The Complete Guide to Email Marketing for Bloggers. How to grow your list, what to send your subscribers, when to send and how often. Ideas on what freebies to offer and how to deliver them to your readers! Plus, tips on how to increase pageviews and traffic.

What Exactly is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is direct communication with your subscribers or potential customers. While some bloggers may think that “the latest” from your blog is all the email marketing entails, it is so much more! In this guide we are going to dig into why email marketing is so important, how to collect your readers and potential customers info, what to send them, when to send it and how often.

“But my pageviews are high and I am making money, so do I even need to worry about this?”

YES! YES! YES!

When someone subscribes, it is a direct invitation for you to contact them in the future. No other platform allows you to go directly into the customers INBOX!

With that being said, it is still important to generate traffic for your website. You cannot have a list of 20,000 subscribers if only 1,000 are making it to your site. If you need some traffic boosting strategies, check out Pinning for Pageviews. You can see how I used these strategies in my latest blog report below:

“But I’m not selling anything, so it’s not as important for me, right?”

I hate to tell you this, but as a blogger, you are selling something! You are selling your brand, your blog, you are selling YOU! As you will read below, emails to your subscribers don’t have to include products, coupon codes or deals like you may be used to getting from some retailers or shops.

The success of your blog should not be measured in your pageviews. It should be measure in your subscriber list.

So have I convinced you yet that email marketing should be a HUGE part of your business blogging plan?!

Once you’re ready to get started, here’s how you should approach setting up your marketing plan:

  • Create an Opt-In or Freebie your readers NEED.
  • Chose a email provider for your marketing.
  • Add Opt-in form to your website.
  • Set up your email welcome email/ confirmation email with opt-in product
  • Draft email sequence for the following month

Below we break down each of these areas and questions you need to be asking yourself BEFORE starting! Prior preparation will prevent frustrations later on!

Create an Opt-in or Freebie your Readers NEED

I’ve mentioned many times on this site that the days of “subscribe and get the latest from (insert blog name)” are long gone. Readers have had their inbox spammed one too many times to simply give out their contact information for such a vague idea of what you are going to send them.

The best way to build your email address is with an freebie. The easiest way to decide what your freebie should be is to look at what your readers are ALREADY telling you they love. What is your most popular post on your blog? How could you build upon this?

Another great thing about email marketing is it doesn’t have to be one size fits all. For example, I have a post on my website titles “21 Freezer Meals to Make Before Baby Arrives”. It receives well over a thousand views a day. So I made a custom freebie just for that post. After readers subscribe, they get access to “21 MORE freezer meals to make”. Who doesn’t want MORE options when it comes to making meals for their family? I also have two different opt-ins for my two most popular categories: Breastfeeding and Pregnancy. The readers of my pregnancy articles are in a completely different spot in their life than those who are searching for breastfeeding advice. I wouldn’t even know what to offer that would fit both of their needs! The more tailored the opt-in is to the reader, the more likely they are to subscribe.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the task of creating opt-ins. Work smart. Start with your most viewed category and work your way from there.

Select an email provider)

(psst… I am NOT an affiliate for ANY of these providers, so this is the real deal when it comes to info. No trying to sway you for a pay out here…)

It’s important to have a good idea of your entire email marketing plan BEFORE selecting an email provider, as they all offer so many different features. For example, if you want your opt-in to be a free 5 day course filled with holiday craft ideas, you will want an email provider who allows you to set up automation in your emails. This is not a standard feature with all email providers. Here are a few of the key questions you should be asking before committing to a provider

  • Does this plan allow for unlimited emails each month? Or am I limited?
  • Is automation a feature I will have access to?
  • Do they provide mobile friendly templates?
  • What type of integrations do they offer?
  • What type of analytics will I be able to see? (more on why this is important below!)
  • What level of customer support to they offer? 24/7? Live Chat?
  • Are there any key components of you plan that are not included in the package deal?
  • Overall, what will it cost you monthly to run your email marketing plan and does this align with your budget? As your blog and your list grow, how will your cost?

