Newsletter Examples: How to Craft Irresistible Newsletter Content

newsletter examples

It’s no secret there is money in your email list. But just how much depends on you. According to McKinsey & Company, the average employee spends 13 of their weekly working hours in their inbox. This is both good and bad news. The good news is: Because people are spending so much time in their inboxes, you have an opportunity to make a big impact. The bad news? More emails = dwindling attention spans. You’ll need to get creative to break through the clutter of emails that loiter in your subscribers’ inboxes. We’ll show you how to create an email newsletter that will keep your subscribers interested. Whether you want to improve your current newsletter or are researching ideas for your first one, these tried and true email marketing practices are sure to help.

What makes the best email newsletters?

What are the best email newsletters made of? Captivating copy, engaging visuals, and a clear call-to-action, right? Well, yes, but there’s more to it than that. The number of emails flooding inboxes these days is staggering. According to DMR, the average person will get 121 emails per day (which is roughly 44,000 emails per year). That’s a lot to read. Due to the sheer volume of emails people receive daily, it’s crucial to cater to your target audience. So how do you ensure your emails are the brightest in the inbox?

1. Give readers what they didn’t know they needed

The inbox is a sacred space. It’s a direct line into the lives of your audience and potential customers—so whatever you send should be of the highest quality. Yes, creating an email newsletter free of grammatical errors and broken links is important. But providing actionable, helpful information to readers is also important. Bonus points if you provide knowledge or insight on something they didn’t know they needed. For example: If you’re a business development coach looking to expand your newsletter readership, including extra content that your audience cares about (like a template or eBook or one of these 22 Brilliant Lead Magnets) is a good idea.

2. Keep readers reading with great copy and even better design

You can have the best written copy, but if it’s hard to read, it can be tough to get readers to stick around. We’re not suggesting that bad design mutes stellar copy, but striking a balance between the two is key when creating a quality email newsletter. Related: How to Create Amazing Photos for Your Emails on Zero Budget Take photo company Artifact Uprising for example. They’re a visual company, which is clearly communicated across all marketing materials. In the example below, they stick with large, eye-catching images and bold, monochromatic colors. email newsletter example But they don’t rely solely on bold, featured images. The copy, although simple, packs a punch — and it’s hard to resist clicking on the single CTA button to learn how to create your own beautiful photo book. The copy and images in this example work together to tell a story. This is not a long email newsletter, but it didn’t need to be. It’s chock full of value (an “insider’s guide” and “tips and tricks”), and that’s what resonates with readers the most.

3. An email that reads well will be well read

Design doesn’t just mean pretty pictures. This is where readability comes into play. If you want readers to digest your content, make it easy to do so. The Daily Carnage is a great example of strong layout and organization when it comes to email. It’s text-heavy, but in the best way. Bullet points, subheadings, and colorful call-to-actions make this email newsletter easy (and enjoyable) to read. email newsletter example As with any writing, when it comes to the layout of your email newsletter, place the most important information at the top. Dwindling attention spans mean it’s critical to include important information first. The secondary details and other non-essential information come next. If you see a block of text in the body of an email newsletter, what’s your first reaction? Delete? Scroll past? Chances are if you wouldn’t read it, neither would your subscribers. Breaking the copy up into digestible paragraphs or bullet points will help your readers understand the message while saving them eye strain. The goal is to make the copy scannable, which is tough to do with large blocks of text. Not sure what to write in your emails? We created a free course — What to Write in Your Emails — that comes with 45+ email writing templates!

4. Leverage your lists correctly

Segmentation is an excellent way to make your email newsletters more effective and to grow your customer base. According to the DMA, segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue. With email segmentation, you can create lists of customers based on specific parameters you set and then customize campaigns for each. For example, let’s say you want to target customers who have bought from you once but have not been back since that purchase. You can create a list of these customers and deploy an email campaign that works toward a sale conversion goal. Rewarding customers for past purchases, sharing sale information, or encouraging customers to tell their friends about your brand are a few of the things you can do with a segmented list. Or you can categorize customers based on their email behavior (who opened/didn’t open an email). Then, you can target each list differently, either educating them further on your business, or incentivizing them to buy with a unique offer. Understanding what makes your lists unique is the key to using them effectively and seeing the ROI of your email newsletters over time. Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Making Money with Email Marketing

When it comes to design vs. content, both matter

When creating an email newsletter, it’s easy to focus on either design or content. But the truth is: Both design and content are equally as important to the success of the campaign. In fact, if an email includes too many images and not enough text, it can become problematic:

  • Emails marked “image-only” may end up in the spam folder due to email service providers like Gmail filtering and blocking them.
  • Subscribers may have disabled image viewing/downloading in their email settings.
  • Depending on the internet connection and browser version, images can take longer than text to load. Subscribers may delete the email before the images have time to load.

