Month after month, maintaining a mailing list – on top of the other responsibilities we carry on as bloggers – has been a huge struggle for me. At the same time, it’s essential for your marketing strategy to build engagement and trust with your mailing list.
Because of how important it is to build your mailing list, I invited Sammy from Well and Wealthy over to write about how to build engagement and trust with your email list. On her blog, Sammy documents her journey from being tied to the 9 to 5 to being her own boss through creating a wildly successful blogging biz and reaching financial independence.
Week after week, I look forward to reading Sammy’s weekly emails where she really has worked to build that connection with her readers, all the while dropping them bombs of helpful knowledge.
Without further ado, I’m going to pass the mic over to Sammy.
How to Build Engagement and Trust with Your Mailing List
We all know the money is in the list when it comes to blogging, right?
I mean, how often have you heard that one?!
You read income report after income report, seeing how all the successful bloggers have these fantastic mailing lists and how those mailing lists provide them with the majority of their income.
Then you check your own mailing list stats.
An open rate of 10%, your click-through rate is non-existent and you’ve never received a reply in your life.
I feel you because I’ve been in that exact same place.
But you know what? That can change.
Last week I had a record-breaking open rate of 49.3% with a click rate of 9.3%, plus I had four of my subscribers reply just to have a chat about that email’s content.
Pretty good when you consider I only have 220 subscribers.
Oh yeah, and did I forget to mention I’ve made affiliate sales from my emails without actually selling or launching anything?
But, what if I told you that you can have those kinds of results and build an amazing relationship with your subscribers even as a tiny, brand new blogger?
Like the kind of relationship where chatting to their replies doesn’t feel like work at all – it’s more like talking to a best friend about something you both love.
(I’m really hoping that’s a yes…)
Then let’s do this!
Okay, first we are going to run over some basics to make sure you all up to speed, then we will move on to the good stuff.
Why do I need a mailing list?
I mean I kind of explained this above but basically, mailing lists are the place where most blogs make the majority of their money.
So, if you want to make money blogging then you want a mailing list. Period.
Plus, just consider for a moment what would happen if Pinterest, Google, Facebook and Twitter disappeared.
Okay, it’s pretty unlikely they would just disappear but a new algorithm change could easily wipe out the traffic they refer to you.
Would your business have any hope of surviving with no traffic?
Well if you have a good, engaged mailing list then the answer is yes. I’m not saying you wouldn’t have a dip in income but your email list should have the power to keep your biz profitable.
That’s the goal anyway!
I haven’t started an email list and you’re talking about open rates, where do I even begin?!?
Don’t worry because Krista and Mike have got you covered.
They’ve written an awesome post all about how to get your mailing list set up using MailerLite, a totally free email marketing provider.
Now, shall we get down to the nitty-gritty?
Ready to learn how to nurture your list into the most engaged and trusting subscribers? Subscribers who you love to hear from? Subscribers who will buy what you recommend?
So there are three main parts to it:
- your opt-in freebie,
- your email welcome series,
- and your newsletters.
Bonus: I created a mini trouble-shooting list at the bottom with extra things you can try if your email list still isn’t responding as you would like! Keep reading to see it!
Related Reading: How to Use Mailerlite to Set Up Your Mailing List
It all starts with the opt-in freebie:
If you want to grow your mailing list, you’re going to need a good opt-in freebie.
(An opt-in freebie is something your subscribers can get for free in exchange for giving you their email address and joining your email list.)
Your freebie is your mailing list’s first impression of what you’re really made of. I mean I’m hoping your blog posts are already awesome and providing loads of value, but your freebie should do that ten times over.Even if your blog posts already provide loads of value, your freebie should do that 10x over. Click To Tweet
Realistically you want your freebie to be at a level where people would be willing to pay for it – not much, but something.
It’s important your subscribers feel your freebie is a resource worth paying for because that sends a message that you really deliver value. And if you ever launch your own product, they will know it’s worth the money.Make your freebie worth paying for to show you deliver value. That way, product launch = $$$. Click To Tweet
So what makes a good freebie?
It provides a quick win.
Your freebie should take your readers through a transformation from a problem to a solution. Don’t panic, this doesn’t have to be a big transformation!
For example, say you blog about saving money. A great freebie to offer would be actionable steps to reducing a grocery bill.
It takes your readers from a problem, spending too much money on groceries, to a solution, reducing their grocery bill.Good email freebies provide your readers with a quick win - turning problems into solutions. Click To Tweet
Requires little effort on their behalf.
