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Email Lists: Make them a Priority in 2015 with These Tips

Posted By Stacey Roberts 5th of January 2015 Blogging for Dollars 0 Comments

Last year, Luke Guy ran us through why our email open rates are nosediving, and what we can do about it. He also gave us solid tips on how to write great emails to begin with. We’re re-running this post today so you can nail your email list right from the start 2015. You won’t regret it!

emailcrashThis is a guest contribution from Luke Guy, blogger and graphic designer.

It’s amazing how blogs have exploded within the last 10 years – take ProBlogger for instance. Blogs like these can provide a good living for the owner if the traffic remains strong and healthy. But how do these blogs retain the traffic and keep a steady flow? There are many ways, but I want to discuss with you a vitally important one: your email list.

Usually more email subscribers would mean more traffic. Right? Well, not anymore.

Bloggers are facing diving open rates today like never before. Small bloggers and the celebrity bloggers alike suffer.

But why?

Let me give you 8 Reasons Why Your Email Open Rate Is Nosediving.

1. You have lots of images within the email.

When it comes to email open rates, fashion is not how you make waves. Simpler is better in this case. HTML is good, but text based emails are even better. I know we’re tempted to be flashy, but if no one is seeing it, what’s the point? Your email is going to be seen more when images aren’t within them. They flag filters many times, and can annoy the reader also. It’s best to simply state your message and get to the point quickly.

2. Way too long!

In the blog world an article of 200-1000 words is considered an informative post (View Darren’s Post On Word Count). Reading one of these could take 5-7 minutes to read, and 15 minutes to fully understand.

In email this is simply not so. Why? You’re simply updating them with short exclusive information, and persuading them to spend a minute on this unexpected message from you. Think of your email newsletter as a bite-size sample of your blog. Let every bite be extremely pleasant and leave them wanting more. Where do they get more? Your blog.

In order to do this, your email must be short, sweet, and fulfilling in bite-size. 150-450 word count would be best when writing. You’re sharing exclusive content, updating, and telling them about your new blog post kind-of-thing.

3. Links Everywhere.

When all they see is outlined sentences everywhere, landing somewhere in the unknown, the word SPAMMY is the first thoughts of most readers. They get the idea that all you’re trying to do is send them to a place they don’t want to go, to spend money they don’t want to spend. Put only one link in your article, and give them many good reasons why they should click on that link. Not one reason to click on 10 links, that’s not as effective. So choose your link wisely, and this also will prevent your email from getting vacuumed by the email filters.

4. Your agenda appears to be making money.

When they see your email appear, what should they expect? If it’s another course, eBook, or program in which they must buy, there’s a good chance you’re going to get turned off eventually. A good rule of thumb is to give your reader 10x more. Instead, offer freebies just so they will warm up to you. If you need some freebie ideas, go here: 6 Freebies That Will Spike Engagement In Your Blog

I know we’re all trying to come up with ways in which to make money, but it’s better to have our customers coming to us with their money, not the other way around with us chasing them and their wallet. When they understand that you’re for them and wanting to help more than to make a buck, they will come.

5. Your email is only a result from an RSS blast.

Your emails should be exclusive content, not an email blaster from your RSS feed. Many will disagree with me on this, because they don’t want another article to write. I understand their pain, but what’s the point of offering this option of RSS if they’re not going to read it? With Google’s Gmail Algorithm, RSS is a turn off and a good chance it will never make it to their inbox.

How will they find out about by my new blog post then? you might be asking.

Give them many reasons within that email why they should read that article and give them a link to it. The reason shouldn’t be because it’s new. It should be because it’s helpful and can be found almost no where else. You’re just pointing them back to it so they won’t miss this amazing content.

6. Not full of helpful information.

You thought that tips, helpful information, and how-tos were only for blogs? Not so, it will apply to your email rate as well. Except you have only a few seconds to persuade them to read it, a few more seconds to finish reading it, and finally to click on whatever link you may have for them (that was the point of the email right?).

The only thing is with email, shorter is better. Why? When trying to catch the eye, you have only a few seconds to persuade them to read it and consume your information. As for a blog post, most were searching for the solution you have to offer and were willing to spend the time to solve their problem. So make it short but powerful since your message was unexpected!

