The set it and forget method hardly ever works in business.
If you set up your email opt-in a year ago (or a few months ago or a few years ago) and haven’t tweaked it since, you’re missing a huge opportunity. As I explained in my last blog post, there is no excuse for not putting effort into email marketing—no matter what type of business you have.
There also isn’t any excuse you can give me for not working to improve your email marketing that would fly with me.
I have not worked with a single entrepreneur who wouldn’t get closer to her business goals if she put more effort into email marketing.
Think about your business goals. Would email marketing help you reach them?
Let’s say you want to be taken seriously as a speaker and want to be invited to all the high-profile conferences in your niche. You need an email list to back you up—to prove that people care about what you have to say.
Let’s say you want to quit your day job in order to pursue family photography. Wouldn’t your spouse be more supportive if you had hundreds or thousands of possible clients on an email list who consistently book you for photo sessions?
Let’s say you want to land a book deal. You need an email list to show publishers that people love your writing and will buy your book.
Even though email marketing will help you make your business dreams come true, I work with creatives every single day who spend less than an hour on email marketing in a month.
If you’re one of them, decide that you’re going to put in the work. Be brutally honest with yourself as you read through this blog post to see if you need to update your email opt-in.
Let’s jump in. Here are five signs that your email opt-in (the design, the copy, the freebie) isn’t working:
1. Your email list isn’t growing.
First, I want to make it clear that this takes time. You can’t expect to set up your opt-in form and have a list in the thousands within a few months.
But, you should expect to see some growth. If not, you should ask yourself the following questions:
a) Is the design of my opt-in form attractive?
If not and you don’t have the skills to improve it, you should hire a designer for this one piece on your website. It’ll totally be worth the $100-$300.
b) Is the copy (promotional writing) something that grabs my ideal customer’s attention immediately?
If not, you should spend as long as it takes rewriting it and making it better. You could even hire a copywriter to give you suggestions or write it for you.
c) Is my freebie something my ideal customer can’t resist?
Lots of entrepreneurs slap something together to get going without creating the BEST freebie for their ideal customers. Take this month to improve and update your freebie and watch your list multiply.
d) Am I marketing my email list?
Yes…you have to promote your list. You should be talking about it in interviews, in the bio of your guest posts, in your blog posts and on social media. If you’re not working to get more people on your list, it won’t grow.
2. Your daily subscriber opt-in count isn’t increasing.
I don’t mean your total number of subscribers. I mean the amount of subscribers opting in each day—that number should be growing. This will ebb and flow. For example, if you write the best guest post you’ve ever written for a popular blog, you can expect your daily opt in count to grow a ton over a couple weeks and then start to trickle back down to normal.
But, if you’re averaging three new subscribers per day for over six months, then you know it’s stagnant.
What usually happens is that your subscribers enjoy your freebie and follow-up emails so much that they recommend it to others. They start to promote your blog posts and emails. And, if other people are recommending your emails, your daily count should grow.
If your daily opt-in rate isn’t becoming larger, you need to ask yourself these questions:
a) Why aren’t people recommending my emails?
b) Am I not doing my best work? Am I sending emails just to send them instead of making each one something I know my subscribers will love and gush over?
If you’re guilty of phoning it in, that needs to stop now. This is one of the most important pieces of your marketing strategy, so make sure you’re putting in the time it deserves.
3. Subscribers don’t download or click on your freebie.
Let’s say that your list is growing and your daily opt-in count is growing, but a very small percentage of your new subscribers actually download or click on your freebie. That’s not good.
You want new subscribers to use your freebie ASAP so they become more aware of your brand (and how awesome you are) and they start the habit of opening your emails and clicking on links.
If they ignore your welcome email, they might totally forget why they signed up for your email list in the first place. They might ignore most of your follow-up emails or report you for SPAM because they don’t even remember signing up to receive your emails.
If this is happening, you need to answer these questions:
a) Does my welcome email headline grab new subscribers’ attention?
It has to compete with all the emails your subscribers are receiving so you shouldn’t use the standard, “Welcome!” for a subject line. Give them a reason to click to open your email right now.
b) Does my ideal customer really want the freebie I’m providing?
Maybe in the moment they sign up but realize they actually don’t want to read another ebook or download another printable they’ll never actually print. Or, the excitement wears off and they never download.
c) Is the writing in my email enticing?
You’re still selling in your welcome email—you’re selling your freebie, you’re selling your brand and you’re selling them on staying on your email list. You’ve got to immediately capture the attention of new subscribers with your words.
4. Subscribers don’t open your follow-up emails.
This tends to happen a lot. You get a bunch of subscribers onto your list. They love your freebie but then they stop opening your emails (or even unsubscribe from your list).
If you fall into this category, you need to answer the following:
a) Is my freebie attracting my ideal customer?
At first, it seems like it is because your list is growing, but wouldn’t your ideal customer stick around and open up your follow-up emails? Let’s say that you got over a thousand new subscribers onto your list with a giveaway. Nice work! But, if they only came for the chance of getting something for free, you’re not attracting people who are willing to give you money. Those are two very different things.
b) Have I stopped putting my best work into my emails?
As soon as you stop creating emails that your subscribers love and can’t wait to open, you lose their attention. You become just another email in their inbox that’s cluttering things up. I know that sounds harsh but it’s the reality.
c) Do my subject lines provoke curiosity and get subscribers to click?
Lots of entrepreneurs make the big mistake of putting all their effort into writing a great email and then pick the first subject line they think of instead of putting the same effort into writing a click-worthy subject line. If you can’t get them to click and open, you’ve already lost the battle.
5. Subscribers don’t convert into customers.
No matter how many subscribers you actually get on your list and how many open and love your emails, if they don’t convert into customers, all that work is for nothing. You’re running a business and that means you need to constantly bring in new customers.
If you’re not converting your subscribers into customers, you should answer these questions:
a) Is my freebie attracting people who will eventually give me money?
Your freebie might be great but if it doesn’t get people onto your list who will actually buy your products, you need to change it.
b) Am I directly selling to my subscribers?
Some creatives are so terrified of ‘turning people off’ that they hardly ever sell to their subscribers. They feel bad being ‘sales-y’ so they don’t even try. If this is you, please get over yourself. Your subscribers signed up to your email list knowing that you would probably sell to them. They want to know when you release a new product, they want you to remind them where to buy your stuff, and they want to know when you host a sale.
c) Does my sales copy need some work?
You might be great at writing emails when you’re not trying to sell your stuff but turn into a ‘sales robot’ when you talk about your upcoming launch or why they should buy your latest product. You have to get comfortable with selling and/or hire a copywriter who can help you sell.
I hope this helps you figure out why your email opt-in isn’t working or if it needs work.
This is something we all need to be consistently working on—there is always room for improvement whether that’s testing out a new welcome email subject line or tweaking your opt-in form design.
Have anything to add or have a question? Leave it in the comments.
Want a place to get feedback on things like your email marketing from other entrepreneurs so you have a better idea of what you need to change? Come check out Sunday Society: Chats, Tea and Fishtail Braids. It’s a membership program for creative entrepreneurs looking for support, encouragement and feedback in a welcoming space. (Plus, we start every live call with a dance party!)