The number of e-mail users worldwide is forecasted to rise to 2.9 billion by 2019, as reported by Statista.
And, according to Campaign Monitor, for every dollar spent on email marketing, an average of $44 dollars return on investment is realized.
With such a large potential audience, and potential return, it’s no wonder successful businesses have deeply integrated email marketing strategies and techniques. And that explains why more than 86% of businesses surveyed by Email on Acid indicate that they plan to increase their upcoming email marketing budgets.
Since you’re here, I assume you haven’t yet started email marketing, or perhaps have only dipped your toes in the water, and are looking for a clear roadmap for how to proceed.
You’ve made the right choice.
I’ve been working to implement email marketing tools and tactics for both myself and other businesses for years. I’m going to bring all of that experience to bear in order to help you quickly understand how to do email marketing, what the benefits are, best practices, and best tools to use.
“Email has an ability many channels don’t: creating valuable, personal touches – at scale.” – David Newman
What Is Email Marketing?
At its core, email marketing is simply about using email as a medium for communicating. We will get into the different things that can be communicated in a moment, but there are few truths here that need to be pointed out.
First, email is text-based. While you can embed images and link to videos, and use a variety of techniques to add color and structure, the heart of your message is a written one. From the subject down to your final sign-off, your email recipients will be readingwhat you have to say. It’s important not to lose sight of this fact since audio and visual information is communicated – and received – differently than text.
Along those same lines, you should know that most emails are read via mobile devices. One of the first things most people do in the morning is use their smart phone to check their email. Does that fact make a difference to what you expect your readers to do as a result of your message? It’s something to think about.
Speaking of recipients, the people on your list should have opted in – meaning, they specifically chose to be emailed by you regarding a specific set of topics. More and more countries are adopting strict rules which require businesses to adhere to. These rules ensure that subscribers choose to subscribe and fully understand what they’re subscribing to.
Which means that individuals can choose to subscribe and choose to unsubscribe. And folks will unsubscribe. Even the most amazing email content and marketers will have people who unsubscribe, for a variety of reasons. As long as you adhere to the principles we talk about here, you can rest assured that anyone who unsubscribes does so because of their own reasons, and not something you did.
While subscribers are individuals who have chosen to hear what you have to say, that doesn’t mean that they’ve chosen to buy from you, or that they’re even likely prospects. Part of the email marketing process that we’re going to be talking about is the need to use email (and blog) content to give subscribers the opportunity to self-identify as a prospect so that you can help them to, eventually, become a customer.
Email Marketing also means that you’re using tools (which we’ll get into) to send emails in bulk to all (or segments) of your subscribers at once. This is what makes email marketing so powerful – as you gain subscribers, your email marketing efforts scale perfectly and deliver more and more results.
Now that you’re armed with those truths, let’s explore some of the fun and profitable things you can do with email marketing.
What Are The Types Or Uses For Email Marketing?
Before we begin to set up your email marketing system, you should have a sense for how you’re going to use it. Now, at this stage, it’s perfectly OK if you do not yet know what you plan to communicate via email to subscribers. But if you’re creating content of any kind, you should begin to accept email subscribers immediately. There’s nothing wrong with figuring out what you’re going to email them down the road.
To give you some ideas though, here are some general categories of email content and uses:
Probably the most common use for email is to communicate sales, discounts, and general product information. These are the emails we’ve all received and, when executed properly, can be quite effective.
Along with communicating specials or other events, sales emails can be used to bring back a customer who changed their mind at the last moment. You may have noticed that most shopping carts start the checkout process by getting your name and email, and then proceed to handle shipping and billing information on a second page. That is so they can capture your email address and associate it with that checkout session. If you choose to “abandon” the shopping cart without paying for your items, the brand might choose to send you one or more emails shortly afterwards, offering additional discounts if you return and complete your order.
These can also represent more traditional “sales emails” that are more of a dialogue about a customer’s needs and opportunities. If you’ve built a list of prospective customers, there are certainly ways that you can initiate some conversations at a bulk level and then take them to extremely personal levels thereafter.
If you’re just starting out and have not yet established a sales pipeline, you can use an email finder to begin to cultivate new emails and relationships with prospects.
