Starting an email list

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Written By carolina

Over a decade of quilt industry experience in multiple roles.

The most expensive part of marketing is finding customers. Once you have those customers, you want to keep in touch with them so that they’ll become repeat customers. There are a variety of ways to do this, including social media, but the most successful for most businesses is to stay in touch with your customers through email. This means starting an email list.

Depending on the country (or even which state) you are in, there are different laws that you’ll need to be aware of. It isn’t easy to keep track of the different laws in email marketing, so the first step should be to find an email provider. They will generally provide updates and features which help to keep you in compliance – more about some of the basic compliance requirements below.

The first step

My first advice when someone is looking for any kind of service provider – from plumbing to business – is to ask a friend. If you have friends in the quilting industry or friends who have a similar type of business, asking who they use is a great first step. They’ll be able to tell you who they use, and what they love and hate about the service. And if you choose to use the same service you’ll have a go-to person to ask questions as you get started.

If you don’t have a friend to ask, here are a list of different services you can research (listed in alphabetical order): Aweber, Constant Contact, Convert Kit, Flodesk, Klaviyo, MailChimp, and MailerLite. There are many, many more – just google email marketing platforms to get entire lists! Personally, I use Flodesk. It is one of the most affordable options, and while it has fewer bells and whistles, it is simple to use and creates beautiful and professional looking emails in just a few minutes.

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What to look for in an email provider?

When first starting an email list and comparing providers, the most obvious thing most people consider is price. But rather than look at price alone, consider value. A bicycle is cheaper than a car. Which is great if the bicycle will get you everywhere you need to go. But if not, it doesn’t matter how cheap the bicycle is, it doesn’t have value.

Consider how big your email list is now, and how large you anticipate it will be. As your list grows, how will the price adjust?

What do you need your email program to do? Are you just collecting email addresses and sending out emails? Are you running a course? Do you want ecommerce integrations?

How detailed do you want your data and tracking to be?

How intuitive is the software and how much time do you have to learn the platform?

Is this platform the right one, or the right one for now? And how difficult would it be to switch platforms?

Creating an opt-in form

Once you’ve selected your email provider, create an opt-in form, and then link to it on any outlets you have – social media, blog, website, shop, etc. Even if you’re not ready to start sending emails yet, start collecting those email addresses. Then, when you are ready to start sending emails, you’ll have a list started to send your emails to! Your email provider will have templates you can use for creating your opt-in form.

Basic compliance when starting an email list

There are different regulations regarding email compliance depending on where you live. In the USA, we have CAN-SPAM. In Europe, there is GDPR. Different countries and even states in the USA have their own regulations around sending out emails. The good news is that a lot of these rules are great business practices anyway! Here are a few of the basic compliance rules, in plain English. Be sure to look up the rules where you live.

  • Don’t add someone to your email list unless they’ve specifically asked to be on your list.
  • Provide an easy and obvious way for folks to unsubscribe.
  • If someone asks to unsubscribed or removed from the list – stop emailing them.
  • If you’re including affiliate links in your email, you must disclose that they’re affiliate links.

CAN-SPAM also requires that you include an address on your emails. Most email service providers have this information in the email footer. Simply providing your city and state will not be sufficient.

Start sending to your email list!

All these steps may feel daunting at first, but starting an email list doesn’t have to be hard. And once you’ve gone through the steps you’re ready to send out emails! There is no hard-and-fast rule on how often to send emails out to your list. But, you do want to make sure that you’re providing value to your subscribers every time you pop into their inbox!

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