Here's Why You Shouldn't Care How Big Your Email List Is
Have you held off from launching your email marketing strategy because you think your email list isn't big enough? Or how about this, does the idea of people unsubcribing paralyze you from sending a newsletter at all?
As I'm always happy to do, I'm here to remind you you're not alone.
I've experienced the unsubscribe anxiety often over 5 and half years of sending my newsletter. Most people deal with this, you've got to be a sociopath not to! But unsubcribes are just part of the drill. (I'll explain below why this is so.).
You might be asking, why I've dealt with the second issue but not the first?
I started my newsletter in the winter of 2012 and had absolutely no experience or preconceived notions of how BIG my newsletter list should be or any of the anxiety we all experience today. I just knew I needed one.
I sent that sucker to 29 people in the winter of 2012 and never looked back.
It was a perfect way to begin.
You don't need a massive list when starting out (or ever actually)!
If it's one thing I've learned in the 12 years I've been creating content online - you can have a teeny, tiny community and still have a vibrant, engaged, and profitable experience.
You don't need a massive list to create a newsletter that works for you and your business.
It doesn't matter how many people are paying attention; what matters is how engaged they are.
I want you to experience this and not hold yourself back due to stupid arbitrary numbers.
Sure, everyone wants a successful experience when sending out content. And it's common to think you need a lot of people on the other end. I get that, and there's nothing wrong in trying to achieve that in the long run.
We should all be building a bigger audience. That just makes sense.
However, you can't get there without consistency and action. And just like everything else in life and business, building a successful and healthy newsletter strategy doesn't happen overnight.
Having a small list when starting out is a good thing. And those unsubscribes are part of that process.
Starting small is ideal
Having a massive list when starting out is not optimal for many reasons (some of which I'll continue to list below) but first and foremost getting started with a newsletter can induce sincere performance anxiety.
Having a small list allows you the ability to experiment, pay attention to what works with your readers, and what feels good for you to send. Plus, all of this offers you the ability to build real trust over time and allows you to really get to know your readers.
Small is a good thing!
Readers = ideal customer
Having a small list in the beginning is an opportunity to slowly build a sincerely engaged list in the long run, especially if you build it organically.
This is key to developing a list of supportive readers; having people on your list that want to be there, that want to read your content, and are signed up because they want to hear from you.
Engaged readers will open your email, click on your content, and stick around!
Your email list should be full of your ideal readers. Readers that are ultimately going to turn into your ideal customer. Adding these types of readers to your list, takes time. So adding people to your list that don't want to be there is a bad thing.
Resist the urge to inflate your list with friends, family, and personal contacts or fall into the trap of growth hacks like "get 1000 subscribers in 30 days!" None of these people are going to be your ideal customer.
Healthy open rates
Creating a healthy email list is an important action in your email marketing strategy. It's important to have people on your list that are opening and reading your emails! It's as simple as that.
Having people on your list that aren't opening your emails will lower your open and click through rates. It's like having a website with no traffic or a social media account with no engagement. It's not good!
Having a healthy email list means increasing your open and clickthrough rates every time you send your newsletter with the best content. Understanding what people are responding to and engaging with is key to increasing these numbers. This gives you feedback, so you know what to continue to send.
If the people on your list aren't opening and reading your emails you're going to have an unhealthy list with low open and clickthrough rates.
Don't waste money on dead weight (churn)
Another thing to consider, if you're not paying for your ESP (email service provider) yet, you will eventually. Depending on your list size and the pro-features you'll eventually want to level up and pay for those features.
Collecting people to build your list that are not engaged is not something you want to encourage. Eventually you'll need to pay for every subscriber, so that means you should have as little dead weight as possible on your list.
Subscribers that are no longer active (or never were) are what's known as churn. It's dead weight, and you want to avoid it (although all businesses deal with churn).
No one likes dead weight. So remember this when you're feeling anxiety about the size of your list - the people on your list want to be there. That's a good thing!
Unsubscribes are normal
No one likes unsubcribes. But they're a reality when dealing with any kind of content marketing. They're also an important part of of building a successful and healthy newsletter.
It's critical that people remove themselves from your list if they don't want to be there. It's not commentary on you and your business. It just means these people are not your ideal customer.
I know how hard it is to not take this personally. It will always sting a bit. But overall, unsubscribes are a totally normal aspect.
Look at it as your list is narrowing in on the people that want to be there, and want to hear from you. Like I mentioned above, you don't want to pay for people who don't want to be there. And you don't want to damage your list by having subscribers that aren't interacting with your content.
Unsubcribes are a good thing. You want people on your list that want to be there. When people unsubscribe, they're doing you a favor!
Make it happen for the growth of your business!
I get it, an email strategy doesn't have the excitement that social media does. Social media is immediate and relatively easy. Writing a newsletter is definitely none of those things. It can feel scary, and daunting starting out.
But it really doesn't have to be.
Look at it this way: email is personal and a much better way to build better relationships with your potential customers. It offers you the ability to almost hand deliver your best content front and center. And what's even better? Email gets to the majority of your subscribers! They actually see your content - unlike the fraction that sees it on social media.
So what do you say? Kick those fears to the curb, get rid of list size anxiety, and get that new marketing channel up and running! I know you can do it, and do it well.