You might have heard me say this before: “Email has the highest Return On Investment (ROI) of all direct marketing strategies.” – But, this comes with a big caveat. You need to do it correctly.

And that is where a lot of entrepreneurs feel lost. Who can I add to my list? How often should I send to my list? How do I know if I am sending too many emails? How do I generate content for my emails? These are just a few questions that I get asked all the time.

I won’t be able to answer all those questions. But, what I can do is hand you a few basic strategies to follow that will make email marketing less difficult.

These five steps are based on mistakes – or rather missing systems – that I encounter all the time. I compiled this list to help you stay clear of the common email marketing traps and instead build an asset to your business that will actually increase your sales and make you money.

Are you ready for these powerful email marketing strategies?

Here you go:

1) Only send to people that want to hear from you.

This is kinda obvious – you should not ever send marketing emails to people who have not explicitly given you their consent.

You might have heard before that one disgruntled customer can cause more damage to your business than 100 happy customers can make up for. In email marketing you are dealing with a similar equation, only it is even less in your favor. Email service providers like Infusionsoft and MailChimp tend to react aggressively if you receive more than one spam complaint per 1000 sent emails. (Check for example this Guide to Email Compliance by Infusionsoft.) And one sure way to collect many spam complaints is to add people to your list that did not expect to be added. It is also worth mentioning that in this context any email that the recipient feels compelled to mark as spam is considered spam, independent of any legal definition (like the CAN-SPAM act).

And this is not just an arbitrary rule the email service providers came up with to make your life harder. They are just reacting to how large email account providers like Gmail or Outlook handle spam. To preserve the deliverability of emails from their infrastructure they have to keep the overall spam complaint rate below that threshold.

This bears repeating: Adding people to your list that did not give you their consent can severely impact your ability to make money – not only from that person but from your entire email marketing effort. Adding people to your list that don’t want to be there is akin to sawing off the branch you are sitting on.

So, what can you do to ensure that only people that want to be on your list are indeed subscribed? Simple: Don’t add people without their explicit consent. Or better yet, consider not adding people yourself at all. Instead, have them add themselves and make sure that they understand what they are signing up for.

And if you are worried that this will slow your list growth, keep in mind that a larger list is not necessarily a better list. In fact, you can make way more money from a list of 100 of the right people than from a list of 100,000 of the wrong people — those who don’t want to hear from you.

2) Only send topics your recipient want to hear about.

The more each of your subscribers wants to hear what you are talking about – the more value your emails provide to them – the more they are going to engage with your content. And subscriber engagement is the best way to keep your sender score(s) high. Remember, the sender score determines if your messages are going to be delivered to the inbox or if they’ll end up in the spam folder.

So, what should you do? Follow this strategy – it allows you to send precisely targeted emails to your recipients:

  • Create your ideal client avatar, a virtual character that is a culmination of your ideal clients’ traits.
  • For everything you create – offers and free content alike – make sure it addresses your avatar’s biggest problem.
  • If you have more than one skill (or more than one audience), create separate avatars. Then segment your list based on the most fitting avatar. For example, if you have dating advice and also offer marriage counseling, you don’t want to send information on how to rescue your marriage to the people that are still struggling with getting a first date. Use Infusionsoft™ tags to mark people based on their expressed interests. (But keep in mind that interests can change.)
  • Trigger emails to be sent based on actions your subscribers take. For example, if someone signs up for a great freebie of yours, follow-up by not only sending her your lead magnet, but also a few additional emails that provide additional value around the topic of the lead magnet. Emails triggered by subscriber behavior are the most effective (and most underused) tool in your email marketing tool box.

If you consistently address each subscriber’s biggest problem or concern, you will have a highly engaged subscriber base, and you’ll be able to enjoy high returns on your investment in this marketing channel.

3) Provide value first – mix offers with non-offer emails

One of the biggest turn-offs for your subscribers is when every email you send is trying to sell them something. Now, in marketing, you are in fact always “selling” something, even if it is just the idea that they should click on a link or read an article.

