Email Marketing: The Definitive Guide.
You know what email is and you know what marketing is – so why is email marketing so hard to get right?
It shouldn’t be. And it won’t be after you read this article.
If you think email marketing can help you grow your online business, you’re right.
In terms of marketing investment, email is still the biggest bang for your buck.
Because speaking directly to people who have ASKED to hear from you is the most effective way to get (and retain) customers.
This article will show you everything you need to know about email marketing — including how I use it to sell products every day and what business tools I recommend.
Chapter 1: Email Marketing Defined
Chapter 2: How Does Email Marketing Work?
Chapter 3: Email Marketing Platforms
Chapter 4: Email Marketing Strategy
Chapter 5: Email marketing tips
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is the digital marketing activity of sending commercial messages – to a group of people – using an email service provider. In the simplest sense, every email message sent to a person for commercial purposes would be considered email marketing.
Chapter 1: Email Marketing Defined
A basic email marketing definition:
Messages sent by email with commercial intent.
In other words, any time a business uses email to reach prospects or customers, it can be considered email marketing.
If you are picturing the digital equivalent of flyers stuffed into a mailbox, it’s no wonder. Ever since marketers realized they could sell products directly to consumers via email, inboxes have been inundated with “special offers.”
No printing costs, no postage, and instant delivery to inboxes all over the world — email is an advertiser’s dream.
Early on, it was a free for all: companies bought and sold email lists, sent endless spam, and used pushy sales tactics.
Today, email marketing is much different, and better.
Sure, there are still bad actors buying lists and sending spam. But service providers filter out junk mail and (mostly) keep it out of your inbox.
And many countries have implemented laws banning spam.
What else is different about modern email marketing?
Most marketing messages you see in your inbox are a result of you asking to receive them.
That means voluntarily joining a list, submitting your email, and agreeing to receive messages from a business.
We’re surrounded by advertising we didn’t ask to see — flyers in the mailbox, commercials on TV, promoted social media posts, billboards, and even podcast sponsorships.
The difference with email marketing is, generally, we’ve asked to see it.
And done right, marketing emails can actually be welcomed and appreciated.
It’s relevant and personalized.
Whether it’s a newsletter, a product pitch, or a reminder to complete the purchase in a shopping cart, the receiver is interested.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t have signed up.
How much more targeted can you get?
Opting into an email list is now a transparent and respectful process.
Businesses typically explain what kind of emails they will send, and with what frequency.
For example, Further promises to send one email per week, with a specific type of content:
The focus of email marketing should be providing added value to the customer. Giving away useful content and resources is usually part of the strategy — not constant sales offers.
And respectful marketing emails clearly explain how to unsubscribe and stop getting emails.
But the purpose of this guide is not to give you a long-winded history. It is to teach you how to use direct email marketing to grow your business, and why it’s essential that you start today.
The most compelling reason:
Every other marketing channel puts you at the mercy of someone else’s agenda.
When you have an email list, you own your traffic.
Consider these popular marketing channels:
- SEO: Google updates the search algorithm and suddenly your blog posts are buried on page 43. You had a steady stream of website visitors, but it dries up overnight.
- Social media: Your target demographic starts drifting to a new platform, and fewer people are seeing your posts. You now have to start from scratch building followers while you are losing sales.
- YouTube: Your niche becomes crowded with competitors and suddenly, nobody is watching your videos (or clicking the links to buy).
All the time, effort, and money spent on those traffic sources up in smoke.
Unless… you’ve been building an email list.
When you collect email addresses (with permission) from people who are interested in your business, you retain a lasting benefit from all of your marketing efforts.
If you take care of that email list, it’s an asset that will drive your business for years to come.
So, how can you use email marketing to grow your business in 2021?
Let’s keep going to find out.
Chapter 2: How Does Email Marketing Work?
By now, you should be convinced:
Email marketing is essential to the success of your business.
But if you don’t have an email list, how do you get one?
This section is a step-by-step guide on how to do email marketing when you’re starting from scratch.
Step 1: Sign up with an email service provider
Email service providers are basically software services for managing subscribers and sending email campaigns.
Make sure you read Chapter 3 before you commit to a service. It covers my top picks for email marketing companies, and how to choose the best one for your business.
For now, just know the email service provider is the software you will use to:
- Store email addresses and customer data.
- Manage lists, add tags, and process unsubscribe requests.
- Create sign up forms on your website.
- Design and send emails to subscribers.
Step 2: Create an opt-in offer
What will you offer in exchange for an email address?
People are, understandably, reluctant to sign up for more email. For most of us, Inbox Zero is a cruel joke. But we still want free stuff!
“Sign up for my free newsletter” is not likely to convince anyone.
You need to provide a compelling reason for someone to hand over that email address. For example, here’s a lead magnet we use to attract people who want to learn how to start a podcast.
An opt-in offer is an instant benefit, free of charge, you will provide when someone joins your email list. In digital marketing, it’s often referred to as a lead magnet.
Lead magnets can be different things, depending on the type of business.
