Email Marketing: The Definitive Guide

This is the ultimate guide to email marketing in 2019.

So if you want to:

  • Build your email list
  • Improve your open rates
  • Write awesome newsletters
  • Turn more subscribers into customers

Then you’ll love this new guide.

Let’s get started.

Email Marketing: The Definitive Guide

About The Author

Brian Dean

Hey, I’m Brian Dean.

When I launched my first website I put ZERO effort into building my email list.

And it’s one of the main reasons that my site struggled.

So when I launched Backlinko a few years later, I decided to focus 100% on email.

And it worked!

Today, I have over 144,648 subscribers on my list:

Subscriber count

And over the last 3 years I’ve sent out over 11 million newsletter emails:

Over 11 million newsletter emails sent over 3 years

Needless to say, when it comes to email marketing, I know what I’m talking about.

And in today’s guide I’m going to show you everything I’ve learned.

Chapter 1:Email Marketing Fundamentals

Email Marketing Fundamentals

In this chapter we’re going to cover the basics of email marketing.

(Including how it works and why it’s still important in 2019)

I’ll also show you how email has helped countless businesses grow by leaps and bounds.

What Is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is the practice of reaching prospects and customers via mass emailing. Common email-based marketing messages include email newsletters, promotional campaigns and event announcements.

The #1 thing that makes email unique compared to SEO and social media is that you have a direct line to your audience.

Email marketing gives you a direct line to your audience

But with new platforms like Tik Tok and LinkedIn Live on the rise, does old school email still work?

Let’s find out…

Does Email Marketing Still Work In 2019?

I’m not going to bore you with a million stats.

Instead, I’m going to quickly show you why email marketing still works GREAT.

The average email subscriber is worth $37.66 (DMA).

The average value of an email subscriber

Email marketing’s ROI is 38:1 (Litmus).

Email marketing's ROI is 38:1

This super high ROI is probably why 86% of marketers consider email “important” or “very important” (DMA).

Importance of email marketing to organizations

Why Email Marketing Still Works

Why does email still work so well?

#1: With Email, You Own The Distribution

This is a big one.

When a new subscriber signs up to your list, you have a direct line to that person’s inbox.

That’s simply not the case with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… or any other social media platform.

In fact, a 2019 study found that Facebook organic engagement plummeted to less than 1% (RivalQ).

Facebook organic engagement was less than 1% in 2019

Contrast that number to the engagement rate you get from email.

The average newsletter open rate is 20.81%… 20x higher than Facebook post engagement (MailChimp).

Email has higher engagement rates than Facebook

#2: People WANT to To Get Marketing Messages via Email

People don’t go on social media to see ads.

In fact, 45% of consumers report that social media ads are annoying (AdWeek).

High numbers of consumers find social media ads annoying

On the other hand, people don’t mind marketing messages in their inbox. In fact, they expect them.

For example, one study found that 86% of consumers prefer to get email-based marketing messages over Facebook ads, TV commercials and display ads (HubSpot).

Email and sponsored ads generate the most neutral response

#3: Email Converts REALLY Well

Sure, email has a better reach than social. But does that translate into more sales?

Yup!

In fact, when it comes to turning browsers into buyers, nothing beats email.

Email converts 40x more leads into customers than Facebook and Twitter combined (McKinsey).

Email converts 40X better than Twitter and Facebook

A third of people that subscribe to a retailer’s newsletter end up making a purchase (eMarketer).

1/3 of subscribers to retail newsletters make a purchase

These stats are nice and all. But you’re probably wondering:

“How do I get started with email marketing?”.

Well, that’s what our next chapter is all about…

Chapter 2:How to Build Your Email List

How to Build Your Email List

In this chapter I’m going to show you exactly how to build your email list using strategies that are working right now (in 2019).

In fact:

These are the same exact list building techniques that I used to grow my email list to 144,648 total subscribers.

Let’s do this!

Optimize Your About Page for Conversions

If you’re like most people, your about page is one of the most-visited pages on your website.

Even better:

The people that go to your about page usually like you.

Which means they’re PRIMED to subscribe.

So I recommend putting at least one email sign up form on your about page.

For example, my friend James Clear (who has over 500k subscribers) includes a form at the bottom of his about page.

James Clear – Form

My about page is on the long side… so I use two forms:

Backlinko About forms

Create Squeeze Pages

If you’re serious about building your email list you NEED a squeeze page.

(In other words: a page designed to convert visitors into email subscribers).

Here’s an example from my site:

Backlinko – Newsletter page

As you can see, this page doesn’t give you many options. It’s completely focused on the offer (signing up for my newsletter). Which is why it converts at 14%.

Newsletter conversion rate

If you want to take this to the next level, you can create different squeeze pages for different audiences.

For example, HubSpot has 463 different squeeze pages. Each one offers a different lead magnet.

Squeeze page collage

Speaking of lead magnets…

Create Compelling Lead Magnets

Lead Magnets are the lifeblood of any list building campaign.

Why?

It’s REALLY hard to get someone to sign up for a “newsletter” or “21-day email course”. Instead, you need to offer people something they can use right away.

I’m talking about:

  • Checklists
  • Ebooks
  • Swipe files
  • Case studies
  • Templates
  • Videos

In other words:

The more valuable your lead magnet, the more signups you’ll get.

For example, 100 Days of Real Food offers up a full meal plan as a lead magnet:

5 real meals

Optimize Your Blog’s Homepage for Email Signups

Most blog homepages look something like this:

Normal blog homepage design

A list of their latest blog posts.

And hey, there’s nothing wrong with a blog post feed.

But if you want people to subscribe to your email list, you need to put your offer front and center.

In other words:

Design your blog’s homepage to convert readers into subscribers.

For example, my old homepage was your typical blog feed.

Backlinko – Old blog

And it converted HORRIBLY.

That’s when I realized that most of the big sites (like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook) don’t feature content on their homepages.

Instead, their homepages are optimized for signups.

Pinterest – Login

So I decided to try the same thing.

The result? This new homepage.

Backlinko – Current homepage

My old blog feed homepage converted at 4.6%. The new one? 9.01%.

Old .vs New homepage conversion

95% better than my old homepage.

Legit.

Exit-Intent Popups

I’ll be the first to admit it:

I HATE popups.

In fact, I hate them so much that I swore I’d stop using them.

LinkedIn – Popups comment

Then one day I realized something:

Not all popups are created equal.

In other words, there’s a BIG difference between a popup that attacks you the second you land on the page…

… and one that offers something of value as you leave.

So about 6 months ago I decided to try popups again.

This time, I’d ONLY use exit-intent popups. And I’d ONLY offer super valuable stuff.

That way, I’m not annoying people with crap nobody wants, like this:

Annoying popup

Here’s the popup my team came up with:

YouTube Toolkit popup

Not only does it offer something cool, but this popup only appears if you’re leaving the site anyway.

 

That way, you’re not distracted from the content on the page.

So, how did the new popup do?

Before the popup my site’s overall conversion rate was 3.55%. After the exit-intent popup it shot up to 6.14% (a 72.9% increase).

Conversion rate before and after using exit intent popup

Very cool.

Use Content Upgrades

Content Upgrades are one of my all-time favorite list building strategies.

In fact, a single Content Upgrade boosted conversions on one of my blog posts by 755.2%.

Goal conversion rate

Here’s the exact process:

First, log in to Google Analytics. And find a blog post on your site that gets a ton of traffic.

Analytics – Page list

Next, figure out what someone reading that specific article would want.

For example, this guide gets 8,578 visitors every month:

Keyword Research post – Sessions

The problem is: it’s 4,623 words. That’s WAY too long for most people to read in one sitting.

Which is probably why lots of people asked me for a PDF version.

