This guest post is by Lior Levin.
Email remains one of the best ways to increase the reach of your blog and to increase engagement with your readers, since it requires a choice to opt in and is delivered directly to inboxes.
But if you abuse or misuse email while trying to reach your blog readers, it could become a liability, hurting your business in the process.
Increasing the effectiveness of your blog using email demands the development of time-tested strategies. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter send a significant amount of email to their users, and by examining their strategies and formats, you can learn a great deal about using email to reach your blog readers.
Twitter’s email strategy
Twitter’s “digest” email is a relatively recent innovation that provides a list of the most important tweets from your followers. This digest focuses on helping users find the content that is most popular, but that might have been missed given the immediacy of Twitter.
Bloggers can use their email lists in a similar way to highlight the best content on their sites, recognizing that even their most loyal fans can’t catch every single post.
From the posts that are shared the most, to the posts with the most comments, keep track of what visitors to your blog find most intriguing. Then, use your email list to keep the conversation going and build stronger reader relationships.
Facebook’s email strategy
If you don’t manage your emails from Facebook, your inbox will soon be overtaken by them. However, there is quite a bit that bloggers can learn from this network’s strategy.
For instance, Facebook’s email messages are short and to the point, only giving the most important information, which is usually a link to click on. If you want to maximize the impact of your blog marketing, do the same with your emails.
Either provide a few key links to your blog that can be clicked or, better yet, provide one simple action item as the focus of your email message. The more simple and focused your emails, the more likely recipients will visit your blog.
Facebook users can also customize their emails by selecting the exact events and updates they want to be alerted to, and will only receive related emails. This ability to customize what you receive and when is an important lesson for promoting a blog through email marketing.
Email marketing tools like Mailchimp can be integrated into a blog and blog visitors can both sign up to receive email updates and customize how often they’ll receive updates from your site. For example, some visitors will want daily updates so they can be the first to comment or to jump on your limited-time offers. Others will only want a weekly digest of your blog posts.
Either way, you’ll keep your subscribers happy and engaged by providing customized ways for them to stay informed about your blog.
For bloggers hoping to increase engagement, Facebook showcases the importance of letting users choose what they want and finding important information on their own timetable.
Similarly, providing your blog’s subscribers with the ability to customize emails makes it easy to take advantage of market segmentation and ensures your visitors stay happy and engaged without becoming inundated with email.
Google+’s email strategy
Much like Twitter, Google+ sends a weekly digest email. However, it goes one step further by recommending new users to follow and, most importantly, offers the ability to add them to your circles within the email.
In other words, Google+ uses the email itself to drive user engagement rather than relying on a clickthrough to the network itself.
In short, there’s no reason to force subscribers to click through to your site to engage with your blog, since much of what they do at your blog can be just as easily done in the email itself. You can:
- provide full blog posts in your emails
- offer social media sharing buttons
- reuse the content from your landing pages.
This ensures that recipients have one simple action step rather than being forced to click through to your blog every time they want to do something.
LinkedIn’s email strategy
LinkedIn is another social networking site that sends a large number of emails, and allows users to customize the messages they receive. One of the specialties of LinkedIn, however, is giving customers information beyond what they specify in their settings.
LinkedIn emails show users new suggested contacts, job opportunities, and other connections that may be worth making. However, users can always change their email settings to a weekly digest or disable the emails completely if they like.
This is a service that almost any blogger can provide if they properly segment their audience and know what their subscribers want to receive each week.
For example, a blogger who writes about creativity may have writers, graphic designers, and musicians reading her site. Her email list should be broken into those three segments so that she can more effectively reach those interest groups with special offers, content, and new products.
LinkedIn teaches bloggers that they need to know their audience well, and proactively reach out to them based on their interests.
Pinterest’s email strategy
Lastly, Pinterest’s emails are profoundly visual in nature, and presented more like a large sign than a block of text.
While the visual benefits of Pinterest are nothing new, it is a good reminder for bloggers that increasing engagement through email requires using visual tools in addition to text. If Pinterest is growing through image-based content, bloggers should explore that strategy as well.
Pinteret’s emails are a good example of tying email marketing in with other elements of your online presence, in particular the images on your blog. As you prepare your blog posts, scan them for brief, valuable insights that can be adapted to fit in an image.
Images in blog posts are incredibly useful for SEO and social media sharing, but they can also be integrated with posts in your email updates. An image will break up an email and draw readers into your post’s content. In addition, the image itself is something that can be pinned on Pinterest, increasing your blog’s social reach through email itself.
What can you learn from social media email strategies?
There’s no reason why your email marketing plans for your blog can’t gain some lessons from social networks that have long specialized in effectively using email. It’s just a matter of forming a good plan and then finding the time and energy to get it done.
Here are the five key lessons from each social network for bloggers using email:
- Twitter: Use email to highlight the best content on your website.
- Facebook: Keep email messages short and to the point, and focused one one single action.
- Google+: Drive user engagement in the text of your email, and let users take actions in the email itself.
- LinkedIn: Proactively use email to reach out to your audience based on their interests, and provide more value than they expect.
- Pinterest: Use images to break up an email and draw readers into your post’s content—and make them shareable from the email itself.
After all, there’s no real secret to good email marketing. It’s all about investing the resources needed to make it happen, and that comes from watching what others are doing and making email a priority.
What have you learned about email marketing from social media websites—or others in your niche? Share your tips with us in the comments.