If you're a small business owner, you’ve heard email marketing is important. But why should you invest time and money into email? Simple. Email is one of the best ways to generate leads and revenue. Email has been proven to have the highest ROI of any marketing strategy out there. And if you're a blogger or a content creator, an email list is your lifeline.

Wondering where to begin with email marketing? Here's how you can go from being a beginner to a successful marketer generating revenue at will from an email list.

How to Get Started with Email Marketing

Step 1: Choose an Email Marketing Service

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 slightly different feature sets and pricing plans. So, where do you begin?

Email platforms to consider:

  • Mailchimp

  • Constant Contact

  • ConvertKit

  • AWeber

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 list or audience. 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: Turn Your Website Into An Email-Capturing Machine

This is where things start to get interesting. When you think about your website as a lead-generation tool, you will begin to see it differently. Remember, simplicity is key. Focus on website design that 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 use 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. Lead magnet strategies might include 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:

  • Does it cater specifically to the audience you are looking to target?

  • Is it easy to distribute and cost effective?

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 (CTA) 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. Mailchimp offers popups that can be embedded into your website. Other 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 — this post on website redesign uses this technique.

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

Emails are your ace-in-the-box for traffic and revenue generation. But they aren't the only tool in your arsenal. You can tweak your overall content strategy to focus on getting people to your website through SEO (search engine optimization).

Learn how to write blogs that will attract and convert visitors. Then after publishing new content, you will want to promote it by:

  • Sending an email with a compelling subject line to entice viewers to open the email. Provide a short introductory paragraph which encourages people to click through and read your post.

  • Use social media to promote the post. You can use tools like Buffer to automate this process.

Most people overthink email marketing and refrain from sending emails or end up sending confusing emails which dilute the overall funnel. 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 money for including ads in emails. For example, if you have a list with thousands of subscribers in the solar power niche, you could 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.

If you go this route, make sure to read up on your email service provider’s policies. For example, see 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.

Remember, when people receive your communications, they should be wowed by the quality of your content. If the free material you create is unimpressive, why would anyone pay for premium content?

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 with your followers before you start selling to them. Email marketing works!


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