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Better Email Results … Instantly!

This guest post is by Bamidele Onibalusi of YoungPrePro.com.

Let me be straightforward with you: I’m no email marketing expert and I don’t plan to be soon. But email marketing is just so important to my blogging that I can’t ignore these very important techniques.

If you’ve been following Darren for more than a few months now you will have noticed how much emphasis he places on email marketing for bloggers and how important it is for his business. The same is the case for most top bloggers I know.

Email marketing is also an integral part of my own blogging business and as a result, the moment I notice something wrong with my email marketing, I look for ways to fix it. Almost ever tips I’ll be giving in this article I discovered by accident; some I discovered by reading the results of others and testing them for myself.

Here are three practical ways bloggers can get more from their email marketing efforts—instantly!

1. Always use a linked call to action

The first step is to always use a call to action in your email. It took me a long time to discover this, but the moment I did there was a difference in my results.

I know you might have already read a lot of email marketing articles about calls to action, and are already thinking you’re getting it right. But before you skip this section you need to realize that there is a difference between a “call to action” and a “call to action“.

The basic idea of a call to action email is to focus your email on getting subscribers to take a particular action, and including text that encourages them to do so.

A mistake most people make, though, is to use a call to action and then paste the link below the call to action.

That was what I used to do, too, but I recently started linking my calls to action text to the specific link I want subscribers to click, and I saw an increase in clickthrough rates of over 50%.

In other words, instead of using a call to action like “Visit YoungPrePro to learn more at http://www.youngprepro.com“, I changed the text to something like “Visit YoungPrePro to learn more!” And that increased my clickthrough rate by over 50%.

One thing I used to worry about, though, is the fact that some of my subscribers will get the text version of my emails and won’t be able to click on the link. In my own experience, the number of such subscribers is very few and the results you will get from an active call to action will far outweigh those lost opportunities, so there’s no need to worry about that. If you want all your subscribers to get your messages, you can include a sentence asking people who receive the text version of your message to read it online in HTML.

Also, make sure your emails only contain one call to action. When it comes to email marketing, giving people too many options won’t be effective so make sure every email you send is only centered on one action you want the subscriber to take.

It’s okay to include two links in your emails as long as they’re focused on the same call to action. The more you’re able to remind subscribers about the action you want them to take, and the easier you make it for them to take that action without having to scroll down or up, the better.

In other words, it’s okay to include your linked call to action more than once in an email, as long as they lead to the same page.

2. Use a custom email template

I know, there has been a lot of debate about this online, and the majority are in support of sending a text-based email, mostly due to the fact that there are text-only subscribers on their lists. But in my own experience, switching to an HTML email template increased the results I’m getting. I’ll explain!

One major problem I recently started to notice with my email list were high unsubscribe rates—even if I sent an email packed with value. I started to wonder what was wrong.

The problem was that most people are unsubscribing because they’d forgotten who I am—and it doesn’t help if they don’t receive any email from me in almost a week. Even though I never intended for an HTML template to help, I was surprised by the results.

On average, with text-based email I get around eight to ten unsubscribes per email, but with a custom HTML template that figure has reduced to two unsubscribes.

Most people will think this is a fluke, and has something to do with my message, but let me explain the idea behind it.

Having an HTML template that is designed the same way as your blog template helps reinforce your brand to your subscribers. As a result, no matter how long it’s been since you sent your last message, they will remember you once they see that template. Text-based emails can also get boring—especially when you consider the fact that most people get dozens of them daily.

Having a custom HTML email template helps you stand out—it places your brand in your subscribers’ inbox and ensures no one else can copy your approach.

One important consideration, though, is that you should make sure your email template is a custom one, not the default one most ISPs provide you with. The main effect of the template is to remind subscribers of your brand—and their reason for subscribing—whenever they open your emails. So your email template must be exactly the same as your blog design.

3. Don’t use shortened links

Link shorteners like bit.ly and tinyurl.com are becoming increasingly popular, and why shouldn’t people use them—especially since they make links handy and easy to track?

The problem with link shorteners is that their advantage is their disadvantage. Instead of having to include one ugly long link in an email you can easily shorten it to a few letters and enjoy the ability to track clicks to it.

The problem is that email spammers also know this, and are now abusing link shorteners. They send spam emails to people who never subscribed to their lists, using shorteners to cloak their links and track results. As a result, most of the popular link shortening services have been blacklisted by email servers.

In other words, using one or more of the popular link shortening services will increase the chances of your email not getting delivered to subscribers’ inboxes.

AWeber recently published a list of the link shortening services that have been blacklisted, and where they were blacklisted, so make sure you check it out!

If you don’t want long links in your emails, you might want to create your own link shortener, or always link your calls to action to the actual links you want users to click.

Instant results

Email marketing is still the most effective way to get your message across to your readers, especially as a blogger. Here I’ve shared three tips that gave me an instant boost in my email marketing results.

What other email marketing tips do you think we should know? Share them with us below!

Bamidele Onibalusi is a young blogger and writer who helps people learn to write for traffic and money. Visit YoungPrePro.com to learn what he has in stock for you and also follow him on twitter @youngprepro.

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Comments

  1. Bill says:

    Oni you are GREAT. Using E-mail is a powerful way of getting instant results based on your target audience. What i like about e-mail marketing is that you can incorporate into any marketing mix as this will help you send specialized e-mail campaigns.

    If you combine e-mail marketing with any social media the results would be significantly high. Thanks for the insight.

  2. Jane says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I’ll try these in my emails.

    And thanks for the warning about the link shortening services!

  3. Janmejaya says:

    Nice tips. Thanks for sharing with us. The shortened links are not good for always because many are also not liking this links and also many are not understanding the links.

  4. These look like really useful hints – I’ll to implement a couple of them and let you know how they pan out. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  5. Chris says:

    Having a custom email template used to seem like a disadvantage because of those text based subscribers. The number of those has drastically decreased so it only makes sense to start using a template. Off to make an email template for my list! Great advice.

  6. I, personally, make a serious accent on the “Call to Action”. I still have no e-mails, but when I write articles I try to make them look nice and “Call to Action”.

    Because the moment people get interested in your material, they want to continue. The problem is they’re too lazy to search for the right links, so you have to show them by yourself in a good-looking way.

    In my opinion, “Call to Action” is an important skill and, like all skills, needs proper practice. :)

  7. Hi Oni,

    I would add to be brutally consistent. Send emails out at least once per week. This programs people to remember you, and to respond to the calls to action.

    I also note a difference between when I simply post a subject line without versus with a newsletter mention. If I use the date and the word “Newsletter” in the title, I note more opens. I also note more calls to actions taken. Consistency, I guess.

    I like the note about shorteners. Not only are they blacklisted, they look unprofessional, kind of spammy. Stick with your custom URL at all times. Even if it’s long – like mine – it will look better and result in more clicks than a dinky looking shortened URL. Something about it, making all the shory URL spam on twitter has turned people off for good.

    Good note about linking up to your call, instead of after your call. Tell your readers to do something in the actual link. Otherwise, they will want to act when they see text, and since most people follow your command, literally, they won’t take your call. Always include a power, action verb in the link itself. I too note the difference in calls taken when I linked up to the actual call, versus when I linked up after the call. It’s too late, in the latter case.

    Overall, an awesome summary Obi. These tips will help many increase conversions and prosper more quickly.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

    • Hey Ryan,

      You’re so right about consistency. Your content should know what to expect from you and how often; a lot of us find this difficult, but the results can be great if we master it.

  8. IamNTB says:

    Thanks for the great article. As far as people using shorteners to cloak their links, I think that is why so many people are getting reluctant to click links on twitter as well. Instead of going to useable content, they are being sent to some sales site. It is becoming harder and harder for the legitimate new blogger to make progress because of these spam artists.

    • Exactly. People no longer trust shortened links. Email ISPs don’t, too, which is one of the reasons why it can be very dangerous to use shortened links in your email.

  9. Andrew Stark says:

    I like #2 making the entire call to action clickable is much better than just the url, and as you’re doing this in the html setting you can just link directly to your affiliate link without having to run the risk of a shortener service.

    Andrew

  10. Alex says:

    Great article! No. 2 really grabbed my attention Darren. It’s always a tough one to crack and I’ve been testing with both. I think your spot on with the fact that people forget who you are and an HTML email is a great reminder, and I think sending that branded email sends a strong signal and let not forget you want to keep your blog/site/brand at the forefront of you readers mind!
    Great read!

  11. editor says:

    Excellent advice which I will try. As a new non-commercial site I would have welcomed some advice on building an effective e.mail list. Perhaps a reader could respond.

  12. Totally agree with spammers using the shortened links to disguise or be deceptive, in fact its gotten so bad that I rarely click on them anymore. As always great information, thanks for sharing!

  13. I’m always wary of shortened links in emails, how long is your average URL anyway? And of course if you’re using WordPress you could use a plugin like Pretty Link Lite to create shorter URLs (such as yourdomain.com/link) just for the email which helps you to track things without any of the problems.

    You also gave me an idea with the custom HTML templates which is to include a picture of you in the message – possibly near you “Heya *name*, I thought I’d talk to you think week about…” section, it’s another way to help you connect with your readers. The only problem then is with people viewing on a mobile device – if you include pictures then they have to download them which takes time and data.

