What do you think email marketing is?

If you think it’s about spam or annoying people you are paying attention to those people who are doing it wrong!

Email marketing is one of the most effective – and cost effective – ways to attract new clients and make sales. When you build an email list you own all the data – it can’t be hijacked by a social media platform and when you do it right, all the people on your list have not only given you permission to contact them, they’re eager to hear from you!

In this Learning and Sharing session, Email marketing expert, Helen Lindop, answered questions from our members with a little help from her trusty sidekick, Speedy the Robot!


I always recommend that people should start with their business and marketing goals, then decide how email marketing can support those. E.g. if you want to mainly promote events then that would be a different approach to selling products direct from your emails. Sharing knowledge to attract clients for coaching or other services is yet another approach. Be sure that if you want your readers to take action, it’s very clear what you want them to do: have a buy now button, a get more information button, a book a call button. Whatever it is, make it easy to follow.

Growing your list and getting engagement

Q. I’ve got a list of 400, one list, no segmentation. I’m emailing newsletters regularly. How can I take it to the next level and get more engagement?
A. Engagement is great, but like with social media, you need that engagement to have a business purpose rather than just being a vanity metric. It’s great to get started with one list (or segment) and get into a flow with just one type of newsletter. Keep working on building your subscribers and emailing good content regularly and consistently. This will give you some data to base your decisions on from then on. There are polls and surveys available in Mailerlite (which is the platform most Drive members use) which are very good and easy to use, but with 400 subscribers you might find you get more valuable (i.e. qualitative vs quantitative data) info if you just ask a question and then ask subscribers to hit reply.
I would also look at segmentation e.g. if your business naturally splits into work you do with organisations and work you do with individuals, which is the case with many coaches, there’s potential to send different information and offers to each of those segments while they all still receive your general newsletter.

How to improve deliverability

Q. Tell me more about deliverability …
A. People assume that you can just hit send and the email will arrive in your subscriber’s inboxes. It’s not that simple, unfortunately.
Here are some things that will improve deliverability:

  • Verify and authenticate your domain name in your email platform. (Setting up DMARC is less of an issue unless you frequently send more that 5000 emails at a time).
  • Keep your spam, bounce and unsubscribe rate low.
  • Keep your open rate up.
  • Send emails consistently over time.

See the help articles provided by your email marketing platform for more info on how to do the above and what the acceptable rates are.
Note: Including potentially spammy keywords in your subject lines and emails is much less of an issue now but it still might turn off your readers!


Q. How accessible are the automations in email platforms?
A. The automations tend to trigger emails that have already been prepared, so the automations themselves are less likely to be an accessibility issue than for social media platforms. You’re more likely to have accessibility issues with the layout and design templates of the emails themselves. This could potentially be different for each platform, e.g. Mailerlite has alt text for images in emails and most have the option to send plain text emails. There are many design options for the emails themselves and if they aren’t up to standard you could ask a developer to create an html email template for you.

Landing Pages

Q. What should I put on a landing page?
A. I would start with a simple one and test it, as it’s going to vary depending on your audience, your list and what you offer. But in general, assume people have a very short attention span, get across the benefits of subscribing in just a few words and make sure the buttons contrast with the background, then test and adjust. Mailerlite and many other platforms have a feature where it will show one variation of a landing page to half your visitors and another to the other half, but you need enough visitors going to those pages for it to be a useful test.
Having said that, you might not need to use a landing page much at all at first. If your main source of leads is conversations and perhaps contacts from LinkedIn, you could just ask people to join your list as you think they’d get a lot from your newsletters, then add them to your list manually, or send them a link to join.

Newsletters for consultancies and information based businesses

Q. How can I utilise a newsletter if I have an information based business – I don’t want to give away too much information. I am just starting out, a consultancy.
A. With a consultancy, you’re offering way more than just information, you’re offering your expertise, opinion based on many years of experience, guidance on an ongoing basis and support with implementation. A short article in a newsletter can’t come close to what people get from you as a client, so I wouldn’t worry too much. A good place to start is to write short, fairly simple answers to the most common questions you are asked. This will show that you can help the reader with problems they have and encourage them to give you a call. Once you have some data to work with (e.g. open and click rates) you’ll have a better idea of what your target audience like to read and what they respond to.