Company News & Announcements
While this type of email might not always be very exciting, it’s certainly a valid use for email marketing.
In fact, some company news and announcements can be really effective at helping your subscribers to learn more about you, and go from being a subscriber to a prospect to a customer.
For instance, suppose your business offers an online service and you’ve recently added a new feature that many customers had been requesting. If you communicate that to your email list, you may reach a number of prospects who will subscribe now that you offer something they desperately needed!
Blog Post Notifications
Interestingly, notifying email subscribers of your latest articles and blog content is something many businesses and bloggers fail to do. And yet the majority of email subscribers are there because they want to know about your latest content.
So give it to them!
Now, the notification itself can come in a variety of forms, and I encourage you to test which format works best for you and your audience. You might automatically email a link, or draft an email that provides a more custom introduction. Or you might choose to email the entire article.
I’m personally not a fan of that last technique, but it’s something that other businesses and marketers do, so it’s worth testing.
Surveys & Questionnaires
Often, some of the best business information we can obtain is right within our list. All we have to do is ask!
Questions might range from a single inquiry to multi-page surveys. You might look for feedback about your products and services, or just give readers an opportunity to ask you questions.
And that, by the way, is an excellent method for generating new blog and content ideas. Whatever questions your readers come up with are likely to be very interesting to many other readers!
While the label “thought leader” might not be one you’re comfortable applying to yourself, the principle is applicable. Whatever it is that you do, whatever business it is that you’re in, part of your purpose for writing content and emails is to establish your authority. Potential customers need to get to know, like and trust you, and to see you as an expert they can rely on.
Sharing your thoughts and opinions is an easy way to build that trust and authority.
So this type of email is not unlike a blog post, only you’re saving the content exclusively for your email subscribers.
And that, in itself, can be a very good thing. If your subscribers know that you sometimes share things with them that you share with no one else, that’s further incentive to remain a subscriber.
Finally, there’s the format of using email marketing to aid in the customer journey. This is by far my favorite use for email so it’s one we’ll spend a little more time on…
What’s a Customer Journey, anyways?
Well, a Customer Journey – also known as a Buyer’s Journey or Sales Funnel – is a series of stages that a typical prospect goes through before becoming a customer. These will vary with every business, but generally follow the same path:
Awareness -> Interest -> Decision -> ACTION
Awareness is when you realize that you have a problem or need, and find yourself wondering what exactly the issue is.
Interest is when you determine what your issue is and begin to look for probable solutions.
Decision is when you know what your options are and need to select one.
Those stages are sometimes visualized as a funnel:
While you can allow your prospects to reach their own conclusions and follow their own path, it’s better if you’re able to guide them into resources that provide them with the information they need to make an informed decision and then take action.
While that information can be delivered in articles and blog posts, what we’re talking about here is a series of emails.
One of the beauties of any decent email marketing solution (EMS) is the capability to send multiple emails over time based on conditional triggers. Often referred to as an Automated Workflow. An example from earlier would be an abandoned cart email sent within an hour, and then a follow-up message sent a day later if there’s still no purchase.
But that only works on people who have gone so far as to begin a purchase from you. What about people who aren’t yet ready to buy?
Admittedly, this technique works best with services or expensive products – purchases that people usually need a few days to consider. Inexpensive items lack the available time to make an impact via email.
Whether communicating with your existing list, or new subscribers, you can set up a series of emails that help raise awareness of a particular need, provide insight into the available options and solutions, and give your readers a clear course of action to proceed.
And the reason why this works so well is that too few other businesses do it! It’s certainly not easy to consider your prospect’s greatest needs and then to create content that specifically empathizes with and addresses those needs. It will take you time to work that out!
Realize though that spending a few hours now to come up with and execute this kind of tactic will pay off immensely in the future. Once set up, these automated email messages will go out over and over again to your designated subscribers.
We’ll talk about how to attract new subscribers into these automated workflows and sales funnels in a bit. At this point, you should be considering which of the above techniques best fit your business model and audience, and start thinking about what you might say in those emails.
“People need stories more than bread itself. They tell us how to live, and why.” – Arabian Nights
How To Start Email Marketing
Alright! Now that you have a base understand of what you’re going to be using email marketing for, it’s time to get set up. I usually find that having that understanding makes everything else easier to work through.
