The 4-Week No-Sweat Email Marketing Plan

A no-sweat email marketing plan is possible.

Email newsletters can be your marketing powerhouse, but this channel is tragically under-utilized due to the perceived amount of work involved in launching them. It doesn't have to be that way.

Create a no-sweat email marketing plan to earn or keep more business in just thirty days by completing a few simple tasks each week this month.

Week 1 - Crafting the Email Marketing Plan

Spend a few minutes each day this week thinking about the strategy of your email marketing plan. Big picture, think about creating the following basic pillars:

  • Creating an offer to build your subscriber base
  • Publishing a monthly newsletter that provides value to your subscribers

We'll get to how to create each piece, but for now, focus on strategy. The key to great email marketing is to provide something of value to your target audience at an efficient cost to you.

Something of Value: Think of how many emails you don't read. If you want your emails to be different, you have to deliver real value to your subscribers. If you're a small business, value could mean coupons or product tips. If you're a website designer, it could be design tips or secret techniques. Your value is likely closely related to the purpose of your website and/or the service you provide.

An easier way to go about it: ask your most trusted customers or your ideal prospect what they'd like to see and go from there.

Efficient Cost: In most cases, email marketing costs are heavier on time than on money. Your ROI on your email marketing plan is driven by your ability to produce monthly newsletters efficiently and without a lot of extra work.

Think about ways you can leverage the things you're already doing to avoid net new work. For example, if you blog, your newsletter could be driven largely by repackaging your blog posts for those who haven't seen them. My newsletter takes about an hour a month and folks seem to like it.

Spend some time this week thinking about how you could re-purpose the things you're already doing in a way that will provide value to your subscribers.

Week 2 - Creating an Email Offer

The Complete Guide to Blogging with Squarespace.

The Complete Guide to Blogging with Squarespace.

Building your email list is just as important as the emails you send. While a newsletter sign-up link on your website may get you some new subscribers, the secret to larger list gains is to bundle your newsletter sign-up process with a free offer for visitors to your website.

Free offers range from ebooks to webinars to videos. Your offer can vary widely, but the key here is value, and usually more is better. Big Picture Web offers a free Guide to Blogging with Squarespace. I know a dry cleaner in Madison, WI whose email list drives thousands of visits each month thank to dry cleaning coupons.

Use this week to build a download or guide of some type that will provide utility for your audience, and you'll be set with a tactic to help prime your email list growth.

Week 3 - Integrating Your Email Plan with Your Site

This week you'll integrate your offer and your newsletter signup with your website. You'll want to be sure you have the ability to promote and deliver your newsletter list and your sign-up offer.

Follow these steps to integrate your email plan with your website if you use Squarespace.

Follow these steps to integrate your email plan with your website if you use Squarespace.

Step 1: Promote - Create a display ad on your website that displays your offer and link it to a unique landing page on your website. Try experimenting with your ad copy and graphic to see which version generates the most amount of clicks. Keep your ad above the fold on your blog side bar and you could receive a 1-2% click rate on your offer's ad.

Step 2: Landing Page - The landing page your ad links to should sell your offer to your potential new subscriber. Include the main benefits of your offer and a collection form. Configure your form so that people who download your offer are entered into your email sign-up list. Lucky for me, Squarespace and MailChimp make it incredibly easy to add form completions to my MailChimp subscriber list.

Step 3: Download - The final step involves adding a link to download your offer on the thank you page for your sign-up landing page. I uploaded my Squarespace ebook to Dropbox and include a link to it in the thank you language that displays after people submit the form to download the ebook.

Week 4 - Delivering Your First Email

Once you're up and running with your list collection and promotion, it's time to start publishing a newsletter. Center your content around the value you identified in your first week. For best results, stick to a consistent schedule and don't email people too often. 

If you're lucky, 40% or more of the people you send your email to will open it, and between 15-30% will click on the links contained in your newsletter. Pay attention to the statistics in your email marketing dashboard and adjust your tactics if you're not getting the expected results.

Big Picture Web's monthly newsletter focuses on news and information about Squarespace.

Big Picture Web's monthly newsletter focuses on news and information about Squarespace.

What thoughts do you have about email marketing? Do you have an email marketing plan? Is it something you see yourself doing? What's one of the biggest barriers people face when launching an email marketing strategy?

