Are you trying your hands in email marketing? If you are, you may also be looking to build your first email list. Then you’ll seek to gain subscribers to your email list. After that, you will need them to click and convert on your emails. And on and on and on. Email marketing is an endless process with its own share of pains and gains. But worry not!
In this in-depth article on email marketing, I will discuss everything that you need to know about becoming an email marketing pro.
In this article, you will also learn how to create and build an email list that converts, which tools you can use, how you can grow and how you can write and send better emails.
The majority of marketers agree: email marketing is still the best way to do digital marketing! Despite all major social networks in action, analytics show that email still has the most success, regardless of the industry.
Next to content marketing, email is still considered the marketing platform with the highest ROI which is proved by statistics. 1 1. [Infographic] The ROI of Email Marketing, Last accessed 21-03-2021. https://litmus.com/blog/infographic-the-roi-of-email-marketing ×
While it’s evidently clear that email marketing is worth it, the real question is: how does a business start utilizing email? This is where the challenges begin.
Zero to Hero Email Marketing Guide for Beginners
How to build your first email list?
The straightforward answer would be, create an email list in your favorite email marketing tool (Mailchimp for an example). But creating an email list is not what building an email list means.
By building an email list, you build an audience of quality people who can be converted into leads and sales whenever needed.
The cornerstone of running successful email marketing campaigns is to build a list of engaged readers, leads, potential customers and loyal customers.
However, it can be quite hard to build a high-quality email list that will boost your sales, especially if you’re just beginning.
If you are still at the beginning of your journey and you are yet to start building your email list from scratch, we’re bringing you the best tips on how to get users to sign up:
- Set up a fixed opt-in button on your landing page or website
- Organize sweepstakes
- Invite and remind your social media followers
- Use pop-ups to build your first email list
- Implement widgets and games
- Offer subscriber-only perks
- Offer freebies
- Create a Survey
Let’s dive into detail.
Set up a fixed opt-in button on your landing page or website
Now, let’s start with the basics: the most common way users will sign up to your email newsletter is after seeing a call-to-action on your website or landing page. Therefore, your sign-up button should be prominent on your website and easily accessed from all pages.
The easiest way to make sure your email sign-up button is included on all your pages is to set up a designated area for it. This way, it will appear on the same spot everywhere, not just on your homepage.
It’s also important to pay attention to the color, font, and size of your opt-in section. You should also try out some of the rules for effective email opt-in call-to-action.
The users you get to sign-up this way will be your most precious audience segment. According to Campaign Monitor’s studies, you are six times more likely to get a click from an email than a tweet. 4 4. Email List Building in the New Era of Email Marketing, Last accessed 21-03-2021. https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/guides/email-list-building-new-era-email-marketing/ ×
On many websites, landing pages, and online stores, you can see prize raffles and sweepstakes. The reason that this is such a widely-used method is that it’s incredibly effective: you will get tons of participants, while they will not see email sign-up as a hassle, but as a way of winning the prize.
A sweepstake (giveaway) is also something that’s very social media-friendly. Many marketers use it to increase their follower base or likes, by asking participants to like and share a post. However, in the case of building an email list, you should direct users to a landing page where they enter their data for the prize raffle along with their email.
If you manage to hit a home run and make your giveaway go viral, you can expect thousands of new email contacts in your list.
Image source: Vyper.ai
Invite and remind your social media followers
Even though many website owners believe that email and social media are two separate marketing channels, they can actually be significantly entwined. Namely, inviting your social media followers to sign-up for your email newsletter can result in high sign-up rates.
It’s the same the other way around when you invite email subscribers to like or follow you on social media. In any case, it’s definitely a valid and efficient method that you should consider adding to your social media workflow.
If you’re just at the beginning of building your email list and you don’t have a social media follower base either, remember to connect the two further down the road. Social media followers and email subscribers are not two different worlds!
Use pop-ups to build your first email list
Some marketers refrain from using pop-ups and other aggressive CTA methods because they can have a negative impact on the user experience. However, the fact is that pop-ups generate a very high rate of email marketing sign-ups.
