10 Reasons You Suck at Email (and How to Fix It)
It's nothing personal. I think you're great! But I have to be honest with you for a minute: You suck at email. And you know it, or we wouldn't be having this conversation. Real friends tell each other the truth, not just things they need to hear.
I mean, if you had toilet paper stuck to your shoe, I'd be the first one to tell you. Promise.
So, as your friend, I'm going to help you get better at email. I don't want you to suck anymore. I want you to grow your email list, packing it full of your target audience.
10 REASONS YOU SUCK AT EMAIL (AND HOW TO FIX IT)
Whether it's another blogger's website or email I read, or through comments or questions on social media, I see the same issues with email marketing over and over. So I've listed them here, and I'm offering tips to help you change things RIGHT NOW.
#1 - You keep your list a secret.
I know what you're thinking. You aren't purposely trying to keep your list a secret, but however unintentionally it may be, your readers and social media followers just don't know it exists!
HOW TO FIX IT:
- Put sign-up forms in obvious locations, and by "obvious", I mean easily-accessible and where readers already frequent. Obvious locations include your sidebar, your page & post footer, and, if you have a static home page, put one there, too.
- Talk about your email list on social media. As you're scheduling social media content, be sure to mention your email list & link to your landing page or sign-up form in your post.
- Share your landing page on Pinterest. Create an attractive vertical image that advertises your opt-in offer or mentions what you share in your emails, then link to your landing page.
- Put Facebook to work. Create an appealing Facebook cover image with a call-to-action pointing people to your CTA button. Write a description when uploading your cover image that mentions your email list, and includes the URL of your landing page or sign-up form. Change the link in your CTA button to your landing page or sign-up form, as well.
#2 - You don't ask people to spread the word.
Listen, your existing email subscribers love you. They signed up, and stay subscribed, because they like you and your content. If you're not asking them to help you grow your list, you're missing out on potential targeted growth!
People trust their friend's referrals. If you like a certain brand of coffee, and recommend it to your friend who likes coffee, they'll probably give it a shot. This is true for your email subscribers, too!
HOW TO FIX IT:
- Use CTAs in your newsletters. Create click-to-tweets to insert in the body of your newsletter and add a shortlink to your landing page. When subscribers share it on Twitter, other Twitter users can click the link to subscribe.
- Make it easy with templates. If you're trying to promote something, type up a short email that subscribers can copy/paste to share with their friends.
- Give them a gift to share. When you create a new freebie, like a fun printable or email challenge, ask your subscribers to share it with their friends. Be sure you've branded your printable with your blog URL so their friends know where to go to find more goodness.
[bctt tweet="You suck at email. Don't worry, you can get better. Take email seriously. Here's how: " username="sweettea_llc"]
#3 - You don't offer a free gift.
Sometimes your regular blog readers need a little push to give you their email address. But I want to offer a word of caution:
Whatever gift you give to your audience as an opt-in offer should be created with your target audience in mind.
If your opt-in is simply to add subscribers to your list, rather than providing something of value that your target audience can use, you'll be lowering your engagement rate and paying for subscribers who never open your regular emails.
HOW TO FIX IT:
- Create a resource guide. A resource guide can be a 1- or 2-page PDF that provides your readers with the resources they need to do a specific thing. For example, if you are a food blogger, your resource guide could be all the basic kitchen essentials, like your go-to pans and utensils, spices, etc.
- Mention your opt-in offer on social media & Pinterest. Refer to the first mistake in this list for more details on this.
- Change your general opt-in offer a couple times each year. I suggest creating 2 general opt-in offers, at a minimum, and changing it out every six months. Try something like a resource guide and an email challenge, then rotate them to see how it affects your conversion rate.
#4 - You only offer a simple opt-in offer.
While a general opt-in offer is great, it's not the end. It's only the beginning. Your job is to provide as much value as possible, and sometimes that value can be in the form of a PDF, a template, a mini-course, a video or audio file, etc.
Consistently providing valuable freebies will set the tone for your emails, and add members of your target audience to your email list so you can consistently provide value through your newsletters.
HOW TO FIX IT:
- Add value to your most popular posts. Check your Google Analytics to see which blog posts are the most popular, then determine what you can add to them to add value. Create this value-add and offer it only to email subscribers.
- Add value to future posts. Anything you can do to make your content more actionable will help your readers implement what they learn from you, and help you grow your list. Think about creating checklists, worksheets, video tutorials, etc. to add to your upcoming posts.
- Create a resource library. If you're like me, you create a lot of free resources for your readers. A resource library is an ever-expanding database of all of these resources. My email subscribers have access to this library, and I add new content to it almost weekly.
#5 - You aren't sending consistent newsletters.
If one of your problems is a low open rate, it could be because you don't send newsletters on a consistent schedule. Why is this a problem?
Think about it like this: You sign up for a newsletter from one of your favorite bloggers. A couple weeks go by and you get an email from them, but with the busyness of life, you don't remember signing up because it's been a few weeks and you never heard from them. What do you do?
Some people will simply delete the email without reading it, while some folks will mark it as spam because they don't know how they got on that list.
Don't let that happen to you.
HOW TO FIX IT:
- Determine how many emails you have time to write. There are so many "rules" that say you're supposed to write 2-3 blog posts per week and an email each week, but realistically that's up to you. If you don't have the time to create that many pieces of content each week, set your own number and make it work.
- Add your email to your calendar. Once you determine how many emails you can write each month, put them on your calendar and stick to a schedule. It takes time to write a valuable email, so plan ahead and maintain that consistent schedule so your readers come to expect an email from you.
[bctt tweet="It's not me, it's you. It's time to build a better relationships w/ your email subscribers." username="sweettea_llc"]
#6 - You only send RSS.
If you're still using FeedBurner, you might want to sit down for this one.
STOP USING FEEDBURNER.
And please stop only sending RSS emails to your subscribers. I get it, you want to make sure they see each of your blog posts. But I challenge you to look at the open and click rates of those RSS emails. Are all of those emails actually translating to pageviews? And how is that affecting your income, if you're trying to monetize?
HOW TO FIX IT:
- Understand the goals for your email list & your blog. If you are trying to grow your email list in order to build a customer base for your products & services, and RSS feed is not serving you in any way. I promise. If you're simply trying to share your blog posts for the sake of sharing your blog posts, RSS might be sufficient for you.
- Set up manual newsletters to share your posts & more. Deactivate the email portion of your FeedBurner account, and instead start sending newsletters that combine your blog posts & other valuable content, a relatable story, or promotional content.
- Repurpose older content in new emails. The beauty of email is the control you have over the content. RSS emails send only the newest blog posts, but manual newsletters allow you to pull from your archives and get new eyes on older posts.
#7 - You haven't cleaned your list. Ever.
You might not even know that cleaning an email list is even a thing. Basically, you want to regularly remove the dead weight, or squatters, from your email list. These are the folks who subscribe, but never open your emails. They are dragging your engagement rate way down, and potentially costing you money, if you're paying for your email service.
HOW TO FIX IT:
- Determine your threshold. If you've been growing your email list for quite some time, say a year or more, you will want to find out who has been on your list more than six months and hasn't opened the last several emails.
- Remove stale subscribers. Some people like to send an email to people who are on the list to be cleaned, perhaps to give them an incentive gift to stick around, or to just let them know it's happening unless they take action. Me? I just remove them. If they haven't opened the last several emails, it's pretty safe to say they won't open that one either.
- Watch your engagement increase. The next email you send should see a significantly higher open and click rate, simply because you've cleaned the dead weight.
- Keep it clean. Schedule regular cleanings. I recommend every six months to my clients, and that's the schedule I use myself. If your list grows super fast, you could safely clean it every quarter.
#8 - You don't plan your content.
Let me guess: It's Friday night and you just remembered you have a weekly newsletter that goes out every Saturday morning. So now you're scrambling to just throw something together and get it scheduled.
What do you think that does for the value of your content? (It's crappy. Be honest.)
HOW TO FIX IT:
- Add your newsletter to your editorial calendar. Your editorial calendar should include ALL of your content, not just blog posts. (You are using one, right? This is the one I use.)
- Let your blog posts be the inspiration for your newsletters, but don't just regurgitate your blog posts in your emails. A newsletter is a great opportunity to share the story behind the blog post, the behind-the-scenes mess before the gorgeous after, or even a totally unrelated but relatable story to foster a sense of community.
- Take your time. You should spend as much time crafting a newsletter as you do a blog post. Yes, it's that important. So don't rush through it.
#9 - You only do the minimum.
Maybe you've got your sign-up forms in all the right places and you've used content upgrades, but you feel like there's a piece missing. You know there's an untapped market out there but you don't know how to get them on your list.
HOW TO FIX IT:
- Host webinars, workshops, and challenges. People love interactive content, and these types of interactive content are huge for list-building. Live events, like webinars and workshops, also allow people to see you and hear you, something they can't do in a blog post, which builds trust and authority.
- Create collaborations. Reach out to other people in your niche who have a similar audience and design a collaboration together. Host those webinars and workshops, but do it with a buddy. Your event will be marketed to two audiences, and you'll share signups after your event is over, adding more of your target audience to your email list.
#10 - You don't take your email list seriously.
If you're one of the people who either doesn't have an email list yet, or you have one only because you feel like you're supposed to, you suck at email. Now, don't get mad! It's just the truth.
Email is such a powerful marketing tool, and in a lot of respects, it's so much better than social media. If you are trying to grow your online presence at all, you need to take your email list seriously.
HOW TO FIX IT:
- Set goals for your email list. These goals should be more than a subscriber count. Think more in terms of your open rate and click rate. Set goals for how many content upgrades you want to offer, or what percentage of your list will result in sales for a course or ebook launch.
- See email as a larger part of your marketing strategy. If you've grown your list effectively, it's filled with your target audience who actively engage with the emails you send. As you work on marketing plans for an upcoming launch, use your list. Offer subscriber-only discounts, sneak peeks, or beta test groups; ask for feedback about your ideas; grow your affiliates. Your email list should be treated as your list of VIPs.
- Make list-building a priority. Because you have so much control over the content and consistency of your emails, and because the reach of an email is so much larger than that of a social media post, list-building should be a priority. Take the extra time to create those content upgrades, plan regular list-building activities like webinars and workshops, and regularly share your list everywhere.
HAVE YOU BEEN MAKING ANY OF THESE MISTAKES?
Email isn't just another thing you should be doing as a blogger. It's essential to your growth as a blogger, which means it's worth it to spend time improving your email marketing strategy. Fortunately, I can help. CLICK HERE to learn more about email marketing for your blog, and get access to the resource library for even more goodness.