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7 Tips for starting email marketing

7 Tips for starting email marketing

My dad was a pretty good storyteller. I know, when he was alive, I would kind of snicker and roll my eyes when he would tell the same story yet again.

Do you know anyone like that? Do you know someone who tells the same stories over and over?

If you do, hang on to them.

Make sure you sit down and listen to their stories and just enjoy.

Sharing stories does many things for us as we listen.

The Power of a Story

In fact, Professor of Marketing Jennifer L. Aaker from Stanford University has given us three things that make stories useful.


First, stories are impactful. They impact us when we listen to the story. We are usually different when we hear the story, challenged to do something different, or our mood is lighter. Think about all of the great stories you have heard. How are you different after hearing the story.

Second, stories are personal. The story you are listening to is relatable because most stories include similar elements that we all experience.

Finally, stories are memorable. You remember the best stories, right? How many sets of data do you remember, just the data?

Persuasion and the Power of Story Jennifer Aaker Future of StoryTelling 2013 YouTube
Screenshot: Persuasion and the Power of Story Jennifer Aaker Future of StoryTelling 2013 YouTube

A good email marketing plan is like a story. The emails will be impactful, personal, and memorable.

We get too caught up in the specifics of an email marketing campaign and forget what we are doing.

We forget the point for our campaign.

The point of our email marketing campaign is to nurture our relationship with our tribe.

Tell better stories.

With that, here are seven tips to help you kick-start your email marketing campaign.

Seven Tips for email marketing

Make a plan

Since when have you done anything that worked without a plan. Do you really just wing it?

Well, sometimes our casual, spontaneous efforts work, but some kind of plan is the better option.

Creating a plan by Business.Tutsplus

Anytime I have had some kind of plan for my email marketing, even if it is a weak plan, it has worked much better.

One of the things you will need to do is treat your email marketing like another content marketing effort. This means you will want to know who your audience is, how often you will send emails, and a way to track your metrics of choice.

Write regularly

This is one of the most crucial parts of the whole email marketing strategy. You could probably do away with everything else, execute writing regularly, and still see some form of success.

Write regularly and often. There is a fundamental reason for this, and I’ll discuss it in just a bit.

But first, let me just say that writing regularly helps you stay on track. Writing regularly also helps you be a better writer, even if you are writing emails for an email marketing campaign. Writing begets writing and writing better.

The more you write the better you will become at writing for your email audience, but also, it will help you write better in other areas.

Now, getting back to the fundamental reason for writing regularly and often. Writing regularly and often allows you to build a relationship with your audience.

When you write regularly, you get messages like this:

“I get tons of newsletters, emails, etc… and I always find yours engaging – keep it up!” One of my Subscribers

This was a comment I received from someone on my email newsletter. Recently, I have been writing regularly, once per week.

Put it on your schedule if you have to.

Writing emails every day is what made Ben Settle into a marketing machine.  The relationship he has with people on his list is second to none.

Consider having a theme

What I mean by a theme is have certain subjects you write about. Don’t just write about anything and everything, unless you can segue into your call to action.

One way to help this is to pick a theme or two to write about.

For example, you might write about tips for entrepreneurship. This way, you know what you are shooting for.

SumoMe gives 15 emails you should be sending 

In addition, your emails don’t have to be some kind of 2,000-word masterpiece.

How many of you have time to read something that long?

Not me.

I usually toss those emails.

The ones I read all the way through are usually 300-400 words.

If you keep it this short, you can basically talk about one small detail.

Another way to use themes is to choose a theme for a month or quarter.

Write good headlines and tell stories

Good headlines and stories
Good headlines and stories

Two of the most important things you can do with your email marketing are write good headlines and tell good stories.

Headlines are important because the wrong headline will cost you a reader.

Also, don’t use the lame tricks such as “Re:” to try to persuade your users to open.

They signed up for your email, so they know who you are.

Need headline ideas. The Copy Monk gives us 62 of them at SumoMe.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

Don’t send dry and boring content. Please don’t do that to your audience.

You want them to read your email.

Therefore, consider telling a story. Stories are important because they are memorable, impactful and personable [link]. There is a reason we watch movies and read books.

Go forth and tell stories!

Use an email marketing software

Unless you have your own server or virtual private server, you are probably better off using a third-party email marketing service.

WP Beginner outlines several reasons.

There are lots out there, but I am most familiar with MailChimp. MailChimp gives you the first 2,000 subscribers free, however, autoresponders do cost $10 per month.

It is a fantastic platform to start.

Using an email software helps facilitate subscribes and unsubscribes, ensure optins is valid, helps to avoid Spam filters, and helps you track any clicks and open rates.

Yes, you can do all of this on your own. For those of you who are more savvy, may want to host your own email marketing themselves, but if this is not an area of strength for you, it is best to use a third party email marketing service.

Forget the fancy templates

This may be more of a personal opinion, but hear me out.

I think templates for email marketing are (almost) a waste of time. I am talking about the layout templates, not templates like these.

These days your emails need to be responsive and easily read on phones. Many of the email templates don’t account for this.

The best emails I read don’t use a fancy template. It is just a plain email sent to me.

If you are building more of a fancy email made to look like a magazine, then use your template. Just make sure they are responsive.

I always use a one-column, plain template in MailChimp and keep it fancy. Most of the time I use an image, but I am always concerned about how it looks in mobile.

My advice? Forget the fancy templates.

Use good copywriting principles

While you should definitely write like you are writing to a friend, you should observe good copywriting principles as well. For example, have a call to action.

Your call to action may be “read the article” or “download our ebook” or “register for our product,” but some kind of call to action gives feet to your email.

It doesn’t have to be overbearing, but a call to action can prompt a user to make a move.

Ultimately, a call to action can lead to sales.

Some email marketing experts send emails asking people to buy their products every day. And, they are successful.

There is no shaming those who don’t take action, just the offer.

Other copywriting techniques might be using the PAS formula (problem, agitate & solution) or the Open Loop.

The whole email doesn’t need to be one long piece of copywriting, but there is a need to observe good copywriting principles.

Over to You

I think we make email marketing more complicated than it should be. Years ago, email newsletters were awesome and few people did them.

Often, they would be built like a magazine, and big brands still do this today. For the majority of us, this is not the route to go.

The value is in the content. It can be anything from experience to “infotainment.”

Again, the purpose is to build a relationship.

Are you starting an email marketing campaign in 2017?

Tell us about it in the comments below.

Have you successfully ran email marketing campaigns? Let us know!

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Todd Jones
Along with being the resident writer for MainWP and content hacker at Copyflight, I specialize in writing about startups, entrepreneurs, social media, WordPress and inbound marketing topics.
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