Email marketing is the buzz phrase of 2016. You can’t move three feet in virtual space without being accosted.
“Do you have an email list yet?” “Why don’t you have an email list?” “Ohmigod you NEED an email list?”
So you set up an email list. And you even get subscribers. Amazing!
But what do you actually do with it? Well, you try not to make these 5 mistakes – and if you do, here’s how to fix them!
1) You don’t send any content.
You’ve followed all the advice and sent up a list. You’ve even got an opt-in form on your blog.
Mercy of mercies, people even sign up! But then you don’t send any content.
Maybe you’re scared people will unsubscribe. Or that you might annoy them. Maybe you just don’t know what to say.
Here’s the thing. People opted in. So they are interested. And if they’re not, and they do unsubscribe, then that’s okay too. It’s sort of the point!
Fix: Plan your content in advance, and come up with a schedule.
You’ll be able to tell from your analytics (or social shares) which of your posts are the most popular. Can you expand this content to send something exclusive to your email list that they can’t get elsewhere?
Or maybe your blog is focused on evergreen content. Send your email list content that’s more time-sensitive.
2) You do send content, but it’s too sales-y.
I see this a lot from authors, in particular. They’ve been told they need an email list, and they need to sell their books…but that’s all they do. I don’t want to go months at a time without hearing from you, only to get an email every week for a month telling me about your new release.
You’re not Top Shop, so send me stuff other than promotions, yeah?
I only send content once a month to the mailing list for my fiction efforts. I send a mixture of;
- updates on cool places I’ve been that month (which I get comments on so I know it’s appreciated)
- folklore titbits that I don’t put on my blog or on Twitter
- book recommendations
- free short stories
My readers get a whole host of content that’s not about selling. They might only get a ‘sales’ email once every five months!
Fix: Find other things to talk about other than your product or service.
What can you teach your subscribers to do? Or can you entertain them? Remember, most people’s inboxes are groaning under the weight of sales pitches. Something light or amusing can be just as welcome as a fabulous discount!
3) You only send your blog posts, rather than exclusive content.
I know, I know, this is the easy option. You’re not sure what to send, so you just email your post instead.
(Unless you’re a geek like me and you sort of use email like a weird form of RSS)
Now, I can totally see the logical behind doing this. After all, email marketing is all well and good, but your content isn’t searchable. You might send out absolute diamonds every week but no one can stumble across it by accident. It’s not shareable.
Blogs are. So putting your content on your blog, which is shareable, and sending it to your email list seems like a good idea. You get the best of both worlds, right?
Well sort of. If I can read it on your blog, why am I going to sign up to get it in my inbox?
Fix: Give your post some content within your email.
Sending posts can be a totally valid way of finding content to send. But if you’re going to do it, make sure you add some backstory as to why you wrote the post, what the main takeaways are, etc. Humanise it! Tell me a story. Make it impossible for me to not click the link to your post!
4) You don’t reply to the emails you do get.
This one is a huge problem. Say you send an email and in it, you ask your readers a question.
And they respond. What do you do? Do you;
- ignore their response. After all, you’re far too busy to reply
- send a five word reply that shows you at least saw their response, but you didn’t care enough to craft a decent answer?
I’ve had both – and from authors with smaller lists and fewer Twitter followers than me. Hell, if I can reply to every email I get, then you certainly can!
Fix: Reply to your emails!
You might not get to them immediately, or even on the same day. You might have way more people replying than I do, but some kind of response, even a few days later, is definitely appreciated. I’ve become firm fans of a few marketers and copywriters because they take the time to reply.
Remember these readers are your customers, your clients, your readers, or even your fans. You want to forge a genuine connection with them, and you won’t do that by ignoring them.
5) You don’t get permission to send emails in the first place.
This is a HUGE no-no. I’m sure you’ve suddenly had a raft of emails appear in your inbox and you know you didn’t subscribe for any of them. What gives?
Some new marketers think they can add emails from people they’ve been in touch with to their lists. No. Previous content is not permission.
Same as you can’t scrape emails from blog comments, or forums. And you certainly should never buy a mailing list.
Put simply, if someone didn’t manually put their name and email address into a form, and click a confirm button, then they didn’t give you permission.
What’s even worse is if you send emails with RE: in the subject line, as if you’ve already spoken to them before. Just no!
Fix: Make sure you get permission!
This is so simple. Just make sure you only add people to your list that come via recognised opt-in forms. All the providers I’ve encountered will even provide you with forms you can embed on your blog. Simple!
Email marketing can be quite daunting, but once you get started, it can become fun. I love emailing my fiction list, and I love getting replies! It’s totally worth doing. Just make sure you do it properly!
Have you made any of these mistakes with your email marketing? Let me know in the comments below!
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