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The dreaded email newsletter. Learn how to get started!

Featured Image: Email Newsletters

So, you give in and try to start getting email addresses. You have created a fantastic lead magnet, started creating blog posts and slowly you are starting to get email addresses. It happens, sometimes much slower than we like, but when you put set these wheels in motion, you start to get emails.

However, there is a problem.

You are at a loss for what to do next.

You are paralyzed about what to say to your email subscribers. You don’t want to scare them off by sending them the wrong email or too many emails. You also don’t wanna come across as too salesy.

All of these are legitimate concerns.

But never fear, we are going to discuss five techniques you can implement immediately to jump-start your email newsletter.

Be Purpose Driven

Decide on the purpose of your email marketing. As a service based provider, you have different objectives than an eCommerce company or even a Software-as-a-Service provider, but you need to know what your purpose is going to be.

Joanna Wiebe does a fantastic job of breaking down the various types of emails in her post at Copyhackers.

In her article, she shows how the advances in email marketing make it more targeted and better than ever before.

With improvements like those, the old days of random email blasts to massive lists or purchased lists are over. The days of throwing your marketing message at 5000 inboxes and hoping something sticks – those days are dead as dead. Email marketing today is almost unrecognizable in comparison to where it was just three years ago, when the best you could do was send an over-designed HTML email to a list and split-test the subject line.

She breaks down emails into two major categories: Transactional and Broadcast. She defines Transactional as 1 to 1 and Broadcast as 1 to many.

Transactional is an “Order or Service Confirmation Email” but Broadcast is what we use most as service providers.

Weibe breaks down the Broadcast emails into three categories: Promotional, Newsletters, and Digests (or curated).

Using these categories, you can get an idea of things to send to your audience.

Generally, a promotion email is something that promotes your service with no apologies. Don’t give your list a steady diet of promotional emails unless you can create them in an engaging, entertaining way.

The master of that is copywriter Ben Settle. Settle sends out engaging emails that make a pitch every time for his product. It is a soft sale, but he leads the email with useful business advice and an engaging story.

Newsletter emails are, according to Wiebe,

Generally sent on a schedule – such as weekly or biweekly – these broadcast emails often go out to your entire list or a group. Regardless of the length of your newsletter, it will include information that your subscribers find valuable (or a link to that info). If there’s no valuable info, it’s just a cleverly disguised promo email.

The key here is a value-driven email. I am not a fan of calling it a newsletter because, to me, it conjures up images of the old newsletter complete with some kind of multi-column, static HTML, a mini website where the sender crams as much as possible into the email.

As Wiebe says, if there is no valuable info, you are just sending a disguised promotional email. I think these are good emails to send regularly to go along with your promo emails.

Digest emails are something similar to a curated list. As the sender, you are creating a list of resources to send your audience. One of the best senders of this type of email is the team at Convince & Convert.

Welcome onboard
Welcome onboard

Welcome your subscribers

The technical term for a welcome series is onboarding. Software-as-a-Service companies have a well thought out onboarding process for new customers. As service providers, when we start a new project, we also have an onboarding process.

For your email newsletter, you should also have an onboarding process. Now, it isn’t as hard as it sounds. Basically, you queue up an autoresponder series after someone signs up for your email newsletter. Your email marketing software should have autoresponder as part of its platform.

What do you put in your welcome series? We went over some of the things to cover in an earlier article. Additionally, here are a couple of resources to you might use:

The Art of the Welcome Email Series: How to Delight New Subscribers

How to Write a Welcome Email Series That Turns Subscribers Into BFFs

Be consistent

If you are going to create content for your audience, then spend more time on your emails than your blogs. Yes, I said that. Why? Because they are part of your tribe, your circle. They are more important than the average user who stumbles on to your blog.

You can definitely create some good content for your blog, but spend more time on your emails because they have chosen to be in your inner circle.

Maybe you can expand on a blog post and give more insight or share additional data or stories.

This week, if you are choosing between writing an email or a blog post, write the email to those who have chosen to hear from you each week.

How consistent should you be? My advice? Weekly. Nevertheless, at the least, monthly should be enough to let your subscribers know you haven’t closed shop.

The opinions about frequency are as varied as there are people. A couple things to keep in mind is the expectations you set and the makeup of your audience.

Have you ever gotten one of those emails at the end of the year from someone you signed up for their email but forgot? Don’t be one of those companies. Stay in touch. Pick a frequency you can manage and stick with it.

Give your best advice

Seriously, give it away, unless it’s a trade secret. This is something that Ben Settle does well in his emails. He gives out solid business and entrepreneurial advice. Some subscribers report back to him that they use the advice in his emails to generate more money for their business. All that for free in his email newsletters.

Most of the time, people will love the advice if it has high value. They might even try to implement the advice but find they cannot. When that happens, they come to you for help.

Sure, there will be those trying to get stuff for free, but you position yourself as an authority in the eyes of everyone else when you show your expertise in your content.

Tools you believe in
Tools you believe in

Sell or tout a product you believe in.

This is something that Kim Doyal does quite well in her emails. In fact, anytime she tells her list about something, it is a tool or course or person she believes in. Make sure your tool is good for your audience. If you are a WordPress consultant and your audience is made up of your clients who are not developers, then a post extolling the virtues of Sublime Text might not be the best thing to tout.

Wrapping it up

Sometimes getting started means jumping in with both feet. It’s okay to be honest and tell your audience you are still learning and looking forward to the journey and having them along for the ride. Take advantage of the resources available.

Remember the people element. You are sending your content to people who are looking for value. You have value. You are an expert in your field. If it helps, you might consider creating your own editorial calendar for your email newsletter.

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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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