As a professional blogger, you must be using various methods to gain new subscribers and customers. One of such tools is email marketing. It's a powerful methodology to attract and convert your audience. Having said that, one must take care of the negative implications that may arise if you do not use this tool - the right way. What are the email marketing essentials to leverage your list effectively? What things need to be taken care of to avoid any mishaps? Let's try to understand the basics of email marketing and how it can benefit you as a blogger.
Building Your List - The Right WayTheir are many ways to build an email marketing list. The fastest way is to buy one, which is the best way to kill your business even before it starts to flourish. There are thousands of individuals and companies who sell such type of lists at very competitive prices. What are the disadvantages of such lists?
- You don't know who they are? (Demographic data)
- You don't know what they want?
- You don't know whether they voluntarily opted-in.
- You don't know whether it's a list made from email farming software.
Let's discuss some of the best ways to build a list that generates business perpetually.
- Your blog - It's the main weapon in your arsenal to grab subscribers that eventually populate your list. A blog with great content naturally attract subscribers and helps in building the foundation of an ever-growing list.
- Monthly/Weekly Newsletter - Offer a newsletter with exclusive and premium content that you may not post on your blog. This technique works very well and if you learn the art of creating great newsletters, your list can grow exponentially in fairly short period of time.
- E-books - This is yet another popular method to build a list. Create a free e-book for your subscribers with a link to opt-in page. Make sure your e-book is interesting enough to keep the reader engaged else you'll never receive a hit on your opt-in page.
- Social media - How can we ignore the role of new media in any online marketing effort. Embed opt-in page links in forum signatures, and on twitter and facebook profiles to expand your reach. Networking on these platforms brings the maximum prospects to your doorstep.
Newsletter Preparation EssentialsAlthough you can deliver newsletters on your own, but I'll strongly suggest you to sign up with a professional email marketing service - for e.g: Aweber (aff) or MailChimp (aff) to get the best results. This way you not only ensure seamless delivery but also get the essential tools to make a profitable list without any major technical know-how. Let's discuss some basic guidelines that make an alluring newsletter.
Be consistent with design - Create a standard format and stick to it to avoid any confusion among your subscribers. You can use various templates available with every professional email marketing service or you can design from scratch using the rich text editor and basic HTML. Do not change newsletter format very often and accumulate enough data (2-3 months or 8-10 newsletters), before you come to any conclusion.
Don't talk about price - When offering a product, talk about benefits and results, not the cost. Sometimes newbies mention the price in bold letters or on a fancy BUY button, which is the last thing you can do to scare away the buyers. Newsletter is all about preparing a ground for a potential sale. So make sure not to include flashy dollar signs in your newsletter.
Experiment with blocks and links - This applies to almost every online marketing project. While designing a template, make note of all important links and keep a sharp eye on how your list interact with them. If two templates generate almost same number of landings via a link, choose the one with greater conversions. Try to shift content blocks in different locations and you may change their size during the shift. But be careful. During the whole experimentation and changes, keep the look and feel consistent, which is very essential for a successful marketing campaign.
Create different versions - Some people prefer to turn-off HTML email and are more comfortable with plain text emails. Professional email marketing sign-up procedure always asks the subscribers preference (HTML or plain text) during the subscription. Divide the list accordingly and send the preferred version to each subscriber.
Use case studies - Nothing convince better than real-life experiences of existing customers. Use them liberally wherever possible and see how your conversions inflate exponentially. While presenting case studies, take prior permission from the customer about the amount of details (personal/business) you can share with your list. Support your case study with data and illustrations, but don't overdo it.
Don't just hard sell - Sometimes when I follow a tweep, I receive an automated DM hard-selling their stuff. Result? Instant unfollow! Don't do this mistake with your list. Create trust by disseminating useful content consistently before you pitch for a sale. You can mix both (premium content & sales pitch) or can create separate newsletters. Remember, your subscribers want the right balance of both and you have the obligation to fulfill their expectations.
Delivering - What, When and How?Once you've designed your newsletters, it's time to fill them with actual content. Divide your list in categories - (new subscriptions/active buyers/stagnant subscribers). If possible, create a different newsletter for each category. It's very important to preview the newsletter before pressing the send button, otherwise you may find yourself in very awkward or embarrassing situation if your subscribers find something that need to be corrected or hidden.
Generally, mid-week morning is the best time to send content to subscribers. This is just a general guideline. Some products are well received at weekends or on holidays. Do ample research, as to when people are searching most for a particular product. You can use Google Trends, Google Insights and Google Adwords Keyword Tool to get a fair idea about search traffic for a particular niche.
While sending a newsletter, make sure you newsletter complies with standard email marketing procedures. It should include your complete information (name, address & contact number) along with a unsubscribe link. If you're using a professional service, this information is automatically added with every newsletter. Needless to say, people who unsubscribe should never be bugged again.
Tracking And RespondingMost professional email marketing services gives you an option to integrate major web analytics system with your newsletters. This way, you'll be able to track your campaigns progress and will be able to collect vast amount of vital data. You may use this data to refine your email marketing strategy to give better returns.
Dealing with non-responsive database - When you send a newsletter to thousands of subscribers, a good percentage may never receive it. You'll be surprised to see hundreds of them bouncing back. Broadly, there can be two reasons for these bounces - non-existing email address or some temporary technical problem. If you're using a professional email marketing service, the former is automatically removed from the active database, while the latter cases are segregated according to the type of problem (for e.g. inbox full, server down, false-positive for spam). Create a rule for each case instructing your delivery program about the number of attempts that should be made before an email is removed from the active database.