Mailing Your List: How, What, and When to Send to Your Audience

As you begin to build a mailing list, you will be faced with the challenge of regularly sending educational and marketing content to your mailing list. You will need to decide how often you want to email your list, what types of email you want to send to your audience, and whether you want to leverage advanced strategies like marketing automation and list segmentation. 

You will need to create a series of welcome emails in an autoresponder series that will help new subscribers get engaged with your content. You will also need to create a schedule of mailings so subscribers that have completed your autoresponder series continue to receive email from you on a regular basis.

The First Email Your Subscribers Receive

The first email that every new subscriber will receive from your mailing list is called the welcome email. Sending a well-written welcome email to each of your subscribers is the first step in nurturing long-term subscribers that will always be happy to receive your email. This email should accomplish a number of different tasks, including thanking subscribers for joining your mailing list, setting expectations for the type and quantity of email they are going to receive, getting your subscribers to whitelist your email address, and encouraging them to take further action.

At the top of your welcome email, include a personal message that thanks the subscriber for signing up for your mailing list. If appropriate for your industry, use personal language as if you were writing to a new friend that you just met for coffee. Next, you should tell your subscribers what kind of email they are going to receive and how often they are going to receive it. 

This will help your subscribers set a mental expectation for what kind of emails they should expect. You should also ask your email subscribers to whitelist your email address or add you to their safe sender list so that your messages never go to their spam folder. Feel free to copy MarketBeat’s whitelist instructions page located at marketbeat.com/safe-sender. Finally, you should consider what action you want your users to take next.

You might want them to read a particular piece of content on your website, persuade them to check out one of your products, or ask that they recommend your mailing list to a friend of theirs. Include a hyperlink with a clear call-to-action at the bottom of your email and thank them again for joining your list.

Creating an Autoresponder Series

As mentioned previously, an autoresponder series is a series of pre-written emails that every new subscriber receives in sequential order after signing up for your mailing list. A new subscriber might receive your welcome email on the first day of their subscription, another email on the third day of their subscription, another on the fifth day of their subscription, etc. The purpose of an autoresponder series is to send a consistent set of messages to every new subscriber, so they can become familiar with your writing and your company’s products and services.

There are six different ways that you can use the emails in your autoresponder series:

  • Promoting your company’s products and services
  • Providing additional educational content to your subscribers
  • Asking them to add your email address to their safe sender list 
  • Promoting another company’s products as an affiliate
  • Highlighting existing content on your website to your new subscribers 
  • Asking subscribers for feedback about your content and your company’s products

Creating an autoresponder series is more of an art than a science. There is no perfect length for a series, and there is no perfect number of emails to include. You will be able to track the performance of any particular message, but it’s notoriously difficult to split-test an entire autoresponder series.

I recommend sending out messages anywhere from three to six days apart in your autoresponder series and having a total length between three and five months. This may mean that you are including as many as 30 emails in your autoresponder series, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting task if you simply write a new email every 4-5 days as your oldest subscribers near the end of the series.

Every major email service provider (ESP) includes the ability to create a series of autoresponder messages that new subscribers will receive automatically over time on the dates that you specify. Typically, you will simply need to enter the subject line and body of your email into a form provided by your ESP.

You will also need to specify when a new subscriber will receive a particular email, such as on the 10th day of their subscription. Some email service providers will also let you push an email to the next day when an autoresponder message is scheduled to go out on a weekend or holiday when someone is unlikely to check their email.

If you want to see how an autoresponder series works in practice, consider creating a new email account and using it for the sole purpose of watching autoresponder emails come in from lists that you have signed up for. Use the single-purpose email account that you created to sign up for mailing lists of some of your competitors and well-known marketers to get ideas for your autoresponder series.

You can see all of the autoresponder emails sent out by MarketBeat just by completing an opt-in form on the MarketBeat website. Pat Flynn (smartpassiveincome.com) also has a particularly good autoresponder series that’s worth checking out.

Here’s a sample layout of what an autoresponder series might look like:

  • Day 1: Send your welcome email.
  • Day 5: Highlight some of your website’s “best-of” content.
  • Day 9: Provide an introduction to your company’s products and services.
  • Day 13: Ask subscribers to add your email address to their safe sender list.
  • Day 17: Provide a piece of educational content or training material.
  • Day 21: Promote one of your company’s products or services.
  • Day 25: Ask subscribers for feedback about your content.
  • Day 29: Promote another company’s products as an affiliate.
  • Day 33: Provide more educational content or training material.
  • Day 37: Promote one of your company’s products or services.
  • Day 41: Provide links to helpful stories and resources around the web.
  • Day 45: Reintroduce some older content on your website to your new subscribers.
  • Day 49: Promote another company’s products as an affiliate.
  • Day 53: Promote one of your company’s products or services.
  • Day 57: Provide more educational content or training material.
  • Day 61: Ask subscribers for feedback about your content again.
  • Day 65: Promote one of your company’s products or services.

