In the first part of this guide, we covered why email marketing is an important tool for bloggers and how you can start to put it to work for you. Now, in the second part, I’m going to show you how to manage your subscriber list and keep it well organized and in good condition.

This will help you not only to increase your reach and drive traffic to your blog, but will enhance its earning potential as well. A well-organized list of active subscribers is a strong advantage to take into price negotiations because marketing specialists know the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to target audience and the messages they send.

If you haven’t read the first part part of this series yet, you can find it here:

Email marketing for bloggers – part 1 – build your list

So let’s get down to specifics here and find out how to use email marketing to earn from your blog.

If you haven’t starting it yet, set up a free FreshMail account

Create a free account

What to send

First of all, you need to know what to send to your subscribers that will engage their interest and start an interaction. I can’t tell you what that is - it depends on you and your audience. I can, however, give you some tips on putting your ideas into the right frames and planning your email strategy to fit the specs of your blog.

Tell the world about new posts

As a blogger, email can be your primary means of notifying your followers about a new content. In addition to posting on social media, send everyone a mail with a link to the new material.

As I mentioned in the first part of this guide, subscribers return to a blog and share its contents more often than someone who finds a blog but isn’t a subscriber. Their attention and engagement can be leveraged into a much larger - and free - reach for your blog.

At the same time, you can’t go overboard with the number of messages you send your subscribers. Receiving too many emails is the biggest reason why they become disengaged and even direct your messages to a spam folder. Time your messages to be frequent enough to maintain their attention but not so often that they become irritated. I think once per two weeks is ok.

Create and send special material just for subscribers

It’s important that your subscribers feel that they are part of a club, with special privileges. Joining your mailing list should bring some kind of benefit that makes reading your content and following you worthwhile. 

This can come in the form of premium content that you don’t make available to anyone who is not a subscriber. For example -

  • priority in receiving notifications about things like product premieres, new blog posts, special events, etc.
  • access to special features and activities
  • various discounts or financial rewards

Ask them what they like & what they want

Don’t just use your email communication as a one-way street. You can also ask for feedback from subscribers to help you better craft your strategies. Don’t underestimate this opportunity to conduct surveys and simply create a forum for a conversation with the people who support you. Google Forms makes it easy to quickly put together a nice but simple interface for gathering the information you want.

Probably the most important kind of feedback you can get is on the subject of what kind of content subscribers would like to see from you. Another important question concerns the kinds of products or services they might be interested in if you offered them.

Asking for opinions and input from subscribers helps you to better understand your target market and cater to their tastes and preferences. This means better monetising your blog since your offer will be better matched to your market.

Delivery quality content

In the previous part, we talked about how interactive content gets shared more often online and helps to build your subscriber list. But they can also help to complement your communications with subscribers.

It’s important to use them because interactive content helps to maintain a higher level of interest and brand loyalty. Make the effort to create interesting content for your subscribers and they will respond with better, deeper engagement.

Types of interactive content that work well include:

  • contests
  • AMA (ask me anything) Q&A sessions
  • events integrated with social media
  • quizzes

All of this can be communicated and partially organised through email marketing. It’s important not just for sales but for increasing your reach as well since these are the kinds of things that get shared and spread, creating new interest and fans. Question and answer sessions are especially great for dedicated channels for such forums. Just look at what Gary Vaynerchuk has done with his.

Having knowledge and ideas about effective email communication lets you move on to more technical aspects. After all, you have to use your creativity in the context of a well-designed campaign that gets opened and read.

How to create a campaign

Make sure it’s clear who your message is from

The “Sender” field is the most important element that helps to decide if your message gets opened or not. It forms part of the trust that encourages recipients look at what’s inside instead ignoring the message.

Be sure that your sender field:

  • is clear and to the point regarding who is sending the message
  • is realiable, for example Gregory from FreshMail, not Bill from Microsoft
  • is based on your own domain and not Gmail or some other email service provider
  • doesn’t change too often or ever, since recipients need to be able to get used to the names associated with your messages and changes can mean they don’t get opened
Careful!

All of these elements have an influence on more than how often messages get opened. They’re also important in helping you to avoid having your messages labeled as spam, which is always a serious danger. Spam filters are set to detect “unusual” addresses and signatures that can signal an association with unethical or illegal messages.

Use Spam Assassin to make sure your messages land in subscriber inboxes.

When you’ve entered all of your information, FreshMail will check it to be sure that you haven’t made any mistakes and won’t have problems with spam:

2 don't use gmail address

Run test on the sender name and message subject before you send it.

See our guide on how to do it

Title / subject

The title of your message also helps to decide if it gets opened or not. It’s important your subject line get attention and encourages recipients to open your email.

You can take different approaches to this challenge. Use controversy, mystery or just simply state what’s inside the message. It’s sometimes a good idea to include the same elements in multiple messages (for example use [New Blog Post] in your title) so that they can be more easily identified and subscribers get used to them. This, in turn, helps to drive your open rate.

The optimum length of a subject line is about 50 or 60 characters. Remember that more and more messages are opened on mobile devices and longer subject lines may not display properly. Think about using special characters to get attention and stand out:

3 subject line with icons

It’s easy to insert these symbols in FreshMail. Just click the “Insert Symbol” button:

4 insert symbol

Also, use personalisation in the subject line as well. More on that in a moment.

