Here’s something you won’t hear too often online: For a blogger, a solid email list is more important than your blog traffic.
Yup, that’s right. Email subscribers = value for bloggers. Blogging and email marketing go together like my favorite dish: mac and cheese.
Here’s how I’d list them in order of importance for a blogger:
- Your content
- Your email list
- Your blog traffic
Your blog content is the base. Blogging helps you gain attention online, build authority and help you rank in search. It is the macaroni.
Email marketing is the cheese. It’s the vital ingredient that really makes it all work. When you have your blog, add flavor with email marketing. With email, you build a relationship with your visitors and keep ‘m coming back for more. More updates, more traffic, and product/services.
Personally, I’d never have Mac without Cheese. Email marketing is indispensable if you’re serious about content. So in the spirit of good food and good blogging, here’s our complete guide to email marketing for bloggers.
Why care about email marketing as a blogger?
Marketing comes in two basic flavors: push and pull marketing.
Push marketing is the proactive effort to reach customers and readers. You do this through running pay-per-click ads or even cold calling people (you probably won’t have to cold call as a blogger – and thank goodness for that).
Pull marketing are tactics that draw customers towards you, i.e. you pull them in. This includes working on SEO, your content, and growing email lists with email marketing.
Building relationships paves the way for long term success. The combination of push/pull and email allows you get to nurture prospects, seek collaboration opportunities, and receive feedback to keep improving your blog.
By subscribing to your email list, your visitor is basically asking you to build a fruitful, profitable relationship with him.
And how do relationships translate into numbers? Building relationships, acquiring subscribers lets you:
- Have high click-through rates: You are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet
- Become more effective at acquiring paying customers: Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook or Twitter.
- Get more content views: Email subscribers are 3 times more likely to share your content via social media than visitors from other sources
- Earn more money: 4.24% of visitors from email marketing buy something as compared to 2.49% of visitors from search engines and 0.59% from social media
But it doesn’t stop here, other benefits that come with building an email list include:
- You own your list: which means you aren’t bound by the rules of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and others. You don’t have to pay-to-play to get viewership, you don’t have to worry about algorithm changes or compete with similar blogs. You have a one-to-one channel with your audience, and you use it as you wish.
- Email lets you build your brand: you give your emails a definite aesthetic look and tone of voice that mimics that of your blog, which helps to build your brand and stand out from the crowd of other bloggers. This way, you give your blog a personality, and the more you stand out, the more you attract attention.
- You create highly personalized messages: unlike billboards or social media posts, you tailor your emails to deliver a personalized message. You address people by name and send targeted emails to select subscribers. Oh, and the best part, if you’re selling something (as many bloggers choose to monetize their blog), Personalized emails tend to deliver 6x higher transaction rates!
- Email marketing is easy to measure, customize, and scale: Most email marketing software give you real-time updates on your email performance with stats such as open rates and click rates. You will use this data to customize and improve future emails. You will also easily scale your email marketing as your email list grows, no need for complex updates. All you’ll probably do is pay your email provider a little extra.
How to make the most of email marketing for your blog
Now we know the biggest, juiciest advantages of email for your blog. But how do you realize these advantages for yourself? You have to make sure you’re using email correctly. I’ll cover all the bases you need to start email marketing like a pro.
1. Polish your email content
You can have an email list absolutely brimming with quality subscribers and prospects but still not make any headway with them. Even with 100,000 people on your lists… if your emails don’t appeal to them, you could just as well have zero, it wouldn’t make a difference.
The good news is, it is easy to polish your email content and optimize your emails for conversion. You should ensure certain steps that really make your content catchy, and make it easy for the reader to navigate your email.
4 quick email content tips:
- Keep your message concise, to a point where it can not be simplified any further
- Create a hierarchy of information, show the most important information first (remember you are competing for a recipient’s limited attention)
- If you have a lot to say, break up your content in sections with their own headlines
- Organize your email for quick reading with bullet points and paragraphs, so people absorb your message as quickly as possible
2. Create attention-grabbing, catchy subject lines
They say the first impression is the most important. And for emails, your first impression is your subject line. It’s no surprise that 47% of emails are opened just on the merits of the subject line. A catchy subject line will urge your subscribers to open the email.
4 quick ways to improve subject lines:
- Keep them short, sweet and to the point
- Use the recipients’ name if you have this information available
- Keep the length around 65 characters, the optimum length for a subject line
- Use catchy headlines but keep them specific to the content of your email
3. Use call-to-action buttons that focus the reader’s attention
CTAs or Call-to-Actions are usually designed as buttons that direct people to an offer page or a link to your website.
