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email marketing for beginners

What is Email Marketing and Why is it Important for Your Blog Growth?

I’ll tell you that when I first started blogging, I was completely CLUELESS about email marketing. It was one of those things that I just had no idea where to start or what was even the purpose.

But I had read enough articles to know that it was important and knowing that I didn’t know what I was doing, I quickly enlisted the help of my blog mentor for advice.

Email Marketing for Beginners: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your List Successfully

In one day, she had me up and running and I feverishly created my first opt-in, The Ultimate Blogging Toolkit for Beginners (which is still my most popular one to date) and the subscribers started to flow in.

Not super quick, mind you. But it was certainly better than nothing. Now, I have built an amazing list, full of an audience that follows my work and wants to come back for more. And that’s the whole idea behind this gig.

You can do it too! Just follow these easy steps!

What Is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is essentially using emails that have been collected for a commercial purpose, to send digital messages out to mass subscribers. Businesses and blog owners have been using email marketing for years to grow their audience, keep them informed and to provide extra value to their customers.

Why Is Email Marketing So Important To Grow Your Blog?

Email marketing should be one of your first priorities as a blogger. Why? Because you don’t own any other platform. You may have 1 million viewers on Pinterest but if it shut down tomorrow, how would you connect with that audience?

Same thing goes for Facebook or Instagram. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have there either. If the platform flops- you’re dead in the water with your audience.

Email marketing for beginners
Email Marketing for Beginners

The Benefits of Email Marketing

Using emails to connect with our audience on a more private platform helps to strengthen our relationships and provide more value and credibility as a blogger.

Collecting emails and sending out meaningful messages also allows us to connect with a warm audience on a regular basis, which will make it easier to make a sale when the time comes for you to promote your products or services.

Emailing content marketing pieces generates a 38x return for every 1$ spent (Source: Campaign Monitor)

How do I Set Up Email Marketing?

Although it can seem really confusing at first while getting the pieces all set up, email marketing is actually fairly simple once it is all set up and running.

Email Marketing Breakdown

There are really only a few steps to getting started.

  1. Set up an email service provider
  2. Set up a form to collect emails
  3. Create and deliver opt-in or content upgrade (if used)
  4. Add subscriber to a group
  5. Send out newsletters, campaigns or automations based on group preferences
Email Marketing Basics
Email Marketing Basics

The Best Free Email Marketing Service for Beginner Bloggers

I have been using MailerLite since the beginning and LOVE them. They offer all of the necessities including campaigns, landing pages, automations, subscribe forms, WordPress integrations, and they are FREE for the first 1000 subscribers which is perfect for the beginner.

I also really love that you can create simple newsletters with a drag and drop interface and save templates for future use. Everything is customizable and the customer support is really great.

You can try MailerLite and get a $20 credit by using my affiliate link here!

SIDE NOTE: I also use to create scroll mats and static bars at the top of my page, which are not currently options in MailerLite. Sumo is free, easily integrates with both WordPress and MailerLite which makes this a great option.

Set Up Forms to Collect Emails from Subscribers

There are a variety of forms that you can use to collect subscribers. To have the best results, try to use them in different parts of your blog to maximize exposure.

  • Embedded – these are best for using within your post or in the sidebar. Good for newsletter subscriptions and freebie opt-ins.
  • Landing pages – use these if you have created a larger opt-in. This allows for a large space to write your copy (your advertisement) and includes a sign-up form within it.
  • Pop-Ups – use these sporadically as Pop-ups can be annoying and make sure that they are optimized for mobile devices so that your reader doesn’t get frustrated. They are great for advertising a limited time sale or increasing your social media likes and follows.
  • Scroll Mats – These work quite nicely as they “fall” onto the page as you enter and seem more like part of the page that can be scrolled past.
  • Static bar – This is a nice way to showcase a sign up form at the top of the page. It is small and unobtrusive and you can make it static so that it remains at the top.
Email Marketing Strategies
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Creating a Content Upgrade (AKA Opt-in Freebie)

Once you have a general grasp on collecting subscribers, you should start thinking about creating additional content upgrades to grow your email list.

Unfortunately, most people rarely subscribe just to subscribe to your new content. The majority of your email subscribers will likely come from having a freebie or opt-in like a checklist, form, or template to entice them to give their email in exchange.

When you are trying to decide what to create as your freebie opt-in, think about what you could provide as a download that relates to your content and gives value to your audience. For example, if you were writing a post on how to keep organized when going back to school for kids, you might add on a free weekly lunch planning sheet that they can print and fill in each week to stay organized.

These are easy to create in Canva, Word or Google Docs, which you can save as a PDF to make it easy to download. One of the best ways is to host the document in Google Drive and create a shareable link which you can paste into the confirmation after they subscribe for easy downloading.

