The basics of planning out your email content and campaigns

The basics of planning out your email content and campaigns

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You might have heard about a lot of success stories of bloggers, about how they roll in the big bucks — not because of their social following, or even their traffic numbers, but simply because of their email list.

You see, the beauty of having an email list is that you can send updates, newsletters and even offers to your subscribers, right in their inbox. This is a very effective way to get in front of your targeted audience.

However, to get the most out of your email list, you need to plan out your email content and campaigns (newsletters) that you want to send to your peeps, so that you can actually benefit from this strategy.

In this post, we’ll have a look at all the basics of what to include in your emails, how to make your emails more effective and what you’d like to achieve with this list. Read on!

The basics of planning out your email content and campaigns

Table of Contents

Why do I need to build an email list?

If you need a little more convincing from my side on why the heck you should start building that list of yours, here it is:

1. Your subscribers are yours forever (at least until they unsubscribe)

Unlike social media where your followers come and go as they please, and disappear into the massive void of the internet, your email list is captured and stored, so that you can send emails to the same people over and over again.

It’s also important to keep in mind that social media platforms might disappear over time, which means all that hard work you’ve done to build up a following can literally disappear, leaving you with zero users to potentially convert into buyers (goodbye MySpace, Vine and Google+)…

However, your email list is yours, and the chances of it disappearing – unless you do something dodgy and get suspended by your email service provider – are scarce. You have already convinced your audience to join and they are waiting to hear more from you!

2. You can send your list updates on your blog/business

Whether you have a new blog post or YouTube video up and need some eyeballs on it, or you’re doing a giveaway to create hype for a new product, your list can receive a wide array of updates from you. This is where they can become more aware of your intentions, convert to buyers, and so on…

3. You can sell something to them

They great bonus of having an email list means that you can make them aware of any products or services you have to offer. And the larger your list, the more income you can potentially make from it. It’s also a good way to make them aware of any special offers you have.

4. You gain their trust…

By sending out emails on a regular basis, your subscribers can get to know you a little bit better. And if they like what they see or read about you, they will trust you more (and become more likely to buy your products/services, share your stuff, etc.)…

5. You can build a fan base

Gaining your list’s trust is one thing, but you essentially want to build a loyal fan base (you know, those people who type in your blog URL directly in their browser to visit your site). Your fan base will hang onto every piece of content you publish, every video will likely be watched and they will subscribe to everything else where you are visible (social media, YouTube, etc)..

6. Connect on a personal level

I always keep personal emails I send to my list, to a minimum. Also, I never make it all about me, myself and I. I’d rather make it relatable, useful and provide encouragement through my personal stories.

The reason why you actually need to send personal emails every once in a while, is so that your subscribers realize that 1) there is a real human behind this email address, 2) we share some similar issues or situations, 3) they can possibly provide a solution to my problem. This will all tie in with the trust you need to gain from them…

7. Do research with your list

An email list is a great way to get to know your ideal readers and customers. You can easily create a survey or quiz (MailerLite works well for this), or simply ask them to reply to the email.

You can find out many things from them this way, such as what they are currently struggling with, what products they want to see from you, what your next live webinar should be about, and so on.

Which strategies do I use to build my email list?

By strategies, I mean how will you build your email list. There are a few ways to do this, but let’s explore my top 3 ways!

Before we look at my top ways, I just want to mention one extremely important thing: It is against the law to collect email addresses if users never willingly gave them to you! You can’t go onto Facebook and search for email addresses and simply send them stuff. And, even though it is available, you can’t pay someone for a list of email addresses, as this is illegal as well.

Make sure that each email address has been given willingly, i.e. they are interested in your freebie and they gave you their email address to receive the freebie. You can add a disclaimer in your email/opt-in form that they will receive emails from you if they decide to sign up for your freebie.

1. Use opt-in forms on your blog

Opt-in forms are the most basic and popular way to get people to subscribe to your email list.

But, most subscribers won’t just sign up simply because you have an opt-in form. Your potential subs will want something in return (a freebie of some sort).

We call this a lead magnet: a freebie you give away in exchange for an email address. 

It’s brilliant:
  1. They see your freebie (checklist, PDF, email course, etc.) on your blog/website;
  2. They willingly type in their name and email address into the opt-in form on your blog to get said freebie;
  3. You automate the response email with the link to the freebie (I use MailerLite or ConvertKit to handle this for me)
  4. Voila! They are on your list, you can send emails to them and all that jazz.

2. Ask in Facebook groups

Facebook is all about community. And you can bet that there will be a tribe that fits exactly into your niche. The only obstacle you face is to actually find them…

Luckily, you can find and join relevant Facebook groups, simply by searching for them on Facebook — make sure to join at least a few of them, and always check the rules of the group about posting, sharing, etc.

