newsletter writing

All you need to know about email marketing

This is a mega-roundup post that will bring you up-to-speed with email marketing. It will be useful for you both if you’re not doing it yet, and if you’re doing it already and need to learn some tricks / change your tool.

The post will cover the following topics:

    1. What is email marketing?
    2. Why do you need email marketing? Benefits (especially for bloggers and coaches!)
    3. How does email marketing work?
    4. Email marketing tools – an overview
    5. How to create an email marketing strategy
    6. How to write engaging newsletters
    7. Good newsletter examples
    8. How to write good subject lines (that get your newsletters opened)
    9. What are ‘good numbers’ for your open and click-through rate?
    10. How to get your newsletters into the primary tab in Gmail
    11. How to grow your subscribers’ list fast
    12. Email marketing and GDPR
    13. Common email marketing mistakes

1. What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a type of content marketing that is delivered directly to your recipients’ mailbox.

It has some bad rep due to the common misunderstanding what makes up a good newsletter and legacy of direct mail. No, don’t be fooled sending newsletters is the same as sending leaflets or offer catalogues by post. A good newsletter is like good Netflix series – it creates suspense, so you’re waiting for the next one. It builds this personal relationship between you (the sender) and your audience (the recipient). It tells a story and brings value.

This misconception has led to the appearance of the term ‘spam‘ – describing unsolicited electronic messages, often sent to a large number of people, including content that is largely irrelevant to them as individuals.

The word ‘Spam’ comes from…a type of canned luncheon meat produced by Hormel, very popular in the UK in the 70s. How did the ‘combination of shoulder and ham’ become a description of poor email marketing though?! Thanks to…Monthy Python, of course!  (How British!)

The term spam is derived from the 1970 Spamsketch of the BBC television comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus.[6][3] The sketch is set in a cafe where nearly every item on the menu includes Spam canned luncheon meat. As the waitress recites the Spam-filled menu, a chorus of Viking patrons drowns out all conversations with a song repeating “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam… Spammity Spam! Wonderful Spam!”, hence spamming the dialogue.[7]

Source: Wikipedia 

So, now that we know what email marketing is (and what it’s not!) let’s get our hands dirty!

This post will walk you through the complete email marketing process: from why it’s so effective to how to create good email marketing strategy, great newsletters, collect subscribers and how to comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation introduced in the EU in May 2018.
2. Why do you need email marketing? Benefits (especially for bloggers and coaches!)
According to Marketing Inside r Group, newsletters have on average 1% conversion rates. That means: out of 100 emails you send with your offer, roughly 1 results in a purchase. This may not seem stellar at first, but you should think about it in terms of ROI (Return on Investment) though, not absolute conversions. ROI = Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment * 100% 

It’s pretty easy to attract 100 people to your email list.

In fact, you can usually do it with a single post on social media [link]

It will take you roughly 20 minutes.

If you’re making $ 100 / h, 20 minutes’ work = $ 33.

If you make one sale in the amount of $ 400 (that’s what happened to me – actually I made 3 sales to this amount in total, from an email list of about 120, which means my conversion rate was slightly higher than 1%, but let’s keep it simple) from this small ‘seed’ email list, your return on investment will be: $ 400 – $33 / $ 33 = 11.12 * 100% = 1112 % ! Over 1000 % return on investment from a single email! :O

According to HubSpot, my results were still…pretty unimpressive:

“On average, email generates $38 for every dollar spent, which is a 3,800% return on investment.” 

So: if you consider that it is a lot cheaper and faster to send 100 newsletters through an email marketing tool compared to e.g. calling, and that there are many ways to increase that rate through smart email marketing funnels – it’s a pretty damn good result. 

Here are some reasons why you should include email marketing into your content promotion strategy :

  1. It’s the easiest way to convert your (blog) readers into potential customers – a lot of content gives their author no opportunity to capture their reader’s interest (and leverage it later) because it has no email marketing funnel set up to capture addresses!
  2. It’s CHEAP! – compared to other marketing methods – you can achieve great results with little money – hence the Return on Investment (ROI) is relatively *HUGE* 
  3. You *own* the list – unlike with the followers on social media, you are not dependent on the whims of the social networking platform (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.) which may shut down your account at any time or change the algorithm behind displaying your post to your followers in such way (a lot of Facebook page users have already experienced this!) that…hardly anyone sees your posts.  With email marketing – on the other hand – you control who gets your emails. Your only job is to write them (and the subject lines) in such way that makes your subscribers want to open them.
  4. You decide on the content – unlike with Facebook ads, which can be ‘not approved’ for silly reasons, in email marketing you decide what you send to your subscribers (Of course, with some limitations – if you’re spamming, or sending mail to people that didn’t give you their consent – then the email marketing tool provider can also ‘ban you’)
  5. You can nurture the relationship – from cold leads through warm leads to clients 🙂 this is what email marketing funnels* are made for!

    *An email marketing funnel is a sequence of emails that leads the reader through some free content from the sign-up form (here: at the end of your blog post) to the checkout. It substantially increases your chances of converting your readers into paying customers.

  6. You can 100% automate the process – using email marketing tools of your choice
  7. You can measure engagement (how many people open and click on the links you send them) as well as ROI

3. How does email marketing work?

  1. You signup to an email marketing tool of your choice. There are many popular options, we will compare a few later. Most email marketing tools either have a free trial or a free email list size limit (e.g. Mailchimp – free up to 2000 subscribers; MailerLite – free up to 1000 subscribers).
  2. You create a subscription form so that people can subscribe to your list. Those can be embedded in your website, or function as a stand-alone landing page (a lot collect email addresses from your subscribers through a subscription form

    repurposing content - freebie

    Source: https://www.melyssagriffin.com/

  3. You will usually need to encourage your subscribers to sign up for your list – come up with a persuasive reason why they should join – a promise of delivering great value over time or…instant gratification in the form of a downloadable freebie (lead magnet) waiting for them if they sign up 😉
  4. You create a template for your newsletter that you will use again and again. It doesn’t need to be fancy. In fact, in a lot of industries – the most effective newsletters are simple emails:

5. You automate the process of sending your newsletters to those that signup – have a sequence of 4-6 newsletters lined up.

6. The email marketing tool provider sends the emails to the recipients you have selected from your list. It’s best to segment the list into groups of recipients depending on their demographics /how they signed up – the newsletter should be ‘tweaked’ to match the profile and interests of the recipient to ensure highest open and conversion rates.
4. Email marketing tools – an overview
This overview is not designed to be comprehensive. I have selected only 5 most popular email marketing tools and assessed them on the basis of criteria that I think are important for starters. If you want a comprehensive one featuring 35 tools (arranged in alphabetical order) – you can find one here. 

Email Marketing Tool Free account? Pricing for a small list (up to 500 subscribers) Pricing for a medium list (500-2000 subscribers) Pricing for a larget list (5000-10,000 subscribers) Pricing for a large list (10,000+ subscribers) Landing page? WordPress plugin? User Review + Ease of Use out of 6
 MailChimp Yes, up to 2000 subscribers Free Free $ 50-$75 $75+ Yes Yes Emilia of www.diymarketingguide.com 😉 I have personally used MailChimp and have mixed feelings to be honest (switched to MailerLite after a while),. Customer support is only available for free for the first month, and later when my account was blocked I couldn’t get help with it. Still, it’s a pretty robust tool with the biggest free account on the market. Ease of use: 5/6.
MailerLite Yes, up to 1000 subscribers Free $ 10 $ 35 $ 50 Yes Yes Brittney Moffat of http://accordingtobrittney.com/

Pros: Mailerlite is easy to use and has all the features you’d need for marketing automation. Drag and drop editor is great especially the ability to use past email templates. You can also make landing pages and pop-up forms just as easily. Lastly, it’s affordable for small businesses like mine.

Cons: The only negative I have is that the builder can be a little buggy at times.

ConvertKit $ 29 $ 49 $ 79 $119 Yes Yes Lindsey Aleson of https://www.blogmelovely.com/ Pros: You can segment and tag your list in so many ways which makes automation extremely easy. It has very easy to read stats for your emails. You can create forms and landing pages and it integrates with WordPress so nicely. You can easily resend emails to people who didn’t open it. And it just integrates with so many programs!

Cons: While they do have landing pages, I feel they are very basic and I am not a huge fan of them. I don’t use them in my business. And it does not integrate with Squarespace, but you can use a work around.

