If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of email marketing, here’s a straightforward tutorial on how to set up an email list to boost your online business income!
When I ask other online entrepreneurs about the one strategy they could never do without, their answer is nearly always email marketing. There is a reason successful Internet business owners say, “The list is gold.” But many beginning online entrepreneurs put off starting a list thinking it’s too expensive or hard. Not starting a list right away means leaving money on the table. Here are actionable steps and tips that you can start using to set up and build your email list today.
Setting Up Your Email Marketing List
To make the big bucks with email marketing, you have to have an email list. Here’s how to set up your list.
Choose a List Service
The first step to email marketing is getting a list service. There are many to choose from, and most can work for you, but before signing up for any service, you want to think about your needs now and in the future. Many bloggers have moved their lists to Convertkit, which does offer a lot of great features. However, I’ve decided to stay with Aweber because I can run many lists from one account. At Convertkit, you can segment your list into mini-lists, but they’re all part of one single large list. Because I have several online businesses, I need to have separate lists. Plus, I’ve found in the long run, as the list gets bigger, Aweber was a better price. With that said, if you need one list, Convertkit has some bells that whistles that are more easily done with it’s system than Aweber.
Aweber and Convertkit aren’t your only options, although they tend to be the two most popular. Mailchimp offers limited featured emails list service for free up to 2,000 subscribers. Other services include Constant Contact, GetResponse and MadMimi.
Here are a few things to consider when looking at an email service:
- Autoresponder: These are emails that automatically go out when someone subscribers.
- Email Blasts: These are emails you can send as needed, such as for a promo or weekly newsletter.
- List Segmentation: The better you can target your emails to what subscribers want, the higher your responses (and income) will be. List segmentation allows you to organize your list into sub-groups based on what form they subscribe through or links they click in your emails. You can attach email campaigns to these segments, that work like an autoresponder and send out email(s) automatically. You can email blast the segments too.
- Features: One of the benefits of Convertkit is the optin options for content upgrades (additional freebies offered on your website with email optin). Convertkit makes it really easy. Or you can use a service like Leadpages (check that it works with the email service provider you like). However, I’ve found a way to do the same with Aweber, including to have way to click and open a box with the email subscription form. There are other features you may want or need as well, so be sure to look at everything the email service provider offers to make sure it can meet your needs.
- Automatic blog updates: Some services will automatically email your new blog posts at a schedule you want (i.e. when it posts or once a week).
- Optin Options: I always stick with double optin (subscriber enters email to subscribe, and then has to confirm the subscription…2 optins) to protect from spam complaints, but if you need a single optin (subscriber gives email and is added to the list), check that the email service provider offers that.
- Integrations: Depending on the other tools you’re using online, you may need an email integration. For example, while ClickFunnels offers tools to build an emails list, I prefer to integrate my Aweber account with my ClickFunnel’s account.
- Reporting Tools: This tells you how many opens and clicks your emails receive, which can be helpful in understanding what makes the people on your list excited to get from you.
- Testing: This allows you to try out different aspects of your emails to see which deliver the best results.
- Support: The service should offer quality support either by online chat, phone or email, or all three.
- Training: Email is very powerful, but services are not always user-intuitive. Training and support documentation should be available so you can maximize the features of the service.
- Free Trial: Services that offer a free trial (most do), give you the change to try before you buy.
- Price: While free might sound appealing at first, if you’re serious about having an online income, you should consider the costs as your list grows. I’ve stuck with Aweber because whenever I compare features and price, it still offers me the most at the lowest expense.
I’ve been with Aweber forever, and while I’ve looked at other services, ultimately I’ve stayed with Aweber because it offers everything I need, allows me to run more than one list account, and has the best pricing for what it offers.
Once you sign up for a service, learn the ins and outs of it so you can start using it ASAP.
Set Up Your Emails
Most online entrepreneurs have at least one, but often more, emails that are automatically scheduled to go out when people subscribe. For example, WAHS has four emails that go out that cover things like welcome and sending a free report, information on how to find content on the site, tips for finding work at home and avoiding scams and more.
Here’s how to set up your autoresponder:
- Decide what emails and how often they’ll be sent. Remember, you can send email blasts as needed. Think of your autoresponder as delivering important tidbits all subscribers should know about you and your business that will help him get his problem solved. Also decide how fast they’ll go out. You want to have the emails sent in a fairly quick succession, but if there’s a lot of them, you may not want to do it daily. Instead, you can have the first email go out day 1, the second one day 2, the third one day 5, the fourth one day 7.
- Develop a free gift, lead magnet, to send in the first email when people subscribe (see How to Get Subscribers below). This can be a report, printable, checklist, video…whatever would have enough value to help a subscriber and entice him to subscribe.
- Decide if you’ll send regular text or HTML emails. Most service now make it easy to have color and graphics without knowing HTML. These can make your emails look more appealing, but don’t put too many bells and whistles at it might get caught up in a spam or filter. Many email providers don’t automatically load pictures when people open their email either. Try to use the same color scheme as your website, and have a consistent template.
- Write your email(s). I write my in Word and then copy and paste them into my email service.
- Set up a schedule of ongoing emails (email blasts) such as a newsletter, monthly special offer, etc.
Create and Install Your Subscription Form
Once you’re email is set up, you need a way to get people on the list. Your list service will have tools for you to design a subscription form. In fact, you can usually have a variety of them depending on where they’ll go on your website. For example, you can have one that popups on your home page, a smaller one in your side bar, another one that appears at the end posts, etc.
- Use your services tools to create your optin form. Don’t ask your subscribers for too much information or they won’t want to subscriber. A name (so you can personalize the email) and an email address is enough.
- Copy the code the list service gives you and past it in the text editor of your website (note it should be in the text and not visual editor).
- If you’re using an integration, you can usually create a basic form because the 3rd party will have it’s own form. Then you simply use the 3rd party’s instructions to connect your list service to the 3rd party, and then select the list you want to connect to.
How to Get Subscribers to Your Email List
One of the best and most effective ways to encourage people to give you their name and email is to provide them with a valuable free offer. The goal is to give them something they feel will make their lives better or help them reach their goals. For example, here at WAHS, one of the things I give away is a list of companies that frequently hire. People who sign up and get the list can learn how to find a work-at-home job, but also start applying to work-at-home jobs right away. Here’s how to use a free offer, otherwise known as a lead magnet, to get subscribers:
Decide on Your Free Offer (lead magnet)
Deciding on a free offer can be hard. Not only do you need to figure out what to offer, but also, you need to decide how to deliver the information. You want to offer something enticing, but not give away all your secrets that the subscriber doesn’t want to buy from you.
Here are some tips to help you create your freebie:
- What does your market want or need? Make a list. For example, many in my market want a work-at-home job.
- Choose one topic from your market needs list and determine how you can solve it. For example, I can solve the need for WAH jobs by providing a list of legitimate jobs.
- Decide on a medium to deliver your solution that works best for you and your market. Some of your options include a report, video, ecourse, blueprint, checklist, consult, etc.
For example, I know that many people coming to WAHS want a work-at-home job, but they have trouble finding legitimate companies. So I made a list of companies that frequently hire. In this case, a PDF with a link to the companies was the best delivery option. A cake decorator might offer a piping tutorial video. A virtual assistant might offer report on how businesses can save money by outsourcing. A life coach might offer a free assessment.
Setting Up Your Email to Deliver the Free Offer
Because this involves a little tech work, many people get nervous about setting up an email system. In reality, if you can upload files and copy/paste, you can set up your email system. Here are the steps:
- Upload your free offer to your website server, DropBox, Google Drive or whatever online storage you plan to use. If you use a service like DropBox or Google Drive, make sure you set your file so that it can be shared. For video, you can set up a private video on YouTube or Vimeo.
- Copy the link to your free offer and add it to the welcome email (first email) in your autoresponder.
- Test that your email system works. Enter your name and email into the form on your website. If you have double-optin, click the confirm in the confirmation email sent. If all goes well, right after that, the first autoreponsder email should arrive with the freebie. Check that the link to the free offer works in the email.
The beauty of email is that you can stay in touch with your subscribers so you can build trust and rapport. These people have raised their hands to say they’re interested in what you’ve got, which means they’re open to knowing more. The trick is to email them in a way that they find value in what you’re sending. If you send ad after ad, they’ll unsubscribe.
Beyond Your Free Offer
At first, just telling people they’d get updates was enough to have them subscribe. Then you had to offer a freebie (lead magnet) to entice them to join your list. And now, you can boost your subscribes through a content upgrade.
A content upgrade is basically another freebie you can give your list, but instead of being something that provides value related to your overall business topic, it adds value to a specific blog post or webpage. For example, on my blog post about the perfect blog post, I offer a free Perfect Blog Post Checklist. While the post provides all the information, in exchange for name and email, you can download a printable checklist to use when you write a blog post.
Like other freebie ideas, your content upgrade can be anything from a checklist, tools and resources list, printable/fillable worksheet, audio, video, etc. Since they can be time consuming to create, don’t feel you need one for every post. However, you might consider creating one for your most popular content, as well as a way to offer something new once a month or so.
Also, note that your content upgrade can be a way to segment and better target your list. For example, the Perfect Blog Post Checklist is part of my larger WAHS list, but people who subscribe through that form get a different email follow up sequence and are tagged as people who are interested in blogging. That way if I have something to special to say about blogging, I send the info just to those folks.
What to Email Your List
Your email is set up, now what?
If you haven’t already, consider adding additional follow up emails to your initial email with the freebie using the autoresponder option. For example, you might send a follow up a day after they get your freebie to make sure they got it and ask if they have questions about it. Here at WAHS, I send several emails that help subscribers learn the basics of working at home, as well as tips to finding what they need on the website.
However, you’re not limited to the autoresponder series you create. You can also send out an email at any time (called an email blast or broadcast). WAHS sends out at least 2 of these a week with WAH jobs, tips and more. Here are a few other things you can send out:
- Your latest blog post. In Aweber, you can have the system automatically email your new blog posts when they go live or at a specified time. For example, you can send a list of all the week’s posts on Saturday a noon.
- Tips or how-to’s to help your market. These emails show off your expertise and can provide value to readers.
- Industry news. This shows you’re an expert to be trusted.
- Sales or discounts exclusive to subscribers. My subscribers get WAHS courses at nearly 50% off simply for being a valued subscriber.While you don’t want to sell all the time, you can send an offer occasionally. In fact, the email offer is where many bloggers and other online entrepreneurs really make their money.
- Give updates or behind the scenes view of what’s going on in your business.
- Answer common questions found in groups and forums of your target market. Again, addressing the needs of your readers gives them value and builds their trust in you.
- Do a reader survey or poll. This gives you feedback on what readers want.
- Highlight a case study on one of your clients by sharing the results they had from working with you. This builds your credibility.
- Interview someone in your industry. WAHS does this every Wednesday (success profile) and Friday (expert tips). It takes some of the work off you, while building your network of influencers.
- Review tools, apps or software that will save your readers time and/or money. Again, many people will want to use what you use to achieve your results. You can even use an affiliate link as long as you disclose your affiliate relationship to your readers.
Need more ideas? Here are 30 ideas to email your list.
The ultimate goal with email marketing is to provide value to your readers, as well as establish trust and rapport. The more your readers like and trust you, the more open they’ll be to buying your products or services.
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