The biggest mistake that you can make with your autoresponder series is not having one at all. If you don’t regularly email your list, they will become disengaged with your content and will forget that they gave you permission to email them in the first place.

If you try to email a mailing list that you haven’t contacted in six months, invariably some subscribers will forget who you are and accuse you of spamming them. Sending regular emails every two to five days for the first several months of a user’s subscription is arguably the best way to keep them engaged with your content and interested in your company’s products and services.

Broadcast Emails

In addition to your autoresponder series, you will want to regularly send messages to your entire email list. These messages are known as broadcast emails because you are effectively broadcasting a single message to your list.

Broadcast emails are one-time messages that get sent at a specific date and time for a specific purpose. They generally don’t get reused or resent again to any part of your mailing list in the future. Typically, these are sent in order to make an announcement or to get your subscribers to take a specific action, such as engaging with a piece of content or buying a specific product.

Broadcast emails serve three primary purposes.

First, they keep users who have completed your autoresponder series engaged with your content. By regularly sending new educational and informational content to your mailing list, they will continue to receive value from you, will be more likely to stay engaged with your content, and will be less likely to unsubscribe.

Second, sending broadcast emails is the best way to make announcements to your list and keep them informed about what’s going on with your business.

Finally, sending broadcast emails to promote products and services will be one of your key monetization points. You can use broadcast emails to promote your company’s products and services, or you can use them to promote another company’s products and services as an affiliate.

Planning Your Broadcast Email Calendar

You will want to develop a schedule of the emails that you plan to send to your mailing list in a given month prior to the first day of that month. By creating a plan ahead of time, you can space out your emails appropriately throughout the month and can create a good rhythm of educational and content emails, then sales and marketing emails. If you send too many sales emails in a row or don’t take a day off from mailing your list for several days, you may upset some of your subscribers and cause them to unsubscribe from your list.

I recommend printing out a calendar from the web and physically writing down the emails that you want to send out. You don’t need to write out the entire email you plan on sending—just the broad category of the message, such as “newsletter,” “marketing email,” “product launch announcement,” “tip/resource,” or “content promotion.” By putting your broadcast email schedule on paper, you’ll be able to visually see if your messages are spread out equally and aren’t too focused on any single type of email.

Creating your broadcast email calendar is also more of an art than a science. There is no ideal number of emails you should send at any given month. There is no perfect frequency that suggests you should email every day, every other day, or every third day. There are no hard rules that suggest you should send at least one educational email for every sales email that you send out. The most important thing is to consistently send relevant email content to your subscribers to keep them engaged with your mailing list.

The frequency at which you send broadcast emails will be somewhat dependent upon the niche of your mailing list. For niches that have highly- committed and highly-engaged fans, you will want to email more frequently. Sports fans, investors, and news junkies may want to receive email from you daily because the information in those niches is constantly changing.

Niches with hobbyists and casual fans probably won’t want to receive email from you on a daily basis. The general rule of thumb that I use for mailing frequency is that you should never mail your list any less than once per week, and you should never mail your list any more than once per day.

Writing a Broadcast Series

If you are launching a new product or running a promotion to generate sales for an existing product, you will want to send a series of emails over the course of several days. When you only send one email about a product or service that you want to promote, your subscribers might miss the email altogether or might simply not have enough information to make a decision. By sending a series of emails over a few days or even a couple of weeks, you are keeping the product or service fresh in their minds. You also have the opportunity to use different selling techniques in the variety of messages you send to your list.

Here is an example layout of how a series of emails can work:

Announcement Email (Day 1)

You first email should serve as an official announcement for the availability of your new product or for the promotion that you’re running. Describe what the product does and how it can help your subscribers. If you are running a sale, you should include the discounted pricing information as well as how long the sale will be available.

FAQ Email (Day 3)

The goal of the second email is to provide as much information as possible about the product or promotion to your subscribers. Think of all of the major questions a subscriber might ask about your product or the promotion and answer them in an email. This email can be 1,000 words in length or longer. People that are really interested in your product will take the time to read all of it.