So how can you be sure to strike a healthy balance between design and content in your email newsletter? Let’s look at a few newsletter examples and break down what works well.

Design & Layout in Email Newsletters

1. Use the template that matches your goal

Are you sending out a discount code to new customers? Launching a new product? Announcing a huge end-of-the-season sale? There are many email templates to choose from, which can feel overwhelming at first. (AWeber has more than 700 mobile-responsive templates that you can use. Create your account today!) The question is: Which one will be the best for the job? For example, if you’re an AWeber user who wants to send a new discount code to new subscribers to show your appreciation and to get them to try a product, you might want to select a template that clearly indicates your message. Here’s our “announcement” layout that you can customize for your business and brand. sale email template This Nike email does an excellent job of showing readers the detail of a product through visuals and copy: email newsletter example

2. Be bold in your image selection

Images do more than get your brand noticed, they elicit emotion. With images, you are able to set the mood and tone of your email before subscribers even begin reading. This email from The North Face is a perfect example of stunning imagery at work. Not only does the image showcase the products (waterproof rain gear), but the striking contextual image captures attention immediately: email newsletter example

3. Leverage contrast and whitespace

When designing your email, be sure to consider contrast and whitespace. Images that contrast in color are not only impactful and interesting to look at, but they help ensure readers can see the images, too. Including a healthy balance of whitespace is also a design best practice that can make reading your email easier for subscribers. Take these newsletter examples from Peloton, Flock, and Headspace. All three newsletter examples use contrasting images and include enough whitespace to make for easy reading. newsletter examples

Comments on Content in Email Newsletters

1. Make it personalized

Customizing your email newsletters per your target audience is the secret to success. Thanks to email segmentation, we can categorize subscribers with specific parameters and organize them into lists. Every email created should have the audience’s interests and needs at top of mind. Customizing emails go a long way when done correctly. AWeber user and personality test company Truity has seen increased open rates as a result of their personalization efforts, including personality type-specific messages, like the one below aimed at its a specific personality type — ENFP subscribers. Truity uses the “digest” layout in AWeber’s Drag and Drop Email Builder for its newsletters, giving it a streamlined, cohesive look every time it hits your inbox. email newsletter examples Related: Steer Clear of These Personalization Mistakes When Building Your Email

2. Short vs. long-form content

One question that marketers hear often is “how long should my email be?” The answer is, there is no right answer. Both can help you accomplish your goal and communicate your message. The InVision Weekly Digest is concise writing done right. Punchline copy delivered in an easy-to-read format. email newsletter examples Whether you choose to create an email that’s short and sweet or something long-form, one thing stands true for both: Make it easy to read. This rings especially true for long-form content. As we mentioned above, having a large block of text in the body of your email doesn’t do anyone any good. Break things up into short 2-3 sentence paragraphs or use a bullet point format to convey your message. Related: 8 Powerful Email Copywriting Techniques Ann Handley — AWeber customer, author, and founder of Marketing-Profs, sends a bi-weekly email newsletter, Total Annarchy. It always begins with a long story. However, Handley does an excellent job of taking a ton of valuable information and presenting it in a digestible way. email newsletter example

3. Make your emails count

Trust is hard to gain (and easy to lose) when it comes to engaging with your customers. If someone has given you permission to his/her inbox and has opened your newsletter, it’s your time to shine. Providing value-packed content to your subscribers is a key component in seeing a positive ROI on your email campaigns besides to growing your customer base. WouldYouRather (WYR), another AWeber customer, does this well by making every email engaging and interactive: email newsletter examples What’s more: WYR follows up with the results every week so subscribers can see what other people on their list chose (who won: compliment or a $100 bill) and why. They ask for the reasoning behind the choices made to share some insight into the human decision-making process. Bottom line: If your content is not providing subscribers information worth their attention, leave it out of the email.