ConstantContact Yes, for 30 days $ 20 ? ? ? Yes Yes No review – wanna write one? Contact me on Emilia@diymarketingguide.com and I’ll feature your review + a backlink to your website
GetResponse £ 10 £ 16 £ 30 – 45 £ 45+ Yes Yes No review – wanna write one? Contact me on Emilia@diymarketingguide.com and I’ll feature your review + a backlink to your website

5. How to create an email marketing strategy
You can’t ‘mail and pray’ – if you want to get results from your email marketing campaigns, you need to make a careful plan that will consider your audience’s needs specify your purpose, goals, how you want to achieve them, and how you’ll measure success (KSIs = key success indicators). 

I recommend you break your strategy down into three steps:

Step 1: What your audience wants to read:

Discover what your customer wants to read:
What business do you have? What do your customers buy from you? Why do they buy your service / product? Why would they want to read your newsletter? What can you write that would be interesting for them?
Spiritual coach 1:1

3-month coaching programmes

Because they feel stuck in life and need help discovering their true calling – To understand why they are in the current situation

– To find ways to help themselves out of the funk

– The underlying reasons why they feel stuck in life & can’t seem able to take action

– strategies how they can resolve their problem

– case studies of similar clients

Outline from my earlier post originally published here: https://www.getanewsletter.com/en/blog/think-write-step-step-guide-designing-successful-email-marketing-strategy-industry/

Step 2:  What you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there:

What do I want to achieve through my email marketing? How many emails do I need to send to nurture the relationship? How often will I be sending them? How will you get people to sign up to your newsletter?

What will be content of each email?

How will I be converting my customers? When and how am I going to include the offer?
I want more people to sign up for my discovery call

I want the prospects to see the value in my coaching programmes through the free materials to increase changes for conversions

6 emails, sent 1-every week ‘6 weeks to understanding why you are stuck in life and how to move on – sign up to join a free 6-week programme + a free discovery call

You will be getting: 6 free workbooks with:

  • 1) self-discovery questions to help you understand your situation better
  • 2) tailored follow-up response to different answers (segmentation of the list at this stage) with ‘diagnosis’
  • 3) Underlying causes
  • 4) work-books to help them understand how to move forward
  • 5) Success case studies
  • 6) Follow-up routines + next step + INVITE to the discovery call
I will be inviting them to a free discovery call and analyse their situation on the basis of the answers to their self-discovery questions;

Then, I will offer them a tailored solution and invite them to take advantage of a special offer to buy my course during the call.

Step 3: Measure conversions and Key Success Indicators

  1. What open rate and click-through rate are acceptable for me?
  2. What am I going to do if the rates are lower than expected? (Do I have a ‘plan B’ when engagement is low?)
  3. How many people do I expect to sign-up for the discovery call after the last email?

With a strategy like that, you know exactly what you want to achieve, when and how. Each step is clearly broken down with goals and KPIs. Now all you need to do is to connect the dots: write engaging newsletters on the topics described above!
6. How to write engaging newsletters
Let’s break it down into steps to make it short, actionable and clear:

1. Know what your audience wants to read and what is their problem

This should be clear to you after you have created your email marketing strategy (above) and do exercise 1 (p.5) from the DIY Marketing Guide (you can download yours for free here!).

The newsletter should show how it will solve one of your reader’s pain point clearly:

Julia express writiers DIY Marketing Guide 

2. Make it relevant by segmenting your list

Depending on both your audience’s interests and the subscription form they used to join your email list (presumably you’ll have a few reflecting interest in slightly different topics – e.g. I have subscription forms from different freebies – e.g. DIY Marketing Guide and Digital Content Strategy Template – I would start the email sequence for each group of subscribers with a different welcome email – reflecting the signup form they subscribed from – and tweak the following emails in the sequence a bit to make them either more general-advice oriented or strategy-oriented.) Also – customise your emails depending on the open rate – if you have any particularly active users (you can preview it in your tool’s statistics) you should reward them for reading your newsletters regularly e.g. with a special discount offer for your product/service.