In Sumo’s study (above) of almost 2 billion pop-ups, they found that pop-ups have an average conversion rate of 3.09%, while the top ten percent of performers had a conversion rate of 9.28%. These numbers are quite promising when you take into consideration that the average conversion rate for calls-to-action on landing pages is 2.35%, according to WordStream.
To include pop-up prompting for email sign-up on your website, you can use plugins and widgets if you use WordPress. Even if you’re a development and design rookie, it’s very easy to implement a pop-up on your website, and you can deactivate it at any time.
If stats are to be believed, the exit-intent popups can increase conversion rate to up to 267%; In fact, companies have seen a tremendous hike of 10% by using the same technique. While these stats might look impressive, the exit popups do wonders for businesses. These popups, when made from Adoric, are ad-free, effective, and look very impressive. They include a special message that takes visitors’ attention and forces them to take the desired action.
Implement widgets and games
A similar method that you can use to directly approach your visitors with an email sign-up CTA is games and widgets. This is a method that’s less aggressive than a pop-up because the sign-up prompt is not so obvious but it’s actually embedded into the game.
A common strategy that eCommerce sites use is the “Wheel of Fortune” widget. When a user enters a website, the wheel with prizes is shown (and who doesn’t like spinning a wheel of fortune!). After a user lands on a particular prize (usually a discount), they have to enter their email to obtain the reward:
Another awesome opt-in game idea is the scratcher game.
Offer subscriber-only perks
A well-known fact that many marketers choose not to talk about is that it can be very hard to get users to sign-up for your email newsletter on their own. This can only happen if they’re absolutely thrilled by your website or online store, and even then, a huge majority wouldn’t think of signing up.
In reality, to get someone to sign up for your email newsletter, you have to offer something in return. For most users, one of the most enticing offers would be that they will get access to something only subscribers have.
For example, you can introduce subscriber-only discounts and even entire hidden collections. The concept of exclusivity is very attractive and it’s proven to boost sales and spark customer interest.
If you run a blog or a digital services website, you can offer subscriber-only content that users will have access to only in the newsletter. This strategy is used by a variety of different businesses and brands, from fashion and lifestyle blogs and stores to podcast networks and advice websites.
There’s nothing people love more than receiving free stuff. Especially if the only thing they have to do to get it is to provide their email address and click a button.
If you run a content or a digital service site, you can offer free eBooks, PDFs, courses, infographics and other types of engaging content in exchange for an email address. You can also do this by installing a chat service with a pop-up asking if the user needs help with something around the site.
Create a Survey
The survey is another subtle way of receiving a user’s email address. Many users like participating in surveys, either for the feeling of being able to express their opinion or to get access to the results.
Create a survey that’s relevant to your website content and offer sharing the results with participants who enter their email addresses.
Another great thing about surveys is that you will get access to more detailed info than you would from a simple sign-up button. In their survey, you can ask the participants for information such as their age, gender, location, interests, and many other data points. Later on, you can use this information to segment your audience in your email newsletter program.
How to Grow Your Email List?
Now, let’s talk a bit about using the power of your present subscribers. Even if you only have a handful of email subscribers at this point, their recommendations can be very effective.
As you have started with the building process, you should follow the process with some great growth tactics. Here are some of the tactics that will help you both in building and growing your email list.
Add Share and Forward buttons
In each of your email newsletters, remember to include a “Share” button so that users can easily share the content of your newsletter on social media or “Forward” to send the email to a friend. Of course, every email client will have a “Forward” option on its own, but it’s much more likely that users will actually do it if you remind them and give them the option of quick and easy forwarding.
You can also set-up prize systems and affiliate programs for users who get their contacts to sign-up. For example, if you offer a 10% discount to your subscribers, you can offer an additional 5% for each user they get to sign up to your newsletter using their link. Just make sure that the math is correct and that you’re not losing too much of your margin!
Use Bloggers, Vloggers and Influencers
It’s a very well-known fact that influencer marketing is an efficient way to boost brand awareness and sales. However, many marketers ignore the fact that influencers can be used to promote email signups as well.
For this method, you will need to set aside more resources than for some other strategies on this list. A great way to achieve a high conversion rate is to find a blogger or a website that’s connected to your industry or niche. In partnership, you can get them to promote your email signup link, which will get you a relevant audience for your newsletters.