PDF request

So I decided that a PDF version of my guide would make a great Content Upgrade.

Finally, feature your Content Upgrade in your post.

You can offer it at the top of the page:

PDF CTA

At the bottom of your page:

What to do next

Or both.

That’s all there is to it.

Chapter 3:Email Campaign Templates

Email Campaign Templates

Now it’s time to show you how to create emails that get opened and clicked.

Specifically, I’m going to share four proven email templates.

These templates are specifically designed to help you crank out super valuable email content that your subscribers will love.

So if you’re ready to start sending emails that people WANT to read, this chapter is for you.

The Content Newsletter

The Content Newsletter is a newsletter that provides 100% pure value.

The value can be in the form of a handful of tips. Or links to helpful resources. Or a personal story.

The exact type of value doesn’t really matter. As long as you don’t pitch anything, you’re good.

In fact, pure value newsletters are so rare that your subscribers will LOVE you for them.

For example, I sent out this Content Newsletter a while back:

How to create content – Email

(A handful of copywriting tips)

And dozens of people replied to my email to thank me.

Email collage

With that, here’s the template:

The Content Newsletter

Intriguing Subject Line

Use a subject line that will make someone curious about what’s inside your message.

For example, I used the subject line “How I Got 45.5% More Traffic (In 7 Days)” for one of my Content Newsletters. And that email got a 32.3% open rate.

How I got traffic – Subject line

Bold Opening

Start your newsletter off with something SUPER compelling.

That way, you hook your reader right off the bat.

Personally, I like to kick things off with a mini story.

Backlinko – Personal story email

But you can also use a straightforward intro that previews what’s coming next.

Backlinko email – Straightforward intro

Either way works.


Valuable Content

Now it’s time to deliver the goods.

If you’re not sure what to write here, I recommend going with a list of 3-5 actionable tips that people can use that day.

Otherwise, you can teach your subscribers an important lesson in the form of a story.

Backlinko email – Story

Or curate links to content that will help your reader achieve a specific outcome, like this newsletter from Ramit Sethi.

Email links

CTA

Nope, you’re not pitching anything in your Content Newsletter.

But that doesn’t mean you should skip your call-to-action.

So:

How can you use a CTA if your email is 100% value?

Well, when I send out a story to subscribers, I use a CTA that asks people to reply with their opinion or take.

End with a CTA

Or let’s say you just sent out a list of links to Paleo breakfast recipes.

Your CTA could be to try one of the recipes this week.

The type of CTA you go with isn’t that important.

The important thing is to always include a CTA in your newsletters.

That way, when you DO pitch something, your subscribers aren’t caught off guard.

The Marketing Offer

The Marketing offer is just like it sounds:

It’s an email that pushes your subscribers to make a purchase.

(Usually in the form of a limited-time sale).

Here’s the template to follow:

The Marketing Offer

Straightforward Subject Line

No need to be super creative.

Instead, just let people know about your offer.

Here’s an example from Red Dress Boutique.

Red Dress – Subject line

The Offer

Start your email off with a line or two that describes your offer.

You don’t want to get cute here. Just outline what your offer is and why it’s worth paying attention to.

Email intro – Offer

The Details

So you just outlined your offer. Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty.

Here’s where you outline a few key details about your offer, like:

  • Start and end dates
  • Key benefits
  • Story behind the promo
  • Any conditions or limitations

Here’s a real-life example:

Babyletto – Offer

One thing to keep in mind here is that you don’t want to overwhelm people with details.

Remember: it’s impossible to close the deal inside of your email. After all, they have to actually go to your site to buy. So let your landing page do most of the selling.

In short: the goal of this section is to get people to learn about your offer and visit your website.


The CTA

Nothing fancy here. Just a strong CTA that lets people know exactly what to do next.

Shop now – CTA

The PS

A PS is an underrated little tactic that can easily double your conversion rate.

Why?

Because lots of people will skim your message… but stop and read your PS word-for-word.

That’s why I recommend using a PS in almost all Marketing Offer emails. All you need to do here is summarize your offer and include another call-to-action.

"PS" CTA

The Announcement

With “The Announcement” email you’re not pitching a “10% Off Sale”. That type of thing works best with The Marketing Offer template I just showed you.

Instead, you want to save this template for BIG announcements, like:

  • Brand new product or service
  • Live event
  • New version of a popular product
  • Limited-time product release
  • Important features added to an existing product

Here’s the template:

The Announcement

Subject Line=”Introducing” or “Announcing”

You want to make it clear that your announcement is a big deal.

After all, you’ll probably only send one or two Announcement emails per year.

So don’t be afraid to use terms like “Introducing” or “For the first time” in your subject line.

For example, here’s the subject line I used when I launched a new version of my flagship course:

SEO That Works email – Subject

Compelling Lead

You have a few different options here.

You can jump right into your product announcement:

SEO That Works email – Intro

Or you can build up a little bit of anticipation, like Marie Forleo does here:

Marie Forleo email – Build anticipation

The Big Reveal

Now it’s time to outline what exactly you’re announcing and why it’s important.

For example, in this announcement email BuzzSumo quickly outlines what makes their new feature unique.

BuzzSumo – Offer outline

Clear CTA

Now that your reader is pumped about your announcement, let them know the next step.

If it’s a product, your CTA should tell people to head over to your sales page and sign up.

If it’s a new service, you might ask people to fill out a form.

Either way, let your subscriber know EXACTLY what to do next.

The Blog Post Newsletter

When it comes to content promotion, email is king.

For example, I published this post earlier this year.

SEO Strategy page

And to get the word out, I sent a newsletter out to my email list:

SEO Strategy – Email

I also posted a Tweet.

SEO Strategy – Announcement tweet

The Tweet got 962 clicks. And the newsletter got 15,744 clicks.

Blog Post Newsletter .vs. Tweet

That’s 16x more clicks.

With that, here’s the template I recommend:

The Blog Post Newsletter

Subject Line=Blog Post Topic

I’ve tested dozens of subject line templates over the last six years.

And when it comes to promoting blog content, I’ve found that your blog post topic itself works GREAT.

For example, when I launched this guide to mobile SEO, I went with the subject line: “Mobile SEO”.

And that dead simple subject line led to a 44.6% open rate.

Mobile SEO – Open rate

The Lead

The type of lead you use depends a lot on your blog post’s topic.

For example, if the topic is something personal, include an anecdote:

GrowthLab email – Personal anecdote

If it’s newsworthy, you want to write something like: “As you might have heard, a new study found…”.

Or you can just let people know that you published something new:

Email announcing something new

Bulleted List

Next, list 3-4 things that someone will learn from your post.

Don’t give away the farm here. Instead, you want to build up excitement for your new content.

Here’s an example from one of my newsletters:

Mobile SEO – Email

Link To The Post

Finally, add a link to your post.

This can be a normal link:

Text link to post

Or a big ol’ button:

Blue CTA

Chapter 4:How to Get Super High Open Rates

How to Get Super High Open Rates

Now it’s time for me to show you how to get SUPER high open rates.

In fact, I consistently get 35%+ open rates on newsletters that go out to 100k+ subscribers.

(Which is double the industry average for a list that size)

Let’s get right into the strategies.

Optimize Your Send Time

You want to send emails…

  • When people are awake
  • When people’s inboxes aren’t crowded

That’s why I DON’T recommend scheduling newsletters for first thing in the morning.

Otherwise, your message gets buried in someone’s crowded inbox.

Don't schedule newsletters for first thing in the morning

Instead, send your emails out when your subscribers’ inboxes are empty. This is usually late morning or early afternoon.

That way, your newsletter will pop up at the top of their inbox.

Send newsletters when your subscribers' inboxes are empty

That said:

There’s no “best time to send an email” that works for everyone.

