You’ve heard about this thing called email marketing. You’ve been told that it’s critical to running a business, but you’ve put it off.
Maybe you’ve procrastinated because you don’t know the first steps to getting started. Maybe you have you no idea which email service to use or how to put an opt-in form on your website. Or, maybe when you think about email marketing, a migraine forms behind your eyes at the thought of even attempting setting it up on your own.
Whatever excuses you’ve used in the past, push them aside and start building your first email list.
This is NOT an optional step if you’re running a business.
If smoke could come out of my ears (like in cartoons), it would happen every single time I work with someone who isn’t utilizing email marketing. It’s the best way to keep your products and services in front of your target market.
And, don’t you even say something like, “Well, I’m on Instagram and post at least once a day there, so I don’t really need email marketing,” or “But, I’ve built a following on Snapchat and that’s where I promote my stuff.”
A social media platform is NOT a substitute for email marketing for a few reasons:
1) You don’t control the platform and if they make changes to it that limits your ability to get your posts in front of your followers (I’m looking at you Facebook!), you’re completely screwed. You should never put your all your eggs in a basket you don’t control.
2) You could get kicked off the platform at any time for any reason. This happens waaaaaaay too often to leave it up to chance. What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and your Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/Pinterest account has been suspended? Weep and drink three glasses of Pinot Grigio at lunch? Save your liver and sanity by getting your social media followers to join your email list.
3) For the most part, your followers don’t check whatever social media platform you’re using as a substitute as often as they check email. I know I check my email more than Snapchat, Pinterest and Facebook combined. I also look at my emails more closely than any other social media app. When I’m scrolling through Instagram, I barely glance at half of the photos and captions.
Marketing on social media is also important, but it shouldn’t take the place of email marketing. When you use them together, you’ll have a much better chance at success.
Ready to tackle email marketing once and for all? Follow the steps below to get started:
Step 1: Choose an email service provider.
I’ve played around with MailChimp but not enough to say whether or not I recommend it. From working with lots of entrepreneurs, I know that the main con of MailChimp is that it’s hard to set up different segments. For example, if you sell jewelry and stationery, you’ll probably want to have two segmented lists so that women who are interested in only your jewelry, only receive emails about your jewelry and vice versa. Don’t worry too much about email segments now, but just know that if you’re going to want to set up different lists within your email system, MailChimp might not be the way to go.
I’ve used AWeber for six years and highly recommend it. It’s not the most user-friendly option available, but if you go through a few tutorials, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. It took me about half of a day to set up my opt-in on my website through AWeber. If you’re going to hire a designer to create your opt-in form, AWeber is a great platform, but it does seem to be one of the harder platforms to create really pretty opt-in forms if you’re inexperienced.
Mad Mimi is a good option for those of you who want your emails to be super pretty. My partner in crime, Mayi Carles, has used Mad Mimi for years and that’s one of the biggest pluses for her.
Convert Kit is very user-friendly and makes setting up different segments incredibly easy. It’s the email service provider I’ve been recommending to most of my clients. The main con with Convert Kit is that it’s not as easy to use lots of visuals within your emails which is a sticking point for some creative entrepreneurs.
I don’t have any experience with Constant Contact, but I read some reviews and it seems like the biggest con mentioned regularly is that it’s not very user-friendly. However, they offer affordable plans and they have hundreds of templates to choose from.
I’ve also used Ontraport. When Mayi and I teamed up to create Connecting the Gaps that was the email service we used. We wanted more options than what AWeber and Mad Mimi provide. Unfortunately, we both felt that it was not at all user-friendly. Maybe things have changed. We haven’t used them for a couple years, but we both struggled with it when we used it. It took me about five times as long to set the same type of thing up in Ontraport than it did in AWeber. (P.S. Marie Forleo uses Ontraport.)
Infusionsoft is one of the most expensive options and also one of the least user-friendly. However, it seems to give you the most options. For instance, you can set it up so that you unsubscribe someone from a promotional list once they’ve bought your WordPress course so they don’t receive anymore sales emails about that course. Or, let’s say that someone clicks on a link to watch a video about a specific topic. You could move them onto the list where you go into more detail about that topic.
I would NOT pick one just because it offers a free trial. Most entrepreneurs that I know who do this end up regretting it when they realize they want to move to another platform and lose a bunch of subscribers in the process. A lot of these providers have budget-friendly options when you’re just starting out and as your list grows, it’ll pay for itself.
Step 2: Go through that platform’s tutorials to learn the backend.
No matter which email service provider you choose, you’re going to have to learn how to create emails, design an opt-in form and add it to your website and more. And, each email service provider is different, so there aren’t many shortcuts to this step. Suck it up and do it, my friend.