Q. How often should I send newsletters?
A. There’s no definitive answer here, it’s a balance of your business goals, how much time or budget you have to put into it plus keeping your open/click rates up and unsubscribe rate down.
I would decide how often you can consistently produce a quality newsletter that your audience will want to open and read. If that’s once a month then that’s fine. A few months down the line, look at your reports and adjust based on whether it suits your goals, time and budget.

Improving opening and action

Q. How on earth do you get people to open your newsletters and then to take action?
A. Start with the deliverability tips above to improve your chances of your email arriving in their inboxes and staying out of their spam folders. Subscribers are more likely to open your emails if they are expecting them and know they will get value from them. This will be about their previous experience of you and your emails. If this is an issue you could design a campaign to ‘warm them up’. A good subject line will help, a balance between it telling them about what’s in the email and having a sense of curiosity can be a good mix. Some platforms give you suggestions for subject lines and AI can also be a good way to create them so you might like to experiment with those.
Once they’ve opened the email, keep in mind that people have very short attention spans, so you may need to include less content than you think. Experiment with having just one call to action in an email and see if that improves your response.  For product based businesses, scarcity and urgency are very effective. In practice this often means discounts with a deadline, but obviously discounts have to be used as part of a strategy to make sure you still make a profit, don’t devalue your brand and don’t train your audience to only wait for discounts. You could also look at adding value for a limited time rather than dropping the price.

Mobile devices

Q. Do most people read newsletters on smart phones / tablets?
A. Many people will read your emails on mobile devices. Most platforms allow you to see a preview of how your emails look on different screens so always check that images, buttons, links etc., are visible properly on even the smallest screen.

What should you measure?

Q. What metrics should we measure? What’s vanity and what’s sanity?
A. Set up your email marketing platform so you track how many clicks to your website are coming from your email campaigns. That way you can see how effective your campaigns are in terms of getting subscribers to your sales pages and adjust your campaigns to improve them.
They key metrics are open rates and click rates, however open rates are not always reliable as many people read your emails in preview panes so they are best for looking at trends over time rather than the open rate of a specific email. E.g. if the open rate of a series of emails is dropping over time then it would be best to investigate why.
An issue I see is that small business owners don’t link the metrics to a wider marketing goal or business goal very well so the data isn’t all that meaningful because they don’t have a clear goal or strategy to measure it against. Also, many of the results of email marketing won’t show up that well in the email marketing platform itself e.g. they may show up as visits to a web page or sales in an ecommerce platform, so it’s important to integrate email marketing platforms with Google Analytics and ecommerce platforms if you need this data. (This is a huge area, so I’ll leave it here for now!)

Cleaning data

Q. How often do you clean your data and what are the best ways to do this?
A. Email marketing platforms either have a feature that will do this for you – although of course you have control over it – or you can run a filter to (say) find anyone who hasn’t clicked any link in 6 months, then either delete or archive them. (But make sure you have included enough links in your emails to give subscribers those opportunities to click or no clicks won’t be a good measure!)
How often to do this and the criteria to use will depend on your business. You need to keep your open rate up (see the deliverability section again) and you don’t want to be paying the platform for subscribers who never open your emails, but equally you don’t want to delete people who read your emails for 6 months (or in the case of some business – years!) before giving you a call.
Some businesses have a faster turnover rate than others e.g. some will know that if a subscriber hasn’t bought anything in 3 months they never will. Some businesses are the opposite, especially consultancies, who may have to wait 5 years before a client picks up the phone.
Before deleting subscribers you could try a reengagement campaign, which could be a series of several emails designed specifically to get them to open and buy a small item or take some other action. Then if they don’t respond at all go ahead and delete them from your list.

More questions?

If you have questions that haven’t been answered here you can contact Helen on her website https://helenlindop.com/ and sign up to her newsletter to see all her tips in action! She also shares lots of useful posts on LinkedIn  and this is a list of things she does for her clients: