If you're a small business owner, you've probably considered the idea of email marketing. If you're already utilizing email marketing to reach customers, you may be wondering how to take it to the next level. Why invest time and money into email marketing? The answer is simple. It can be one of the best ways to generate leads and revenue from a website.

For several years, email has been proven to have the highest ROI of any marketing strategy out there. If you're a blogger or a content creator, an email list is your lifeline. If you search for email marketing advice online, you'll come across articles on list building or monetization. But these articles assume you already have some sort of system for capturing and sending emails. If you're completely new to email marketing, you may not have an idea of where to begin.

Here's how you can go from being an email marketing beginner to a successful marketer who is able to generate revenue at will from your email list.

Step 1: Building Your List

People who are new to email marketing often stumble at the first step because there are so many list-building tools out there. They've all got a slightly different feature set and pricing plans. So, where do you begin?

To keep things simple, sign up for an account with MailChimp. MailChimp is 100% free until your list reaches 2000 subscribers. Once you've created your MailChimp account, just follow the on-screen instructions to create your first email list. It is swift and painless. And MailChimp will grow with your business. They offer a robust platform with powerful marketing automation, advanced analytics, hundreds of integrations, and a very flexible API.

Step 2: Turning Your Website Into An Email-Capturing Machine

This is where things start to get interesting. when you start thinking about your website as a lead-generation tool, you will begin to see it differently. Remember, simplicity is key. Focus on a design which eliminates confusion. If list-building is the primary goal of your website, then every aspect of the website that doesn't directly or indirectly help you with email capture has to go. An effective list-building website has the following features:

  • An irresistible lead magnet

Some users will be so impressed by your content that they will willingly submit their email addresses. These users are rare. For getting the emails of most of your visitors, you'll need to have a different set of techniques. Entice visitors to submit their email addresses by offering them something they can't resist.

These gifts that you offer your visitors in return for their email addresses are called lead magnets. You can use several different lead magnet strategies such as restricted content, free e-books, exclusive downloads, software tools etc. When you're thinking about using a lead magnet, check to see if it passes the following tests:

  • Your lead magnet should be catered specifically to the audience you are looking to target.
  • Your lead magnet should be easy to distribute and shouldn't cost you too much.

You could offer people free iPads when they submit their email addresses, but this doesn't fit either of the criteria you're looking for. For every person that submits their email address, you will incur the cost of an iPad and gain no monetary value in return.

  • An opt-in box above the fold

The space above the fold on a website is where crucial information is often placed, including an email opt-in box. Highlight your opt-in box by including a call-to-action which your target audience will find irresistible.

Popular author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss' blog The Four Hour Workweek offers visitors the first 50 pages of his NYT bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek for free in exchange for their email address. The process is simple and painless for visitors.

  • A pop-up which collects email addresses

Nobody on the internet really likes popups. Unless you're a website owner who wants to build an email list. Then, you might LOVE popups. Some easy solutions include SumoMe, AddThis, and Wisepops. 

  • An opt-in box at the end of each piece of content

Most people on the internet skim content. They'll read the headlines and then skip to the end to see if there's a big takeaway. If your visitors read your content all the way through to the end, they're probably interested in what you have to say. Hence, consider placing an opt-in box at the end of each article you post. 

Create a clean-looking opt-in box or lead magnet which can sit at the end of your posts and is immediately visible if readers scroll all the way to the bottom of your post. If you want to increase your chances of getting signups even more, you can create customized lead magnets for each post. Our blog post on website redesign uses this technique, check it out here.

Step 3: Create content that organically supports your list-building goals & promote

Emails are your ace-in-the-box for traffic and revenue generation. But they aren't the only tool in your arsenal. You should tweak your overall content strategy to focus on getting people to your website and your email-capture sections.

Most people overthink email marketing and refrain from sending people emails or end up sending confusing emails which dilute the overall funnel. When you are looking at content marketing as a tool for building your list, keep the following goals in mind:

  • Create an audience that is interested in the things you are talking about.
  • Prove your credibility to that audience repeatedly so that they associate you with a certain level of quality.

When people receive your communication, they should be wowed by the quality of your content. If the free material you send out is unimpressive, why would anyone pay for premium content?

Now that you've established the goals of your content marketing, promote new content when you publish:

  • Create a compelling email with a subject line that entices viewers to open your email. Provide a short introductory paragraph which encourages people to read your post.
  • Draft social media messages which promote the post. You can use tools like Buffer to automate this process. 

Your email strategy doesn't need to be intricate for it to work. Keep things simple.

Step 4: Generate revenue from your list

Finally, there are several different methods of monetizing your email list.

  •  Sell ad spots in your emails

If you have a sizeable email list, you can get paid a lot of money for including ad spots on your emails. For example, if you have a list with thousands of subscribers in the solar power niche, you can approach a company which sells solar power products and ask them to pay you to include their logo in your emails. The solar power company benefits because they get their brand in front of thousands of new prospects, and you get paid. It's a win-win situation.

Make sure to read MailChimp's policies on affiliate links (versus affiliate marketing).

  • Ask people to pay for your emails

If you are offering content that can't be found anywhere else online, you can ask users to pay for their newsletter subscription.

  • Advertise your own products

This is the best strategy for generating revenue from your email list. You can advertise your own products to your subscribers once you've provided them a lot of quality information for free. When you sell your own products, you'll earn higher margins and retain access to all customer data. You can use this information to sell additional products or upgrades to your subscribers.

Now that you've learned about how to go from ground zero to having a thriving email list, it is time to take action. Look at your website and marketing strategies and optimize them for list-building. Improve the quality of your content to build trust amongst your followers before you start selling to them. Email marketing works!

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