Part 1: An Introduction to Email Marketing
In my opinion, there is nothing more important than list building and email marketing for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Email might be an older technology. It certainly isn’t sexy.
But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t effective.
A solid email marketing campaign can grow your business and provide a consistent lifeline during downtimes.
According to a recent study by Ipsos, email marketing is still more popular than social networking.
What is Email Marketing and List Building?
To put it simply, email marketing is connecting with your customers through email.
There are many reasons why a company may wish to connect with their customers. Some common reasons include;
- Inform them about a new product
- Receive customer feedback and input
- Build a sustainable list of customers you can always connect with
- Turn one opportunity to market to a customer, into several
- Conduct market research
Email marketing is for anything and everything that you would like to tell your customer base about. But, you want to make sure that you provide value – because your readers can always unsubscribe from your list.
Why is Email Marketing so Important?
Email Marketing is vital in the day to day operations of most businesses online. Building an email list helps businesses to ensure that they are always able to keep their customers informed, and provide them with the content that they want to read.
There are many benefits that email marketing provides to businesses, and many reasons why it is important for most;
Consider the Lists You Subscribe To
Consider the lists that you currently subscribe to. Why is it that you signed up for them in the first place? Did they offer you an eBook filled quality information in exchange for the opportunity to mail you further information down the line? Did they entice you with exclusive content? Did they promise to send you tips and tricks about the industry their website is related to?
Everyone has a reason for subscribing to an email list. The trick is to make sure that you present the potential subscription to them in the right way.
A Funnel for Instant Traffic
The most obvious reason to utilize E-Mail Marketing is the fact that it provides you with instant traffic. Most companies regularly update their users when new content is added to their website.
Is one of your popular products available at a huge discount? Did you just post an article to your new blog? Being able to instantly inform those that have subscribed to your email list about new and interesting content is invaluable. An email list is great at driving large amounts of traffic to your website quickly – and the best part is that these customers are ready to engage. They did sign up to your email list, after all.
If you have ever done email marketing in the past – the graph above probably looks familiar. Email blasts can create instant traffic funnels, driving subscribers to your website it short blasts.
There are so few aspects of business that can be properly automated while still making the customer feel like they are dealing with a person on the other side.
Email marketing campaigns generally start subscribers out by sending them a few pre-determined emails (autoresponders). These emails will introduce the website, ask them if they have suggestions, refer them to popular pages on their website, and thank them for their subscription.
We’ll examine autoresponders in-depth a little farther into the guide.
List building allows you to effectively automate the relationship building process, and build a personal connection with your subscribers without having to lift a finger.
It’s a Lifeline – Your List Will Always Be There
Subscription lists don’t disappear – ever. Sure, if you never contact anyone on your list, it might not be worth much to you in ten years time. But, your email list will always be there.
Even if your website is penalized by Google.
Even if all of your traffic disappears overnight.
Your list will always be available to you and provide you with a potential revenue stream while you deal with any issues your business might be having.
You can start email marketing today for just $1. There are also many free sources for email marketing avaialble as well.
Compare that to the startup costs of running a PPC campaign and you’ll start to understand why email marketing is so vital to so many online businesses.
Email Marketing Facts
So, now that you have an understanding of why Email Marketing is as important as it is, let’s drive the point home.
Here are a few facts that accurately depict just how important Internet Marketing should be to your business;
Email Is Still More Used than Social Media
Sure, social media gets all of the attention now. Everyone wants to know how to market their business on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Web Users Today:
- 85% of web users use email
- 62% of web users use social media
Also keep in mind that these figures encompass all social media websites. So the number of users per each individual social media website is actually quite a bit smaller.
Your spreading your audience thin across many different platforms. Email is a single platform.
Email Is More Engaging Than Social Media
In a recent study that was performed by Litmus, the data showed some interesting stats regarding ROI and where businesses spent their money online. They found;
- Email: $40 for ever $1 spent.
- Keyword Ads: $17 for every $1 spent.
- Banner Ads: $2 for every $1 spent.
Part 2: Optins and Subscriptions
Now that you have an understanding of the basics of email marketing, you can begin to put the pieces together.
Just know before you start that while all of this looks very easy to setup, it is actually quite time consuming. It is very easy to burn an entire day getting your initial email marketing strategy together.
Break it up. Do a bit at a time. Work on your opt ins one day, autoresponder emails the next.
But make sure that you are treating each step of the process with an eye for quality.
Choosing a Provider
There are a number of excellent email marketing providers available to choose from.
Here are two of my favorites;
- AWeber – Feature Rich. Start marketing today for just $1.
- MailChimp – Not as many features, but free. Adequate for new email marketers. Can be imported into AWeber later.
AWeber is the superior of the two, but Mailchimp is sufficient for most startup email campaigns. You can always change your provider later – so don’t worry about getting stuck with one for the long haul.
