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How to Get Started with Email Marketing

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Email marketing is considered one of the best ways to drive visitors to your blog and build a loyal audience. As the name suggests, the term covers marketing materials that are being communicated to the world via email. A few examples are weekly newsletters, seasonal offers and important updates. However, how can you get started with email marketing and start sending emails?

Firstly, you will need a list of subscribers, i.e. the people you will send them the emails, and email address to send the emails from and lastly, an email marketing provider who can help you to create and send the emails. Below I will get into details of how you can create your list of subscribers and set up all the technical bits and pieces that are required.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link marked with [AD] and proceed to make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Get started with email marketing

As you may be aware from experience, people (including myself and probably yourself too) don’t just give their email to every random website they found online. They only do this in the cases, they know that they will earn something, such as a daily positive message, a monthly tutorial or regular offers to things they are interested in buying.

Create an email marketing plan

So the first thing you need to do before even starting with the technical details is to think about what you are going to include in the emails and how often you are going to send them. You can choose from daily, bi-weekly, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly and the list goes on and on. Usually, the best way to choose is firstly to see what works best for you, as it is important to be consistent and be able to keep up with your schedule, and secondly what works for your audience. Perhaps, busy people, won’t have time to open your emails every day.

To decide what you are going to include in the email, you need to consider what you want to get the most out of it. For instance, it could be website visits or product purchases. In either case, the content will be modified accordingly to suit your needs. To get website visits, you could have a round-up of your best posts each month, while for product selling you could have a more focused pitch with some reviews. Of course, you can always have sections and hence create a combination of the above.

Usually, it is a good practice to have a short personal message at the beginning giving life or business updates. But of course, this will depend on the style that you want to give to your emails and your relationship with your audience.

Build a list of subscribers

Now that you have a basic plan of what to include in your emails and how often you will send them, it’s time to think about getting people to sign-up in your emailing list. Don’t expect to put a sign-up form somewhere in your blog (or even everywhere in your blog) and people will start filling it in. Instead, you need to think of ways that people will want to give you their email and highlight them.

Create an opt-in freebie

An extremely popular way of getting subscribers is to offer an opt-in freebie. An opt-in freebie is a small gift you prepare for your readers who in order to get it, they need to give you an email address. These gifts should be something small and simple but appealing enough to get your readers on your list. For example, if you are writing a packing list article, you can offer as a freebie a downloadable packing list, or if you have an online store you can offer a percentage off on your items. Then, you take this email address and add it to your list of subscribers to send them regular emails.

The exact way of how you are going to create that freebie depends on what you are offering. Many people like their freebies to have many visual elements, so they create them on Canva [AD], but this is not required if you are not familiar with the tool. The important thing at this stage is to have something to give people related to your blog. For ideas look at the initial content you have already written and what gifts can go along with them. Choosing to create something related to a post that is already popular is a good practice.

Place the sign-up form

Finally, you want to consider where to put your sign-up form, i.e. the form where you will ask people to give you their email in exchange for the free gift. Naturally, you want to put them in multiple places around your site, but where exactly on the page depends on your layout. Popular options include the sidebar and at the end of every blog post. Other people have it in the form of a sticky header or footer or as a pop-up window. Keep in mind that many users dislike pop-ups and they may immediately leave your side, so you should use them with caution.

I said finally above, right? But no, this is not the end if you are based in the EU (and the UK too), as by doing the above you may be breaching GDPR. In other words, you can’t ask people to give you their email so you can send them a freebie, and then use that email to also send them other material. You need to explicitly ask them for permission to include them in your list.

Use a checkbox in your sign-up form

I am not saying that to discourage you, as it is very easy to overcome this issue. You simply need to include a check-box at the end of your sign-up form asking for people’s consent to send them further emails. That checkbox should never assume consent by default and should never be pre-selected by default. Whether or not that checkbox will be required or not, depends on the wording you will use.

If you choose not to have that consent checkbox as a required field (which means that some people will ignore it), you still need to send the freebie to that person, even if they did not sign up for your newsletter. Then, you can try to win them back as a subscriber by including a gentle reminder to sign up in your newsletter within the email with the freebie. However, after that, you shouldn’t send them more emails.