Video Tour Email (Day 5)

Record a YouTube video that shows how your product or service works. If it’s a software program or digital information product that you’re selling, do a screencast that shows it off. Your email should be little more than a link to watch your video and a link to purchase the product if the subscriber is interested. The video that you record will help visual learners connect with your product more than they might have otherwise.

Features and Benefits Email (Day 7)

In this email, you will remind your subscribers what your product does and how it can help them. Write about the specific problems that your product can solve for them. Include a list of all of the major features of the products and how it can benefit them.

Social Proof Email (Day 9)

Collect a few testimonials from your existing customers and send them out as a way to demonstrate social proof. Subscribers will be more likely to buy your product if they know that other people like them have already purchased your product and gotten value out of it.

Warning Email (Day 11)

In the second-to-last day of your campaign, you should try to create a sense of urgency and warn subscribers that tomorrow will be the last day whatever discount or bonus you are offering will be available. You can also use this email as another opportunity to remind your subscribers of the features and benefits in your product or service.

Last Chance Email (Day 12)

On the last day of your campaign, you should tell your subscribers that it’s their last opportunity to take advantage of the discount or bonus you are offering. Be clear that the price will be increasing or the bonus will be going away after tonight and that they should act now if they want to take advantage of the offer. This email is generally very short and contains little other than the “last chance” warning and a link to your sales page.

Second Last Chance Email (Day 12)

We often send out a second, third and even a fourth email in the afternoon or evening of the last day of an email campaign. These messages all contain a variation of the “today is the final day of the sale” messaging and other copy we have used in our campaign.

In our 2018 New Year’s campaign, we generated 51 sales from the first email on the last day of the campaign and 193 sales from the second, third and fourth emails we sent that day. If you only send one email on the last day of your campaign, you are likely leaving money on the table.

A Sample Email Series from MarketBeat

In order to provide a better idea of what an actual broadcast email series can look like, I’ve made the copy that I used for an entire email launch available online for free for readers of Email Marketing Demystified.

The email series below was for the launch of the new version of our premium daily newsletter that we referred to as “MarketBeat Daily Premium 5.0.” The campaign was sent when our mailing list was just under 200,000 subscribers. The campaign generated a total of 91 sales with an expected lifetime value of $299.25 per sale, or $27,231.75 in revenue.

Please note that this campaign was sent before we changed the name of Analyst Ratings Network to MarketBeat, so MarketBeat Daily Premium is referred to by its previous name of ARN Daily Premium. To access the free sample broadcast series, visit mattpaulson.com/sample-campaign.

Tracking Your Results

Some of the broadcast emails that you send your audience will be much more effective than others. It may not be immediately apparent why one email receives better engagement than others, because only by consistently looking at your numbers over time can you begin to identify commonalities between emails that work and those that don’t.

Here are the numbers that you should track in every email:

Sends

This is the number of people that your email was sent to. Your number of sends should equal the total size of your mailing list.

Bounces

This is the number of messages that were returned as undeliverable. If your bounce rate is higher than 2%, you may need to clean up the mailing list or your domain name, or your mailing IP address may have been blacklisted.

Opens

This is the number of times your email was opened by subscribers. Note that an open can only be tracked when someone enables images on your messages, so your actual open count will always be higher than your reported open count.

Open Rate

This is the percentage of subscribers that opened an email, out of everyone who received the message. Open rates can vary dramatically based on your industry and the engagement of your mailing list. For well-maintained lists, open rates tend to range from 15% to 35%.

Clicks

This is the total number of subscribers that clicked on a link in your message. Clickthrough Rate

This is the percentage of people that opened your email, out of everyone that got messaged, and clicked on a link. A good marketing email will have a clickthrough rate of between 5% and 10%.

Unsubscribes

This is the number of people that unsubscribed from your list by clicking on the unsubscribe link in any given email. Seeing a higher-than-usual number of unsubscribes can indicate a message didn’t engage well with your mailing list.

There are additional metrics that you should track in sales and marketing emails:

Conversions

This is the number of sales or other sign-ups that occurred as a result of an email.

Conversion Rate

This is the percentage of people that clicked on a link in your email that purchased a product or service as a result of the email.

Revenue

This is how much money you actually made in sales from people clicking through. At the end of the day, the revenue that your email generates is the only metric that matters. However, you should still pay attention to other metrics because they will impact your revenue numbers.