Creating Effective Newsletters with Squarespace and Mailchimp

Squarespace and MailChimp are now together.

Newsletters and email marketing can be a tremendous asset because these mediums permit you to communicate from a greater position of trust and credibility than those who engage through social media or search engines marketing alone. 

I've been trying out MailChimp since moving to Squarespace 6 because of their codeless integration. As you'll see in the steps to come, MailChimp and Squarespace now work together with virtually zero effort. And with both paid and free options available, they've made it simple to add email marketing to your current blogging and content marketing strategy.

1. Creating a MailChimp Account

I've had a monthly newsletter focused on Squarespace tips for over a year now, but I wanted to give MailChimp a try now this site is built on Squarespace 6. To sign up, I just gave MailChimp an email address, a username, and my password, and I was off and running.

So far the newsletter creation tools, list import and management tools, and overall experience with MailChimp has been outstanding. They have a powerful email tool set for bloggers and small businesses, and their user interface is about the smoothest I've seen in the email marketing space.

For starters, I'll be using MailChimp's free account, which is available to lists up to 2,000 subscribers. After a few months, I'll determine if I want to upgrade to remove the MailChimp badge from my newsletters (or if I want to leave it on to earn MonkeyRewards) and unlock other features such as MailChimp's Delivery Doctor, Inbox Inspector, or Time Warp.

2. Creating a MailChimp Subscription List

Creating a MailChimp newsletter subscription list.

Once the account was created and I was logged in, it was time to set up a list of subscribers to the Big Picture Web newsletter. I navigated to Lists, then selected the Create List option in the menu. Since I already had an existing email list, I imported my contacts using an Excel spreadsheet. You'll need at least one active list in MailChimp in order to connect with Squarespace 6.

3. Creating Newsletter Subscription Forms Connected with MailChimp

MailChimp's one-click connection with Squarespace 6.

Next, you'll want to head over to your website where you'll create a form on your Squarespace 6 website that enables people to sign up to receive your newsletters. Take, for example, the subscribe page on Big Picture Web.

Create a subscription page on your website with an embedded form block. Make sure that each field of your form corresponds to a field in your MailChimp subscription list.

Once your form contains all the proper fields, edit your form's settings and go to the Storage tab. Click the MailChimp connection setting to launch the connection wizard.

Connecting Squarespace and MailChimp

The API connection sequence prompts you to log in to your MailChimp account directly from your Squarespace website. Enter your username and password and log in.

MailChimp and Squarespace's API connection makes connecting your blog and email marketing simple.

MailChimp and Squarespace's API connection makes connecting your blog and email marketing simple.

Squarespace and MailChimp fully integrated.

Select Your MailChimp Subscription List

The last step is to select your MailChimp newsletter subscription list from the available options in the Squarespace interface. Save your form settings and your connection should now be in place.

From this point on, anyone who fills out the form on the page you've created will now be added to your newsletter subscription list in MailChimp automatically.

4. Link to Your Subscription Page in Squarespace

At this point, you'll want to let people know that your newsletter is available. Find a few strategic places to link to your newsletter signup form on your website, including your blog sidebar, footer or even your header navigation. Change up your creative and calls-to-action to see if there are positive changes in signups from month to month.

Why Create Newsletters if I'm Already Blogging?

Social media can be a cacophony of updates where important information is often quickly lost in the stream. Search engines are a crapshoot and rely on whatever is contextually relevant to the consumer at any given moment. While these channels are important and have their own merits, it can sometimes be hard to sustain a conversation.

Email, on the other hand, provides you with an opportunity to deliver content and information that you deem important it a place where it's almost certain to be seen, the inbox. And unlike other forms of advertising, consumers subscribe to newsletters. If you're doing it right, your audience will permit you to promote your services if your newsletter content provides enough value.

Squarespace's new MailChimp integration made me change my email newsletter provider of choice because they made integrating and maintaining subscribers a breeze. And the email creation and delivery tools they provide haven't failed to deliver yet. So far, I'm really happy I made the move.

What questions or thoughts do you have about email marketing? Do you use Squarespace for your blog and have you tried MailChimp for your email marketing. Do you prefer another service?