Although you’ve just published your latest blog post, there’s no time to sit back and relax just yet, and your work isn’t quite finished!
Your post isn’t going to do anyone much good if it sits there unread on your blog, or if no one knows to come looking for it, so now’s the time to share it with your email subscribers.
At this point, I’m going to assume you’re doing things the right way by using an email service provider, like Active Campaign, and that you’re not trying to manage your email list yourself or (worse still) sending emails manually from your own domain!
The details of setting up an effective email marketing system is beyond the scope of this course, but I highly recommend the great book “Email Persuasion“ by Ian Brodie if you haven’t already read it.
Choosing An Email Format
As you might know, there are basically two types of email message:
- Plain text
Deciding which to use depends a lot on your personal preference, and there’s no right or wrong answer specifically, but the HTML format of email does allow you to track open and click-through rates so you can measure the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
For that reason, I personally recommend the HTML format.
However, using HTML formats also opens up the tempting possibility of using fancy newsletter-style templates, which I actually recommend not using. Studies have shown that people read fancy newsletters with a different mindset, and the newsletter format can actually increase resistance because people see them as sales letters.
That being said, I would recommend sticking to the HTML format, but using only pure text emails.
Your From Name And Return Email Address
When someone receives an email from you, it should be very clear who it’s from, so make sure that your real name is in the “from” field.
“John Smith at Smith Photography”
Then there’s your return email address…
I can’t tell you how many times I receive emails from photographers from a Gmail or Yahoo account instead of from an email address on their own domain. You might think this is a small point, and hardly worth mentioning, but getting this wrong sends a subtle but powerful message to your subscribers that maybe you’re not a real business.
Please, do yourself a big favor and make sure you have an email address set up at your website domain. It’s not hard to do, and your website hosting company can help you if need be.
“email@example.com” is so much better than “firstname.lastname@example.org”
The Subject Line
The subject line of your email works just like the headline in a newspaper – it’s purpose is to get the recipient to open the email and read what you have to say.
In most cases, if you crafted a compelling title for your blog post, you can use that as the subject line.
Also, don’t worry about the subject line being too long – studies have shown (and I’ve proven this to myself with my own emails) that longer subject lines (100+ characters) tend to perform slightly better than short ones.
Writing Your Email Updates
Obviously, the actual email you write will be intended to get your subscribers to visit your new blog post, and there are a couple of things you can do to help maximize your chances of success:
- Write your email in a very conversational tone, just as you would if writing to a friend.
- Grab their attention and curiosity as early as you can in the email – stories can really help in this regard.
- Be economical with your words – people tend to want to read their emails quickly.
- Don’t give away the whole plot – give them the promise of something interesting, and then offer the link to the post, but make sure you deliver on that promise.
- Make the link to your post as obvious as possible – for example, use underlined blue text in bold on a separate line.
- Thank them for being a subscriber, and ask them for their feedback, thoughts and comments on the post.
- Repeat your call to action in the “PS” section at the end of the email in case they just skip to the end, which is often the case.
When To Send
Arguments over the best time to send emails rage across the Internet, and the best answer I’ve found for this is “it depends on the reading habits of your subscribers”.
For example, if your subscribers are busy moms they may only have time to read emails in the evening.
The best thing to do here is experiment to see what works best, although a good clue can be gained by keeping an eye on the days and times that most of your subscribers actually sign up to your list to begin with.
Tracking Click-Through Rates
You should have the ability to track the open rate and click-through rates of the links in your emails through your email service provider, but it can also help to go one step further.
What you can do is include some tracking parameters to the link for your blog post so that you can track the readership of your posts in Google Analytics for each of your email campaigns.
There are 3 main ones to use:
- utm_medium – What medium is it? For example, “email”, “social” etc.
- utm_source – The source of the click. For example, “newsletter”, “facebook” etc.
- utm_campaign – A unique identifier for your campaign. I usually use the date in the format “YYYYMMDD”, like “20140608”
Let’s say your blog post URL is something like this:
All you need to do is append the appropriate parameters to the URL before embedding the link into your email:
The “?” indicates that parameters follow that should be passed to the page when it’s loaded for further processing by code on the page.