Whenever you send out an email to your mailing list, go back and review how the message performed 72 hours after it was sent. By this time, most of the people that are ever going to read your email will have done so.

Compare the open rates, clickthrough rates, and conversion rates to previous emails. Were the numbers significantly higher or lower? If so, try to identify how your current email is different from any previous messages you sent. Ask yourself what you can learn based on the performance of your most recent email.

Create a Weekly or Bi-Weekly Newsletter

One of the best ways to keep your mailing list engaged with your content over time is to publish a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter containing content that is interesting to your readers. By consistently sending a newsletter on a specific day of the week, your subscribers will begin to expect and look forward to your weekly newsletter. They will get in a habit of reading it on a specific day of the week and are more likely to be engaged with your content over time.

Your newsletter should contain five to ten stories or news items that users can scan through and click on to learn more if they are interested. This doesn’t mean that you need to write five to ten original articles for your newsletter, though. In fact, you don’t actually need to create any new content for your newsletter. You can simply repurpose content that you have recently published to your website for your newsletter.

If you aren’t creating original content, you can simply act as a curator and link to interesting stories that your subscribers will be interested in.

For example, Hiten Shah publishes a weekly newsletter for software entrepreneurs called SaaS Weekly (hiten.com), which contains a round-up of stories that are interesting to software entrepreneurs. He doesn’t publish any original content in his newsletter but has built a following of more than ten- thousand subscribers based on his ability to find interesting stories to share with other software entrepreneurs.

HubSpot has put together an article titled “15 Email Newsletter Examples We Love Getting in Our Inboxes” that shows off several particularly high-quality newsletters. If you need ideas about how to create a newsletter, this is a great place to start.

Marketing Automation for Email

If your company or organization sells a number of different products or has customers with multiple divergent interest areas, you might consider using marketing automation techniques, so customers only receive email content that is relevant to them.

Email marketing automation is the process of sending targeted email content to a certain set of subscribers who have taken a specific action or expressed a specific interest.

In other words, email marketing automation is simply sending the right email to the right person at the right time. By sending more targeted and relevant content to your subscribers based on their interests and actions, they are more likely to stay engaged with your mailing list and buy products and services from your company.

For example, if a customer signs up for a 30-day free trial of a product, they should receive a series of emails (called a campaign) that teaches them how to use that product and sells them on continuing with the product after their 30-day trial is completed.

Obviously, only users that sign up for a free trial of that product should receive those emails, because they would be irrelevant to anyone else. When you send email to people not relevant to them, they will be confused as to the purpose of the message and will likely become disengaged with your content.

There is a lot of upfront work involved with creating marketing automation campaigns. Most email service providers will do the heavy technical lifting for you, but you will need to write an entire series of emails for each campaign that you create and will have to figure out how to trigger a campaign for a specific person when they take an action.

If your mailing list is in a specific niche and you generally only send out content about one or two topics, marketing automation may not be necessary. If your company doesn’t sell any products or only sells one or two products or services, email marketing automation might be overkill.

Marketing automation can be an incredibly effective tool, but it may not be worth the effort for smaller and more focused lists.

Here are some types of email marketing automation campaigns that can be very effective:

Product Education Emails

Whenever a new customer buys a product or service from your company, send them a series of emails that teaches them how to use it. This will increase the likelihood that they will actually use and get value from your product. By increasing the percentage of your customers that actually use your product, you are less likely to get refund requests, and customers are more likely to buy from you again in the future.

Order Confirmation Emails

Whenever someone buys a product or service from your company, send an email thanking them for their order along with their order details. You should also provide a call-to-action in this email that will try to get users to return to your website to re-engage with your content or to view related products.

Subscriber Re-Engagement Emails

When a subscriber hasn’t opened an email from you or visited your website in a couple of months, send them some highly valuable content to try to get them re-engaged with your content. You can also send an email asking for feedback to see if there’s something you can add or change that might engage them more.

Anniversary Emails

Send subscribers a virtual anniversary card after they have been on your mailing list for either six months or one year. You can also include a time-limited coupon for your company’s products or services to encourage them to take action and become a customer.

Free Trial Emails

If you offer a service that has a free trial, you should send anyone currently in a trial some information about the product they are using, as well as sales and marketing emails to persuade them to upgrade to a paid subscription.

Former Customer Email

If you run a subscription or a recurring service business, consider creating a campaign that reminds former customers about the features and benefits of your service and allows them to re-register at a discounted rate. These emails work extremely well if written correctly and can prevent you from losing customers forever.