Personalise it

Personalising your email marketing means using information you have about subscribers to adapt your message to their interests and preferences. Using personalisation can take many forms like using first names, geo-targeting and selecting dynamic content based on purchases histories etc. Research conducted by Deloitte Digital shows that just personalising the subject line can boost your open rate by 5.2% and personalising your content can put it up by 55%!

When creating your subject line, use the subscriber’s name (it’s easy, just insert $$name$$) and use data from additional fields if you gathered any at the time of sign-up. Data from additional fields not only helps your personalise messages, but segment them as well, something we will touch on later.

personalised subject

Learn more about personalisation here:

How to personalize your emails

Create preheaders that complement your title

Preheaders are bits of text that display just after the message subject. It’s typically the first sentence of the content of your mail but it can also be used as an extension of your message subject. Use it to help ensure that your email gets opened.

preheader

Failing to use preheaders is a common mistake. Don’t leave it empty and be sure that it displays properly before you send your campaign.

without preheader

Graphics vs Text in mails

Using graphics in mails is almost standard but it’s not necessary. Text mails can also be very effective and sometimes even get better results depending on your needs.

Use text-based mails:
  • to quickly share information or links
  • to mimic the effect of a “private” email instead of a mass mail
  • when you have a limited amount of information to communicate
  • if it suits your typical subscriber profile

keywords

Use graphic mails:
  • if a visual representation is more appropriate
  • to present something (like product, graphic buttons, photos)
  • to combine multiple elements in one message
  • to limit the need to read text

freshmail newsletter

Mailing list hygiene

Mailing list hygiene is important from the moment you start to build your address list. Keeping your email list free from non-performing addresses is key to achieving high open rates, click through rates and conversions.

So what’s the best way to keep your subscriber list in good order?

Segment your lists before sending your campaigns

Dividing your list into groups of subscribers with similar characteristics is a basic of effective email marketing. It’s especially important in larger databases with a wider variety of subscribers. This segmentation lets you send the right message to the right person at the right time.

You can segment your mailing list according to:

  • declarative data given by subscribers themselves
  • behavioural data based on actions completed by subscribers (more on this in moment)

Remember that the more data you have about your subscribers, the better you can personalise your message. However, the more data you ask for at the time of sign-up, the fewer people will complete it. It’s a better idea to slowly gain additional data after signup.

Example:

Let’s say you run a blog about mountain hiking. Email marketing lets you promote brands that you work with. But you have a mailing list of men and women from a wide geographical area.

In this case, segmentation lets you reach, for example, only women or only people from a particular area. Segmenting your database allows you to direct your message to the audience that matches the offer.

Activate the inactive, reward the active

An important function available in FreshMail is the ability to target subscribers on the basis of engagement. This means sending messages to those subscribers who have opened a certain percentage of your previous messages.  

By using this strategy you can activate subscribers who haven’t opened your messages in some time. Not only can you send special offers to bring them back, you can also send rewards to more engaged subscribers. This enhances your relationship with everyone on the list and increases its value, which in turn makes it easier to earn as a blogger.

It’s a good idea to make three groups:
  • Engaged - subscribers who have opened at least 75% of your emails
  • Less engaged - subscribers who have opened at least 25% to 74% of your emails
  • Least engaged - Subscribers who have opened less than 25% of your emails
Engaged

Subscribers in the first group should be rewarded for following you and your messages. Make something useful and engaging and limit access to the most engaged subscribers. Mention this premium content in your messages to other groups.

Less engaged

This is where you need to use increased optimisation. Be sure to run A/B tests on your sending time, message subject and sender name.

Least engaged

This group requires reactivation. You have to focus on the first things they see in their inboxes, the message sender, subject and preheader. A/B testing also has a place here. These least-engaged subscribers need a reason to get interested in you again. Maybe they didn’t find your previous content good enough. If you’re selling something, a discount could be what you need to get them interested again.

Learn more about activating the inactive:

Proven ways to get the attention of inactive subscribers

Delete inactive addresses

Deleting addresses can be just as important as adding new ones. Not every address is valuable or even real and that’s why you need to get rid of them before they become a problem. 

Deleting inactive addresses means that you can:
  • decrease the risk of falling into spam-traps, addresses used as bait to identify spammers
  • stay out of subscriber spam folders
  • increase your open rate, click through rate and conversions
  • get better results from your mailing list

Subscriber lists are about quality, not quantity. It’s better to reach a smaller number of people who are interested in your message than a larger number who are not.

Delete addresses that:
  • hard bounce
  • soft bounce more than a few times
  • do not exist (aaa@aaa.com, etc.)

A great example of effective activation and simultaneously clearing useless addresses comes from HubSpot. They send a message that informs subscribers that they will be deleted from their list for being inactive. The message contains a button for confirming that a subscriber wants to remain active. Not only does this keep their database clean, but it also renews interest in subscribers who have become inactive for whatever reason.

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Summary

This brings us to the end of the second part of this guide to email marketing for bloggers. I hope you’ve learned a bit more about effective communication via email and how to implement my advice. Adopting the strategies we’ve covered here will move you a long way towards monetising your blog and mailing list.

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