Next, if the relevant group allows it (or you’ve asked permission from Admin in some cases), you can create a post about what you have to offer (your lead magnet).

There are a few ways to get the email addresses of those who want to sign up for your freebie:

  • Ask them to comment on the post with their email address, and you manually send the freebie to each person (this can become quite tedious, especially if it’s a large group with plenty of interest in your freebie);
  • Send them to a Google forms page, where they can fill in their details, etc. (free with a Google account + you can export the answers into Google Sheets, where you can copy and paste the email addresses)
  • Create a landing page where an opt-in form will be present. This is my favorite way, because you can automate the whole process of signing up + receiving the freebie by using MailerLite, for example.

3. Let people know about your offer

Another way I like to use to get people on my list is by simply making them aware of the freebie/lead magnet. There a a few ways to do this, but my top ways are:

  1. Design pretty social media graphics in Canva where you mention your freebie. Post this EVERYWHERE, and make it your profile banner on Twitter and Facebook as well. Canva already has the correct sizes for you to use.
  2. Network! When people ask you what you do, say, at a social gathering, peak their interest by mentioning your freebie as well. Tell them exactly where to sign up by sharing the link with them. Note that in order for you to convert this person into a potential buyer at some point, they need to actually be interested!
  3. Tell friends and family about your freebie. Even if they don’t fit into your niche, they might know someone who does! Ask them to connect you to that person.

What type of e-mails do I send to my list?

So, now that they have joined your list, what happens next?

Answer: You need to keep them on your list by sending them relevant emails of value.

You can send emails about updates to your list of subscribers. This can be about your latest blog post, video, podcast episode, etc.

Promotional emails are also a great way to make your list aware of your offers. Don’t just make all your emails a salesy one, though. I tend to keep these at a minimum, and rather focus on emails of value.

The fastest way to get unsubscribes is by constantly trying to sell something to your list. Change it up by sending emails filled with value as well!

You can also send more personal emails, but like I mentioned earlier, make it about them + how they can benefit.

Things you can offer in your emails

To be more specific, there are other things to send to your list besides paragraphs and paragraphs of text. Some ideas:

  • Freebies. Yes, more! People love free stuff. Just don’t give away too much, and in each email, because people will begin to expect that from you, and in the end never buy from you — I learned this lesson the hard way.
  • Paid offers, with discounts. Keep these limited as well, because people will expect discounts from you all the time if this is a regular thing you do. This means that they know they can come back in a few months and will still find a deal from you. Don’t undervalue yourself!
  • Collabs. Reach out to other bloggers and business owners in your niche and collaborate with them. You can pitch their offers/content to your audience, and they can do the same for you.
  • Invites to free events. For example, hosting a live webinar, or a Facebook live in your group, etc.). This is better than just giving a PDF away for free, because you get to engage with your audience and give them even more value. Plus, they get to see your face, which builds even more trust!
  • Invites to paid offers. These will contain buzzwords such as “early bird”, “limited spots”, and “timed offer”. Again, I’d keep these to a minimum if this is all I plan to send out for a few weeks.
  • Social emails. In this type of email you get to invite your subscriber to your Facebook group, Pinterest group board, what-have-you…

How will your blog/business benefit from each email?

Don’t just send an e-mail for the sake of sending one. The best, well converting e-mails are the ones that are sent out with a purpose. Have a strategy for each e-mail that you send out.

For instance, maybe the purpose of your email is to make a sale. When sending you sales emails, you need to add certain things to your email in order to convince your subscriber to buy. You need a strategy.

If the purpose or benefit of your email is to get more traffic to your new blog post or video, and to get interaction on that piece of content, you need to convince your subscribers to do so.

Maybe you want to do some research through your email list. With a research email, just like any other email with a purpose, a few key things need to be in place. You also need to consider how the results from your research will benefit your blog/business, and if it is actually a necessary study.

If your purpose is to grow you social following, make sure to tell your readers the perks of joining/following your social accounts – maybe you post frequent coupon codes to your products, or you give tips in your Facebook group. Let them know why they should join.

A newer purpose for some email senders is to get more watch time to their YouTube or SkillShare videos. If this is you, you need a strategy to convince your subscribers to watch your videos.

I’ve mentioned it a few times already, but providing value is soooo important! Remember, when you want your list to do something for you, it is way harder to convince them, because they need to navigate somewhere else to do that. That is why you need to tell them about the value they are getting out of it!

Which brings me to the next point…

How will my readers benefit from each email?

Another important question to ask before hitting send, is “what will my readers get out of this?”

If you’re the only one that gets value from your subscribers (sales, shares, views), but you never give anything back, you’re on your way to getting frequent unsubscribes left, right and center!

So, when you think about benefits for your readers, there are four key points — you don’t have to include all 4 in one email. Just make sure your readers get some kind of benefit out of it:

  1. They get valuable information from your email. Valuable info will help your reader to know more about a certain topic, which in turn might convert them into a new buyer, subscriber or follower.

