THE SCIENCE OF EMAIL MARKETING: 11 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Feel like you could use some help when it comes to email marketing?
It’s one of those things you feel like you have to do on top of everything else. You wish everyone would stop going on about it, plus you have so many questions.
They seem like simple questions, but you’ve searched everywhere and just can’t find an answer.
That’s why I’m here.
When I first started digging into the world of email marketing, I had to figure it all out by myself. I couldn’t find basic, straight-forward answers to any of my questions.
And at the time, I didn’t really feel like there was anyone I could go to and ask. Especially because I didn’t want to come across as “stupid.” I also felt like I was the only one who was asking these questions.
But if you don’t find the answers to these questions, that’s when the self-doubt starts. That’s when you start to believe you can’t do this.
So you don’t do anything. You don’t take action. You don’t start an email list.
Every single person who has an email list asked themselves these questions at some point on their journey.
So if you can relate to this, I hope this post helps you get all your important questions answered.
#1 | WHAT EVEN IS EMAIL MARKETING?
In its most basic form, email marketing is the marketing of your vision, message or strategy through the channel of email.
Just like you use a blog to promote yourself and social media to share what you do - email is another platform.
You could be a business owner with products/services to sell or a blogger wanting to promote your content. What’s important to remember is every message you’re putting across to your audience is a form of marketing.
Maybe you want to share a new tip with them. Or you’re sharing a personal story. Or you want to persuade them to click on a link to subscribe to your YouTube channel - that’s marketing.
#2 | IS THERE A RIGHT TIME TO START MY EMAIL LIST?
You can launch your email list whenever you want. But my advice would be to start it sooner rather than later. I definitely wish I’d started mine sooner.
An email list is important, we can’t avoid it. But if you’re just hearing the same reasons over and over again, hopefully this will give you a fresh perspective:
YOUR EMAIL LIST IS YOURS
If social media platforms disappeared tomorrow, your followers would disappear with them.
But you’re not building your email list on someone else’s platform. You own it.
Social media is crucial for growing your online presence, but your email subscribers are more valuable than your social media followers. When Instagram changes its algorithm again, you have to completely rethink your strategy. That doesn’t happen with email marketing.
Or think about if your site goes down. You’ll be able to let your most loyal readers know what’s going on through your email list.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO COMPETE
You don’t have to worry about your tweet only having a lifetime span of 18 minutes, or your Facebook post getting lost in a news feed. People check their inboxes every single day and if you’re sending emails, then there’s going to be a good chance they’ll see your content.
But if you’re anything like me, your inbox is super busy. That’s why email marketing is so effective. People don’t give their email addresses over for nothing. They have to trust the brand and want to know more from them. So if you consistently deliver value, your emails will be opened and read.
IT BUILDS THE KNOW, LIKE AND TRUST FACTOR
The like phase is bringing people into your community. The know phase is giving permission to continue a conversation. But it’s the trust factor that lies in your success.
People have to interact with you multiple times before they truly recognise who you are and how you help them (I think 7 times is the magic number). And email is what’s going to help you move from the know and like phase to the trust phase.
Just think when you come across a new blog you’ve never seen before. You’ve know awareness. But after a while of engaging with their content, you begin to recognise what they do and what purpose they serve for you.
You can use social media to do this but remember - you don’t know those platforms. The algorithms have all the power.
That’s why email is so powerful.
YOU CAN COME UP WITH MORE CONTENT IDEAS
If you ask an interesting question at the end of each of your emails, your subscribers will respond, and they’ll respond with valuable information. In the first email of my welcome series, I ask them what they’re struggling with. Their responses turn into great content ideas for my blog.
This blog post for instance came from a workshop I recently did at a university - none of them knew what email marketing was.
You create content that you want to be shared. So you want to write about what your audience wants to know about.
That’s why you have to ask questions and respond.
If you respond personally to every email, you’ll actively be building relationships with the most loyal people in your audience.
IT HELPS YOU SELL YOURSELF
I just want to share some facts to back this up for you:
- The proportion of revenue from email marketing on Black Friday in 2016 was 20%, compared to 11% the previous year.
- Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
- Email marketing has an ROI of 3800%.
When you build trust with your subscribers, they are more likely to read your content, promote it, and if you sell products or services, buy from you too. But you have to remember that it takes time. Email isn’t just a place for you to sell. You still need to provide value first, or nothing else will work.
#3 | WHEN DO I SEND AN EMAIL TO A NEW SUBSCRIBER?
You don’t - you automate it.
If you set up a sequence, you can send emails to your subscribers as soon as they sign up to your list.
If you have an opt-in freebie (a free download your subscribers get for signing up to your list), they can get an automatic email then.
And you can also send a welcome email (or a welcome email series) that is dripped out to new subscribers over the course of a few days.
Once you have these set up, you can relax in that fact that you’re already nurturing your subscribers from the moment they sign up to your list.
#4 | WHAT IF I'VE GOT A REALLY SMALL LIST?
Here’s a question for you - who knows you’ve got a small list?
The people on your list don’t know. They might think you have hundreds, even thousands of subscribers.
If you nurture your subscribers and consistently provide them with value, these are the people that will become your most loyal audience members, your cheerleaders.
They’ll tell people about your blog, share your content and those in turn will attract more people to sign up to your list.
Think of it as an opportunity. Even the biggest bloggers started from zero. It’s knowing where to go from there. It’s not about numbers - it’s about how engaged your subscribers are.