3. P E R S O N A L I S E! 

According to Marketing Dive, adding personalisation ( adding the recipient’s first name to your email subject line and greeting in the email body can boost open rate by 50% and click-through rate (how many people click on the links in your emails) by 58% !  This means up to 58% more traffic to your website from your mailing list!  So – go to your email marketing tool (here on the example of Mailer Lite) and personalise the subject line and greeting as shown below: personalisation - subject line DIY Marketing Guidepersonalisation - greeting DIY Marketing Guide

4. Make your content personal – tell a S T O R Y! 

The best emails start with a personal story that engages the reader (you should include the first line of the story in the teaser text – see the screenshot above on the right – this is the short ‘preview’ text that you see in your mailbox. Make it really compelling and irresistible – keep an element of mystery that will be solved only if the recipient opens the email – don’t let the whole cat out of the bag! E.g. Melissa Harman has ‘something super special to share with me’ – who would resist that?! 

Teaser line Melissa Harman DIY Marketing GuideAfter the teaser text, continue the story in the email body – move smoothly from the personal bit to the (logically linked) business bit, just like Carrie Green did below (moving from her own baby-announcement – which is *of  course* super-interesting to most women – to announcing a webinar that will talk about how to prepare for having a baby and building a business – was a really smart move to catch the audience’s interest first and then convert them into webinar participants by offering them participation in something that is *obviously* related to their main interests: business and…babies 😉  This link between the content and the product/service is called (after Dan Norris, the author of a great book on Content Marketing – Content Machinethe Monetisation Logic:

Personalisation 2 - Carrie Green DIY Marketing Guide

The same strategy was applied by Melissa Harman:

DIY Marketing Guide Melisaa Harman monetisation logic

Mark that both email examples include personal photos of the sender! This definitely drives engagement and has an impact on the click-through rate – the readers feel like they ‘know you’ better, so they are more likely to click on your links!

5. Make sure you have a clear Call to Action (CTA) in every email

That you are asking your readers clearly to *do* something (e.g. sign up for a webinar, download a freebie, continue reading on your blog etc.): here: join Carrie Green and Nikki Elledge Brown (on the webinar) – note how smart it was of Carrie to put the call to action next to her…baby bump! Obviously, *nothing* attracts the readers’ attention more than the exposed cute baby bump! Of course, I get it – you may not have this eye magnet handy (especially if you are a guy) but hey, there are other ways how you can attract your readers’ attention to your call to action… by putting it on a nice button with a CTA / CTA banner next to your smiley, happy picture of your face (like Melissa did). Carrie Green p 2 DIY Marketing Guide
Good newsletter examples:

Have a clean layout and don’t write too much!

Make a good use of white space and remember – less is more; people have only about 2 minutes to read your newsletter: make sure you make it easy and quick to read – and that you convey your goal and the value in this time!

How to make your newsletter easy to read?

  • Use headings for sections
  • Underline, bold out or use and italics for important info
  • Use white space – double space between the lines is recommended
  • Use numbered lists rather than full sentences
  • Write in short sentences – under 20 words
  • Write in simple sentences – avoid complex-compound clauses and passive voice

Who would have thought I would use HMRC as a good newsletter example? 😀 Still – look at how clear and concise their newsletter is! Big bold headings, highlighted links and double spacing makes it easy to skim through the email in under a minute and get what it’s about!

Give VALUE!

Make sure what you are giving your users offers them plenty of value. This can be e.g. giving a solution to their problem – look at the newsletter below: ‘7 healthy snacks that you can eat while watching TV’ – if you are trying to lose weight, and your munching is sabotaging your weight loss goals (which the sender knows because they got you on their newsletter through e.g. ‘Download the ‘hit your weight-loss goals this year without going on a diet!’ food planner for free below!’ landing page.

You can also give value by:

  • providing discounts
  • providing useful tools
  • giving access to special offers / restricted content
  • sharing valuable lessons

Promote your social media channels

If you are not promoting your social media channels in your newsletter, you are mising out on the opportunity to grow your audience.

Good newsletter example - GAN

Source: https://www.getanewsletter.com/en/blog/good-newsletter-example/

Have a *one* clear call to action

Carrie Green’s newsletter has a clear call to action (CTA = asking the readers to do something) displayed in a banner next to her baby bump:

Personalisation 2 - Carrie Green DIY Marketing Guide

The CTA should take the readers to a page where they can perform the action you are asking them to do. In that case, your newsletter becomes part of your sales funnel.

Also – don’t try to kill two (or three or four…) birds with one stone: have *ONE* call to action there!