The best freebies are ones that provide a quick win transformation with as little effort as possible from your reader.
So if we go back to our reducing a grocery bill freebie example:
A bad version of this would be to instruct your reader to visit every store in the area to check prices and compare before buying.
Now, this probably would result in a lower grocery bill but it takes way too much effort.
It relates to your niche well.
Please don’t have a freebie that has nothing to do with your blogging niche. Otherwise, you’re just going to end up attracting the wrong people and they are not going to enjoy your newsletters at all!Create freebies for YOUR niche - otherwise, you'll attract the WRONG people to your mailing list. Click To Tweet
For example, if you blog about weight loss you might release a vegan weight loss meal plan freebie. That sounds great but could backfire.
Because your freebie focuses on veganism, you will attract a lot of vegans who wish to lose weight. You actually wanted to attract people who wish to lose weight possibly using a vegan diet, as your target audience is people looking for weight-loss methods.
If in your email newsletter you then started talking about the benefits of eating meat for weight loss this would not go down well if the majority of your list is vegan.
Therefore a better freebie would be something like four meal plan examples that help you lose weight, a vegan plan, a paleo plan, a keto plan and a vegetarian plan.
This one has way more value because it contains four plans, plus it would be attractive only to your target niche of people looking for weight loss methods who not necessarily vegans.
So create a freebie based on these three principles and you should be onto a winner!
Next: Set Up Your Email Welcome Series
Email welcome series will be the most opened emails you are likely to send!
So we really want to take advantage of that to provide value and build trust in your audience.
I know a lot of people will only send one welcome email. But honestly, that’s just missing a huge opportunity to nurture and get to know your list.Sending one welcome email is missing a huge opportunity to get to know your list. Click To Tweet
For a few hours of work to set up an email automation you get back so much more, seriously the return on investment is well worth creating a series rather than one welcome email.
So what should you include in your welcome series?
I recommend around five emails, any more than that and people may start getting annoyed at all the emails your sending, and then all your hard work is for nothing.
The first email in the series is likely to be the most opened one you send so anything really important needs to be contained in that email.
What to include in Email #1:
- Welcome new subscribers to your email list and remind them how they signed up.
- Give them the freebie (if they haven’t already received it) and any associated instructions necessary.
- Let your new subscribers know that they will be receiving some welcome emails from you in the next few days, how many emails they will be receiving and what sort content they can look forward to.
- Explain how often you will email them once the welcome series is finished and the awesome things you send your subscribers.
- Tell them a little about yourself, possibly linking to your ‘About Me’ page
- Give them a call to action. For example, you could ask them to join your Facebook group or to reply and tell you something, like ‘what’s your biggest blogging struggle?’
- Don’t forget a P.S. at the end reminding them of the awesome stuff coming their way.
It’s super important to not let this email be too long, one to two sentences per part is an ideal level of detail, just enough to grab their interest but not enough that they become insanely bored.
What to include in Email #2:
I always feel that email two needs to be the most valuable sent. This way, you encourage your subscribers to open the rest of your email welcome series and give them an idea of the incredible content you will be sharing in your future newsletters.
An ideal subject is an awesome free, detailed tip regarding your niche. For example, in my second email, I talk about my best free traffic building tip (which you will just have to sign up for my email list if you want to find out!).
Make sure you include a P.S. tempting them with the next day’s offerings. In fact, you should have a P.S. in all your emails because everyone loves a P.S.#BloggingTip: Add a P.S. to all your emails (everyone loves a P.S.). Click To Tweet
What to include in Email #3:
At this stage, I think it’s good to do a broad overview of your niche, including how you got involved, why and your favorite resources.
Don’t forget to disclose if you use affiliate links at this point!
So in my own third email, I give a brief guide to blogging, explain why I started, and list the resources that I find most useful in my biz.
What to include in Email #4:
Now is the time to bring out an incredible offer. This can be free or paid, although personally, I think free works best.
Perhaps you could give them access to another freebie you have created, or let them have a teaser session of a service you provide. If you have your own products you could give them a discount code that really knocks their socks off.
The point is the offer has to really make them think wow this is awesome!!!
What to include in Email #5:
Because the majority of people skim emails I like to use the final email to summarize all the main points from the previous four emails. Make sure to highlight the offer from email four, but don’t ‘sell’ it.
Make sure you also let them know when they will next be receiving an email from you.
What if my opt-in freebie is an email course?