4. Special offers can lead to purchases, if done correctly

Promotional content can yield successful results, too. This is an integral part of business for those in the eCommerce world, as well as for those promoting events and selling tickets. We see this executed well in this simple, to-the-point email from AWeber user and the band Phish: email newsletter examples  

5. Be a stickler for grammar (if you aren’t already)

Mistakes happen, but if grammatical errors are consistently popping up in your email newsletters (or any of your marketing materials for that matter), you run the risk of losing your credibility, customer trust, and money. Have an editor or a coworker with a trained eye look at the copy before adding it to your campaign. Be sure to have them check it again after you finish building the email. If you’re an AWeber customer, it’s easy to edit copy even after you’ve entered it into your template.

More inspiration: newsletter examples

The examples below are grouped by category so you can find what’s most relevant to you.

Newsletter Example: Blogs

Leading with a strong image and captivating copy is a sure-fire way to keep your subscribers reading. The example (hey, that’s us!) below does just that: newsletter examples (Gain a competitive edge: Subscribe to AWeber’s newsletter. Get essential tips and news about email marketing sent weekly to your inbox.)

Newsletter Example: Local and small businesses

Showcase your products or services with an email template that is visual and text-friendly. This email from Moo does a great job of highlighting a product sale in a colorful way that is not only on-brand but also eye-catching. email newsletter examples

Newsletter Example: Podcasts

Podcasts tend to cover a lot of information during each episode. What better way to create a centralized place where listeners can do further research, learn more, or read up on guests than with a summary email? email newsletter examples This email from Smashing Magazine includes a table of contents that make jumping sections a breeze. With an organized layout and plenty of space for a recap, this format is perfect for podcasts.

Newsletter Example: SaaS and Software Companies

Providing value to your subscribers, in whatever capacity that may be, is crucial to keeping them interested. Including helpful content like this “How to Use Instagram Stories Templates” guide from Later is a great way to provide value. This also shows subscribers you know what you’re talking about. email newsletter example

Newsletter Example: Non-Profit Organizations

The Human Rights Campaign knows how to welcome new supporters. This email not only includes a thank you note, but it also outlines how supporters can take further steps to help the campaign. email newsletter examples

Newsletter Example: Product and eCommerce

Like the SaaS example above, product and eCommerce companies can provide value with actionable content, all while keeping things fun and interesting: email newsletter examples

Now it’s your turn

With all this good information, now you’re ready to knock out your next email newsletter. Maybe you’ve selected your template, but aren’t quite sure what to include in each section. No problem. We’ve broken down what the layout of your email newsletter could look like.

  1. Title – [Your Brand Name]’s [Weekly | Monthly | etc.] Newsletter
  2. Paragraph 1 – This is a great place to summarize your company and explain why you’re great. Be sure to include the most important information in this section. If you’re sending a welcome note to new subscribers, add details on how often they can expect to receive your newsletter.
  3. Paragraph 2 – Leverage your template by selecting bold imagery that is not only on par with the content of your email but also with your brand.
  4. Paragraph 3 – Time to let your writing chops shine. The goal of your email will most likely determine the length of your copy. It’s important that your email reads the same as the rest of your marketing materials, so keeping your brand style guide close is a good idea.

Building Your Email Newsletters

Your email newsletter is your opportunity to inform, educate, and connect with potential customers. Your subscribers have granted you permission to show up in their inboxes whenever you please — so now it’s time to get to work. Let’s recap what we just learned:

  • Providing value-packed content to readers is essential when it comes to the success of your campaign. Formatting your email for readability will make or break your click-through rates. Leveraging your segmented email lists correctly through customization will increase your ROI. Creating an email design that is eye-catching and functional will keep subscribers reading. Writing attention-grabbing copy that communicates your message goes a long way.

Need help getting started on your next email newsletter? We’re here to help. Sign up for a free 30-day trial with AWeber. You can call, chat, or email our award-winning Customer Solutions team. They’re available 24/7.

The post Newsletter Examples: How to Craft Irresistible Newsletter Content appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

Now in AWeber! Awesome Sign Up Forms and a New GoToWebinar Integration

New at AWeber

In July, we launched our enhanced drag and drop email builder and 8 new flexible templates. This month we’re excited to share new sign up form templates and a native integration with GoToWebinar.

Grow your email list with a fresh new sign up form

New forms in AWeber! Update the look and feel of your existing sign up form using a new template and watch that subscriber count skyrocket! 🚀 What you need to know:

  • We’ve launched new form templates in your Sign Up Form Gallery. 🎨
  • You can add an awesome customizable form to your site, or we can host a form landing page for you. 🏠

How to take advantage of this feature:

  • Create and customize a new sign up form to match your brand!
  • Use a simple Javascript snippet, or our WordPress plug-in to add the form to your site.
  • No site? We’ll host the form on a landing page, and give you a unique link to share with your audience on social or personal networks.