AWeber is generally considered to be the best in the industry. It’s simple, intuitive, and feature-rich.
How Do Users Typically Subscribe?
It can be a bit confusing in the beginning.
How are they going to subscribe?
Why would my customers subscribe to my newsletter?
There are many ways in which people can subscribe to your newsletter, the ‘why’ we will come to later.
Some of the different ways in which users typically subscribe to newsletters include;
- Opt In Forms
- Purchasing a Product
- Using a Contact Form
- Registering on the Site
- Commenting on a Post
Opt In Forms
Opt in forms are the most efficient way to increase your subscriber base. There are a wide range of different types of opt in forms for you to choose from, and most websites have several different types of form on every page. This helps to ensure the site has maximum opportunity to capture leads after a little bit of split testing.
Some of the different types of Opt In forms you usually see include;
In the Sidebar
This is the Opt In form that I currently employ on the homepage here.
It’s basic, but it gets the job done.
You always want your sidebar to contain an opt in form.
It’s the first place people look when they want to learn more or subscribe.
Content popups will popup over the content of the page.
They are a great way to gain the attention of the user. I personally use the SumoMe plugin, with the listbuilder app attachment.
In Content Opt-In Form
Here is an example of an in-content opt-in form that I use in various areas throughout the site. In content forms can be placed anywhere throughout the content, preferably at a juncture within the content that makes sense. Place it at a point when you believe the reader will be the most engaged.
After Posts Opt In
Another great spot to place an opt-in form is after your posts. They have finished reading the content, and because this is the area in which most website place these forms – it is often where they will go to look for one.
Here is an example of the after-post Opt in form that I use here:
Offering bonuses can be another great way to entice readers to sign up for your mailing list. Some of the typical bonuses include;
- A Free eBook
- A list of resources
- A guide or tutorial
- A free download
- Exclusive content
The free report is the draw.
It’s an excellent method – just make sure that you are actually offering value, or you’ll see a high unsubscription rate.
Landing pages are great for providing some breathing room and using more space to make your point. Most landing pages that are list building focused are short and sweet.
They have some basic information, a solid headline and subheadline, and your basic opt in boxes. Here is an example of an opt-in landing page;
You can also collect subscribers from your contact form. A common combination for this is using Contact Form 7 and using this plugin, which adds a checkbox that connects to your AWeber or MailChimp account.
If you are going to attempt to gain subscribers from your contact form, I would suggest that you direct people to that page with some regularity. In your content, encourage readers to contact you if they have questions or comments about what they have read. This will encourage people to use the form regularly.
When They Register on Your Site
Another prime opportunity to gain subscribers is when they register on your website. There are many plugins that allow you to integrate this feature, but I would recommend this one for AWeber users, and this one for MailChimp users.
After Leaving a Comment
You should strive to offer the ability to opt in anytime that your readers directly engage with you. For this reason – I would suggest using this plugin to redirect your users after commenting. This will take them to a page that will thank them for leaving a comment, and then present them with an opt-in form.
Advanced List building Strategies
Now that we’ve gone over the basics – it’s time to look at some more advanced strategies.
You want to make sure that you are doing everything that you can to build your list. For information marketers – there is nothing more important than your list.
When many people start out with email marketing they ask;
Should I be careful about bombarding my user with mailing list requests?
My answer is always the same: No.
As long as you provide excellent value, there is no reason to worry about overdoing it.
Just make sure that you do not interrupt the experience of the user too often. A popup here or there is just fine, but they shouldn’t be an every-visit type of thing.
Here are some of my favorite advanced list building strategies;
If you don’t know already, Qualaroo is a plugin that allows you to easily survey your customers. Well – you’re already driving engagement – why not hack it to include the ability to subscribe to your list as well?
The forms typically look like this;
You could hack this form to include an opt-in. Some sites choose to present the user with the opt-in after the survey is complete, others choose to turn the entire survey popup into an optin.
Remember, the CAN-SPAM act requires that all subscribers to your email list go through a double opt-in process in order to be emailed to.
Did you know you can lose up to 25% of your subscribers after the first opt-in?
Where are most of these subscribers lost?
On your confirmation page. After People subscribe to my list, they see a page that asks them to confirm the subscription.
Make sure to tell them to check their spam folder.
Here are some tips to keep your mail from ending up in the spam folder.
Be Aggressive or Insulting
Another way to convince your users to subscribe to your list is to flat out insult them for not doing so.
You offer value, right?
Why wouldn’t they want to take advantage of that value? They would have to be an idiot not to!
Tell them about it.
Tell them that they’re an idiot. Be aggressive. Tell them that their competition will be using your email list to gain an advantage over them.