Use double opt-in

Note that double opt-in is also recommended as proof of consent and a safety net that a person entered their email correctly. Double opt-in is when you ask people to first confirm their subscription by clicking on a link you email them before you send them anything else.

Another thing that your forms should have, is a mandatory (and not pre-selected) checkbox at the end, asking if people are happy with your website storing and handling their personal data as stated in your privacy policy. Again this is a GDPR feature, so you may not see this in websites operating outside the EU that does not target EU visitors.

For more information about GDPR and how it affects you as a blogger, you can check out Lucrezia’s GDPR Compliant Blog Full Course [AD]. If you need some GDPR compliant templates, then check out the legal resources in the resources library.

Set up your email marketing tools

By now you may have started worrying about how you are going to do all that. You perhaps have a file waiting to be given to people (your opt-in freebie) but have no idea how to create the sign-up form that is needed to populate the subscriber list and eventually sending out emails. Let’s discuss them one by one.

Upload your opt-in freebie

To send your freebie to people, you need to upload it to your site in the same way as you upload an image. Try to use a meaningful file name before uploading your file, because this will be visible to your readers too. This will create a destination link for this file, which you can then use to link to the freebie from within the email that you will send to those who sign up for it.

Tip: Set the status of this file to No-Index, using your SEO plugin. This will disable the file from appearing on Google and hence will not enable people to access it without signing up first. You can look at your SEO plugins support page for how to set a file to No-Index.

Create a sign-up form

To build a subscriber list you need to use some kind of form that people will need to complete. There are different plugins that allow you to build a sign-up form, and you may have already installed one in the initial stages of your blog. However, this is not the most efficient way to build a subscriber list, as after people sign up through that third party form, you will have to transfer those details to a separate subscriber list that will be used to automatically send out emails to those people. Luckily, there is a more straightforward way to do this, which I will explain below.

Use an email marketing plugin

To send out emails you need to use an email marketing plugin. There are many plugins you can use, like ConvertKit [AD] and MailerLite [AD]. These plugins will also give you the option to create forms that add subscribers to your list easily. Their forms may be simple, but they free you from the need to transfer your data from one list to another.

Additionally, email marketing plugins allow you to create the emails you will send using a graphic user interface. Then, they allow you to choose when you want to send out that email. Option include automatically sending it to every new subscriber or schedule to send at a specific date.

Depending on how sophisticated your plugin is you may be able to set up a series of emails to go out in regular intervals or send different emails to your subscribers depending on their interest and their engagement. Usually, these plugins allow you to use their services for free for a specific number of subscribers, although some of their most advanced features may still require payment. 

Set up your email address

Lastly, before being able to send out emails you need to decide who will send these emails. Most hosts give you the option to create an email using your domain name. For example, yourname@yourdomainname.com If you haven’t already created one to use in the contact section of your website, now it’s time to do that.

Note that using an admin@yourdomainname.com does not look very good, so prefer to use something with your name, or using the words contact, hello, or info, as they are frequently used for sending newsletters. If your host doesn’t offer you the option to create an email or you don’t want to pay a third-party service to allow you to do that, you can use a free email provider, like Gmail, although this will not look as professional as the other option.

Keep in mind that when you start sending emails using your domain name, there is a high chance that these emails will end up in the spam/junk folder of your subscribers. Of course, this is something that you don’t want to happen and luckily, there are some workarounds for that.

Many email marketing tools have a sending service that allows you to send your emails from their own servers, instead of directly from your host. This increases the chances of your emails landing in your subscribers’ inboxes. Note that this is not always provided for free.

Conclusion

I hope this was a useful guide for getting started with email marketing and sending out newsletters to your blog readers. It will definitely take some time to set up everything for the first time, but hopefully, everything will work smoothly in the end and you will see a positive impact on your blog.

Having an engaged subscriber list is a very powerful marketing tool to promote your work and anything you might want to sell. At the same time, having an efficient email marketing strategy requires great knowledge of your audience and their behaviour.

To find out some strategies you can use to create a successful email marketing routine you can browse the email marketing section at the resource library.



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