Build suspense

This is just an excerpt of their new blog post, but mark how well Mark and Angel played with suspense here: there’s no way how you’re not gonna click on the <more> tag linking to their blog once you opened the email and got so far:


How to write good subject lines (that get your newsletters opened)
As I wrote earlier in this post on GAN’s blog  there are 5 principles behind creating good subject lines that will make your subscribers actually want to open them:

  1. Urgency / Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)Stress the need to take open the newsletter by (mildly) threatening the subscriber they will miss out on a special offer / promotion if they don’t:E.g.: ‘Renew your subscription now and get 20% off – offer valid only 3 days!’‘Grab ‘em before they go – only 5 early-bird tickets left!
  2. Curiosity Don’t let the cat out of the bag in the subject line – make it clear your  newsletter will be about something very useful e.g. offering solution to your customer’s problem – but don’t let them have the solution before they open the email: E.g.: ‘This habit is really ruining your productivity at work’E.g.: ‘I used to have your problems with sales too’E.g.: ‘What Amanda did to me yesterday really wasn’t fun…
  3.  Timeliness & relevance Make sure you talk about something that is very relevant because it’s *this time of the year* and hence solve a particular *typical* problem:E.g.: ‘Learn how to design Christmas offer newsletters that sell’‘This add-on will help you use XYZ 73% better
  4. Personalisation 

Add the subscriber’s first name in the subject line:

E.g.: ‘Emilia, this course will finally solve your marketing problem

5. Language hacks

These three language hacks are proven to increase open rates:

Use a question

Do you want to increase your open rates by 120%? Tired of ineffective meetings? What is the best time to send Christmas offers?

Use a ‘WH-’ clause:

How to win friends and influence people;
What to do when your XYZ fails

Use numbers:

Save 50% next time you visit XX!
3 easy steps to a safer home for your child
5 ways to optimize your workout

What are ‘good numbers’ for your open and click-through rate?
In order to succeed at your email marketing strategy, you need to have certain KPIs to aim for, and then A/B test your emails to see what your audience likes most and what gives you the highest open and click-through rates.

The rates will not be the same for every industry, so don’t worry if you’re not achieving 80% open rates – this is unrealistic and quite frankly impossible (do you remember a newsletter you honestly opened every single time? No? Me neither). 30% + open rate will be great for most industries:

Source: https://www.smartinsights.com/email-marketing/email-communications-strategy/statistics-sources-for-email-marketing/
How to get your newsletters into the primary tab in Gmail
To have your emails open, you have to have them noticed. The ‘promotions tab’ in Gmail, one of the most popular email clients worldwide with 20% market share (as of Decemeber 2016) is the second best place to hide a dead body (after the second page of results in Google) and yet over 68% of mail lands in the promotions tab.

Are there any ways you can outsmart it and land in the primary tab in gmail?

Yes there are:

  1. Ask your subscribers to add you as a contact: 

    Add a single contact

    1. Go to Google Contacts.
    2. In the bottom right, click Add Add. (If you don’t see Add Add, go to add contacts in old Contacts.)
    3. Enter the contact’s information.
    4. Click Save.

2. Ask your subscribers to move your newsletter to the primary tab

  1. Open the ‘promotions tab’
  2. Find your newsletter in the promotions tab
  3. Click on it and while holding the left button of the mouse/touchpad, move it to the primary tab

DIY Marketing Guide move to primary tab
How to grow your subscribers’ list fast

  1. Offer a freebie through your email marketing tool’s subscribe page  (e.g:

    Ebook/ Checklist / Worksheet /Template /PDF Guide /Printable

    –> learn how to create them using various tools and how to repurpose your blog posts into a freebie here) – here a subscribe page designed with Mailer Lite: DIY Marketing Guide

2. Promote the subscription page through groups on Facebook, forums and LinkedIn groups (how to create those posts not to get banned – read here)

3. Create paid ads on Facebook for your freebies

4. Collect email addresses during offline events and from all your existing clients.

5. Create popups on your website (if you’re using wordpress, you can easily do that with a plugin like OptinForms or OptinMonster or another plugin dedicated to your email marketing tool – e.g. I’m using MailerLite for my popups)

6. Create signup forms both in the sidebar, at the bottom of each post as well as in the slider – like here: repurposing content - freebie

