Published on January 7th, 2014 | by Daniel0
The Best Way to Start with Email Marketing
The power of the email list is well-known in the world of online business. And that is not without reason. I become increasingly convinced that you should not let any opportunity go by without trying to build your email list when communicating with your (potential) customers.
Email was arguably the first online communication method on a large scale. As a worthy follower of direct mail methods, email marketing could build quite logically on the proven methods of normal direct mail marketing. As such it became a hugely successful marketing method from the dawn of the internet – and which has not left us alone ever since. Although the image of email marketing and the use of email lists has been tarred by huge amounts of spam – after which the use of email marketing was curtailed by the can-spam-act and advanced spam filters – email marketing can still be very effective in this day and age.
For the “normal” online entrepeneur the use of an email list provides many advantages. Most importantly, the subscribers to your list are basically leads waiting for you to give them opportunity to buy from you. Once you get a person to subscribe to your email list, you do not have to make upfront acquisition costs for this person any more, as would be the case with standard paid online marketing. Consequently, you will be able to promote multiple products to your email list, at multiple times. A great targeted email list in a defined niche is commonly described as an “ATM”: send a highly relevant email to your list and cash will be rolling in instantly.
How to Acquire an Email List
There are basically two options to acquire your own email list: create it and let people sign up, or just buy a ready-made list from another party. The buy option might sound attractive. However, it is often expensive (for a good list), you can overpay easily (when the list is spammed to death already) and you do not really know how the list was acquired in the first place. Buying email lists is for the absolute pros in email marketing. Sellers can sniff out a newbie in no time. So do only engage into it when you have massive experience.
Therefore, when you get into email marketing it is better to build your own list. This also enables you to get the hang of email marketing in a natural way. The principles are easy, and there a multiple ways to do it. For instance:
- Put an opt-in form for your email list on your blog or website (for instance on this website on the right). The advantage of this is that your traffic and sign up come from free traffic and your subscribers are closely targeted with regard to your main topic. You can do it via pop up as well, although personally I am not a fan of that – it can be very obtrusive and will cause some visitors to click away from your website, increasing your bounce rate.
- Have subscribers sign up as part of your online marketing campaign, for instance on your sale page before they are directed to the product, or as an alternative to the product offered.
- Through social media, i.e. you build a Facebook page and via that you redirect the members to your email opt in.
There are many more ways to do this. However, visitors will not sign up for your list if they do not get anything out of it. Why would you sign up for an email list voluntarily? In most cases: only when you can get something which you cannot get otherwise.
Common trades to have visitors subscribe to your list include:
> Valuable/Secret information, i.e. a weekly newsletter with inside tips about the topic.
> Product unlocking, i.e. in exchange for the sign up your visitors will get your ebook.
> It is necessary to proceed during a sign up process for the members area on your website.
> It is necessary to proceed during a payment process (the visitor bought your product).
Naturally, you can combine these trades to entice you visitors even more. To build a real valuable list your visitors should voluntarily sign up and not be forced to, as to get somewhere. In this way they really want your information and will convert much better later when sending emails (as long it is related to the topic they signed up for). Of course, it is possible to make money from forced or accidental sign ups as well, but you will go more into spamming territory which is a whole separate skill and that I would not advice out of legal reasons either. Besides that it is much more fun and rewarding to build a list of people who really want to get that email from you with the latest reviews/products/ebook and such.
How to Manage an Email List
To build an email list you will need software in order to manage it. The subscribers have to be stored in a database and ideally you should be able to send emails to this list in an easy way. You can manage this yourself on your own server but you will need some technical skills. However, there are also several good online email service providers who do just that for you; they enable you to use opt in forms on your website, manage the technical process for you, ensure the storage of your subscribers and enable you to send emails to your list in an easy way. Here are three good ones to consider when you start out:
Aweber and Mailchimp are the biggest online email service providers around. They are used extensively by online marketers. From my experience these are both good and trustworthy email service providers. Contant Contact is a smaller one but provides a good platform as well.
When you email list grows it is key to keep your list clean and up to date. For instance, every email you send to a non-existent person will be a waste of money (albeit small, but it adds up if you have a lot of fake email addresses obviously). Also delete non-engaging or stale subscribers. Organize your list per niche and target group to get the optimal conversion rate for each email sent.
Another factor to take into account is that your email subscribers did a “double opt-in”. This means that they have confirmed the subscription to your list by clicking on the confirmation link in the follow-up email. This will ensure that a) They have subscribed themselves and really want to be on the list b) You conversion rate will relatively high c) You comply with the can-spam-act.
How to Send Emails to Your List
Sending a good newsletter or sales email is an art in itself, and probably warrants a separate post. However, when sending emails to your list, remember these “golden rules”:
1. Be congruent in your message, your brand and your list (i.e. target the right niche).
2. Have a great catchy subject title – it will increase click and open rate.
3. Esthetics go a long way – it will increase the chance that your email is actually read.
4. Make your message easy to load – no big files or images.
5. Sell something that customers think they need, based on your brand and your email.
6. Use a valid email address to send your emails from (give customers the chance to reply).
7. Always split-test (A/B), on all aspects, start with subject line.
8. Write simple, easy to read texts and have a clear message.
9. Timing can help – but your message and its relevance to the reader are most important.
10. Always have a Call to Action – make sure that customers can do what you want them to do.
These factors will increase engagement and overall effectiveness of your email campaigns. Of course the success of your email campaign is ultimately a result of your diligence and creativity.