This post was written by:
KORY WOORDARD / Kory Woodard is a full-time business owner and blogger, and most of the time she can be found dreaming up new ideas to help passionate women follow their dreams. The rest of the time she’s spending time with her husband and puppy, enjoying life!
If you’ve been on the internet for any length of time, you’ve heard the message: you have to have an email list. While I truly believe you don’t necessarily need one, I understand the value of creating your own space to connect with your audience. Although it’s a whole new amount of work that you have to add to your to-do list, having a list is a truly great way to build stronger connections with your community. Stronger connections build trust, and your audience has to trust you if they’re going to ever buy from you.
Like I mentioned, though, one of the biggest problems people have with their list comes with the whole new list of things they have to consider for this new platform. Not only should you create a name for your list (nope, you can’t just call it your newsletter), how to get your first subscribers, what content to send, and yikes: how to keep people on your list.
Although most people may not consider the experience their subscribers are having with the emails, one bad experience can make someone unsubscribe even if they generally like what you have to say. Making sure your list experience is great for your subscribers is a key way to make sure people are not just sticking around but also actually reading what you have to share.
There are several different ways you can enhance the experience for your subscribers. However, here’s my top list of 5 things you should do before sending your next campaign to make sure you’re subscribers are more likely to stick around.
1 | Clean your list
If it’s been awhile since you’ve sent an email, it doesn’t hurt to do a quick clean up before you re-commit to sending letters to your list. Although this may seem counterintuitive because ultimately you may lose a few subscribers, it’s the best way to make sure that you’re starting off on the right foot.
To clean your list, you can start by removing the inactive subscribers. Look for people who haven’t opened your list 5-10 campaigns (depending on how often you’ve been sending) and segment them onto a new list. If you’re a little apprehensive about unsubscribing them, shoot them a quick email with a link to click if they want to remain subscribed. Give it a few days to a week, and then you can safely assume the people who didn’t click the link either aren’t interested or just aren’t seeing your emails anymore.
2 | Create a content plan
Regardless of whether or not you go through the previous step (I know, it can be hard to see your numbers decrease when you’ve been working so hard for them), it’s important to create a plan of action for your list. I had a list for a little over two years before creating a content plan, and once I did I saw my numbers double in just five short months.
When you’re working on your plan, consider who your audience is and what they’re struggling with. Knowing who your audience is and what they’re struggling with is key to figuring out what to send to them in your letters. Make sure to include how often you’ll write as well as what day and time you’ll send your emails. If you’re somewhat new to having an email list and aren’t sure when to send, test out a few different times over the next couple of weeks. Be open with your subscribers that you’re testing what works best for your and them, and ask them what their preference is.
3 | Test that subject line
One thing that keeps people from opening emails is the subject line. That one, brief line gives your subscriber a clue as to whether or not what’s included in your email will be beneficial to them in any way. I have to be honest: if the subject line doesn’t entice me, it’s likely I’ll just delete the email without even opening it.
Just like figuring out what day and time works best for your subscribers, finding what subject lines your audience responds to best can take some time. While testing, try a variety of styles from lines like, “6 Ways to Save Time on Your To-Do List This Week” to “Here’s the bottom line: I’m losing my days to these time wasters”. One of my favorite tools for doing this is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer (bonus: it’s free for everyone!). While it’s meant to work for blog post titles, it’s great for subject lines as well.
4 | Make sure your template matches your brand
You may not think of it this way, but your email list is just an extension of your brand. It’s a perfect way to continue conveying your expertise and build trust in your brand, as I mentioned earlier. To help cultivate a strong brand, you really should make sure that the template you’re using matches the overall aesthetic of your brand.
When you’re working on customizing your template, check the fonts and colors you’re using to ensure they match the rest of your branding. Take it a step further and make sure you’ve customized the background color and the look of your links. The great thing about most platforms is that once you’ve created a template, you can save it and easily use it again and again each week while going back and making edits if / when things change. Do a little extra work now to help save you time each week.
5 | Remove unnecessary graphics
I was looking around on Facebook one day recently when I saw someone mention that you “need” graphics for everything in your list. Honestly, too many graphics are just distracting. Instead of having people actually read the content in your list, it’s more likely that they’ll skim over all of the graphics and miss the main points of your email.
My favorite rule of thumb is to have no more than one graphic for your main content and an optional headshot of you. You can also include a graphic if you’re running a sale on a service or launching something new, but don’t make them overwhelming. Whatever graphics you’re using should add to the experience for your subscriber, not become a distraction from the purpose of your content.
Bonus: Send a test email to help proofread + catch any errors
I couldn’t help but include this bonus for y’all! Over the course of the last 3+ years of blogging, I’ve been subscribed to lots of different email lists. Many have come into my inbox, but not many have had the luxury of sticking around. One thing that leads to an unsubscribe is grammatical and general errors.
I get it - we’re not perfect. It’s easy to make mistakes when you have so much on your plate. In fact, I’ve made link, editing, and grammatical errors in my emails while trying to send them quickly without taking the time to check things out. A great way to avoid this is to send yourself a test email that you slow down and read through. Look for misspellings or missed words, but also check to see if the overall editing is working. Is your font size big enough? Are your graphics resizing for mobile? The little extra time you take to double (or even triple) check for potential errors can help you avoid mistakes and make the experience better for your subscribers.
As I said before, having a newsletter isn’t a requirement just because you have a blog or run a business. However, if you have one it’s important to dedicate time to making sure that the experience is the best it can be for your audience. Afterall, it’s a one thing that can make or break someone’s interest in receiving weekly or monthly emails from you.
Need more help with your email list? Grab this free workbook to help you create a plan for your list and cultivate a better experience for your subscribers. There’s a (secret) sweet bonus included that’ll help you get a few ideas on how you can grow your list if you’re feeling stuck with your numbers and need a little clarity.