Email marketing and blogging go together like two peas in a pod.
While there are few truisms in content marketing, I believe that a high performing blog always has a strong email outreach strategy.
Whenever I ask successful bloggers about their blog marketing strategy, they always say they wish they had started their email list building earlier. The lesson is simple – get serious about building your email list now if you haven’t already.
It only takes a quick Google search for “email marketing strategy” to get over 186 million entries so it’s safe to say that email marketing is complex.
Don’t worry though, I have 11 tips to get you started.
1. Segment Your List
Review your list and find people who share similar characteristics.
These are your segments. Segments could include:
Blog Update Subscribers
Special Report Subscribers
Leads (i.e. Visitors who have shown interest in product but haven’t bought.)
Each of these segments have different needs and motivations. You will immediately get better response from email subscribers if you target your emails to their needs. This is hard to do if you just have one huge list.
Your email service provider probably offers a way to segment your list. Here are links for Aweber and Mailchimp segmentation help.
Mailchimp Segments and Groups : MailChimp makes list segmentation relatively simple to do. You should definitely use this option if you are a Mailchimp user.
2. Avoid Full List Email Blasts
Emailing the same message to every subscriber on your list is rarely a good move.
General email blasts usually aren’t relevant to every subscriber and will cause unsubscribes and spam complaints. You want to avoid this because your email service provider may deactivate your account if you get to many unsubscribes.
Reserve these full list email blasts for urgent messages that every subscriber needs to know.
Always give your email subscribers your best content in advance.
Your reader’s email inbox is a brutal place. Only the best content stands a chance of breaking through and capturing their attention. If you send them rehashed drivel they will unsubscribe or worse – report you as a spammer. So give email subscribers the good stuff.
4. Keep Your List Clean
It feels good to have a big list, even if most of the people on it have already moved on.
At any time, subscribers change their email address, stop checking an address, or don’t need your help any longer. Hoarding these bad addresses will distort the value of your email list. The smartest thing to do is to make it easy for these folks to unsubscribe.
You can send out an email inviting people to unsubscribe if they are ready to move on. You can periodically delete email addresses that cause bounces. Bounces happen when the subscribers inbox is full, their email address is wrong, or no longer accepting emails. MailChimp automatically deletes these addresses. You may have to manually delete them with other services.
5. Use Text and HTML Emails
Give your reader a choice.
Your subscribers will prefer receiving either a plain text email or a flashy, full-on, graphic HTML email. Most email services have the capability of sending both text and HTML emails. Take the time to complete both versions of the email in your editor.
Quick tip: Text emails can’t use HTML code to create nice looking hyperlinks. Use an email shortener like Bit.ly to create short links for your text emails.
6. Use Alt-Text With Photos
Most email reading software turns off photos in email messages by default. Photos that have alt-text will show this information when email images are turned off. This is a good best practice to follow if you routinely send HTML emails.
7. Keep it Personal
Nothing say’s “I’m an aloof corporate drone” like signing your email with “The blah blah team.”
Take every opportunity to add an authentic personable touch to your emails. For example, use your real name for signatures and the “From” email address. Use conversational language in your email messages. Imagine you are writing an old fashioned snail mail letter to a pen pal.
8. Get Permission Before You Email a Cold List
Your list is cold if you don’t have specific permission for you to email the people on it.
These lists normally perform poorly. You can clean this list by sending a single email offering a gift in exchange for permission to email them.
Send people to a focused and well-written page to deliver the gift and get their legitimate opt-in. Warning: you technically don’t have permission to even send the first email to this list so use this advice at your own risk.
9. Keep your layout simple
The KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) rule applies to email design.
It’s difficult to anticipate which email software your readers use. Graphic heavy emails with complex layouts could break and become a confusing mess.
I recommend using a simple one-column layout with minimal graphics to insure that your message gets read in most email readers. The goal here is to get your message read first, get your links clicked second, and winning an award for great email design a distant (nonexistent) third.
10. Short, Specific, and Frequent
I wish newsletters would die a quicker death.
They served to dump a lot of information on subscribers which their recipients didn’t read. It’s very hard to convince readers to read long emails with minimal relevance to their situation.
Instead use short, specific and frequent emails sent to carefully selected segments of your list. You’ll increase open rates and click through rates while lowering unsubscribe and spam complaints.
11. Pick the Right Email Service Provider
Your email service provider is an important marketing partner.
Your email service provider should offer:
Great support: Their support should combine comprehensive tutorials and documentation with a responsive email or in-person support desk. You don’t want to wait 24 hours to diagnose a problem that is killing your email list.
Easy to use interface: You should be able to create attractive optin forms, segment and monitor your lists and design beautiful email with zero fuss.
Connect To Other Services: Your email service should “talk” with other online tools. For example, I can connect Mailchimp with my Google Docs account to create a spreadsheet of all of my blog update subscribers. This functionality comes from Mailchimp’s robust API. Although this may sound like greek to you now, trust me you will want to have a well-connected service as your email list grows.
Work with WordPress: The best email service providers offer WordPress plugins that connect your optin forms and lists together without needing to create HTML code.
Time to Get Busy
This is a lot of information and you are probably feeling overwhelmed.
Revise your blog update optin form. Make sure you are emphasizing the benefits of receiving your blog updates. That’s good enough for today. After that, tackle a tip a day until you’ve worked through them all. The most important thing is to get started. Tell me what’s on your mind in the comments.