You need to test different send times to see which times get the highest open rates for you.

For example, after testing a dozen different send times, I found that 11am Eastern works best for our subscribers.

11am Eastern is perfect because people on the east coast and in Europe are at work. And by 11am they’ve already cleared out their morning inboxes.

That said, Backlinko is B2B.

If you’re in B2C, it might not make sense to send to people’s personal inboxes while they’re at work.

Again, it’s different for every business.

That’s why I recommend testing a bunch of different times to find the best one for you.

Send People a GREAT Welcome Email

Most welcome emails look something like this:

Generic Welcome email

As my Mom told me: “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”.

And this type of welcome email makes a TERRIBLE first impression.

So:

What should you do instead?

First, warmly welcome people to your newsletter.

Welcome text in email

It’s not 1996. No one is excited to sign up for a newsletter.

In fact, new subscribers are on guard. They’re looking for ANY reason to unsubscribe.

Reassure them. Let them know that they made the right decision.

Next, layout the deets of your newsletter.

Specifically, cover what they can expect in the next few days or weeks.

Cover publishing expectations

Finally, end with a call-to-action.

This can be a CTA to check out a few resources from your site that you recommend. Or a link to your latest products.

For example, when I first started Backlinko I asked new subscribers to reply with their #1 struggle:

End with a CTA

Not only was this a goldmine of blog content ideas, but it helped me establish a strong relationship with new subscribers.

Friendly email

Remember: These are brand new subscribers. So you don’t want a hard sell CTA.

But you DO want to get them in the habit of taking action.

So don’t skip this step.

Follow “The 80/20 Rule” of Email Content

The 80/20 Rule of Email Content is simple:

80% of your emails should provide value.

And 20% should pitch your products and services.

Follow the 80/20 rule

For example, I usually send about 10 pure-value messages for every sales email.

That way, I don’t burn out my list.

And my subscribers know that when I send something, it’s worth opening.

(Which, at the end of the day, is the real secret to increasing open rates).

To be clear:

“Value” doesn’t have to be in the form of content.

For example, let’s say you run an ecommerce site that sells paleo protein bars.

Well, a 25% off sale for your new line of bars is valuable to people that are in the market for them.

Even so, it’s not a bad idea for ecommerce sites to send value-packed newsletters too.

For example:

Value-packed email from ecommerce site

Optimize For Gmail’s Preview Snippet

When someone’s deciding whether or not to open an email, they look at three things:

  • The subject line
  • The sender
  • The message preview
Optimize for Gmail's preview snippet

Most people sleep on the preview. And it KILLS their open rates.

In fact, your message preview is like a second subject line.

And if it looks like this, you’re in trouble:

Poor preview snippet

That’s why you want to optimize the first few lines of your message so it looks SUPER enticing.

Here’s a great example:

Bryan Harris – Enticing emails

Chapter 5:How to Improve Email Deliverability

How to Improve Email Deliverability

Let’s face it:

Email deliverability isn’t the most interesting topic in the world.

Most marketers would rather spend time building their email list or coming up with catchy subject lines.

But in my opinion, email deliverability is THE most important part of email marketing.

After all:

What good is an email list if no one actually sees your emails?

And in this chapter you’re going to learn how to get your emails delivered to people’s inbox.

Ruthlessly Delete Non-Openers

A few years ago I had a MAJOR deliverability problem on my hands.

My open rates went from 40% to 30% to less than 20%… within a few months.

It got so bad that some of my newsletters were getting 15% open rates:

Low open rate

And lots of subscribers were telling me that my newsletters were going to spam.

Emails going to spam – Notification

No matter how many different subject lines I tested or how many tweaks I made to my content, nothing seemed to help.

But there was one thing I hadn’t tried yet. Something I’d been putting off for months:

List hygiene.

In other words: deleting unengaged subscribers.

I had to try it. I couldn’t let my open rates continue to freefall.

So I logged into Aweber and deleted any subscriber that hadn’t opened an email in the last 4 months.

This meant deleting 28,018 subscribers from my email list.

Email list size

Did it hurt to delete those hard-earned subscribers?

Yup.

Did it work?

Heck yeah!

A few weeks later my open rates shot up like a rocketship.

Higher open rate

Today, I delete any subscriber that hasn’t opened or clicked on an email in 4 months.

And it’s one of the main reasons that I have an outstanding deliverability rate.

Keep Spam Complaints Low

Email services like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook take spam complaints VERY seriously.

As they should.

If lots of people are marking your emails as spam, it sends a clear message that people don’t want to read your emails.

The question is:

How can you lower your spam complaints?

Well, there’s the obvious stuff… like sending great emails.

But you already knew that 🙂

Besides the obvious, here are two quick tips that I’ve picked up over the years.

Tips that have helped my spam complaint rate stay insanely low (approximately 10 complaints per 100k emails):

Backlinko email – Low complaint rate

First, make it REALLY easy to unsubscribe.

In other words, don’t be “that guy”:

Tiny "Unsubscribe" link

If you make someone hunt for an unsubscribe link, they’re going to give up and hit the spam button instead.

Instead, make your unsubscribe link super obvious:

Obvious "Unsubscribe" link

Second, don’t send a bazillion emails.

The fact is, most people hit “Spam” out of frustration.

(Especially for newsletters that they signed up for)

And nothing frustrates people more than a non-stop barrage of emails.

So if you send more than one email per week, consider condensing that content into a single, weekly email.

(Note: There are exceptions to this rule. For example: you may want to send 5 emails in 5 days for a big promotion or limited-time product launch. Just don’t make daily emails a habit unless that’s what people signed up for)

Test Short Subject Lines

Here’s something I recently noticed:

Newsletter with super short subject lines get the best open rates.

For example, the subject line “Great Content” got a 42.7% open rate:

"Great Content" subject line – Email open rate

This could be due to the simple fact that short subject lines get more opens than long subject lines.

But I have another theory:

Short subject lines help deliverability.

Here’s why:

Spam filters flag messages that contain certain words and phrases. And they put lots of emphasis on the subject line.

So the more words you use in your subject, the more likely one of them will get flagged:

Long subject lines can result in poor deliverability

But when you use short subject lines, you’re much less likely to get caught in the filter.

Short subject lines are less likely to get caught in spam filters

Again, this is just a theory. I have no concrete proof that short subject lines get through spam filters more often.

But if you’re having deliverability issues, it’s something worth trying out.

Use Double Opt-In

When it comes to the Single Opt-in vs. Double Opt-in debate, there’s no “right’ answer.

If your #1 goal is to maximize the sheer size of your list, Single Opt-in is obviously the way to go.

But if you want to maximize engagement and deliverability, I recommend Double Opt-in.

I’m a deliverability nut, so I personally use Double Opt-in. But it’s ultimately up to you.

MailChimp

Mailchimp

You can use MailChimp to send simple newsletters. Or it can be a full marketing automation platform that taps into behavior-based messages and cart abandonment emails.

It’s one of the few platforms that lets you keep it simple. But if you do want to dig into more complicated stuff, you can.

Pricing is free up to 2k subscribers (with limited features). Their pro plans start at $10/month.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact

With a focus on drag-and-drop design and ecommerce platform integration, Constant Contact is definitely focused on the ecommerce market. That said, quite a few bloggers, nonprofits and service businesses use it too.

So if you run an ecommerce site, you might want to give Constant Contact a spin.

Plans range from $20-$45 and up depending on how many subscribers you have.

ConvertKit

ConvertKit

ConvertKit came out of nowhere to become one of the most popular email marketing platforms on the planet.

One thing that makes ConvertKit unique is that 100% of its features are focused on helping “Online Creators”.

