Let’s pretend we’re at a party. You mingle politely. You ask a few nervous attendees about the weather and what they grabbed off the buffet.

Slowly you make your way to one side of the room. Alone.

You ask a question, quietly, to the room. You wait for the response.

No response comes.

Maybe a few friends walk over to make sure you’re okay. They’re visibly concerned.

You shrug your shoulders. You expected to start a conversation, to get a response, to engage people. Instead, you got silence.

This is what engaging your tribe with indirect media looks like. Indirect media is Twitter, your blog, Facebook (most of the time), radio advertisements, video marketing, etc… It’s indirect because it requires some perfect circumstance: your tribe has to be reading, listening, viewing, consuming at exactly the right time.

It’s awesome. But it’s also hit or miss.

Email marketing is direct marketing. It’s a way to connect to your tribe, on their own terms, in their inbox.

Growing your list is growing your tribe.

To start any direct email marketing, you must first start a mailing list. I recommend Mail Chimp but there are plenty of other (if not nearly as cheeky) services. You cannot blind copy a bunch of email addresses in Gmail – nope, sorry, just don’t do it.

In growing your list, you are growing your tribe. You are gathering together a community who is interested in hearing what you have to say about your business, your products, and how those products relate to their lives. You aim to build your list quickly but with a keen eye for bringing in those who are likely to be your customers.

You don’t need to entice the dude who found your website searching “cheese doodles.” Unless, of course, you sell cheese doodles or cheese doodle accessories.

I grow my tribe by offering subscribers a freebie. I offer them something that is representative of what they would get from me if they did buy something and I make sure it’s representative of what I’m going to be offering.

Here at Kick Start Labs, it’s a free smarter blogging ecourse. It’s got it’s on little home and an explanation of what you get. Subscribers feel good about investing their time & energy into this freebie.

On taragentile.com, I lead off with an optin on my homepage. And then follow-up with an optin for in the sidebar of my blog.

Your business may benefit from offering a free consultation with subscription or maybe a coupon for 10% off a first order. You may simply state that your goods move FAST and that prospective customers better get on the list to make sure they don’t miss the best stuff.

Look around the web and you’ll see all manner of email list enticements, opt in forms, and prizes at the bottom of the proverbial boxes. The takeaway here is that there is no “right way” to grow your list. You can experiment with any combination of tactics & tricks but, in the end, it’s what works for you and your visitors that will be the most impactful.

I’ve grown a list of over 5,000 subscribers in less than 8 months. Those 5,000 subscribers are connectors, mavens, discussion starters, research assistants, trend setters, and influencers. And they’re customers. They are my tribe. We are in conversation.

They let me know what is working. And they let me know what’s not working. I listen as much as I broadcast. Actually, I probably listen more than I broadcast. They are my lifeline.

This ain’t your grandma’s newsletter.

Back in the day, newsletters were cut & paste together with paper & glue, run off in an edition of a hundred, and slid underneath office doors. This was expensive. And so newsletter compilers would jam as much information as possible onto the paper.

Email is fast, cheap as dirt, and much more effective. So instead of calling attention to 10, 5, or even 3 action items, the best email updates showcase one – and only one – call to action.

That means you ask people to attend an event, like you on Facebook, buy a product, check out the Spring collection, register for a teleconference, or leave a comment. But that’s it. Just leave it at that.

Given choices, we get overwhelmed. We delay action.

Your emails should trigger immediate action.

One. Thing.

You can also offer blog posts by email using one of the email subscription services. Again, I love talking monkeys. This gives you most of the impact of email while allowing you to concentrate on one marketing form at a time.

Tara, one thing?!

Good, you were paying attention. Here’s how you write about one thing.

You write your email like you were writing to a human being. Not like you would write it to a corporation full of people who don’t care or an organization of people who have better things to be doing.

Write it with clarity, humor, warmth, and love.

Don’t worry about tactics or strategies. They come with time. Worry about writing as yourself, as the face of your business. Write with confidence and humility.

And above all, make sure it’s clear what that “one thing” is, m’kay?

Pick what’s most important to your business right now. Invite your subscribers to click, comment, connect around this one thing. You’ll have immediate results in the form of dollars, feedback, and conversation. You’ll know what’s working and what isn’t. One. thing.

But… can I?

It’s a common to wonder what an “opt in” really means. Does that mean I can email them about just about anything now? Maybe. Sort of. Do you really want to?

I make my opt ins broad but directed. I do manage multiple lists so that I’m sure I’m reaching the right people each time I send out an email.

But I also send out emails that don’t have much to do with the original thing someone signed up for. The unifying factor is, of course, me.

Your subscribers are opting to hear from you. If you have something to say and you think there’s a remote chance they’d be interested, say it. You’re probably right.

And yes, you can make offers via email. You can ask people to buy your products and sign up for your services. You can suggest an affiliate promotion. You can encourage people to follow you on Twitter.

If it benefits your business, you can put it in an email. And you probably should.

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Want more on email marketing? I have a 30-day course that proves… email marketing doesn’t have to suck.

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