The Bloggers’ Guide to Email Marketing

email marketing

The most powerful asset any blogger has is their email list.

Why?

Because when built carefully, your email list gives you direct access to your audience. No filters, no algorithms to contend with. You don’t need to pay money to get eyes on your content.

Your email list gives you direct access to your audience.

And, if they trust you, their wallets.

If you want to learn why you should build your email list, what platform is the right one for you, how to grow your list, and how to get your subscribers to actually open your emails, this is the guide for you.

We are going to walk you through all of it.

There are hundreds of ways to leverage a blog. You can use ads, sponsored content, build a membership site, host webinars, sell ebooks, or promote your own products.

Email marketing can be one of the most powerful ways to generate income or traffic for your blog, but only if your list trusts and respects you.

First though, what exactly is email marketing?

Pretty simple. Any advertising, promotions, or even brand building done through email can be considered email marketing.

Why should bloggers care about email marketing?

For those of you familiar with Push/Pull marketing theory, it is pretty straightforward, but let’s take a look at how this theory applies directly to email marketing:

Push: One-Time Visitors
Most traditional web strategies entice the visitor to their website with outstanding information or a special offer.

Once the potential customer gets the information they were looking for they are off to solve their next problem.

Essentially, this strategy pushes information out there hoping that readers will find it.

Pull: Relationship Building
List building is different because customers request information from you. By building a list and maintaining a relationship with a customer, you have an enormous competitive advantage.

By subscribing to your list, your customers are requesting information from you. This is where the “pull” part of the relationship comes in.

The customers on your list actually WANT the information you are going to be sending them. This is not only great for your bottom line, but you can now actually reach out to potential customers when you have something they will want to see.

This is a long-term strategy compared to SEO, PPC, or even CPM advertising because your list allows you to contact your audience without relying on external factors like search engines, social media sites, or ad companies.

What Email Marketing Service Should I Use?

If you are a serious blogger, then you understand the importance of building an audience. You can get repeat visitors by writing great content, but the best way to grow and keep an audience is by using email.

We believe that the best way to grow and maintain an email list is by using an email marketing service such as GetResponse, Aweber, MadMimi, My Emma, Constant Contact, or MailChimp.

But, email marketing services aren’t one size fits all.

If you choose the wrong one, it could be a headache to switch services in the future and you could even end up losing part of your list.

That is why we have put together this handy-dandy list to give you the best and worst of each email marketing service provider.

Get Response – Affordable and Full-Service

GetResponse is a full-service marketing platform offering email marketing, landing pages, webinar hosting, and even marketing automation options.

It has been around for nearly ten years and remains a great full-service option.

getresponse

Pros:
Get Response makes it super easy to transfer your existing lists over. We recently moved all of our lists over and it only took on to two days to get rolling on our campaigns. The process of transferring our lists was quick and painless.

We’ve also had a chance to test out GetResponse’s customer service over the past few months and have found they have pretty stellar phone and email based customer support.

The drag and drop email creator is both easy to use and powerful.

There are dozens of beautiful templates that you can choose from and you can even preview your email in all of the popular email clients and even several mobile devices.

Our favorite feature of the email creator though is the ability to save my own templates and to save snippets (text or pictures) for frequently used material.

GetResponse also has iOS and Android apps for those that find themselves mobile often. You can compose emails, check statistics (with graphs), and more.

One last pro for GetResponse is that they have a time travel feature that will deliver all of your emails at the same local time. This means you can time the emails to be delivered at 3 pm, and that email will be delivered at 3 pm in all time zones.

Cons:
The templates offered for emails make creating emails simple, however, they are a bit on the dated side. We would love to see some more modern template options.

There have also been a few complaints that they do not offer refunds of yearly plans if you decide to cancel, which does make some sense. Just something to be aware of if you are not sure you will stay for a full year.

Pricing:
Get Response offers a range of scalable pricing options based on the size of your email list.

get response pricing

MailChimp – Full Featured, But Not For All

MailChimp is arguably the most popular email marketing service on the market today, due in large part to their free trial up to 2,000 subscribers. It is very intuitive to use and provides tons of templates to make designing beautiful emails simple.

But, if your blog or emails have any affiliate ads, you cannot use MailChimp since their terms of service do not allow affiliate marketing.

Pros:
MailChimp ranks right at the top due to their customer service and abundance of features. It has almost all of the same features mentioned for GetResponse, including the inbox preview, time travel, mobile apps, and then some.

One of these is better social integration.

For example, MailChimp has better Facebook integration with like buttons in emails and the ability to easily add a web form to your Facebook page (You can do this with any email marketing service provider, but MailChimp makes it easier.)

Brick and mortar businesses will be especially interested in Chimpadeedoo, which is an iPad app that will let you collect emails while at trade shows, customer’s houses, etc. Anywhere there is not convenient computer and/or internet access.