(Like bloggers, artists and musicians)

So if you fall in that category, you can’t go wrong with ConvertKit.

Like most ESPs, pricing is based on subscriber numbers. Plans start at $29 for a list less than 1,000 subscribers. They also offer a 14-day free trial.

SendFox

SendFox

SendFox is a new email service provider created by Sumo founder Noah Kagan. It’s designed to make tasks like managing subscribers, writing emails and automations super duper simple.

It also has a landing page builder. Looks pretty cool so far.

GetResponse

GetResponse

GetResponse includes the features you’d expect from an ESP (like autoresponders and marketing automation).

Plans also come with email marketing tools that actually help you build your list (like landing page software and popups).

Plans start at $15/month with limited functionality. And there’s a full 30-day trial.

Aweber

Aweber

Aweber is the king of simplicity. Which is why I use it.

Sure, they have some marketing automation stuff. But it’s pretty basic compared to most other ESPs. And their reporting leaves a lot to be desired.

But if you want simple and reliable software for sending newsletters and autoresponder emails, you can’t beat Aweber.

Paid plans start at $19/month. And you can test out any plan with a 30-day free trial as long as your list has fewer than 25k subscribers.

Chapter 7:Marketing Automation 101

Marketing Automation 101

A lot of people consider marketing automation “the next big thing” in digital marketing.

Is it true?

Kind of.

No, marketing automation isn’t going to magically double your sales.

Like any tool, automation is all about how you use it.

When you use it right, you can get your messages in front of the right people at the right time.

Which is MUCH better than mass emailing your entire list with the same exact message.

How to Create Awesome Autoresponder Sequences

Autoresponder sequences are like marketing automation training wheels.

So if you’re brand new to automation, I recommend getting your feet wet with a simple autoresponder sequence.

Now:

The content of your autoresponder will be completely different for a blog vs. an ecommerce site vs. a SaaS company.

But they all have the same basic structure:

Autoresponder sequence structure

Once you get the hang of creating a basic autoresponder, you can try using different autoresponders for different people.

For example:

Let’s say you run a SaaS company that helps people make doctor’s appointments.

And you have two types of people that visit your site: doctors and patients.

Does it make sense to put a doctor and a patient in the same autoresponder?

Nope!

Instead, you want to create a different autoresponder for each group:

Multiple autoresponder sequence structure

You might be wondering:

“How do you know if a doctor or a patient is signing up for my list?”

Well, you can go by the page they sign up on. Anyone that signs up from “register for a doctor account” page is probably a doctor. So you can automatically put them on that autoresponder.

You can also ask people which group they belong to during the signup process:

Ask people which group they belong to during the signup process

Set Up Segmentation

Segmentation is another easy way to get started with marketing automation.

Instead of putting people on different autoresponders, you segment (or “tag”) subscribers based on behavior.

Then, send those segments SUPER targeted content.

For example:

When I first launched our new YouTube training program, First Page Videos, we announced it to the entire Backlinko email list.

First Page Videos – Announcement email

My thought process was:

“YouTube marketing is blowing up right now. Anyone that’s interested in SEO will probably want to grow their YouTube channel too.”

But I was wrong.

As it turned out, a good chunk of my subscribers had ZERO interest in YouTube.

So the next time we launched I course, I decided to use segmentation. That way, we’d ONLY send emails to people that cared about YouTube marketing.

To do that, I sent our entire list an invitation to a new training series about YouTube SEO.

YouTube SEO training series – Announcement email

But to get access to the series, subscribers had to raise their hand and say: “I’m interested”.

Explicit opt-in via link

And because we sent messages to people that wanted to receive them, we had an awesome conversion rate for that launch.

Test Full Marketing Automation Campaigns

Let me be clear about something:

Marketing automation has a ton of potential.

But the downside of automation is that things can get REALLY complicated REALLY quickly.

Before you know it, you need a PhD to understand what’s going on.

Marketing automation can get complicated

So if you’re new to email marketing, focus on building your list and sending subscribers AWESOME content.

And once you have a handle on that, set up an autoresponder.

And once you have a handle on that, use tags to segment your list into 2-3 different groups.

Then, once you feel like you’ve completely mastered tagging, try full-on email automation.

This means hyper-targeted messages based on opens, clicks, pages visited, past purchases, demographics, time on site, and lots more.

For example:

Let’s say you run an ecommerce site that sells grain-free dog food.

And when a new subscriber signed up they chose “Dachshund” from your “What breed of dog do you own?” question.

Have new subscribers self-segment on signup

A few days later that person put a bag of dog food into their cart… then closed the page.

Well, with marketing automation, you could go beyond the generic “You forgot something” abandoned cart message.

Instead, you can send them a “new customer discount” for 20% off their first purchase. And you can mention the fact that Dachshunds LOVE the product they had in their cart.

Marketing automation allows you to use customized abandoned cart messages

Pretty cool.

Bonus Chapter:Advanced Email Marketing Strategies

Advanced Email Marketing Strategies

In this chapter I’m going to share a handful of advanced tactics that I’ve picked up over the years.

So if you’re ready to get more from your email marketing campaigns, this chapter is for you.

Let’s dive right in.

Try Text Email Layouts

Nathan Barry said it best:

“Beautiful email templates are bad for business.”

And he’s 100% right.

Fancy design does nothing but distract people from the content of your message.

Instead, I recommend sending emails that look like they came from a friend or coworker.

Here’s a great example from Dan Martell:

Dan Martell – Email

This email could EASILY have a logo, header and other nonsense.

But Dan decided to send a newsletter that’s super simple.

Nice.

Keep Things Personal

Most emails get ignored because they’re boring and generic.

What’s the solution?

Make your emails look like they’re written and sent from a single person.

(Yup, even if you’re a big brand with thousands of employees).

For example, HubSpot is a publicly traded company with hundreds of employees.

But even they send their newsletters from Aja, someone that writes for their blog.

Personalized emails

That way, you feel like Aja just sent you an email… not a faceless brand.

One CTA Per Email

Want to improve your email click-through-rate?

Use ONE CTA per email.

In fact, WordStream reports that emails with a single CTA can boost clicks by 371%.

In other words, don’t send emails with a million options.

Instead, give subscribers ONE crystal clear option.

Snappa email with one option

Use 15px+ Font

According to Litmus, 67% of all email messages are opened on mobile.

67% of all email messages are opened on mobile

And one of the easiest ways to make your newsletters mobile-optimized?

Use a big font.

(Ideally, 15px+).

Unfortunately, most newsletters still use 12-13px font.

This is fine for desktops.

But 12px font is almost impossible to read on an iPhone without pinching and zooming.

For example, look at the difference between these two newsletters:

Font size mobile

Same content. Same formatting. Different font size.

And a world of difference.

Now It’s Your Turn

Your Turn

I really hope you enjoyed my complete guide to email marketing.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

Which technique from today’s guide are you going to try first?

Are you going to start using 15px font?

Or maybe you want to try marketing automation.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

234 Comments

  1. I’m always motivated to give away more value when I see how much you are willing to share with your readership. Thanks for the helpful information you offer with this guide.

    1. That was insane, Dean.
      I’m going to use all this tips with my little community.

      Thank you, and keep the work going!!

  2. Thank you Brian for this thourough article!
    Indeed E-mailing marketing is so important in 2019! And it converts way more than Facebook or any othersocial media platform. That’s a direct way to engage with the audience without being too pushy of course.
    We have noticed that using a bigger fonts increases the time on page on the website, but I never made the experience to apply a 15 pt font on my newsletter! Definitely a must try:) Have a great day!

    1. Hi Sarah, you’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed the post. I actually used to use 12px but realized that 15px also works well for newsletters.
      I might even go up to 16px soon.

