Bloggers Need To Learn To Love Email: Top Tactics And Ideas
If you want to drive more users to your site, email marketing is key. Columnist Andrew King offers up several email marketing tips and ideas for your blog.
Some of the most visited websites in the world are blogs – Mashable, Lifehacker, Huffington Post, and so on. These websites drive thousands of people to their pages every day by focusing heavily on content creation, SEO optimization, and constantly engaging with readers on social media and forums.
However, mention the benefits of email marketing to your average blogger, and they’ll stare back at you with a blank face, despite the fact that email persists as one of the most popular online activities and allows you to keep in direct contact with your readers on a regular basis.
So, here are my top email marketing tips for bloggers.
Create A Strategy Before You Start Sending
I know that it might seem pointless to think about email strategy when you don’t have anybody to send to, but I assure you that it’s better than collecting email addresses for six months and doing nothing with them.
If you are currently collecting email addresses and not sending on a regular basis, I suggest you make it very clear that you’re not actively emailing yet, but you will begin in the near future and your emails are going to be awesome! My previous Marketing Land column outlines how to create an email strategy from scratch.
Optimize Your Signup Form
You need to get a signup form! It’s actually quite surprising how many large blogs don’t even have an email signup form. Email signup forms are extremely easy to add to most blogs, so there is no excuse for not having one. Just make sure it’s clearly visible and states why you should sign up, what you’ll be sending, and how often you’ll be sending it.
I really like how TechCrunch has a simple signup form on the right-hand-side of its site, which allows you to easily opt in to its three different types of email. I also appreciate TechCrunch’s no-nonsense descriptions and how it tells you exactly when each email will be delivered.
VentureBeat takes a more proactive approach to acquiring new email subscribers through a pop-up form, which appears almost as soon as you enter the site. This could seem invasive to some people, but this tactic has been proven to significantly increase email opt-ins.
Set Up A Proper Welcome Program & Preference Center
Setting up a great welcome program and preference center is a piece of cake these days. Unfortunately, most bloggers don’t make a good first impression when you sign up to their email program, often sending generic, uninspiring welcome emails.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way! I suggest setting up a nicely branded welcome email, which is in line with your beautiful website. Remember that first impressions last, and nobody is going to get excited about receiving your future emails if you don’t put your best foot forward.
It’s not just about the design, though; a welcome email is a great place to promote your social media channels and some of the best content from your website.
New email subscribers are some of your most engaged readers, so you should be trying to drive them back to your website immediately. Liquor.com does a great job of this. I really like the personal message from its editor in chief and how it includes a good selection of articles, recipes and videos.
Lastly, a welcome email is a good place to ask for subscriber preferences. You could ask for general demographic information such as age, location and gender, as well as content preferences such as favorite topics, interests and preferred email frequency.
Once you start collecting this type of data, you can actually do some very cool things with email personalization and segments. For example, you could set up a follow-up welcome email, which has personalized content, based on your subscriber’s preferences. Now that would make an awesome first impression!
Recurring RSS Email Update
Email cadence is an extremely important thing to consider when building your email program. Too many emails and your subscribers will get annoyed — not enough and they’ll forget who you are.
That’s why automated RSS emails are great for bloggers. This type of email can be sent on a recurring basis, at a specific time and day of the week and is populated with the latest articles from your website’s RSS feed or blog. You can usually set this type of email to not send if there is no new content on your site, depending on which email service provider you use.
Here’s an example that I made with the Marketing Land RSS feed:
Personalized Email Content
Many of you might think that email personalization is only possible for marketers with big budgets and teams of developers, dedicated to building advanced IF statements. It’s not.
Once you have some demographic and preference data it becomes very easy to personalize the content of your emails. For example, you might have an article that’s only relevant to females or you want to promote an event to people who live in a certain city.
(Thrillist does a great job of personalizing content according to the city that you live in.)
If you’re a big-time blogger or media company, you can get super-relevant with personalization algorithms from companies like Boomtrain.
Boomtrain works by tracking the content that each of your email subscribers is reading in your emails and on your website, indexing each interaction and then predicting what content will be of most interest to them. This obviously leads to much more relevant emails and much better subscriber engagement.
Stuck for ideas on what to send your subscribers? Why not create a curated newsletter, which lists all of the latest and greatest content from your industry or area of interest?
As Elliot Ross from Action Rocket explains on MediaPost, “Every day we’re inundated with interesting articles via social media, so there’s a great appeal in having someone sift through the most interesting stuff and present a digest every day or week.”
Turn Your Email Into A Revenue Stream With Advertising
Many top bloggers and publishers have monetized their email newsletters by selling in-email advertising. This used to be achieved by negotiating a fee with an advertiser and manually adding the creative to your email.
Today, however, there are advertising platforms specifically for email. LiveIntent is probably the most well-known email advertising platform, and it does a great job of bringing buyers and sellers together as well as providing advanced targeting capabilities. For example, your ad will be served at the time of open, according to the location, device, time and demographics of the subscriber.
So there you have it, several email marketing tips and ideas for your blog.
I think it’s worth noting that many of your blog readers will only ever visit your website once to read a specific post — but if you can capture their email address, you will have the chance to continue the dialog and drive them back to your site for many more times to come.