Step One: Sign Up for Wishpond
Wishpond is my preferred solution for email marketing. I used MailChimp for years and it was OK, but Wishpond does so much more. Once I started to offer more than one digital download, I had to abandon MailChimp’s provided forms and add another tool for forms and popups – SumoMe. And if I wanted to create a Landing Page or Contest, I used Wishpond.
Turns out, I can do it all with Wishpond. And so can you!
- Collect Leads
- Send Newsletters
- Send emails in sequence
- Create Welcome Mat, Exit Intent, Smart Bar, Scroll, Click and Embedded Forms & Popups
- Create Landing Pages to funnel prospects through targeted offers, and…
- Create Contests to generate leads and brand awareness
Click on Start Free Trial.
Click on Do It Yourself and then select Start Free For 14 Days under the Starting Outplan – this will handle up to 1,000 leads!
Create your account using an email and password or one of the social integrations. Don’t worry, if you need to add other team members to your account you can do that later under Settings -> Manage Users.
Enter your billing information, noting that you won’t be charged for 14 days and can cancel before that date without incurring any charges.
On the next screen, enter your name and company information. Select your industry, company size, then watch a brief introductory video from my friend Bree at Wishpond.
When you’re ready, click on Start Creating.
Step Two: Create Your First Wishpond Campaign
Within Wishpond, every technique that you use to gather leads, whether it’s a popup, contest or landing page, is a “Campaign.” When you create a new campaign, it will automatically create a corresponding “list” where new leads will be added.
Don’t worry, leads can belong to multiple lists within Wishpond without driving up your monthly fees. In fact, being able to use multiple lists is a real asset, as you’ll see in a moment.
To get started, let’s create a popup for your basic Newsletter subscription. Click on Popup.
Here you’ll find dozens of templates to choose from. You can change the template later if you decide it wasn’t what you wanted, as well as split test different layouts or text against each other. It’s also important to note that you have a great deal of control over fields, layout, backgrounds, fonts and colors…
The key here is to select a template that’s closest to what you want to display so that you have a minimum of changes to make.
PRO TIP: Once you’ve created a popup that has your brand fonts and colors and style, save it as a template so that you can repurpose it over and over.
Choose a template and give your campaign a name (i.e. “Newsletter Popup”).
Click on any element to change it, including font, color, text, icons and background. Add or remove fields as needed, though it’s recommended that you use the minimum number of fields. For most lead generation popups, that means asking for just First Name and Email.
When you’re happy with what you’re communicating and asking, click on Main View and then Thank You View to edit how the success version of the popup will look.
If you would rather direct the new subscriber to a specific URL after they fill in the form, click on your button and then click on the link icon to adjust what happens upon click.
Click on Link to Thank You Page and edit the URL accordingly.
Click on Publish. Now you’ll have a few more settings to review.
Here you can change the name, as well as change the type of Popup. Options include:
- Entrance – triggered when a visitor first opens a webpage.
- Exit – triggered when a visitor’s mouse leaves the webpage.
- Timed – triggered after a visitor has spent X time on a webpage.
- Scroll – triggered after a visitor has scrolled XX% of the way down a webpage.
- Click – triggered when a visitor clicks a link or button.
As you can see, there are quite a few different options! For your Newsletter, you’ll want to select Click so that we can set up links and buttons on your site. You can come back later to begin creating other kinds of popups.
(Note that if you want to create a smart bar or slide in popup, those are different campaigns from the standard popup.)
Next, think about mobile users. If you’re providing a Click popup that they’re choosing to access, you’ll want to uncheck this option. If, however, you’re setting up an Entrance, Exit, Timed or Scroll popup, you’ll likely want to keep the popup disabled for mobile users. Google frowns on “interstitials” that totally disrupt the mobile experience, which these large popups do, and will penalize your site’s ranking.
Adjust the frequency as needed – though it’s not necessary for a Click popup – other kinds of popups you’ll want to make sure there’s at least a day or week between displays to the same visitor.
Now, here’s the only tricky part. You need to add a snippet of code to your website.
