(This is a guest post created by guest author Gael Breton)
Email marketing is a very good way to grow your business, and attract new people into your community. Once you get started and set-up processes for how it works, it’s not even hard to do it right.
However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you’re just getting started in the world of email marketing. Things like what email marketing services to use, how often to send out emails, or when you push for a sale.
That’s exactly what we’ll talk about in this article.
1. Know Your Audience
The first step when you want to get started with email marketing is to understand who you’re marketing to. A good grasp on your audience’s particularities can guarantee the success of your marketing efforts in general, but it’s especially important for email marketing.
Here’s why: A successful email marketing campaign takes multiple types of efforts to pull off. You’ll need to attract people on your site, then convince them to share their personal information with you, then provide real value with your newsletter.
So it’s crucial you know key information about your target audience, including:
- Where they live
- How old they are
- What their income is
- What their interests are
- What their challenges are
- The problem you’re solving for them
And any other relevant information about them. All of this knowledge needs to seep into your communication at all stages of customer interaction.
But how can you find these things out?
If you’re just starting out in the online world, you won’t be able to know all of this. It’s just information that comes with time.
You can, of course, pay for a survey company to get this information for you. But if you’re on a budget, you’ll simply rely on educated guesses. If you have a site already, you can use Google Analytics to pull information about your audience. But that’s about it.
To gather more information, try split testing when you start running any sort of campaign. This will help you understand more about the type of message and branding that your target audience responds well to.
Think About Your Buyer Persona
A buyer persona is the semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on hard data about previous purchases, and educated guesses. It’s different from a target audience overview, because the buyer persona is an actual character you create.
They have their own name, age, occupation, interests, desires, pain points and life goals. Again, this is a semi-fictional representation of who you’d want to market to. Formulating a buyer persona is a very efficient way to think about your audience and what they want to see on your site.
Using This Research
Just knowing who you want your audience to be isn’t enough to guarantee success in your campaigns. It’s also crucial that you use this research in your email marketing efforts.
Ray Edwards has an exercise for this – before you sit down and write copy for a campaign, close your eyes, and think about your ideal buyer. Try to walk a mile in their shoes. Think about their daily struggles, their passions, and their background.
If you’re not one for creative exercises like this one, you can just ask yourself “What would my buyer persona want to see?” whenever you create assets or formulate the strategy for a campaign.
Before creating a sign-up form, calls to action, or even the emails themselves, you can adapt your creative process to fit the particularities of your audience. For email marketing, this can ensure a bigger list, and higher email open rates.
But an accurate buyer persona is good for you in the long run as well. It can help drive any marketing or editorial efforts into the right direction for your business.
2. Make A Thorough Plan
Before you get down to writing emails and setting-up CTAs on your site, it’s important to create a roadmap for email marketing implementation. This will help you streamline your process of implementation, and be more effective in your marketing efforts.
Here’s what the plan should include:
- A comprehensive list of the assets you need. We’re talking website copy, forms, welcome emails, and even graphics.
- A person responsible for each of them, and deadlines for completion.
- A launch schedule. Include dates for asset creation, campaign launch date and some form of communication schedule. We like to send out bi-weekly emails to our subscribers, but choose something that fits your audience.
As you can see, we come back to the target audience. The more you know about them, the better your campaigns will be.
If you already have an audience somewhere, you can even ask them what they’d like to see in a newsletter. Maybe they’ll prefer market updates over recommended articles from your own site. Maybe they’ll want a monthly newsletter instead of a weekly one, as long as they know they’ll get a downloadable resource everytime.
When you choose between those options, it’s hard to pick what your audience wants, instead of what you’d want. If it’s a match, you’re lucky. But in case it’s not, we recommend you always revert back to either a buyer persona, or outright asking your audience what they want.
3. Create A Funnel
Once you have your plan, it’s time to create a funnel on your site to convince people to sign-up in your email list. For a simple template, you can just create one form for signing-up, and send people to it with the help of non-invasive pop-ups.
For the beginning, that set-up can work. Just advertise constant value from your newsletter, and you should manage to get a few hundreds of subscribers in the long run. Especially if your site already provides a ton of value.
However, if you want to take this a step further and grow your mailing list, create individual funnels for topics or even articles in your site. For example, let’s say you write about tech products. You can create individual pop-ups, forms, and mailing lists for individual topics on your site. You’ll have a funnel for laptops, one for mobile devices, and one for fitness trackers, for example.
This type of set-up makes it more likely for people to sign-up. They’ll see more value from a newsletter or CTA addressing their specific problem, rather than the general topic of your site.
