Email Marketing Basics: All You Need To Get Started

Daniel Scocco

email marketing basicsEmail marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels on the Internet. You can use it to promote your websites, to interact with your customers, to make money with affiliate offers and so on. Yet, the vast majority of bloggers and website owners still neglect email marketing.

That is why I decided to write a quick guide with all you need to know to get started on email marketing. Enjoy.

What Is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a form of direct marketing that uses email as its communication channel. Direct marketing is an umbrella term used to describe all marketing forms that go straight to the end user, thus not passing through the traditional advertising channels, which include television, print and radio.

Companies using email marketing basically collect the email addresses of prospects and clients, and then send email messages to those subscribers, containing information about the products, special offers and so on. The company must explicitly ask permission to collect the email address and send future messages, and this is usually done with a double opt-in process (where the subscribe must fill a form with his name and email address, and then click on a confirmation link sent via email).

Why You Should Use Email Marketing

Over the last years email marketing started being used by a wide range of individuals, including bloggers, website owners, affiliate marketers and small business owners. This happened because email marketing proved to be one of the most effective marketing channels online.

Email messages get delivered straight to the subscriber (as opposed to blog posts, banner ads or online articles, which require the person to visit your website). Secondly, if you craft the content of your email newsletter carefully, you’ll be able to build a solid relationship with your subscribers, which will yield really high conversion rates (i.e., your subscribers will pay attention to what you recommend to them, and will actually take action based on it).

Finally, email marketing is very flexible, and it can be used for a wide range of purposes. You could use it to drive more traffic to your website, to promote affiliate offers, to build a relationship with your existing customers, to launch new projects and so on.

Email Marketing is NOT Spam

Many people are reluctant to start using email marketing because they associate it with spam. In other words, they believe that email marketing is the art of spamming other people and trying to make money while doing it.

This is obviously a confusion between the tool and how you use the tool. Email marketing is just a marketing tool. How you use it is a completely different story. Sure, some people use email marketing to spam, but you’ll find that most use it legitimately and ethically.

In fact if you subscribe to the email newsletter of any reputable company, blogger or online marketer I am sure you’ll be surprised by the quality of the content you’ll get from it.

It is perfectly possible, therefore, to use email marketing without annoying your users. You just need to make sure the content of your email newsletter will be top notch and relevant to your subscribers. If you do that they will actually thank you for your newsletter, and that is what modern marketing is all about.

The Effectiveness of Email Marketing In Numbers

Let’s use an example to illustrate why email marketing is such an effective marketing channel.

Suppose there are two bloggers, Mark and John. Mark focuses exclusively on growing his traffic and RSS readership, while John focuses on growing his traffic and his email list. After six months or so Mark is receiving 1,000 unique visitors per day, and has 3,000 RSS subscribers. John, on the other hand, also is receiving 1,000 unique visitors, but he has 3,000 email subscribers instead.

Now suppose both bloggers launch a paid eBook. The content and price of the ebooks is very similar. Mark promotes the launch of his eBook by writing a post on his blog about it. John, on the other hand, writes a post about the eBook but also sends an email to his list, encouraging the subscribers to purchase the eBook.

Who do you think will get better results? I am ready to bet that John would sell at least twice as many eBooks as Mark. Why is that? Because John has a much stronger relationship with his 3,000 email subscribers (provided he sent them quality content over time) when compared to the relationship Mark has with his 3,000 RSS subscribers. On top of that, once John send his email message he is sure most of his 3,000 email subscribers will read, while only a fraction of Mark’s 3,000 RSS subscribers will do the same.

Getting Started in 4 Steps

Are you convinced that email marketing rocks? Good. Below you’ll find four simple steps that you must follow to get started with it.

Step 1: Getting an Email Marketing Software

The first thing you need is an email marketing software. That is, a software that will let you collect email addresses, send a messages to them, create an auto-responder, get statistics and so on. There are basically two types of email marketing software: self-hosted and hosted.

Self-hosted means that you’ll need to install and host the software yourself, on your own server. This option is only recommended to people with technical skills and time available.

Hosted solutions are a better option for most users, as the company will host the software for you, and you’ll just need to login on their website to manage your email lists.

When choosing an email marketing company you need to pay attention to two factors: the deliverability rate, which is what percentage of the emails they send actually reach the end user, and the features available (e.g., pre-made web forms, auto-responder options, scheduling options and so on).

