We’ve flirted with breaking-up with email entirely. Google and other email providers’ relentless eradication of promotional email has taken its toll on our email initiative. Keeping our emails visible required hours worth of work. Even when our tactics were successful, a change by Gmail would drive us back to the drawing board.
So, yes, we almost put email on the back burner.
Then we came to our senses. Email has consistently been our best performing way for retaining our blog audience. Our email subscribers are faithful customers too. Taking our eye off of email would gut our eCommerce efforts overnight. We couldn’t kill email. We needed to fix it.
Dissecting the Email Problem
Your email program has three parts:
#1: Sign-up Form: Your sign-up form can be in your sidebar, around your blog post, or in a pop-up window. The visibility of your sign-up form will depend on your email strategy.
#2: Delivery: Most blogs are set up to deliver an email update automatically when a new blog post is published. This is an automatic process and is configured via your email service provider app (i.e. Mailchimp, Aweber, HubSpot, etc.)
#3: Autoresponder: Sophisticated email marketers use automatic follow-up email campaigns (i.e. Autoresponders) to deliver custom emails triggered by a visitor’s behavior. For example, we have emails that are sent to subscribers that visit certain pages on our website.
The problem for most programs is usually traced to a weak Sign-up form.
Broccoli in Your Teeth Subscriber forms
Your best friend will tell you when you have broccoli in your teeth. I’m your homeboy, and it’s likely your Subscriber form has broccoli in its teeth.
The usual culprits are:
- Selfish Messaging: Your sign-up form doesn’t tell the reader what they will get for signing up for email. For example: “Sign up for our newsletter.” What does the reader get? Another email in their inbox isn’t all that attractive.
- Cheap Offers: A newsletter or blog updates isn’t all that sexy anymore. Most people are too busy to read a newsletter. They need something much more valuable to convince them to hand over their email address. You’ll need to up-the-ante.
- Kindergarten Presentation: You can tell when a non-designer tries to cobble together a sign-up form. It’s usually shoe-horned into a sidebar widget and looks awful. Any that looks terrible shouts – “I will be sending you hideous looking emails as well!”
- “Back of the Bus” Visibility: Your visitor should be able to find your blog update form in a second. On Pushing Social, our offers are above the post and below the post. We ditched our sidebars to increase the visibility of our offers. Notice that the accent color (Pushing Social Red #A20000 for the fashionistas) is used for the offer link as well. It’s a simple strategy – more people will become subscribers if they can find your sign-up form.
Once you fix your form move on to your email messaging
Break Some Rules
First: No more newsletters
Kill your newsletter unless you are a global eCommerce powerhouse or a media juggernaut.
Ninety-nine percent of content marketers should only promote one post with each email. Focusing on one post will increase click-through to individual articles. Focus will also save your email from the unsubscribe pile.
Second: Tease Me
Have fun with your subject lines. Remember that it’s an all-out war in your subscriber’s inbox. Your email needs to stand out. Your subject lines need to be compelling.
Stay away from subject lines that invite your readers to ignore you; examples include Case Study, Issue #1002 of Volume 92, Re: Newsletter!
These suck, and you should be hung by your underwear if you try to pawn this off on your readers.
Instead, tease and taunt. Get your readers genuinely interested in what you have to say. Start with the subject line and pay off the drama in the sexy body of your email. To pull this off you will need to…
Third: Pause the Auto-Publish
I love marketing automation almost as much as Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem (She killed it yo).
But, the auto-generated update email is tired and destined to get ignored. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. So turn off your auto-generated email and pen your updates by hand. You will immediately see a spike in open rates and click-throughs. I promise.
Some Advanced Strategies
I’ve detailed our more powerful email strategy in the Content Toolbox. These strategies include content upgrades and a better way to generate multiple subscriptions. It’s good stuff. You can register for free here.
By the way, you can discuss this article in our discussion forum. Look for it in the Content Toolbox forum.