Think of CTAs as the gateway between a recipient’s inbox and your blog. Email marketing drives traffic back to your blog. So the effectiveness of the email boils down to that CTA button, and whether or not the reader is going to click it.
4 quick-win ways to improve your CTAs:
- Make your CTA as attention-grabbing as possible (without making it annoying)
- Make sure the reader understands the CTA is clickable
- Use simple words in your copy that inspire action
- Leave white space around CTA to give it contrast against the rest of the email.
Here are some email examples that showcase good and bad uses of CTA buttons:
Make sure your CTA stands out and gets clicks
The email on the left, from Reiss is promoting their summer catalog and encouraging readers to visit their online store. The problem with the CTA, ‘SHOP NOW’ is that it doesn’t do a good job attracting attention. There’s little contrast between the CTA and the background colors. A person in a hurry would miss the CTA altogether.
The email from Julep on the right, is an example of how to create a great CTA button. The colors are perfectly used (blue / green against a textured brown) to highlight the important parts of the email. Your eye immediately lands on the Headline offer followed by the CTA.
For a blogger it is equally important to make your CTA stand out from the rest of the text. Use a bigger size, or bold fonts and contrasting colors to distinguish it from the rest of the copy. Text links should be underlined or you can also use buttons.
5. A/B test your emails
A/B testing, also known as split testing, is the practice of experimenting with different versions of an email to see which performs best. The way to judge performance is to set a metric and measure whether variant A or B performed best against the metric.
A/B testing (and not just in emails) is your long term ticket to success. With each A/B test you carry out, you challenge an assumption and find out whether it is true or not.
Similarly, with emails, you test different subject lines against each other to test which one performs best in terms of open rate. Then you use the better converting one in future communication.
You also A/B test CTA buttons on their copy, color, and design to check what makes them more converting.
Now you know the basics steps to optimize your emails for maximum attention and conversion. Even if your email is well optimized for grabbing attention and directing focus, you still need to write in a way that resonates with your audience. The next step is to zoom in on your audience.
2. Zoom in on your audience and understand why you send each email
Do you remember that moment when you first conceived the idea for a blog? What did that feel like? Was it inspired by a real-world problem? A personal need? A moment of awesome creativity?
I ask that because it’s important to know why you started your blog, its the fuel that powers the passion for blogging. When you know why you’re in the game, you’ll learn from each blog entry you make.
On the flip side, you also need to know your target audience well. Learn about their likes and dislikes, their preferences, their pain points, and how they consume your content.
When you get these insights on your audience, the chances of them paying attention to you, signing up for your email lists and obliging to your call-to-action increases greatly. When you make your audience feel like you truly understand them, they will reciprocate through views clicks and purchases.
To start, observe how people interact with your content. Pay attention to comments, views, and email replies. Just by observing these three events, you will learn which topics your audience resonates with.
You classify people according to the type of responses they give and create general personas (an ideal customer profile) for each different types of audience. Here’s an example of what a buyer persona can look like:
This example from buyerpersona.com is very detailed and takes a lot of research on background, demographics, and behavior. You don’t need to go into such detail, but take inspiration from how facts about your audience are used in a meaningful way.
Segment your lists by interest and activity
Once you have a fair idea of who reads your blog, you create lists based on interests and activity. This lets you really personalize your emails to get your audience engaged.
For example, you can segment lists for:
- General subscribers
- People who’ve shown interests in a specific topic
- People that came through Facebook, your blog, or offline networking
- Visitors who recently downloaded a guide, or attended your webinar.
- Potential customers/leads or paying customers
This way you avoid spamming your complete list and engage the readers by talking about their specific interests.
3. Build a quality email list
Picture a very simple scenario:
You’re a photographer with a blog, and after a year’s worth of blogging, you have grown your email list to 6.000 subscribers. A lot of people regularly ask you how you compose your photos, so you decide to create a short course on picture composition.
You price it at $40 and inform all your subscribers through email.
Let’s say from those six thousand, 2.500 open your email. From 2.500, 4% decides to buy your course. 100 people just bought your course at $40 each. That’s $4.000 in instant revenue!
And if you keep on blogging, more people will sign up to your newsletter, and more people will buy the course.
This way you’ll create a nice, trickle stream of steady revenue.
Now, this is just one example of having an engaged email list. You also direct traffic to your blog, share life updates, sell merchandise or any other creative use you muster up. You have an audience that is already primed to listen and engage with what you have to say.
