mail marketing is one of the best ways to connect with customers, build credibility, and nurture relationships. A lot has been written about building an email list to support a blog, promote products and services, or improve traffic to a website because it works. Email has billions of users — 3.8 billion in 2018 according to Statista. Around 281 billion emails were sent worldwide that same year. Email marketing has one of the strongest ROIs of all forms of marketing. Oberlo estimates a $32 return on every $1 spent.
That’s all well and good for businesses with websites or blogs, but what about those of us who don’t own a website? Is an email list worth the effort, and if you do build an email list, what can you do with it if there’s no website behind you?
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Is Email Marketing Without a Website Possible?
While it may seem that every man and his dog have a website these days, not all of us do. I’ve been happily freelancing for about ten years now and I don’t have a website. I’m not alone either. In the US, around 64% of small businesses have a website. In the UK, it’s much less: an estimated 30% of businesses — companies, sole traders, partnerships, and government organisations — have a website. I do have a web presence, various online profiles, and other digital resources that serve my work. My partner, who is a freelance illustrator, has a similar setup.
However, all this talk about email lists and email marketing has piqued my interest. I’m interested in knowing if I could make an email list work for my freelancing business even without my own dedicated website. Although it’s a more difficult path to take, it turns out it is possible.
How To Use Email Marketing When You Don’t Have a Website
Even if you don’t have a website, chances are you have some sort of internet presence. It could be a Facebook page, another social media profile, an online portfolio, a profile on a freelancing platform, or a Medium account. Whatever it is, it’s where people can find your work and learn a little more about you.
It’s also where you can connect with your audience and potential customers. You should keep these profiles and pages up to date and interesting for visitors. With an email list, you can encourage people to connect with you and your business at these social points. It will help build a relationship with them and also your online credibility. If you do start a website in future, you have a group of people already engaged with your business and primed to visit your site.
Having an email list of subscribers means you can keep in touch with them via a regular newsletter. There’re lots of free resources out there to do this — MailChimp is one of the best known with both paid and free access available. Your newsletter can keep people informed about what you’re up to and you can try out different ideas to get feedback. You can direct people to your latest articles, social media posts that you rate, YouTube clips, or pretty much any digital resources or creations that you’d like to share. Because you don’t have a website, people will rely on your newsletter to keep up to date with you and your latest work. This could improve your open rates.
Just because you don’t have your own website doesn’t mean you can’t sell your wares on the internet. Thanks to platforms like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon (just to name the big ones), you can have an internet store without the hassle of managing your own website. Use your email list to notify people about your latest products and services, or special offers on these sites.
Even if you’re just regularly writing on Medium, you can use your email list to notify people of your latest work and help to build your readership here.
An email list can also be used to promote products and services that you personally rate. This is a great way to help others, and you can sometimes earn from it, too. Lots of businesses these days pay for others to promote their wares through affiliate marketing. All you need to do is create a link in your email using the affiliate link from the business you’re happy to promote and voila! You earn a little each time one of your subscribers clicks or takes up your recommendation. You don’t need a website to do this; you just need an audience and a way to regularly reach out to them.
An email list is a great way to keep in touch with past clients and possible future clients, too. A regular email update can keep them in touch with the latest news in your vertical, why people are hiring creatives like you, and, of course, changes in your business. Maybe you started out writing blogs, and you’ve added another string to your bow and want to win more projects to exercise the new skill. Let people know with an email and include a call to action that encourages them to get in touch with you for a quote or to hire you for that skill. Email can be a great way to drive more business your way, especially if you encourage your subscribers to share your emails with others they think will benefit from them.
If you need a hand How To Start Building an Email List Without a Website or Landing Page
If the above has convinced you to start using email to market yourself and your work, you’re likely wondering how to get started. Building an email list is as simple and as difficult as getting people to give you their address and permission to contact them through it. In the age of GDPR, you’ll need people’s express permission to email them. You can’t just find the email addresses of the people following you and start emailing them. Doing that will land you in hot water and get you on the wrong side of the people you’re contacting.
If you want to start collecting the email addresses of your fans and followers, ask them if they’re happy for you to keep in touch. You’ll need to direct them to a landing page where they give you the necessary details to do so. You don’t need a website to have a landing page. Lots of email marketing platforms will allow you to set one up with them for free or a small charge, depending on the features and functionality you need. MailChimp, MailerLite, and a bunch of others offer free landing pages that can collect email addresses for your list.
Integrate your landing page with your email list service. This is so anyone who does subscribe to your list is automatically collated and waiting for you when you decide to start contacting them, sending newsletters, or any of the other types of emails discussed above.
Once your landing page and email marketing account have been set up, you’re ready to start sharing the link. Some people recommend giving your audience a reason to part with their email address — an exclusive offer or another incentive. Other people simply put a note at the bottom of their content, or in their author bio, asking people to click their link and sign up with them to be the first to find out about the next article they write.
If you’re starting an email list and have an established business already, you could email past clients and ask them if they want to stay in touch with you. Include a link to your newly created landing page for them to do so.
Whichever you decide to do, you need to get the link to your landing page out there. Share it on your social media channels and at the bottom of your published content. Email it to friends, family, and business contacts; ask them to share it on. There are lots of different strategies for building an email list without a website; take a look and choose the ones that fit best with your personality and business plan. Email marketing could easily be an integral part of building your business in 2021. If you’re looking for help with your marketing emails or building a list, get in touch!