If you’re already using Google Tag Manager, you can add it there. Otherwise, you’ll need to Copy the script snippet and paste into your website so that appears in the header of every page.
Usually this involves editing one of your website Theme files or fields.
It’s important that the code snippet be placed on every page so that Wishpond can easily manage and monitor conversions, as well as be able to place popup campaigns wherever you indicate. You can then control within Wishpond which campaigns appear where.
Now, when you select Click, some of these options disappear and you’ll see instead the “Click Link” – that’s the link code to insert into your site wherever you wish to invite new subscribers into your newsletter. You can replace the YOUR TEXT HERE with whatever other text you wish, or even an image.
Congratulations! Once you click on Publish you will have saved your first campaign.
Click on the Home button and then on Campaigns to see your newsletter campaign listed. This is where you can see at a glance how all of your campaigns are doing – how many views they’ve received and how many conversions (leads) have been generated.
Step Three: Create Your First Wishpond Automation
While collecting leads and subscribers to which you can send newsletters and email notifications is great, the real magic happens with Automation – being able to send one or more emails to your subscribers based on assorted conditions.
I’ll give you some advanced strategies in a moment, but for this first automation we’ll start with something simple: a Welcome message to new subscribers.
Click on Email Automation and then click on the orange Email Automation Workflow to start a new automation.
You can see the various kinds of workflows Wishpond suggests and offers – for us today, the Welcome Email is the easiest choice.
Workflows are predicated by “conditions” – under what circumstances does a subscriber qualify to be a part of this automation?
In this example, it’s an easy condition: “If someone converts on your Newsletter campaign, continue…” – but you can create far more elaborate conditions based on past activity and more.
Select your campaign from the drop down box and save your condition set.
The next step is to define one or more “actions” – what Wishpond will do if someone meets your conditions. The standard action is to send an email.
If you’ve already created one or more emails, you can select and repurpose them from the drop down box. (This is really convenient if you have different popups with the same offer.) But since this is your first time through the system, you’ll want to click on +Create New Email.
The email creation process is the same within Wishpond whether you’re sending a newsletter or setting up an automated message, so once you’ve done it a couple of times it will be very easy.
First, enter some details about this email:
The Email Name is just for your benefit.
The Email Subject line is critically important and not to be quickly typed in. It should be personal and informative and compelling. “Welcome to my newsletter” is boring. And can potentially be flagged by Gmail! Instead, come up with something more creative, like “Are you ready for this?”
Your From Name should be recognizable and an individual if at all possible. For instance, I might use “Mike from The Social Media Hat” instead of just “The Social Media Hat.”
Use a From and Reply To email address that is recognizable (and works!).
And note the Merge Tags buttons – these are opportunities to insert things like First Name into the Subject that help personalize your messages.
Now, the first time you set up your From and Reply To Email Addresses, Wishpond will need to verify that you have access and authority to use that email, so it’ll send you a confirmation email with a verification code to enter. Once you’ve done that, you won’t have to do it again.
Just as with popups, Wishpond gives you dozens of email templates to choose from. And again, I recommend choosing a template that’s closest to how you want to style your emails, customize it, then save it as a template for you to choose later.
In fact, I recommend stripping down whatever template you choose to be just text. The more complicated emails tend to get flagged by email providers and therefore have lower Open Rates (how many people opened / total emails sent).
Here you can type in your text, of course, but go ahead and style the email first according to how you want it to look. Take your time and select fonts, colors and other aspects that will accurately mirror your brand. Then click on Save As Template.
Once that’s done, go ahead and think about what you want to communicate to your new subscribers!
Welcome them, of course. But also tell them a bit about yourself and what they can expect. If you have really great content already published that they might not have found yet, tell them about it! Some of my best articles are from years ago and my latest subscribers have never read them.
If it makes sense, talk about your community of readers and possibly your customers. What have they learned or accomplished?
“Make the customer the hero of your story.” – Ann Handley
When you’re ready, click on Finish to return to your automation.
You’ll see your new email selected in the drop down box and can choose some additional settings. While most Welcome messages should be sent automatically and immediately, you can choose to limit the “delivery window” if you only want to send emails during specific times or on specific days.