Here are three examples for you:
- A discount offer like free shipping or a coupon code
2. A digital resource like an e-book or course
3. A free trial of the service
Whatever you decide to use as an opt-in offer, it must provide real value.
Try to think like your customers and ask yourself, “Would I hand over my email address for this?”
Here are a few tips for coming up with an enticing opt-in offer:
Save time by re-purposing resources you’ve already created into a new format. For example:
Books and guides >> video tutorials or email courses* Multiple small resources >> a bundle or a comprehensive package
* A paid course >> offer one module for free
* A book for sale >> give the first chapter for free
* Target a specific and immediate problem your audience has. For example:
- * span style=”font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 18pt;”>Don’t know what to make for dinner? Faster Than Takeout: Top 10 Recipes to Solve Dinner
* Yearning for chiseled abs? 7 Workouts to Blast Your Abs Fast
* Are new parents desperate for sleep? Bedtime Cheat-Sheet: Get Your Kids to Sleep On Time TONIGHT
Step 3: Place an opt-in form on your website
The opt-in form (also called a sign-up form) is how people will submit their email and join your list. I use Thrive Leads for creating my forms, it enables me to create forms within my WordPress dashboard.
Here’s how it works.
First, choose which type of form you want.
When you log into your email service provider, you will find a variety of form options.
Choose a design and function to suit your website, the placement, and the opt-in offer.
For example, here are a few common types of opt-in form:
Popup box: Pops up in front of the page to grab attention.
Inline form: A box that can be placed anywhere on a page, including within the text of a blog post, or at the bottom of any page.
This example is taken from the Soul Salt blog where they are offering a content upgrade to how to find your purpose in life.
Ribbon: A banner across the full length of a page, usually at the top.
Next, customize the form.
The objective of an opt-in form is to convince the maximum number of people to opt-in.
Make it as easy as possible to complete.
Every extra field to complete means more work for potential subscribers — and more opportunities for them to change their minds before they hit “submit.”
These are the only things you really need to include:
* Place to type an email address* * Call to action button
With the text on your form, remember to focus on the benefit of signing up — think about what the opt-in offer does, rather than what it is.
You can also customize the colors on forms to stand out from the rest of your site.
If your website is on WordPress, you can take your opt-in forms to the next level with Thrive Leads, which you can get here:
Create all kinds of high-conversion forms.
Test different offers and forms: Automatically display variations of forms to see which ones get more sign-ups.
Target different users: Automatically display different forms, depending on which type of content they are interested in.
Finally, place the form on your website.
Your email provider will produce a block of code representing your customized form.
Copy and paste into your website.
After you save and refresh the page, this:
Will look like this:
If you use Thrive Leads, you won’t have to deal with any code — opt-in forms are created and placed from within your WordPress dashboard.
Step 4: Write a welcome series
There are two common mistakes that can derail your email marketing before you see any return on your investment.
The first mistake is not sending enough emails. A new prospect gives you their email address, only to have it sit there for weeks until you feel like sending an email blast.Weeks later, they don’t care nearly as much as they did when they first signed up. In fact, they may have forgotten signing up. Your first email is likely to go straight to the trash.The second mistake is asking subscribers to buy something right away. Not only is that off-putting, but it’s ineffective. It’s a quick way to lose your new subscriber.
Here’s what I love most about it:
- ConvertKit is NOT trying to be everything to everyone. They have developed and are continuing to develop the perfect email marketing service for creators – bloggers, podcasts, YouTubers, etc.
- Simple, yet effective. Yes, ConvertKit does automation and segmenting, but they have managed to create a tool that is intuitive and easy to use.
- ConvertKit is founded and run by Nathan Barry, an honest, hard-working, and great guy.
That said, some of the email marketing platforms I’ve seen are way too complex, even for me. Sometimes I need to set up complicated automation. I do not want to spend weeks figuring out how to do it, or depend on outside help to make it work.
I’ve settled on ActiveCampaign because they make it incredibly easy to set up complex automations – from basic automated emails to transactional emails, and evergreen email funnels to RSS feed automation.
Yes, ActiveCampaign has advanced marketing automation built-in, but they make it simple to implement and understand.
I can map out a subscriber’s journey down to the tiniest detail, in minutes.
Chapter 4: Email Marketing Strategy
The first three chapters were all about how email marketing works, and how to start building an email list.
Now we get to the juicy part — what and when to email your subscribers.
Your email marketing strategy has one purpose.
(Hint: It’s not to let people know what you’re up to in newsletters.)
It’s sales. If selling doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry. It’s a skill you can learn.
And the best part?
You don’t have to be extroverted, pushy, or underhanded to sell products to your email list.
This chapter will show you how to bring subscribers on the following journey:
An effective email strategy accomplishes this lofty goal with three kinds of email.
I’m not talking about the content of the messages, which can look very different depending on what business you are in.
Instead, consider the three types of intent behind each message:
Engaging: Teaching readers what you’re all about, and engaging them further with your business.