Email marketing involves sending commercial messages to a group of people via email to promote a product or service. It allows businesses to connect directly with customers and subscribers and build ongoing, personalized relationships.
When done correctly, email marketing can be a highly effective way for businesses of all sizes to generate revenue. In fact, some people make money from email marketing…by starting an email marketing business to help other companies.
By sending targeted, engaging email campaigns, you can promote sales, drive website traffic, and get new leads for your business. Read the rest of this guide to discover how you can use this powerful marketing tool to make money in your business.
Building Your Email List
Before you can make money with email marketing, you first have to build an email list. Here are the steps to take:
Step #1: Identify Your Target Audience: The first step to making money with email is identifying your target audience—who are the people most likely to buy what you sell? Get very specific about demographics like
- Age range
- Income level
- Goals, etc.
Research your existing customer base and create detailed buyer personas. This will allow you to tailor content and offers to what your subscribers care about most.
Step #2: Create a Lead Magnet: To convince subscribers to opt-in to your list, you need compelling incentives known as lead magnets. These are free, valuable resources like ebooks, coupons, checklists, guides, templates, discounts, and more, offered in exchange for an email address.
The lead magnet should provide immediate value and appeal to your audience. For example, if you sell yoga equipment, create a lead magnet like a free downloadable workout guide or meditation tutorial.
Step #3: Set Up Opt-in Forms: Place opt-in forms on your website pages, blog, landing pages, and social channels. They allow people to easily subscribe right where they engage with your content.
Make it a seamless, one-click process. Encourage signups by explaining the value of your email list and teasers about the lead magnet incentive, as in the example below from OptinMonster:
Step #4: Promote Your Lead Magnet: Social media ads and organic posts are a great way to get more leads. Run contests and giveaways. Collaborate with influencers in your niche to have them share and endorse your lead magnet to expose it to new potential subscribers.
Leverage forums, groups, and communities related to your industry. The key is getting your compelling offer in front of your target audience.
Email Content and Design
Now that building your email base is underway, it’s time to focus on content creation and email design.
Create Engaging Content
Crafting engaging and relevant content is crucial for email success. Offer a mix of valuable content tailored to your audience, such as
- Exclusive deals
- New product announcements
- Industry news
- Fun surveys, polls, or quizzes
… and more.
Sprinkle in some entertainment too, like jokes, stories, cartoons, and viral content. Do research and surveys to identify the types of content and information your audience wants most.
Use Personalization In Your Emails
Leverage personalization and segmentation to make content resonate. Personalize subject lines and content with first names, location, purchase history, etc. This boosts open and click-through rates dramatically.
Segment your list based on demographics, interests, and engagement. Create workflows to tailor content and offers to different segments automatically. For example, send new product updates to recent purchasers, industry news to highly engaged subscribers, and special discounts to inactive subscribers to re-engage them.
Choose Quality Email Designs and Layouts
Design is just as important as content. Over half of emails are opened on mobile devices, so responsive design is crucial.
Here are some additional tips to help you design emails that will get opened and read.
- Use scannable copy, including short paragraphs, bullet points, numbered lists, bolding, images, graphics, captions, animations, and ample white space for easy scanning on small screens. Ensure CTAs stand out and links are clickable on mobile. You must also avoid large files that are slow to load or render poorly.
- Continually test and optimize your email campaigns. Use A/B testing to experiment with different subject lines, content, design, segmentation, timing, frequency, and more to see which ones get the best open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.
- Refine based on the data. This optimization allows you to maximize the impact of your email efforts. Consider adding feedback surveys to emails as well to get direct input from subscribers on improving your approach.
Email Service Provider (ESP) Selection
Choosing the right ESP is essential for executing campaigns. Top providers include Mailchimp, Constant Contact, ConvertKit, AWeber, and Campaign Monitor.
Compare features like templates, automation, integrations, deliverability monitoring, list segmentation, analytics, etc, and then select one that best fits your needs, list size, and budget.
Once you’ve selected an ESP, it’s time to set up your account and configure key components like your sign-up forms, email design templates, and automation workflows for onboarding, series, re-engagement, etc.
