Email is confusing isn’t it?
There are so many moving parts to the ’email equation’.
When you think you have 1 thing figured, you have to deal with something else.
You have to continuously maintain it, weed it and take care of it. It’s like your WordPress site.
It needs to be backed up and updated.
Go away on a vacation and you come back to bright red update bubbles on your dashboard alerting you to take action.
When you neglect your email list…
When things start to slide like your open and click rates…
When you skip weeks or more of sending emails…
When you keep email a 1 ways conversation…
You get no warnings.
By the time you realize how far in you are, you have to do serious damage control.
This is where having a plan comes into play. In this post I walk you through the steps to build and nurture your email list. Because there’s more to email than just list building. Download the free cheat sheet with 11 simple tips to get subscribers to love your emails.
There's more to email than just list building. What you need is a coherent email strategy. Click To Tweet
#1 Create a path to get people on your list
The easiest way to do so is to offer an opt-in freebie or content upgrade.
Both are incentives that you give in exchange for an email address.
Let’s talk about an opt-in freebie first.
What opt-in freebie should you use?
You would have heard about finding out your audience’s pain points to determine what opt-in freebie to create.
It’s all well and good to have a freebie that addresses a pain point, but it has to be part of a larger vision.
It has to tie in with your blog and business strategy.
There are 2 main things that need to come together to decide what opt-in freebie to create. These are:
Alignment with your blog and direction
I like to reverse engineer the process.
Rather than think about pain points immediately, I think about the place of that opt-in freebie in my blog.
If your freebie is not aligned with the direction of your blog or where you want to be, then that’s not a good freebie to have. Think about it.
If you offer service Y but give a freebie that is completely unrelated to the topic Y. How are your target audience possibly going to connect you with that topic? How are you going to position yourself as someone who knows about that topic and become the ‘go to’ person for that topic?An unintentional freebie is a lost opportunity to present yourself as an authority in the subjectClick To Tweet
Place of that freebie in your niche
Is your freebie unique? Are there similar ones that exist?
While similar freebies in the niche are a sign that there is a demand for that freebie, you also need to know if that freebie is in oversupply.
Is your niche ‘tired’ of seeing that freebie?
Think about ‘how to start a profitable’ blog type of email courses as freebies.
They’ve been done to death.
At a certain point, there were so many of those around. So you definitely don’t want to create a ‘me too’ freebie.Don't create a 'me too' freebie that your niche is tired of seeingClick To Tweet
Bloggers who have a bigger audience and who have been at this for longer could get away with having something like that but most of us would do better with a freebie that addresses a specific issue or topic.
Once you have this figured, create your freebie. Your opt-in freebie does not have to look fancy or be 30 pages long.
Opt-in freebies that are simple but pack a punch do a lot better than ebook type of freebies that are long and take time to consume.
The idea is to blow your new subscriber away with value and get it out fast. Test. Analyze and tweak.
A content upgrade on the other hand supplements a specific blog post. If you talk about a specific process to do meal planning, your content upgrade could be a printable of the meal planning schedule or the tools that will you with meal planning.
Here are examples of content upgrades I’ve used:
- Cheat sheet – The perfect opt-in freebie cheat sheet
- Guides – Blog Strategy Guide
- Templates – Blog post template
- Checklists – 29 step checklist to grow your email list
- Swipe Files
Start of by having 1 content upgrade per category of posts or 1 content upgrade each for the top 5-10 posts on your site.
Once you’ve created an opt-in freebie you are all set to grow your list.
#2 Sign up for an email service provider
Free vs paid. What service provider should you use?
There’s no right answer. You should use what works best for you.
My tip is to get something that grows with your business.
You don’t want to be left scrambling because your service provider doesn’t have the capabilities to grow with you. It should also have the basic functionality of setting up an email sequence and a way to tag subscribers and their interests.
Without these, you wouldn’t be able to set-up a proper email marketing plan from the start.
