8 Essential Email Marketing Tips for Bloggers. Email is the number one thing I wish I’d started earlier in my blogging game because it is one of the most valuable tools for driving business. Here are the eight organic ways I’m now rocking email marketing.
This is Lesson Six of my Free Blogging as a Creative Business Course
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8 Essential Email Marketing Tips for Bloggers
If I could go back seven years and start blogging from the beginning all over again, email is the primary thing I’d have done differently. I didn’t start an email list until I was several years into blogging, and it was such a missed opportunity.
Unlike fickle social media, email is reliable. It gets you directly in front of your readers and buyers. And it’s something you own. While I didn’t start off great in this area, email marketing has become one of my biggest strengths for two reasons: (1) I educated myself on it. (2) I do what works for readers and my business style.
Picking an Email Service Provider
There are a lot of great options out there, but I like to keep things simple. I don’t have the bandwidth to mess too with my in-depth marketing tactics like segmentation and tagging. Since I’m pretty niche, it works well for me.
With this in mind, my emails are Powered by MailChimp. I’ve been using them for years. In short, I love that I can make pretty emails, templates, automation and that MailChimp integrates easily with nearly everything. (A huge selling point for me!) Also noteworthy: MailChimp is free for the first 2,000 subscribers.
Tip One: Opt for Sending Campaigns over RSS-Driven Emails
If someone is allowing you the privilege of getting into their inbox, you need to do more than just send out an automated RSS feed. We all get too many emails, so most emails are just more “noise” in your inbox. If you create unique, valuable content to send out, people will not only open your emails; they’ll be excited to get them each week/month.
Consistency matters more than frequency, at least when you’re getting started. I send out “Happy Emails” to my subscribers every Monday for my main blog and once a month for this blog. If weekly seems too overwhelming, start by sending out a monthly newsletter.
Below you can see the header for my weekly Dawn Nicole Designs email. It’s playful, artsy, and has a tagline that sums up my emails. Think about how you can make your emails an exclusive extension of your blog content.
Tip Two: Go Beyond the Opt-in
An opt-in only gets them to join. It doesn’t guarantee they’ll stick around. Keep them wanting more with regular freebies. I don’t have a traditional opt-in. Instead, I created The Happy Email Club. Can you see how this keeps readers engaged better than a single opt-in?
What should you put in your emails? Think about how to solve your readers’ problems. My readers are primarily women, hobbyists, and beginner-level lettering artists (or total newbies). My weekly email for Dawn Nicole Designs typically consists of things that will help them learn the art of lettering. A typical email includes:
- An exclusive weekly hand-lettering related freebie.
- An “on the blog” section to highlight new or related posts.
- A community feature in which I featured lettering work by someone from the lettering community (chosen from a hashtag I set up for my Get Featured Program)
- I also feature new products from my shop or a new lettering class I think my readers will enjoy.
The goal is to send out fresh, new content in each email that your readers will be excited to open.
Set up a password-protected email subscriber only page on your blog so that new readers can access past content.
Tip Three: Create an Email Template
Setting up an email template is a great way to work smarter, not harder. Since my emails follow the same basic content format I shared above, I created a template that makes it much faster for me to create each email.
For how to set up a template in MailChimp, check out this tutorial. It’s drag and drop design, so it’s super easy to set up. I have a template set up for each of my blogs.
Tip Four: Personalize It
Adding elements of personalization is a great way to connect with your subscribers. There are two simple ways to do this.
Set up merge tags
(Here’s how to do it in MailChimp.) The primary tag I set up is *|FNAME|*. On my signup form, I have readers enter this name as a required field, but I also have it set to default to “friend” for anyone who didn’t register with their name. So, for example, when I type an email, I’ll start off with:
Happy Monday, *|FNAME|*!
The merge tags let Mailchimp know to enter the reader’s first name where the *|FNAME|* merge tag is, so my reader’s email will say Happy Monday, Katie! or Happy Monday, Friend!
The Rule of One
I learned this great tip in an Email Marketing class I took last year. It has a ton of speakers, but this tip from Ashlyn Writes was one of my biggest takeaways: Write as if you’re talking to just one person. Don’t write as if you’re addressing your entire group of subscribers.