By cooperating with bloggers, you can develop your own content that will work as a guest post on the blog you’re targeting. If you’re not much of a wordsmith, you can hire a content writer or more accurately a copywriter to create some content for you.
Offer a shopping discount
Discounts on products or services are the most commonly used way of building an email list. You simply offer a discount code to whomever after they sign up for your email newsletter and then share the code with them after they confirm their participation.
If you don’t sell products or services directly, you can use shopping discounts from other stores (by agreeing to a partnership and affiliate promotion).
Of course, you should take these discounts and promotions into consideration when you’re doing calculations and projections of your sales, profits, and margin.
Your email building efforts don’t strictly have to happen online, especially if you’re running a business that targets a local audience. There are ample ways you can organize live events and promotions that will result in email list building. Here are just some of the ideas:
- organize educational seminars and conferences
- organize networking sessions
- attend business fairs
- host a celebration for the brand’s birthday or other milestones
Automatic opt-in during the checkout process
A sure-fire way to get email subscribers is to include an email newsletter sign-up checkbox in your checkout process (if you sell products or services), and leave it automatically checked. This way, you will be granted permission to send emails to those customers that have already purchased something from your company.
However, keep in mind that some of the subscribers that you get this way might leave the box checked unintentionally, which can result in higher opt-out rates for your email marketing campaign.
The Best Email Marketing Tools that you should use
Email marketing tools are cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps that help marketers in creating, analyzing, and sending emails in order to enhance audience engagement and lead generation. If you are looking for the best email marketing tools in 2022, you can explore my toolbox or check out the top 5 email marketing tools, which are:
- Constant Contact
Let’s dive into the details and see how each stand with the others:
This is a popular tool that is about 18 years old and is known to provide high-quality email marketing services. You will get features like drag and drop builders, pre-designed templates, and lots of integrations. This tool helps you create automated email sequences and email follow-up sequences. You will also get advanced features like open rate data, the ability to test your emails and deliverability rates. The company also provides live chat and email support along with a resource library to help you. This email marketing software is great for people who want to streamline their email marketing.
- Engaging email templates
- Ideal for small businesses
- Drag and drop email editor
- Ready to use templates
- Email automation
- Email workflows
- A/B testing
- Easy integrations
No Free Plans
* Aweber now has a very good free plan. Premium plans cost from $19 per month to $149 per month.
Constant Contact is an amazing email marketing software for small businesses and it offers multiple customization and integration along with a 30-day free trial. The software is simple and easy to use. It is considered as one of the largest email marketing services in the world and they are continuously providing their users with advanced tools like event management, social media, tools to create coupons, etc. There are also a wide variety of niche-specific templates to use along with a dashboard that provides you with important email metrics.
- Several useful guides and services
- Easy to use for beginners
- Live chat, email and phone support
- Great for small business owners
- No automation tool
There are two plans available through Constant contact and both of them are based on the number of contacts and they are Email plan and Email plus plan. There are offers on both these plans right now so you can get amazing discounts on them.
Mailchimp is an easy to use marketing tool for bloggers and small websites and they are one of the leading email providers. It is known to provide new features constantly and they also provide social media integration. The size of the template is well-sized and can be customized easily. They provide advanced features like contact segmenting, app integrations, time-zone based sending, A/B testing, and autoresponders.
- Email automation
- Data segmentation
- Numerous readymade email templates
- Manual code editing of templates
- Landing page A/B testing
- Lead capture forms
- Their policy towards free accounts is very hostile.
Mailchimp has a free plan, for which it is quite popular as it allows you to have 2000 subscribers and you can send 10000 emails every month. Paid plans are available as Essential, Standard, and Premium plans that allow about 50000 subscribers per month.
Drip’s email marketing software is relatively new and is mainly for marketers, bloggers, and eCommerce site owners. This is a tool that is easy to use and you will get an intelligent email automation tool that outshines others in the market. This is great for ecommerce store owners as it feeds upon customer intent and purchasing behavior. You can also track metrics like returning visitors, new visitors, visitors who clicked on the email, and visitors who abandoned their carts. They also provide integrations for WooCommerce, WordPress and Facebook Ads. If you sell plenty of products, you need to create complex marketing sequences – Drip should be your first choice.
