Is email marketing on your “to do” list for 2021??
If so, then this episode will be right up your alley.
I’m giving you ideas for easily dipping your toes into email marketing.
We’re NOT talking about fancy list segmentation, targeted email sequences, or sales funnels here.
We’re simply talking about BROADCAST emails – emails that regularly go out to everyone on your list.
So if you haven’t sent any emails to your list yet, I hope this is the motivation you need to stop over complicating everything and just get started!
What You’ll learn
- What broadcast emails are.
- Why they are an easy way to get started with email marketing.
- MANY examples of broadcast emails you can use in your business.
Episode Show Notes
Erica Julson: Happy New Year. I cannot believe it is 2021. Thank you for your patience over the last few weeks while I took some time to myself with my family. It was great, relaxing, wonderful, but I am really excited to get back into these podcast interviews. We have some wonderful interviews coming up over the next few months that I know you're going to love.
I'm also in the middle of some big changes in my own business. I'm simplifying everything within The Unconventional RD brand and going all-in on my SEO course where I teach you how to build a massively engaged audience through blogging. The content of that course is getting a huge facelift and will open up again sometime in the first quarter of 2021.
I've also actually shut down my very first successful online product, the Functional Nutrition Library. This was a membership site I started in 2017 with notes and functional nutrition resources for registered dietitians. It was, by all means, a success, with nearly 300 active paying members at the time I shut it down and it was earning thousands of dollars every single month in recurring revenue, but I just couldn't continue running two different businesses in two entirely different niches anymore. It was mentally exhausting and burnout was really happening even with hired help, so as of this week, actually, that membership site is no longer active and we're going to be moving all of that content over to be available for free on our blog, functionalnutritionanswers.com. I'm stoked to be partnering up with my friend and colleague Amy Richter for that project and we'll be using it as an SEO playground so I can continue to test different strategies and share them in my SEO course and keep my finger right on the pulse of what's going on in the nutrition blogging space.
I'll probably do an episode in the future with the lessons I've learned from running a five-figure membership site for a few years. But this week, I'm going to be talking about email and specifically how to get stuff did with emailing your list and actually communicating with your people because I know many of you start out with the best intentions and maybe you've even created a lead magnet or two to start growing your list, you might even have a few hundred people on there, but when it comes time to actually email those people, you freeze up and overthink everything. You'll be like, you're not sure what to say or send, so you do nothing, which is actually the worst possible thing you could do, so this week I'm going to be giving you some ideas for ways to easily dip your toes into email marketing.
We're not talking about fancy list segmentation, targeted email sequences, or sales funnels here. We're simply talking about broadcast emails, emails that go out to everyone on your list. This is not the most effective way to do email marketing. Yes, funnels are way better for that, but it's a thousand times better than doing nothing and it's a great way to get in the habit of sending emails, getting to know your audience, and getting comfortable with marketing. I have a hunch that getting more intentional about email is probably at the top of many of your 2021 goals lists, so I hope you find this episode helpful and actionable. This is actually an excerpt of content from my Email Marketing Magic course that is no longer open for enrollment, and if and when I reopen that course, it is going to look significantly different than it does today, so I feel comfortable sharing this content with you all on the podcast this week. If you ever hear me referencing a screenshot or an image in the audio, that's because in my courses, obviously, there are videos attached to my words, but I think you'll still be able to get a lot of value out of this recording, so I hope you enjoy it.
Welcome to The Unconventional RD podcast, where we inspire dietitians to think outside of the traditional employment box and create their own unconventional income stream. We'll talk all things online business to help you start, grow, and scale your own digital empire. All right, let's talk about how to start communicating with your audience because once you have a list, you need to start communicating with them. The fact is most people who join your email list are not ready to purchase from you right away. You need to earn their business by showing up consistently, providing value to them, and staying top of mind. This is where email marketing comes in. There are two main ways that you can communicate with your email list. There's broadcast emails and then more targeted and automated emails. In this section this week, we are going to focus just on broadcast emails.
Broadcast emails are where the same email goes out to everyone on your list, so it's not segmented, it's not really automated. It's just like, hey, every Friday, for example, you're going to get X, Y, Z type of email. Some examples of types of broadcast emails include newsletters. I can bet that most of you guys have at least one newsletter coming into your inbox every week, announcements from companies, special sales, a lot of brick-and-mortar businesses send a lot of sales emails, or even something as simple as just emailing the people on your list when you've come out with a new blog post or piece of content. These types of broadcast emails are really good for nurturing a relationship between you and your audience. They're not that great for sales because they're not targeted. This is literally the same information going out en masse to everyone on your list, but it's still a wonderful starting point.
