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Last Updated on April 7, 2023
Feel overwhelmed by email marketing? We’re breaking down why you need an email strategy, what email service providers are the best (we even have 30-day free trials for our favorites!), and ideas for what you should send your audience once you have a list.
Do you know what your #1 most critical element is if you have any type of online business (or really, a business of ANY kind)?
If you guessed your email list, then you’d be right.
Sure, your website and social media are also important, but what trumps all of that is your email list!
In this post we’re going to dive into WHY you need an email list, how to get started with email marketing, and tips for building a successful and engaged email list.
Let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
Email is your route to communicate DIRECTLY with your audience. My message always comes right to you.
In order to read this blog post, you may have had to find it on Google, Pinterest, or clicked over from Instagram. But if I could send this message right into your inbox for you to open–my message is much more likely to get seen and grab your attention. That’s POWERFUL!
Not only that, but you have much more control over your email list than you do social media.
So many people spend most of their time on Instagram these days, but think about this: at any moment, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter could pull the plug or change their rules or algorithm–and whatever fan base you’ve grown on those platforms could disappear.
But your email list is yours, forever!
And you get to control the content of what goes out to your subscribers.
Plus–purely financially speaking–you’re likely never going to grow a successful brand or business without an email list. My blog just serves as the gateway, it’s how people find me, it’s how they connect with me first and then when they become a subscriber, that’s where the engagement and money really start coming in.
How does an email list equate to more money?
Of course, money is just a byproduct of what our main intention is here: being of service.
You want to nurture your relationship with your email list, get personal with them, have conversations with them, and provide them with as much value as possible. You want to build trust and find ways to sustain interest in your emails. After all, what’s the point of gaining a subscriber who loses interest and doesn’t actually interact with you?
We’ll talk more later about what kind of content to send your subscribers, but first, you’re going to need a platform to send email campaigns… and there are dozens and dozens to choose from! Don’t worry–we’ve done the work for you… keep reading for our recommendations!
Now–where to start if you don’t yet have an email list (or if you do, but are ready for an upgrade)?
I started with Mailchimp; it’s free up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month–so can be a good option when you’re just getting started and don’t want to spend any money. That being said, I don’t really recommend Mailchimp as deliverability isn’t as good, there’s not as much functionality, and eventually when you surpass the free plan, it’s exponentially more expensive than my two favorite email service providers. Speaking of…
Eventually, I upgraded to ConvertKit (use this link for a 30-day free trial!), which has all kinds of cool features like email sequences for welcome and nurturing series (more on that below!), and you can tag your subscribers into different categories and lists based on their interests and actions, which is a *huge* advantage.
But I’ll be honest… ConvertKit isn’t perfect. Eventually I felt I had outgrown the service, and so I started looking for a new provider.
Then, I switched to ActiveCampaign (use this link for a 30-day free trial!), by far the most robust system I’ve ever used (or even heard of!). ActiveCampaign provides a lot more functionality in terms of segmenting, automation and tracking, including incredible features, like Lead Scoring, Site Tracking, Advanced Automation Sequences, Best Deliverability on the market, and optimizing send times.
Plus, ActiveCampaign has seriously awesome customer service for any help you may need, and will even give you a free demo before you sign up! And, if you already have an email list, they also offer a free migration service that is super helpful!
Although I love ActiveCampaign, I decided to switch to Kartra, which I use now for my emails (plus hosting my courses, building website pages, and more!). You can read my full review about why I recommend Kartra to all of my clients. In short, Karta helps me segment and organize my lists for more targeted marketing, provides the most robust funnel campaign design, and allows me to organize my contacts and clients easily with tags.
At the end of the day, what provider you go with is going to come down to personal preference, needs ,and budget. But if NOTHING else, I hope you see by now that you NEED to start an email list for your business. Take 10 minutes and do.it.now!
Once you’re set up with an Email Service Provider and have subscribers (we’ll have to cover best strategies for how to actually get subscribers in a different post as that’s a whole topic unto itself, but you can create forms within your ESP and then put them on your website), you have to actually email your list.
Even if you only have 2 subscribers, you’re going to want to get a Welcome Series set up ASAP so that you can begin nurturing your new subscribers right away.
What is a welcome series? Put simply, it’s a series of emails that are automatically sent to your subscribers after they sign up. This is where the fun starts–depending on your email service provider, you’re going to set up an automation for this, which is basically just a series of emails that are sent out on auto-pilot. You don’t have to do a thing, except set up the series once. Then walk away and know that your subscribers are being nurtured from day one.
To get started, I recommend writing at least 5 emails. You can always add more as you grow and expand and come up with new ideas.
The purpose of the welcome series is to connect with your subscribers. You want them to get to know you, and you them. You want to build trust and provide them with value. You want them to know what your site is all about, what they can expect from you, and guide them through the trajectory you want them to take on your blog (or in your business).
After your subscriber finishes the welcome series, it’s time to come up with a newsletter strategy. When I say email newsletter, I mean a one-off email that you send to your list (everyone that’s not in your welcome series) on a regular basis.
To figure out where to start, ask yourself this question: what can you commit to doing weekly?
At a bare minimum, I recommend starting with a once-per-week basic newsletter. Pick a day of the week and commit to sending this newsletter every single week at the same time so people start to expect it. You want to stay top of mind.
Your newsletters are meant to build and sustain a connection with your audience.
What to include? Think valuable content (like links to new blog posts), inspiration, helpful resources, affiliate links, and marketing that sell your own products or services outlining how exactly their lives are going to be changed in the process.
To sum up, here’s your homework: decide what you want to commit to (how often you’ll email), and what will be included in the newsletter. Create a template for these emails so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.
Go draft your first email newsletter, schedule it to auto send, and then schedule time weekly for when you’ll work on writing these emails on a regular basis.
Once you get this process down, you’ll be in great shape and have a regular routine for interacting with your subscribers and building your community.
What questions do you have about email marketing? Let us know in the comments below!
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We are an LGBTQIA-affirming, interfaith-oriented, diverse organization. We are committed to social and environmental justice, including civil rights, dismantling systems of oppression like the Patriarchy, White Supremacy and Diet Culture. We believe Black Lives Matter.