2. Your readers receive actionable information from your email. This means that you give them info to take action on, that will provide a benefit for them.

Example: Let’s say you have a baking blog. You can send an email out with a few steps they can take to become a better baker, i.e. Using dark chocolate in stead of cacao powder, adding an extra egg to the batter, etc.

3. Does your email solve a problem? If you can provide a simple solution to your subscribers for a potential problem they have, you can do it in an email. (You can also create a series of emails around this which you send each day, i.e. a 3-day email series about making treats for fussy cats…)

4. You can send out an email simply to give support, whether it be personal or professional. For instance, if your blog/business is all about meditation and self-awareness, you can give free call or Zoom sessions to your email readers who struggle with getting started.

The Golden Email

In the spur of the moment, I’ve decided to name it the Golden Email, but you can name it whatever you like…

Simply put, the golden email is where both you and your subscribers benefit.

By taking the different benefits (yours, plus your subscribers’) I have previously discussed, you can mix and match these to max out the benefits of each email.

the golden email

Example: You can send out an email where you want to sell something to your subscribers, but you also want to provide free support on a certain topic they might struggle with…

How can I make money with my email list?

One of the main benefits of sending out emails to subscribers, is that you can make money from your list!

You can sell to them directly, because they are already on your list, so that cuts marketing time and expenses a little.

There are various ways to do this, such as affiliate marketing, but I want to specifically focus on the sales email, i.e. you have your own product that you want to sell to them.

Don’t get me wrong, affiliate marketing is a great way to make money, and I use it too, but to rake in the big bucks, you should think about what you can offer — a high-ticket item, such as a course — that will guarantee a certain amount of profit each month.

The next question is, if they will buy what you have to offer…

That all depends on:

  • what your offer is,
  • what it costs,
  • how many subscribers will actually open your email.

The average open-rate can be anything from 10%-20% of your entire list. It depends on different factors such as what industry you’re in, what your email subject line is, what your email preheader text is, etc.

Pro Tip: It’s a given, but personally I have found that I get a higher open rate if I offer a freebie in the email + mention it in the subject line. However, go back to the part where I mention things you can offer in your emails, to find out why you shouldn’t include a freebie in every email you send out!

Okay, so let’s say you have your 10%-20% open rate. But how many will actually result in a sale? After my big search among email statistics on the internet, I have noticed a trend that 5%-15% will actually result in a sale. This is the main reason why you need to grow your email list…

I don’t mean just grow your list. I mean, grow your list with targeted subscribers who are actually interested in your content, offers and emails!

Here’s another important thing: Unsubscribes are good! Why? Because it will open up a spot for a better, more interested subscriber. If someone unsubscribes from your list, it means they are not your ideal audience.

How will you sell to your email list?

There are a few ways you can do this, but my top three ways are:

1. Immediately let them know about your new offer. This is great if you’ve already sent them a few different emails over a certain period. This is also a where the “Golden Email” I’ve mentioned earlier will be handy…

2. Have a sales funnel in place. When you’re all clued up about automation and how to set up a funnel, this is the best way to sell.

What is a sales funnel?

It’s a series of emails that are sent at different intervals apart. It works, because you don’t immediately sell to your list right off the bat. You warm them up (what we call nurturing), and pitch your product to them in a later email.

No one has the Perfect Formula to the best Sales Funnel on the internet. You can create one based on what experts tell you, but you will always need to tweak and perfect it until it works for you and your list.

3. Tell them about free content, such as a blog post, PDF download or YouTube video, and then pitch your product inside that free content. This works like a charm, especially for affiliate marketing.

Example: Whenever I send out emails to my wedding niche list, I always mention my latest wedding-related posts (the free content). In these blog posts, I will have affiliate links present, as well as links to my own digital products. It is a very effective way to make money with your email list and your blog.

What will you sell to your email list?

What you sell to your list will depend on what niche you’re in. For some niches, an eBook will do the trick. For others, a course will be better. This is where you’ll have to do a little bit of homework: Research experts in your niche and find out what they are selling.

Next, you can sell either a physical or a digital product to your list. Again, this will all depend on the niche or industry you’re in.

Example: In the blogging niche, it is much harder to sell physical items that are blogging related. But digital products, however, sell like hotcakes! In contrast, a fashion blog/business will be better off selling physical items to their list, rather than trying to convince them to buy a course or eBook on the topic.

 

However, don’t rule physical or digital products out completely. If you teach people how to blog, you might have a physical planner that they can buy from you. And in the case of a fashion blog, you might be able to sell an eBook on fashion through the ages/finding your style, etc. It might just be harder to sell it to your list.

Don’t be scared of sending out sales emails! Just don’t overdo it, where every single email you send out is a paid offer…

How often should I send emails to my list?