Cons:
The only downside to MailChimp is that their terms of use do not allow affiliate marketing. They have stated that they do not ban affiliate ads but, until their TOS are updated to reflect that statement, we cannot recommend MailChimp for a blog that has affiliate links on their website or in their emails.

Do keep in mind that your list is your lifeblood as an Internet marketer, and you could be risking that.

Pricing:
For smaller businesses, their “Forever Free” option is fantastic. Once you start growing (and hopefully making money!), their paid plans remain very affordable.

mailchimp pricing

Aweber – Still the Industry Standard?

We used Aweber for quite some time before making the switch to GetResponse and we found them to be an excellent email marketing service provider. The service is decent, the options are good, but it is not as intuitive to use as other options.

aweber screenshot example

Pros:
Aweber doesn’t provide nearly as many features as GetResponse and MailChimp, but they are still a solid option for those looking to build a powerful email list.

Aweber has a good email creator and has other features such as RSS to email.

If you like to use images in your emails, Aweber also allows you to drag and drop images into your emails, which is a unique feature.

Cons:
Aweber appears to be a bit cheaper on the front end if you compare their prices with other alternatives, but you have to pay extra if you want to get analytics. At least this is what we experienced with our account at Aweber.

Besides that, Aweber does not compete when it comes to mobile apps, inbox preview, and many other features.

Pricing:

Aweber offers a free 30-day trial and then pretty competitive pricing after that. Tiers are based on the number of subscribers.

aweber pricing model

 

 

Constant Contact – Full-Service & Features

Constant Contact is a full-service email marketing program, and there is a good chance you have heard of them due to their extensive use of commercials. So, are they worth the hype?

constant contact

Pros:
Constant Contact is easy to use and makes it simple to automate managing your contacts list. For a small business owner with limited resources, this makes it super simple to ‘set it and forget it.’

They will also connect you with marketing professionals for other services. For example, if you need social media help or a graphic designer, they can connect you with “Constant Contact-certified marketing professionals.”

Great if, again, you are a small business owner trying to do it all.

Cons:
Some reviewers report the system is glitchy and the dashboard can be slow to load. Sometimes ‘easy to use’ features limit customization options. For the provided features, the price is on the high side.

Pricing:

Constant Contact’s pricing is based on both features and list size, making it a bit more complicated to navigate compared to other options.

constant contact pricing

 

So, Who Has The Best Email Marketing Service?

In a perfect world, we’d be able to give you a black and white answer. But the truth is, it depends on your budget, your skills, and the needs of your business.

Here is a quick break down:

If you are just getting started and want to send out beautiful emails on a small budget, go with MailChimp.

If you are a brick and mortar business or nonprofit, Constant Contact is likely your best bet.

If you are a blogger and need a good balance of power and price, select Get Response.

If you are price conscious and like tried-and-true, go with Aweber.

How to Get More Email Subscribers

Email lists are essential for any online business. From the very moment we build our first website we are told that we need to focus on building a list. But many times, we are left in the dark about just how to do that.

The right email list building strategy is going to depend upon your business, your target audience, and your needs.

The following strategies will get you started.

Give Them Something

What are you offering in exchange for the email? An ebook, a worksheet, a recipe, a list of topic ideas, etc. The actual offering will vary based on your business, but you can’t expect anyone to give up their email for free.

This is a pretty common strategy that most sites leverage. Be sure to balance your desire for information with your desire to build your list. The more information you ask for, the fewer subscribers you will get.

This can be great if you want to build a super targeted list or terrible if you just want to get people to sign up for your newsletter.

Use a Popup or Light Box

You will find tons of pros and cons to using popups. Neil Patel, a popular internet marketer, swears by them (he has even been called out for using them), other marketers swear they are dead.

Just like any other marketing strategy, you need to test them for your specific business. Tools like Wishpond and HelloBar make it easy to build and test popups.

Tempt People on Social Media

Everyone wants to be one of the cool kids. Use social media to hint at an offer or coming news you will be releasing only to your newsletter subscribers. Ask your followers to “join the club” so they, too, can be one of the cool kids.

Encourage Sharing

The Skimm is a daily email newsletter that delivers popular news in an easy to read, slightly snarky format.

Their ambassador program asks subscribers to share what they love about the Skimm with their friends to earn swag and access to opportunities like internships and exclusive deals.

They even provide a “cheat sheet” with tips on how to get your friends to sign up.

Send Great Content

How many emails are in your inbox right now? Five? A hundred? Are you one of those people with thousands of unopened emails.

An estimated 269 billion emails are sent every day. The average office worker receives 121 emails each and every day.

