The internet marketing world is packed full of catchphrases that tend to annoy me.
One such catchphrase is, “The money is in the list!” It really bugs me; especially because I relate it to those internet marketers who create the kind of contrived email autoresponder series that I hate. When I first launched this blog back in June 2011 I made a promise to myself to not go down that road.
Which brings me to the present day and my email list. In my time I have created three different email autoresponder series (two of which I have scrapped) and ten different lists. At the time of writing I have a total of 3,668 subscribers, which may not be a lot but it is enough to make me a good income.
With that in mind, in this post I want to share with you a five step guide to email marketing best practices — the process I have followed (through trial and error) to establish what I consider to be a successful email list.
There are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase a product through one of them I will receive a commission. It will cost you nothing extra. I only ever endorse products that I have personally used and tested extensively. Thank you!
Step 1: Sign Up With AWeber
The first thing you need to do when you have decided to build an email list is to find a service that will handle the technical side of things — I’m afraid that simply sending an email to a hundred people from Gmail is not going to cut it.
And while there are plenty of options out there, I have just one recommendation: AWeber. I have been an AWeber user from the very start and have never regretted it. I have used many of the alternatives (including arguably its biggest competitor, MailChimp) and in my opinion it stands head and shoulder above them all.
You can sign up now and get your first month for just $1. After that it’s $19 per month, but in my opinion that’s a relatively paltry amount of money well spent. Along with web hosting, it’s one of the two things I do not think you should compromise on when it comes to building a successful blog.
Step 2: Create Your List
Once you’re up and running with AWeber you’ll need to create a list. Lists are used to store subscribers’ details, web form designs, the emails sent to those subscribers, and plenty more. You’re going to need one for your first email marketing campaign.
Fortunately, they’re really easy to set up. In the following video I take you through the entire process, skipping all the unnecessary fluff and sticking to what you need to do.
Step 3: Create a Web Form
Once your list is up and running, people need to be able to subscribe to it! And although you can manually add subscribers on a small scale, the real key is in creating a web form that people can use to subscribe themselves.
You can either create a web form that is hosted by AWeber (and that you can link to) or embed one within your blog. In this next video I’ll show you how to create a web form that you can embed on your own blog
Easy, right? You can include the form within posts, pages, and even text widgets show you can include the form in your sidebar and/or footer — all you need to do is copy and paste!
Step 4: Create Your Autoresponder Series
Now we get down to what really matters — the content that you create. The work you do here makes all the difference between a profitable or a “dead” list.
First of all, consider what you want out of your email list. What you shouldn’t primarily be looking for is volume — you want quality. What I mean by this is that a hundred high-quality subscribers is far better than a thousand who have no interest in what you have to say.
Secondly, you need to make a decision up front about what type of email marketer you are going to be. There are (in my opinion) two broad types:
There’s not necessarily anything wrong with being a salesy email marketer — there are a huge number of people out there who are very successful at it. But if your blog is anything like mine (i.e. focused on a personal approach), a salesy autoresponder series will seem out of place.
I advocate a non-salesy approach. While I still make money out of my list, it is very much through a “softly softly” method that focuses on building a relationship with the subscriber first, then promoting products to them second (and when I do, it is in a very non-pushy way).
To give you an idea of what I mean, I’m going to take you through the first email in the Leaving Work Behind autoresponder series (and also show you how to create these autoresponder emails yourself).
If you subscribe to my autoresponder series you will note that I don’t try to sell anything to you for the first few emails. All I try to do is offer tremendous value. When someone subscribes, that should be your cue to build trust, not sell to them.
And when I do recommend something via my autoresponder, it is very much a softly-softly approach. It’s not until email number eight in my series (6 Books You Should Read If You Want to Leave Work Behind) that I actually try to sell anything.
The key question you should ask yourself when creating an autoresponder email in which you intend to promote something that you can make an income off is this: would you still send it if you couldn’t make money from it? The answer to that question is what you should pay attention to.
So my strategy is simple really — offer loads of value and occasionally promote products. There isn’t a great deal more to it than that! I really see my autoresponder series as an extension to the blog and I treat it as such. I’d like to think that a lot of the content I send to my email subscribers is as good as (and sometimes better) than what I publish here on the blog. After all, don’t your most loyal subscribers deserve something a little special?
To be honest, the best way you’ll get a solid idea of my email marketing strategy is to sign up to my list. You can always unsubscribe if you don’t like what I send you!
Step 5: Broadcasts
If you’re anything like me then you’ll want to keep in regular touch with your subscribers via broadcast emails. This is something that many bloggers do not do (they’ll stick solely to their autoresponder series), but I see not doing it as an opportunity lost.
For one reason, consider the opportunity cost in terms of traffic. Monday is almost always the highest traffic day for Leaving Work Behind, because that is the day I send out my weekly broadcast email. I’ll get a few hundred extra people visiting my blog just because of that broadcast email. Furthermore, when I polled my subscribers I discovered that the majority of them wanted this email. A lot of people will sign up to your email list in the expectation that they will receive blog updates, so don’t disappoint them!
In the following video I show you how I created the broadcast email for this week’s update (i.e. the one promoting this particular post).
So that’s it! By now you know everything you need to know about email marketing best practices (at least, how I do it). But if you have any comments or questions please do not hesitate to leave them below — as always, I love to read and respond to what you have to say!