7. They don’t feel a personal connection with you.

If all you do is sell, command, and write like you’re talking to the wall, they’re not feeling what you write. To avoid this, write as if they’re your friend. Instead of writing to your readers, write to your reader specifically. Pretend that you’re writing to one of your readers, and let them feel that one-on-one connection. It’s about winning their trust, which is key to any business.

8. You’re boring.

If you’re doing all of the above, it’s time to face it. It’s time for a recharge. Sometimes to make our tips more helpful, and our writing voice more inspirational, we need to read more and be inspired. Like an athlete, we must eat more than we burn. If not, we don’t have much to offer.

Go out in your niche and explore again. It could be the simple fact that you are burned out and need to refill with more helpful information.

Ways to improve email letter quality:

1. Read a blog post like this one by Darren Rowse On Passion: Passion – Do You Have It?

2. Interact more in the comment section.

3. Listen to podcasts.

4. Talk to pros in your niche.

5. Take a course.

6. Think more, and spend more time with that writing piece.

7. Study your competition and how they write their emails. Read this to be inspired: Learning Your Foes Makes You a Better Hero

So basically you’re defeating two things here, the email filter and the reputation of scammers. It’s so easy to be flagged as a scammer these days and you must work extra hard to appear the very opposite. These tips will make that happen, and will also get your emails to bypass the filters.

Mission Accomplished.

You’re going to see great results from this if applied correctly. I’ve learned by not selling, you kind of are. When they know you’re in business, and all you do is help, curiosity takes over them. When they see your free tips work tremendously, what will your paid versions do?

Thanks for reading and I wish you higher email rates!

Did I miss something? Leave a comment below and let’s see what you have to offer to the Problogger community.

Don’t miss the other side of the coin: How to Write Successful Emails and Improve Open Rates

Luke Guy is both graphic artist and blogger, publisher for LukeGuy.com, and graphic designer for hire. He’s loves to blog and helping people with dreams in starting a business.

About Stacey Roberts
Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagramand Snapchat, listen to her 90s pop culture podcast, or be entertained on Facebook.
  1. I plan on making my e-mail list a priority next year. Thanks for the great tips!

  2. I have to agree with Luke on these tips Stacey.

    I vibe with the idea of short and sweet emails linking in to 7,000 word blog posts.

    I just started list building about 2 weeks ago. I’ve jumped to over 200 subscribers during that period by promoting the list, by offering a free eBook sized blog post to my subscribers weekly and by giving special discounts on my eBooks and services to my subscribers.

    The thing is I spent a bit of time setting up my blog post/link and then get to the link.

    I do not own email providers nor do I own my list. Mailchimp does own my list and Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo owns the email. I do little creating where I rent, ya know?

    I do however own my self-hosted blog so you better believe I want my subscriber’s fannies hanging out on my blog.

    Do a little lead in. Make it personable, and pleasant, and helpful, then link in to your blog.

    Besides, that’s where all of my paradise pictures are ;) So I stay away from images and too much gussying up in emails because folks don’t need to spend much time ogling at and hanging out in spots I don’t own.

    All the tips rock guys, appreciate it.


  3. Being an inbound marketer, its all about writing quality content that your subscribers will want to share. In my email campaigns, the highest open rate has been 18%. Before I publish an article to my website, I send it out to my subscribers first so that they have exclusive access to it. The following week, I publish it on the website for all to see. My articles are in the 300 to 500 word range, but I make sure that it is informative enough that they will want to share it on facebook and twitter. Combine the email marketing with posting to twitter and facebook, traffic to the website is up along with conversions.

  4. Really helpful post. I’m chagrined to realize that I’m guilty of several of these. Great thing to focus on in 2015 – especially the suggestion to create a personal connection. Thanks for re-posting this.

  5. Hi Stacy,

    I wanted to ask for your advice. I came to this blog because I read about Darren Rowse and his success story.

    My posts on my website, and on LinkedIn are about the real issues, and real-life stories, that many
    in the fields probably will avoid to support openly.

    What do you think is a thing that I am missing to reach more people who might be able to change something?

    Thank you for your help in advance.

    Edisher Kaghashvili


  6. Hey Luke. Great post!

    One of my main focuses this year is growing my e-mail list.