I use a company called Aweber.com, and I recommend them exactly because they are very good at both factors I mentioned above. Their deliverability rate is considered by many as the best in the industry, and their control panel has more features than you could ask for. The basic plan starts at $19.90 per month.

If you research around you’ll find that this is the standard price. It is not cheap if you are just getting started, but it should be worth it. Remember that apart from the deliverability rate factor, there is also the compliance with the anti-spam laws. By using a company like Aweber you are sure that your email lists and messages are compliant with everything.

Step 2: Getting Subscribers

Once your signed-up with an email marketing company you’ll just need to login into your account, create your first email list, and then create a web form that your visitors will use to subscribe. Most companies have very simple graphic interfaces to help your create your forms, and you’ll just need to drag and drop the fields around. Aweber also has a wide range of pre-made forms you can choose from. The result will be a piece of code (either a JavaScript or HTML) that you’ll need to paste on your website.

You should consider displaying your subscription form in two spots: on top of the sidebar and at the bottom of single posts. These two spots are very visible, and usually they have highest conversion rates. The spot below single posts performs particularly well, because people will look for something to do after they are done reading your content.

Aweber also offers a feature called “Light box,” which will display your subscription form like a pop-up. This feature is a bit intrusive, but usually it has a very high conversion rate, so it is worth a try. You can also specify how often visitors should see the light box, so you won’t need to annoy your visitors permanently.

There is one thing you can do that will drastically increase the number of subscribers you’ll get, regardless of where you’ll display your web forms: to offer a freebie as an incentive for people who join your list..

The most common freebie is an eBook or a report that you give away to people subscribing to your email list. But depending on your niche it could be something else, including a software, a collection of icons or images, audio or video files and so on. It just needs to be something valuable to your audience, as to encourage them to subscribe.

Once your freebie is ready you’ll just need to adapt your subscription forms accordingly. For example, you could include an image of the freebie (e.g., the eBook or software cover), and you could use the headline to call people to action (e.g., “Subscribe to my newsletter and get a free eBook!”).

Delivering the freebie is very easy. All you have to do is to upload it to a secret folder inside your website, and them to create an auto-responder sequence on your email software, where the first email is sent to new subscribers right way, containing the download link for the freebie. Note that on Aweber the auto-responder found under “Messages” and then “Follow-Up.”

Step 3: Building Relationships

The value of an email list is a consequence of two factors: the size of the list, and its responsiveness. In other words, focusing on growing the size of your list alone is not enough. You need to make sure that your have a good relationship with your subscribers as well, else they will just ignore your messages. How do you achieve this? By sending top quality content to your list.

It would be a good idea to create an auto-responder sequence that all your new subscribers will go through. The first email on the sequence will be sent right away, and it is just an introductory message with the download link to your freebie.

The second email should be sent 2 or 3 days after the first one, containing something really useful to your audience. It could be a tip that will help them solve a problem, a tool that is available online and that they will find useful, and so on.

The third email should be sent 7 days after the second one, and it should contain another really useful piece of content. These first 3 or 4 emails are really important because they will set the tone of your newsletter, and build an initial trust with your audience. If you fail to deliver value right away, many of your subscribers will unsubscribe (after all they already got the freebie they were looking for).

Step 4: Promoting Your Stuff

After the third or fourth email you should have already have a good relationship with your subscribers, so you can start promoting your own stuff (e.g., your products, posts on your blog, affiliate offers and so on). Just make sure to make it with moderation, else people will unsubscribe.

For example, you could send one promotional message every two or three content messages (e.g., messages with valuable stuff). This way your subscribers will keep getting value from your email messages, and they will actually look forward to receive them every week.

As for the frequency of the messages, there is no right or wrong, but weekly tends to be the standard around the web.

That is it! If you have any questions or doubts let me know through a comment below and I’ll be glad to answer them.

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43 Responses to “Email Marketing Basics: All You Need To Get Started”

  • Lane’

    Great informative post! I’ve been blogging for a while and use Feedblitz but am hoping to build up a list for email marketing. I was wondering if you knew of a way or method to streamline the two so people didn’t have to signup for two different email/newsletter distributions? Right now, I have one link for people to signup to the blog (RSS/email) and another link (with an incentive) for people to signup to the newsletter. I was hoping a service like Aweber could do this. Just thought I’d see what others may be doing.

    Thanks!