Easily add GoTo Webinar attendees to an AWeber list

We’ve partnered with GoToWebinar to build an exclusive integration that seamlessly connects your webinar strategy with AWeber. What you need to know:

  • You can now add GoToWebinar registrants directly to an AWeber email list without requiring your subscriber to re-confirm. ✅
  • You no longer need to import your registrants into AWeber or rely on expensive third-party tools to stay in sync. 💰
  • Deliver automated email campaigns in AWeber to your GoToWebinar registrants upon signup, or after the webinar is over by manually applying a tag. 🏷️

How to take advantage of this feature:

  • Check out GoToWebinar in our integrations showcase and connect the integration!
  • Learn more about your webinar registrants by using click automations in your automated emails. What is the skill level of your attendees? How effective was your webinar? Who are your warmest leads to follow up with directly? Easily discover the answers to these by tagging your subscribers based on opened emails and clicked links!
  • For more details, check out our Knowledge Base article.

This exciting integration is only the first version. If you are a GoTo Webinar user, take the integration for a spin and let us know what you’d like to see improved or added. Your feedback will help us build a powerful tool to supercharge your webinar and email strategy.

What’s on deck!

We have some big updates planned for September! Stay tuned, and let us know in the comments what features you need to be successful with email marketing. Check out all of our product updates from 2018! NEW Email Builder: Create Modern, Sleek Emails Faster than Ever July: Visualize your Campaigns performance with our mobile app June: AWeber’s Customer Solutions Team is Now Available 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week! May: Connect Your Email Marketing with More Than 100 New Apps April: Automation, Segmentation, Mobile App Updates, and More March: One-Click Automation and Segmentation February Product Updates: 5 NEW Features Have Hit Your AWeber Account ¡Atención! Connect with Your Audience in 13 Different Languages Push Notifications– Now Available in AWeber’s Stats App Ready to try AWeber free for 30 days? Let’s get started.  

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How to Create Amazing Photos for Your Emails on Zero Budget

branding stock images

When it comes to running a business, effective branding is a “must.” It seeps into everything you do — from your marketing strategy to your customer interactions. Consistent and cohesive branding across all platforms — websites, emails, landing pages, social posts, advertisements, products, etc. — builds trust. It shows professionalism. It represents your passion for your product and your attention to the little details. And it makes you instantly recognizable. Branding helps you define:

  1. Who your business is
  2. What your business does
  3. How you visually communicate #1 and #2 to your potential and current customers

Larger businesses put tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands!) of dollars into branding. They can hire agencies (or pay for internal marketing teams), who brand everything from their stationary to their websites to their products. So what should a small business or solopreneur do? How can you compete? Where do you even begin? Below, I’ll show you how to create amazing brand images on zero budget.

Start with stock photos

You’re probably using stock photos. Stock images are a fantastic option for those who are short on time and resources. Nowadays, you can find great free images to use at your disposal. Some of my favorite sources include:

While stock imagery is a quick and easy solution that anyone can use, there’s also one big problem with it: The selections are often boring and generic. Plus, everyone uses stock photography. (At least everyone who can’t hire professional photographers on a daily basis!) Here at AWeber, we had a similar problem. We noticed many other businesses were choosing the same stock images as we were — which decreased our brand’s impact in the inbox and on social.

How to brand stock photos

As a Brand Designer for the AWeber team, I wanted to change this. I wanted to create unity across all our assets — our blog, social feeds, ads, and emails — and put our own twist on the stock images we used. I wanted them to be modern. I wanted them to pack a punch, and for readers to instantly know they were AWeber’s images. I wanted to brand stock photos. In order to change the way we handled our stock photography, I looked at what was currently missing from our blog images: consistency, color, and fun. Here’s what our blog looked like before: brand stock photography Keeping those three things in mind, I added new brand elements overtop of stock photos to make them more personalized and eye catching. Then, to enhance consistency, I started using a subtle, warm-color overlay to create similar feelings across all images. brand stock photography But I didn’t want all the overlays to be the same. And I didn’t want them to be totally different, either. So I started to systematize the color themes to correspond with our different article categories. For instance, an article about “writing better emails” would have a blue to green color shift, and an article about “designing better emails” (like this story!) would use an orange to yellow color shift. brand stock photos Finally, I wanted to make our images more FUN! In an attempt to do something a little different and unexpected, we incorporated the color additions within varying geometric shapes — like circles, rectangles, and pentagons. The shapes are placed in a way that benefits the composition of the image. brand stock photos We applied this new branding style to all our content — blog articles, social posts, ads, and landing pages. We even incorporated elements into our new blog newsletter sign up page. Here’s a before and after of our blog with the branded stock images. brand stock photos (Unlike other email service providers, AWeber offers unlimited image hosting — so you can upload as many images as you want with no quotas to worry about.)