After that, you can add additional actions if you wish! You can send additional emails, add properties to the lead, and even move them into different lists. And throughout, you can insert delays.
For instance, if you want to send an initial Welcome email and then follow that up with another email a day later, you can do that here. Add a “delay” of 1 day and then add another email to the workflow.
Once you’ve set up the workflow to include all of the steps you want at this time, click on Launch Workflow to begin!
Once live, every time a new subscriber clicks on your Newsletter popup and submits their information, Wishpond will automatically file them as a lead and send them your Welcome email.
After that, whenever you wish to send a new newsletter or blog post notification, got to Email Automation -> Email Newsletters.
How NOT To Do Email Marketing
Let’s come up for air for a bit. Setting up your email marketing and Wishpond for the first time is pretty technical. Kudos for getting through that!
One of the areas I want to cover with you is what you should not do in your email marketing. This is going to be a simple list of “Do not’s” so that you know to avoid these kinds of tactics.
I bring these up because many of the tactics listed below are actually taught and encouraged by others. Those people are wrong.
At best, using any of these tactics risks alienating a subscriber and, let’s face it, a pissed-off subscriber is not likely to remain a subscriber for long, are they?
At worst, you risk having your email account terminated, leads lost, and your business sued in court for violation of international email marketing and spam legislation.
Yes, there are laws about what you can and cannot do with email marketing, and the laws apply depending on both your country of origin and your subscriber’s country. For instance, as a U.S. business I’m bound by the FTC’s CAN-SPAM policies, while because I have subscribers from Canada, I’m bound by Canada’s CASL policies.
While it would be good to become familiar with all relevant legislation and requirements, you can remain compliant if you:
- Always allow subscribers to opt in to your list, and make it clear what they’re opting into.
- Always keep your emails focused on delivering the kind of information and value you promised.
Focus on doing that, and avoid the following:
- Do not import subscribers from Gmail or other email clients – those folks did not opt in to your marketing.
- Do not export LinkedIn Contacts and import them – a social connection is not permission to market to.
- Do not use gimmicks or excuses to send multiple emails in a day.
- Do not use Gmail or other email clients for email marketing – your ISP and your email client will not permit you to send more than a couple hundred emails at once.
- Do not sell your list, ever.
How To Grow Your Email Subscriber List
“A small list that wants exactly what you’re offering is better than a bigger list that isn’t committed.” – Ramsay Leimenstoll
We all start with 0 leads and subscribers and begin to grow our list from there. And we all start with slow-growing lists and, over time, find ways to accelerate that growth.
Don’t fret then over the size of your list. As Leimenstoll points out, a small list is great if they’re targeted subscribers who are really interested in you and your business.
Regardless, we still need to find ways to grow that list! I’m going to go through some of the best ways to get more and more leads and email subscribers, and how to use Wishpond to accomplish them.
We’ve already gone through how to set up a newsletter list, subscription form, and automation. What we haven’t covered in detail is where to put those invitations.
Certainly, the sidebar and/or footer of your site and blog is an excellent idea (by the way, if you haven’t yet started your blog, learn how here).
Depending on the nature of your site, you might include a button in your main navigation or someplace similar. Remember, with the Click Popup from Wishpond, you can program any button or image to open the popup form, and buttons are far more likely to convert than links.
Even better, whenever you have a good blog post that doesn’t already have a natural call to action (like, to call you), just let readers know at the end that if they like your content they can subscribe to get more!
Those placements will begin to generate a trickle of new subscribers for you. But to really ramp up your efforts, begin to implement one or more of the following techniques.
A “content upgrade” is when you offer readers a digital download that’s related to the article they’re reading. It might be a:
- PDF version of that article (if it’s a long one)
- Worksheet based on the article
- Swipe file of text to information
- Template or other guide
For instance, my article on How To Set Up Landing Pages in Wishpond includes a full PDF version of the article that readers can have emailed to them for easy reference.
Another example is my list of 2018 Holidays & Events which is offered as part of the article on How To Plan Your Blog Around Holidays And Seasonal Events. The download is a set of free calendars that list major holidays, seasons, and even sporting events.
