When you build an email list there are a few things you should do, and a few you shouldn't. I received an email recently from a list that I subscribed to a while back. The email marketer made a few of the biggest mistakes I have seen in a while and I want to share them. I don't claim to know the best practices, but I can at least show you some better email marketing practices.
The Best Way to Learn Email Marketing
I believe the best way to learn anything is to see how other people do it. You can find plenty of courses about email marketing, but there's nothing better than actually subscribing to a few lists and let yourself be marketed to.
See what kind of approach and language they use and how you respond to it. Do they give you a call to action, and do you feel moved to take that action? What are their email marketing practices?
So, I am on a few lists. Well, one less now.
The email I mentioned above came from a blogger and she shares blogging advice, especially about how to promote your blog. That's how I found her. (If you know Donna Merrill, it's not her. She doesn't make these mistakes.)
First Rule I Learned About Email Marketing
This is one of the most important email marketing practices I know.
Keep in touch with your subscribers. Email your list regularly. You don't want to go so long between emails that they forget who you are. If you do, you increase your chances that your hard-earned subscribers become UNsubscribers.
That is counter-productive to say the least.
Like I said, I subscribed to this bloggers list awhile back, maybe a few months ago. Honestly, I don't remember the last time I received an email from her other than the initial emails I received when I subscribed.
At least she did apologize in the email for neglecting her list. That's good, right?
Your subscribers offered up their email address in exchange for valuable information. You promised to help them with whatever challenges they face.
To meet that promise you email them content. You break down a challenge they face and give them concrete steps that they can use to move forward.
Makes sense, right?
Make Money From Your List
Of course you monetize your email list too, so you send them offers from time to time. You have to earn a living after all. That's cool.
Another email marketer I followed several years ago suggested that you only send out a sales pitch once in every 4 messages or so. You don't want to come across as salesy all time or your subscribers will leave.
Of course, that particular marketer did the exact opposite and, well, they're not around anymore.
The email I mentioned at the top was an affiliate sales pitch. No content. Just an intro and the sales pitch. The next 2 messages before I unsubscribed just repeated the pitch. No emails for a couple months then 3 messages in the space of a week promoting an affiliate offer from one of her friends.
Now about that intro...
Rule Number Three
Be real with your subscribers. Treat them as if they were every bit as smart as you, or smarter. Not as if they were idiots or somehow easily deceived.
Show them respect.
What I mean is, don't use obviously fake intros to set up your sales pitch.
There were 2 things in the intro to this email that I really didn't like.
"I was just about to head out the door, but I wanted to send you this message real quick..."
In my experience there is nothing quick about composing an email with an autoresponder.
- Log into your autoresponder.
- Navigate to the right area to compose your message.
- Carefully compose your subject line so that people will open your message when they see it.
- Write your email message.
- Send a test message to yourself to proofread and check the formatting.
- Copy the message into the plain text section for those 3 people who can't handle HTML emails.
- Save and schedule your message once everything is done.
She didn't do all that last minute as she headed out the door.
In her defense though, I heard other people say you should do that in your emails. It makes you sound busy and that you're doing your subscribers a favor taking the time to send them your message.
That was one of the common email marketing practices back when I heard that advice, around 5 years ago. I think people are too smart to fall for that now.
Or maybe I just hope they are.
The Second Issue
The second problem I had with her intro was this:
"I received a question from one of my subscribers last night. They wanted to know if I could recommend a good email marketing course..."
Ok, yes, the affiliate offer this person was pushing was an email marketing course. The irony is too much, right?
She said she learned a lot from it.
Anyway, that wasn't the issue I want to discuss. The problem I had is this: She conveniently received a request from a subscriber for an email marketing course recommendation the night before her friend launches her email marketing course promotion.
That's some lucky timing. What would she have done if she hadn't received that email? Skipped out on that affiliate promotion?
If you're going to concoct a story you have to do better than that. It's too obvious.
Better yet, tell the truth.
"Hey! My friend Sarah just opened up her email marketing course again for a limited time and she asked me to let my friends know about it. You're my friend, right? I took the course myself the last time she offered it and it's really good...
As it stands, her recommendation for the course didn't convince me to take action. Or it did, just not her intended action. I unsubscribed from her list.
Better Email Marketing Practices
I don't know everything about email marketing. Actually, I'm just learning and I have a long way to go. That's my primary reason for subscribing to other people's lists, to see what I think works and what doesn't work.
In this case I found several things that I think don't work very well at all. As with anytime you learn something valuable, you make notes, write a blog post about it, and apply the lesson in your own activities.
Do you agree or disagree with me? Let me know in a comment below and, as always, please share this post with your friends on social media.
Speaking of email lists and better email marketing practices, here is my opt-in offer for network marketers and affiliate marketers. I walk you through how to build a website to sell your products. You can opt-in below or learn more about my online marketing approach.