Schedule a two-hour timeslot for sometime in the next week to go through the tutorials. That should give you enough information to at least get started.
Step 3: Decide on your opt-in freebie and create it.
An opt-in freebie is the thing you’re going to give away in exchange for the person’s email address.
The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make when creating an opt-in freebie is picking the wrong thing to give away. You want to make it something that your ideal customer can’t resist.
For example, let’s say that you’re a web designer trying to get more web design clients. You might think about giving away a DIY WordPress tutorial to email subscribers, but that won’t attract the right people. That will only attract people who want to design it themselves or don’t have the money to pay a web designer. On the other hand, if you offer a downloadable checklist of the things they need to do before hiring a website designer, you’ll be attracting people who are thinking about hiring someone like you.
That’s a very important distinction.
Some people would tell you to do this later. Not me. If you do this step now, writing your welcome email and designing your opt-in form is going to be a lot easier. If you do this last, you’ll probably have to go back into your welcome email to add the link to your opt-in freebie and some copy about it. And, you’ll probably have to redesign your opt-in form, so that you feature your freebie.
Step 4: Write your welcome email.
Now that you’ve picked your opt-in freebie and created it, it’s time to write your welcome email which is the email your subscribers will receive as soon as they confirm that they want to receive your emails.
You should include your freebie in this email. You want your subscribers to instantly access it so they don’t forget about it.
Also, the copy you use in this email is very important. Do NOT rush this step. This is the first taste your subscribers get of your style. The copy should be branded and filled with personality. It shouldn’t read like any other welcome email. Add some sass or beauty or humor.
If you don’t put much effort into this email, you can expect to lose the attention of many of your subscribers.
Step 5: Design your opt-in form.
Now it’s time for the hard part if you’re not a designer. If you’re doing this step yourself, match it to your branding. Use your fonts and colors and feature the freebie. Keep it simple and get feedback from some of your peers.
If you have the budget for it, I highly recommend getting a professional to design your opt-in form. Five years ago, I hired a designer to create mine for $75 and I instantly saw results—my subscriber counts massively increased.
Step 6: Put your opt-in form on your website.
If you hire someone to design your opt-in form, make sure they’re also willing to put it on your site for you. This will probably take a web design professional a lot less time than it would take you to do it.
If you’re not hiring a designer, once you finish designing your opt-in form, you’ll get the code you need to put on your website. Copy and paste that code where you want your opt-in form on your site.
You should make sure that your opt-in form is placed above the fold (meaning that you don’t have to scroll down to see it) and is one of the most eye-catching things on your site.
a) Consider using pop ups.
A pop up is an opt-in form that pops up while someone is on your website. You can set up pop ups in a bunch of different ways such as an opt-in form that pops up after a specific amount of time (such as one minute) or an opt-in that pops up when someone clicks to leave your site.
As a consumer and blog reader, I hate pop ups. As a business consultant, I sometimes recommend them because they absolutely work. If you use a pop up on your website, you will get more subscribers. You have to decide whether or not that’s worth annoying some of your readers.
You can also use pop ups in a way that’s less obtrusive. For instance, you could place the pop up in the lower right corner so that it doesn’t obstruct the blog post when someone is reading.
b) Set up a sales funnel.
A sales funnel is a series of emails that tries to convert subscribers to customers.
When you get your target market on your list, you should take advantage of that opportunity by selling to the people on your list. Want more info on what a sales funnel is and how to set one up? Check out these posts: 1) A Sales Funnel Example and Workbook and 2) Tips for Creating a Successful Sales Funnel.
c) Use email marketing in your current content.
Because most businesses use email marketing, it’s not as easy as it used to be to get people to sign up. If you want your ideal customer to opt in to get emails from you, you can’t just add to the noise and clutter.
You can’t just put an opt-in box on your sidebar and be done with it, even if you have an awesome freebie.
If you’re already creating content on a regular basis (through blog posts or YouTube videos or Facebook Live), add something special to that content that people have to opt in to get.
For example, in a recent blog post titled 75 Done-For-You Blog Post Title Templates, I put together a download with all the templates listed on it. But, I didn’t just add it as a download. In order to access it, you have to hand over your email address. Anyone who wants to print out the list so they don’t have to keep coming back to the blog post to see the templates opts in to get it.
I just started doing this and it’s already increased my subscriber rates immensely.
d) Use landing pages to get more subscribers.
If you spend a lot of time promoting your business on social media, you should consider utilizing landing pages that you can send your followers to. It’ll make it easier to convert those followers into email subscribers. For more information, check out this video: Landing Pages: What They Are and Why You Should Use Them.