More ways to brand stock photos

You can easily make similar changes to your stock images today by pulling elements from your logo, website, or blog to personalize the look. (I recommend using free editing software like Canva or Pixlr.)  Some ways you can make quick branding updates include:

  • Use brand colors: You can overlay them on top of the image or use them behind text so that it becomes easier to read. Make sure your font colors are the same on your blog, website, and emails.
  • Pull shapes that reoccur on your site or are used within your logo: This is specifically great for those who use any icons within their logo (the simpler the shape the better). It can also help as a divider between your image and text.
  • Use fonts that are used in your logo or as plain type on your website: It’s important to pick a font that is easy to read and, ironically, not too original. Typically fonts that are not commonly used as standard type like “Lobster” or “Brush Script” can be hard to read at a quick glance. In order for your images to stand out, you want people to know exactly what you are saying right away.

I encourage you to use any elements you can to make your photos stand out from the masses. Create a brand you’re proud of — and one that people are excited to be a part of. Get started today! Send professionally-designed emails without an ounce of design experience. Try AWeber’s easy-to-use Drag and Drop Email Builder. Sign up for your FREE trial!

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2 Rehearsal Secrets for Delivering an Amazing Performance Every Single Time

Everyday, you communicate with people — whether you’re speaking on stage to a live audience, presenting a webinar to thousands of online viewers, meeting one-on-one with colleagues, clients, or potential customers. Many of these performances are high-stake situations. Your audience will enjoy your presentation or become bored. You’ll land a new client or lose a sale. You’ll make an important connection or alienate a potential partner. Mistakes during these moments can make or break your results. That’s why rehearsal is so important. Practicing before you communicate can transform your presentation into a performance that affects the way people think, feel and act. It can also have a positive impact on your email marketing. You can make connections with people that’ll convince them to join your email list, engage with your messages, and eventually purchase. During our recent webinar with speaking pro Amy Port of Heroic Public Speaking, she shared why rehearsal is an essential, yet often skipped, part of the performance process. And she then revealed her 7-step protocol to deliver amazing performances.  After earning her MFA in Acting from The Yale School of Drama, Port spent years acting professionally in theaters such as Seattle Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare, and Yale Rep, and working consistently in commercials. She now applies the skills of performance that only well-trained actors know to the coaching of ‘non-actors’ looking to crush their next performance. Below, learn 2 of the top 7 steps to deliver an amazing performance. (Want to learn all the rehearsal secrets of the world’s best performers? Below we share 2 of the steps from Port’s 7-step rehearsal protocol. Register here to watch the entire recording of the webinar and learn all 7 steps.)

Rehearsal tip #1: Do a “table read” on your own.

As a writer or marketer, you would never publish the first draft of a blog post, landing page, or book. Instead, you write it, read it, and revise it. You might even have someone else review it as well. And yet, when we speak, we often publish our first draft. That’s why Port recommends leveling up your performance by doing a “table read” after completing the first draft of your talk. A table read is simply reading your draft out loud. “When we’re creating our content for the spoken word, we’re creating it on our keyboard. But that’s very different than actually saying it,” Port said. “So in an table read, you take that language and, rather than reading it on a screen silently by yourself, you read it as if you’re talking to another human being.” By reading it aloud to yourself, you get to experience your content in three different ways: seeing the words, speaking the words, and hearing the words. And you begin to discover words or phrases that trip you up. Maybe your speech feels a bit robotic. Or perhaps your point doesn’t make sense, or your speech lacks a cohesive flow. The AWeber team does table reads before nearly every video we produce. We sit around a table, script in hand, and read it out loud, noting words or phrases that are confusing, unnatural, or difficult to say. To do a table read, you don’t need a polished script or a fully baked presentation. All you need is a first draft of your performance. Before your table read, you should have already given some thought to what you want to say. Don’t sit down and start ad libbing. And during your table read, have a pen or pencil in hand and circle the portions you want to review and revise. Don’t stop and edit in the moment. Keep reading. Then, once you’ve finished, return to the areas you highlighted during your read.