Make sure you don’t just use this as a marketing trick. If you only have segmented calls to action, but the newsletter’s the same for everyone, you’ll see a lot of people either unsubscribing or just not opening your emails.
We know it’s hard to maintain a bunch of mailing lists. So if you don’t have the resources, feel free to have everyone end up in the same list at some point. But at least try to have different welcome email sequences for each topic on your site.
Convincing People To Part With Their Email Address
With the GDPR being passed back in 2017, people are much more privacy-minded. Moreover, having dozens of spam emails in your inbox doesn’t feel the best, even if you’re not scared about data breaches.
All of this is to say that most people aren’t keen on sharing their email address with you. You’ll need to either earn their trust, or offer an overwhelming amount of value in exchange for the email address. Preferably both.
So how can you do that?
To inspire trust, focus on inspiring authority in your niche with everything you say, and outline social proof. Testimonials and real numbers of past results work great here. For example, if you have a website in the personal finance niche, you could showcase how much money you saved for your customers so far.
To offer value, give something in exchange for an email address. Downloadable resources like cheat sheets, infographics, original research, or ebooks can work great here. Extra points if you can match resources with the topics on your site.
4. Use The Right Tools
If you want to automate your email marketing processes, online tools are your best buddies. Even if you just want to streamline marketing efforts, tools can still be extremely helpful. They come with templates, automation bots, and easy integration in most WordPress sites.
So what tools should you use?
You’ll need something to create your calls to action with. These can be elements from your page builder, so you save up on costs. But if you want to take it a step further, you can try plugins like OptinMonster.
You’ll also need a tool to collect email addresses, arrange them in lists, and send emails in bulk. A classic favorite is MailChimp, since it has easy integrations, a lot of templates, and it’s free as long as you have less than 2000 subscribers. In case MailChimp is not your cup of tea, check out the 12 best email marketing services.
If you want to expand your kit, check our article about the best online marketing tools. It’ll give you a good overview of the market, and what you can use to grow your online business.
5. Start Sending Out Emails
Once you have a funnel to attract your audience to your email list, it’s time to send the actual emails.
The format and style don’t matter as much. They just need to fit your brand identity. What’s important is that these emails provide real value to your customers, and get them back on your site to read more of what you’re putting out.
So if you can achieve that with a flashy template from MailChimp, go for it. If your audience prefers a simple, short, to-the-point email, then do that. If you can’t decide between the two, again, think back to your audience.
What kind of articles, or pages, do they like on your site? If you can emulate that style, you’ll find success with email marketing.As long as you’re not too salesy in your emails.
An occasional promotional email is fine (even recommended, if you want to make the most from this email list). But you should always aim to provide value first, and only after an overwhelming amount of free resources, send out promotional emails as well.
You should also think about automating the onboarding process. Set up a welcome sequence of emails that helps people understand what your platform and newsletter are all about.
Another good idea is to provide downloadable resources. Things like cheat sheets, pdfs, infographics, or limited access to tools can have a lot of value for your audience.
The Subject Line
Think about the number of emails you receive in a day. Is it 20? 50? Over 100? More?
Even if you managed to keep your inbox uncluttered, you’re probably still getting dozens of emails every day. The same is true for your audience. And that’s why the subject line is the most important thing you’ll need to focus on when sending out each newsletter.
Make it accurate, snappy, informative, and engaging. Make sure it’s true to your message, but also guarantee that when someone sees that subject line, they’ll think “Oh, I need to see this”.
For example, our email newsletter subscribers are interested in improving their affiliate marketing site. The subject lines we send usually look like this:
“This Affiliate Tactic ROCKS for new sites”
But it’s not the only option. Sometimes, we’ll spark curiosity by updating our recommended toolset. This is the newsletter title when we made the switch from Elementor:
“I think I’m done with Elementor”
As you can see, the subject lines don’t need to be complex. They just need to inspire the right message, with your brand’s tone and voice.
It’s not the easiest stunt to pull off. And you probably won’t get it right on your first try. But like article titles, or sales page headlines, the title can make the difference between “unread” and a successful sale.
Email marketing is not rocket science. With a free Mailchimp account and some Gutenberg blocks, anybody can do it to a certain extent.
But if you want to make the most of it, here’s what we recommend you do:
- Understand your audience well.
- Create a thorough plan for launching your email marketing campaign
- Implement individual funnels for audience segments
- Use the right tools
- Offer real value in your newsletter
As long as you focus on these steps, you’ll see your mailing list grow, and your business expand too.
Gael Breton is one half of the dynamic Authority Hacker Duo. Together they field test the latest and greatest online marketing tactics, tools, and strategies in order to filter out the good from the bad!