Every morning, across the world, people wake up, roll over, tap an icon on their phone, and scroll past dozens of emails that they will never open. No matter how good the deals inside are, these emails will never see the light of day for a myriad of reasons. In fact, as of 2018, 82% of marketing emails were never opened. With all that wasted effort and all those emails marked as spam, one might think that the email marketing industry has become obsolete.
Now, that may be a dismal way to start a blog about email marketing, but here’s some positive news: as of 2019, there are an estimated 5.6 billion active email accounts and 99% of consumers check their email every single day.
You might be wondering, what’s with the contradictory facts and polarizing rhetoric? Here’s the thing, I don’t want to lie to you; email marketing is a complex and difficult game. It takes all of the foundations of marketing and turns them up to 11. Some marketing methods stand the test of time (like the P.A.S. method), and others become outdated nearly as soon as they develop. Consumers are fast-evolving specimens and figuring out how to market to them via email can be daunting as heck—especially considering the fact that before you can email people, you have to amass a list of people to email.
How do I get started with email marketing?
Where’s an amateur to start? Well, right here, reading this blog, is a good place. (Also this guide about affiliate marketing is a helpful foundation.) A fair warning though: in addition to being tough at times, email marketing requires trial and error. The good thing is, there are 269 billion emails sent per day around the world. Don’t get discouraged. You will have plenty of opportunities to improve. So, without further ado, here’s a ten-step program to getting started in email marketing.
Step 1: Choose an email service provider (aka “ESP”).
Once you decide to get started on your email marketing adventure, the very first step is choosing an email service provider. Ideally, select one that can handle a lot of outgoing emails, offers quality analytics, and is optimized for global communication. HubSpot is a tried and true top -contender, but there are plenty of others that might serve your needs better. Shop around and find the one that works best for you.
Once you have selected your ESP, get comfortable with the interface and learn as much as you can about the analytics offered. Familiarize yourself with industry email marketing industry terms such as click-through rate, transactional email, and multivariate testing (aka “A/B testing”).
Also, it’s very important that, as an email sender, you stay compliant with data protection regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. Violating these regulations can mean hefty fines for you and your business. Learn more about how you can avoid breaking these rules before you start ending emails.
Step 2: Make a landing page.
This step will be important when you start to build your email list. You will want a link you can share via social media and online forums. A landing page will make growing your list much easier. It will also offer you web page real estate to promote who you are and what you do, which creates opportunities for search engine optimization (SEO). Most ESPs include a landing page builder in their features. Follow these rules when you create a landing page, or you run the risk of scaring people away before they add their email address to your list.
Speaking of promoting who you are and what you do, consider this step an opportunity to start defining your brand. Trust plays a huge factor in open rates and creating a congruent brand image plays a huge role in establishing consumer trust.
Step 3: Automate.
The next step is to create a “welcome email” and automate it to be sent to new subscribers.Experts agree that the first email should be sent the day of subscription. Email content for this message should include social icons, a warm greeting, and what subscribers can expect from you or your company.
Automating this welcome message will allow you to spend a lot of time making sure it’s a great email, which is important. This is the first interaction your new subscribers will have with your email communication, so making a good impression is critical.
Step 4: Start growing your subscriber list.
Your email list may have started growing after completing steps one and two. Now, it’s time to really consider how to grow that list. Here are a few tactics that can help:
SEO can help grow your organic traffic. Consider adding content to your website to start ranking for key terms in search engine results.
- Consider Facebook, YouTube, and Google Ads
Paid ads can help drive people to your website. Depending on your budget, you can go big or small with paid advertising. Even a little push will help you grow your email list. Getting into paid ads is an adventure in and of itself. So take your time learning the ropes.
- Promote Content, Not Just Your Website
If you do choose to run ads, promoting content that has a sign-up form in-line or as a pop-up (rather than just promoting a website or landing page) is a good way to engage with people and encourage them to subscribe. It’s important to note here that you should make sure your content is good (like, really good) before attempting to use it as a marketing tool. Writing is not everyone’s cup of tea, so if you know you’re no good at it, consider hiring a freelance copywriter to help create your web content.