  • Priyanka

    Dear Daniel

    Really great post, to the point and simple to follow. You are right about not enough people using email marketing, it’s powerful stuff.

    Priyanka

  • Vince

    I really want to try email marketing in the future. But what hinders me is how these email softwares charges. It’s really expensive. They are far more expensive than hosting your hosting bills plus internet connection.

    I just hope that these people will lower the price so that even the starters will be able to avail it.

  • Stan Smith / Viking Text Ads

    Thanks Daniel,

    Even though I am familiar with email marketing I couldn’t possibly have described is as thoroughly as you have here and in a manner in which would be easy to understand if I weren’t. I think with that in mind you have yourself a new subscriber.

  • Voeding

    Yes, eMail marketing is not spam “IF” they sent a mail with our permit like being one of subscribers in their blog..Like i was subscribe to DailyBlogTips.com..

  • Dre | WebpageLottery

    Does anyone using Mailchimp? How is it compare with Aweber? Thanks.

  • Glen

    The reason I neglect email marketing is you have to put your one mailing address in every mail you send.

    I have not exactly from a wealthy background and would hate for people to know my actual address.

    I know you can use a P.O box, it may be something I look into the future.

    • Stan Smith / Viking Text Ads

      Wow…I have never heard of that being a concern before and it certainly has never crossed my mind. I think if you’re honest about who you are and where you come from that wouldn’t be an issue to most people especially since I have a lot of wealthy friends that have come from some rather poor backgrounds themselves.

  • Febap Liew | Make Money Online Today

    Hey Daniel,
    very in depth and great post you have come up with.
    I personally have not really utilize any form of email marketing but I believe in its potential capability ..
    speaking of email marketing, i have actually done some extensive research of my own about it.

    the fact that e-mail marketing is a relationship-based marketing. When it comes to make money online today, no one – majority wise- would buy from a strange, thus we see the need to build a certain relationship between both parties.

    Well, the key is to ensure your email are anticipated by people who have volunteered ; emphasize VOLUNTEERED, to receive information from you.
    Good rule of thumb that i have come to find out is that 80% of your message should be useful free information, which buys you the right to spend 20% of the message selling, or you could opt for one sales message out of every five emails.

    If you don’t give something of true value, potential customers won’y sign up in sufficient numbers. Do not abuse the ‘trust’ your subscribers has given you just once, or your cultivated relationship can be ended instantly.

    cheers
    =)

  • Christian Oey

    Great post & timely for me. Question: what’s the difference between email marketing as explained in this post and subscribing to a blog via email eg Feedburner, Feedblitz, etc.?

    • Daniel Scocco

      When someone subscribers to your blog via Feedburner he will get your posts delivered via email, and that is it.

      With an email newsletter, on the other hand, you’ll have much more control over the content that gets delivered to your subscribers. You can have an auto-responder sequence, you can split test, you can customize the messages for each subscribers and so on.

      I think both things are complementary.

  • Stacey

    Daniel – this is an excellent post and brings up some questions for me. First, do you know of any WordPress plugins that will add to the bottom of each post a sign-up to your RSS feed either by a reader or by e-mail?

    Second, can there be too many sign-ups on your site. In other words, I have a sign-up for e-mail updates and then another sign-up for an e-newsletter with a gift. I am trying to see what is most effective without overwhelming people.

    Thanks!
    Stacey

    • Daniel Scocco

      I don’t know any plugins that do that, but I am sure there must be some. But, doing that manually is very easy to, that is why I never looking for a plugin.

      Second, having many sign-up options around your website is fine in my opinion.

  • Blog Angel a.k.a. Joella

    Wow, very in depth and helpful post. I will be adding this to my weekly roundup and recommend it to my readers.

    You deserve major kudos for all the work and time you put into this awesome post. Way to go.

  • GoosPoos :: Web & Software Technology Blog

    There’s very thin line between Email Marketing and spamming IMO!

  • Diane
  • Pete Carr

    Hey Daniel,
    The Money is in the list!
    Really great post, to the point and simple to follow. You are right about not enough people using email marketing, it’s powerful stuff.
    Pete

  • BlogTech Online

    It’s very usefull post daniel I have a negative thought about E-mail marketing but you have clearly explained that in detail.kudos to you.

  • Andrew Coyle

    Thanks Daniel, another very informative article that I read from start to finish

  • thebloggingrobot

    Being relatively new to the blogging game, I am glad that you have shared this information with us. Great post.