A good signup form should offer an incentive to join your subscriber’s list, e.g.:

  1. A freebie (esp. in the header)
  2. Additional information/template / free consultation relevant to the blog post – in the sidebar and below / in the middle of the blog post;

You can create optin-forms like that using various plugins, e.g. OptinMonster or your dedicated email marketing plugin;

You will be then able to append the form to each post/ specific pages (this will allow you to customize the opt-ins to different posts to make sure they are relevant to what the visitor is most interested in!)

adding your form to your post

7. Have clear Calls-To-Action in your posts inviting people to sign-up

If you feel you need more inspiration regarding ways to attract people to your newsletters, here are some useful resources:

  1. How to Get Your First 100 Email Subscribers
  2. How to Get 128 New Email Subscribers Per Day
  3. 50 Proven Ways To Grow Your Email List
  4. How To Get 1,000 New Email Subscribers In 30 Days
  5. How to Tailor Lead Nurturing Content to Suit Individual Personas
  6. 25 Simple Ways to Grow Your Email List
  7. A STEP-BY-STEP PLAN TO GROW YOUR EMAIL LIST WHEN YOU’RE STARTING FROM ZERO
  8. How to Grow Your Email List to 5 Digits and Beyond

Email marketing and GDPR
GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation – is an EU-wide data protection policy that came into effect on 25 May 2018. It had a big impact on a lot of areas of digital marketing, including email marketing. GDPR affects all businesses that process data of EU *residents* – so not only businesses registered in the EU!

Although there has been a lot of scare-mongering around the time when GDPR was coming into effect, it is easier to adapt to it than it seems if you bear a few basic principles in mind (that I am going to explain below).

I have written several guest posts detailing the impacts of GDPR and legal requirements you need to meet:

I am going to round them up here:

GDPR – the basics
  • General Data Protection Regulation unifies data protection laws within the EU – applying to EU residents. It’s a regulation not a directive – meaning it is legally binding and all entities handling data of EU residents need to observe it.
  • GDPR is based on two principles of data protection: ‘data protection by design’ and ‘data protection by default’
  • ‘Data protection by design’ – businesses that handle personal data need to have systems designed to protect them. For example the database where you store your users personal information needs to be secured by design. This can be done through e.g. pseudonymisation (encoding data by replacing personal data with a random identifier) of data fields.
  • ‘Data protection by default’ means that all personal data are subject to data protection regulations.
  • Consent to store or process personal data in any way needs to be given explicitly in a ‘freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous’ way, and through clear ‘affirmative action’- meaning that the subscriber has to clearly opt-into receiving your emails, rather than opting-out of them (as used to be done a lot in the past with pre-ticked consent boxes that one needed to remember to untick while signing up for different things!)
  • Your clients/ subscribers need to have access to their data and should be able to request to have them removed at any time.
GDPR – Impact on Email Marketing
  • You have to state clearly who the newsletter if from.
  • You can’t buy email lists or scrape email addresses from the internet (e.g. ‘contact’ pages) and then email their owners without their permission.
  • You can’t send newsletters to your clients if you have obtained their emails for another reason: e.g. at the checkout in your online store. If you want to send people newsletters, they have to have explicitly opted-in for this newsletter through affirmative action (checking the consent box).
  • You also can’t use emails for another purpose than the one the owner has granted permission for: e.g. sending offers rather than information about events. You need to collect consent for all kinds of content that you are planning to send to your subscribers: either separately through separate tickboxes (as in the Asos example below), or by having an all-or-nothing consent box (and accepting you may lose some subscribers who were not interested in e.g. the offers).  asos newsletter DIY Marketing Guide
  • You can’t buy an email list from someone who has not collected consent of the email owners to sell it to you specifically
  • You can’t use the emails you collected for one business for another business.
  • You can’t have pre-ticked the consent box on the subscription form or opt-outs: Example of a PRE-TICKED BOX (car-rental company): Pre-checked boxes are a no-no according to GDPR email marketing
  • Example of an OPT-OUT: email marketing opt-out
  • What do you need to do to adapt your email marketing to GDPR?
  1. Update your data protection policies* – see point 3 for details.
  2. Make sure you have a clear data protection system and process in place. You will also need to keep record of your data processing activities.
  3. You need to nominate a ‘data protection controller’ and ‘data protection officer’. Yes, in a solopreneur context that will be ‘you, myself and I’ but you need to state clearly who is processing data (officer) and controlling the process (controller) in your privacy policy.
  4. If you are not sure the subscribers have given you their explicit consent for you to use their emails for your newsletter, contact all your email subscribers with a notice to re-subscribe. This is called ‘re-permissioning‘. You can find repermissioning templates here
  5. Update your subscription forms to include:
    1. Unticked check-boxes so that the subscribers have a chance to give their explicit consent.
    2. A list of content options so that the subscribers give a clear consent to all types of content with different purposes.
    3. Clear information who will be responsible for data storage and processing + contact information.
GDPR and subscription forms:

