There is no avoiding it: if you want to monetize your blog, grow your business or leverage your online presence you must have an email list.
Social media is a valuable tool for connecting with your audience. It powers conversations, highlights your content and broadens your reach. But it’s not your platform. You are leasing space and the landlord sets the rules. Dancing around algorithms, weighing your group against your page, and the desperately fast pace of Twitter make social media a less than consistent way of communicating.
Now, I’m not saying that social media isn’t valuable – it is essential for a modern brand. But posting on social media is just one tactic inside a larger strategy. A tactic that is severely limited by the fact that you can’t control deliverability.
Email, on the other hand, means that your audience has invited you into their personal life. You can send content, a promotion, a lesson or a message of support directly to their phone, computer or tablet. They can hit reply and write back to you. That is a powerfully direct connection.
Have you put off setting up your email because it feels overwhelming? Did you set it up and leave it alone, wondering how other bloggers & business owners use their email to earn money?
Deep breaths. Let’s take this one step at a time and get your email working as hard as you do!
Choose Your Email System
Everyone with an email system (and plenty of people without one) will tell you that you must have this particular, flavor-of-the-month email management system. It’s not true. You have a range of options and the best choice depends on the functionality you need, your growth plans, your goals and your workflow.
I use, prefer and recommend ConvertKit. I’ve been with them since pretty early in their existence and stayed through the growing pains. They have absolutely made it worth my loyalty! Convertkit is so simple to set up – segments, tags, sequences and automation – it took my email game to a whole new level. The latest round of updates (including visual workflow) is very productive icing on the email cake.
If you are starting out, MailChimp and MailerLite are common free options. They are both very capable – but know that if your list grows, you will end up needing to move to a more robust system down the road. And migrating your email list is a pain.
From the start, must-have functionality includes:
- Segments & tags
- Opt-In autoresponder
- Ability to deliver lead magnets as part of a subscription confirmation
- Embeddable opt in forms
- Sequence automation
- Bonus: A/B subject line testing
Your Cornerstone Segments & Tags
Bottom line, up front: Even within your ideal audience, not everyone is the same.
Some people are all in – ready to eat up whatever resources and offers you send their way. Some people are there on your list to learn more or because they just like something about your delivery. There might be multiple demographics included within your ideal audience.
Segments are a way to identify those different populations and send them content that is perfectly tailored to their needs. More relevant content that feels like it was written just for them? That’s the key ingredient in higher conversions & income generation.
This might evolve as you go, but from the beginning think of your audience as sorted into groups. Beginner and advanced, DIY or buy it now, kids or no kids, bought something or needs convincing – map out a general idea of how you can sort your audience for tailored content.
Create A Blog Lead Magnet
A little truth: you have to make it worth their time to open your email.
People are busy. Our inboxes are so crowded. We are drowning in information. So how will you make it worth your readers’ time to sign up for your email list?
A lead magnet is the first step, offering your reader something of value in exchange for their email. With most email systems, they enter their email and an automated response is sent to their inbox. Your reader opens that email and clicks on a link in that email to get their opt-in. This confirms their participation on your list and starts the pattern of opening your email and clicking on links!
Lead magnets might be an eBook, a PDF, an email course, a resource library or…….anything that fills your reader’s need/want.
Welcome Your Subscribers
Now that you have your lead magnet, it’s time to nurture from casual interest into an enthusiastic member of your tribe. That starts with your welcome process.
There are multiple ways to go about your email subscriber welcome. Let’s look at some must-have components.
The confirmation email
Your new subscriber has just input their email address to get your super helpful lead magnet. Your email system shoots off a confirmation email. The purpose of this confirmation email is for the subscriber to click a link that confirms they signed up for your email list on purpose. It cuts down on spam and prevents YOU from being labeled spam by landing in inboxes where you’re not wanted.
Your lead magnet offers the opportunity to knock out this task while delivering value – by using the confirmation link as the vehicle for accessing the lead magnet itself.
The welcome sequence
After your confirmation email, what happens?
You could just add that subscriber to your list and started sending weekly or monthly newsletters. But that doesn’t feel very welcoming, does it? Instead, every one of my subscribers receives a 3 email welcome sequence that introduces my viewpoint, highlights my best content, and invites them to engage with that content through social media (like my Facebook group!).
Draft An Email Strategy
Take a deep breath. Look at how much you’ve gotten done – an email system, creating segments, a lead magnet to help your audience and a welcome to get them on board.
But, what’s that? Why haven’t you actually sent an email?
Because there’s a whole lot more to effective email marketing than simply hitting send on a email. There are websites, articles, businesses and departments dedicated to email marketing. But for right now, we simply need to set you up with an outline of what you’re going to send. An email list won’t do you any good if you’re not talking to them.
Your email strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. Approach it just like you’re adding another blog post to your editorial calendar.
- How often will you send? There’s nothing wrong with starting slow. If monthly is what you can commit to, rock on.
- Identify a relevant topic that would serve your audience in some way. What do they need this month?
- How can you help your audience with that need? Tell a story, share resources, offer a solution
- What action do you want your reader to take? Join or access your group, hit reply, visit your website
- When will you send?
Sitting down now and answering these questions for the rest of the quarter (or however long you want to plan out) simplifies the process of delivering consistent content to your readers.
Make Your Opt-In Form
Inside your email system, you will create the opt in form. There are opt in forms that are embedded in blog posts, landing pages with opt in forms, sidebar opt in forms and header image opt in forms (plus pop ups and other cool ways of inviting people onto your list).
Make it simple and straightforward for your audience to subscribe. Include your opt in on multiple highly visible places on your website. Need tech help specific to your email system? Pop over to the Facebook group and ask away!
Launch Your List
Ok. Your email system is set up. You have an opt in that delivers a lead magnet, then a welcome sequence to turn subscribers into super fans. There is a calendar of content to come.
It’s time to spread the word! But, first, here’s what not to do:
- Do not add your personal contact list to your email list. They didn’t opt in, which makes that illegal.
- Do not message every one of your Facebook friends with an excited “come sign up!” message.
Instead, share your lead magnet with people who are part of your ideal reader demographic. Participate in share threads in blogger groups (not the all or nothing because those don’t connect you with your demographic). Reach out to other niche influencers and pitch a guest post on a related topic that you could point back to your lead magnet. Put a plan in place to promote the daylights out of it on social media!
Most importantly, implement that strategy you came up with. Sit down and batch those emails and get them scheduled. You have all the planning in place, now it’s time to DO.