So how do you get more people to sign up for your mailing list?
Building an email list starts with great content. If you consistently publish quality content on your blog, people will sign up for updates without any problem.
To capture email addresses, you just offer them to keep them updated, preferably on multiple points of your blog.
But to really boost those opt-ins, use sign up incentives or “lead magnets”. i.e content that visitors can only access once they’ve shared their email address. Now, remember, people will be much more inclined to sign up if you offer them valuable content that they think is worth the exchange.
You offer opt-in content through lead magnets such as:
- Ebooks (for example your best [fill in your niche] tips)
- Downloadable Infographics
- Discount coupons
- Resource list (for instance a checklist for newbie [fill in your niche] ,)
- Email courses
- Coaching sessions
Also, you can use the element of interactivity to get people to sign up. People enjoy the content that gets them involved, you create such content by offering:
If this is your first time creating a lead magnet, the easiest way is to offer a content upgrade. What you do is, you write a listicle (10 best ways to lose weight, 15 small business tactics etc), but you add additional tips that are only accessible if a reader shares their email address.
To learn more on how to build your email list, check out this article on 42 ways to build your email list.
The people at Backlinko tried this strategy and enjoyed a 785% increase in conversion rates!
You may not witness such results on your first go but the important thing is to keep testing and to see which content upgrade offers (or any lead magnet variations) perform the best.
Now, if you have any or all of these content types, where and how will you use them to get email addresses?
Opt-in form placement
To maximize sign-ups through lead magnets, place forms on the right places of your site and blog. Your options include:
- A pop-up form: Fully grab the attention of a visitor, when they enter a page or have been on the site for a while (timed)
- Exit intent box or when they’re about to exit your blog
- A scroll box when you want your opt-in form to be visible but not intrusive
- An embedded form when the opt-in offer complements the page content
- A top bar for time-sensitive or seasonal offers that you want to prominently display.
- A landing page for visitors who are coming from specific campaigns
Which form works best?
According to research pop-ups have been the best performing opt-in forms. They have an average conversion rate of 3.1% up to 9,3% for the Top performing pop-ups. Even average is 2 points higher than the next performing option: landing pages.
Surprised? Aren’t pop-ups considered intrusive?
Pop-ups have a bad reputation, and if used poorly the get in the way, but they are still the best at capturing attention and converting people.
Plus now you can design pop-ups to be less intrusive and more adaptive to user behavior. For example, an exit-intent box is a pop-up that only shows up when the visitor is about to exit your site.
You also have the option to program pop-ups to appear only when a visitor has been on a webpage for a specific amount of time. This way you easily gauge their interest level and show them a pop-up for an offer to relevant to the page they are browsing, thus making your pop-ups less intrusive.
Designing opt-in forms by yourself can be tricky and time-consuming. To save yourself time, you can use lead collection and opt-in form tools like Mailmunch to create highly converting opt-in forms.
Now promote your content
To get your lead magnets attention, first, you have to get people to notice your content.
There’s a good chance that your target audience has never come across your blog. You know they’d like your content but they’ve never heard of you. So what do you do?
You promote your blog and direct people to your lead magnets.
You can choose to do this in 3 popular and effective methods.
1. You run pay-per-click ads on Google for keywords relevant to your blog. Taking the example of a photography blog, you could run an ad for the keyword ‘photo composition course’. This way you’d be attracting people who already have a high intent in learning photo composition.
2. Run ads on Instagram and Facebook. Let’s say you just uploaded a killer blog article after weeks of research. You really want people to know about it. You’ll set-up an ad on Instagram and Facebook, filter audience according to their likes and demographics, and wait for the traffic to come in.
When you promote your content, it’s a good idea to set up stand-alone landing pages. Create them in a way that they deliver on what you promise in your advertisements and you’ll see your conversion rates go up
If you don’t have money to spend on ads, you can still promote your content by improving your blog’s visibility:
3. Work on your SEO. This method is free and brings you great long term results.
SEO helps you rank in Google. The higher you rank for any given search term, the more traffic you’ll invite to your blog. The easiest way to get your blog to rank is to write great content and then get backlinks for a keyword you want to be found for.
For example, if you want to rank for the keyword ‘college stories’ (if you blog about college life), you will look for other websites to link you for that keyword. You either reach out directly to websites and tell them you have material which is relevant to their audience, or you write guest posts that link back to your blog.