Take advantage of available templates, drag-and-drop builders, and tools to ease and enhance creation.
Integrate your ESP with your website, payment processor, social media, live chat, landing page builder, and other marketing platforms. This streamlines data flows between systems for smoother execution and better tracking.
Most ESPs offer integrations and APIs to seamlessly connect different solutions, as shown in the example below from MailChimp. You can search through different categories, including analytics, content, booking, and scheduling.
Automation and Drip Campaigns
Automated email sequences are powerful tools that can increase engagement and sales while saving you time. Use your ESP’s workflow builder to set up sequences triggered by actions like
- Clicked links
- Date-based events
One key use is to create nurturing sequences or funnels that provide useful, relevant content and offer leads to move them down the path to becoming customers. For example, you might send tips for getting started after sign-up, a coupon after 2 weeks of engagement, and finally, a discount offer if they still haven’t purchased after 4 weeks.
You can also use the ESP’s automation features to bring inactive subscribers back into the fold with re-engagement sequences.
Set up automated win-back or reactivation campaigns that go out after certain periods of dormancy, like 30, 60, and 90 days. These can remind inactive subscribers of your brand and incentivize them to re-engage with personalized content or special promotions.
When building sequences, segment your lists to customize messages and workflows based on subscriber data like demographics, interests, purchase history, and more for greater impact. Recent purchasers may get different follow-up sequences than long-time subscribers.
Post-purchase follow-up sequences are also highly effective. New customers will appreciate tips and guidance for using the product, along with prompts to engage further with ratings, reviews, referrals, user-generated content, and more. This boosts satisfaction.
Continually monitor the performance of your automation campaigns using open, click-through, and conversion metrics. Refine your sequences over time, testing different triggers, content, offers, and design elements to maximize results. Automation is a process of continuous optimization.
Monetizing Your Email List
The great thing about starting email marketing is that it allows you to segment your lists and tailor messages to different groups based on their interests and buying habits.
This means the potential to directly convert emails into sales is immense. Even for small businesses with limited marketing budgets, email marketing can deliver excellent ROI and boost bottom lines.
Here are some of the most effective ways to make money with email marketing.
Promoting Your Products or Services
The most direct way to generate revenue is by promoting your products or services through targeted broadcasts, automated sequences, and campaigns tailored to your audience’s needs.
For example, you can share new product releases in a dedicated broadcast when you launch something you think your subscribers will love. Or you can create post-purchase sequences that offer special discounts to existing customers to incentivize repeat purchases.
Think strategically about your subscriber segments and what types of products or upgrades would appeal to each group based on their interests and purchase history. Then tailor your promotions around those insights for greater conversion rates.
Affiliate Marketing Through Email
Affiliate marketing works very well through email newsletters or automation. Take the time to curate and share affiliate links only to products, services, and resources that are highly relevant to your subscribers.
When readers make purchases through your affiliate links, you earn attractive commissions, often 10-20%. Use a service like ClickMeter to create trackable affiliate links and monitor your affiliate revenue generated through email campaigns.
Sponsored Content and Partnerships
You can generate income by working with complementary brands in your niche to run co-promotions. For example, you may send a sponsored email highlighting a relevant partner product and special discount exclusively for your list, in exchange for a healthy sponsor fee.
Or you could coordinate a cross-promotion where you promote their offer to your list at the same time they promote one of your offers to theirs.
Promoting Webinars, Courses, and Events
Promote paid webinars, online courses, in-person events, and other premium offerings through dedicated email sequences and broadcast sends.
Email marketing is highly effective for driving registrations and ticket sales for profit-generating virtual and offline events. You can get very targeted with sequences that promote an event to engaged subscribers first before blasting it to other segments. Post-event, follow up with sequences reinforcing the value gained and promoting related offers.
Tracking and Analytics
Monitoring key metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates provides crucial performance data to optimize your email marketing.
Most email service providers (ESPs) have built-in reporting dashboards that let you analyze these metrics for both individual campaigns and your overall email program. Review regularly to catch any drops or spikes.
