Recently someone asked me what I considered my strong suits in blogging. Without hesitation, I answered affiliate marketing and email marketing. These are two areas that I love learning more about and love perfecting my techniques. Today, let’s focus on email marketing.
Why Are Email Subscribers Important?
I started blogging back in 2008. Back then, Twitter and Facebook were just coming online. There was no Pinterest or Instagram. If you wanted return readers and a community, you did that through email marketing. Because of the limited marketing avenues back then, I started building my email list from Day 1. I consider myself lucky to have done so.
Chris Brogan has estimated that 70% of his revenue comes from his list. Why so much? Because Chris’ newsletters are truly valuable. He uses the direct means of communication to give his subscribers a little more than they would receive just following his RSS feed or social media platforms. Because of that, his email subscribers feel they know him. They trust his opinions when it comes time to make a purchase.
Another great reason to build a strong email list, you don’t have to worry so much about the latest search engine and social media algorithms. They still stink when they happen, but you know you haven’t lost any of your most devoted fans. They will still see every update.
Choose Your Service Wisely
There are a lot of email newsletter service providers out there. It’s important that you choose wisely.
The first thing you need to do is read through the Terms of Service. Some providers, especially the free ones, have limitations on content. For example, Mailchimp isn’t an option for me because they prohibit work from home content. MadMimi won’t work for me either because they do not allow affiliate links in emails. Free sounds good, but it always comes at a cost.
Once you have read through the TOS, your next step is to analyze the ability to grow with you. I was with AWeber for many, many years and was always happy with their service. I only recently changed over to ConvertKit because they allow me to do more advanced targeting and offer multiple subscriber gifts to the same list. Consider your long-term goals in addition to your budget.
Devise a Plan
Once you know you are ready to start email marketing and you know where you want to do it, you need to decide what your newsletters will include.
As stated previously, you need to offer newsletter subscribers a little more than they could get elsewhere. For people like Chris Brogan, that means essentially writing a subscriber-only post each week. For me and many others, it simply means curating a list of useful links for our readers in addition to our own posts.
Rae Hoffman puts together one of my favorite weekly newsletters. I seriously watch for it every Saturday morning. She isn’t just sending me a link to her latest post but a handful of links from around the web that week that pertain to blogging. Love it! TheSkimm is another good example.
In my own newsletters, I do something similar. I send a few goodies from around the web. I include my most recent posts. I also share older posts that may be trending.
In your newsletters, you may include sales and specials, answer reader questions and more. Be the resource you want to see from others.
You will also need to decide on the frequency on your communications. I email my subscribers every week. You may choose to send emails every two weeks. I personally think sending only monthly is too long in between messages, but it’s ultimately up to you.
Develop a Freebie
I can’t tell you how important it is that you offer something for free in exchange for that email address. It will make a day and night difference in your list building success. A lot of people just need one more little push to get them to signup.
Subscriber freebies, or content upgrades, are usually just something small that you have created that has some perceived value. It could be a checklist or a short report. Maybe it’s a small report that goes into detail about what you blog about. Maybe it’s a huge list that your visitors can take with them for later.
Depending on the newsletter service you chose, you can either upload your freebie to your Welcome email or redirect people to a password-protected page on your site once they confirm their subscription.
Collect Those Emails
After your awesome freebie, the placement of your opt-in boxes will also make a huge difference in your conversion rates. Sidebar boxes don’t perform the best. Depending on your mobile theme your reader may not even see them.
I get the biggest bang for my buck below the blog post. If you are using ConvertKit, they have a plugin that makes this possible. I also like OptinMonster for my opt-in boxes.
Another great subscriber box option is the pop-up. Many newsletter services offer this today, you can also use OptinMonster or SumoMe. I recommend going with an “exit intent” box that only displays when readers are starting to head away from your site. These convert like crazy.
You also want to make sure you are getting your social media followers on your list. Luckily, most platforms today make this easy. Twitter has these awesome Lead Generation Cards that you can pin to the top of your profile.
Facebook allows you to create a Call to Action button that displays alongside your header image. You can direct visitors to a landing page or connect your newsletter service’s app if one is available.
For your other social media profiles, I recommend creating a landing page on your blog to collect emails and put that link in your online bios. You can create landing pages right on your site and just embed an opt-in box as I have done here. If you use ConvertKit, you can use their landing page feature to create a page that looks like this. (You can share their link or if you use the WordPress plugin embed it right on your site.)
If you are out guest posting around the web, remember to include your freebie in your author byline and direct people to your landing page or sign-up box.
Ask your subscribers to invite their friends.
Create a Community
I don’t spend but 30 minutes creating my newsletter each week. It’s nothing fancy. But, it is extremely helpful to my followers. I know they are looking for legitimate ways to work from home, blogging tips, freelancing advice and a few extra money-makers every now and again. By having this direct line of communication, I have created a great little community. If I miss a week, someone’s emailing me wanting to know if they missed the broadcast.
Track, Test, and Revise
Once you have everything in place to begin email marketing, your next step is to track, test and revise. With most newsletter service providers like ConvertKit or opt-in box creators like SumoMe or OptinMonster, you will be able to see how each box or landing page is converting. This is such great information to have as you will be able to see if one offer is converting better than others if you offer more than one subscriber freebie. You can also split test to see if different colors or verbiage make a different.
I also highly recommend setting up Goals in Google Analytics. This process only takes a few minutes, but it can provide you with a wealth of information about where your email subscribers are coming from – search, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. That can help you establish a social media strategy based on conversions, not vanity metrics. It can also help you determine where to spend advertising dollars should you choose to go that route.