Many old-school sales pros will tell you that you need to push to get a sale. But with today’s google savvy audience, that doesn’t work anymore. In fact, any time you “push,” you will push them away.

So, what should you do instead?

Carefully make only offers that your subscriber is ready to hear. And that requires at times to just provide value without asking for anything (except maybe a click on a link) in return. In fact, it is a good rule of thumb to provide only value in about half of your emails. This will make it more likely for your subscribers to take you up on any actual offer you make.

If by now your head is spinning and you are not sure how to actually make all this work in your own business, you are not alone. There is a lot here to digest. And this – the feeling of overwhelm – is one of the biggest reasons why people like you apply for one of my free email marketing strategy sessions. In a typical session, I walk you through what is involved in making this all work in your business. Imagine what is possible in your business, if your email marketing produced results and got potential clients reaching out to you instead of you having to chase them. What would that do for your business?

A littler further down, I’ll tell you how you can apply for one of these valuable sessions. But first, there are two more strategies to cover.

4) Have a conversation

What is the number one reason for people to disengage and stop reading?

Being bored. When writing your emails (or really any piece of content), every (well, almost every) sentence has one goal: Get the reader to read the next sentence.

There are many tactics you can employ to make that happen, like set-ups or open loops, or by simply asking questions. However, there is one overarching strategy that might be the most important one: Have a conversation.

Write, as if you are having a 1-1 conversation with your ideal client. Hanging a printout of your ideal client avatar next to your screen when writing is an excellent way to remind you of this. Any piece of content you publish should be written with this in mind. Because, if you are having a conversation, your reader will feel more engaged and will, therefore, stick around longer.

5) Be consistent and set appropriate expectations

Don’t send stuff your subscribers didn’t expect to get from you.

That means you need to do a good job setting expectations in the first place and then sticking to those set expectations. But where is the right place to set expectations? There are two places:

a) The signup form

Make it obvious that they are regularly going to get “additional valuable information” from you besides the lead magnet they signed up for. While many people nowadays expect to get emails when they signup to receive something for free, not all do. And if you remember from the beginning of this article, even a small number of disgruntled subscribers can kill all your marketing efforts.

So, instead of hoping that they won’t be surprised, be upfront about it. Your ideal client will be delighted to get even more valuable stuff for free.

b) The Indoctrination Sequence

The what? The Indoctrination Sequence.

I admit this is an awful name. The Indoctrination Sequence has actually nothing to do with indoctrination. But somehow this term got established in the industry.

Anyways, the Indoctrination Sequence is a series of emails that you send to all new subscribers. It usually consists of only one or two emails and its purpose is to introduce you and set expectations. You can also use this to ask your subscribers to add your email address to their whitelist.

And before you ask: Yes, you should add an indoctrination sequence to your email marketing toolbox.

Your Turn

If you follow these five strategies in your email marketing, you’ll, too, see a healthy return on your investment.

If you see the benefits these strategies will bring to your business, but right now, this all feels overwhelming, I have a rare opportunity for you. If you prefer not having to think about how to segment your list or how to trigger emails, but you still want the benefits of a well-oiled email marketing machine, I invite you to give me a call: Right now I am accepting a few more applications for a Free Email Marketing Strategy Session with me. Apply now, and I’ll help you strategize how to make all this magic work in your business – without driving yourself crazy.

During this call, we’ll discuss how to make the advice you found here work for your business and even plan what to add to it to accelerate your growth even further. And the best thing is, there is no obligation. You’ll get a ton of value out of this session even if we decide not to work together afterward. But, if we both decide that working together is a good move, we can discuss that during this session, too.

If that sounds like something you would be interested in, fill out the application. But know, that I can only take on a handful of clients at a time to get you results. So now’s the time to get on my schedule before it fills up. If this is something you’re interested in, click the link to apply for your free email marketing strategy session.