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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Introducing the Leveraging Instagram Series: Your E-Mail List - The Basics

Introducing the Leveraging Instagram Series: Your E-Mail List - The Basics
By popular demand, we're still going to stick strongly with the Instagram theme, but by unpopular demand, we will veer very slightly away from plain old Instagram growth, and shift our focus to using your new-found audience to make your voice heard, and create real connections with people!
It's the first (text) post for February, y'all!

Image result for dance gif

(Okay but why did they stop creating more Fresh Prince because I'd totally watch 40-year-old Carlton doing the dance....)

Alright, so all through January, we focused on building a strong, reliable and highly engaged audience on Instagram. We talked about all the little tricks, content ideas, giveaway tips and analytics that will help you take advantage of this amazing social media platform, to get your work in front of as many people as we can.

By popular demand, we're still going to stick strongly with the Instagram theme, but by unpopular demand, we will veer very slightly away from plain old Instagram growth, and shift our focus to using your new-found audience to make your voice heard, and create real connections with people!

(Small business peeps and microinfluencers, this month is definitely for you!)

So today, I'm so proud and excited to introduce the LEVERAGING INSTAGRAM SERIES!

All through February, we will talk about how you can create an identity both on and off Instagram, how you can connect with your followers outside of Instagram, and most importantly, how (and why) you go about building a personal brand

Buckle up, peanut butter cup, because I'm gonna learn you a thing....or eight!

Today we're kicking off in no simple terms, by talking about the widely-feared concept of an e-mail list. 

Yeah, I saw that vein on your forehead pop just now, but stay with me for just a minute, because it's not nearly as scary as it sounds. In fact, by the end of this post, you just might look forward to creating your own e-mail list!

Without much further ado, here's:

Introducing the Leveraging Instagram Series: Your E-Mail List - The Basics

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"Why should I care about an e-mail list?"

Think about which platform your biggest audience lives on. Is it Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Tumblr? Alright, that's amazing, it is absolutely wonderful to have a huge following on social media. But riddle me this:

What happens if your most popular social media platform shuts down tomorrow?

This is exactly what happened to the thousands of MySpace influencers, when the platform lost its huge patronage and traffic around 2008. The second Facebook took off, that's where the crowds flocked, leaving MySpace influencers no choice but to adopt this new platform and start from little more than scratch.

I'm not trying to sound all doom and gloom about social media, and Instagram, especially, seems like it will be around for years still! All I'm saying is, when these platforms are privately owned, there is little to keep them going if the owners stop making a profit.

Now think about just how much actual connection you're building with your followers on Instagram. Sure, you know their Instagram handle, and if you're really good, even their first name. But can you honestly tell me that you know how to get in touch with every single one of them outside of Instagram? 

This is where your e-mail list comes in!

Your e-mail list is the only true, direct contact you have with your audience. Tomorrow, should your biggest platform shut down, you still have a file full of another way you can get in touch with your fans. 

(Sure, an e-mail platform could possibly shut down too, but let's face it: not all of them will die out all at once!)

Here's the other great advantage of communicating with your followers via e-mail:

Your subscribers are much more likely to see your content!

Yeah, you know the shady Instagram algorithm changes that seem to happen on a near-monthly basis at this point. They might not admit it outright, but with the current algorithm, you're only likely to see posts on your feed that are already popular, or paid for. Sure, the odd chronologically-relevant post might slip in, but it's still very rare.

Not sure what I mean? The next time you're scrolling through your home feed, notice the time-stamps on each post you're seeing. I can guarantee they are not remotely chronological.

Sure that's pretty crappy for you as a follower, because you're missing out on new updates from your favourite 'Grammers, but as an influencer, this massively reduces the number of initial engagement you get, which is a huge factor in how popular your post becomes, which in turn determines whether all your audience sees your posts. See how that's a vicious cycle?

With an e-mail list, you know your followers will receive your content, because it will be in their inbox! That's not to say every subscriber will open every single e-mail, but it improves your chances of being seen by a huge factor.

E-Mail List Platforms

Okay for the longest time, I didn't understand what 'MailChimp*' or 'MailerLite' meant, I just thought they were e-mail service providers like GMail or Yahoo. Not true!

There are specific services that let you customize, schedule and send out thousands of e-mails at once. For instance, I use MailChimp*, and it allows me to take and manage new subscriptions, schedule multiple e-mails ("campaigns") well in advance, and even create automated e-mail sequences that run in the background!