That’s the reason I invested in Convertkit vs Mailchimp from Day 1 when I was earning $0.
#3 Put in place a system to capture readers and turn them to subscribers
Don’t be scorned by opt-in blindness.
People are ‘blind’ to opt-in forms because they see it in all the usual places. You have to work harder at getting their attention.
Here are places on your site that you can add an opt-in form in to boost your sign-ups.
- Top bar
- ‘About me’ Page
- Resources page
- At the start and bottom of a post (like how I did for this)
- Exit Intent Pop-up
- Scroll Box
- Below the header or within the header area
Wait, how do you get these forms exactly?
If you’re using Convertkit like I do, you don’t need a separate plugin to get those forms. Otherwise, there are plenty of options out there. Rapidology (free) Pop-up ally (free) and Convertplug are my favourites.
While opt-in forms are good at capturing readers, they don’t have the converting power as landing pages.
These are totally different things.
This is an opt-in form that’s usually embedded within a blog post on a website. Think for a second about all the distractions. Images, other links, side-bar posts, footer and logos.
This on the other hand is a snapshot of a landing page. There’s an opt-in form that’s the focus on the page.
This is why my landing pages covert at 30-80% compared to my Content upgrades that convert between 5-26%. And if you’re thinking 26% isn’t bad, that’s an outlier with most falling under 20%.
A conversion rate is the total number of people who come across that opt-in form/landing page divided by the number of people who sign-up for it.
Showcase your freebie on a landing page with:
- A good headline hook
- Bullets that seduce the reader to sign-up as well
- An opt-in button that begs to be clicked; and
- Social proof in the form of logos and testimonials that up your authority factor
You have to sell your freebie on your landing pages although it’s free.
There are freebie hoarders but also people who are vary of signing up for ‘things’ because they have too many email subscriptions.
#4 Plot out a welcome email series
I’m a huge proponent of sending your list a welcome email series rather than a single welcome email.
Plot this out now.
You want to arm your system with the necessary emails before you start to send traffic to your opt-in forms and landing pages.
You’re aiming for a killer impression.
You’re in business or aim to turn your blog into one.
And brand impressions are huge especially online when you have nothing tangible to base your first impressions on.
Don’t stall on this for long and aim for 3 emails as a start. You’re now ready to drive traffic to your opt-in freebies.
And aim on getting your subscribers to respond to you.
While that very term ‘what are you struggling with’ is getting pretty cliche, the principle behind it is to encourage the reader to share their thoughts with you.
By opening a conversation loop, you invite feedback and are able to peek directly into what your subscriber needs.
#5 Drive traffic to your opt-in forms – get more eyeballs on it
Most people fail to promote their opt-in freebies.
You should be promoting your opt-in freebie more than you promote your blog posts. Remember those conversion rates I spoke about for a landing page vs opt-in form?
You should be sending more people to a landing page. It’s not sleazy or weird at all.
If someone doesn’t feel that your landing page spoke to them, then they will not sign-up for your freebie.
That is a good thing!You don't want subscriber numbers as a trophy symbol. Click To Tweet.
You don’t want people to sit on your list, ignore your emails and make you pay for it. You want engaged subscribers who love your work get results, interact with you and eventually buy from you.
So use social media to send people to your landing page. You will get some ideas from this post on how you can do so.
If you can take away just 2 tips on promotion: Facebook group promotion threads and Pinterest.
These 2 have been the source of about three-quarters of my email list. Keep at them regularly.
If you’ve optimized your landing pages and opt-in forms, you should have subscribers by now.
You should also have your welcome emails going out.
And by doing these basic 5 steps, you’ve already created a simple system that will help you add people on auto to your list every single day. Believe me you do.
[ALERT] This is where people fall off…
Intentionally or unintentionally this is where people slacken.
They see their list growing on a daily basis and they don’t think beyond growing their list.
Growing your list is an important part of email but it’s only one aspect of it.
There are lots of different pieces that have to come together for a coherent strategy.
You can be very successful at growing your list and still end up sabotaging yourself if you have not emailed them altogether. Look at this screenshot below that I took from a Facebookgroup. See what I mean?
So you have to be intentional in following through on these remaining steps.
#6 You have people on your list. Now is a good time to think about what you’re going to send them
Here are some things to think about:
- What kind of emails will you send?
- How often will you send?
- What emotion do you want to evoke in your emails?
- Will you send curated newsletters? or single topic emails?
Because your welcome email series only last that long. You have to think about the next step.
If you’re sending blog post notifications, that’s a step up from not sending anything at all.
But with people using Feedly and other tools, sending a post notification gets pretty redundant after some time. It’s going to get stale and boring because people already know what’s coming their way when they see your name in their inbox.
In this post I have 16 different email archetypes to send your list.
#7 Implement an Editorial calendar or a reserve of email list ideas
Is having an email editorial calendar even possible?
It very well could be but it has to gel with your content calendar.
Email is an extension of your blog and business.
Both have to work hand in hand to create a coherent experience for the subscriber. You have to sound like the same person…with the same brand values.Email is an extension of your blog and business. Both have to work to create a coherent experience for the subscriber. Click To Tweet
#8 Set up email sequences + Profit
When email sequences are structured well…they have the power to get people to think about things in a certain way…change their perspective…buy from you and send you gushing love notes all in go.Email sequences get people to buy from you and send you gushing love notes all in goClick To Tweet
A welcome email series is the first sequence you should be adding.
An email course is another type of sequence.
You could have sequences for every category of posts on your blog. You could have a sequence for every opt-in freebie or content upgrade.
So imagine – a subscriber could potentially have a different experience depending on what they sign up for.
You should also make your sequences work harder for you by nudging them towards any product and service that you will eventually offer.Make your sequences work harder for you by nudging them towards a product or service you offerClick To Tweet
#9 Enter gushing fans
Consistency in content.
A willingness to connect.
Inject these 3 factors into your emails and in your attitude towards your list.
View your subscribers as people vs a number. Your email list could very well be your ticket to a ‘freedom lifestyle’. But you have to earn that trust for an ‘ask’.
This is what gets people to share your work without you even asking, tag you in Facebook group discussions, reply back to your emails with appreciation, comment on your work and speak highly of you and recomend your work when you’re not even there.
#10 Filter or understand them
As you write more posts, add more content upgrades and start to grow your list more, this is a good point to analyze the subscribers you are attracting.
Are there a certain category of posts that have more sign-ups vs others?
Are you attracting moms? small business owners? graphic design artists?
Is there a way that you’ll be able to get them to raise their hands early on when they are going through your email sequence to tag them and identify who they are?
I was able to find out that a portion of my audience were actually small business owners who were interested in email lists and blogging as a way to grow their business by implementing a simple click trigger.
#11 Clean your list
Did you know that an email list decays by about 25% every year.
If you have been growing your list for some time, you have to clean your list.
It’s painful to delete those hard earned subscribers but it will be worth it because your open rates and engagement rates will increase.
Higher the number of subscribers who are inactive, the lower the engagement rates.
For instance, if 1500 recipients open your emails and you email 10,000 people. You open rate is 15%.
If 4000 of those people are inactive and you decide to not email them, your open rate jumps to 25%.
The lower your opens and clicks, the lower your sender score. This hurts the placement of your email in the inbox even for people who may be opening your emails. I talk about this in this post.
While it’s normal for your opens to drop as your email list grows, set markers to clean your list regularly.
There’s more to email than just list building…
You don’t need a list building course. Because ‘building’ your email list is not just about growing it.
There are so many different aspects to email that need to go hand in hand with list building to create a ‘stand out’ blog and business.
What you need is a coherent email plan and strategy that keeps your email ‘system’ running like a well oiled machine no matter what the number of subscribers you have.
Download the free cheat sheet with 11 simple tips to get subscribers to love your emails.