GDPR TIP: Even though your subscribe form may state that they will be receiving the free gift and be added to your newsletter list, reader’s must authorize both distinctly according to GDPR regulations. To make sure that you comply, simply add a checkbox on the form that they must tick to make sure they are aware and authorize that they have consented.

Add Subscribers to Groups

Now that you have collected some emails, you’ll want to set up specific groups for subscribers to be added to within your email service provider. In the beginning, it may be easier to have only one master list of subscribers that you add all the emails to.

Once you get established or have various opt-ins, it may be easier to segment or track individual groups by assigning them to smaller groups so that you can tailor your marketing to them specifically.

Email Marketing for Beginners: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your List Successfully

Different Types of Email Marketing Strategies

Now that you have some emails set up in a group, it’s time to think about some ways that you can connect with them through their email. There are a variety of methods to set up or use your email marketing within the service provider.

  • Campaigns, Newsletters or Broadcast emails – These are all basically the same. Campaigns are one-time emails that you generate and set a date to send out.
  • RSS Feed Campaigns – An RSS Feed Campaign can be set up to automatically send out an email that includes your latest published articles.
  • A/B Split Campaigns – A/B test allows you to set up two variations of your campaign and send it to a small percentage of total recipients.
  • Auto Resend – Resend your campaign to those recipients who didn’t open your first campaign or didn’t click any link.
  • Automations – Allow you to set up a series of emails or workflows based on your conditions. This is great to set up a welcome series of emails after your reader subscribes to your newsletter group.

What you choose will likely depend on what you are trying to achieve. For example, if you are doing a welcome series for a new subscriber, you will want an automation. If you just want to get your current content out, an RSS Feed campaign will work best. You may find it best to use a combination of things along the way.

How You Can Make Money Through Email Marketing

Most email service providers allow the use of affiliate links within the emails that you send out, provided that they are relevant to your audience and you are not working for the company and marketing directly on their behalf. Be sure that you check the terms and conditions of the service provider you are using so that you are not booted off the platform for being non-compliant.

You can also use your newsletters or automation to tell your audience how you used a particular product to help you that could benefit them too. Remember to be authentic, give insight on products that you have actually tried and you will never come across as sales-ey.

Just like your blog, you will need to include an affiliate disclaimer to let your readers know that the links you are providing may be affiliate links. If you have a disclaimer on your website (which you should) you can also provide a link to that as well.

And of course, if you have your own products and services, this is a great way to let your readers know what you have available to offer them.

Marketing Strategy
Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

9 Tips for Successful Email Marketing

  • Most email service providers require an email with a dedicated domain name. This means that you will not be able to use a Gmail, Yahoo or other generic accounts. This is because the bounce or spam rates are much higher for these kinds of emails and the email service provider wants to make sure that you are getting your content through to your audience. Most web hosting sites like SiteGround offer free domain emails with their web hosting services that are easy to set up or you can purchase one through sites like GoDaddy.
  • You will have to provide a mailing address. If you do not have a post box, your personal mailing address may need to be used. Keep this in mind as you may want to set up a box number just for this if you are worried about having your personal address be public.
  • Write catchy subject lines for more open rates. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened (Source: Experian). Readers also tend to open emails that have emojis or interesting characters as they catch the eye in their feed. CoSchedule offers a free subject line tester to help you create a great one!
  • Create a template that you can reuse that has a header (you can design a nice one in Canva). This will save you a ton of time each week when you are trying to come up with something new. The template can include your most recent thoughts, recent content on your blog, and should have some kind of call to action like visiting your social pages.
  • Send emails consistently but don’t be spammy. Most bloggers send out one or two emails per week unless they are promoting a product. Your audience should expect to hear from you at least once per week.
  • Give your readers value for their time. Inboxes can be overwhelming and sometimes I wake up to over 100 in a day. So, make sure that the content that you are providing is interesting and relates to your audience. Take any opportunity to give extra value to your subscribers in the form of free downloads.
  • Make sure to check your affiliate agreements if you are planning on using affiliate links. Amazon strictly prohibits email marketing.
  • You must provide a way for your reader to unsubscribe. Let’s face it, no one wants people to unsubscribe but don’t take it personally. If they do, they are not your audience and that spot is better left for someone that values your work.
  • Send your emails at the best time for good open rates. CoSchedule has an amazing breakdown of the best times and days to send your emails.
  • Have FUN! Throw in a gif or video from you every once in a while to change things up.
Email Marketing for Beginners: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your List Successfully

You are ready to start collecting subscribers to your blog! Yahoo! Do you have a great opt-in idea for your blog? I’d love to hear about it below!

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Sasha Lassey