There are tons of platforms that let you build and connect with your e-mail list, and here are some examples with fairly decent free plans:

Most bulk e-mail providers allow you to create a form for your subscribers to fill in, a database that you can export as an Excel file (I highly recommend only going with platforms that provide this feature), and the ability to write and schedule e-mails to send to your list(s).

Your Subscribers

Alright here's a harsh truth. Not all of your followers will turn into e-mail subscribers. In fact, only as small fraction will. I have over 3,000 Instagram followers, and my main e-mail list has about 150 subscribers - see the disparity?

Here's why you shouldn't worry about this fraction: you're going to get far more out of your e-mail list than you will out of your social media account. This is especially true if your business model relies upon converting your followers into clients. 

The people who follow you on Instagram are most likely there for the pretty visuals, the community you've built there, or for a possible follow-back - all of which are very valid reasons for them to follow you! 

However, the people who truly back your content, and really love what you have to say? Those are the ones who will take the time to sign up to your e-mail list. These are the people you should truly aim to please with your content, because they've trusted you with a very personal contact detail! 

You thought we were done with harsh truths? Pfft! Here's another one for ya:

There will be people who unsubscribe.

In fact, the larger your list grows, the larger the number of deserters. I talk a little bit more about this on EPISODE TWO OF MY PODCAST THIS WEEK WHICH YOU SHOULD TOTALLY CHECK OUT AT THE BANNER BELOW! (Wow such a seamless plug!)

People will unsubscribe from your list for a variety of reasons, each of which is justifiable. Perhaps they're clearing out their inbox, or they're not sure whether your content still relates to them, or they don't really have the time to read your get the idea. And every subscriber to your list has every right to unsubscribe at any given time. Do not think you can escape this by simply getting rid of the unsubscribe link in your footer, or hiding from your subscribers that they're free to leave whenever they wish - this is a surefire way to get marked as Spam, and that will have serious implications on your account!

If people want to leave, let them. Hopefully you've served them well while they were here, and for every one person that leaves, there's room for ten more who join!

Having said that, there are most definitely ways you can minimize the number of people who unsubscribe from your list.

  1. Make sure every subscriber gets a welcome e-mail!

    Seriously, I didn't realize the importance of this until I sat back and thought of all the lists that I've subscribed to, myself. Without a welcome e-mail, there is no way of knowing whether my subscription to the list has gone through!
  2. Stay in touch with your list at least once a week.

    If you're only e-mailing people once every two weeks, or every few months, they are going to forget who you are very soon. Then, when they receive your next e-mail, they'll forget all about why they joined their list, or if they joined your list, and lo' and behold, they find the Unsubscribe button.

  3. Do not spam your e-mail list!

    Alright, I know a lot of influencers e-mail their list every single day, and I honestly respect the hell out of that, because though they're sending out very frequent e-mails, these e-mails provide content and actual value to their subscribers.

    Spam mail, on the other hand, is the opposite - it provides no value for the reader, and if anything, it is annoying, solicitous (yeah, I used that word) and just bad practice. Sure, e-mail your list as frequently as you like, but make sure that each individual e-mail has substance, and that your 'newsletter' isn't just a barrage of icky sales e-mails, asking people to buy from you!
As long as you're in touch pretty often, providing incredible value, and completely honest with your subscribers, you've minimized the risk of them leaving your list as much as is humanly possible.

And finally remember, no one starts out as an amazing e-mail writer. There is no shame in wanting to up your game all the time, because it means you're committed to giving your audience the best you have to offer. And this in itself sets you wide apart from a lot of online influencers!

So go ahead, create a bulk e-mail list, create a sign-up sheet, and play around with your e-mail voice and your platform, because next week, we're talking all about how to bring attention (and subscribers) to your list!

Again, I'm talking all about how you can better connect with your audience on the podcast this week, so listen to the FULL 1 HOUR SHOW BEFORE ANYONE ELSE by clicking the banner below!

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Introducing the Leveraging Instagram Series: Your E-Mail List - The Basics, Why You Need One, And How To Build One

Got any topic requests for the blog or podcast, or just wanna come say hi? Hit me up on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or via E-Mail!

Thank you so much for reading, and I'll see you guys again later this week with some podcast awesomeness!

All my love,

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