Look for patterns and preferences you can leverage in future campaigns. Also, monitor unsubscribe rates to identify any sudden spikes that may indicate delivery issues or content misses.
Spot broader engagement trends around optimal timing, frequency, and other factors that you can incorporate. Use all of these together to help you make data-driven optimization decisions to boost email performance.
Run A/B split tests on variables like subject lines, email content, design, segmentation, timing, frequency, and more. Send one version to a test group, and another to a control group and see which generates higher open rates, clicks, and conversions.
Implement the top-performing version moving forward. Continually experiment and refine your approach based on real performance data to maximize the impact of your email marketing efforts over time.
Compliance and Legal Considerations
It’s important to understand and comply with key email marketing regulations. The CAN-SPAM Act in the US requires that emails include factual subject lines and sender info, identification as an ad, and a functional opt-out process in each message. Violations can lead to legal penalties.
The GDPR in the EU has strict requirements around obtaining clear consent, allowing opt-outs at any time, limiting data sharing, and securing and protecting user data. Know both sets of guidelines thoroughly to ensure compliance.
Having a clear, easy unsubscribe option in every email is essential for CAN-SPAM compliance. Many email service providers (ESPs) can automatically manage unsubscribes. But also monitor your list for opt-outs regularly and immediately remove any unsubscribed contacts so you never inadvertently send them again. Honor unsubscribe requests promptly per regulations.
Scaling Your Email Marketing Efforts
Here are a few key strategies for growing your email list over time.
1. Run giveaways and contests to incentivize sign-ups. Promote your lead magnets through social media channels, paid ads, and influencer partnerships to expand your reach. Guest posts on complementary brands’ blogs and offer an opt-in to your list for interested readers.
2. Continue testing and optimizing. Test and optimize your lead capture forms, pages, and flows using metrics like cost per lead. Refine your lead magnet offers over time. Develop new lead magnets to appeal to different audience segments. Automate multi-step welcome sequences to engage and retain new subscribers.
3. Cross-promote to existing subscribers. As your business expands into new products, services, or content categories, leverage email to cross-promote to existing subscribers. For example, if a subscriber purchased your ebook on social media marketing, they may be interested in your new ebook on SEO. Send targeted sequences showcasing relevant new offerings to customers who are likely to convert. This maximizes the value of your current list.
4. Use Advanced Scaling Strategies. Once your list size is more considerable, advanced strategies can help take results to the next level. Consider building an affiliate program to empower others to promote your offerings for commission. Incorporate AI to make data-driven subscriber recommendations. Recruit influencers in complementary niches to expand your ambassador network. Carefully evaluate new channels like SMS marketing.
Common Pitfalls and Challenges
Identifying and Avoiding Common Mistakes
There are a few key mistakes to avoid when executing email campaigns.
- Using deceptive or exaggerated subject lines can lead to spam complaints and unsubscribes.
- Purchasing email lists without having explicit opt-in consent violates CAN-SPAM regulations.
- Emailing people without their permission causes recipients to mark messages as spam.
- Neglecting required compliance information like sender details, postal address, or opt-out links in messages also causes issues.
- Additionally, sending overly frequent and irrelevant content, especially to disengaged subscribers, hinders deliverability as recipients report emails as spam.
- Sharing subscriber data without explicit permission fails to comply with GDPR rules. Avoid these common but serious missteps in your email program.
Addressing Email Deliverability Issues
Deliverability challenges, where emails end up blocked or in spam folders, present another obstacle.
Work with a reputable email service provider and follow best practices around list quality, message content, frequency, and sender behaviors to maintain a good domain and sender reputation.
Closely monitor key metrics like bounce rates, spam complaints, and non-delivers. Take prompt action if deliverability declines by troubleshooting with your ESP, cleaning your list, and further optimizing campaigns to send emails at the best time. Email deliverability takes work but pays dividends in subscriber trust.
Email marketing remains an extremely effective channel when executed correctly. Once you’ve grown your list, you can monetize it through promotions, affiliates, and partnerships, and then scale your efforts as you expand into new offerings.
Following this strategic blueprint will empower you to generate significant revenue from email while keeping subscribers happy and engaged.