- One-click resend to un-openers
- Drag and drop editor
- Geo optimized email with smart send
- Smart Email campaigns
- Custom reporting and detailed analytics
- Automated emails
There are several plans like Free forever, Basic plan, Pro Plan, and enterprise plans for Drip users.
HubSpot is mostly a CRM tool and less of an email marketing software. But since it is from the best company in the business, it is worth having at all costs. Hubspot offers great services and has helped more than 100 thousand people worldwide grow their business. It is easy to set up and connects easily with Gmail, GSuite, and several versions of Outlook. You will get a drag and drop email builder along with images and CTAs to change your content. There are advanced features like email automation tools, ready to use templates, email tracking, list segmentation, and extensive analytics.
- User friendly
- Drag and drop email builder
- Email automation
- Ready to use templates
- List segmentation
- Detailed analytics
- No A/B testing for free
You can opt for free or paid subscription plans and all the plans include CRM features that scale up with higher tier plans.
EmailOctopus is a simple, easy-to-use email marketing tool that’s perfect for beginners. The learning curve is short and the UI is intuitive enough to mean you won’t spend hours searching through help docs. Plus, the excellent customer support is always on hand to help get you set up and making the most of your email marketing. As a tool it gives you everything you need to grow your mailing list, send engaging email campaigns and analyze results. There are also advanced features including time-based automated workflows and list segmentation, as well as integrations with over 2,000 apps via Zapier and Integromat.
- Ready to use templates
- Drag and drop email editor
- Time-based email automation
- List and campaign activity segmentation
- Live chat and email support
- Generous free plan for up to 2,500 subscribers
- No A/B testing
- Missing advanced automation
You can start with EmailOctopus for free for lists up to 2,500 subscribers. After that, prices start from just $24/month for up to 5,000 subscribers. Free plan users get access to the same features as paid users.
What is the right time to pick your first paid email marketing software?
Remember, when choosing the right email marketing software for your business, you must consider your budget and marketing needs. During black friday, christmas and cyber monday events – these companies offer heavy discounts. You should wait for apt timing and purchase a relevant tool for your campaigns.
Email marketing tools like these are very important in email marketing and are widely used by business owners and marketers. Automated emails can help engage existing customers and help in increasing audience relationships through email marketing.
Why use email marketing tools?
Email campaigns in today’s world need to be mobile-responsive, personalized, integrated and segmented. Businesses are realizing the importance of investing in email software with 49% of the companies using email automation. An email marketing software can provide several features like email scheduling, personalized messaging, email analytics, email automation, and email integration. When investing in an email marketing platform there are several factors to consider.
- User Interface: The main function of email marketing tools is to help marketers, so email marketing software must have a great user interface in order to increase the users. If the user interface of the tool is good then even a beginner can use it with ease.
- Audience segmentation: I think all email marketing tools must have audience segmentation as it increases the performance of email campaigns. With the help of this feature, you share the content on the basis of their location, demographics, and online interactions.
- Email automation: In email marketing, there is a great requirement for repetitive and manual tasks and if the software provides you with email automation, it will help you save loads of time and marketing resources. This feature helps with email scheduling, tracking of user engagement, sending and receiving delivery receipts, text analytics, etc.
- Merge Tags: These tags are codes that help users insert unique data points that are sourced from customer data platforms. This allows the syncing of customer data for personalization, directly into your email. In this way, you can personalize your emails on the basis of your audience.
- Ready to use templates and editor: The email marketing tool that you are using should be able to provide you with basic email templates so that you can use them easily after making some changes. The editor provided in the tool must be easy to use with drag and drop function. This way you can create customized emails with your brand and design.
- Reports and data analytics: These dashboards help digital marketers in making data-oriented decisions to enhance their email marketing by using factors like open rate, click-through rate, etc.
A general guideline that can help you get a big subscriber rate is to offer your opt-in subtly and shrouded in valuable content or offers. The least effective way would be to just offer a plain sign-up button on your website and wait for users to come to you without offering something in advance.
Therefore, when you’re building your first email list, think of the added value that you can offer customers in exchange for their email.
