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How to Make the Most of Your Email List

Summer 2007: I’m sitting at a long table filled with computers in a dark basement in southern Ukraine, paying by the minute to upload my latest blog post.

Photo credit: Miran Rijavek via CC

Photo credit: Miran Rijavek via CC

My adoption blog was my first foray into communicating to an audience of more than one person. And I had ZERO clue what I was doing.

But even then, I knew that email was the way to get my posts into the hands of the people who cared to read them.

It all boils down to one core principle: If you want people to read your writing with any regularity, you need an email list.

An email list is the core asset of any online business. (And writing is a business, people!)

Your email list is more important than your website and your social media accounts. It even comes before your shopping cart and your product offerings.

Because it’s way easier to talk to someone who already knows you and trusts you and cares about what you’re offering.

If you’ve been writing for a while, you probably have a list and you’ve sent some emails. They can be blog posts, newsletters, launch notifications…anything counts, as long as it was sent through an email service provider like MailChimp, Aweber, MadMimi, Emma, etc.

(If you don’t have this yet, hop over to Mailchimp and sign up. It’s free for pretty much anything a starting writer needs. And download a free step-by-step cheat-sheet and video tutorial about how to get started.)

3 Tips For Better Emails

Once you kind of have the mechanics down, it’s natural to start wondering if you could do it better.

Maybe you sent an email out and got no response at all. Maybe you looked at one and thought the open rate seemed low. Maybe you’re discouraged that no one clicked a link to your new book.

Or maybe you’re getting ready to launch something and you’re wondering how to do it the best way you can.

Well, there are a couple variables that you need to look at, and each one tells a different story about how you can improve.

A great subject line matters more than anything else

Don’t you wonder why you keep seeing things like “She walked into the store, and you won’t believe what happened next!” in your Facebook feed?

It’s because they WORK.

Inboxes are getting more and more overfilled, so you only have a few seconds to catch a reader’s attention and convince them to open your message.

Without a kick-ass subject line, your brilliant content ain’t gonna be seen at all. So now is not the time to be all artsy and clever.

Make your headline irresistible so you can take your reader to the next step: your awesome content.

A successful subject line = a higher-than-average open rate.

Your content isn’t about you

All writing is copywriting. Even if you’re writing fiction or inspiration, every line needs to pull the reader in deeper, leading them to a single purpose.

For a sales email, that purpose is to solve a problem. For an inspirational email, it might be a commitment to change. For a how-to email (like this one!) it might help the reader learn something and put it into action.

Regardless of the purpose, every line or word in your content needs to serve it. Furthermore, the end of the piece needs to call the reader to a specific action.

Weak copy will lose your reader’s attention and they’ll give up too soon, get confused and leave, or just not figure out what they’re supposed to do.

Strong copy will give them one irresistible thing to do.

Successful content = a higher-than-average clickthrough rate.

Send emails when your readers read them

Once you’ve got a great subject line and great content leading your readers toward a focused action, you can optimize it by finding the best day to release it to your audience.

That’s where analytics come in. Look at your campaign/broadcast history to determine the best day for open rates and the best day for clickthroughs. Then use that information to tell you when to share with your list.

If you’re trying to sell a solution or get a reader to click a link? Make sure you send it on the best day for clickthroughs.

Want your reader to see/know something quickly? Send it on your best or second best open day.

And consider adjusting your blog schedule to post on your best days and take time off on your slowest days.

Find your best publication days in less than 6 minutes! Click the button for a step-by-step video tutorial.

Get the tutorial now!

For what it’s worth, my best open days are Thursday and Monday. But Monday clickthroughs are not great, so that guides me to send informational emails on Mondays and launch or sales emails on Thursdays.

Also, I learned that Friday through Sunday are the three lowest engagement (clickthrough) days for my list, so it’s a great time to lay off a little.

On the other hand, a close friend of mine says Sundays are one of her best days. Every community is unique, so watch and experiment with your own list, and keep checking in and tweaking what serves your community best.

I’m curious…what’s YOUR best day to send emails (and who makes up your audience)? Share in the comments…

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About Christine

I’m a writer, a recovering project manager, and a corporate refugee with a passion to share the lessons I've learned. I've worked with bestselling authors to launch nearly a million dollars' worth of books and online courses. I've seen what works (and what doesn't), and I know what it takes for a growing writer to get your work out and grow as you go.

2 Replies

  1. Another wonderful post, Christine! This post covers the essentials of what I need to get better at. I’m working on adjusting all of my content to be reader-focused; not anything that’s too much about me. I’m thankful for how informative and enjoyable your writing style is! 🙂

    1. Christine

      Thanks so much, Brad! That shift makes such a big difference. Let me know how it goes?

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