For Those About to Rock (Email Marketing 101)

One of the things I discuss with clients very often is email marketing. How to get started with it. How to do it well. How to make money with it.

Even though email marketing has been around for a long time now, more and more small business owners are still getting on board with it. As a result, there are a few basic fundamentals about email marketing that are still not widely known.

Most of us who’ve been email marketing for years consider this stuff fairly old hat. Because it is. So we don’t talk about it much. But the fact is, many, many people are still very new to email marketing. This list of email marketing 101 rules is not meant to be exhaustive by any stretch. Email is a tool. Every tool takes some practice to learn and eventually master.

But getting started is simple. There are just a few basic things to keep in mind.

btw…if you think of something I may have missed on this list, let me know 🙂

Getting Started with Email Marketing

  1. Definitely start building your email list right away. One of the big mistakes is to focus on SEO and other things first. Get some calls to action on your website right away. Ask people to sign up.
  2. Stay in touch regularly. This is one area I know I’ve struggled with personally. I get busy too, so I understand the argument for putting it off. But if you put it on your schedule, staying in touch with your list is not time consuming. If you’re writing a blog, mailing your list can even be virtually automated.
  3. Use a professional email marketing vendor from the beginning. Those of you working with us or reading the blog regularly know I’m a big advocate of Aweber. If you build a list first without using a service like Aweber, you’ll eventually (sooner rather than later) start running into delivery issues. Your prospects just won’t get your emails. That’s because everyone is on high alert when it comes to spam. So it doesn’t matter if you got the email addresses legitimately, sending bulk email is just not a task suited for your laptop. Used to work fine to do it that way. Not anymore. If you blast hundreds or thousands of emails from your local computer, expect the majority of those to not get delivered. Email services like Aweber work very hard to ensure their servers are trusted by internet service providers. This keeps your email going where it’s intended to go…your client’s inbox.
  4. Don’t buy emails or rent lists. Yes, there are services that do this. But these services are virtually worthless. If you’ve purchased a bunch of email addresses, it may seem very tempting to blast em all and hope for the best. But they’re not expecting to hear from you, and they don’t know you. Mailing a list like this generates a lot of spam complaints and usually a lot of bounced emails. Yes…I’ve done it. If building an email list the “right” way seems like a pain, try getting domain off a blacklist 🙂
  5. Only mail to a list you’ve built yourself. This means the emails on your list should be only people who’ve specifically asked to be on your list. They should know who you are and be expecting to hear from you. If either of these criteria aren’t met, spam complaints are soon to follow.
  6. Start selling right away. I’ve definitely made this mistake before. I had thousands of subscribers before I ever offered anything for sale. Then when I did have something for sale, a lot of people were put off by it and unsubscribed. If they’re put off by the fact that I’m actually running a business here, they don’t need to be on my list anyway. So that’s fine. But by being straight with them and making offers on a regular basis from the beginning, I would have made sales along the way. I would have been building a much more targeted list that responds well to my offers. Share a lot of great content with your readers, and after giving them several pieces of valuable, helpful information, ask for something in return. It doesn’t have to be buying something. You may want them to follow you on Twitter, you may want them to help spread the word about your business. Or you may want them to buy something. But establish a dialog from the beginning. Asking your readers to respond is crucial. Ask them to do stuff. Ask them to email you. Ask them to buy from you. Ask for what you want. This is what makes the value of your email list pick up huge momentum.

How to Build an Email List Properly

  1. Install opt in forms in several places on your website. I’ll list the best locations I’ve found for opt in forms further down this post.
  2. Use a bribe. Give them something of VALUE that SOLVES A PROBLEM in exchange for their subscription. You’re asking someone to give you their time and attention, which is a rare commodity these days. It’s very valuable. In fact, if you can’t get your prospect’s attention, you’re finished. So get their subscription by giving them something very valuable to them as a trade for their opt in.
  3. Use lead capture pages. Squeeze pages, opt in pages, etc. People call them different things, but ultimately a lead capture page is just a page with nothing other than your call to action. The only thing you can do on a lead capture page is either sign up or leave. This format gets a much higher conversion rate (at least 10 times the conversion rate in most cases we’ve tested). Even if you’re using the exact same call to action in a different place on your site, displaying your call to action on a lead capture page can dramatically increase the number of leads you get.
  4. Don’t depend on Google. Free search engine traffic is awesome. Don’t get me wrong. But SEO is slow and you only have so much control over things. Google can then change something overnight, and your rankings tank. It can take weeks or months to rebuild when this happens. I know a lot of people in internet marketing, and it happens to us all. Everyone. No one is immune to this. So don’t depend on Google. Drive traffic to your lead capture pages using social media and advertising. Traffic generation is a different topic I’m happy to discuss with you. Getting traffic to your pages is actually EASY when you know how. Contact me for a quick chat if you want to discuss that further.
  5. Stay in contact. Don’t let a long period of time go without people hearing from you. I’ve had people ask me about Louis CK and other well-known people that will email their list only once in a while, often several weeks or months between mailing. Well, I’m not Louis CK 🙂 I’m not on national TV on a regular basis. I don’t have my own TV show. As a small business owner, the primary way my readers, prospects and clients hear from me is social media and email. If it’s been months since your last mailing, there’s a good chance many of those emails aren’t even good anymore. Keeping your list actively engaged is an important part of the equation.

Where to Publish Your Opt In Forms

  1. Upper right hand corner, in your sidebar.
  2. Across the entire width of the page, at the top of the page.
  3. Pop ups. Yes, they still work. Both entrance pop ups (right when you land on the site) and exit pop ups (when you try to leave the site). No, I don’t like em either. But I’ve tested them, and they definitely work.
  4. Lead capture pages. As I mentioned above, using lead capture pages is the single most effective tool you can use to dramatically increase conversions. A well-designed lead capture page can literally unlock a gold mine. If you’d like to discuss the details on how lead capture pages work and how to employ them in your marketing, let me know. It’s my pleasure to help.
  5. Underneath your blog posts. I’ve always found these don’t convert all that well. What I mean is that I don’t get a lot of leads from opt in forms placed here. But the leads I get are super high quality. So I don’t get big numbers from these, but I still use them because it always results in high quality results. I’ll pick quality over quantity every time.

These are a few of the basic rules when it comes to getting started with email marketing for your small business. Building an email list is hands down one of the most cost effective and scaleable ways to market your business. Imagine sending a direct mail campaign to 20,000 people. What would it cost? $10k? What would the conversion rate be? Most direct marketers are over the moon if they get a 2% response rate from a direct mail campaign.

Imagine contacting those same people, for pennies. And then imagine the response rate being 5-10 times what you get from direct mail. That’s what email marketing does for your business. It’s worth learning how to do it right. In fact, when you decide to build a list properly, you’re deciding to build what will soon become one of the most valuable assets your company has.

If you have any questions about how to get started, I’m at your service.


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