How to plan and send emails to your subscribers?
Now you have some subscribers. It’s all your responsibility now to maintain this list, get some conversion and grow organically. If you have already started sending emails, that is a good thing. But in email marketing, even the professionals make mistakes. They use wrong email marketing tactics and thus their email campaigns fade away.
I have these secret email marketing tips and techniques that you should use to get more conversions, keep your subscribers with your newsletter and grow better.
Stop Using Images
During this boom of online businesses and email marketing, it seems like we completely forgot what the sole purpose of email was.
It’s to communicate through text.
But for some reason we started using emails as landing pages to show off our design expertise and creativity. That trend is actually hurting not only your open rates, but most of all, it’s hurting your conversions.
What is a Conversion? The point at which a recipient of a marketing message performs a desired action. Getting someone to click a link in an email is a conversion.
Here are just a few of the reasons why your image packed emails are doing more damage than good:
- Makes it difficult to identify the purpose of the email
- Spam & promotional email filters are automatically alerted
- Users have to usually click to allow the image
- Reduces the importance of your call to action
- It’s impersonal
If you’re in my inbox, I consider you a friend. No need to try to impress me anymore. You already impressed me on your website (which is why I subscribed).
Now I just want you to talk to me. Like a human. Not like a billboard.
But there is a problem.
In certain cases, only text based emails won’t convert easily. So, striking out the need of images is wrong. Very wrong.
Here’s what you can do:
- Limit yourself to 1-2 images
- Use an image alt text that describes the picture
- Use GIF (animated images) or illustrations if possible.
- Link the images to a landing page.
Write Shorter Emails
Somewhere along the way, people decided to start using email as a place to share full-length 1,000+ word blog articles and sales pages.
I’m not against sharing anything you want in people’s inbox, but isn’t the goal of email marketing to get people back to your website?
Build curiosity in first 100 words and force your subscribers to click on the CTA buttons. Make them visit your website. You can design and insert image CTAs using Canva like editors. Image based CTAs are most converting.
If you send longer emails, Gmail like mail-providers will truncate those email with a link to read the full email in a new tab. Truncated emails are the arch enemy of email marketers. In a perfect world, the full message would be view-able the instant the email is opened.
But in the case, that you must explain, define or give a large amounts of information please follow these tips:
- Stick to just using text
- Display a clickthru link to read longer content
- Make sure your call to action is near the top of the message
When I’m feeling lazy, I tend the simply click the link before reading. Marketers who have a link near the top of their message love my inbox.
Craft Attention Worthy Subject Lines
This email marketing tip isn’t really a secret. Every email marketer understands the importance of grabbing people’s attention at once. But from time to time I’m sure you’ve gotten an email in your inbox that made you regret opening it. Don’t make false promises in subject line and be true to your email content. However, while being in limits of truth you can use power words to make your subscribers open the emails.
If your email subject is a lie — people will unsubscribe as fast they can.
Take an example, I am an affiliate of BionicWP WordPress hosting (which I didn’t choose to be, they invited me to the campaign and I said yes). I don’t promote this hosting much and so I am sure that I am not going to get any sale now and then.
One day what happens, I get an email with the subject line, “You just made a sale!”.
I was like, totally surprised and yes, a tad bit happy!! “How much did I make? Their commission is so high and so are the rates — I may have made $120 at least.” Thinking all these, I opened the email and what I read on the second paragraph just shocked me away.
First paragraph was an ordinary introduction. The second paragraph started with “You can get You have just made a sale! like emails if you did X or Y or Z”. Come on!!
So no sales. I was quick to put this into spam folder. It’s never coming my way again.
No, don’t do that. Don’t use blatant lies in your email’s subject lines.
The key to crafting a good email subject line is to be informative and honest. Click-bait subject lines have no place in an email inbox.
If you really want to increase your email open rates, here’s a good ninja trick for your headline: keep it short, informative & interesting
Here are a few examples:
- Here’s how to make $5 today
- My prediction for your business
- Left-handed people live longer
The main takeaway from those is that the subject lines are interesting and informative. Instead of having to guess what it’s going to be, I already know what to expect.
Use this technique wisely and watch your open rates soar.
Past experiences are the #1 indicator of future results.
This tip should pretty much go without saying. But I’ll say it anyway…
If you send an email with bad, lazily written content, don’t expect that subscriber to open your next email.
Try to avoid sending emails that have boring/irrelevant information, are trying to hard sell a product or contain information that has nothing to do with the reader (aka me-mails).
An example of bad email content would be something like this – someone signs up to your list and then immediately receives an email about a product you created that’s helping 1,000’s of people and is on sale for the next 72.
What do you think that subscriber is going to do to the next email you send them?
It’s only when your emails give value, that you finally start becoming valuable.
As Gary Vaynerchuk says; “Give, give, give, give, give, give, ask.”
You can categorize your audience as per the pages or leads they subscribed to your newsletters. If you had 10 people signing up for an ebook, while 15 people signed up for regular blog posts — you should divide both group of people into different segments. This way you can handle both segments correctly.
The purpose of segmentation is to provide relevant content to a certain group of people.
This is what separates the wanna-be’s from the professionals.
Email segmentation is the next level of email marketing. Learn it and master it if you want to become an email marketing champion. This is one of the best kept secrets in the entire world of email marketing.
Many small-business owners and entrepreneurs, understandable, have absolutely no idea about this concept.
Most people tend to believe that every person who subscribes to their list is looking for the same thing.
But as you can see from the picture above – if you can capture visitors based on what they are most interested in, your overall rate of success and profits increases.
Humans are diverse creatures and not everyone likes the same thing.
Yes, it takes a lot of work.
Yes, it’s worth it.
Don’t Let Your List Go Dormant
I’ve literally heard business owners say they’re waiting for their list to hit 100 subscribers before sending out their 1st email.
This #1 enemy of email marketers is dormant subscribers.
Even if you only have 1 subscriber, EMAIL THEM!
Letting subscribers go dormant is like getting a paycheck in the mail and never cashing it. In fact, you waited so long that the check expired.
When your email marketing technique is properly executed, dormant subscribers are something that you’ll rarely have to deal with.
The reason I’m able to get open-rates of up to 60% and keep those numbers high is because I’m really good at making sure my list gets contacted within moments of subscribing thanks to an email marketing tool that has an autoresponder.
Most statistics indicate that between 60% – 70% of active email lists are dormant. That alarming statistic means that most people haven’t caught onto the fact that an email autoresponder is absolutely crucial if they want to grow their blog or business.
Email On Purpose
Have a clear focus behind each email that is sent to your list.
Including multiple links that lead to the same destination is a great strategy that keeps people on track.
Most web-users are more savvy than marketers give them credit for.
If someone clicks over a link and sees it’s going to a certain destination and then clicks over another link only to see a different destination, that usually leads to lead paralysis. If your email reader doesn’t know what you want them to do, they usually won’t do anything.
Because it’s easier.
When given more than 1 choice, most people will choose not to choose.
Your email subscribers will greatly appreciate it if you told them exactly what to click and why.
The energy they save by not having to choose on their own is energy they can therefore use when choosing what to buy from you.
There are plenty more email marketing tips and techniques that have been shared online over the years.
But keep in mind, every business is different.
Statistics are proven that email marketing is the most cost-effective marketing channel on the planet. So if any of these email marketing strategies I’ve shared with you don’t seem to work for you, try something different.
Just like email segmentation, not everything is cookie-cutter perfect for every person.
At the end of the day, a survey or questionnaire to your subscribers can always help you re-identify the needs of your list. Try a survey if your business is large and plan things wisely. Never underestimate the voice of your subscribers even if they are just one to give you some input. So what tactics and strategies do you use to build your email list? Are you satisfied with the results you’re getting?
- [Infographic] The ROI of Email Marketing, Last accessed 21-03-2021. https://litmus.com/blog/infographic-the-roi-of-email-marketing ↩
- Mastering the Call to Action: Words, Color, Size, & Location, Last accessed 21-03-2021. https://cxl.com/blog/call-to-action/ ↩
- Email List Building in the New Era of Email Marketing, Last accessed 21-03-2021. https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/guides/email-list-building-new-era-email-marketing/ ↩