One of the most common questions I hear from new bloggers is, “How do I start email marketing?”
Creating a newsletter for your blog is easy and can be a great way to drive traffic and income. In fact, the most financially successful bloggers I know owe it to their “list.” Here is what you need to know to get started.
At first, your list is generally small enough for a free or low cost email marketing services, but do keep in mind that as your list grows, you will need to pay for the service. A service will help you avoid getting flagged as spam, simplify the whole process and automate your delivery. Options include MailChimp, Aweber, MailGet, as well as other email newsletter services.
You should try them out for free to see what fits your needs.
MailGet offers an easy and affordable way to start your email campaign. Their entry plan costs $24/mo and allows users to send unlimited emails to up to 10,000 subscribers
MailChimp is a very popular email marketing tool that needs no introduction. If you have not more than 2,000 subscribers and send mail not more than 12,000 emails a month, Mail Chimp is free for you to use
The easiest way to set up your newsletters is by creating a template and then adding an RSS feed of your blog’s posts, which pulls them into your newsletter. However, no one will read your newsletters unless they contain something far more compelling than a list of titles. Consider offering newsletter readers something your blog readers don’t get. For example, my subscribers get a health news feature and upcoming events. Besides unique content, you can also add:
One of the best ways to entice people to sign up is by offering them a “freebie” related to your niche that is sent or activated once they subscribe. Ideas include:
The key is to promote this offer everywhere and to make sure it matches your audience. You can use Canva to create a pretty document, especially if you are writing a tip sheet.
Newsletter frequency should match how often you blog, so if you write 3-7 posts per week, weekly is appropriate. However, if you only blog once a week, monthly will do. You can also do special newsletter drops if you have an event or product coming out, like launching a new ebook.
I recommend testing different delivery times. Mondays tend to be a challenge since people are inundated with “start of week” emails, while Fridays have traditionally been said to be the best delivery time. However, this will be determined by the habits of your audience so consider them when selecting a delivery time.
Good list engagement builds a solid reputation for the newsletter sender. Some ways to build great subscriber engagement include:
According to Elysa Zeitz of Aweber, the average life of an email address is usually only 6 months, so it’s to your benefit to run re-engagement campaigns every few months or so. Send reminder messages to those subscribers who have not opened a newsletter in a while. To re-ignite their interest, you should send your inactive subscribers “last chance” offers and follow up afterward.
List engagement is not just about getting visitors to open your emails or click on your links. Zeitz says email engagement is critical because it affects your sender reputation and deliverability. Bounces happen when someone’s inbox is overfull or if their email account is closed. Bounce rates need to be low or your ISP can block you if you continually try to deliver to closed subscribers.
How do you lower bounce rates? You need to delete emails that consistently bounce. At Aweber, a soft bounce gets 3 chances and then is flagged as a hard bounce and removed. Good newsletter services will automatically perform this function for you.
Two very important things to track for your newsletter are open and click rates. Open rates tell you how many of the delivered emails were actually opened by subscribers, while click rates measure when a subscriber clicks a link. Both are figured as percentages of all emails that are successfully delivered.
Open rates are usually tracked by an invisible image pixel that is added to the header. They are not 100% accurate, so your provider will often adjust those percentages by factoring in a margin of error.
You should strive for an open rate of 10% or better. It depends on your industry, but I recently was told that my 14% open rates were “unheard of.” I recommend tracking your own open rate over time to improve it. I review emails that have had high open rates to understand why and repeat that formula. Interesting subject lines and better = engagement can increase your open rates, however, they can also be improved with:
When I changed my delivery from Monday afternoon to Friday at 9 PM EST, I saw an increase in my open rates of about 2% percent, but keep in mind that the first week or two were bumpy as my readers adjusted to the new delivery time. Consistency is important so don’t over test, but try one change at a time.
Click rates are tracked as the email provider adds tracking information to the URL, and thus may be more accurate. If you do not put a lot of links in your emails, naturally, this will be lower. Of course, you want to increase your click rates so that your newsletters are driving traffic to your site. Here are some ways you can improve your click rates:
Once you start to build your list, you can now monetize it or turn your subscribers into customers. Here are some ideas to get you started. Remember to keep the guidelines of your newsletter service in mind, and to offer full disclosure as you would for any blog post you are writing too.
Email marketing is not just for seasoned bloggers, but for new bloggers as well. It’s easy to start out and jump in, even if your list is still very small, and it can generate a great deal of income once your list grows.