Email Marketing Made Simple: How To Start & Run A Successful Email Marketing Campaign
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Email marketing has one of the highest returns on investment in all of online marketing. For every dollar spent on email marketing, you can expect about a 3800% return.
And no, that wasn't a typo.
But that doesn't mean it's easy. Email marketing requires a combination of work and the right tools (see our Mailgun alternatives to get some options). Only you can put the work in.
For my tool, I'll be using Constant Contact (check out our Constant Contact review). They can build opt in forms, send email blasts, run email automations, and have super powerful list management tools.
All the better? You can try Constant Contact free for 60 days, no payment method required. You can use the trial to follow along in this guide and set up your own email marketing campaign.Run your email marketing campaigns with Constant Contact
Benefits of Email Marketing
I'm a big believer in the power of email marketing. There are a few reasons for that.
1. Everyone Uses Email
Email is a fact of life. And whether your audience is old, young, or somewhere in the middle, it's almost guaranteed that they use email to some extent.
An OptinMonster survey showed that 99% of people use email every single day. You can't say that about any other communication channel.
Imagine it like this: You have a business where you can sell an item to 100 people. You have 100 potential buyers.
But what if you could change locations and have 10,000 potential buyers? The move might be a little inconvenient, but that's a huge increase in the amount of potential income you can make.
You can make the exact same comparison with social media vs email. You could reach a fraction of your audience on social media (despite its hype, social media doesn't encompass everyone; I'm a male in my mid-20s and despise social media). So you could reach some of your target demographic on social media.
Or you can reach 99% of people with email.
That's a no brainer. No other communication channel is so prevalent (or so easy to market to).
2. You Control Your Traffic
As a guy who makes his living by getting visitors to a website, this is a big one for me. Email allows you to control your flow of traffic.
Social traffic can be hard to build (though Pinterest traffic may be an exception). Organic traffic leaves you 100% in the not-so-benevolent hands of Google. And with the ever-increasing trend of using featured snippets to steal clicks, I don't think that trusting organic traffic is wise.
So what can you trust?
Your email list. They believed in your brand enough to sign up for your email list. If you did a good job on your lead magnet, these people already know and trust you. You've already established your value by giving them something. They don't mind clicking a link you sent them as long as its relevant to their interests.
Which leads me to my next point…
3. Email Converts Well
Since your audience trusts you and since you've established value, you can expect pretty high conversions on email.
Joe Blow who started down the rabbit hole by searching about dolphins and somehow landed on your site? Nah.
But someone who you've demonstrated your value to? Someone who already knows your name, your brand, and trusts you?
I can tell you from the Niche Pursuits email campaigns that email converts well. It's an audience of people who are familiar with you and know that you do good business. The conversions are awesome.
4. You Own The List No Matter What
This is by far my favorite thing about email marketing. Yes reaches everyone, yes you control it, and yes it converts.
But no matter what happens, you can always have your email list.
If the stock market goes down, if real estate goes bust, if you lose everything in a divorce, you still have your list.
You still have your audience.
An email list is the ultimate guarantee that you won't have to suffer financial hardship again. You own it, you control it, and no one can take it away from you.
It's the fruit of your labor. So let's talk about how to use it.
How To Start An Email Marketing Campaign
How can email marketing fuel your overall inbound strategy? Well email marketing starts with building an awesome list. This means that you're going to have to use some kind of opt in form to generate interest for your list.
It doesn't mean that you have to create annoying popups with pretty much zero value (and there are some amazing tools available as you can find out in our list of the best WordPress popup plugins).
You know the type:
That opt in provides zero value to me. Of course I love adventure! That doesn't mean I'll get an ounce of worth out of their email list.
You need to show your audience that you provide amazing content, that you're trustworthy. We call this a “lead magnet”. It's something to hook in your audience.
But how can we build a lead magnet without being spammy?
It's easier than you think.
Best Practices For Opt In Boxes:
- Use pop ups
- Offer something of value
- Make them relevant to what the reader is learning about
- Make it actionable
- A pop up within 10 seconds of a reader landing on a page is about right
- Use content upgrades as your bread and butter
- Use super lead magnets to build trust for high ticket items
Bad Practices For Opt In Boxes:
- Putting them in the sidebar (you won't convert anyone!)
- Popping up too late
- Offering “tips, tricks, and hacks” or other unclear value
- Making a general opt in for your whole site
Converting Without Being Spammy
A good opt in box will help your audience achieve or get something. In internet marketing, we call this a “lead magnet”. Your readers like it, they want it, and they're willing to give you an email address for it.
There are tons of strategies for developing lead magnets, but here are the two that work the best:
- Offer your readers a bonus on an existing piece of content. In the olden days when Jesus walked the earth, these were often a PDF form of the post. There are better things to offer than a PDF. You want something actionable and easy for your readers to fall in love with. We'll call this a “content upgrade”.
- Offer your readers a super awesome, super amazing, super fantastic something that they would pay for. The good news is that they don't have to pay for it; they can get it in their email address for free. These are best used if you have a funnel and sell higher-ticket items later on down the road. We'll call this a “super lead magnet”.
Of the two of these, the content upgrade will be your staple. It's the bread and butter of email marketing.
We'll discuss how to build an awesome content upgrade and then talk about making a super lead magnet.
Quick Note: I'll be using Constant Contact to build my email list. You can also use them to build your opt in boxes 🙂
Content Upgrades For The Win
A content upgrade is when you offer your readers something that's “content plus”. If your page is about DIY craft ideas, then a content upgrade would be a video walkthrough for building home furniture (or whatever).
If you're writing about how to catch big mouth bass, a content upgrade would be a free lure for bass.