Rehearsal tip #2: Improv, record, and re-write.

With a table read and some revisions to your speech under your belt, it’s now time for an improv rehearsal. Just like the table read, you do this on your own. But here’s where the improv is different: Your presentation is more complete, and you’re presenting it as if you’re in front of a live audience. The key to this step is to record your improv rehearsal. So pull out your voice memo or video camera on your smartphone and start recording. When you record it, you’ll capture everything you do and say. You’ll discover things you like and don’t like. You may find that you say something differently than you’ve ever said it before. Or, you might find that you’re constantly wringing your hands or bouncing up and down, or making other unconscious gestures that hurt your performance. You’ll be able to note these great moments and mistakes and rehearse your performance over and over again so you deliver it the same way every time.

Learn 5 more steps from Amy Port’s protocol

Don’t wait until you’re on stage or in the moment to discover that something doesn’t work. By knowing what works and what doesn’t ahead of time, you’re able to make adjustments, level up your work, and bring your performance to new heights. Watch the entire recording of Port’s webinar and learn all 7 steps of her rehearsal protocol to deliver great performances time and time again. Need some more help with your public speaking? Join Port and her team at Heroic Public Speaking LIVE, October 1 to 3 in Philadelphia, PA. The AWeber team will be there as a sponsor. Come meet up with us to learn how to use email marketing to reach and connect with your audience off stage.

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The Ugly Truth about Buying Email Lists

purchased email lists

You want peace of mind when sending your messages to your subscribers. Here at AWeber, we have a group of trained specialists on our Best Practices team that monitors your email deliverability 24/7. Our Best Practices team ensures AWeber provides you the highest deliverability rates in the email marketing industry. We help you make it into the inbox, and not the spam folder. That means our Best Practices team is on the lookout for AWeber customers importing or sending messages to purchased email lists. Purchased lists are directly against AWeber’s Terms of Service and can result in a closure of your account. And they come with big problems: Sending messages to a purchased email list can cause significant damage to your marketing initiatives, hurt your chances of making it into the inbox, and ruin all of your hard work, according to Karen Balle, AWeber’s Director of Deliverability. Plus, penalties for sending unsolicited email to a purchased list could range anywhere from hefty fines to even jail time, depending on your country’s anti-spam laws. Here’s everything you need to know about buying an email list. (Create an account with an email service provider you can trust. AWeber was the first company to bring email automation to the market. Over the past two decades, we’ve reinvented our product to help people like you connect with your audience in remarkable ways.)

Why you should never buy an email list

Our Best Practices team doesn’t only catch bad actors using purchased lists — even well-intentioned businesses can fall into the trap of buying email lists. After all, a purchased list sounds like a great idea in theory: You can start marketing your product or service right away to a list of subscribers, instead of having to grow your list from scratch. Some companies make money by offering new email marketers a “shortcut” to building their email lists. So they compile email address lists and advertise them as:

  • “Targeted”
  • “Opt-in”
  • “Verified”
  • “Clean” (a clue that purchasing lists is inherently dirty)
  • “Real Time”

Here are some examples: company selling purchased email list When buying a list of email addresses, you don’t have proof of who else may have also purchased those addresses, what list those subscribers signed up for originally, or the date those subscribers signed up. While the company selling the list may say it’s “Opt-In” or “Verified,” you have no idea what content they first signed up for. For instance, your purchased list may claim to have opted-in for your gardening tips. In reality, however, those email addresses signed up for sports news and updates. The result: The subscribers on your purchased list have no interest in your gardening content. They never open your messages, or, worse, they mark your messages as spam. When you send messages to a purchased email list, you don’t have explicit opt-in to be emailing those subscribers. Explicit opt-in — meaning subscribers actively and knowingly gave you permission to email them (i.e. filling out a sign up form on your website) — is required for a quality list, says AWeber’s Best Practices Manager, Josh Smith. “If you don’t have explicit opt-in, you are bound to have problems,” he explains. (You’ll need to prove opt-in under the new GDPR law. For more information, check out Your GDPR + Email Marketing Playbook.) And fair warning: Confirmation does not equal permission. The confirmation message is one of the first emails you send to subscribers when they are added to your mailing list. In it, a subscriber can click on a link to confirm that they requested information from you. However, you can’t just send a confirmation message to a purchased list — because they never gave you permission to email them in the first place. They never requested to be on your email list. Confirmation can only be used as a second step in order to build a more engaged list.