      1. Another great post! I did a mobile test on the various email autoresponder software mentioned, to test on their text content appearance. Convertkit, aweber looks great on mobile. Dripe, sendgrid & mailchimp looks too big. And the rest are just too small. You are right, font size on mobile plays an important part.

  3. Is there an advantage to deleting email addresses over, say, limiting what you send to them?

    We routinely move infrequent openers into a low-engagement segment, and that segment doesn’t get most of the emails we send.

    But if there is something that performs really well across the board (a slam dunk), we’ll include the low-engagement segment.

    Something to think about.

    1. The advantage is that they don’t drag down your engagement rates (which can hurt deliverability). Like you said, some of those low-engagement folks may still have value. So it can make sense to segment them or run a re-engagement campaign. Personally, I prefer to delete them.

      We found that if someone hasn’t opened any of our emails in 4+ months, they’re probably gone for good anyway.

  4. Hi Brian, thanks for this awesome guide. I’ve been searching for such a guide for the past week without finding one. I’ll follow it and build my list. Thanks once again!

        1. Nice. I tried Mailchimp back in the day and Convertkit more recently. I agree: both are solid and relatively easy to use (compared to stuff like Keap/Infusionsoft).

  5. In-depth as Always 🙂
    Loved It!!!!
    Really admire how you create a story around your content in the email…like in the case when you were pitching your YouTube guides saying that many of your Subscribers found you on YouTube.

    1. You’re welcome, Arthur. I might. I like to keep things simple and avoid most complex funnels and automation stuff. But if I dip my toes into that world I’ll definitely share what I learn with everybody.

  6. Brian, thank you for another awesome guide. I am wondering what advice you would have for someone who makes handmade crafts (think jewelry, for example) rather than selling a service? I have a new shop on Etsy, it’s really a hobby, but many folks are leaving Etsy because of how they are strong-arming sellers. I feel like developing my own email list of customers is a better way to go than hoping Etsy “promotes” my shop, but not sure how to apply your tips to my sort of business. I don’t currently have a personal website (I am a UX designer by day), I do blog on Tumblr and use Instagram.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts!

    1. Hi Chris, you’re welcome. The first step would be to get your own website. Otherwise, it’s going to be tough to build your email list from third party websites. It’s also possible to setup a quick landing page using a tool like clickfunnels. But even then, your conversion rate is going to be much better with forms on your own site.

      1. Maybe ConvertKit could also be an interim solution until the own website subject has been settled – as they seem to offer landing pages that you can use without having your own website; and which help you do the lead magnet(s) and build your eMail lists? (I am not on CK yet just followed a few webinars and videos lately)

    1. Oh nice! Yeah, I haven’t written much about email, even though it’s HUGE. But, considering how much email marketing has helped grow my business, I thought it was time to write more about it.

  7. “Try Text Email Layouts”

    This is very true. Just last month I tried a text-only Email Campaign and it got almost 2 times more open rate and 4 times more clicks than the Email Campaigns with Templates.

    Maybe that’s why I have never seen your emails with a template! 😃

    1. Nice! Yeah, I’ve seen the same thing happen time and time again: text layouts CRUSH fancy newsletter designs.

  8. Thanks Brian for the useful information.

    To be honest i never tried E-Mail marketing but now i will definitely add E-Mail marketing into my marketing strategy.

  9. I had to shut off my newsletter subscription due to getting so much spam that it caused my email account to be shut down. I was sending over 100 newsletter confirmation emails in less than an hour. I couldnt even email my customers! Very frustrating. Any tips on how to beat this?

  10. Good sh*t (as they say)

    Seriously though, epic content as per usual 🙂

    I guess in your business you don’t do cold outreach (outside of link building) but I’d be curious to learn from you if you do have any experience with cold outreach for sales?

    Cheers Brian, keep it up, man!

  11. Value packed content as usual Brian. I’ve just taken note to re-design my home page hero banner area to capture leads and to create a lead magnet on my about page. And that was only the first read! Also, short email titles work great. I find them more inviting or something. Can’t put the finger on it.

    Simon

    1. Hey Simon, nice! Totally: short email titles crush. I think it may be due to the curiosity factor. Short titles give you just enough info to grab attention without giving away the farm.

  12. Brian, this is gold. Sometimes I hate that your guides are so long because I have so much work to get done for clients that I am like dag why is this going to take the next 20 minutes! But within 30 seconds of reading, I am hooked and soaking up every awesome suggestion. I even sent this to my clients who are super engaged in their marketing to remind them of the importance of email marketing. I hope you are making bank because you deserve it for what you put out. Thanks again.

    P.S. Klaviyo is a pretty great email service provider as well, especially for those on running eCommerce on Shopify since Mailchimp and Shopify are no longer friendly.

  13. I don’t have or want a mailing list. I sell a product, Custom Calligraphy, (not for weddings) that is generally ordered only once. I want to get more traffic to my site- I’m competing with Etsy- what has scooped up all the first places.

    1. Check out Shinah @crookedcalligraphy on Instagram. She always posts a TON of valuable info about running a calligraphy biz!

  14. Brian, this article is 100% value and it has motivated me to do email marketing the right way 🙂 I am going to change a few things including the mix of educational content and promotional content in my newsletter.

  15. great article one more time.
    Nothing beat email (except SEO / Youtube) in term of Real engagement, leads etc.
    I am sure than you will prepare next posts about how to do it, and share your own emailing campaign (that I follow)

  16. Great content as usual Brian. I expected nothing less.

    After reading your post I’ll definitely take email marketing serious for my business.

    I noticed that your email had just a few lines. I love it.

    Thanks for the post.

    1. You’re welcome. Like I mentioned in the guide, I’ve tested super long and super short newsletters. Short emails tend to get better deliverability and clicks.

  17. Awesome timing! I had just pivoted to email marketing after a focus on Messenger marketing and received this great guide. Thanks!

    I was wondering if you had any thoughts on content marketing with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa?

  18. Talk about delivering value, Brian! I would PAY for this info but thanks for sharing freely. My question is about reviving an old list … one that I’ve struggled to email consistently. You said you delete unopens for the last 4 months. I know I need to email them more often, but how would you go about re-engaging a list? Thanks for any help.

    1. Hi Cathy, good question. I wouldn’t delete those folks. I only delete subscribers that haven’t opened in 4 months because we send a fair amount of emails out. In your case, a re-engagement campaign makes much more sense.

  19. Hi Brian,

    For me, email marketing is the toughest job to do as a blogger. I get nightmares when I think of it.
    Email marketing was not needed for my blog until now but my blog is growing and it needs email marketing set.
    Thankfully you posted about the same. Now I am going to follow everything you’ve taught in this post.

    I am a fan of your content and design. Nobody can do better than you. Hands down!

    And for that I say, Thank you, next!

    1. You’re welcome, Rajan. Considering you’re just getting started my #1 piece of advice is to keep things SUPER simple. I wouldn’t worry about segmenting, funnels or any complicated stuff like that. Just focus on growing your list and sending your subscribers awesome stuff.

  20. Brian Dean, do you read minds?

    First, that was an INCREDIBLE guide. I have bookmarked this post, I will need to read it again.

    Just last 2 weeks, I decided to focus mainly on building an email list and today you’ve published just what I wanted.

    Like you knew that’s what we’ve been waiting for.

    I was surprised when you said you’ve sent over 11 Million broadcasts… that’s huge!

    My hunger for email marketing just leveled up after this guide, I will start immediately.

    Brian, thanks for this guide. I just shared it to my facebook friends!

    Secondly, I like your eyes! 😁

    1. Hi Joy, thanks! And very cool to hear that you’re focusing on building your email list. That’s something I wish I started doing much sooner! Congrats and please keep me posted on how things go.