Cart Abandonment Emails

If a customer adds a product to their shopping cart on an ecommerce website but doesn’t complete the purchase, send them information about the products in their shopping cart over the next several days. This can be a very effective way to save lost sales.

Upsell Emails

If you have a multi-tiered pricing plan, send an email to customers asking them to upgrade to the next level or service whenever they are about to reach the limitations of their current plan.

List Segmentation

Another aspect of email marketing automation is segmentation. Segmentation is simply the process of breaking up a mailing list into smaller lists—known as segments—based on interests.

If you use an email service provider with marketing automation functionality, you can send an email that allows users to express interest in learning about various topics. Users will click on one or more topics they are interested in, and they will automatically be added to the segments or sub-lists they select. Granted, you may have to email your mailing list multiple times to get a good portion of your subscribers to self-select into different segments. When segmenting your mailing list, you will be sending a larger number of emails in a given month, but each email will only be sent to a specific portion of your list. This will increase the relevance of the emails that you send to any given subscriber.

For example, if you had a blog about building websites, you might have some users that are interested in different content management systems like WordPress, Drupal, and Concrete5. Users that are interested in WordPress might not be interested in getting email about Drupal and Concrete5. If you have a piece of educational content about WordPress you want to send to your mailing list, you might only mail it to the segment of your audience that has expressed interest in learning about WordPress.

Segmentation works best for large mailing lists that have more than 25,000 subscribers and for lists related to broad topics with smaller interest areas. If you have a smaller list, it may not be worth the effort to segment your audience if there will be only a small number of people in any given segment.

If your mailing list is very focused on a single topic, segmentation may not be necessary. You should identify between three and six interest areas to use as segments of your mailing list. If you try to create too many, you may end up with very small segments that aren’t big enough to be worth mailing individually.

At MarketBeat, we segment users based off interest categories and user behavior. For example, if a user clicks on an ad about options trading, we automatically put them into our options trading segment. We have about ten different segments for different categories of investing that people could be interested. That way, when someone approaches us about sending an advertising email about an options trading product, we can send it only to the people we know are already interested in options trading. By only emailing users about only the content they are likely to be interested, we have higher engagement rates and lower unsubscribe rates.

Wrap-Up

While developing a plan to regularly email your mailing list through your autoresponder series and through broadcast emails may seem like a big chore, it doesn’t have to be. Start simply by writing your welcome email and the first few emails in your autoresponder series. Continue to add a new email to it every couple of days until it’s complete.

As your first subscribers begin to complete the series, start sending periodic broadcast emails to your list to ensure that all of your subscribers are regularly getting email from you. Over time, consider more advanced strategies like list segmentation and marketing automation to maximize the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.

Action Steps

  • Write your welcome email and enter it into your email service provider. 
  • Write your first three autoresponder emails and add them into your email service provider.
  • Create a schedule of all of the broadcast emails you want to send to your list next month.
  • Consider sending a weekly newsletter to your subscribers. 
  • Track the performance of every email that you send.

Recommendation: The Best Email Marketing Tools

You must choose the right email marketing tool if you are really serious about email marketing. There are many autoresponders available, so comparing them can be quite challenging.

Many online marketers use ActiveCampaign as an autoresponder to build their campaigns.

My online business depends on ActiveCampaign, which I have used for many years.

ActiveCampaign was founded in 2003. Businesses can connect with customers with its affordable email and marketing automation software.

Today, it offers a powerful email marketing platform and CRM platform with a history of more than a decade, so business owners can easily control email marketing.

My ActiveCampaign review is very comprehensive. Before deciding to use it, you may want to read it.

WordPress users looking for a cheaper email marketing tool may want to consider Groundhogg. Using Groundhogg will be more technical. 

With Groundhogg, you can manage your CRM, Email, and Marketing Automation directly in the WordPress dashboard. You have complete control over everything.

When it comes to CRM and Email Marketing, most people are forced to use expensive SaaS platforms, so Groundhogg is here to change this. I recommend reading my Groundhogg review to determine if it is for you.

Along with a powerful email automation tool, I found a tool that allows you to send videos via email. With only one click, you can insert videos into your clients’ emails for massive traffic, conversions, and sales. This is not a GIF, but a video.

Email Videos Pro is said to increase engagement by over ten times and profitability by over ten times, according to the developers. Check out my Email Videos Pro review to see it is suitable for you.

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