There are TONS of providers to pick from. Here are a few I hear mentioned the post in my blogging network:

MailChimp

Pros

  • Free up to 2,000 subscribers
  • Easy Drag and Drop Builder
  • Automation available as of May 2017.
  • TONS of templates to pick from
  • Analytic Information Available

Cons

  • Lack of support for free users
  • No Landing Pages
  • Tags not available
  • Duplicate subscribers- BIG CON! Here’s the lingo straight from their website: “MailChimp treats each list in your account as a completely separate entity, and counts each subscriber toward your total subscriber count. Duplicate subscribers are included in your total subscriber count. For example, if a subscriber’s email address appears on three different lists, it is counted three times.” Considering their pricing plans are based on number of subscribers… this really sucks.

Here is a look at their pricing structure. If you want more details, use their pricing calculator.

Selecting the best email provider- MailChimps Monthly Cost

 

MailerLite

Pros

  • Free up to 1,000 subscribers
  • Autoresponder even for the free edition
  • Landing Pages Available
  • Easy Drag and Drop Builder
  • Forms Builder for PopUps and subscriber boxes
  • Pricing is very competitive compared to MailChimp and ConvertKit
  • Analytic Info Available

Cons

  • Account will have to be approved and this may cause sometime when you are not able to use the features, however it only takes a few hours for approval.

Here’s a little insight to their pricing:

  • 1,000 subscribers: Free (automation included in free plan!)
  • 2,500 subscribers: $10/month
  • 5,000 subscribers: $20/month
  • 10,000 subscribers: $35/month

ConvertKit

Pros

  • Landing Pages Available
  • Automation Available
  • Analytics Available
  • Front Runner when it comes to Workflow Automation and Funnels

Cons

  • Paid service from day 1, most expensive out of all the options.
  • Limited options with Forms builder (high HTML knowledge required to really customize)
  • No template builder

Here’s a look at their pricing structure:

  • 3,000 subscribers: $49/month
  • 5,000 subscribers: $79/month
  • 8,000 subscribers: $99/month

Again, do your research before selecting. Ask fellow bloggers for their input and their advice. There are a lot of affiliate programs for these and it can lead to some biased opinions.

**As I mentioned, I am not an affiliate for any of these programs, but after doing all the research for this post, I am making the move from MailChimp to MailerLite!

Add the Opt-In Form to Your Website

While there are many plug-ins that allow you to do this, I use the free version of Sumo.

I like using Sumo for multiple reasons:

  • It allows you to integrate with a lot of the major email providers. meaning as soon as someone subscribes, their information will be automatically sent to MailChimp, ConvertKit, MailerLite or who ever you use and they can start receiving your automated emails in minutes! They can get your hands on the freebie you are offering ASAP!
  • Sumo offers a wide variety of opt in styles, including pop ups, inline boxes, welcome mats and many more.
  • If you are not using an email provider that has automation, Sumo provides a service that can send a “success” email with your link or product in it.
  • Sumo has great social sharing options as well!

Again, you need to decide what works for you and what you are offering. Some email providers offer a pop up form that you can integrate on your site and forefgo a third party platform like Sumo.

Are you starting to see why a detailed plan is so important?

What to Send your Subscribers

This is one of the biggest questions lurking on readers minds. What the heck do I even send my subscribers?

The most common email type is “the latest from XYZ Blog”. Will this type of email work? Possibly… But why be like everyone else when you can stand out?

There are a few key components that go into every email you send:

  • The Title
  • The Content
  • The Images
  • The Call to Action

The Title

As you’ve probably already assumed, a title like “read my latest blog post” has a low open rate. Your title should be compelling and intrigue your readers to want to know more.

Sending Recipes? How about “The Most Popular Recipe Ever posted On XYZ Blog”. Or “Healthy Pumpkin bread?… It’s Possible! Here’s the recipe!”

Sending Fitness tips? “7 Moves to More Toned Arms that Can Be Done at Home”. Or “How to Make Your Workouts More Effective in Less Time”.

I would open EVERY one of these emails. Because I want to know about all of these things! Especially the arm workout one…

The Content

The content is the meat of the email. It’s where you deliver what you have promised with the title.

I personally do a mixture of content types with Swaddles n’ Bottles.