  21. I know exactly what I need to work on straight away. I will be adding a great squeeze page to my website, as my current annoying pop up less than equal.

  22. Brian,

    I have been following you for a while and you’ve always been delivering value consistently unlike other self acclaimed marketers out there.

    Thank you for releasing this giant guide and have a nice day.

    1. You’re welcome, Abuzar. I would, of course, be careful about deleting subscribers. But in my opinion, if you do it right, list hygiene can help deliverability a ton.

  23. Great Email Marketing Guide Brian.

    Really love the section on Automation… even tho you didn’t go in-depth on it you Break down the complex ideas in the simplest form…

    Also, I agree with you on the fact that there should only be one CTA per email. Because even when I am reading emails when there is more than 1 CTA I often get confused.

    Keep up the awesome work.

      1. Hi Brian, Great post – amazing work. I wanted to be able to refer to it again so I added it to my book marks. I also like to have a pdf. When I need a pdf of a blog article/post I copy all and put in a word doc. then a reduce the images or eliminate altogether. I prefer to print my pdfs and read the paper copy and the images only take up space/ink. I don’t know – am I alone on this or do other people print to read later as well? Just a heads up for you as you prepare to provide the pdf.
        Great work – I have watched many of your videos as well. Cheers!

        1. Thanks Andy. We do have PDF versions of our other guides. I try to make them a 1:1 match to the actual guide (including images, graphics etc.), which is the tricky part.

  24. Brian… Man!

    I’ve been doing email marketing these past few months. But, the result was not as expected.

    After spending an hour reading this guide, now I think I know where I did it wrong.

    I will be trying to improve our email marketing using some of these strategies you mention.

    I’ll keep you posted with the result!

    Thanks Man!

  25. Hi Brian, thanks for sharing all of this information.
    I am just starting out in e-commerce and reading your blogs has really helped me understand things from a different perspective.
    I consider myself very lucky to have found your blogs before I go live as I’m sure you have saved me from so many headaches in the months and years to come:)

  26. As always, Brian delivers again! He knows his email marketing because his emails are the ONLY ones I get excited to open as I think “ooh what can I learn today”. What’s your thoughts on Mailerlite? I started with Mailchimp and did not really like it. Mailerlite is okay, but it takes forever to click from section to section. On the bright side, it’s still free for me. Do not have enough revenue to pay for email provider just yet.

  27. Hi Brian, superb article.
    What do you use (or which plugin) to create your opt-in forms on your website?(WordPress)

  28. Awesome “complete content” again! 😉
    Thank you so much. I also realized the small font size when I checked my newsletter on mobile.

    Do you know the best way to set up a higher font size? Wrapping the whole content in a div and setting it via css? Or better using the old-school font-tag for older email clients?

    1. Thanks Timo! I’m glad you remember the Complete Content email series.

      To answer your question: I’m not 100% sure. I just set the font as 15px in Aweber. I don’t believe they use CSS in plain text emails.

  29. Thanks BRIAN😊
    As always you giving us great & very valuable content. These will really help my email campaign. After reading these blog post i have been clean up remaining confusion in my mind about email marketing.

    Ones again thanks so much BRIAN😊.

  30. So much great stuff in here, thanks for the considerable effort that went into this! Will you offer it as a digital download for easier printing? Lots of stuff I want to highlight and take notes on.

    1. Hi Kari, you’re welcome. I do plan on adding a PDF version sometime soon. It takes a while for our designer to turn this into a proper PDF.

  31. Dear Brian,

    This is really charming. We’ve got the awesome resource from you…! I read your most of the “Definitive Guide”. There are huge information with practical tips and tricks and the case studies I found in your every single guide.

    Thanks for your valuable contribution to the industry…!

    Masud Parvage

  32. Hi Brian
    Brilliant and detailed post which I read through and through. 18pt is where I’m going on emails from now on.

    Question
    Many of your comparisons are with Facebook and Twitter. How about LinkedIn? How does this compare, performance-wise, with email marketing for B2B Professionals?

    Thanks and really looking forward to your reply.

    Matthew

    1. Hi Matthew, thank you! I appreciate that. Engagement is WAY higher on Linkedin than on Facebook and Twitter. But from my testing, it’s still not close to email (especially CTR).

  33. I’m always amazed at how many email signups my clients get. I thought email marketing was dead long ago, but having seen my client’s subscriber lists grow steadily I had to start rethinking that.

    And now your article further solidifies it. Thanks for in the depth info as always! I have a few tweaks I need to make but glad to know I’ve been doing at least a few things right 🙂

    1. Hi Mike, it’s kind of crazy that with all the changes in the marketing world, email is still #1 by a mile.

  34. This was JUST what I needed today Brian!

    Quick question about exit-intent pop-ups. Do you only use those on Desktop since there is no real way of knowing exit intent on mobile?

  35. Interesting facts to consider and test. The one that gave me much to think about is the “plain text” template. I’m selling advertising space on my website and I used to be the one with “a beautiful template”, just to better present what they would actually get (I used custom image on how the banner would look like for each company) and to differentiate myself from those spammy emails offering seo services, website creation etc (I know you get them too).
    But since the results weren’t as expected, I should probably try the plain version and visualize what they are getting in the second email, after all, no sale is made from the first message, right?
    Thanks, Brian!

    1. Hi Jure, it’s definitely something worth testing. That’s actually why I phrased this as “testing” a plain text email. There is a place for design. But 9 times out of 10, plain text does better.

  36. Hey Brian! Awesome article as usual!

    Loved your tips on getting a better open rate!

    Do you think a daily feed can be bad for the main stratagy? Here on my company we have a Weekly newsletter and a Feed which can be daily or weekly. Do you believe that one can be harmful for another?

    Thanks!

      1. Yup! An automatic feed. Like a RSS.

        Every new article automatically goes as an email. It brings nice results an visitors, but I was wondering if it could be harmful for our regular email marketing strategy

        1. If people are opening and engaging with your emails, then that’s totally cool. Gmail, Yahoo etc. don’t want to see emails getting ignored. For example, the hustle sends every day and has a 40% open rate. So Gmail will continue to push them to the primary tab.

  37. Thanks Brian,

    Another awesome guide, which couldn’t have come at a better time for me. The problem I find is still getting the ball rolling.

    When you are brand new, nobody knows you and even following all the guides and advice, the “Build It They Will Come Theory” is painfully slow.

    To gain traction, what are your thoughts an email buys or solo ads to an optin page?

    Regards

    1. Hey Steve, trust me: I’ve been there! I wouldn’t recommend buying a list. But solo ads can work (to be honest though, I haven’t used them in years).

  38. Hi Brian,

    Great post.

    I notice you don’t include anything to do with GDPR consent on your opt-in forms. Is there any reason for this? Are most of your customers US based instead of in Europe?

    Regards

    Troy

    1. Thanks Troy. I’m not lawyer so I can’t say exactly what is and isn’t GDPR compliant. But after a lot of time last May spend on GDPR, we’re confident that double opt-tin serves as confirmation that people want to receive our newsletters.

  39. Awesome guide, as usual – you rocked it again! I am linking over to this post from my website.

    I like to pump out all kinds of value to my list… just like you do. Post good things, give out resources, you know – treat them like a good friend. 🙂

    Keep it up!

    1. Thanks Tony! I appreciate that. And YES: it’s all about respecting your email subscribers. They’re the lifeblood of your business.

  40. Thank you Brian. I look forward to your emails because I know the content will be valuable and that it will be worth my time. Blog posts are a dime a dozen and so many are obviously half-assed and a waste of time. I want my emails and content to be as complete and valuable as yours. I am going to focus on providing content so that when my audience gets an email from me they know it is worth opening. That along with improving my welcome email are my takeaways.