Most people start here with broadcast emails, and like I said, that's great. It builds a connection with your audience. You're showing up consistently and providing value. It helps you develop your voice, which can be a struggle for some people when they first start communicating with their audience. It just gets you in the habit of regularly communicating with your audience and not overthinking it, so a regular newsletter is infinitely better than nothing at all. It's okay to stay in this stage of just sending the same mass email to everybody on your list until you feel really confident with who your ideal client is and what their biggest pain points are and then what paid offerings, you specifically have to resolve those pain points, so once you have your core offerings nailed down in your business, the paid things that you have to offer people, then you can start using more targeted or automated emails to funnel people into wanting to purchase those things. But for now, we're going to just focus on broadcast emails because this is where most people start and it's really important to have this down as a solid foundation.
Okay, so what are broadcast emails? I think it's always helpful to go through some real life examples to help flesh out these concepts for you. As I mentioned earlier, the main types of broadcast emails are newsletters, announcements, new blog posts, or even sales emails. Let's go through some examples of all of those.
Let's start with newsletters. Newsletters typically go out either weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. They can include a lot of different stuff. They can include roundups of all of your new content that you've put out during that time period. It could be curated content that you found from other people, so you don't even have to be the one making the content, you can just go around and share stuff that you found on the Internet that you think is helpful for your audience. You can include updates on recent news stories or trending things that are happening in your niche. If you run some sort of forum, like a Facebook group or something like that, you can include links to the most popular conversations. You can add weekly tips. Maybe you don't have any content to share, there's nothing that you want to share from other people, no recent news, you don't run a forum. Even at its most basic form in your newsletter, you can just send out tips from yourself, so once a week, you send out an actionable tip to your audience, or you can intermix some stories in there because people really like to connect with people.
Here's some examples. Here's Pat Flynn's Smart Digest newsletter. This is an email that he sends out regularly and you can see it's nice and pretty. It did not always used to look like this. He recently in last few months or so added this nice little pretty logo at the top of his email, so this is an advanced move on his part. He had just a very basic text-only newsletter for years, so don't compare yourself if you're at the beginning to someone else's 10-years-in newsletter, but I do like his newsletter and I regularly read it, so I wanted to use it as an example. His email newsletter goes out weekly. His subject line includes something enticing and then has the label Smart Digest because that's what he has decided to call his newsletter.
Here's an example of one that he sent out recently. It said, "Podcasters, want to double your downloads?" Then it had the little indicator that this is his weekly newsletter, the Smart Digest, and then inside, he has it broken up into different sections in the body of the email. It starts out with maybe a little personal blurb from him with some sort of news related to what's happening in his business, a personal story, something like that, so you feel like this is an email from Pat Flynn himself and it's a way to connect with people right off the bat.
Then he goes into any promotions that he might be doing for his own products, like a free webinar or something like that. He summarizes all of his new content, like his new blog posts or his new podcast episodes, including a short description of each and the link to go visit that piece of content. Then he'll link to other articles from other people that he has found very valuable that week. If there are any new tools that have come out that he wants his audience to be aware of, he'll mention it at the bottom, probably with an affiliate link so he can earn some commissions possibly off of these emails if people choose to purchase.
Then finally, if there's any exclusive discounts, maybe he's partnered up with a company to offer a special discount, which sometimes can be a form of advertising. I don't know if people pay to be at the section of his newsletter or not, or if he has some sort of affiliate relationship with those people, but at the bottom, he'll include any exclusive discounts that might be happening at the time.
I also send out my own newsletter for The Unconventional RD brand and I call it The Unconventional RD Weekly Roundup. Here's one from the end of August. I follow this similar format. I've been playing around with the subject lines on my newsletters to see what connects best with my audience. This one did pretty well. I called it Two Effective Ways to Earn More Money Online. Then the same thing with the brackets, TURD Weekly Roundup. "TURD" stands for The Unconventional RD. That's the acronym, T-U-R-D. That was an unfortunate discovery when I realized that was my acronym, but now I'm just rolling with it because it's kind of funny.