The goal here is to take whatever your reader is learning about and upgrade it. Make it bigger, better, and more actionable. You want your content upgrades to be:
- Related to what the viewer is reading now
- Easy to consume (video, audio files, etc.)
The first step to making an awesome content upgrade is to make it related to whatever your viewer is already reading. You don't have to make these on a post per post basis, but I think that you should at least have a different opt in for every category.
Category level opt ins help you boost your conversion rate and will allow you to segment your audience. This is a big help later when you're sending out emails or selling products. You already know what each segment is interested in, so you can craft emails or products just for them.
It's a bit more work on your part, but the payoff can be enormous.
I found an amazing content upgrade on Healthline. I opened up an article about sweeteners that parents should watch out for. Here's the opt in box I got:
This content upgrade is brilliant for a few reasons.
- It is related to what I'm reading. I am curious about unhealthy sweeteners, Healthline gives me an option to take a mindful eating challenge
- It's easy! Look at the wording here. “Free”. “Our Nutrition team will show you how to create lasting, healthy eating habits“. Lasting, healthy habits for free? I'm all in.
- It's actionable. It's a challenge: go on this journey with us for 21 days
I can't see their opt in rate for this, but I'm guessing that it's pretty significant.
That's a great opt in. What are the characteristics of a bad opt in?
I did a little digging and found a bad opt in. It didn't take me long.
This is a bad opt in for a few reasons. First, you can see that it doesn't offer me much of value.
A Roadie insider? What is that? Why would I want to be one?
The next things they offer me are “exclusive deals and discounts”. I don't think I'm interested. I'm reading an article about how to tune a guitar. Odds are good that I already have a guitar, so I don't need deals or discounts.
Second, they don't offer anything actionable. Since this is an article about guitar tuning, an awesome content upgrade would be a video guide. It would be easy to consume, helpful.
And third, this is unrelated to the content I'm consuming. Nothing here about being a better musician or tuning guitars better. I'll pass, thanks.
The biggest problem with this opt in is that it doesn't offer me much value. What does “deals and discounts” even mean? Is that a $10 off coupon once a blue moon? Or is it 50% off a $500 purchase? The difference between those two things is enormous. They need a better value proposition.
Here's an opt in that is okay. It's not great, but it doesn't make me want to bleach my eyes:
The value proposition here is better: saving money on my next trip. That's pretty appealing. I do love saving money.
But it doesn't tell me how I'm saving money. Will I be spending less on airfare or will I be swapping a nice Airbnb for a hut in the wall?
It also doesn't tell me how much I'll be saving or what I'll need to do to start saving. A better opt in might be “3 things to say to your airline to guarantee cheaper flights” or something like that.
It's a fine opt in. But it's pretty eh. With a clearer value proposition and more actionable content, this could be a killer.
So now let's look at an amazing opt in:
Woah. Take a look at that copy.
I have no desire to be a profitable Youtube music star, but I opted in anyways. Let's break this down:
- It's related to what I'm reading. I was checking out best apps to learn guitar. They know I want to play music, they know I have a technical inclination. I'd rather use my phone than go to an instructor. There are good odds that I've seen someone teaching guitar on Youtube and have thought that I'd like to be in their shoes. They know that I'm a “real world independent musician”.
- It's easy to consume (a free book, nice!) and has a super clear value for me. I could make between $4,077 and $22,573+ per month! Look at those specific numbers.
- It's very actionable. 5 steps to a profitable music career. What gets easier than that?
- It has social proof. They show you that the book has 4.5/5 stars. Nice!
That's an awesome content upgrade.
As mentioned before, you can build these types of content upgrades in Constant Contact. Try Constant Contact free for 60 days, no payment method required
Super Lead Magnets For High Ticket Items
Content upgrades are great at building your email list for pretty general purposes. You want direct traffic, you want affiliate sales, you have a small funnel.
But if you sell big ticket items?
You might need to build a little more trust with your audience. You need to show them that business with you is always a win for them.
The easiest way to build trust and give amazing value is to give something away for free. But this can't just be anything for free; it has to be something so cool, so awesome that someone would pay money for it.
These “super” lead magnets should be something that most people would pay in the range of $20-$100 to have… and you're giving it away for free.
The best super lead magnet I could find was on Authority Hacker. They have a course called The Authority Site System that teaches you how to build a 4+ figures per month authority website (check out my Authority Site System review).
Their opt in process looks like this:
First they have a popup that offers relevant, actionable, easy-to-consume content:
And the free training they mention?
It's an hour and a half long webinar that tells you step by step how to build one of these sites.
No hype, no fluff. It's an hour and a half of pure value. They give you their strategies for building sites, proof that the methods work, and tell you how to replicate it on your site.
This free training alone is better than some online courses.
And I don't know their numbers, but I'm going to guess that The Authority Site System sells like hotcakes.
That's the power of a super lead magnet: you establish trust with your leads. And once they trust you, they won't have a problem buying from you.
Since these are more difficult to make than a content upgrade, I recommend a super lead magnet if you're looking at selling your own products. Super lead magnets work well with high ticket items that require a lot of trust beforehand.
Now that you have a strategy for your lead generation, let's look at what to do once you have the email list.
How To Run An Email Marketing Campaign
The best way to run your email marketing campaign is to start with the end goal.
What is your ideal outcome?
Do you have a funnel where you want someone to buy or do you want to build the relationship? Are you trying to wish a happy birthday to the members of your list or are you planning a 7 email series to create customers?
Or maybe you want all of these things for different audiences. Maybe high ticket clients get a happy birthday and others get a welcome message when they join the email list.
No problem. You can do all of that.
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