I know, that’s an odd proclamation to say that I love email, but stick with me for a minute. When I’m sending my weekly email newsletter, I’m not worried about keywords, SEO, word count, curation, or algorithms. It’s all about providing value in however many words that takes.
If I’m able to say something meaningful, entertaining, or helpful in a few words, that’s great. If it takes more words, I use them. There’s a purity to the channel that has been lost almost everywhere else.
When sending emails, I’m focused on how the message will resonate with my community, not Google, curators, or social media algorithms.
If I respect my audience’s attention and do what’s best for the community, it will grow. People will reach out when they have a problem that I can solve. In other words, I’ll make money. If I abuse their attention with selfish emails, people will leave. It’s a simple equation that’s easy to complicate.
But I’ll be honest, I didn’t love email marketing right away, and you most likely won’t either. It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re talking to an empty room. Unfortunately, that’s a stage of email marketing we all must fight through to reach the mecca of mighty lists full of hungry prospects.
Once you start gaining some momentum, you’ll see your name popping up in other people’s blogging, Medium articles, and LinkedIn posts. People will actually thank you for sending them email. How ‘bout them apples?
My point, you have to fight through what I call little list syndrome. I promise it’s worth it if you hang in there for a few months. Ok, enough with the pep talk. Let’s get into these best practices…
Here’s how you build a wildly successful email newsletter.
Most email marketing doesn’t work because it sucks. Sorry, it’s the truth. I’d say that 8 out of 10 emails I receive are total rubbish. They’re simply self-serving attempts to sell me crap I don’t need or want. The people on the other end may be wonderful people, but they’re awful email marketers.
Don’t worry, you’re going to be one of the 2 in 10 email marketers who sends pure gold each week. The secret, and this is a big one so pay attention, is to obsess on your audience, not your sales. That’s like 50% of the recipe for successful emails. What about the other 50% of the recipe? We’ll break these down one-by-one.
Deliver on your promise.
What does the audience you’re trying to attract want? Figure it out and give it to them. Keep in mind that people sign up wanting specific information you’ve promised. Deliver on that promise. It’s tempting to wander into random topics when you’re sending 52+ emails every year. Avoid the temptation and stick to your promised topic. Doing so will position you to be known for something specific (an expert, specialist, leader, part of a passionate community, lover of something, or whatever position is fitting).
Write emails like a human.
Your audience is full of real people. This is true even if you’re targeting Fortune 100 B2B companies. Humans are on the other end of your email and they don’t want to read boring jargon or a barrage of sales copy any more than you. Write like you’re having a conversation with these people. I’m a major advocate of the idea that email should be casual if you want to build a relationship with the people on the other end.
Send the best damn email in the world.
Writing in a casual and approachable style doesn’t mean you’re not providing value. On the contrary, being approachable should help you be more entertaining which leads to deeper engagement. Your goal is to deliver the best email your audience receives about your subject of expertise or focus. I’m not kidding. This is your actual goal.
My email list is growing and I get business from people on my list because I obsess on providing value every single week. I don’t have to sell. I don’t have to beg for work. I showcase my expertise and genuinely want to help people on my list. I promise that if you obsess on value you will see a return from your email efforts.
But when and how often should you send your email newsletter?
This aspect of email marketing varies for the person or brand. Some people like Cole or Eddie send their emails on a different day (or days) each week. I love getting a surprise from them in my inbox. It’s like someone leaving a little piece of candy on my desk. The surprise and delight approach works well for them, but not for me.
I’m one of those people who needs a schedule and deadline to hold myself accountable. And through helping a lot of companies launch and execute email marketing programs, I’ve found most people and brands are like me. They need accountability to ensure execution. If you’re in this boat, decide when you’ll send your email, tell everyone on your acquisition page when to expect it, and force yourself to live up to the promise.
My audience has come to expect my little nugget of value each Friday morning. In fact, I walked into work last Friday and one of my friends (who happens to be a dedicated email reader) held up his hands and demanded to know where his email was. It turns out he had switched email hosts and it got caught up in a promotions folder (damn you Zoho). He never would have known that he didn’t get my email if I wasn’t so religious about sending it every Friday morning.
The verdict, do what works for you. Start with a scheduled day to force yourself into a habit and then adapt as you get comfortable. You may end up with a surprise and delight approach like Cole and Eddie, or you may stick with a dedicated day like me or Sophia. The one universal truth is that you must send an email every week. I don’t believe it’s possible to build consumption habits on a bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly email. You have to become more involved with your community if you want your email to be truly valued.
You can’t experience email marketing fame and fortune until you start sending emails.
I found every reason not to use email for 14 years of my career. From thinking I was too busy to worrying about talking to an empty room, I used up every excuse in the book until I finally had to give it a go. I’m now 62 emails into The Recipe and I realize just how valuable the time spent crafting emails is for my business. Not to mention, I love it.
I won’t blow smoke up your inbox, getting your email marketing up and running will require work. You’ll be fighting small list syndrome while trying to find your voice. The good news is that it’s well worth the effort and early frustrations. Keep showing up every single week with value for your little corner of the world and it will pay off for your business. Happy sending.
If you’re struggling and need some help ironing out an email marketing strategy, give me a shout.By Andrew Holliday