Kas Szatylowicz, SEO expert offers these additional tips to crank up your SEO:
1) Include and optimize images in your posts. Make sure to use alt tags and relevant captions (include keywords). Experiment with structured data to increase your chances of appearing as a featured snippet or the knowledge graph.
2) Be smart about the internal linking, but make sure to also link out to relevant resources. Building a solid backlinks portfolio for your posts will help you rank your blog higher.
3) Audit your on-page SEO to improve your site speed, adjust meta descriptions and monitor your content to eliminate broken links and keep your page healthy.
4. The best email marketing software for bloggers
It is not enough to just collect emails. To make the most out of email marketing, you need the best email marketing software for your blog. You might have heard of Mailchimp, but there are lots of options in copettitive email software. We’ve narrowed down to some of the best Mailchimp alternatives for bloggers. All of the email marketing services below offer key functionalities you need, including:
- A drag & drop newsletter editor
- Email templates gallery
- Email campaign statistics with classic email marketing KPIs (open rates, click-throughs, location, devices etc.)
- Smart email automation so you can send welcome emails, autoresponders and retargeting emails
You see, as a blogger, it’s easy to think that because all email marketing services offer key functionalities, any one of them will work for you. But that’s not always the case. Some systems only focus on e-commerce and webshops, while others are catered towards B2B.
I have listed three top email marketing tools, that are super affordable and also have a free version so you try them out and have a look yourself.
The difference between these email marketing services is how they go about each function, the additional features, pricing, and customer support. So what is the best email marketing software for bloggers?
Moosend – Email marketing tool for bloggers
With Moosend, you get a great drag-and-drop email builder. Segmentation is very straight forward. What’s more, the automation builder is easy to use and available for every plan.
They have the most common automated email campaign templates for bloggers as pre-built for you as “recipes”, which is really helpful. And automation is a bit more advanced so you can even do things like send a “thank you” to your most active openers / clickers.
All in all, Moosend is an affordable, nifty choice for bloggers that want an easy to use option with free email newsletter templates, automation and segmentation. Even if on a shoestring budget.
Outstanding email software features:
- The drag-and-drop email builder is very good.
- An RSS-to-email function
- Automation is quite advanced
Support via: Live Chat, phone and email, even in the forever free plan.
Moosend’s free plan is free forever up to 1000 contacts. You can sign up here today. The free plan is without limitations when it comes to emails or which features you can use, and how you can use them. After that pricing is from $10.
ActiveCampaign – Email marketing automation for websites
ActiveCampaign is email marketing automation software for your website. If you a bit more serious about Marketing Automation and want to create email funnels and complexer automation (based on website behavior for instance, ActiveCampaign might be a good choice.
ActiveCampaign is not the best if you just want to send a quick newsletter or latest post overview form your blog (although it can do that) But a good alternative if you want to get a bit serious.
Read a full ActiveCampaign review here.
SendinBlue – Email marketing software for bloggers
SendinBlue is another top email marketing tool for bloggers. They have a forever free edition you can sign up to today.
SendinBlue recently updated and redesigned their whole platform and are adding new features all the time. You can easily send your email newsletters based on templates and their drag-and-drop editor.
An interesting addition is the landing page builder, which allows you to create stand-alone pages without leaving the application or making a seperate page on your site all the time. With the paid plans, you get additional features to take your marketing up a notch like SMS, live chat function for your site and Facebook Ads.
The automation features are good for basic automations; like welcome and birthday emails, but nothing too advanced. They have some additional features like ‘send test email’ to make sure you don’t have any errors in there before you hit the send button.
Outstanding email marketing software features:
- Amazing price for starters and bloggers that want to send newsletters
- Landing page builder
- More channels and features available as your needs grow
Support: Email support for everyone, and phone and chat for paid accounts.
SendinBlue pricing is based on the number of emails you send, not the contacts. The price is almost unbeatable at $25 for 40.000 mails per month. The free email plan is good to try the software, you can send up to 300 emails / day for free.
Mailerlite – Email newsletter tool for bloggers
mailerlite is really easy to use, and has enough features to be one of the best email marketing software for bloggers (on a budget). Planning to send newsletters or simple email campaigns? Mailerlite is a good option if you are looking for a simple and straightforward email tool.
MailerLite also has some cooler features up their sleeve for bloggers and publishers like auto-resend (to non-openers), Clickmaps in campaign reports to see exactly where your subscribers have clicked. And of course, RSS email campaigns are included.