If your opt-in freebie is an email course then you wouldn’t want to send them an email welcome series as well.
However, you will want to include everything I suggest in email one somewhere in the email course. Probably as the first or last email, whichever makes the most sense to you.
You have enticed your readers onto your list with your freebie and then you’ve wowed them with your welcome email series. So now it’s time to start sending them regular newsletters.
The MAGIC of your Weekly Newsletter
Email newsletters are like magic. They have the power to build trust and connect with people who actually care about you and what you write about.
Honestly, they should be your number one priority because those subscribers are the ones who are going to pay your bills!
The first step to creating an amazing email newsletter every time is to actually figure out what an awesome email newsletter looks like to you.
There is no universal template for the perfect email newsletter (sorry). Blogs are so personal that your newsletter needs to be personal as well.
Now, of course, there are certain dos and don’ts that separate a bad newsletter and an okay newsletter. But you don’t just want an okay newsletter, you want an incredible newsletter! So you need to cover these general dos and don’ts but you also need to reach the next level in an email newsletter. Spoiler alert: it’s not as difficult as it sounds!
General Dos and Don’ts (AKA going from bad to okay):
- Don’t sell every email! Ideally, don’t sell to your subscribers at all until they have been on your list for around 6 to 8 weeks if you can help it.
- Disclose your affiliate links or any sponsored content you’re sending. I mean this is just law so you must be doing that!
- Don’t just send them a link to your latest post. I know some of the big bloggers do this, but honestly, you’re not as good as them (yet) so you just can’t get away with it (yet, although this is generally bad practice).
- Send your email from an @yourdomain email address. Just looks more professional…
- Send the email from an email marketing software, like MailerLite or ConvertKit. I mean this should be obvious but you need to do it. That way people can choose to unsubscribe and there is important info included in each email automatically that’s needed for legal purposes.
- Email regularly. I recommend once per week – enough that people will remember you, but not so much that if you need to send additional emails every now and then they won’t be annoyed.
Sending Next Level Email Newsletters (AKA going from okay to incredible)
First, you need to know what an incredible email newsletter looks like. I’m talking about the type that other bloggers rave about and recommend you sign up for just to get your hands on the exclusive content.
And the best way to do that is to sign up for some and see what these incredible newsletters actually are like!
If you are in the blogging niche, I recommend these email lists:
- Reroute Lifestyle’s of course!
- Mommy on Purpose (if you scroll down the blog post you can see the subscribe box)
- The Useletter by Amy Lynn Andrews
- Well and Wealthy’s (I’m allowed to put my own right? I mean I think it’s incredible!)
Now, try and figure out what you love about them and replicate.
For example, I love how The Useletter has a load of quick, actually useful tips, while Mommy on Purpose shares super secret, advanced Pinterest knowledge.
Now drill this down into something actionable and replicable. You don’t want to copy what someone else is doing, but you do want to replicate their success.
So I thought about this with my own email newsletter. You see for a while I had been writing quite in depth about one tip or subject in my emails but I felt there could be an improvement.
I decided I would change it up completely and only send a load of quick tips. Nothing in depth at all.
I had no idea if my subscribers would like this or not so I asked them.
Ask Your Subscribers for Feedback
I know what you’re thinking: ‘I’ve tried asking my subscribers for feedback and they never respond… it’s hopeless.’
Yeah not so much, because you see a lack of response is a response!!!A lack of response from your mailing list IS a response. Click To Tweet
(As long as you have like over 100 people and some are actually opening your emails.)
Ideally, of course, they will email you and let you know what they’re thinking.
But if you don’t get any responses, it means your readers probably just don’t care enough to tell you. Harsh but true.
It could be that you’ve just asked a super boring question, or it could be that your entire email isn’t sparking their interest at all.
Basically, you know that if you don’t ever get any feedback or email replies then your emails just aren’t good enough.
Try injecting more of your personality and make sure you’re actually providing valuable content that they can’t get easily elsewhere.
Also, don’t just ask your feedback question once and hope someone spots it amongst the rest of your email. I tend to put my question in the email two to three times (at the very beginning, in the middle and in the P.S.) and in bold! Don’t let them skim over it!
Let’s go back to my conundrum about how I was unsure if I should be writing long in-depth stuff, or just sending awesome quick tips in my emails.
So I sent out an email with only quick tips, which was a complete change to what I normally sent.
Because it was so different than normal I got loads of responses to my feedback question of whether people preferred the in-depth stuff or the quick tips.