- Cross Promote
Do you know someone else in the email marketing industry? If not, that’s totally okay—don’t let that discourage you.
If you do, now’s the time to practice your networking skills. Depending on their marketing niche, you can work out a deal for a cross promotion. The first time networking with someone in your industry is always the hardest—especially for introverts. That being said, cross promoting is one of the fastest, most efficient ways to grow your email list. Like paid ads, you can start small and scale up from there.
Step 5: Make your content better (and relevant).
As your list grows, you may want to consider growing your online presence as well. Content is the number one way to improve your site’s rankings. Better content will also lead to more subscribers.
If you’re not a content writer, fear not. There are methods to upping the quality of your content no matter your experience level.
- Know Your Audience
If you’re creating video or blog content for your website, keep in mind who you are speaking to. Tailor the content you create to be important and relevant to your key demographic. And, as the saying goes, “Love the one you’re with.” Yes, attracting new demographics is important, but you need to cater to your current audience first and foremost.
- Include Lists
Fact: people love lists. There’s extensive neuroscience explaining this phenomenon that we just don’t have the time or space to go into, so trust me—throw a list in your content and see how it outperforms your other list-less content.
- Include Easy to Understand Visuals
Too many words on a page is stressful. Including meaningful infographics or salient visuals can drive home a point and engage your audience. However, there’s a line. Don’t use graphic, emotionally triggering, or confusing visuals in your email or content copy. People are generally turned off by that kind of tactic.
Step 6: Promote wisely.
Now that you’re up and running, you’re in a good place to start really considering how you want to automate and grow your email marketing empire. Finding products to promote that have consistent commissions can be tricky and so can making sure you get your due commission check. Going through an affiliate marketplace like ClickBank can ease some of these growing pains and allow you to scale further and faster. With products to promote in over thirty different niches, most everybody with an email subscriber list can find something that will convert.
Step 7: Keep growing your subscriber list.
By this step, you should start to feel the momentum of your email list. Perhaps you are seeing increased revenue from affiliate commissions or maybe you are noticing that your click-through rate is increasing. Whatever the case, now is a good time to tend to your subscriber list. Here are a few quick ways to keep on top of it:
- Make sure that all of your content has an apparent subscribe form.
- Try networking (again).
- Sign up for an email marketing course.
- Improve your CTA (aka “call to action”) buttons.
- Make sure user experience is good.
Step 8: Be social.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to integrate your social presence into your email marketing adventure. Your emails should have social icons that prompt subscribers to follow you. Now, make sure your social content is on point to attract more email subscribers. Share your landing page or website link in your bio and highlight products with a clear and concise CTA.
Step 9: Improve your content more.
One sure fire wire to grow your subscriber list is to gate a premium piece of content. This means that, in order to access a helpful guide, an in-depth report, or an informative whitepaper, they must first subscribe to your email list. Now, the content you gate can’t be some run-of-the-mill mumbo jumbo. It needs to be meaningful, relevant, and insightful for your targeted audience. No, you cannot gate a blog post that you’re super proud of. Trust me on that one.
I know I’ve said it a lot, but this also might be a good time to hire a copywriter. Developing a quality piece of content is a big task, especially for people who a) don’t like writing or b) aren’t good at it. This piece of content will be important in growing your list and adding value to customers so whatever route you choose, take it seriously.
Step 10: Test, test, and test some more.
By now, you’ve sent so many emails you’ve started saying “Send” in conversations. You’re basically a pro at picking salient subject lines. So, you might be wondering how you can improve your click-through rates or conversions. It’s time to ramp up your multivariate testing. The first step is creating some hypotheses and making a testing plan. The insights you gain through multi-variate testing will help you finetune your emails and increase metrics, but ultimately, improving the content you send to your list will add more value to your subscriber’s experience and build relationships between you and your readers. If that sounds like the “long game,” you’re right—it is. But the long game is where email marketing thrives. Making your emails better and better is a win for you, and a win for the recipient—less unopened emails in the inbox.