How often you send out emails will depend on what type of emails you send.

Is there a winning number or formula? No. You need to use your own discretion when it comes to the volume of emails you send.

Some bloggers and business owners send out plenty of emails each week with much success, but also a few unsubscribes along the way. Others play within the rule book by sending out their emails based on calculation.

This means that they have a frequency for how many promotional and non-promotional emails get send out per week and month, so as not to irritate subscribers into leaving. So, a suggested frequency will be something like this:

  • 1-2 promotional (sales) emails per month;
  • 1 newsletter email every 1-2 weeks

However, this is only a suggestion. You can play around with these numbers to figure out what works for you and your list.

What does MailerLite say?

As you’re probably aware at this point, I use MailerLite (and ConvertKit) for my various blogs. And a few weeks ago the topic of how many emails to send out per week/month was discussed. Their answer is also: it depends. You can read the full post over here if you want to.

Which e-mail platform is the best to use?

The best email platform will depend on your needs and what you currently can afford.

There are hundreds, but currently the five most popular ones I frequently see around are:

A good email service provider should:

  • Provide all the features you need to grow your list and make sales
  • Frequently add new features
  • Allow you to build anything from email campaigns to landing pages
  • Be simple and easy to use
  • Be affordable, even if you start growing your list

Tips for writing good emails

When writing your emails, here are a few quick tips for you to keep in mind:

  • Unless your email is part of a lesson or email course, don’t make it too long with tedious paragraphs to dig through.
  • Be wary of how many links you have in your email, because you can potentially be marked as spam — when you’re marked as spam too often, your future emails will always end up in subscribers’ spam folders and never be seen. (Make sure to ask your subscribers to add you to their email’s address book)
  • Write from a personal point of view: Use “I” a lot. People will like that there is a real person behind the email, and not a company as a whole.
  • Give value in each email if you can – go back to where I talk about benefits and “the Golden Email”…
  • Try to solve a problem right up in their inbox! Your subscribers will trust and like you even more if you’ve helped them overcome a certain pain point or nuisance.
  • Before sending, think about why this email should end up in their inbox.

Email etiquette

Email etiquette is all about the do’s and don’ts of sending emails to your subscribers — straight from the email rule book (figuratively speaking, of course):

  • Don’t be spammy with tons of affiliate links and what-nots
  • Don’t make every e-mail a salesy one
  • Do give people updates about new blog posts, videos and useful content
  • Do give away free goodies
  • Don’t harvest e-mails and spam everyone (it is illegal anyway!)
  • Don’t send an e-mail every 2 seconds – you’ll get a ton of unsubscribes every 2 seconds as well..
  • Do send out non-promotional e-mails, depending on the type of email you send out
  • Do make your e-mails interesting to read
  • Do have an e-mail header and signature with your face and branding – it builds trust…
  • Do reply to e-mails from readers if they reach out to you
  • Do have an autoresponder for when you are out

Housekeeping for Email Lists...

Imagine having a growing list of 5000+ email subscribers and no one ever opens your emails or will likely buy your product?

This means that eventually you’ll need to upgrade to the next paid plan on your email service provider, costing you even more money!

There are 2 things that will/can make readers unsubscribe out of their own, to make space for a better, targeted subscriber:

  1. By having an unsubscribe link at the end of your email (which you should legally have to stay compliant)

Subscribers that don’t convert into opens, click-throughs or sales will simply just clog your list. If you keep on sending out emails, they’ll hopefully eventually unsubscribe (unless the email account is inactive – in this case most email providers will allow you to remove the address from your list manually).

2. You can create an opportunity for them to unsubscribe if they want to.

This will be in the form of an email where you literally ask your subscribers if they still want to be on your list. Ask them to kindly unsubscribe if they want to leave, or do nothing if they want to stay. You can also ask them to hit reply and let you know if they want to stay on your list, but this is up to you.

Note: you need to read your email service provider’s terms about how this all works and if unsubscribes will open more spots on the paid plan you’re on.

More reasons why you need to do some housecleaning on your email list every once in a while:

  • Like I’ve already mentioned, you might be forced to upgrade to the next paid plan on your email service provider membership;
  • Inactive subscribers will result in a lower open rate and a lower sender score, which increases the chance of your emails ending up in the spam folder;
  • You also make incorrect email marketing decisions, because you can’t identify how many emails weren’t actively opened by interested subscribers, too;
Tanya Viljoen

Tanya Viljoen

Hi there! I'm Tanya, the owner of this blog, and I love teaching people how to start and run a creative business online. Whether you’re interested in starting a blog, selling digital products, or anything in between, I can help!

Tanya Viljoen

Hi there! I'm Tanya, the owner of this blog, and I love teaching people how to start and run a creative business online. Whether you’re interested in starting a blog, selling digital products, or anything in between, I can help!