Everyone says to build a mailing list. Get people to sign up to your list, they say. Then you can keep in touch with them for free.
Here’s a truth bomb. It’s not necessarily free. If you sign up too many people, you pay a monthly fee. Even if those people never open up your emails, you’re paying for them to be there.
So yes, sign people up. Invite people into your world and give them a reason to step through the door.
But don’t get hooked on the wrong numbers.
When you send out an email newsletter, there are two numbers that your email list provider shows you.
The first is how many people are on your list. The other is the percentage of people opening your emails.
There is a third metric to look out for too – how many people engage. How many comment on your blogs, or hit reply and talk to you.
This goes against common wisdom, but of those three, it’s the first number that doesn’t matter.
Who wants a million people at your birthday party if none of them talk to you? Wouldn’t it be more fun to have tea with five friends who engage?
Especially when the million who don’t talk to you cost you money and blur your focus.
Here’s how to get your engagement rates high. I almost tripled mine overnight. It’s simple.
Delete the people who don’t open your emails.
Every email provider enables you to do this. Pick a time limit of 3 to 6 months. Make sure it’s long enough so that you have sent out a good amount of mails.
Then remove those people who have been there the whole time yet never once opened a mail from you.
Your list membership will go down, sure. But that’s vanity. It’s not impressive to have a million followers who never have anything to do with you.
Do this on a regular basis and you’ll get sky high engagement rates.
You’ll now be having conversations with the people who want to hear from you.
Now you have a list that is valuable – without the distractions of trying to reach those who don’t care.
By getting in touch with what your engaged fans want, you are tapping into your true tribe. This is the conversation that matters.
Seth Godin speaks of finding your minimum viable crowd.
Don’t go big, he says. Go small. Find the people who are hungry for you, and take the next steps together.
(P.S. Did you notice that this isn’t just about art and business – that it’s also a metaphor for life?)