Perhaps you already feel like you have a good handle on the little details of email marketing, like writing subject lines, creating opt-in forms for your site, and setting up your welcome message.
But maybe what you really need is a comprehensive road map for email marketing that presents a smart email marketing strategy as a series of manageable steps.
If that’s the case, I’ve got great news! To wrap up our 10-part email marketing series, that’s exactly what you’re going to get.
This step-by-step email marketing strategy guide summarizes how to create your list, get subscribers, build solid relationships, and make well-timed offers.
We’ve also outlined these steps in a handy PDF checklist that you can download for free, so keep reading …
Step #1: Sign up for an account with a reputable email service provider
To make sure your email marketing strategy stands on a firm, ethical foundation, you’ll need a reputable email service provider to help you collect, track, and get in touch with your contacts.
An email service provider (ESP) will help you:
- Manage your opt-in and opt-out process
- Stay CAN-SPAM compliant
- Provide mobile-friendly email templates for your messages
- Track and report your open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe information
Shop carefully when you’re choosing an ESP, because changing service providers down the road can be tedious. When you’re selecting an ESP, consider your budget, the level of tech support you’re going to receive, and the service’s user interface.
Step #2: Add smart opt-in forms to your site and give away an enticing incentive
Once you’ve got an email service provider, it’s time to invite people to join your list.
More people will sign up for your list if you give away a useful, enticing incentive in exchange for a subscriber’s email address. It should be simple and highly useful.
Your goal is to create content so compelling that your potential subscribers don’t hesitate to hand over their email addresses to get it.
You may need to try multiple incentives until you find one that strikes the perfect chord with your visitors, so create your first one quickly and test it out with your audience right away.
Once you’ve got your incentive ready to go, add attention-getting opt-in forms to your site. Remember to think beyond simple sidebar opt-in forms and consider feature boxes, pop-overs, and blog post footer opt-in forms.
Step #3: Actively build your email list
Now that your incentive is ready and your visitors have a way to join your community, it’s time to actively build your email list.
You can try these classic, time-tested list-building techniques:
- Guest blog posts that direct readers to sign up for your list
- Strategic social media marketing
- Focused webinars that are helpful and entertaining
Step #4: Send regular, useful content to your list
As soon as you gain subscribers, begin sending them high-quality content on a regular basis. You can send newsletters, content notification emails, or both.
Aim to regularly send content to your subscribers, provide tons of value, and train your community members to consistently click on the links in your emails.
You can also set up an autoresponder series that sends carefully selected content to your list. To start, you can compose three emails for your autoresponder series and add more over time, as needed.
Follow CAN-SPAM regulations when you email your list and review this top-to-bottom checklist before you click “send.”
Step #5: Present relevant offers to your list on a regular basis
Once you’ve built solid relationships with your subscribers through free content, start sending them relevant offers via email.
You can begin adding relevant offers to your newsletters or content notification emails, or add sales-related emails to your autoresponder sequence(s).
When sending emails that feature offers, include a strong call-to-action link that prompts your subscriber to take the next step — whether that’s setting up a consultation, buying a product, or checking out your latest online program.
Call-to-action links should be easy to click on and work best when they stand out visually — particularly on mobile devices.
Continually repeat Steps 3 – 5
Your email marketing strategy is an evolving process — it’s typically not a “set it and forget it” task.
You need to continually build your list, publish valuable content, and send relevant offers, so it’s a good idea to repeat Steps 3 through 5.
It’s also a good idea to regularly evaluate your email marketing strategy and the accuracy of the messages you send, as well as make sure your emails are sending as expected. Review your welcome message, offers, and any automated operations (like autoresponders or RSS feeds that send new content to your list automatically).
Craft an effective email marketing strategy for your business
Your email subscribers are some of your most valuable business assets — and building and strengthening your list should be a top priority for your business.
When you follow this five-step process, you’ll be on your way to attracting a large list of loyal subscribers, building solid relationships with those subscribers, and using email as one of your most successful sales tools.
Don’t forget to download the PDF checklist of this email marketing strategy guide, along with a glossary of common email marketing terms (61 KB).
Catch up on all the posts in our email marketing series
- How to Choose a Solid Email Service and Build Your List on a Firm Foundation
- Your Top-to-Bottom Email Checklist: What to Include Before You Hit Send
- Email Newsletters vs. Content Notifications: A Head-to-Head Comparison
- How to Write a Heroically Effective Email Autoresponder Series
- How to Write Email Subject Lines that Make People Stop, Click, and Read
- 13 Tantalizing Incentives that Will Build Your Email List
- 4 Quick Solutions that Spawn Radical Email List Growth
- CAN-SPAM 101: A Crash Course in Bulk Email Regulations
- 7 Deadly Sins and 7 Virtues of Email Marketing
This is the last post in our current email marketing series, so now I’m officially handing the reins over to you.