Tip Five: Set up an Automated Welcome Email Series
Studies show that people are most engaged when they first sign up, so a welcome email series is a great time to introduce your subscribers to yourself and familiarize them with your content and shop. Here is How to Create an Automation in Mailchimp.
For my main blog, I have a series of three welcome emails. I have them set to go out at the rate of one email per day for three days after someone signs up.
I warn them about this in the first email with the following text: Since you’re new to the club, I’ll send you three emails this first week to help you get familiar with my content. After that, you’ll usually only hear from me on Mondays. That’s the day the weekly Happy Email goes out with exclusive Art + Lettering freebies, tips, and more!
- In the first email, I introduce myself and give them links to the best posts on my blog that will help them get started with the Art of Lettering. I also give them the sign-in link and password for the Happy Email Club page on the blog.
- The second day, they get an email that tells them about blogging as a creative business (and links to this blog to create crossflow traffic). I say: If you enjoy Art + Lettering purely as a hobby, that’s awesome and totally cool! You can skip this email and stay tuned for my final welcome email tomorrow. It’s a list of my My Favorite Resources for Learning Art + Lettering Online.
- The final email introduces them to my shop and some of my favorite online classes for learning art and lettering.
For this blog, I have a single welcome email that automatically goes out immediately after someone subscribes. It introduces new subscribers to the purpose of this blog, where to get the free e-course content, favorite posts, a link to join the Facebook group, and also give them the sign-in and password info for the Resource Library page on the blog.
Tip Six: Grow Your List with a Landing Page
Creating a landing page on your blog is a great way to grow your email list. It gives people a sneak peek into what they can expect from your emails, and it’s a page you can Pin to Pinterest and share on social media.
Click here to check out my landing page for the Happy Email Club.
I created the two long pinnable images shown below to put on the landing page and pin them regularly to Pinterest. We’ll talk more about the power of Pinterest in next week’s lesson but, for now, just know that this is a fabulous way to grow your list!
Tip Seven: Clean Your List
Two reasons to clean your list:
- Having an ESP (email service provider) isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s one of my highest expenses each month.
- A list full of active subscribers is naturally more engaged and more profitable.
I clean my quarterly and usually delete anywhere from 7k-18k cold subscribers. Here is How to Remove Inactive Subscribers in MailChimp.
These are the segment parameters I set:
- Did not open any of the last five campaign.
- Did not click any of the last five campaigns.
- Signed up more than 60 days ago.
- Has a two star or less member rating.
A subscriber must meet all of those conditions to be considered a “cold subscriber.”
Tip Eight: Mindfully Monetize Your Emails
The last thing you want to do is come across as spammy, but email lists are expensive so monetizing your emails can help cover the costs.
- Be sure to include a disclosure. I place mine at the top of my emails. “This email contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I receive a small commission. This doesn’t cost you anything, and it helps support the Happy Email Club. See my full disclosures HERE.”
- Make sure the affiliate program you’re using allows you to send links via email. Amazon, for example, does not.
- Don’t share a ton of affiliate links in a campaign. I usually stick to just one and highlight an online class or product I’ve personally taken or know my readers will love.
- I run my online shop via Shopify, which integrates easily with MailChimp. This allows me to share products easily in emails and track precisely how much shop income comes from my emails.
Keep it Legal
Failure to comply with CAN-SPAM Act laws can result in massive fines (to the tune of up to 16k PER email that violates the laws).
- You must include your contact information in every promotional campaign that you send, including a physical mailing address or PO Box where you can receive mail. I use a PO Box that I set up for my business. Using a website or email address doesn’t comply with the law.
- Don’t add people without their permission.
- Have an unsubscribe link in all emails you send.
- See more details about staying legal via this article from MailChimp. (Most of these apply whether you’re U.S. based or not!)
Up Next: The Power of Pinterest
The Power of Pinterest. Pinterest can be a massive source of traffic for creative bloggers. Nearly 90% of my social traffic and 30% of my total traffic is from Pinterest. In this lesson, we’ll discuss creating Pinterest-friendly graphics, creating a Pin Campaign strategy, Maintenance Pinning, using Tailwind to Automate your Pinterest Strategy, why Tailwind Tribes are the new group boards, and how SEO applies to Pinterest.