Situation One: Your blog is — let’s be honest — a celebrated utopia for readers near and far. It seems you can’t put up a new post without getting 20,000 views before lunch. You need an assistant to manage your email subscription list. You actually wish celebrities would stop constantly tweeting links to your stuff, because it keeps crashing your servers. “Apologies for the downtime,” you tweet for the third time this week. It’s exhausting.
Situation Two: Your blog is but a digital tumbleweed, drifting sadly across the sands of the internet. Each time you write a post, you spend hours choosing the perfect sentence structure. You compose it carefully, thoughtfully, not unlike an orchestral opus — surely this will go viral on Facebook — only to click “Publish” and get a text from your mother 40 minutes later. She appears to be your only reader. (To be fair, she loves the post.)
It’s safe to say the majority of us can relate to Situation Two (hi, Mom!). But the truth is, both bloggers described above have tons to gain from a well-crafted email newsletter. Here’s why I believe every blogger should offer an email subscription.
Earn subscribers and drive more traffic.
Fortunately, I happen to have a friend named Chelsea who’s a.) an amazing blogger, and b.) already doing everything right when it comes to email marketing. We’ll use her fashion blog truelane as an example of how the right email content can be any blog’s perfect sidekick.
Having already crafted a super-loyal following on Instagram, Chelsea rebranded and launched her truelane website last year. Instagram is, of course, an entirely different sphere from a full-fledged blog: It’s rooted in quick, visual-centric consumption that doesn’t focus on lengthy text content. But since our ultimate goal is to have more than just Mom reading the posts we spent so much time making, a blog-based email newsletter is largely centered around bringing traffic back to the blog posts themselves.
For any first-timer, the first step is building a signup form (If you use GoDaddy Email Marketing, here’s how to do it) that you can use to gather new email subscribers through your blog.
Chelsea’s signup form sits happily on the right sidebar of her site:
If a person’s already visiting your blog and signing up to receive emails from you, you’re off to a great start. But even the most dedicated readers need reminders — and that’s where email marketing comes in.
An email newsletter shouldn’t simply redistribute your posts via email. It should act as a “teaser” for your posts, prompting your readers to click through and read the full thing on your blog.
With the goal being to encourage visits to your blog, you’ll want to avoid offering all your blog content through email. Instead, use an excerpt-style approach to entice your email subscribers to click through and read the rest.
Chelsea does a great job of this. Here’s an example of one of her blog posts called Central Park Sun:
And here’s that same blog post, repurposed as an email newsletter:
The key is that big, gray See the post! button at the bottom.
Chelsea writes a custom summary of her post at the top, features an image from it, and leaves her email subscribers with a clear call-to-action.
This strategy can help you make the most of a hard reality: Even people who already love your blog are just as forgetful as any of us — and these excerpt-style emails are an awesome way to let them know when you’ve published a new post.
For newer readers, too, it helps establish a routine and gets them in the habit of reading your content.
Establish yourself and build trust
Chances are, you’re more than a blogger: you’re also an expert in your craft. Building an email newsletter grants you the chance to further establish your expertise, offering exclusive content that might never even appear on your blog.
Here’s an example of one of Chelsea’s weekly newsletters, which she sends out toward the end of the business week:
There are a handful of great content strategies we can see in action in that email:
Weekly recap: In a more condensed fashion, Chelsea recaps the posts that went up on her blog during the week and links her readers to them. For anyone who might have missed her individual blasts, this is a nice at-a-glance review of the content that slipped past.
Travel feature: Though Chelsea got her start in fashion, a newly growing component of truelane is the Travel section. In this email, she uses her newsletter as an opportunity to remind her readers that she’s writing travel posts, too — and she links them to her favorite one from the past week.
Personal touch: We get a personal window into Chelsea’s life as she heads to Nashville for the weekend. Plus, we get to bask in great television together.
Social media: At the bottom, Chelsea’s “Social Standouts” section aggregates her favorite truelane social media posts from the week. Now, her email subscribers get the chance to check her out on Instagram and other social platforms, and the outreach is full-circle.
You can see that email newsletters don’t just blindly redistribute your content to your subscribers… they make you look legit. Because you are; you’re an expert and you love writing blog posts about it! (Ask Mom… she gets it.)
Another beautiful quality of email marketing is that it empowers you to stretch beyond the thematic limitations of your blog, establishing yourself as an actual person and a lover of other topics, too. Chelsea accomplishes this in her Sunday mailing, pictured below:
In this email, Chelsea’s simply a member of her tribe: someone who loves The West Wing, gets stoked about sales at Macy’s, misses Prince, and enjoys following another Minnesotan fashion blogger.
Complete with a restaurant recommendation, emails like this establish Chelsea as an honest-to-goodness human being who a.) has interests beyond her blog content, but b.) is also interested in many of the same things as her readers.
She’s earning trust because she’s not contriving an artificial way to earn trust — she actually deserves it. By engaging with us honestly and without motive, she’s a blogger we can count on to give us the quality content we’re looking for.
Use stats to build your email subscription base
Perhaps the most useful behind-the-scenes aspect of an email newsletter is the data driving it. Once you start designing and sending your mailings, you’ll be able to draw from your stats in order to assess your content’s performance and tailor it for future success.
Wondering if your readers would rather hear about fall jackets versus cool-weather hat fashion? Write an email newsletter about each topic, and see which one gets a better open rate. Write one newsletter about both topics, and see which links get clicked the most. You can even distribute a quick email survey to your readers and ask them which topic they’d rather see a blog post written for. The strategy is totally up to you.
Pro tip: The higher up you place a link in your content, the more people will click it. Be sparing with your links, too — the fewer links you offer in a mailing, the more important they look to your readers.
With email marketing, you can really get as granular with your statistical analysis as you want to.
- See who’s reading your emails the most and clicking your links all the time, and reach out to them with a cool discount code.
- Look at your engagement stats to see how link placement and visual style affects click-through rates.
- You can even organize your email contacts based on the links they interact with in your newsletter content, then follow up with totally custom content you’ve made just for them.
These examples barely scratch the surface regarding the ways in which email statistics empower you to more deeply engage with your readers. Ultimately, you’ll be able to use email marketing stats to hone in on not only what types of blog posts are inherently the most interesting to your readers, but what types of email newsletters are the most beneficial to your long-term digital content strategy.
This is precious information that a blog alone can’t give you.
Strategically, it’s a no-brainer.
I truly and emphatically believe that an email newsletter should be a central part of any blogger’s content plan.
Regular emails and summarized recaps remind your readers to look at your blog posts, erasing the quiet hope that they’ll do so on their own. Beyond that, newsletters give you the chance to offer exclusive off-blog content that isn’t consumable anywhere else. You’ll nurture a more meaningful, transparent relationship with your readers by offering a window into who you are as a person and embodying the same passions that led you to blogging in the first place. And finally, you’ll draw from your email marketing statistics to further tailor content that’s precisely designed with your readers’ interests in mind.
You’ll shut your laptop, recline with your beverage of choice, and chuckle softly … for you are victorious.
And when that happens, you send your mom a gift basket. Because she’s been there since day one.
Bonus: 40 email newsletter ideas
Need some inspiration? Check out our free list of 40 creative email newsletter ideas: