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Email marketing is one of the most important tools you can have in your marketing arsenal for your new business. After all, estimates are that over 2.2 billion people will be using email in 2021. Plus, email isn’t subject to the variability and algorithm changes that social media is.
Oh, and it’s got an ROI of 42x.
If you’re new to email marketing…
There are two types of email marketing – permission-based email marketing where the recipient has expressly said “yes, please email me about what you do!” and cold email prospecting, where you find someone’s email address and email them with no introduction (and no permission) in the hopes of generating interest and a sale.
In most digital marketing circles (and for the purposes of this article), we’re going to focus primarily on permission-based email marketing – because that’s where your long-term, sustainable business growth is going to exist.
/>Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Picking an email service provider
- How to get people to subscribe
- What you should include in your welcome series
- Setting up your first 5 emails
- Feeding your new email beast
Before You Get Started, You’ll Need:
Before you get started with email marketing, you’ll need a couple of things:
- A custom email address – not @gmail.com, or @outlook.com, but @heybrandi.com or the like
- An incentive for someone to sign up for your list – don’t worry, we’ll talk about this!
- A schedule that you can stick to when it comes to emailing with your list.
Picking an Email Service Provider
If you’re doing email marketing for a new business, chances are you’re starting with no subscribers and a small budget. You’re not going to need a lot of fancy bells and whistles and complex forms. In these situations, MailerLite is often your best choice.
MailerLite offers a free tier of email marketing for up to 1000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month. Or, if you want to send unlimited emails, it’s only $10, and you’ll get additional bonuses like using a custom domain for landing pages built on MailerLite, and A/B split testing.
I use MailerLite for my passion projects, and have recommended it to many clients who are just getting started with email marketing.
With the landing page features and the custom domain, you could even get by with just MailerLite until you get your full website built.
Other popular email service providers
Of course, MailerLite isn’t the only email service provider in the game – it’s just the best entry-level tier. Others that you may consider:
- ActiveCampaign: ActiveCampaign is my “upgrade” recommendation, and what I use for my own email marketing. It has enhanced integrations with additional platforms, on-site behavior tracking, and extensive CMS capabilities. There is no free tier – it starts at $15/month for a month-to-month subscription for up to 500 subscribers
- ConvertKit: ConvertKit recently added a free tier, allowing up to 500 subscribers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include reporting – a vital component to know how well your email marketing is performing so you can make improvements. Their paid program starts at $29 a month.
- MailChimp: MailChimp was an early darling in the small business email marketing space. You can send emails for free to up to 2000 subscribers on the free tier. Unfortunately, you won’t get access to mult-step automations or A/B testing. Additional features are available in paid tiers, starting at $9.99/month
When you sign up with your email service provider, you’ll need to give your list a name and a from address. Your from address should be at a custom domain – like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. It can be your regular email address that you use all the time for your business, or a custom one just for email marketing.
How to Get People to Subscribe to Your List
I wish that getting people to subscribe to your email list was as easy as letting them know it exists. It isn’t.
These days, you need some sort of an incentive to get them to give up that elusive and valuable email address. These incentives can be called lead magnets, opt-ins, or freebies. They come in all shapes and sizes too – from coupons to private Facebook groups.
Here are some ideas for incentives you can use to get people to sign up:
- Free shipping coupon
- Free appetizer, drink, or dessert coupon
- Email Courses (series of lessons delivered in email)
- Free consultations or 1:1 calls
- … and more
Once you’ve decided on what you’re going to offer (and created it, if you need to!), then you’ll need to tell your website visitors, social media followers, and in-store customers about it.
Sharing Your Email Opt-In On Your Website
Sharing your email opt-in on your website is a given – in fact, if you don’t have a website yet, you can use a landing page from your email service provider in its place for a little while. For most websites, you’ll want a prominent promotion for your opt-in.
- Welcome bar – colored bar that goes across the top of your site, above your logo and navigation
- In your sidebar
- At the bottom of any blog posts
- In your footer
- On a custom landing page (like this one for my one-page marketing plan)
Sharing Your Email Opt-In on Social Media
Sharing your email incentive on social media is as easy as writing a post and sharing a link to your freebie. This is where having that custom landing page, either built on your website or from your email service provider, comes in handy. The goal of this one page is to get people on your email list – so don’t be afraid to share often.
Sharing Your Email Opt-In with In-Store Customers
If you run a brick-and-mortar location – whether you’re a dry cleaner, a restaurant, or a boutique, you can also use your foot traffic to grow your email list. Have a sign-up form at your front counter and manually enter email addresses regularly into a spreadsheet and upload them into your email system. You can also promote your email incentive on signage in your space including on the table. Consider creating a short, easy-to-type URL that someone could sign up from directly on their phone while they wait.