I had such a good response because I did something so completely unexpected, it was anything but boring, perhaps even a little controversial. So my subscribers felt like they needed to have their voice heard about this massively different email type.
I know you’re dying to know which type they preferred right? It was pretty much 50/50 for each one.
So what did I do? I integrated them both into the same email! Quick tips at the beginning for those with limited time, and an in-depth look at something for those that like to sink their teeth into something.
So far everyone seems to be loving it!
That’s all great, but what should I actually be writing about?
Imagine your best friend is really into your niche – like you are both super nerd level interested. But they’ve only just gotten into it so they have A LOT to learn.
So when you find out a super cool tip in your niche, what’s the first thing you would want to do?
Tell your best friend of course.
Now imagine you can only contact them via email once a week.
That is what you should be writing in your newsletters.#BloggingTip: Talk to your email subscribers like you'd talk to your best friend. Click To Tweet
Sometimes your newsletter might be more of a rant about something in your niche, or just some real talk about how hard everything has been this week. Because let’s face it, you won’t find an amazing tip every week.
But it has to be like you’re talking to your best friend.
They don’t have as much knowledge as you so you definitely want to let them in on a few tricks of the trade but you also want to keep it real for them. I mean you wouldn’t want to pretend it’s all roses and butterflies when it’s not to your best friend!!!
Plus at the end of the day, you really want them to enjoy and succeed in your niche so you’re basically going to give them your all!
What to Send Your Mailing List
Still feeling stuck on what sort of things to write about? Here’s a few ideas to get you started!
- A sneak peek at an amazing blog post you will be publishing in the next few months.
- A list of your must-have resources.
- The biggest mistakes you’ve made since starting in your niche.
- Learn something new? Then tell your email list about it!
- Reflect on your own results, explain how you got them and what you could have done better.
- Had an awful week? Chat to your list about it. They may be feeling the same way – plus, it builds trust by showing your human side!
- Is there something timely happening now in your niche, tell your subscribers about it. (For example, if a new law was being passed that affected your niche you would want to let your subscribers know because it could affect them!)
Recap of Everything You Need to Write an Amazing Newsletter:
- Don’t sell every email!
- Disclose your affiliate links or any sponsored content you’re sending,
- Don’t just send your subscribers a link to your latest post.
- Send your email from an @yourdomain email address.
- Send the email from an email marketing software.
- Email your newsletters regularly.
- Figure out what an amazing email newsletter looks like to you and your niche.
- Ask for feedback from your subscribers, remember no response equals mediocrity and boring – so up your game.
- Talk to your email list like they are your best friend who just got into the niche.
- Provide insider tips and tricks, and vital education, but also keep it real and let them know the bad bits too.
Bonus: Tips to Increase Your Engagement
If you feel like you’re doing everything above but still not upping engagement, then give these troubleshooting tips a try:
- Switch to a premium email marketing provider like ConvertKit as sometimes emails are not delivered using the free services.
- Resend your email newsletter to those who didn’t open it a couple of days later with a new title.
- Delete ‘cold’ subscribers.
- If you have a large number of people who never open your emails (like ever) send them a nice email letting them know you will delete them from your list unless they respond to this email, as you don’t want to clutter up their inbox. Instantly better email stats once you’ve done this!
- Make your unsubscribe button more available. You really only want people on your list who actually care about what you have to say, so make unsubscribing easy!
Lastly, I try to never promote when those big promotions are happening.
For example, when everyone was emailing and pushing the Genius Bloggers Toolkit I wrote about how exhausting I was finding all the emails and I got loads of replies from others saying they felt the same way.
I was very careful not to bash other bloggers who were doing it of course because we all have to make money. But by not sending out the same email as every other person in my niche I really stood out and got lots of engagement!
So pick and choose which of those big promotions you really want to promote carefully!
I hope you really find this post valuable to boosting your email list engagement and earning their trust!
Honestly, your email list is so important. Not only are they a fantastic route to making money from your blog, but there is also a massive chance that you will become good friends with a few of them. So it is well worth your effort to focus on always providing them with the incredible content they deserve!
Any questions please ask away in the comments section and I will do my best to answer!
Sammy blogs at Well and Wealthy, where she documents her journey from being tied to the 9 to 5 to being her own boss, creating a wildly successful blogging biz and reaching financial independence.
Want to learn more about blogging as a business, personal finance, early retirement and financial independence? Then head over to Well and Wealthy. Or keep in touch with Sammy by following her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Don’t forget to join her awesome email list!