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So you’ve built your email list, but now what?
This is where the really important stuff comes into play. You don’t want your subscribers to read your emails just once you see: you need them to keep reading them and to keep opening them.
This is why you need to make sure that you’re consistently delivering value and making sure that people are glad they opened your messages. If you do this well, then people might even share your emails and you may find that you start attracting new members organically.
A fantastic example of this is Brain Pickings. Brain Pickings is a massive blog run by Maria Popova. The blog is huge today and has millions of readers – and it’s regularly featured by the likes of Wired and The Times.
How did it get to this point? Well it actually started out as a mailing list that Maria made for her friends and some colleagues.
She would simply put a few things she was interested in into an email and send it to a select few members along with some comments of her own (this is aggregated content).
People on her list found the content so fascinating and entertaining, that they started recommending their friends to sign up and passing them around. Gradually, more and more people signed up and her e-mails became more and more in-depth. Eventually, she launched the site in response to demand and the rest is history.
In this case, Maria did no marketing and started out very small. What made her emails success was the pure value she was delivering. You need to make sure you do the same.
How do you do that? The answer is simple: you focus on delivering unique, fascinating and valuable content.
Here’s the problem with 99% of content marketing: it’s incredibly dull.
How often do you see articles on fitness with titles like ’10 Pec Exercises You Can Do At Home!’?
How many SEO articles are there on ’10 Mistakes in SEO’.
These topics just sound incredibly dull and they’re highly derivative and overdone – you’ll struggle to stand out with subjects like that.
On the other hand though, an example of something from Brain Pickings would be:
‘Adam Gopnik on Darwin’s Brilliant Strategy for Preempting Criticism and the True Mark of Genius’
Or how about:
‘Nicole Krauss’ Beautiful Letter to Van Gogh on Fear, Bravery, and How to Break the Loop of Our Destructive Patterns’
Now that is some content with real meat. That’s content that has you imaging the potential implications as soon as you read the title and you just know it’s going to be thoughtful, in-depth and something you can enjoy over a nice warm mug of tea.
Or Hell, how about one of my OWN examples that’s been very effective: How to Lose 7 Lbs in 7 Days WITHOUT Dieting or Working out.
I think you’ll agree that’s much better than ‘The Secrets to Weight Loss’ and THIS is where the value comes in.
Of course you need to make sure you’re remaining on topic and staying within your niche or your industry, but while doing that, you need to come up with topics, information and discussion that isn’t anywhere else. You need to convey that information in an entirely new way and you need to put as much effort into creating stunning content as possible.
Then people will read your emails and they will look forward to the next ones!
What’s more, this will help you to build trust in your brand and in you as a marketer and ultimately that will make your audience much more likely to buy products you subsequently recommend.
And to reiterate, this is also what you need to be doing on your website, so that people want to subscribe in the first place. Look at studies, be inspired by historical texts, find interesting people – explore your subject and bring something new to the table!
Email Marketing Standards
As well as offering excellent value, you also need to think about conforming to some of the standards and the expectations inherent in content marketing.
For starters, while the ‘recommended length’ for a blog post is roughly 1,800 words, the average email should be much shorter. When people read blog posts, they’re doing it through their favorite browser at a time when they’ve set out to read something interesting.
Reading in the inbox when they’re checking their emails in the morning though is something quite different. Aim for roughly 400-700 words, depending on the format of your email.
And this is another point: the format of your email. What is your email going to be? What purpose does it serve?
Some emails effectively work as blog posts, just like Maria’s did. A newsletter though is something slightly different again. This will be a roundup of news that will pertain both to your website or blog and to your industry or niche. This can be a little longer.
Other options are to create an e-course which will be slightly different again, or to promote special offers. Most likely, your email will be a bit of an amalgamation with an introduction from you, followed by a feature and some highlights from your site and maybe a bit about your latest deals and offers. This is what can be considered a newsletter.
Another consideration is frequency. How often are you going to send your emails? The key here is to avoid sending emails too regularly, thereby frustrating and irritating your subscribers. At the same time though, you also don’t want to go long stretches with no correspondence at all as this will make your list seem ‘abandoned’ – which isn’t great for your brand visibility or for demonstrating your commitment to your site and your business.
A good rough guide then is to send an email about once a week. You can make this a little less (about once a month) or you can increase the frequency as you begin selling.
As for timing, this is another area where there is some debate but the main thing you want to avoid is your email being one of several in your audience’s inbox. That means avoiding sending your email when they’ll be sleeping, as that’s when emails will get the chance to stockpile. Fortunately, you can use your autoresponder to send emails at different times to different time zones.
Striking the Right Tone
Also important with your mailing list is to write with the right tone and the write ‘voice’. Partly, this is going to depend on your industry and niche, which will determine the ‘persona’ that you’re targeting. Are these young people reading about a hobby and interest? Or are these professionals?
Regardless of the specific target though, your emails will likely be a little more ‘friendly’ in tone than your blog posts and articles. The difference here is that you’re speaking directly to your audience and as such you should use plenty of ‘I’ and ‘you’ throughout the message.
If you can open up and be a little vulnerable in these messages, it will help you to avoid coming across as simply trying to sell a product and it will make your audience feel as though they’re getting more privileged access to your brand. Feeling worried about writing your first email? Great! Tell your audience that and ask for their feedback, it’s endearing and it encourages engagement.
More Ways to Create Value
There are other ways you can create value through your mailing list though and this is where you can really set yourself apart from all the other email marketers.
For instance, consider sending out free gifts to your mailing list occasionally that you aren’t advertising. In other words, don’t just send the free eBook as the incentive when they sign up – use the strategy later as well in order to provide even more value.
In other words, why not just send your subscribers a free eBook or report occasionally on top of the one they already received?
Think about how this might come across to your readers. If they’ve forgotten about you and are currently ignoring your messages, then seeing a message in their inbox from you with an attachment and a subject heading saying they’ve got a free gift – then how likely are they to open that? And how likely are they to subsequently start looking out for your messages again?
This not only draws attention to your messages again, but it also makes people feel good and they’ll associate that good feeling with your business. This is a great way to gain good will because it’s unexpected.
This strategy is known in business as ‘over delivering’ – it means that people will be even more impressed with a freebie that wasn’t advertised because it means they’re getting more value than they were promised in the original deal. And if your ebook or report is great quality, it will encourage them further to consider buying products you subsequently promote.
And don’t just give away books. How about giving away a free mobile app? Or what about doing a deal with another product creator to offer a heavy discount?