ranking system or Facebook could say, “Hey, now instead of 10 percent of people getting your stuff, people are only gonna get one percent and one percent of your followers are gonna get your posts” and then you have to pay for all the rest of them. The policies change all the time and we have no control over these gigantic companies.

But with your email list you do. It’s never affected by another business. You can do exactly as you want with it. You can send out emails daily if you wanted to. You could send out 10 emails a day if you wanted to. I don’t recommend that, by the way, but you could send out like me you could send out emails once per year, which I'm not the best at, but I'm going to. During this email segment this month, I'm gonna send out more emails through ConvertKit and just show you what some of the things that you can do with ConvertKit, which will be I think really cool and really, really beneficial. So, you own your list. You can do with it what you want and the rules don’t change. You know there might be some rules that change every once in a while. Huge governing bodies say that you can’t send emails unsolicited or they must have checked a box when they paid for something.

You know there’s big regulations that could do that but – for the most part – you can do whatever you want with your email list. Email is one-on-one. That’s my next point. People use their email for their own thing. It’s a private thing. It’s not that they are looking at a timeline or they’re sharing and being able to look at something on a newsfeed, that you can ask questions directly to people with private confidence. You don’t have to say like, for an example, if you do a Facebook post and it’s like, “What email newsletter provider are you using?” and you have hundreds of people start to answer and then that’s all visible to other people whereas with an email, you can send them a one-on-one email and it will go to their inbox, they can reply, and then the email goes right back directly to you and nobody else can see that information.

I think that is really, really valuable and that’s a really neat thing about using an email newsletter provider versus using Facebook or Instagram or whatever. Another thing on my list here is you can get visitors to return to your site. So, there’s a statistic out there that says that more than 70 percent of your people leave your website and never return – just boom, poof, they’re gone. But if you can capture their email – and we’ll talk about this in upcoming episodes how to capture those email – but if you can capture an email address from somebody then the chances of them coming back to your site are exponentially higher. You can turn a casual web surfer into somebody that is getting value from both your website and the content that you’re sending through an email newsletter.

So, maybe they’ll see an email from you – even addressed to you. With these email newsletter providers these days, you can put their first name, you can put their last name. You can collect data and then you can put it back into the email, which I think is important. But those emails when they’re coming from you, they have valuable information. Maybe they link to a post or a page or something on your site and then it can lead to crazy returns when you have somebody’s email list, which I think is another really great benefit to get more visitors to your website, which ultimately leads to the next one, which means that you’ll make more money.

It makes sense and that doesn’t’ mean if you don’t have a store that you’re not gonna make more money, but maybe you have affiliate links and people are using the affiliate links and – with those affiliate links – you know you’ll make more money on a recurring basis. So, that’s where the next point is. You’ll make more money because more subscribers are more likely to become buyers. They’ve joined your list. They can tell how much value you’re brining. A great example of this is a few weeks ago I talked about the VS code and I talked about the website that’s out there. I'm trying to look back here in my list here to see if I can find. It’s learn-vscode.com.

And this was a free email newsletter list that I signed up for and it was basically helping me customize a VS code and I think this is a great example, by the way. And I was able to customize and I got some great benefits. There was eight or nine emails in the free series and then Caleb said that he was gonna turn this into a course. Well, okay, turned it into a course, whatever. So, I'm on his email newsletter list and I got huge value from those five, six, seven emails that were talking about how to customize a VS code and then all of a sudden he’s like, “I have a course and I have this course and for the first three days as a I launch it, you get the best price because you’re an email newsletter subscriber.” And I didn’t even hardly think twice about buying it.

I got extreme value from the free emails that he sent and I knew that if I paid for the course, I would become a better user of VS code, which ultimately would make me a better developer as I continue to make steps towards the developer realm. So, that was a simple, simple sell and it was I think what I paid was $150.00 maybe for the course. You can see if you go to learn-vscode.com. You can see what the pricing is and whatnot, but I'd say that was a pretty good investment if you will to give away lots of free content – nine emails, 12 emails, whatever the number was – and then turn that into a sale for $150.00. I think that’s pretty good. And if you had a list that was maybe up to 100, think about 100 times the 150 is $15,000.00. That’s a lot of money.

It seems like I don't know how long it took Caleb and how many hours he had invested and whatnot, but to get 100 people to sign up for $15,000.00 that makes a lot of sense. So, that’s where the point is. You’ll make more money with an email newsletter list. And then the last one is people check email all the time – all the time, all the time. Unless you’re somebody that has been studying the different I don't know what the word is – like if you’re studying books like Deep Work and how to optimize your day and oh, and you really understand that checking email once per day or even in the morning or in the afternoon is a huge productivity benefit, if you don’t follow that or understand that, then definitely you will learn that you won’t check your email as much.

But other than that, the general population checks their email all the time. There’s people that I don't know like I don’t have much more to say about that, but people will check their email all the time. And so they’re always in their inbox and if you have a direct line of communication to people, you can get in front of their eyes all the time. So, an example like Facebook. If you log onto Facebook once per week, you’re not gonna get – and you post 15 messages – they’re only gonna get maybe one of those messages during that time that they’re on Facebook. So, it makes sense that – since there are so many people on these different social platforms – that they’re not gonna get the right … they’re not gonna see everything that you have to post and I said that earlier.

But if you’re in your email, they’re gonna see it regularly or they have to at least do something with the email. With the way the email clients’ work, you have to either leave it in your inbox and read it again or you have to archive it and then you have another email that comes. There’s lots of ways that people can see things when they’re in their email inbox and so that is the last point. So, email is personal. It’s targeted. You own your email list. Email is one-on-one. Get visitors to return to your website. You’ll make more money. And people check email all the time.

Now if you want to follow along and – even if you have your own email newsletter provider – maybe Mail Chimp or AWeb or ConvertKit, whatever, I'd highly recommend checking out ConvertKit. ConvertKit has a way that you can sign up. They have a free plan that goes up until 1,000 people. So, if you’re just getting started, ConvertKit is a perfect place for you. It goes up to 1,000 people and you can sign up with the link YourWebsiteEngineer.com/ConvertKit – all one word – ConvertKit. And with that, you can sign up and then – as we continue to go through – I'm gonna talk about some of the cool automation things you can do with ConvertKit and I think it’s perfect for folks that have even a small email newsletter list size.

You know if it’s only 200 or 400 or 600, use something that’s very, very powerful and see the power in it and then when it’s time to upgrade – when you do want to invest some money – in ConvertKit their lowest plan is I think $29.00 per month. And so that is a huge investment when you’re talking about maybe a website that doesn’t make any money or a website that you don’t have profits coming in from, but for $29.00 a year or $29.00 per month, excuse me, that’s going to … that’s if you have more than 1,000 people on your email list. So, I'm gonna show some cool things about ConvertKit. If you want to follow along, you can sign up for the list like I said. You can get that free plan and you can start building your email list.

In the weeks coming, we’ll talk about how to integrate those with WordPress, how you can do pop-ups or how you can collect emails on your WordPress site. We’ll talk about the plug-ins needed for that. But I do recommend having something in place – whether that’s the free Mail Chimp account or ConvertKit. I'm very strongly suggesting that you sign up for ConvertKit because it is so much better than everything else out there and I want to continue to teach you about ConvertKit and teach you how I am helping my wife make money with the few things that she’s doing with ConvertKit – how it integrates with Wu Commerce – how I get all of this data and I can see exactly who’s coming and going and all that kind of stuff we’ll continue to talk about in the upcoming weeks. That’s all I've got for you today. Take care and we’ll talk again next week. Bye, bye.

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