You can see, these are my stats in ConvertKit. This email went out to just over 3,000 people. Almost 40% of them opened the email, which tells me that this was a very good subject line that connected with people. Almost 10% of people clicked on something in the email, so I got 615 clicks and just three unsubscribes, which is a very, very small number, like 0.1% or something of my 3,000 recipients, so that's a really good stat.
This is what I put in that email. I followed a similar thing where I started with the little story, so it was a little note from me that I published a new income report. Then I always in my email send out my most popular Facebook group discussions and you can see here that I separated the sections with lines so that it's easier to read. I use a lot of bold text. I use bullet points so that it's easy to skim.
Then at the bottom, I included job opportunities that had been mentioned in the Facebook group or elsewhere on the Internet. If there weren't a lot of job opportunities that week, sometimes I'll put other stuff in this bottom slot, like good articles or podcasts episodes I listened to that week, or if there's a new tool or a discount, kind of like Pat Flynn does, but this last section is kind of revolving depending on what I think is going to be most valuable for that week for my audience.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sends out a newsletter as well. There's this called AND SmartBrief. This is actually not created by AND. SmartBrief is a company, so it appears that they have partnered with AND to take over and be responsible for sending out their newsletter, but it's still a good example to see another way to create a newsletter. The AND SmartBrief goes out weekly. The subject line usually includes something enticing and then the from section, so who the email's coming from, always says Nutrition and Dietetics SmartBrief.
Then in the body of their email, they're really focused on just trying to keep dietitians up to date with what's happening in the media. This is not meant to be a sciency update or updates on the newest research, it's just like, "Hey, as a dietitian, these things are like being published in the media. Your clients might be asking about them just to keep you top of mine with the hot stories." They divide it up into different sections, healthy start, dietary health, science and research, prevention and wellbeing, blah, blah, blah, and then at the bottom, there's a little blurb for the any specific Academy news and links to sponsors are actually included throughout, not without, throughout the body of the email. This is a sponsored newsletter, so other companies are paying probably SmartBrief to include links to their businesses or content within the newsletter, so some people do make money off of their newsletters, although I don't really recommend that when you're starting out because you need to build that trust with your people first.
Another example is ProBlogger and he sends out weekly tips on just one topic. His is not really a long, extensive newsletter. He does teaching via his weekly emails, so the subject line will include the topic that he's teaching on, for example, how to brand your blog. Here's a screenshot. Then in the body of the email, he'll introduce the topic like, "Hi there. This week, I'd like to focus your attention on your blog's brand by asking, 'What do you want people to say about your blog?'"
Then beyond that, there's probably a little more there, then he links to some blog posts that he's written on this topic. He links to some podcast episodes that he's done on this topic and then some of his favorite tools related to this topic, and again, those are probably affiliate links. This is a great example of a really high-value email that you can set up to go out, but this makes more sense if you've been in business for a while, you've been creating content for a while, so you have multiple pieces of content around any given topic, and then you can bulk batch them into an email that's really valuable for your people.
One more example, we have a newsletter that goes out from ScienceDaily, and just like it sounds, this is a free website where you can go and sign up to get daily science updates on new research that has been published. Like it sounds, it goes out daily. The subject lines are not different. They're always the same. It always says ScienceDaily: Latest science news. The body of the email is very basic, basically just the titles of the new research that has come out. Then if you click on any of these, it takes you to a page on the ScienceDaily website, where they go into a little more detail about whatever the research finding was, the design of the study, why it's important, and then they monetize on that website with advertisements.
This is an interesting business model, and as the subscriber, you can edit which categories of science updates you get. I think I have it set to get information on everything because I'm really nerdy and I like to know what's going on, even in like some random field, like I don't know what hydrologic simulation models, I don't know what that is, but maybe it's relevant to something when I click on it and I read more about it, or black holes and dwarf galaxies. I just think it's cool to be up to date on what's going on, but if you only cared about like nutrition, for example, you could set it to just get nutrition-related science updates.
As you can see, there are so many ways to provide value. Even if you don't have any digital content to share, at its most basic form, you could even just send out a regular email every week where you just answer people's questions. What have people, either on social media or your clients, what have they been asking you about lately? If you're answering the same questions a lot in your business, your followers probably have those same questions, too, and they would find your answers valuable.
