College Email List

Nov 1, 2018

The mid-90’s were great. We were coming out of the era of the big bangs and poofy hair. Plaid, baggy clothes, and Doc Martens were in fashion. And who didn’t love the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?

What else seemed to be “the thing” in the 90’s? Personal Computers. Although not as portable as we have today, you were lucky if you had a computer in your dorm room to work on your papers. For many of us we had to wait for a computer to free up in the computer lab.  Then there was the dance with your box of floppy disks hoping that not only did you remember to save your work but also is it going to screw up when you try to print.

I felt like I’ve lost more papers than written them due to floppy disk failures!

The computer lab was also the primary place to check email.  As a 90’s kid in college, my first email address was like everyone else, usually some form of a mascot or favorite sport. In college, I got a more “professional” email address which was my name@college.edu. In between classes or at the end of the day, you would trek over to the computer lab to work on your paper and check your email for news from home, or if your friends on campus were planning anything for the weekend.

Yes, this was before anyone really had a phone or text message. If you wanted to get people together or know what’s going on, it came through a little green screen dot matrix computer in the boring text (no gifs, emojis, or images). Through email, we communicated with professors, planned trips, parties, and occasionally got the “it’s not you, it’s me” email from someone we were dating.

While in college, this was the first time I really built a list of friends that I communicated with regularly. I would send out words of encouragement, funny quotes, or things that just puzzled me that I found funny. Like anything else, it started out slow with no real reason or rhyme as to why I’m sending these out, but slowly, I learned a few things that I think are still as relevant now as they were in the 90’s.

Personal

The emails I sent then were personal. It wasn’t directed specifically to a person (no Hi, <NAME>,) but it was my thoughts and feelings in an email. Quirky I’m sure because you know college, but also inspirational and applicable to my friends.  My goal was always to make them smile or laugh. I loved it when someone would stop me and tell me how much they loved my email or how it made them smile.

The same is true today. Neil Patel wrote an article about how personalization is dead and I couldn’t agree more especially since the way people are using it now IS DEAD. When you open an email, you know when someone is using your name to make it FEEL personalized, but then the content sounds like a robot.

When someone opens your email, it should feel personalized from the content that flows on the page.

Personalization can and should be more than <NAME> in the subject header or opening line. When someone opens your email, it should feel personalized from the content that flows on the page. It could be through a story opening or it could be hyper-targeted so only certain people get a specific email from your entire list.

Of course, some of those things are challenging to do and can be time-consuming, but even if you are sending emails without hyper-targeted focus, you can make it FEEL more personalized. The more personal and authentic you can make the email, the more likely your audience will WANT to open it. It’s as true now as it was in the 90’s.

Consistent

Was I an every Wednesday at 10a email person? No. But I was consistent in that I emailed my group every 1-2 days. Weekends…not so much because hey, it’s the weekend and we were too busy to sit in the computer lab.  There were no schedulers, publish later options or drafts. You just wrote and hit send. (I can’t imagine how many typos I used to send out, geeze). The consistency was because I had something to say, sometimes short, sometimes long, but always meaningful.

Your consistency can be what you need it to be.

Consistency is KING. People want to hear from you if they’ve given you their email address, but most people struggle with what to say and the thought of every 1-2 days seems overwhelming. Your consistency can be what you need it to be. Once a week? 3x a week? Once a month?-( last resort because I would say more frequently than 12x a year).  The point is, getting in their email box is important and even if you’re a once-a-week business, that’s one more time a week than the other person telling them something they want to hear or learn from you.

The more consistent, the more your business and your list will grow. This brings me to number 3 – Growth.

Growth

When I started my list in college, I only had a few of my friends on the list. Maybe 20 or so. Although I don’t have a record of it now or the emails, and man I wish I did, I know my list had grown to over 300 in the span of 6 months or so. When I look back, that’s actually a BIG deal. I mean, I didn’t have a “content strategy”. I wasn’t looking to do anything to monetize it. I was sending emails and encouraging people. And one by one, people would hand me their email address or a friend would say, “Hey can you add X to your list?” and like that, slowly over time it grew.

…growth can and almost always comes slow.

Of course, now it’s different but growth can and almost always comes slow. You’ll have a small list of people who have your free asset or have given you their email for a coupon. You email them consistently with content they want to read, and slowly you see growth because people share your information and now they want to follow you too.

Time To Build Your List!

Here’s the key, it is people who want to hear from YOU. If they get tired of it they either delete or unsubscribe. No big deal.

And that’s the point. It’s no big deal. Could I have asked ALL my friends or my friends of friends to join the list? Sure. I could have gone through a yearbook and just added a bunch of people if I really wanted to but why? Those people didn’t want to hear from me. My friend did. If they thought it was good content, then they shared it with their friends who then reached out to me to join the list.

The point is, build your list with people who have decided they know, like, and trust you.

The point is, build your list with people who have decided they know, like, and trust you. They find your information valuable and don’t mind getting on your list to get it. BUT DON’T buy a list no matter what industry you are in and don’t add people who don’t know you yet. You will waste time and only make them mad.

The ’90s were great for a lot of things and at the time, I didn’t realize the power of email and how when you provide information people want, consistently over time, your email list will grow.

The same is true today, over 20 years later. Email is still the cheapest, fastest, and possibly the best way to consistently communicate with your audience. It is a list you control and no matter how many people come and go from your list, it’s still your list and their choice. No algorithm change or pay-to-play rule can stop you from reaching every single person on your list with the information they want and need.

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