    I am glad you wrote this because it is a good thing for me to remember that even if my list grows I have to know how to use it right, and how to make sure my emails are getting opened.

    I’ve got a lot of good info out of your post, and have taken some key notes..

    – Simple shorter emails.

    – Don’t use images or they get flagged

    – Too many links makes readers thing you are spammy

    – You don’t want to seem like you are just emailing them to make money

    – Emails should be helpful. This one makes sense seeing they probably joined your list for information in your niche and not to get spammed with sales letters

    I am going to put these notes on the bulletin board by my computer so every time I am writing a email for my list I won’t forget them.

  7. I’m a long-time internet business developer and I’ve been guilty since 2002 of not growing email lists for my businesses. In 2002 I worked for a guy in Honolulu that was sending out 3 billion emails to opt-in subscribers per month at the highest point. Our little company of 5 was making nearly $5,000,000 per year just with that. Not bad, right? His big focus was where to find other great email addresses that would convert.

    This year in my beginner programming niche, it is my priority. I grabbed that sumome plugin for wordpress and threw it on three of my sites. Leads have picked up just over the last 10 hours, so, that’s a positive sign. If someone could write the “definitive guide” to email list building, that would be great. I’d pay for it. Better yet, I’d give you my email address for it!

    Cheers, and best of luck to everyone. Come and see my pop up at SwiftMonk.com.

  8. E-mail marketing continues to be one of the most powerful and cost-free mediums on the internet. With email marketing, anyone can directly promote documents, affiliate links, banner ads, and personally sell to people.

  9. Hey Stacey.

    This post could not have come at a better time.

    I made (translation: am making) some of these mistakes in the past (translation: until now), but thankfully only a few.

    As someone who’s relatively new to the blogosphere, I didn’t get to experience the open-rate nosedive because, well, they started low! I sort of assumed it was normal.

    Good to know it can get better :)

  10. Hi
    I wanted to find the Ways to improve email letter quality and after reading your email lists article like this Now I am giving it top priority with these tips in 2015 because lately I have started email marketing in my blog.

  11. According to my own experience in previous 3 years, the importance of emails increased each year. But the problem is the cost of sending email to my big database ! can you suggest any cheaper and affordable option than the mailchimp & etc.?

  12. Hi Darren
    Do you have first hand experience to show that RSS feeds do not make the inbox. I seem to get my feedburner feeds in my own emails without fail. It is delayed somethimes, but it doesn’t end in spam for me. I understand that Feedburner it is not Aweber like email list, but the process is same.


    • Transparency: I work for FeedBlitz a FeedBurner competitor.

      Neil, generally this has to do with changes in DMARC (a method of email authentication). When an email service provider makes a change to DMARC and FeedBurner does not make a change to accommodate this, emails sent on behalf of an email affected by the change will be rejected completely.

    • Sorry this question was for Luke. Pleade let knoe.


  13. Great post Luke. I will definitely use some of those tips as a guideline for my future emails. It is a constant battle to make people read the emails, but by keeping it simple and short, the chances of them doing so will increase. The focus must always be on helping people. The more you do that, the more they trust/respect you and buy the things you offer.

  14. email marketing is very important and effective if done correctly. i like all of the above points you wrote above. we need to write only for humans if want to get expected results from our email marketing campaigns. i saw many email marketers writing bla-bla and sending them to thousands of their users and getting no results from them. an email must be neat and clean so that it may give a better user experience.

    i like your point that we must not read an email like a blog post and must not include more than one link in one email.

    Thanks for sharing Stacey!

  15. Email Subscriptions are something I have struggled to get my head around. I understand their importance, however as a new blogger I have wondered what on earth I could offer in the emails. I’m a lifestyle blogger and I don’t have a unique ‘how to’ that is regular enough for email or even an email full of helpful information. So, knowing I needed to get something going with emails, I have decided to send out a weekly newsletter with links to my posts for the week and a little ‘behind the scenes’ information. I wanted my readers to feel like they were getting something ‘extra’ by having a snippet of personal information with the ‘behind the scenes’. I am posting 3 times a week at the moment so there’s not a lot of images to go with it and it is short and sweet. I’m hoping to grow my list this year and have just added a ‘Hello Bar’ to my site. Will be interesting to see if it increases my subscriptions.