Like I said earlier, you could also just send out tips. One good example is dietitian Molly Kellogg. She sends out weekly emails about motivational interviewing tips, which I signed up for as a new dietitian because I felt like that was one of my areas of weakness. I didn't have a lot of training in motivational interviewing and I really, really appreciated her weekly emails that will go out with tips on how to be a better motivational interviewer. Sometimes, she would even give stories and examples of role-playing how you would implement these with a client.
Then one way that she turned this into a really creative business opportunity, I don't know if she's still doing this, but this was the case when I was signing up for her emails back in the day, if you were late, for example, to join her list, like I joined her list maybe two or three years into her sending out these tips, so I missed, the first couple of hundred of these tips and I really was interested in reading them once I saw how valuable the current tips were, so she actually compiled all of her previous tips into downloadable PDFs that you could purchase at the end of each year. How genius is that? For people who are joining your list not right from the beginning and they want some of that older content, they can buy it from you, and then you've effectively monetized your newsletter in another way. How cool is that?
The second type of broadcast email you might send out is announcements. Announcements are just when you want to share information with everyone on your list. For example, maybe you hired a new team member. Maybe you're going to start offering a new product or service. Maybe your hours or locations are changing. Your prices are going up, you won a prestigious award, or maybe you're even hiring and looking for people to apply. All of these could be examples of broadcast emails that you would send out, just simply sharing information with people.
The third way that you could send a broadcast email is simply notifying the people on your list when you have a new blog post or video or some piece of online content that has been published. Some people do this instead of sending a newsletter, so they don't have a regular day or time when they send a consistent email to people. Rather, they just email every time they come out with a new blog post and they have some sort of consistent frequency in which they do that, so maybe once a week, maybe multiple times a week, maybe once every other week, once a month. Whatever it is, they're committed to that content creation frequency, and they will email their list whenever they come out with a new piece of content.
On the plus side, this allows you to focus on creating amazing blog or vlog content, and then you don't have to do a ton of work with your email list, you're simply sharing when you have something new. The pros of this is that your subscribers won't miss a post, and of course, since they originally signed up to your email list because they were interested in what you have to offer, they probably would enjoy knowing when you have a new piece of content out. Then the benefit for you is that anytime you send out a link to your new piece of content to your list with potentially thousands of people on it, you're going to get a really nice boost in click-throughs to that piece of content, so your page views are going to go up, which could boost your ad revenue, your affiliate income, however you're monetizing potentially in that piece of content, you're going to get a nice little kick of traffic and all the benefits that go along with that.
But the cons are your blog posts have to remain super high value and relevant to your audience. Otherwise, you might have a higher unsubscribe rate, so if people are getting stuff that's not related to the reason why they originally joined your email list or the quality just isn't that good, that's how you're going to get those unsubscribes.
I do this actually with my blog, Functional Nutrition Answers. I just send out an email once a month with the link to our newest article. Our articles are very in-depth, usually thousands of words with potentially over a hundred peer-reviewed research references in each one, so the people that join our list are really sciency. They want to know the details behind whatever nutrition topic we're talking about and they're excited to get our new emails when we have a new piece of really high quality, relevant content.
I like to keep it short and sweet with these emails. I like to follow Neil Patel's example. He's an online marketer who really focuses on SEO recommendations and he's so good at email marketing. I'm on his list and I'm always excited to open his emails. One unique thing that he does is rather than just sort of overwhelming with all this text in the email, he gives you a little taste of what the email is about and why it matters to you. Then to get more, to learn the information that he's just teased for you, you have to click the link to go to the article, so we try to follow that example as well.
This is one that we recently sent out about an article about SIBO testing. We said "The most common way to test for SIBO is breath testing, but there are several different types, so which one is best? In our newest Functional Nutrition Answers article, we explain the science behind testing for SIBO, the pros and cons of each method, and which test is best, plus some exciting new developments coming in the next few years. You can check out the full article here." Then they would have to click that to get the information that I just teased. "Hope you enjoy," and then it simply signed off.
These perform just as well as my newsletter for The Unconventional RD brand. They do have a slightly higher unsubscribe rate, so every time I send this email, I will get more, not percentage, but more number of unsubscribes compared to my weekly newsletter for The Unconventional RD, but then if you look at how many people overall unsubscribe in any given month, it ends up being kind of the same because this one only goes out once a month and The Unconventional RD one goes out four times a month, so there's just more chances for people to unsubscribe because they're getting more emails. Overall, across the board, I have the same of unsubscribes basically between these two types of emails.
