Your email is worth its weight in gold.

Email marketing is the current standard in online marketing. Your email list is worth its weight in gold. It’s the only sure way to connect with an audience that is already interested in what you have to say. Blogging, social media, and other forms of advertising statistically aren’t as effective as email marketing.

What is email marketing?

It all starts with your list. An email marketing list is the collection of names and email addresses you’ve gathered from various sources, such as your blog, website, or social media profiles. When your audience members give you their contact info, they are telling you they like what you have said. They want to know more. They want to hear from you more. It’s an acknowledgement of their interest in you. And it’s a request for more information from you.

Email marketing, then, is the regular connection between you and your audience. It can take the form of regular weekly or monthly newsletters or ezines. You could be sending a blog post to their inbox, every time you publish one. Email marketing could also be a specialized sequence of emails, designed to sell a product or service. It could be the transaction record-keeping emails, such as receipts of purchases or coupons offered. There are lots of ways to connect via email with your list.

Why do you need email marketing?

It is extremely important to gather and use an email marketing list. Unlike the following you may build on Instagram or Facebook, you own your email list. If the platforms you currently use were to change their rules (as have happened several times!), your business could be drastically impacted. An email list is the only sure way to connect, contact and advertise to your audience.

Basically, an email list is the 21st century version of the phone or direct mailing address list. Years ago, knowing your customers by their first name was a way to almost guarantee repeat business. Personalized service was the gold standard for all major retailers. Today, in the global competition for attention, being able to send an email directly into someone’s inbox creates that personal, emotional connection between businesses and their customers.

How do you create an email list?

Unlike other forms of advertising, you can’t just send out emails to random addresses, and hope for the best. Email marketing has rules and regulations (not to mention, best practices and etiquette) similar to phone marketing. Most countries in the world have SPAM laws, meaning you must ask permission before emailing someone for commercial purposes.

First, you must collect the contact information

using an “opt-in” process. This is where your customer or reader voluntarily gives you their name and email address. On that form, they should be given full knowledge and acceptance that you will be sending them regular emails.

Second, you will probably want to use one of the many email marketing service providers

to collect, store and send your marketing emails. Options include: MailChimp, ConvertKit, GetResponse, InfusionSoft, Constant Contact, AWeber, and many more. All of these have both free trials and paid versions, with a variety of features and benefits. All of them will have measures in place to make sure you follow the rules around email marketing, including unsubscribe options. They vary in terms of difficulty of use and learning curves, so shop around. A few, such as ConvertKit and InfusionSoft will offer training courses in how to best use their software and on email marketing in general. You can even get certified in those products, if you so choose.

Third, it’s often easiest to collect email addresses in exchange for a small gift or freebie.

Also known as “lead magnet” or “freemium”, these free gifts make it easier to ask for your audience’s contact information. You can offer anything from ebooks to .pdf charts, planner pages or printable posters, email-based courses, videos, podcasts, or anything else you could create to sell.

(For my free opt-in gift, click here.)

How do you market using email anyway?

No matter what you specifically send to your list, you need to have regular, consistent contact with them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be frequent, just regular. You can email daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or less often. What doesn’t work is to email daily or weekly for a few weeks, and then to disappear off the radar for a period of time. You will alienate your audience that way. You’ll be more likely to have your email marketing efforts reported as spam, and then you’ll have wasted not only your time but valuable connections too.

You have a few options for what to send to your list.

The easiest, and most often used option is to simply send out a copy of the blog post you publish. You can even automate that your blog posts go out to your email list when you publish them. Another frequent option is to create an e-newsletter or e-zine that gets sent out regularly.  Usually these emails will contain links to past blog posts, news of upcoming sales or events, and possibly even discount codes or special deals for products or services you sell.

You can create specific sequences of emails for your email list, as well.

These are known as autoresponders and are often used in specific situations, for very specific purposes. For example, a welcome sequence is a set of automatic emails triggered when a new connection signs up for your email list. It will be a series of 3-5 emails that will be sent out over a short period of time, introducing you, your website, blog and business to your new audience member. The purpose of this sequence is to quickly build up your new reader’s knowledge of you, promote their attraction to you, and create more trust between you and them.

Another sequence you could use would be a nurture sequence.

This would be a longer series of emails, probably 8-10, that would be triggered by an anniversary of their sign up, or some change in your business or blog. The purpose of the sequence would be to remind the reader of who you are, inform them of changes and updates, and build up that trust even more.

A third sequence is the sales sequence,

designed for the sole purpose of selling a particular product or service to your email list. Usually these are triggered by the launch of a new product or service. Sales sequences can be 3-10 emails long, and usually begin with a free offer. Then they add more value through information. And finally, they end with an invitation to purchase whatever product you’re selling.

Email marketing is incredibly valuable.

Your email list is the one sure connection you have to your audience, online. Social media rules change, frequently. Algorithms on Facebook, Instagram and all the others mean that you can’t always count on your posts being seen at all, let alone by the right people. Your social media marketing is at the mercy of the social media platform that owns that technology. But you own your email list. The members of your list have entrusted you with their contact information. Don’t abuse it, and don’t forget about it. Use it responsibly. You’ll see your ROI skyrocket, and your reach (and income) grow.

Blogging 101: Email marketing and your readers
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