  • Paul
  • Icy Sedgwick

    I’m really glad you posted this. I’m a writer and there has been some interest in a newsletter for followers to collect together blog posts and free fiction, and I’d been wondering which provider to use. Very, very useful post – I’ll make sure to link to it in my first newsletter!

  • Nabeel | Create Your First Website

    Excellent post there Daniel.

    You explained email marketing perfectly. I do not think anyone will have any doubts about email marketing after reading this post. So Build Your List!

    Kindest,
    Nabeel

  • Kang Yudiono

    Daniel,

    When people subcribe newsletter a blog, is it will add subcriber RSS the blog automatically?

    • Daniel Scocco

      No, these are separate things (the newsletter and the RSS feed).

      Some companies allow you to send your posts to your email subscribers, though.

  • Alex Posicionamiento Web

    This is a really great article because the use of email is widely enhanced with other things that you can do with it. There are a lot of things you can do with email and it is all mentioned above. This is a great opportunity to a lot of people since there are a lot of people who are finding ways to get connected in a circle of advertisers and entrepreneurs. Hopefully a lot of people would get to read this article and learn from it.

    Thanks a lot.

    Alex

  • Dev | Technshare

    Hey Daniel,

    Really Great Post. List building is something that no blogger should miss.
    And you’ve mentioned some great Points.

    @Wallance
    You can use mailchimp in starting and it is free till 500 Subscribers.

    Thanks for sharing this great Post daniel.

    ~Dev

    • Peter Okwalinga

      Wanna say thanks for the information on email marketing. I must definitely jump on this bandwagon. Any time tested and fruitful strategy really must help any online business in the long run, right? I actually just tried out and have given my opinion to Power Bot Traffic on my blog. Do you have any experience with automated traffic generation sites? Kindly do let me know.

      Thanks again.

      Peter

  • Sohail

    Thanks Daniel, but i need a bit more of your help.
    I have a blog where i write about computers and mobiles which are two totally different niches so it is not on a specific niche. I am confused on what type of free report/ebook should i write (on mobile related stuff or computers). Similarly, what topics should i cover in weekly newsletters? (again computers or mobile phones).
    I want to build list from quite some time now but confused about this.

    • Daniel Scocco

      It would be a good idea to sharpen the focus of your blog first (either talk about mobiles or about computers), and then create a newsletter around that same topic.

  • Dinesh

    Good post on time when I’m planning to implement this on my blog, busy with preparing free ebook.

    But as @wallace asked, can you recommend any cheaper or free services for bloggers who step in initially.

    I have a doubt, can I include commenter’s email address to list without asking them?

    When you said ‘ quick guide’ I thought it will be small post, but well explained. Thanks again Daniel.

    • Daniel Scocco

      See my comment above for going with free services.

      As for adding email of your commenters, no you can’t do this without asking for permission.

  • Eunus Hosen

    Again, MONEY ON THE LIST

  • Wallace

    Any free service/plugin we can use for email marketing, Daniel?
    $20/mo is not cheap for a general blogger.

    • Paul

      Mailchimp has a free starter plan, but it is feature-limited and once you get over 500 subscribers you will pay more.

      $20 a month is affordable if you consider that all you need to do is convert your list into buying one or two affiliate products a month to pay for it.

      It is also a great way to build stronger reader relationships which make it easier to sell your own products, so again you can quickly pay for it with just a few sales each month.

    • Daniel Scocco

      There are some free software you can download and install on your server, and then you’ll run the email list yourself. Just Google for “free email marketing software.”

      I wouldn’t recommend this though. Apart from the deliverability issues, there is also the SPAM compliance issues. When you get a service like Aweber they take care of everything for you.

  • Kathryn Griffiths

    I have been using e-mail marketing for several years now. Once you build your list… readers become very loyal. The secret is to contact them frequently…. with free content, as well as promotions.

    I, like Sheila use Aweber. All systems have their differences but I found that Aweber has the best ability to deliver. Their customer service is just the best. No question is foolish.

  • Sheila Atwood

    I agree with Josh, this is a very good explanation to email marketing.

    I also use aWeber and highly recommend them. They have excellent service. They are great when ever I call with a problem and they never make me feel stupid when I call with questions.

  • Josh Garcia

    Hey Daniel,

    A couple of months back I was searching for anything and everything that dealt with email marketing. I must say, what you put together here is valuable. Thanks for putting it together!

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

Comments are closed.