Email marketing for beginners 2021... THIS is the ULTIMATE GUIDE! True story: if you held a gun to our heads and told us that we could only ever use ONE form of marketing from here on in, it would take us about half a second to decide.
And we’d go with email marketing, all day long.
In this post, we’re going to look at why email marketing would be our number one choice AND walk you through everything you need to know to get started with it (or to make it finally pull its weight!), from the best free software to use to crafting emails that people actually want to read and getting people onto your list in the first place.
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Why email marketing is the best way to generate new leads
Email marketing for beginners 2021... THIS is the ULTIMATE GUIDE! If you want to grow your business and generate new leads, email marketing is a hard strategy to beat. For several reasons:
- It's a sure fire way to get in front of the people that actually want to hear from you.
- You actually own the data. If you rely on social media to build your audience, if you get booted off or the algorithm changes, you’re back to square one.
- Metrics: you can mine a tonne of information about what’s working and what isn’t and you can segment your audience when you need to.
Okay, so you’re convinced that building and nurturing an email list is an amazing way to grow your business. No gun to the head required!
But if you're a complete newbie to email marketing or you’ve started but not fully embraced it yet, knowing where to go next can be pretty daunting. So let’s jump in and start simplifying.
Pick your email service provider
Your email service provider, or ESP, is where your list lives.
A popular one with small business owners is MailChimp. It's the market leader and it's been around forever. But to be honest, we're not huge fans — it can be a bit clunky to use and isn’t the easiest interface to learn. And if you’re new to email marketing, you don’t want to be putting up any extra barriers to getting started.
Another free option, which is quite popular in our Atomic community, is MailerLite. It's much simpler, cleaner, and easier to use than MailChimp and has a free option too. So if you're hung up on which email service provider to choose, and you want a free option, MailerLite could be a great choice for you.
Personally, we've been doing email marketing for a while now and we like a system that has more automation and segmentation features. And if that’s something that you think you’ll want to take advantage of too, and you have some cash to put into it, we’d recommend something like ActiveCampaign or ConvertKit.
Convert Kit makes automation super easy and intuitive; it's really easy, really clean, and we love it. ActiveCampaign, however, also has CRM functionality and honestly, we’ve been blown away by the number of amazing features it has. Both have their pros and cons so it’s worth checking them out.
But don't let picking an ESP hold you back; you can always move ESPs if you feel like you've outgrown a platform or you want to change. We've moved a few times over the years.
Decide what you’re going to say
People often think that an email newsletter should be professionally designed, it should have a tonne of features, and it should be fairly lengthy. We used to think so too and creating each email took forever!
And you know what? It didn't work because it looked like marketing, it smelled like sales, and that just made people want to ignore it.
While email marketing is a one-to-many form of communication, you shouldn’t forget that you’re trying to reach just one person, individually. So ditch the sales and marketing templates and write each email as if you’re talking to that one person.
When it comes to what to say in the emails there are only two types of emails that you need to send.
The first is trust and brand building content which is there to make your subscribers feel happier or smarter. We keep a note of helpful ideas and messages that we can send to our email list, to inspire them, help them, allow them get to know us and, importantly, to build up their trust in us. So when the time comes to send a sales email they’re already used to opening our emails and are already interested in what we've got to say. And potentially they are interested in buying from us and working more with us.
The second is sales emails — the type of emails that have a call-to-action to move that email subscriber onto the next part of your sales process, whether that's to book a call, a link to buy something, or the booking link for a webinar.
It’s important to send a mix of both types but don’t try to combine them in a single email. Since they’re designed to do separate jobs, we’ve found that writing an email that tries to act as a value email and a sales email in one, lessens the impact of both goals.
Deciding how often to email your list
The next thing to consider is how often you want to send emails to your audience.
This can be a controversial topic, mostly because we often tell people to email MORE frequently than they were planning to. And I know what you’re thinking: I don’t have the time and everyone’s inbox is already full to bursting, why would I want to add to the noise?
But here’s the mindset that we want you to switch to:
We want you to remember that, yes, people do hate getting crappy emails… but they love getting GREAT emails. They love getting emails that inspire them, emails that give them new ideas, or emails that just make them smile. And that's exactly what your emails are going to do.
So ditch the mindset that email marketing is spam and that you’re going to annoy people by sending them more emails. Sending emails is about giving value, helping people, and creating content that’s worth sending, worth reading, and worth opening day after day. And if you're sending an email every two to three weeks, every month, or even every two months, the reality is people are going to forget about you pretty quickly and you're not giving your business and your brand that chance to build up the trust over time.
How often we send emails
With that in mind, the absolute minimum that you should be emailing your audience is once a week, and if you can do more than that, great. Our good friends and Email Marketing Heroes, Rob and Kennedy, email their audience every single day and they encourage everybody else to do the same!
What we do is email our subscribers four times a week but we give them the option of going back down to weekly if they prefer, by clicking a little link at the bottom of the email. But to be honest, only a small percentage of our email subscribers ever opt for that.
Another reason we email more than weekly is that we recommend an 80/20% split on those value emails versus the sales emails with the 80% focus on the value emails. Let's say you email once a month; that's only a couple of times per year to actually sell via email.
So don't underestimate your email marketing content strategy. It shouldn't be seen as a lower form of content or an afterthought to your blog, your podcast, or you more public forms of content. Email content is just as powerful — if not more powerful — than the content that sits on your blog, your website, or your podcast. And if you want to do it well then you need to put effort into it.
Building your email list
There are a few ways that you can build your email list.
Firstly, the easiest way is to simply rebrand your newsletter by giving it a catchy name that actually tells people they’re going to get a tonne of value from your emails and it’s not just another spammy newsletter. For example, our newsletter is called "The Rebelution" And you can go sign up for that right here.
When you click on the link, you can see you can how we’ve described The Rebelution:
The Email Newsletter for Go-Getting Small and Mighty Entrepreneurs. Sign up to get regular, actionable sales and marketing advice delivered straight into your inbox. Designed to help you bring in more sales without hustling your face into the ground. Always fun, created to push you further, and it’s FREE.
The second way to build your list is to create what is called a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a valuable piece of content that you give away for free in exchange for an email address. It could be a PDF, a webinar, an eBook, a template, a challenge...
There are loads of different options, and here's our best advice on this: don’t overthink it. In the past we’ve created super long eBooks with tonnes of information in them and tonnes of value and they're often outperformed by the simpler, shorter ones.
For example, our sales proposal template is one of our most popular lead magnets. And the funny thing is it only took us about an hour to create because we actually had a sales proposal that we use ourselves. But even though it was quick to make, because the value that it offers is tremendous and it solves a very specific pain point, it’s a huge draw for people.
So when you’re thinking about your own lead magnet, consider what simple, high-value content you could create that would solve a specific pain point for your audience. And that’s the key thing; it needs to be for your audience and it needs to really speak to them. Because it's not about getting as many people as possible onto your list — it's about getting the right people onto your list.
We have a tonne of advice on lead magnets, how to create them quickly, what tools to use, and how to promote them, on our channel already. So if you want to know a bit more, have a little browse through our lead magnet playlist.
Or if you have a specific question about getting started with email marketing, or how to improve on what you’re already doing, please drop those questions in the comments.