You can use this series of posts to craft a smart email strategy that fits with the rest of your content marketing plans and goals.
Make sure to stay in touch, and fill me in on your email marketing success story!
Find out more here
Reader Comments (13)
Rohan Bhardwaj says
Email is the golden goose. You need to preserve it, use it diligently and pamper it. When I started, I tried collecting email using feedburner. Although it is a good free service, the automation and scalability provided by ESP blows my mind.
I am using MailChimp now. I am happy.
Seth Godin recently said, most of MailChimp mails land on promotion folder in Gmail. I am happy as long as it doesn’t land in spam folder.
I have created my list with double opt-in form. This had ensured me to have users who are willing to get my mails. A clear unsubscribe button does the magic for anyone who needs to opt out ANYTIME…
Email incentives do work. It did when I shared a free report in exchange of email. However I am trying to get super qualified leads with no incentives.
Most of the times when we offer an incentive, some users only want the incentive and no articles.
Incentive systems works best when a user can decide how much frequently and which topics emails he/she should receive. Else it is a bit dicey for me as of now.
Guest post is the ultimatum in building your email list. Even better when the topics are targeted in similar niche.
When increasing number of visitors and their content consumption, large websites constantly needs guest posts to fill that gap.
We just need to pitch in the proper way and do most of the work upfront to land one. Email lists grows second fastest this way. The fastest way is successful GIVEAWAY’s.
Auto responders are magical and sending relevant mails at fixed frequency enhances trusts and likelihood of mail being opened.
Many sales happens at auto responder’s level.
One page. One call to action. When we make our readers habituated to take action, it becomes easier down the road to keep making informed actions which help both – the creator and the readers mutually.
Persistence is the key to success, without it nothing is achievable even with talent.
Once the readers grow and we need to segment, create awesome copywriting and make sales, we need a team. There should be levelling up.
The investment in email is the best investment ever…
To sum up…
The email strategy should be to create awesome content, create awesome product and deliver it to readers.
Loved your post. Stay awesome buddy.
Umer Prince says
Hahn! Rohan Bhardwaj!!
You nailed “Golden Goose” Now I can’t add more words to leave a comment with summary of this blog post!
You are good 😉
Beth Hayden says
Hi, Rohan! Thanks for stopping by!
I totally agree with you about email being the “Golden Goose” – I know it has completely transformed my business!
I disagree with you about giving away free incentives, though. I’m sure there are people that sign up just to get the free gift (and then opt out), but many people will stay as long as you’re sending out good content after the initial sign up. I think the net gain of giving away an incentive is really high, so I recommend it for pretty much all businesses.
Thanks again for your thoughtful comment!
Rohan Bhardwaj says
So much awesome to hear you explain about the incentive type email opt-in’s.
Thanks for reply. Appreciate it. 🙂
raj treo says
Another one awesome updated post from Beth, with rocking checklist,
Beth Hayden says
Thanks, Raj! I appreciate you stopping by!
I run a health blog. I use MailChimp. I get 3-5 email subscriptions per day, but when I reach out to them with a new article or other stories, the opening and link clicking rate is quite less than industry.
They are incredibly useful articles and there is no selling involved. Where am I missing out?
Beth Hayden says
Hi, Shefaali –
You might want to take a look at your subject lines, and see if you can improve them. That could be contributing to a low open rate.
Also, it might be time to do some list cleanup, if you’ve had people on your list for a long time who haven’t opened your emails. We’ve got a wide range of opinions here at CB about list cleanup, but I’m a fan of it, and have done it for my list.
shaun f says
This is a fantastic post and there is a great amount of value here! I really like how you go step by step!
I find it surprising still how many emails I get that don’t adhere to email laws. The sender either doesn’t have the address or an option for unsubscribe and these are from apparent “legitimate website owners”
People looking to do business through email should keep on top of this and make sure they are doing things properly. Anyway, a fantastic post I am going to check out your case study!
Have a great day!
Beth Hayden says
Thanks, Shaun! I appreciate you stopping by!
And yes, I agree – there are a lot of marketers either don’t know they’re breaking SPAM laws, or don’t care. Either way, it drives me nuts. My kingdom for an unsubscribe button!
Tim Stoddart says
This might sound a little crazy but I have never had much success through email. I think email works well when selling a product (for instance my t-shirt line always has great sales through email), but not so much when selling a service.
Both my companies have gotten much better success by building social communities in which we interact with, and using them to network and meet potential clients.
Honestly, I would choose that over collecting email addresses and hoping people open them every time.
I am more than open to suggestions if you think I am missing something. 🙂
Beth Hayden says
Hi Tim – I think email marketing is actually one of the BEST ways to market services, because it’s such a great tool for relationship building. But it does depend a lot on your audience — so if social communities are working better for you, then do that!
Gayatri Mantra says
Thanks, I am also Planing for email marketing campaign and want to know what is the CTR of Successful Campaign.
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