    1. Hi Adam, you’re welcome. I really try to value people’s time, attention and inboxes. Which is why I only share my absolute best stuff with subscribers.

  41. Hi Brain,

    Another great article.

    This is huge information help me alot.

    Everything in the article is very clear and detailed. I will apply in your technique in the upcoming email marketing campaign.

    Thank you so much!

  42. Thanks Brian. I am gonna change the font first 🤣. But I think if you have to change your email address over time, as if so many people put in spam box then.

  43. Another epic post Brian.

    Your’re absolutely bang om about the fact that plain text email newsletters get opened much more than designer templates. I can tell this from my personal experience.

    I would love it if you can create a post comparing the top email automation platforms in more details sometime.

    Cheers!

    1. Thanks Kamelia. Absolutely: once I started using plain text newsletters I never looked back.

      And thanks for the content suggestion. It’s a good one.

  44. Phew, this was a close one. I was originally planning to create a 5-day email course for my lead magnet.

    Then I read what you wrote:

    “You need to offer people something they can use right away.”

    This makes so much sense. I don’t why it didn’t occur to me. It’s a good thing I’m in the early stage of creating. Back to the drawing board!

    As always, epic guide, Brian! I can tell this is a labor of love 😊

    1. Thanks Priscilla. I do think there’s a place for a 5-day course. But in my experience, especially lately, people really want small, crunchy things that they can use that day.

  45. Thanks for the hard work Mr. Dean!! As I dont have time to read the full blog post I would greatly appreciate it if you would send out another email once the PDF version of this post is ready for distribution. Look forward to reading it at leisure,

  46. Thanks, Brian! Your content quality is not only top-notch, but it also motivates me to do my best; I have achieved the 6-Figure goal by just reading your content plus some other major great blogs. If I have seen it further it’s by standing on the shoulder of Giants.

    P.S: I was just looking for exactly this kinda guide when I received your email 🙂 Going to implement and will share results with you very soon.

  47. Dear Brian,
    I am currently not using Email Marketing to attract new clients, but this great article gave me reason to start thinking about this marketing tool.
    Thank you!

  48. Hi Brian,

    I am a great fan of you. I start reading your blogs when I enrolled for a digital marketing class. Could you please suggest me brian what strategy should we use to get leads for B2B business?

    1. It’s hard to say exactly why without seeing your emails and setup. There are lots of reasons that emails go to spam.

  49. Hi Brian,

    I need your recommendation on sending data to my subscribers.
    Almost i received your mailer in text format only.

    1) So if i want to use an image + text than it’s good or not?
    2) I want to know the way to load images in newsletter without click on image download link.

    Thanks 🙂

    1. 1. Sure, you can use an image. I use them sometimes. 2. That depends on the email marketing service that you use.

  50. Brian, Really fantastic stuff. Thank you so much for this information and your willingness to share valuable tips. This report is so timely for us as we are just now speaking to a client about launching an e-mail campaign project to boost sales! I love the data and links to sources. We continue to learn a great deal from you and we are looking forward to trying out these tips. (Now I know why I open all your e-mails). (:

  51. Brian,

    I have been following you for a while and you’ve always been delivering value consistently unlike other self acclaimed marketers out there.

    Thank you for releasing this giant guide and have a nice day.
    It also inspire me to write a blog like you.

  52. Hello, Brian.

    I have been reading your blog from a year. And I am always excited about your upcoming content because it’s always beyond my expectation and helpful.

    Q? Did you ever use paid advertising?
    I already check out it using similarweb.com and it’s showing 0.06% paid traffic…
    It was Insane!

  53. I’m always harping on about how powerful email is as a marketing channel despite numerous reports its dead in the water. I’ve run social media channels with post reach reaching millions but my little database of 10k key contacts outperformed any sales metrics by 100x.

  54. Well, right now I’m thinking about starting up a newsletter for my niche blog and *bam* – you are publishing guide for email marketing. Coincidence? 😉

    Thanks Brian for sharing your knowledge. Keep up the great work!

  55. Great tips as always! Now I just need to start implementing them. I don’t have an email list setup at all but that is about to change!

    Thanks Brian! =)

  56. Thanks! I have been wanting to start a newsletter for some time now but did not found any guide that would provide such an-depth information. As with every major guide of yours – it’s bookmarked and I will be coming back to this.

  57. Great post, Brian. Two things really jump out: Lead magnets and welcome emails. This post has really made me think about both.
    Also, I think double opt-in is necessary for EU GDPR purposes. Most bloggers in my niche do this. I have a double-opt in but I’m EU based anyway.

    1. Thanks Hazel. GDPR is one of the reasons that we use double opt-in actually. The other reason is that the emails you get are much, much higher quality.

  58. Hi Brian,

    Great content, as always.

    Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge 🙏

    I work with quite a lot of SaaS B2B companies, and most of them use a sequence of onboarding emails for new sign ups.

    Most of these onboarding emails use rich content (a cool hero image at the top of the email, a quote from an existing customer and the customer’s face, the occasional gif, etc).

    They look nice, and in theory have tons of valuable information, but I’m thinking what you and Nathan Barry advocate would work better. It might actually get people to read these emails and act on them!

    I suppose what I’m asking is that do you think you can convey everything you need to from a “brand” and product perspective with text only? Perhaps there’s a happy middle ground. Keen to hear your thoughts!

    Thanks again, keep up the outstanding work 💪🏼

    1. Hey John,

      You’re welcome. Yes, I do think it’s possible to convey branding without any images, quotes, logos etc. It’s obviously easier with that stuff.
      But the tradeoff is that engagement is lower and it’s harder for your emails to have that personal touch.

    1. Hi Andrew, that could happen for sure. Then it’s probably a good idea to switch to designed newsletters. Zip when everyone else zags, amirite?

      That hack looks interesting. I’ll check it out.

  59. It’s kind of ironic that an email about email marketing got blocked by my provider (possibly because you changed your email address). Luckily I subscribed with a second email address that didn’t block it.

    How do you delete thousands of people from your list? I’m using MailChimp for one of my sites and am currently purging one-by-one. I have a pretty small list, so it isn’t a big deal. However, if there’s a faster way, I’d love to know!

    I’m glad most bloggers have stopped using exit-intent popups. With its technical flaws and appearance of desperation, this tactic has never made sense to me. Think about brick and mortar stores. Do they ask you for your email address when you’re leaving the store? No. They ask you when you’re purchasing something.

    1. Hey Matt, I actually don’t use MailChimp so I’m not sure. I’m sure their support could help you out. We’ll have to agree to disagree about popups 🙂

  60. Great guide with lots of inspiration Brian. One of our problems with email marketing is that we were originally using a bunch of pop-ups with single-optin (learned it from some gurus out there during that time), and it introduced a lot of people using fake emails — or people who are otherwise only interested in getting the lead magnets.

    As a result, we’ve got a whole bunch of subscribers with low engagement. Our open rate is generally around 20%-35%, so I can’t imagine what would happen if we delete the folks who ignore, say, all of the last 20 campaigns.

    All in all, my understanding is that email marketing is not hard. All it takes is to think hard from the user’s perspective. If anything, all of the findings in this guide is the testament to that thesis.

    1. Thanks Thomas. Good point there: fake emails tend to spike when you use lots of lead magnets. We’ve noticed the same thing. Double opt-in really comes in handy in that case.

  61. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for sharing this amazing piece of content. You shared amazing strategies and all the strategies are very helpful.
    But I have a question that why did you use “Tik Tok”. I did not understand how Tik Tok is helpful for creating an email list.

  62. Hey Brian,

    Fantastic post.

    I also use AWeber and love it!