The fourth type of broadcast email you might send is related to sales. For example, I sent out a sales email in 2018 when I was doing a Black Friday sale and I kept it short and sweet. I said, "In case you missed it, I'm having two killer sales right now until Monday night," and then I listed the two sales, "You could save $170 on my courses that I'm running right now, or 20% on an annual membership to my Functional Nutrition Library," and I mentioned that this is the only time of year that I discount that product.
This email went out to about 1700 people, that's how big my list was for the unconventional RD about a year ago, and it brought in $3,000 in sales from my membership site, which was amazing, and $8,600 in sales for my business courses, so all in all, across my two offers and my two businesses, I earned almost $12,000 in one weekend. That's insane. At the time, I think that was probably the best month I had ever had in my businesses, so that was really gratifying.
The reason that this worked so well is because before this, I had been emailing my list weekly for six months, and I really hadn't offered very much for sale. I think the only other things I had promoted had been the dietitian entrepreneur symposium, where I was a speaker, and if people sign up through my link, I would get an affiliate sale and they would get some sort of bonus. That was really the only thing I had offered to these people over that six month time, so they had established a lot of trust with me. They felt that I was providing a lot of value. As you can see, a certain number of people on my list were excited to purchase from me when I had my own stuff to offer at a great discount. Imagine if I hadn't sent that out. I potentially would have missed out on $12,000 of additional revenue, so definitely don't discount the value of a good sales email.
Then finally, there's some other types of broadcast emails that you could send out if you're feeling creative. If you're still stumped, here are some more ideas: You could send out your thoughts on something timely or trendy in your niche. You could send a personal story, especially where you messed up on something, or you overcame a struggle. Those connect really well with people. You could email out about a cool product that you found. Maybe there's a sale for something that you love and you want to recommend to your audience and they'd be grateful to know that, "Hey, this thing is on sale right now." That's valuable to people. Everyone loves to save money.
Maybe there's events coming up like conferences, or in-person get-togethers. You could email people about that, or even doing little mini roundups just to your email list. Not a blog post where you're compiling all of this information and publishing it on your website, but even just in your email, you could say, "Hey, I'm doing a mini roundup. Here's five of my favorite egg-free breakfasts that don't suck," and that doesn't take that much time to put together and it's still valuable for your audience if you're giving them information that they're looking for.
I know you're probably thinking, "Oh, my gosh. How much time does this take? This sounds like a lot of work." It is a lot of work, but this is your business, so you need to make it matter. You need to set aside the time so that you can build these relationships and then turn your hobby, potentially, or your small business into something that really works for you. I probably spend about two hours a week writing my newsletter, which is totally worth it to me. As you can see, for example, with this Black Friday sale, yeah, I spent two hours a week for six months building this connection with people, and then when I offered a sale, it did extraordinarily well, so in my opinion, that's totally worth it.
Right now, I still only do broadcast emails. I don't really have any really strategic or concrete sales funnels in place. I'm literally writing them as we speak and implementing this in my own business. I do have a welcome series, a series of emails that people get to introduce them to me and my brand when they join my list, but I don't have any funnel set up yet. Just from that, I still make 70% of my sales via email. Just remember, my email list is one third the size of my social media following, so the key here is providing value consistently via email, even if it's just broadcast emails.
Just show up on a regular basis, connect with people and be important and valuable to them and they will end up purchasing from you down the road. Part of this is just showing your audience that you are here to serve and help them. Then when you sell, people are going to be very receptive. They're going to want to join whatever you're offering. You're not really doing convincing at that point. You're helping emails that you've been consistently sending without asking for anything in return have been doing that for you along the way. When you show up consistently and you're constantly serving and helping, when you do get to the point of selling, it's exciting and joyful and not icky.
Yay. I hope that episode was helpful for you. If you're listening and you haven't sent any emails to your list yet, I hope this is the motivation you need to stop over-complicating everything and just get started. If you have not joined my free Facebook community yet, please search for The Unconventional RD community on Facebook and request to join. We just surpassed 10,000 members last month, which is absolutely wild. When I started the group in March 2017, PS, I hope this is mega inspiration for you, we had just 68 members and to see what it's grown into since then is absolutely mind-boggling. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making that community such a helpful and engaging place to be. If you're not in there yet, again, search for The Unconventional RD community on Facebook and join right now. I'll catch you next week with a really good episode all about using online summits to grow your email list and you don't want to miss it. See you then.
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Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.