Some emails will be a collection of blog posts. “Baby on a Budget- Is it possible?” < This email included a short blurb about the large cost of having a baby (some catchy stats included) and then a collection of 4 blog posts that were on Swaddles n’ Bottles.

I can’t believe I’m saying this...”< This blog post was about how it’s already time to start thinking about Fall and baby’s first Halloween costume. It concentrated on just ONE blog post and highlighted some of the more popular costume choices for this year.

The beautiful thing about this is, it doesn’t always have to be NEW material. If you have a new post and a relevant old post, tie them together some how and include BOTH in your email.

Here are a few “types” of emails you could use to get your wheels turning!

  • The Myth Breaker email- What topic needs to be set straight in your niche?
  • Free Tools and Resources- Gather up a list of freebies that complement each other and solve a collective problem your niche may have
  • The Most Asked Questions Email- Is there a common theme among the comments in your post? Chances are more people are wondering!
  • Round Up Emails- Collect your favorite things surrounding a topic that interest your niche. Showcase 3 or 4 but save the best for the blog post you want them to read!
  • The Highlighter email- What blog post is going wild on your page right now? How can you highlight it in a way that will drive those who have not read it to check it out?

The Images

Your emails should always contain some sort of image to go along with your content. It can either be a complimentary image to the post or the featured image on the post. Either way, may sure they are eye catching and linked to wherever you want your readers to go! I believe it’s crucial to always have at least 1 image because different people respond to different things. Some may be drawn in by your words. But for some, images may be more inviting to them. Using compelling words AND images gives you the chance to speak to which ever area the reader falls into.

The Call to Action

What is the end result you want for your readers? To visit a certain blog post? To join a challenge or course? To purchase a product or service? Whatever it is, make sure there is a CLEAR call to action and a visible way for them to complete the action (either text link or a button).

A few things to keep in mind when creating your emails:

  • Keep them short and sweet. They should not be a full blog post length story. A short 5-7 sentence blurb on the articles shared below. Remember, the goal is to get them to where you want them to go. The content should be just as compelling as the title and lead them to think ” I have to know more!” Too much material for them to read may have them clicking out of your email before they even get to their intended final destination.
  • Always include social media follow options on your emails. Readers may decide after receiving your first email that they love you even more and want to follow along! Again, make this compelling. Put a fun title above your links: “I just posted a ton of pictures from behind the scenes in my kitchen while making this recipe, follow along on my Instagram” will always perform better than ” Follow me on Instagram”.
  • DO NOT include Amazon Affiliate links in your emails. You CAN include a link to a blog post which includes links, but direct links in an email is a big Amazon no-no. (Read the other things that could get you banned from Amazon Affiliates here.)
  • A frequently asked question I receive: Do you have a PO box for your email marketing. YES! I do. There are certain anti-spam laws in place that require your have a mailing address listed on your emails. I was not comfortable listing my home address and sending it to thousands of people.. I purchased a 1 year subscription to a PO Box for around $64. Small price to pay for privacy!

How and When to Contact your Subscribers

Another big grey area… how often do I send emails?

Well, this really depends on your audience. Weekly seems to be the shortest interval of time suggested, anything less than that would most likely be considered spamming and you’ll likely have a lot of people unsubscribe. But then again, you want to nurture your list. Your name needs to pop up frequently enough that they recognize it and trust it. One email a month might not build this perception with them.

In terms of when to send, there is a lot of research on this topic. The overall best day and time is Tuesday at 10 A.M. Why? Who knows! But it’s a good place to start.

I personally send 3-4 emails a month and send them on either Tuesdays or Thursdays. Both of these days have the same open rate for me. Again, it’s what works for your niche.

Tracking your Success

As with any part of blogging, tracking your success with your emails is crucial.

After you send your first 3 emails, look at what areas are lacking. Is your open rate low? How about the clicks on the links? Pick one area you would like to improve upon and make a change with your next email. Track to see if the change is making a difference.

There are so many free resources out there to help you grow, connect with and improve your email list. Take a day or two to research, plan and build. Jumping into it when you don’t have a plan could lead to frustration later!

Have any other tips you’d like to share? Comment below!

 

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