A great email list is a goldmine for marketers. It is filled with people who are interested in what you have to say and have invited you into their inbox. Though, with that power comes great responsibility. You are establishing a relationship with your subscribers and they will be quick to unsubscribe or report you as a spammer if you abuse that relationship by selling their email address, sending emails of little value, or sending emails way too often.

These are some general ideas on how to best utilize a mailing list and to turn your subscribers into customers.

Exclusive Content

A lot of companies confuse a “mailing list” with a “newsletter”. Newsletters generally contain announcements about events, sales, and blog posts. They can be useful for your true fans but many people subscribe to mailing lists in order to learn more about your industry. This is the “teaching vs. selling” that we talked about in the content creation guide.

In order to best engage your mailing list you should provide them content that they cannot get anywhere else. This often can be short bits of advice or tips that result in a “quick win” for the reader. These are things that inspire the reader to take action and to keep coming back (opening and reading your emails) for more.

Give More than You Ask

Business owners often need to fight the urge to ask for somebody to make a purchase in every email they send. After all, the real reason they have a mailing list is to drive sales. Unfortunately, the more you ask somebody to buy the more turned off they get.

A great mailing list build relationships with your subscribers over time. You build trust by consistently providing content of value for free. Every time you ask somebody to buy you are taking away a sliver of that trust. Ask too often and all trust is lost and you will lose them as a subscriber.

Keep up a good ratio of emails that teach vs. emails that sell. The minimum you probably want is three emails that teach for every email that sells.

Make it about Your Customers

As a follow up to giving more than you ask you also want to make your email content about your reader rather than about you. Use the word “you” when writing to them rather than “I” or “we”.

Keep it Short!

When people open an email and see a big wall of text they are less likely to read it. Keep your emails just long enough to cover the topic and use a lot of paragraph breaks in order to create “white space” in your email.

Segment Subscribers

All mailing list software allows you to segment your subscribers so that you can target each group with content or messaging specifically for them. You can generally target based on source of signup, geographic location, what emails they have opened or already been sent, and where in your sales funnel they are (this takes a little bit more set up).

This is one of the more powerful features of email marketing and allows you to do things like send coupons to somebody who had visited your pricing page but didn’t buy or resend emails with different subject lines to people that did not open them originally.

Test

With email marketing software you can test what subject line results in the most people that open the email (open rate) by sending an email with one subject line to half of your subscribers and an email with a different subject line to the other half of subscribers. This allows you to zero in on what messages (marketing copy) causes the most people to take action and will help you get more customers.

Other things you can test is your email body content, the time of day you send emails, the day of the week you send emails, and the design of your emails.

Follow-up

Email is a great way to follow up with your customers and make sure that they are getting the best value of the product or service they bought from you. Doing so makes them more likely to make another purchase in the future.

Be Consistent

If you go too long between sending emails to your mailing list people will forget who you are and why they subscribed. Consistently sending at least two emails a month will ensure that people remember you and the value you are sending them which keeps them opening your emails.

If you make a promise on your email list subscription form (e.g. “join and get weekly emails full of great tips”) try to stick to that promise and send emails weekly. Too often or too infrequent will result in people unsubscribing.

Be Authentic

Even though we are covering this last it really is the most important lesson for email marketing. Email is a one-to-one relationship with your customer and, Even if you are sending emails in bulk, you want to make that relationship personal. Write as if you were writing to a good friend which ensures you do not use too much marketing language and push the reader too much to make a purchase.

A great mailing list helps you connect with your audience, and vice versa, and makes them genuinely excited about the content you send and the products you sell. That is worth a lot and can be what separates success from failure.