What You Should Include in Your Welcome Series
When someone signs up for your email list, you’ll need to give them that incentive that you promised. This should arrive in their inbox right after they confirm their email address. Delivering this quickly helps build know, like, and trust factors with your new email subscriber.
After that incentive is delivered, you’ve got an opportunity to build the relationship even more with a welcome series.
A welcome series does just that – it welcomes people to the email relationship with your business. For most businesses, 2-3 emails in the welcome series are plenty. Each email should be sent 1-3 days after the one before, and all sent before you start emailing them your regular email content.
Your welcome series should help build on the know, like, and trust factors that you started building by delivering your freebie right away by telling your brand story and making your business one that they want to come back and do business with again. Your welcome series should also help set the expectations of how often your subscribers will hear from you, and what types of things you’re going to send them.
Your First 5 Emails
Experts and non-experts alike say that it takes 21 days to make a habit. If that’s the case, and you’re emailing your list once a week, then planning out your first 5 emails after your welcome series should get you well into having a habit of emailing your list.
Here’s a key to success in email marketing: consistency, consistency, concistency.
Even if you only have 5 email subscribers on your list, you’ll want to treat it like you’ve got 500. Build the habit of sending out your weekly or bi-weekly email from the beginning. Sure, once in a while you’ll miss a mailing. Life happens. But consistency builds trust.
So let’s start by planning the first 5 emails you’re going to send to your list – including what you’re going to send and when you’re going to send it.
Types of Email Content
There are four main kinds of things that we send to email subscribers:
- Blog posts – Either the full content or excerpts that drive the reader to the content
- Exclusive content – This goes above and beyond sending just what you’re writing on the blog. Sometimes it’s a preview of what’s to come, deeper insights about something in your industry, or even freebies that you’re not offering anywhere else.
- Personal messages – A personal message may be a lot like your exclusive content, but it’s often written more as a letter to a friend than a “newsletter”.
- Promotions – Yes, sometimes you’re going to want to plan to send your list promotions. And if you’re doing a good job with your list engagement, they won’t even mind.
For most businesses, you’ll do a mix of at least two of these kinds of messages – and sometimes even mix two types of messages in one email.
Frequency and Using an Email Calendar
Earlier I mentioned about being consistent with your email marketing. One of the key ways to maintain that consistency is to decide on your frequency and then use an email calendar to keep you on track.
Frequency is how often you’re sending. The most common frequency to really get and build results should be either weekly or bi-weekly. A few brands choose to email monthly, but for most new businesses who want to stay top-of-mind, you’ll need to email more frequently.
On your email marketing calendar, you’ll want to keep track of:
- What day you’re sending your message
- The general content or theme of the message
- The status of the message – have you written it, tested it, scheduled it?
I highly recommend that you keep your reporting on the same document (usually a spreadsheet!) as your email marketing calendar. Then you can see how your previous messages have performed while you’re planning your next set of emails.
If you haven’t already grabbed access to my free Resource Library, make sure you do before you head out. Inside, I’ve got a template for an email marketing calendar with reporting that you can use!
So, here’s your homework:
Map out your first 5 emails that you’re going to send to your subscribers. Pick evergreen content that you can use as soon as you’ve got subscribers. It can be:
- Special offers for a regular product you always have available
- A story about how you got started or created a special product – just make sure it’s a different story than the one you share in your welcome series.
- Links to your most popular content or products – and why they’re your most popular
You’ll want to send the first of these messages as soon as your first subscriber finishes the welcome series – even if there’s just one. Remember, we are building the habit of consistently reaching out to your email subscribers.
Care and Feeding Your Email List
Once you’ve got your email list set up, promoted, and are welcoming your new subscribers, its time to move into maintenance and growth mode. Here’s how:
- Keep promoting your list! On your website, on your social media platforms, and in your store – even if you’re at events! Keep letting people know that your list exists, and getting them to subscribe. Statistically, one email subscriber is the equivalent of 51 Facebook followers when it comes down to engagement.
- Keep sending emails! Remember, the key to successful email marketing is no different than any other marketing platform. You must be consistent.
- Measure your results. One thing I didn’t cover in this post is measuring your results. There will be a whole separate post on that in the future – but here are the basics: you want a high open rate, a high click-through rate, and a high conversion rate combined with a low unsubscribe rate.
You can continue to expand your knowledge about email marketing with the Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing and with my free email newsletter.
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