  16. This post is extremely helpful and timing could not have been better. First thing i read today to officially start my new year. My blog is early in its development. Though i have under 50 subscribers, the opening rate so far is averaging 40%. Thanks for the help and i have something to test in the newsletter going out today. Happy New Year everyone.

  17. Awesome article, I am a travel blogger and I am 100% pro-email marketing, one of the tips I recommend is setting up a “thank you page” where the subscriber will be redirected and in that page you should put instructions for 2 things: Add you as a contact to ensure that they will get your emails (if it’s gmail that will help you a lot in other ways considering that your domain is included in the “sender” email) and also set up instructions with images to take your welcome email from the “promotions” folder in Gmail and put it into the main folder.

  18. I completely agree that use of images and colors in emails is not taken seriously by most of the people and is considered spam. A short and engaging content which clearly specifies at the start “What is there in for me?” is a sure shot winner.

    These days lots of businesses use automates software for designing and creating emails and these solutions provide very attractive features to decorate an email with images and even flashy animations, so people get influenced and use those features. Its better to draft your email in a word processor tool first or straight away on the compose screen of your email service.

  19. These are really great tips especially for someone like me who does not prioritize email lists. Will definitely give this a shot!

    Thank you for sharing these!


  20. A really informative article and solid workable tip to implement in 2015. But for someone like me I guess I would have to build a decent small list first! Any ideas on how to do that quickly?

    • Hey Aditya

      The fastest way I know you can build a list is to guest post on sites that have a lot of traffic. Check out what topics work best on their blog and make something awesome around that topic.

      The second thing you need to do then is offer what’s called a “content upgrade”. A content upgrade is an extra resource that ties into the post you’ve just written. They get the resource by giving you their email.

      As an example, for this post you could make a checklist of all the reasons your open rates suck. You could also give a collection of links that will help you get the open rates back up.

      Since everybody has read your post, it will take less effort to convert them into subscribers.

      Hope that helps.

  21. “With Google’s Gmail Algorithm, RSS is a turn off and a good chance it will never make it to their inbox”

    Flat out false. Whether an email makes it to the inbox is a result of sender reputation, the content you send (not whether it’s RSS generated or not), and whether emails from you site are engaged with.

    Email engagement doesn’t require custom hand crafted content, as *this very site* shows (surprise! I found this post via ProBlogger’s daily RSS powered email).

    And honestly, if you prefer to write long form content because that’s what you do and what your audience expects, go ahead: write long form content. Sure don’t be “boring” whatever THAT means, but if that’s a concern then that’s an issue (if it’s true) with your writing, end of story, not email in particular.

  22. Well, its the only thing i wasn’t paying attention to. Need to work on the way i am using the Email List. Thanks for sharing this awesome informative stuff.

  23. Whenever I start a blog, my main priorty is to build the email list. As it can easily bring us traffic even when our blog got penalized. Also money lies in email list.

    Every blog owner must build an email list in to future-proof his blog.


  24. Really this information would be proven well because now a days as you can see the several method of being socialize & promoting different stuff to target audience has viral. this article still is indicating enormous use of email marketing yes it has not gone away and this is the best tool to get in touch to your right audience just do have need the right template filling complete information that lure anyone who receive
    designed email…..

    Thank you for sharing these!

  25. Thanks Stacey for writing such wonderful article about email marketing. This will really help million of people those come across to your article. Really i was doing exactly the same mistakes while creating e-mail campaign those you mentioned in your article. Really you told us the right way of e-mail marketing.

  26. Great tips!

    Another thing to keep in mind is not being overexcited & overdoing email marketing. Sending too many emails equals a high amount of potential customers unsubscribing from your blog or store.

    I once had a store send me approximately a dozen emails per day, It felt like spam & an intrusion so I had to unsubscribe. Be cautious & careful about the amount of emails you send, too many will result in a high amount of unsubscribes.

  27. Stumbled on this article at the right time. My list is growing but my open rate is dying. I need to try something new to engage the readers. I think my titles aren’t great but need to refine the content too. Thanks for a great article

  28. Thank you for such an informative article, keep sharing like this.Your article will be really helpful for the newbie to understand the Email Marketing.

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