#5 | WHAT EMAIL SERVICE PROVIDER SHOULD I USE? I DON'T WANT TO WASTE ANY MONEY.
You can either start off on a free program like MailChimp (tutorial here), or a paid one like ConvertKit. It’s totally up to you.
You could always start off with a free one and then make the transition when your online presence has grown and you’re feeling a bit more confident with email marketing.
I started off on MailChimp, but a few months ago I switched to ConvertKit and I wish I’d maid the switch sooner. ConvertKit just makes it SO easy to manage your subscribers, forms and everything in between. I’ve seen a real difference so far.
You can get a free 30-day trial of ConvertKit here starting tomorrow.
#6 | DO I NEED AN EMAIL TEMPLATE?
The short answer to this question is no.
The reason is because you want to make your email responsive. Over 50% of people view emails on their mobile device. A template wouldn’t look right on mobile which is why you don’t need one.
A lot of your audience will be checking and opening their emails on their mobile device.
So if you want your emails to be read and if you want them to make an impact, you don’t need a template. Just go with plain text. Plus, you don’t want a load of images in an email anyway. Those types of emails seem more promotional, whereas with text emails, you’re offering more value.
Have you ever seen me use flashy GIFs in my emails? Nope - all I have is my usual header.
It doesn’t need to be complicated. Make it easier for yourself.
When you write an email, you want to write it like you’re sitting across from your friend sipping coffee. The simple the better - and it’ll also create a better relationship too.
#7 | HOW OFTEN SHOULD I SEND EMAILS?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question.
If people receive too many emails from you, they’ll unsubscribe for definite.
But then it depends on what’s going on with your marketing strategy. I’ve got an email challenge starting today where I’ll be sending an email out five days in a row, which I’ve never done before. People are aware of this and they’ve still decided to join my list.
I’d start with once a week as your aim.
But don’t pull teeth trying to come up with a valuable content idea. If you don’t have anything to email about, don’t put pressure on yourself to create one.
#8 | HOW DO I STOP PEOPLE FROM UNSUBSCRIBING?
Unsubscribers aren’t as bad as you think.
If you’re putting effort into your list, sending emails weekly and consistently providing value, don’t worry too much about unsubscribers. These people are obviously not your target audience - and it’s better for them to unsubscribe rather than be a cold subscriber.
Some reasons why people unsubscribe could be:
They get too many emails from you
How to fix it: Tell new subscribers in your first ever email how often you’ll be emailing them. That way you’re setting expectations from the start. And if you’re going to change your frequency, just let people know.
Their interest or focus has changed
Your emails aren’t relevant to them anymore
They’re not in the same place as your target audience
They don’t know why they signed up in the first place
How to fix it: Most mailing list providers come with a double opt-in, where they have to click a button to say they want to opt into your list. This is effective because it requires comittment from them.
#9 | WHAT DO I WRITE IN MY EMAILS? I HAVE ENOUGH TROUBLE COMING UP WITH BLOG POST IDEAS!
This question is like going down a rabbit hole.
First of all, start with your blog.
You’ve got a catalogue of content that most of your new subscribers won’t have read before. Pick out some pieces that are relevant and valuable, and repurpose them for your mailing list.
If you’re struggling, take a look in Google Analytics at your most popular posts from the past year. They’re the posts you want to start with.
You can either write a teaser and include a link in your email so people can read the rest of your post. But I recommend not doing that - you want to provide unique value for your subscribers, not just what they’d get on your blog.
So shorten it down and pick out the key points of each post.
Think of your emails like you’re taking your subscriber on a journey. What do they need to know when they’re starting out a zero? What are the basics? What do they need to know next? And after that? This will help you form a pattern for your emails.
#10 | WHAT ARE OPEN RATES AND CLICKTHROUGH RATES?
Open rate: the percentage of people who opened your email from the total that received it.
Click through rate: the percentage of people who clicked on a link in your email from the total number of people who opened it.
In terms of industry averages, an Unbounce report said that average open rate is about 32% and clickthrough rate about 8%.
If your rates are higher than this? That’s great, keep going!
#11 | HOW DO I STOP MY EMAILS FROM GOING IN THE JUNK FOLDER?
This can get a bit technical, so I’ll try and keep it simple for you.
Each email sender has a sender score which is decided by the mailbox providers.
If your list is engaged and you’re getting good open rates, there’s a good chance that your emails will land in the primary email tab instead of the junk or promotions folder.
But if you’ve got a low open rate and you’re getting a lot of subscribers, you’ll get a lower score.
Something you can do to help is clean out your email list. In other words, get rid of inactive subscribers.
Sure this means your subscriber count will decrease, but do you really want a bunch of poorly engaged people on your list?
Lauren from Elle and Company deleted 7,000 of her subscribers who weren’t engaged. It also improved her open rate.
Another thing that will help you is getting a professional email address.
Email addresses ending in @gmail.com or @aol.com and suchlike - if you send an email out with an address like this it will go into the spam folder FOR SURE. I’ve learnt this from experience.
I pay £3 a month for my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I get access to loads of Google tools too.
If this feels overwhelming for you, what I want you to take away from this is that there’s no magic formula. There’s no way to get it 100% right.
Like everything with your online presence, email marketing is about testing and improving.
That’s why it’s better to start sooner, because the faster you learn and the easier it will be.
I hope these questions and answers helped to ease your fears and give you the confidence you need to start and grow your email list.
Don’t get lost in the crowd. Start nurturing your audience now.
How do you feel about email marketing? Do you have an email list? Did these questions and answers help you?