The unintended consequences of buying email lists

Most subscribers know if they have requested specific information from you or not. Sending unsolicited information to subscribers who did not request it can be damaging to your business and your deliverability. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) — like Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! — track if a subscriber opens an email, clicks a link, or reports a message as spam in their inbox. If the engagement is good — meaning, a subscriber constantly opens your messages, forwards them, or clicks the links inside — this tells the ISP to route future emails straight to the inbox. However, if a subscriber is unengaged, then an ISP will route your emails to the spam folder. And if a large portion of your subscribers are unengaged — which will most likely with a purchased list — it can hurt your sending reputation. All of your messages may end up in the spam folder whether a subscriber wants to read your emails or not.

The CAN-SPAM Act and buying email lists

The CAN-SPAM Act is a United States law that regulates commercial email. While it doesn’t actually prohibit someone from buying and selling email addresses, it does prohibit sending bulk unsolicited emails. And if you’re sending to a purchased email list, that’s exactly what you’re doing. You would be in violation of the law.

Grow your list in other ways

There are other great ways to grow your list that don’t involve buying email addresses.

  Want to learn more about growing an email list filled with quality and interested email subscribers? Download your free Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing! This post was updated on August 22, 2018.

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How to Find Your Customers’ Pain Points

People don’t buy a product or service just because it’s cheap or has flashy features. While these reasons might contribute to their purchase decision, they ultimately purchase a product because it solves a problem. Don’t have time to eat an expensive sit down meal? Grab food at McDonalds. Can’t take high quality photos on your iPhone? Get a Nikon camera. Tired of driving to the gym everyday? Purchase an at-home workout program on DVD. If you understand your customers’ problems, you can position your product or service as the solution. That’s why customer pain points are so important.

What is a customer pain point?

A customer pain point is a problem your audience faces that your product or service can resolve. By understanding customer pain points, you can promote your product or service more effectively and write convincing marketing copy. Your audience is much more likely to buy if you can clearly articulate how you’ll solve their problems or pain points.

How can I find my customers’ pain points?

Talk to your customers and audience. Ask them what they’re struggling with and how you can help them. Find out the specific way your product or service can resolve their issues. Here are a 3 simple methods to get your customers to share their pain points:

  1. Send your subscribers an email.

Asking a simple question in an automated email is an easy way to learn more about your customers’ pain points. Thinkific, an online course hosting platform, asks subscribers to share what’s stopping them from creating an online course in their automated welcome series. The answers to this question can show them what educational content they should create to resolve customer pain points. Plus, they can write case studies that explain how Thinkific helps people overcome different course creation pain points.

2. Survey your customers.

Share a survey on your social channels or within an email and ask people to explain what they’re currently struggling with. In our own surveys, we often ask email subscribers to share their biggest email marketing challenge. We can then create educational content to resolve those challenges. For instance, we created our What to Write in Your Emails and Email List Growth Blueprint courses after receiving survey feedback requesting help with email copywriting and list growth.

3. Speak with your customers.

Ask a few customers to chat with you on the phone. Or, host an educational webinar and save time at the end for questions. Conversations with your customers are the best way to discover what their pain points are.

What’s an example of how I might use customer pain points in email marketing?

Imagine you’re a social media expert who offers hourly consulting services to help businesses improve their social media strategy. Here are a few pain points your potential customers might struggle with:

  1. They’re too busy to regularly post on social media.
  2. They don’t know what content to share on their social platforms.
  3. They know they should be using Facebook ads, but they don’t know how to set them up or get them to work.
  4. They’re unsure how to grow their social following.
  5. They have a large social media audience, but they don’t know how to get those followers to buy.

Using this example, let’s say you want to focus on acquiring customers who need help with #3: Facebook ad strategy. You know that a common customer pain point is not understanding how to set up a Facebook ad. So you decide to create a digital guide called 5 Simple Steps to Set Up Your First Facebook Ad, and you use it as an incentive on your sign up form. When people subscribe to receive this incentive, you send them the following automated email series:

Email 1: Here’s your free guide to Facebook ads!

In this email, you welcome subscribers to your email list and you give them your free guide 5 Simple Steps to Set Up Your First Facebook Ad.

Email 2: Why Facebook ads are the best way to acquire leads

This email proves that Facebook ads are worth investing in.

Email 3: Here’s how I helped one business earn $50,000 with Facebook ads

To demonstrate that your expert advice helps people get results, you share a case study that explains how you helped one business launch successful Facebook ads.

Email 4: Need help launching effective Facebook ads?