    One thing that I can add here is that sometimes long emails can convert as well i.e. putting the pitch in the email instead of a landing page. This takes care of those people who wouldn’t have clicked, but can actually scroll down an email, skim through the headlines and buy!

    Quick one:

    How comes you don’t use affiliate links when mentioning AWeber, ConvertKit etc?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Thanks Walter. I actually don’t use any affiliate links at Backlinko. That way, everyone knows that my recommendations aren’t biased.

  63. My favorite lesson Brian, was definitely the fact that we should ruthlessly delete non-openers. That makes so much sense to me, But the one thing that comes to mind with that is.. Aren’t we as marketers able to use the email for many different things and not just to send emails. For example: we can take an email, and from it target users through facebook ads, and instagram ads. So that’s one thing that was bothering me about deleting my inactive e-mail users, because we can still use them in other ways. What’re your thoughts?

    1. Hi Ernie, good question there. Facebook does allow you to use emails for lookalike audiences. But as far as I know, you can’t directly target email subs with FB ads anymore.

  64. Awesome stuff Brian,

    I’m struggling to come to grips with the design vs. content dilemma. I know you’re right in that providing great content is more important than fancy design but we’ve been able to build up some easily identifiable branded email campaigns that work ok and are easily recognizable. I’m wondering do you think this strategy applies to both emails with promotional offers (20%) or is it more geared toward the newsletter/value (80%) emails? Thanks!

    1. Hey Josh, good question there. In my opinion, when something’s working don’t change it. So if branded, designed campaigns are working for you, I’d stick with that. Plus, you could also test a campaign with less design to see how it goes.

  65. Hi Brian,

    I am currently handling Digital Marketing activities including E-mail marketing for my company. The tips you have provided is really useful and has helped me understand some advanced topics. Thanks a lot.

  66. Brian- In your marketing newsletter template you recommend top use a straight forward subject line and show “25% off Sale”. Hasn’t it been shown that using words like “X% off” or “Sale” in the subject land you straight in the spam folder penalty box never to be seen and/ or opened?

    1. Hey Jody, great question there. I haven’t seen a study that showed those words led to the spam folder. Is there one you had in mind? But you’re right: there are certain words and phrases that can increase the odds that your emails go to spam.

  67. This is great. With what I learned from you, I took my travel blog from zero to over 500K monthly page views (even after a rebranding hiccup.) And now our focus is email (and no surprise to see you here too,) and pairing that with SEO. We’ve been using email re-marketing successfully in travel for a year or so now. When one of my subscribers visits our Myrtle Beach post sitting pretty on page 1 of Google, we follow up with an email highlighting our favorite spots and a few discount codes. These remarketing emails are so much better than social because they hit people when they are interested! Our list of about 35K has an open rate is over 70% and CTR is about 40-60% … unsubscribe a .1% …. Email + SEO = True Value.

    1. Hey Lesli, wow that’s great to hear! Congrats on your results. And I’m 100% with you on the Email + SEO formula. It’s insane how well the two complement each other.

  68. Thank you for providing such a wealth of information. I always look forward to your emails! I learn a ton.. again, thanks!

  69. Absolutely brilliant guide, Brian. Love your work. What do you think of the popular ‘resend to unopens’ after 2-3 days (with a different subject line) advice many marketers espouse? I fear this would lead to unsubscribes if people neglect their inbox for a few days and find two of the same emails deceptively described with different subject lines.. Thanks!

    1. Hey Christine, I’ve tested that. And it does work in small doses. The issue is that, if you use it all the time, your average open and CTR rates go down. Which hurts deliverability long term.

      This is something I had to learn the hard way!

  70. I appreciate such actionable content! Your articles and guides are something I can legitimately take notes on. It’s not the same topics that hundreds of other marketers are regurgitating and, as a marketer myself, it’s great to actually learn something and be able to apply your tactics to my work right away. Thanks a million!

  71. What a great guide Brian, I have to get back at email marketing… it was time-consuming for me so I left it alone for a while, but this article was motivated to get started again!

  72. Thanks, Brian!

    I recently implemented some of the advice in chapter 2 and have seen a 2.5x increase in conversions of website visitors to email subscribers.

    (7 day period before changes = 0.21% conversion rate. 7 day period after changes = 0.54% conversion rate.)

    Here’s what I did:

    – Added a newsletter link to my main navigation.
    – Embedded email captures within the content of popular posts.
    – Added a big opt-in to the top of my homepage and removed the navigation.
    – Removed the slide-in email capture that would show on 25% scroll down the page.
    – Added an exit-intent pop-up to all pages. (I use Thrive Leads for this.)

    All pretty simple stuff I should have been doing anyway, but Backlinko has a knack for explaining clearly what works best and why 🙂

    Thanks again!

  73. Great post, Brian! After avoiding exit-intent popups for a long time, a few weeks ago I finally set them up on several key pages. The results have been pretty similar to what you shared: conversion rates nearly doubled.

    I’m still a bit shy about using them with my most “link-baity” content (not wanting to annoy potential linkers when they go to grab the URL), but I’m probably just being too conservative.

    In any case, I couldn’t agree more with you about how important it is to “own” your own list — which means email marketing. Social media platforms will always reduce your organic reach over time as they A) monetize more aggressively and B) attract more users who compete with you for attention.

    Lots of people learned that lesson the hard way with Facebook, but I think many more will learn it again with Instagram (which is owned by FB of course) and Pinterest (which recently became a public company, adding more pressure to amp up its monetization).

    1. Hey Kyle,

      That’s awesome to hear. I also have mixed feelings about popups. But like you saw, the conversions boost is hard to ignore.

  74. As usual, you are a star!
    The most useful tip for me?
    Deleting the chunk of subscribers that don’t engage.
    And the last one, the size font.
    I never thought about it
    thanks

  75. Brian,
    This is the best email marketing guide ever I have found. I actually thought that email marketing is a dead thing. But your blog changed my mind.
    The email sending scheduling, preview option(2nd subject), font size, deleting the unused people, I did not know about this. Thanks for this post.

    Irfan

  76. BRIIAAAAN !!!
    I was supposed to launch an email marketing course soon. And you come up with the post!
    Now I will simply redirect users to this post rather than me even attempting to create a course.
    Nice work though.
    Cheers:)

  77. This was an absolute delight to read through Brian. I’ve always loved colours while reading rather than words put together in paragraphs. Visually pleasing. Great job!

  78. Hi Brian,

    thank you for this awesome post! How can I download them as an PDF and print out to follow step by step?

    Smile

  79. This is amazing! I’m starting out in the content writing world for B2B SaaS but want to branch into email marketing, both for my own website and a clients. The way you explained the four different types of newsletters gave me so many ideas and made the thought of designing a newsletter exciting, not daunting! thank you Brian, will certainly be subscribing to your newsletter after this 🙂

  80. Lenghtly but very well written and thoughful read! I have several things I’ll take with me like bold openings, will test short subjects and segment my content in types of emails. I just have a question – you inserted some examples of your emails and mentioned also text-based emails – do you really tell story by only using text? No images? No “nice looking structures”? Me personally as receiver of email would still like to see some visuals (apart from great story). But maybe that’s just me.
    SendFox is something I have not hear so far for ESP, but I can’t pass without a shout-out to Mailerlite, which I currently use and it’s super friendly in pricing and let’s you test lots of things – like templates, automation, a/b testing for subjects (on my to-do list with the long vs. short subject)!

    1. Thanks Andre. I do occasionally use an image or screenshot. But for the most part, it’s 100% text. I’ve heard good things about Mailerlite but haven’t tried it yet.

  81. Hey Brian you mentioned the average value of an email subscriber in the start of this post as around $35. Is that figure true for you on Backlinko?

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