We recently spoke to several creative female entrepreneurs with growing or established email lists and chatted with them about their best practices for email marketing. The girls we spoke to have email lists that range from under 100 to over 4,000 recipients.
A big thanks to Katie of Balanced Beings, Alexis Grant of Socialexis, Marisa of Creative Thursday, Sara DiMantova of Sara Does, Ann Harris of Southern Social Marketing, and Ashley Wilhite of Your Super Awesome Life for answering our questions and thank you so much to Gina Spencer of Source Sleuth for putting us in touch with several great sources!
First of all, let’s chat about some of the biggest reasons to start an email list. There are tons, including increased engagement (people sending in questions, giving positive feedback via email, etc), increase in blog traffic, having a targeted list to email about opportunities (like freelance opportunities or a call for contributors), as a bonus for potential blog sponsors and partners, having the ability toreach readers and customers where they are every day, and more.
Ann shared another unexpected bonus: “Forcing myself to be witty and informative every week has been a huge confidence booster. After the first couple of newsletters, you start to feel pretty brilliant by how many ideas you can come up with!” Several of the girls we spoke to said email marketing gave them tremendous bang for their buck (read: the biggest return on investment for the least amount of time and money spent) of any of their channels of communication to their customers and readers.
Now here are some fun tips from fellow career women who are making the most of email marketing!
Where to collect email addresses
- Through downloads and freebies (like this career decision worksheet!)
- On the sidebar of your website or blog
- At the bottom of each blog post (like Alexis does)
- At speaking engagements (hint: design a sign up sheet that you can print before each event!)
- On your Facebook page (create a tab just for email sign ups)
- Through business cards you collect (be sure to ask permission since technically, they haven’t opted in!)
- In your email signature
Pro tip: Services like MailChimp provide you with a link where your sign up form is hosted. Instead, grab the HTML code and embed the form in your website or blog (for example, ours is embedded at onewomanshop.com/newsletter). This encourages people to stay on your site and increases your site traffic (if only nominally). Thanks to Alexis for this tip!
When to send emails
Several of the girls we spoke to send their emails on Sunday, because it tends to be a less email heavy day (and more laid-back for a lot of people!)- it seems like they’re on to something, since Pinterest’s highest traffic day is also Sunday. Several of the girls send their emails in the early morning (around 7am) between Tuesday and Thursday. The general consensus was to avoid sending email on Mondays and Fridays, since people are either overwhelmed with email from the weekend or busy looking forward to the weekend!
How often to send emails
Most of the girls send their emails once a week or once a month but many advocated for occasional “bonus emails” to announce sales, webinars, or other valuable information.
What to include in emails
- Links to your own blog posts (with an attention-grabbing teaser + a photo)
- Links to other useful resources
- “Pretty pictures” (inspirational quotes, etc)
- A preview of upcoming projects
- A sign up form or waiting list sign up for upcoming courses, webinars, etc
- Free printables
- Discount codes
- A personal note
- A link to social media profiles
- A link to information on your paid services (consulting, coaching, etc)
- A reminder of how you got the recipient’s email address
- Click to Tweet links so recipients can easily share your content
Open rates and what affects them
According to a MailChimp study, the industry open rates for e-commerce and creative services are 22.2% and 41.9%, respectively, but the girls we spoke to had open rates of 50-70%! They told us that their open rates were affected mostly by subject lines and mentions of freebies.
Our hypothesis for the incredibly high open rates among the people we spoke to is two-fold: 1) people must opt in directly to these newsletters- they are not merely signed up through purchasing an item, for example and 2) most of the girls we spoke to have very strong brands built around their businesses, which we think probably increases open rates.
As a side note: interestingly, one girl told us that when she tested two different subject lines, the ”boring” subject lines (like using the word “newsletter”) got a better response, strangely enough.
Final words of wisdom
Many of the girls we spoke to mentioned that they wished they had begun collecting email addresses and sending emails earlier than they did. Learn from their mistakes- set up a free email marketing account and start collecting those emails now! Alexis passed on a very simple message to us that she had heard: “just say something!” It doesn’t matter if you’re writing all new content for your newsletter or just putting teasers of your latest blog posts into an email with a picture or two- just say something to start engaging your subscribers!