In this beginners guide to email marketing with a website I’ll show you the overall concept of list building and what’s involved in setting things up. If you’ve never set up a campaign with your blog or website before, this is perfect for you.
Why Email Marketing Is Important
If you don’t have an email marketing system for your website you are leaving money on the table, plain and simple. Some marketers swear its the only way to make money while others do very well without it altogether.
Personally, I think there’s a balance to be had somewhere in the middle.
Email marketing is really just a means to communicate with your website visitors on a more personal level and if done correctly it can enhance your content marketing efforts. The other cool thing is you can change the messages regularly according to feedback and analytics which allows you greater control over short term results.
Here’s the 4 main reasons building a list is important:
- To build trust and relationships with your target audience
- To capitalise on people that may have just left your website anyway
- To keep people informed about news, events or updates to your website
- To make more sales or accomplish more of whatever your primary goals are
Whatever your reason may be it’s certainly a good idea to get started with your own unique email campaign and hopefully this article will help you do that.
Deciding On An Auto-Responder
There’s a lot of different options to choose from when deciding on an auto-responder. Things like price, deliverability, ease of use, analytics capability and customisability are what come to my mind.
Personally, I use MailChimp.
The cool thing about Mailchimp is it allows you to test the waters by buying ‘pay as you go’ credits in the beginning so you can build a small list before committing to a monthly fee. This essentially allows you a bit of time if you have a new website and are building your traffic and getting things set up, before being locked into a monthly payment plan.
When you are confident and have a few dozen subscribers, the monthly option is much more cost effective moving forward. Also, if you are getting a ton of traffic to your website then the monthly plan would probably be best to start with.
They do have a free option as well but it comes with some annoying automation restrictions, you can only send broadcast messages.
It’s also super easy to use and get set-up with which is great for me, I don’t like being bogged down with the technical side of things. I just like when these things work.
Other options like Aweber or GetResponse are also good (I think Aweber may have a better support system) although I haven’t tried those options personally so I’m only speculating.
Whatever you decide, just as long as it’s a decent auto-responder and works well for you. Give yourself the time to go through the platform and familiarise yourself with it. Set up a dummy campaign and test it with your own email address.
The Basic Framework
There’s a basic framework you’ll want to get in place to be able to get things rolling. There’s a few different ways you can do this but this is what I have learned and it works well for me.
I created 3 separate pages for my website (yellow boxes), all of which I ‘no indexed’ because I don’t want Google or Bing trying to rank those in the search results.
Here’s the rundown on the pages…
Page1- Opt in page (also known as a squeeze page).
The sole purpose of this page is to convince people to join your mailing list. The best way to do this is by offering people something of value for free which some marketers refer to as an ‘ethical bribe’. You give me your email address and I’ll give you this awesome free gift. Pretty simple.
You could also just tell people to opt-in to stay updated with the content on your blog, for example every time you publish a new post or have something exciting to share.
There are other options to get people to opt-in such as pop-ups, side bar widgets, scroll bars, opt-in boxes at the end of articles and more but this is your central page. You will want to link to this page in your main menu and maybe even with relevant in text links throughout your content.
Page 2- Please confirm your email page.
Immediately after someone subscribes to your list you’ll have the option to send them to your own confirmation page or a page hosted by your auto-responder. This is part of a ‘double opt-in process’ which makes sure you are only subscribing people that want to be on your list.
This page basically says: “Please check your email and confirm your request to subscribe to our list” or something like that.
I chose to create my own page so I could design it how I wanted and I can set up tracking using Google Analytics for those pages.
For example I know that every time someone lands on page 3 they have successfully subscribed, thats the only way they could have landed on that page since I do not link to it anywhere else. So having my own pages I can track the amount of people that land on website to who lands on pages 1 through to 3.
This information tells me a lot about my visitors and their behaviours with my content. Most importantly it shows me where I can improve things to increase my opt-in rate.
I’m pretty sure you can set up tracking without creating your own pages like this, but this is just how I’ve done things.
The other useful thing about this page is telling people to check their junk or spam folders incase your emails go there. This can happen so don’t be alarmed, warning them up front will help curb this issue as they will check those folders and mark them NOT as junk hopefully.
Page 3- The successful subscriber page.
This is the page that thanks your visitors for opting in and completing the process. You may want to provide a download link right there on that page to your free gift or simply tell them to check their email. If a person lands on this page you know they have successfully subscribed to your list.
Depending on which option you go for you’ll get the option somewhere in the settings to direct people to your custom pages or just to a form hosted by the auto-responder company that will do a similar job. Which option you go for is totally up to you.
The Email Sequence
There’s a lot of different ways to approach the actual email sending side of things so I’ll give you an overview of how things work.
There are 2 main types of email messaging:
- Broadcast messages
- Automated messages in a sequence
The first way is good if you just want to keep readers informed and send messages now and then. The automated option is (in my opinion) a lot more effective in terms of scaling your efforts and actually turning a profit with your email marketing campaigns.
As the name suggests, the automated email sequence allows you to schedule a purposeful series of messages to your list over a selected time period. Doing this allows you not only to automate your efforts but also to track and tweak everything to maximise results. This is my favourite part about email marketing, I love automation.
Here’s an example of a 5 day automated campaign:
Day 1- Immediately after reaching page 3 (successful subscriber page) they will get a welcome message from you and this would include a link to download whatever gift you promised them in the beginning. Some marketers include a subtle link to a paid product they are affiliated with (or own) within this gift if it is a written pdf. That’s fine but make sure the gift has actual value rather than just being a glorified sales letter.
Day 2- Something of value/ interesting to your audience
Day 3- Something of value/ interesting to your audience
Day 4- Promo
Day 5- Something of value/ interesting to your audience
I am not saying this is a model campaign but it is giving you a general idea on how things work. Test out what works for you.
Another thing worth noting is that while sending your audience promotional material is fine, you don’t want to over do this. Otherwise they will see you as someone trying to sell them stuff which really isn’t cool and won’t work very well for you. On the other hand if all you ever do is give people free stuff, they’ll get used to this and be less inclined to buy anything from you in the future because they will expect everything for free.
People are happy to pay for things that they deem valuable so don’t shy away from offering paid products, just make sure you’ve built up some credibility first and that whatever you are offering will actually help your audience. Never promote junk, no matter what. The key principal is to show your subscribers genuine value upfront for free so when the appropriate time comes to offer a paid solution to whatever their problem is, they’ll be much more inclined to listen to you.
Other than that just share cool stuff with people and build relationships, this is good for everyone involved.
There’s some technical things you’ll need to learn if you’ve never set anything like this up before but it really isn’t that hard if you get a decent auto-responder. Some are easier to use than others and come with different levels of support. Choose one, get familiar with it and most of all don’t give up.
Give yourself the time to get used to everything and you’ll come to learn what is involved. Hopefully this article has given you a good overview of the process and will help you get started. I also wrote an article with some useful email marketing tips to help people get started on the right foot, hope it helps!
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll happily help you out 🙂