Outstanding email marketing software features:
- An RSS-to-email function
- Auto resend to non-openers
- Tag and group people based on what link they clicked on
Creating emails in MailerLite
You can build newsletters from scratch with the drag and drop editor or use one of their free email newsletter templates. There is help text available with every step and explanation videos if needed. Set-up is easy enough.
The RSS-to-email campaign feature of Mailerlite allows you to send RSS feed campaigns for our blog posts to our subscribers automatically.
MailerLite has a Forever Free plan that gives you the basic features for 1.000 subscribers and 12K emails. It is one of the cheapest email marketing software you can find.
$15 for up to 2.500 subscribers. 10.000 subscribers for $50 / month. You can even get a 30% extra discount if you pay per year.
Support: Email support is included, chat support 24/7 in all paid plans.
5. What kind of emails should you send?
Different sort of emails come in handy at different times. As a blogger, some type of emails you benefit from are:
Welcome emails: People are most receptive to your communication when they’ve freshly signed up. This is evident from the fact that welcome emails have an open rate of 91.4%. You use this attention to introduce yourself and guide people towards relevant resources on your blog.
A great welcome email example is the “How Can I Help You?” email. It’s the sort of warm email that asks your subscriber what you can offer them. It doesn’t look transactional and helps you build genuine relationships with people.
These sort of emails come in handy when a customer abandons their cart or you’re looking for product reviews.
Promotional emails: Promotional emails are very handy when you have a sizable email list and are selling merchandise. As with the example of a photographer, you can design promotional emails with a strong call to action to accelerate your sales.
Newsletters: Newsletters are a great way to send regular traffic to your blog and also show your subscribers you are active. You can choose to send them weekly, biweekly or even monthly. Depends on how much content you put out.
Retargeting emails: Retargeting emails are great for people who may have missed your previous emails. You use them to re-engage subscribers and bring them back to your blog.
Here are a few great blog email examples to get you inspired
Ann Handley’s Bi-weekly “Total ANNARCHY ”newsletter
Ann Handley is a successful marketer, the founder of marketingprofs, and a master at web copywriting, while inspiring thousands of marketers and managing to stay awesome. She makes sure to share all her email newsletters for people to learn from. This is one of her bi-weekly newsletters:
Every email is an expression of personality. A warm, friendly ‘Good morning, Wonderful!’ sets the tone for the rest of her email. Often there is a personal story in the email (stories are a great way to grab attention) and she uses a conversational tone that makes you feel she’s talking directly to you.
Her newsletter isn’t only personal stories and pitching though, often you’ll find interesting tips, and mentions / links to blogs of others. Even the header image has a big “courtesy of” making it feel very in the middle of the community. Go Ann!
Sally’s Baking Addiction welcome email
Sally runs a successful baking blog, with hundreds of recipes, and having been featured as one of the best bloggers on many websites.
What stands out about her email are the light colors and big fonts which make the email reader-friendly. She catches your attention by describing a relatable problem of messing up recipes.
She she shares that she’s been there too, but found a way to perfect her cooking. After setting the tone for the content, she goes into how the blog can help you to perfect your cooking.
TheBlondeAbroad’s lead magnet email
Kiki was a financial wealth manager who gave up her career to start traveling full time. Along her journey, she’s managed to build up an impressive blog with a huge following, and really helpful traveling tips and guides.
Kiki builds up her audience by offering lead magnets in the form of downloadable travel checklists. When you opt-in for one, you get this email:
Kiki offers a very straight-up value proposition. She proposes that by signing up, you can expect to ease your travel planning.
Then she sprinkles in a bit of humor to comply with double opt-in policies. She asks you to confirm you’re a human by verifying your email.
After you confirm your subscription, you’re redirected to her blog:
Here she thanks you and provides you a link to her carry-on packing checklist. A simple, well-executed lead magnet.
Email marketing for Bloggers, the story as it stands
As a blogger, you can really grow your audience, traffic, and revenue by using email marketing in the right way. Email lets you:
- Build awareness
- Have a direct line of contact with your audience
- Leverage your blog
- Personalize your communication
So to make the most of your email marketing, it’s important to:
- Know who you’re blogging for. The better you understand your audience, the more you engage them with your content.
- Create content tailored to them, while at the same time adding enough perceived value to make it worthwhile for the reader to trade in their email address in exchange for content.
- To collect email addresses, you will use a variety of opt-in forms, place them throughout your blog and have the emails rolling in. Of course if you have the right optin form type for maximum conversion, check the hyperlinked post.
- To attract new people in your target audience, promote your content and drive people to your lead magnets.
Practice all these things and your well on your way to being a superstar blogger.