In the final email of your series, you sell your Facebook ad services. You explain that you can help the reader launch effective Facebook ads and grow their business. Then, you ask them to purchase a consultation session with you. This entire email series is based on a simple customer pain point. It’s effective because it positions the business’ service as a solution to that pain point.

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How to Keep GDPR Records of Consent for Your Subscribers

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requires that you can prove the nature of consent between you and your subscribers. That means you must keep comprehensive records of how subscribers joined your list if you want to comply with the law. But keeping records of consent for your subscribers can seem daunting, no matter what your email list size.  Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. Below are two simple ways you can keep records of how you collect subscribers’ personal data. Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only, and you should not consider it legal advice. We recommend that you seek legal and other professional counsel to determine exactly how the GDPR might apply to you.

Two key data points to record for GDPR consent

To prove you are GDPR compliant, you must be able to prove what a subscriber has consented to when signing up for your list. There are two parts to this:

  1. the sign up source (i.e. the webpage they visited to sign up)
  2. a copy of the form or mechanism they used to sign up at the time they subscribed

AWeber automatically records the sign up source within your subscribers’ records, so we have you covered there. But it’s a bit more complex to record a copy of the sign up form. Why? Because you may have more than one sign up form on your site, or you may change your form from time to time, making it difficult to show exactly what the sign up form looked like at the time of signup. The best way to record a copy of your sign up forms will depend on a few factors:

  1. Do you have have multiple email sign up forms?
  2. Do you regularly change your email sign up forms?
  3. Do you run split tests on your email sign up forms?

How you answer these questions will impact the way in which you keep records of your sign up forms. Related: Your GDPR + Email Marketing Playbook: How to Prepare for the EU Data Law

“I only have a single sign up form, and NEVER change it or run split tests on my form.”

If you have a single sign up form that never changes, you should be able to manually record it since all subscribers join your list the same way. Simply take a screenshot of the form using any commonly available software (like the Snipping Tool for Windows or Skitch for Mac) or a built-in feature on your Mac or PC. However, a screenshot doesn’t provide you with the destination of any links on the form, such as a link to a privacy policy. So note any such URL in an accompanying text file, or add it to the screenshot image using basic editing software (like Preview on Mac or Canva). Another alternative is to save the underlying HTML or Javascript code from your AWeber sign up form. To do this, simply copy and paste the code into a plain text file. Once you’ve created a record of your sign up form, save the file in multiple places, such as your computer, an external hard drive, and a cloud-based storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox. “What if I change the signup form later?” No problem. All you have to do is repeat the process above to make a new manual record, and add the details to your documentation. Be sure to retain the old record, too. Related: 6 Myths about the GDPR and Email Marketing Debunked

“I have multiple signup forms, I change my form regularly, or I run split tests on my forms.”

It would be a lot of work to manually record and manage multiple or changing signup forms, while also verifying which subscribers came through specific versions of the forms. In this case, we recommend using a service like optinopoli™ to automate the recording process. Note: In order to use optinopoli’s auto-recording feature, you’ll need to sign up for one of their paid accounts, which starts at $19 per month. AWeber is not an affiliate of optinopoli.

How to auto-record signup forms

optinopoli™, which integrates with AWeber, is a signup form tool designed to help you collect subscribers on your website and grow your list. Unlike other sign up form builders, it has the ability to automatically record the version of the sign up form used by each of your subscribers. Related: 9 Inspiring Sign Up Form Ideas to Grow Your Email List Here’s how it works to record your forms: For each new subscriber coming through an optinopoli™ form on your website, the app sends you a notification via email. These notifications are optional, but you’ll need to leave it on to take advantage of the auto-recording facility. I recommend setting up a filtered folder in your inbox make managing all of the notifications easier (and to save your inbox from getting clogged!). You can receive and store these notifications in there. Another alternative: Create a separate email account where these notifications can be sent and stored. Within the notification, you’ll see a link for the sign up form used. If you click the link, you’ll see the exact form used by the subscriber displayed in a new browser window. If you’re running a split test on your forms, the app will also record any variations of the form. You’ll get the record of the actual form used by the subscriber. Pro tip: Set the lead notifications to go to a cloud-based email account, such as Gmail, where the emails can be safely and permanently stored in the cloud. Once you’re set up with optinopoli™, be sure to test your new form and lead notification. Make sure your notification contains the link to the auto-recorded signup form. Following the steps outlined above enables you to keep comprehensive records of consent for your subscribers. Questions? Ask me below!

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