    I’ve been working on how my newsletter’s going to work and I’m definitely going to be implementing all 3 points you’ve talked about here. Thanks for the really great post :)

    • I’m glad you found the article so helpful, Rosemary! :)

      Yeah, the problem with using a newsletter template is with those using a mobile phone, but I guess in situations like that they’ll see the text version. The Gmail mobile app I use doesn’t include hyperlinks or templates so I only get to read the email…I then check the email again for any links on the computer when I’m less busy.

  14. Taline says:

    Great post! Here I was going to start using shortened links because i have read posts advising to use them. I didn’t realize the down side. Good to know as I now will not be using it. Thank you! :)

  15. Dragan Palla says:

    As a new blogger I agree there is too many links pointing to some sale pages with no relevant content.
    Good advise about not using shortened links in emails. I never used them but it crossed my mind.
    Great post anyway.

  16. Joe cassella says:

    Thank you for a very interesting article. I am new to this internet business so everything I read I learn something. I did not know about the shorten links where giving some problems. Thanks for the info.

  17. I use Pretty Link Lite to make those long URLs shorter on my blog posts, but on my newsletters, I don’t worry too much about it and I’m excited about your thoughts.

    I really like using a template, because when I get plain text emails, I sometimes forget that I subscribe and mistaken them for spam. A template is quickly recognizable.

    Thanks for the great tips
    Kimberly

  18. Minos says:

    I love the way you describe about “Always uses a linked call to action”. Very very attractive and useful. Thank you.

  19. Rhaka says:

    I agree with you oni. Honestly, I dislike every email that has been manipulated by using shortener as if it’s a kind of phishing and I will never click it altough it comes from a well-known people. For me, be honest and be gentleman in email.

  20. Nice advice, thanks for the tips. I’ll try those 3 tricks on my e-mail marketing. Yeah I found out the same problem number 3. back days ago, my customer were send me an e-mail about using shortened link e-mail. They said that “How can I trust you when you hiding behind your mask” and then nowadays I never use shortened link.

  21. Julie Larson says:

    Thank you for your article. I had no idea that using the url shorteners would decrease the chances of your email getting through. Good information to know!!! ;)

  22. Mike says:

    I found that having some links that are shortened are great for the likes of sites such as Twitter, but I can also understand the importance of also having the longer versions for other sites that you might come across (or mediums for that matter!). Additionally, I think you’ve hit it quite nicely about the branding of one’s blog through the HTML templates that several autoresponders offer. That can be a great start to be able to ensure that you are keeping things as consistent as possible.

  23. Tom says:

    Thanks for the article. I haven’t had too much success with email marketing so I’ll try your suggestions and see what happens. The tips you are giving look pretty handy and reasonable.

  24. Bryan Ring says:

    Email marketing has produced up-sell for my landscape company. And you are correct if done correctly will boost your call to action. I hate those small links, because they serve no real purpose for the recipient. It makes the recipient wonder what is behind the link, unless there is a clear call to action. Would rather have a 60 character link with the call to action in it.
    HTML template is GREAT! Thanks for your tips.

  25. Cool article – some food for thought. If I were to defend using url shortener in an email, my argument would be that it allows me to split test how far a reader scrolls down in the recieved email and which call-to-actions text convert (and where – hence the testing the best place for my links). But on the other hand I could just tag my own urls’ with a tracking code, which might be a better alternative – depending on my level of expertise in regards analytics/tracking software.

    • You’re right about that, but like you said tagging your URL with a tracking code will work better. After all, tracking won’t be effective if your subscribers don’t get your message.

  26. I absolutely agree with #2. I use software that accepts HTML, but automatically converts to text for email addresses that don’t accept HTML. Easy. :)

  27. Kevin says:

    Great tip about using a shortened URL’s…makes sense and it simply never occurred to me. Something I’m doing now that I’ve had tremendous success with is sending a personalized video email. Instead of typing out my message, I have a great tool I use to just record a short video of my message. They results have been amazing. I’m curious what others think of this.

  28. Dess says:

    Why I did not implement email marketing in my arsenal I just do not know. Now I just started with imnicamail and I don’t know where I am heading. The main reason I did not try email marketing is because I only have small number of website visitors which only gives me sales about a couple of times per week.

    Since I added an optin form in my page, I am getting signups but only few. I hope to succeed in this sector in the near future.

  29. Glynis says:

    I don’t like the shortened urls because they’re actually harder to remember. The url doesn’t mean anything. Usually the original url means something for the site and page and therefore is a better one to remember.

  30. Sinea Pies says:

    I HAD to come back and give you a report. Your first tip on making a LINKED call to action really got my attention. I tried it! I added a link that says SUBSCRIBE TO DUCKS ‘N A ROW HERE with the RSS feed sign and embedded it in a number of my recent posts. The enter line is the link. I have gained 10 new subscribers via RSS in just a few days! Amazing. I will be continuing to use this technique FOR SURE!

    Now, to move on to the rest of the tips you shared….
    Thank you so much!
    Sinea