“Stop Being Fat – Join My Newsletter to Learn 10 Weight Loss Secrets Today”
“Stop Being Lazy – You Can’t Be Lazy and Lose Weight”
“You eat like shit. Subscribe today and receive an ebook on eating healthy for $20 per week!”
You get the picture.
Being overly aggressive or insulting can actually be a great way to convince them to subscribe, but isn’t for all brands. I find that it works best on landing pages.
Or you can target them when they attempt to opt out or deny your request for a subscription
“No thanks. I don’t need to lose weight.”
“No thank you. I don’t think I am capable of losing weight.”
“No. I don’t have the work ethic.”
These are heavy-handed, but can be a great way to get inside of the readers head and lead them toward opting in. It’s aggressive, but it works.
Testimonials and Social Proof
It’s no secret that testimonials and social proof can be powerful conversion tools.
You probably have used social proof on landing pages and homepages before.
Why not use them on your subscription pages?
I would recommend using any type of social proof that is relevant to your newsletter that you can.
Did someone mention your newsletter in a positive light on Twitter? Include it in your testimonial page.
Did someone leave you a comment on your blog stating that they enjoyed the quality updates that you deliver? Screenshot it. Include it.
Testimonials can be just as effective for building lists as they can for selling products.
Want to see what kind of technology the competition is using to drive their own list?
SiteAlerts allows you to check in on the variety of technologies that your competitors employ
The software gives a full rundown on WordPress plugins and other technology for any semi-popular website online.
It’s easy to see how this could be a useful tool. Maybe you saw a competitor doing something really unique with their opt-in form, and would like to know how it is done?
Make Your Subscription Page a Menu Item
Create a landing page for your newsletter. It can be as big, or as basic as you need it to be.
Then, make that pages accessible from your menu.
You’ll find a lot more of your visitors landing on this page than you otherwise would, and usually these pages convert very highly.
Putting your subscription page on your menu makes it more than a subscription page – it’s a full-fledged part of your site!
Use Your ‘About Me’ Page
What is the purpose of your About Me page?
It’s to inform your users about you and your credentials.
You’re telling them WHY they should subscribe to your blog, or your businesses blog.
You are already selling yourself to your audience.
This is the perfect time to try to get your readers to opt in.
Turn your “About Me” page into a landing page, complete with an opt-in box.
Don’t be afraid to include testimonials or social proof.
Part 3: After Subscribing To Your List
This is the hard part.
Now that you have familiarized yourself with some of the different methods of convert traffic to mailing list subscribers, now we will look at how to turn them into long-term subscriptions.
No one will subscribe to your mailing list if you don’t continue to provide value.
Value is the name of the game.
Past your first initial run of autoresponders, you should be sending your mailing list short, regular updates.
So, we will pick up with the guide as if we had just entered our email. What happens now.
After Entering Email
After users enter their email, they will be taken through a number of different steps.
It’s important to have a good understanding of these steps so that you can optimize the process and maximize subscriptions.
The Double Opt-In
After opting in, my users are taken to a thank you page where they are asked to opt in through their email account.
Make sure to ask that they check their spam folder on this page.
Your double opt in page should be relatively staightforward and easy to read.
You can create these pages using your email marketing provider, or through your own WordPress installation.
The user is then directed to their email inbox, where they will receive their opt-in confirmation message;
Once the reader confirms, they will be taken to a “Thank You” page where they receive visual confirmation of the subscription.
Now of course, you’ll want to opt to create your own thank you page and optimize it.
You want this page to;
- Thank them for signing up to your newsletter.
- Confirm for them that the signup process is complete.
- Provide them with any contact details that they may need.
- Direct them back to your website.
Some even go as far as to direct them toward their social media pages, attempting to turn a new subscriber into a subscriber AND a follower.
Autoresponders are the bread and butter of any email marketing campaign.
What are autoresponders?
Essentially autoresponders are pre-written emails that are sent to new subscribers.
Autoresponders can do a number of things;
- Delivered over the course of several days or weeks.
- Deliver basic information that subscribers may like.
- Show them the best content that you have available.
- Ask them for feedback on how to improve.
- Establish a line of communication with the reader.
I personally use autoresponders heavily in most niches, as they allow you to re-purpose content and have your newsletter setup several months in advance.
Plus, you can always send quick emails to your list whenever you would like, in-between autoresponder posts.
Here are some common autresponders that you might see when you subscribe to a new list:
A welcome message is used to build initial contact with your group. Typically they are sent within a day or two of the actual subscription. AWeber has quite a few settings that allow you to custom-tailor these types of messages and ensure that they are sent on time, within a specified number of days since your last message, so that you do not overload them early on in their subscription.
Example Welcome Message;
Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter! It means the world to me.
I have had __ years of experience in __ industry, and want to give back to the community as much as possible.
I don’t email often, and when I do I make sure that I am delivering only the best content and guides!
If you have any questions – don’t hesitate to get into contact with me.
You can reach me here:
Thank you once again for Subscribing
It is important to consistently deliver value to your readers.
Sending over exclusive content, or interesting information quickly in your autoresponder series is a quick and efficient way to built trust and create a lifetime subscriber.
I always try to deliver something valuable in any autoresponder series.
Example of Delivering Value:
SUBJECT: Here’s a Bonus – 5 Free Tips to _____
I know that I already thanked you for joining my newsletter, but I wanted to give you back something in return.
Here is an exclusive list of resources that I put together, helping me to ___ in the ___ industry.
Use these tips and watch your success grow![LINK]Your Name
Once you’ve been blogging or creating content over a long period of time, some of your best work is going to get buried deep within your website.
You want to make sure that all of your users are able to find the content hat you deem to be most important.
I always find new and interesting ways to bring new subscribers to some of my most popular posts.
Example of Re-purposed Content
Today I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Want to learn how I was able to double my traffic in 3 short weeks?
Here is a guide that I wrote about using my favorite social media software to drive traffic to your blog![Link]Let me know what you think, and let me know if you have any questions!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask:
Feedback and Questions
As a leader in any industry, you’ll likely find that a large number of your readers will have feedback and questions about the services that you provide.
An email is the perfect medium for providing feedback and asking questions.
Plus, getting you readers more involved is always a good thing.
Here is an example of one of the autoresponders that I use for one of my niche sites:
So now you’ve had time to read the excellent guides available on our website.
Is there anything else that you would like to know about?
Are you having any problems understanding the guides that are available?
Do you have any questions?
We offer some great guides – but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have questions! Don’t hesitate to get into contact with me, suggest new guides, or ask questions about our previous guides here:
Asking for feedback is the most straightforward way to build an understanding of what your readers are looking for.
Ask for Testimonials
Depending upon your industry, you can also ask for testimonials through email as well!
This site (Copy Thrive) for instance, would provide the perfect opportunity for this, since I provide some pretty in-depth guides, and have likely helped some of my readers to grow their income.
Here is an example of how I would go about it (note: I do not currently use this, or a similar autoresponder in my own series, but they can be useful)
Now that you’ve had some time to read through the guides that I offer, I’d like to know how they have helped you.
Shoot me a quick e-mail back, and let me know how you have implemented the strategies discussed in my guides to grow your income and improve your business.
Those that do could earn a spot on my testimonials page and a permanent link to their own website!
Go here to submit a testimonial;
Simple and straightforward. You will not only build more testimonials for future social proof, but will also provide them with additional incentives as well.
Advanced Autoresponder Tips
Now we have outlined the basics of the initial autoresponder emails that I like to send to my subscribers. These emails are relatively straightforward.
Your autoresponder should attempt to establish a number of things with your audience;
- Present a friendly face. You want to make sure that you further familiarize your readers with yourself, your website, and what it is that you offer to them. Let them know where they can find both your personal and company accounts on social networks.
- Create Opportunities for engagement. ASK your readership to engage with you. This was demonstrated in the testimonials and feedback email, and is a great way to build engagement.
- Send them to your website. For me, my goal is to always try to get my readers back to my website or landing page. I am not a big fan of attempting to promote products directly through email – it seems scammy. Now, don’t get me wrong – there are certainly legitimate ways to do so and many do it well, but it just doesn’t align with my own personal strategy.
- Deliver timeless content. Remember that all of your readers will be reading your initial autoresponders, regardless of when they subscribe. Make sure that you are sending them timeless content, or at the very least are updating the content that you do send them with the times. Provide value. Make sure that value is as consistent 2-years from now as it is today.
Broadcasts and Bulk Emails
For those that are using AWeber, the most commonly used way to reach your email list is through bulk emails, or broadcasts. Bulk emails allow you to get immediately in touch with your subscribers.
There are a few situations in which broadcasts are appropriate;
- When you publish new content. You can send out a quick email when you publish a new blog post, letting your readers know about it. If you publish one a day, you might want to keep your broadcasts down to one every two or three days, so that you do not overload your readership.
- When industry news breaks. Is there a big, newsworthy event that you beleive your readership should hear about? Broadcasts are great for this purpose. Being the first in your industry to inform individuals about breaking news helps to establish yourself as an authority.
- Time-Sensitive opportunities. Maybe you are offering a contest, or a one-off opportunity? Broadcasts allow you to immediately get in touch with your readership.
Tying It All Together
Now that you have a good idea of what email marketing is, how to attract subscribers and what types of emails you need to send your users – it is time to put it all to good use.
Start small, implementing one thing talked about in this guide at a time.
Remember – value drives subscribers.
That value needs to be present both on your website, as well as in your newsletter.