If you want to stand out, you have to send great content people will actually want to read. Obviously, there are tons of strategies to increase your open rates, such as testing time of day, using engaging headlines, and segmenting your list, but it all starts with sending content people actually want to read.

The entire point of building your list is to be able to influence your subscribers, and it all starts by building trust through sending them useful, engaging content they care about.

How to Increase Email Open Rates

Email marketing is a very affordable and effective tool for driving traffic, if it’s done right. And the first step to successful email marketing is getting your audience to open your emails.

How do you do that?

We are going to cover the top strategies to increase your open rates right now.

The average email open rate will vary based on industry and tons of other factors, but according to research done by MailChimp, the average open rate hovers around 20%.

Keep in mind, different types of emails won’t get the same open rates. For example, “password reset” will get opened a lot more often than a newsletter.

The tips we are going to share have earned us open rates averaging 40% or higher. Just keep in mind what works for us might not work the same for your business. Testing is always important!

Is Your Email Subject Working?

In any type of marketing, headlines are immensely important. In email marketing, the subject is a headline. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Be attractive: >When we decide to send an email out promoting this post, we will not write an email subject that reads something like, “Get More Email Opens.” Instead, I could write, “3 Easy Ways to Maximize Your Email Open Rate.” Be truthful, but in an appealing way. Try to include numbers and action words.
  • Be Brief: Headlines are meant to grab attention. A long headline will likely not be read.
  • Be Personal: The Final headline we send out will likely look like, “Eric, Here Are 3 Ways to Maximize Your Email Open Rate.”

For a more in-depth discussion on headlines, we highly recommend Copyblogger’s Magnetic Headlines series.

What Do You Want the Reader To Do?

If you study emails that come from well-known Internet marketers, you will notice that all of these emails include a call to action.
This could simply be telling the reader to click a link, or the email could include a colorful button with text that reads something like, “Click here for your free trial!”

Bottom line, you must:

  • Tell the reader what to do
  • Remove any obstacles for the reader to complete that action

We usually achieve this by prompting readers to click a link. Prompting the reader lets them know what to do next and the embedded link makes it easy to complete that action.

Are Your Emails Arriving at the Right Time?

GetResponse recently tested almost 21 million emails to determine if the time you send emails affects the open rate.
What they found was that top engagement times are between 8 am – 10 am and 3 pm – 4 pm.

However>, you may find it is different for your industry. Anecdotally, we have found 1 pm, right after lunch, is a great time.

If your emails get read at work, try 7 am so you are at the top of their inbox first thing in the morning.

If your audience is mostly teachers, 3 pm right after school lets out might work well.
Make sure you test what time works best for your audience. Don’t take our word for the best time.

Retarget People Who Didn’t Open Your Email

Most email subscriber platforms will allow you to retarget people who didn’t open your email the first time.

This can be a gold mine when used correctly!

For example, say you send out an email promoting your next webinar. Some people open it, a few sign-ups, but nearly 60% don’t even open your carefully crafted email.

Was it your headline? The timing?

You can segment out the people who didn’t open your email the first time and resend the email. Using a headline such as “Don’t Miss Out!” or “Last Chance!” will help create a sense of urgency.

We have actually had success increasing open rates by 2x using this strategy.

Email Marketing Resources

Ready to learn more about how you can leverage email marketing for your blog? We’ve provided a ton of great information in this guide, but there is so much more to learn!

Here are a few email marketing resources you need to check out:

7 Design Mistakes That Will Make Readers Trash Your Emails | Constant Contact
Most people get hundreds of emails a day. How can you make sure yours doesn’t end up in the trash can?

15 of the Best Email Marketing Campaign Examples You’ve Ever Seen | Hubspot
If you need a little inspiration or just want to see how it is done, you will want to check out these examples. There is a wide range of examples including BuzzFeed, the non-profit charity: water, and Birchbox.

Why Purchasing Email Lists is Always a Bad Idea | Hubspot
You’d think this would go without saying, but apparently, it does not. Do not by email lists. Ever. Here is why it is a waste of your money.

How To Write Emails that Sell (and that People Love to Read) | copyblogger
We mostly focused on how to build your list and get people to open your emails. This post digs into how to write amazing copy that will actually get people to click “buy.”

10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work | copyblogger
Learn how to write awesome email headlines that people will actually open using these formulas.

Conclusion

Email marketing is a powerful tool for bloggers. It can be used to drive massive amounts of traffic, sell products, and build strong relationships with your readers.

When done well (and ethically), your email list can be the most powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.

However, like anything worth having, building a strong email list takes time and focus.

 


Featured Image Created by Author

Screenshots taken by Author August 2017


 

Danielle is a Chicago-based editor and writer who finds talking about herself in the third person to be awkward. She spends her days brandishing a red pen and her nights dreaming of a world where everyone uses the Oxford comma. You can stalk her on her website.