The key with a content upgrade is that it’s paired with a specific piece of content that visitors can read in full. They don’t have to subscribe to see the original post. If they do, that’s called…
As the name suggests, gated content is fenced off and not accessible to just anyone. You have to subscribe to get it… to “get through the gate.”
Gated Content might be content that is online or delivered via email – I tend to prefer email delivery as it doesn’t require any special website functionality.
Gated Content can be many of the same things as Content Upgrades, but there needs to be more value there. The offer of a gated piece of content needs to be enticing enough to stand on its own, without an accompanying article.
For a good example, take a look at my Facebook Survival Kit. It’s an eBook that I put together which gives you over 70 tips, tricks, tools and resources to be more successful on Facebook, and it’s enormously popular.
What you’ll see by clicking through to that link is simply a blog post that talks about and offers the Kit. But that’s not the most effective means of bringing in new subscribers. That would be…
Popups & Landing Pages
We talked a lot about popups and the different kinds of popups earlier. And while we set up a Click popup, the best ones are Entrance and Exit popups that have offers targeted to your webpage visitors.
You probably saw one of mine when you started reading this article – an entrance popup (a.k.a. Welcome Mat) that offered to send you that Facebook Survival Kit.
Because so many of my website visitors are coming for information about social media, and Facebook specifically, that entrance popup converts amazingly well.
According to Sumo, the average email opt-in rate is 1.95%. That means nearly 2 out of every 100 people who see your popup offer will sign up. My entrance popup is currently converting at 2.22%, and sometimes does a lot better than that – typically when I publish new content about or related to Facebook.
Once you have some Content Upgrades or Gated Content, you can begin to create popup offers that entice new subscribers with those offers!
It will take time to create a complete system for generating leads. Putting together each of those digital downloads is a lot of work. But, eventually, you’ll have a variety of offers that you can mix and match, and pair up with specific articles.
In my case, as an example, I eventually should have multiple entrance popups – the Facebook Kit for articles about social media, and different offers for articles about blogging or email marketing, better suited to those readers.
Similarly, you can use Landing Pages to offer some of the same digital downloads but the audience is a bit different.
Instead of targeting website visitors, landing pages are great for advertising traffic! You can set up ads on Facebook, for instance, that are highly targeted, and direct users to an appropriate landing page to download your resource.
Again, my Facebook Kit is a great example, as I’ve used a combination of targeted Facebook ads and a dedicated landing page to generate thousands of new subscribers.
The fastest way to generate a bunch of new subscribers though is to run a contest.
A contest is simply an offer of a prize of some kind in exchange for entry. Wishpond offers a variety of different contest formats:
From Photos to Instagram to Video, you can run all kinds of contests, each formatted a little differently. My favorite is the Leaderboard Contest.
With this format, entrants are able to participate by doing one or more tasks that you choose to offer, such as sharing to social or referring other friends. And of course, sign up for your newsletter.
Each completed task registers points, and some tasks like referrals can be done over and over. The leaderboard then shows who has generated the most points and will win whatever prize(s) you offered at the end of the contest.
The contest campaign itself is essentially a landing page that you can drive traffic to via social media, popups, email and paid advertising.
Just make sure that whatever prize you offer is targeted well to your audience. If you give away a flat screen TV, you’ll get leads from anyone in the world, whereas something that’s far more specific to your target audience will be better suited.
What To Do Next?
So take this slowly. You don’t have to jump into extensive email series and elaborate contests. Start with your newsletter and use the exercise of creating a popup and email automation to become familiar with Wishpond and email marketing in general.
Then start working on your first digital download and offer. You’re going to want to continue to add new digital offers to your site because, over time, they will all work together to grow your audience every day.
For your first one, I recommend writing an extensive guide (not unlike this one, which clocks in around 5500 words), and offer a PDF version of the article to go with it. You can then experiment with other popups and landing pages that offer that same resource.
The most important step right now is to get an account with Wishpond and to start collecting email subscribers. You don’t want to miss out on any more opportunities to gain new readers from the website visitors that are already trafficking your content.
Got questions? Leave ‘em in the comments below! I have all kinds of additional articles and guides in progress or in mind to write, but I’m always guided by you and your needs, so let me know what you’re struggling with.