Published on Sunday, December 8th, 2013 in Inbound Marketing

Email marketing can be lucrative (I’ve gotten quite a bit of work off of the back of my emails and blogs) but can also run the risk of being as annoying as someone knocking on your door every Sunday trying to sell you on the idea of everlasting life in a paradise Earth (I should know how annoying that is, my parents tried very hard to raise me as one of those people).

But either way it goes, doing email marketing is hard. So here’s 7 questions to ask yourself to guide your actions when attempting what many believe to be the holy grail of online marketing.

Where do I get my subscribers?

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Building up a subscriber base takes time. First you have to either have a product or service that people care enough about to sign up for information about, and then you have to convince them why they should sign up to receive news (usually from a form on your website).

Luckily the fellas over at KissMetrics have come up with a way to build a landing page and test your messaging to get people to do pretty much anything you want them to (again, with a lot of testing – and don’t change your messaging until at least 1000 people have seen it so you can have a good baseline for how your next set of messages converts).

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Of course if you’re really eager to get your list full of subscribers you could always export your LinkedIn contacts and import them into your list. While heavily frowned upon by pretty much everyone, it is a fun way to get yelled at (and should never be done when representing a company). Instructions on how to get yelled at:

  1. Go to your LinkedIn contacts page and click on the setting gear icon
  2. In the right-hand sidebar click ‘Export LinkedIn connections’
  3. Import your connections’ emails into your email service provider

I totally admit to doing this to see what would happen (I do stuff like this all the time – again, never on behalf of clients) just to see what works and what doesn’t and why. So, what happened?

  • I grew my list from 300 to 3000 in 10 minutes
  • My list shrank from 3000 to 1000 after three emails (about a month afterwards)
  • I got called a spammer twice
  • I was reported to my email provider and had my account suspended for 1 day
  • My subscribers have fed me jobs cumulatively worth over £10000 (not my original intention but awesome nonetheless)

So, was it worth it? I’ll let you decide.

Am I straight up selling something or am I sending people useful information?

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I felt a bit unjustified being called a spammer because I don’t sell anything in my emails and I genuinely try to send out information to help people. That being said we all get spam from people who just don’t know any better, don’t know what people want or are playing a numbers game and trying to scam poor Grandad (these people are the worst). What a lot of people don’t understand is that

Sales are a consequence of awareness, brand marketing and building relationships

If you’re just out to make a quick buck, you’re going to get scammed yourself (and you deserve it). There’s no such thing as a quick buck. So sorry everyone who has ever clicked on one of those ‘make money at home’ ads. You just got taken (unless you’re clicking just to rack up the CPC bills of the people putting those ads out there, then you’re a superhero).

The rule of thumb is, if you’re actually teaching a skill or imparting useful information, the money will come not because you’ve been sneaky, but because you’ve put the work in.

Am I planning on spreading emails out consistently?

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I decided to start blogging and sending out emails every Sunday, rain or shine, because that’s what I was told by everyone I should do early in my career as a blogger. So I did a test for two months in which I blogged every Sunday and sent out emails right afterwards.

My traffic went up 233%.

Then I got busy and didn’t blog for almost two months.

My traffic fell exactly 233%.

So yes, blogging and emailing consistently is a tried and tested approach. In fact, there’s a whole marketing tactic dedicated to this approach called DRIP marketing. Essentially, when you buy a product or sign up to a list and get a welcome email, then another email in 3 days, then another in 7 days, then another in 11 days that’s DRIP marketing. The company is trying to remind you that they are there and to fill your ‘mind-space’ with their brand (excuse me while I go throw up for using the phrase ‘mind-space’).

But really, this is great if you have a product. Because DRIP marketing works.

If you would like an application to DRIP to your customers I’d recommend Vero which does just that.

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Use Vero’s visual rule-builder to automatically email customers when they do or don’t do something in your application.

  • Send a triggered email 3 days after someone abandons checkout
  • Use goals to track conversions
  • Trigger emails from any activity customers take on your site

Vero makes it easy to experiment and see results quickly. A win in my book.

Am I following tried and tested formats?

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Back to the ol’ tried and tested email marketing approaches – when writing your emails you should be using the A.I.D.A formula. It stands for:

  • A – Attention (or Awareness): attract the attention of the customer.
  • I – Interest: raise customer interest by focusing on and demonstrating advantages and benefits (instead of focusing on features, as in traditional advertising).
  • D – Desire: convince customers that they want and desire the product or service and that it will satisfy their needs.
  • A – Action: lead customers towards taking action and/or purchasing.

This technique actually works wonders in emails because its can be compacted down into an email to be short, sweet and powerful. This technique is pretty self explanatory and has been put into a template for you which you can access here on Google Docs. If you’d like a more in-depth explanation of how to craft crafty emails, I’d recommend checking out the Kopywriting Kourse on AppSumo.

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Are my emails pleasing to the eye?

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Sending out 100% text-emails to me usually gets an unsubscribe. Sending out ugly emails to me usually gets an unsubscribe. Sending out colourful, mobile responsive emails to me with shiny flat graphics will get my attention and a click through to the product. Hey, I’m only human.

So what am I saying? There is no excuse for sending out ugly emails. Go to Themeforest and buy a responsive email template for 18 bucks that you can import into your favourite email service provider and use over and over again.

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Am I sending through a respected email marketing service provider?

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If you’re sending out marketing emails from your Gmail or Outlook or AOL account they will straight into people’s spam folders. Also, if you have an ‘update your subscription settings’ instead of a simple ‘unsubscribe’ button (or no unsubscribe button at all) – everyone hates you (and will mark you as spam).

Simply put, you need to go through an email marketing client that has a good relationship with Google in order for your email to be seen.

The best of these services is MailChimp. They have a beautiful, simple user interface, great customer support and a monkey gives you a high five every time you send out a campaign.

But most importantly, they are buddies with Google and will treat you right.

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And lastly… am I kicking a dead (content) horse?

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Ask yourself, is your content worth your subscribers’ time… or has it been done to death? Some topics that have been done to death:

  • How to do email marketing right (hah!)
  • Social media guru tips
  • Humblebrag updates
  • Upcoming webinar announcements
  • Shop early and save!
  • (Company) announces partnership to work with (Other Company)

Stop that you.

What do you love or hate about email marketing?

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7 Qs to ask yourself when attempting email marketing

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