Email marketing 101. You know you need to do it. You’re convinced it’s the way to go. But how do you get started, figure out what to send in your newsletter every month and get your email into your subscriber’s inbox?
All the info and tasks about email marketing can be complicated and confusing. But I’m going to break it down, so it’s easy to understand. Then you’ll know what to do next.
Stick with me for the next few months to walk through Email Marketing Basics.
Step 1: Choose an Email Service Provider
Which one is best?
Which one is affordable?
Which one will your subscribers receive?
The answer is … the one you’ll use.
Every ESP (email service provider) has its pros and cons. There is no “perfect” email service. But the email service you’ll actually use on a daily, weekly, monthly basis is the best one for you.
Check out the deliverability of the providers before you commit to one. Here’s the latest testing from EmailToolTester.com
But in the long run, the real factor in choosing an email service provider is to select the one you’ll actually use.
This is my personal favorite. But it’s my favorite because I understand it. I know how it works, and I can do anything I want with it.
It’s free for 2,000 or fewer email addresses, gives you the ability to construct advanced personalized automated email sequences, works with eCommerce, has Landing Pages, subscription forms, social media posting, has super professional and beautiful templates, Facebook ads and Google re-marketing ads, can send postcards in the mail, all in super slick interface.
Because it’s so popular, Mailchimp has tons of apps, extensions, and integrations.
But if you’re on the free plan, you can’t schedule an email send. :(
Free to 2,000 emails or less, and you can schedule email sends. The templates are nice; you can tag and segment your lists, send blog posts automatically, automate email campaigns for eCommerce or on boarding sequences, personalize your campaigns, has subscription forms and landing pages, and do A/B split testing.
But the interface is a bit clunky and slow. There aren’t so many apps, extensions, and integrations. If you want to use MailerLite with your daily business tools, you’ll need to check for an integration or Zap.
Step 2: Start building your list
Questions to ponder
- Where will your subscription form go on your website?
- Will you use a subscription landing page on your site or a subscription form?
- Will you have a free offer to give people in exchange for their email address.
- Will you ask for subscriptions on your social media platforms?
2.1 Add a subscription form to your website
If you’re still in the building stages, make sure your web designer/developer includes this in your design/plan. If you already have a website with no subscription form, you’ll need to add one.
You can use the subscription form that your email service provides, but usually, these forms have limited features.
If you’re on WordPress, check out the plugin repository for email subscription form integration plugins. I like Mailmunch for WordPress. With Mailmunch, I can make as many forms as I want and place them anywhere on the website, embedded in a blog post, embedded in a sidebar, slide-in, or popup.
Squarespace also has options. I like Mailmunch for Squarespace too. Mailmunch is very versatile and integrates with most email service providers.
2.1a What should your subscription form look like?
Make sure the message on the form clearly states that people are signing up for your newsletter list before it tells them about your free offer. This way you’ll comply with data protection regulations.
Simple forms get the best subscription rates. That’s because they’re easy to scan and read. Use your branding, colors, and fonts in your form.
Ask for an email address and make the first name optional. If you really want names, make the name field the top field on the form.
2.2 Where will the subscription form go?
If you say, “I don’t want a popup! They are so annoying!” your list will grow slower than a website with a popup. Yes, they’re annoying. That’s why popups work so well.
If you’re using a popup, consider using an exit-intent popup for desktops and a time delay popup for mobile devices. Exit-intent popups don’t work on mobile devices because they don’t use a mouse to navigate around a screen.
Now that you’ve got a popup with a 15 to 20-second delay before it pops up. Think about your on-page subscription forms. You’ll need more than one … the more, the merrier, but don’t make them annoying.
Embed a subscription form in the middle of your blog post
These are highly effective. If the blog reader is engaged enough to read your article, they’re more likely to want more of your wisdom via your email newsletter.
More and more, the first time people see your website is coming into a blog post. I like to think of each blog post as a mini-website, so I want to give people the option to take an action, like sign up for a newsletter.
Embed a side-bar subscription form on your blog archive page
Everyone expects to see a subscription form on a blog sidebar, so don’t disappoint them.
Sidebar forms can be easily overlooked and ignored.
And the exact reason these forms are overlooked is the exact reason people look for them. When I can’t find a subscription form anywhere else on a website, I always look in the sidebar.
Embed a form in your site footer
Your site footer is the same on every single page of your website. So it’s the one place you will have a subscription form on every single page of your website.
Embed a form on your home page
This one is up for discussion. There are pros and cons to front page subscription forms.
The basic premise is that people will only take one action when they land on your website, so make sure that action furthers your goals.
Frequently this form is used with a free opt-in offer (we’ll talk more about what this is in January).
Con – People come to your website, see the free opt-in offer, and get sidetracked from what they came there to do by signing up for your list. Then leave your site without looking around. People who tend to sign up quickly for a free opt-in offer, without looking around, usually just want the free stuff. They may not want to be marketed to so they unsubscribe or, worse, don’t open any more emails.
Pro – They signed up for your list so you can market to them.
Currently, I don’t use a home page subscription form.
2.3 Subscription form or landing page
If you have a website, you’ll need a subscription form. Make it easy for people to sign up for your newsletter.
But you’ll want to use a landing page for social media, podcast appearances, and speaking gigs.
So you’ll need both!
On your website, don’t make people jump through hoops by clicking links to sign up. Have an actual form for them to fill out instead of a link to a landing page with a subscription form.
Don’t ever hide your subscription form.
With that being said, there are instances where you’ll need landing pages with embedded subscription forms.
A landing page is perfect for social media. Send your Facebook and LinkedIn followers to your landing page with an embedded subscription form.
If you’re on a podcast or have a speaking gig and want to share your slides or free resources, send them to a landing page created especially for them.
Most email services have a landing page feature so you can build a subscription form on a landing page on your email service platform. Many email service providers will even let you use your own domain name on their landing pages.
But why not build the landing page on your own website? That way, people go back to your own website to subscribe.
You own your email list, but your email service provider is your “caretaker.” If you violate their terms of service, your email service provider will close your account. Make sure you back up your email list by exporting your email list on a weekly or monthly basis.
2.4 Ask for email sign-ups everywhere
Use every platform you have available to promote your email list, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and all your social media accounts. Create a landing page, post the URL to your account, and pin the post to the top of your feed.
Step 3: Integrate your forms and your email service provider
Most form makers will make this easy for you with a one-click service. If you use the form code from the email service platform, it’s automatically integrated.
This is a step that many people don’t know they need to take. But this is a crucial step as it’s how your subscriber’s email addresses get into your email marketing platform so you can email them.
Email Marketing 101: Conclusion
Hopefully, you got some useful info from this article. In my next post, I give you the low down on free opt-in offers, also called lead magnets. What they are, how to use them, and how to send them to your new subscribers.
Dive more into the basics of Email Marketing, with this list of the 10 do’s and don’ts in this great infographic from Campaign Monitor.