GDPR requirements for subscription forms/ sign-up boxes/ pop-ups:

  •  clearly state the purpose of the newsletter
  •  have a sign-up button that will allow the subscriber to express their consent through a clear affirmative action (pressing the button!)
  • write in a clear, understandable language
  • they need to have a link to terms and conditions specifically for the newsletter (not buried somewhere in 20-page long general terms of use!)
  • they shouldn’t include incentives – e.g. if you want to give someone a freebie, you can, but you need to include information that signing up for the freebie means agreeing to getting a newsletter afterwards – and preferably include a separate consent box if you want to send people a newsletter afterwards.

So, to sum up: 

1. Collect consent through affirmative action, not through tricking your customers/ readers into subscribing to your newsletters because they forgot to opt out of something.

2. One purpose, one consent – create separate consent forms for each *type* of consent you are planning to send in your newsletter.

3. Make it clear how to unsubscribe.

4. Include a link to terms and conditions of the subscription (you need to have a separate privacy policy for the newsletter).

You can read  more about GDPR-friendly subscription forms here.
Common email marketing mistakes
Last but not least, there are a few things in email marketing that we should avoid:

  1. Not segmenting your email lists – your subscribers want to get emails that are relevant to them – and by sending them generic emails rather than emails related to what they found on the page they subscribed on specifically – you are undermining their trust, making it less likely that they open your emails and that your emails convert.
  • Overusing images Since 67% of email users have images in their email body disabled by default if you include a lot of images in the body of their email they won’t be able to see at a glance what the email is about and usually will check out at this point. Remember: people are lazy. If they don’t know what the email is about at a glance, if you don’t hook them in – in a second – they will just ‘bounce’ – leave your email without even checking it out. 

Some people think images are necessary to create a good newsletter…but it’s just not the case. No images will replace good copy. 

Good copy:

  • tells a story
  • is well-planned
  • is relevant
  • gives value to the reader
  • and is personal.

Look at the newsletter below. It’s my favourite newsletter from a storytelling coach Jamie Jensen: http://thejamiejensen.com/

Did Jamie Jensen of http://thejamiejensen.com/ include any photos? No? Becuase…why would she if her copy is so interesting, you just want to read it whether it has photos or not.

2.  Not telling a story

If you’re treating email marketing as traditional direct mail done electronically and just send out offers to people – you are doing it wrong.

Email marketing is a form of personal content marketing where you are entering into communication with the recipient of your emails via email. You are invading their personal space, so you need to make sure you are not salesy, and that you are actually engaging with the recipient.

How? Tell a story that resonates with them (you know them already by now) and that shows them a (incomplete*) way how to solve their problem = gives them value.

*Of course, you don’t want to give away everything you are offering in your paid service in a free newsletter.

3. Missing out on email marketing funnels

An email marketing funnel is a way of building and nurturing relationship with your subscriber from the initial point of contact – subscription – to (hopefully) converting them into a paying customer.

A lot of entrepreneurs though miss out on the opportunity by not planning their emails to create a logical series that will lead the contact to buying your product / service and not setting up  automation sequence that will send out those emails to all new subscribers at regular intervals.

As Danielle Sabrina  put it: ‘What’s the point of having a dope creative activation that generates press or buzz and not have the proper funnels set up digitally that can follow up and nurture those potential clients until they become actual clients?

Here’s a universal flowchart of your emails and a template you can use for any ‘pain-point’ sequence:

email marketing sales funnel

Short of ideas on how how to fill this template?

I have present for you: I created a unique customisable email marketing funnel sequence TEMPLATE for you to download below: