You guys. Aside from the fact that I’m still trying to figure out what I want to accomplish this year, I’m still just trying to get used to it being a completely new year. It’s a clean slate; a chance to wipe away any failures from the last 12 months and get focused on how you can keep moving forward this year.
It’s not a huge surprise that many people set goals to start an email list this year. I truly believe that everyone is starting to see the real benefit of connecting with their audience in a deeper way through weekly letters, and I think that’s amazing. I know not everyone is just getting started, though. Many of us have goals to grow our lists to a certain number over the next 359 days (yep, we’re already six days into the new year).
The big issue that comes into play when people are getting started or trying to grow their list is that they maybe don’t see what’s been holding them back from accomplishing their goals, which is exactly what led me to today’s topic! To help you achieve those list related goals this year, I have 5 things you can do better in 2016!
Create a sending schedule, and stick to it
My biggest pet peeve when it comes to being subscribed to email lists (aside from receiving blog posts in my inbox) would be getting emails irregularly. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you don’t email me for a few months and then you pop into my inbox with a sales email or something totally random, it’s likely that I’ve forgotten who you are altogether, that I even signed up for your list, and I’m just going to unsubscribe immediately – likely without even bothering to read your email. I know that’s harsh, but it’s how most people are. Our inboxes are a sacred place, which means if you want to keep us on your list you’re going to have to be providing value or, at least, raising interesting topics on a regular basis.
I totally get that creating additional content for an email list seems daunting to people (hence the reason some of you are still sending blog posts via your newsletter). However, when you sit down and treat it like an extension of your blog it’s a whole lot easier to come up with ideas to share with your subscribers. My absolute favorite way to do this? I keep a running list of ideas that come up while I’m working, reading blog posts, or just going about life. (In fact, you can see my list of ideas from the last quarter of 2015 in the photo above!) This is so helpful because when I sit down to write to my community, I’m not exactly staring at a blank screen with no ideas. Having a few ideas to choose from helps me have a starting point, which allows me to keep sending weekly emails instead of only writing when I actually get a topic idea.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Having ideas to choose from is a starting point that allows you to send your emails consistently!” quote=”Having ideas to choose from is a starting point that allows you to send your emails consistently!”]
Create branded templates for your emails
I feel like I wouldn’t be a good designer if I didn’t mention this one. I know I’ve said it a lot (in fact, I mentioned it in last night’s Periscope), but not enough people put time into making sure their emails look like an extension of their brand. You may not believe me, but there are a lot of “big” brands online that run an email list and haven’t bothered to customize the template they’re sending their content out in. Let me give you some tough love: sending emails with the basic, uncustomized template not only seems lazy (it does not take that long to customize on most providers), but it also seems like you just don’t care enough about your brand and its impression on your audience.
I know that a lot of providers are somewhat confusing to navigate and it may seem like it’ll take a ton of time, but in reality, it’s something super easy and quick to set up. You can set aside maybe 2-3 hours, tops, for some admin work this month to create at least one branded template for your emails. If you send a variety of types of emails to your subscribers (if you run a shop or small business, you might be sending sales or booking emails), create a few different types of templates. I have 5 different templates in my MailChimp account, which includes one for my Letters to the Wild Hearts, webinar emails, and more. Having these templates set up not only helps you establish that you’re an expert with a well-rounded brand, but, in the long run, it’ll also help you save a lot of time because you no longer have to worry about not only writing content but customizing your email each week when we already don’t have a ton of time!
Include at least one call to action
Just like your blog and social media posts, you can’t simply expect your subscribers to always follow up with your emails. Your people may read your emails and like them then spend the next few days considering how that applies to what’s going on in their life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to share the email with their followers, forward to their closest friend, or even respond and let you know how they feel about something. Including at least one call to action throughout your emails is a great way to keep those on your list active further than just opening and (hopefully) reading your emails.
One of my favorite people who includes great CTAs in her emails is Caroline of Made Vibrant. She’s not just providing truly amazing content, but she’s also encouraging you to share the message on Twitter through her special click to tweets (that stand out brilliantly in her emails). Click to tweets are a great way to get your email or sign up page in front of other people who may not be on your list. However, that’s not the only call to action you could include in your emails. You can ask your subscribers a question related to your topic and encourage them to respond (a great way to do this is to mention that you will in fact reply to them). You could also include share buttons at the end of your email. Whatever you do, don’t go overboard. You don’t need a CTT button after every paragraph. Keep it simple and natural with your brand!
Regularly clean out your inactive subscribers
This is so, so important to do, yet I can guarantee that hardly anyone is actually doing this. Here’s the thing, y’all: people sign up for your list. If they’re active online or really love what you share, they’ll likely read most (if not all) of your emails. However, some people sign up and then change email address but don’t update their preferences, or they sign up for a content upgrade and for some reason your emails are going to their spam folder. Whatever reason someone may have, it’s highly likely that you have people on your email list that just aren’t opening your emails anymore. While it’s a bummer, it’s time to clean them straight out of your list.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Whatever the reason, it’s likely you have people on your list who don’t your emails anymore!” quote=”Whatever the reason, it’s likely you have people on your list who don’t your emails anymore!”]
To do this, create a new segment of people who have not opened all of your last 5-10 campaigns (setting it to all instead of any will avoid catching anyone who has maybe opened 2-3 of your campaigns, but not necessarily all of them). Send them one last email asking if they would still like to be subscribed, and if so to click a certain link (this will help you track who wants to stay on your list instead of going by who opened it). Give them a 2 week period to open and click, and then you can safely unsubscribe anyone who hasn’t done those things! Put it in your planner or calendar to do this once per quarter. If you can, set it up to automatically happen within your EMP (MailChimp doesn’t have this feature, but I know some others do).
Check to see what’s working regularly
Just like you should be regularly cleaning out your inactive subscribers, you can regularly check on what’s working within your emails and what you can (or should) tweak as you move throughout the year. The truth is that we do a lot of things throughout the year and then forget to go back and see if it’s working or how well. For example, do you have social follow links in your emails? Have you recently updated your social media handles? Oops! You might have forgotten to change them in your email template! Maybe you changed your logo, or updated your fonts or colors. It’s the little things that’ll slip past you if you’re running on auto throughout the year!
A good practice to get into with anything would be to check in each month or each quarter to make sure everything’s still working out you want it to. Make sure everything is still relevant to your brand, but also check out things like how the sort of subject lines you’re using are converting or the way you include your calls to action. It’s easy once you get to a certain point to feel satisfied with the way things are working and then stop trying to improve on what you’re doing. However, if you regularly set aside time to make sure everything is working well for your emails you’re in a much better place to continue to see success with it!
Whew! There you have it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of those steps, remember: it’s all about dedicating a little bit of time each day to accomplishing tasks so that you can set yourself up for success in the long run.
If you want ALL of the details on setting it up for long term success, you’re in the right place! My course can help you create your list, plan your content, and grow your list is open for registration as of TODAY!