TACT-ful Email Marketing Basics for Digital Publishers

By March 19, 2018Business, Featured, Marketing

Image from Unread Magazine

Yup, email still matters.

When you’re creating an amazing digital publication, it’s easy to put all your resources and energy into your magazine, newspaper, catalog or whatever your creative masterpiece is, and leave sharing and marketing your work as a “whatever I have time for” afterthought.

But the real work is often in the marketing – making it easy for your current and potential readers to learn about and enjoy your work. And more than ever, good old email – yes, email! –  is a really important way to market your publication. 72% of consumers in one survey said they prefer to get email from brands they do business with, and 92% of Internet users use email.

For digital publishers, your readers are already, well, digital, and they’re probably on mobile, too, which is why communicating with them via mobile-friendly email could be a great marketing strategy. You can tell your readers when you have a new publication on Issuu. You can promote a specific story in an issue, or share about upcoming events. You can give a peek behind the scenes of your next issue. In this post, we’ll share an actionable plan to start marketing your digital publications through email.

Make a plan for TACT-ful email marketing

So, how do you actually get started with an email marketing strategy? A little “TACT-ful” planning will go a long way. That stands for Tools, Audience, Content and Testing & Analytics. (Yeah, technically it should be TACTA-ful, but TACT-ful is better, no?)

Tools

Decide which email tool will help you the most, and what you have budget for. You want something that will make it easy to maintain your email list, easy for people to add themselves (via blog, social media, website) to sign up for your email list, and easy to unsubscribe. You also want to consider something that will have mobile-ready design templates and make it easy to personalize the content of your emails for your reader, based on what list they signed up for, or other data you have for them.  

Here are some popular, modern options for individuals and small businesses:

  • Mailchimp, our personal favorite. They have a Forever Free plan, for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. MailChimp is easy to learn to use, and has lots of powerful features for more than just email. Their support documentation is really good, too.
  • ConverKit: Purpose built for online creators, they have good automation and list-building features, plus only offer text-based designt to keep email creation simple. They are becoming more and more popular.
  • Emma is built for small- and medium-sized businesses with multiple team members working in email. If you have aggressive email goals, something like Emma might be a good place to invest in.
  • Tinyletter: Also by Mailchimp, this is used by bloggers and writers who want to send simple, text-based emails without lots of reporting or testing features.  

Also think about additional tools like Zapier or IFTTT that will help you integrate your email platform with other services you use, like your website builder or blog platform.

Audience

Be sure to look at your Issuu stats or web or social media analytics to get a handle on who your audience is. Where do they live? What topics are they interested in? What’s the best tone of voice to write to them in?

Also, think about how you will build up your email list. Will you have a prominent pop-up on your blog? Will you link from your IG bio? Do you have emails from meet ups or other event attendees? Will you start with just friends and family?

Be careful emailing people at the beginning. It’s important to get people’s permission to email them and always provide an unsubscribe link i the email footer. Some companies even do a double opt-in process. LINK THIS. Trust us, it’s better to have fewer, more engaged people on your list than tons of emails for folks who can’t wait to hit the unsubscribe button, or worse, the spam button.

Content

When you think about the content of your emails, there are a few factors to consider.

Bringing your publication to email

When you’re building an audience for your publication through email, you’ll want to make your publication is front and center in your emails. That can mean using the cover imagery from your publication in your email, inserting a GIF of your publication, or linking your email readers straight to a certain page of your publication, or to the Shareable Full-Screen Reader version of your publication, with no other ads or recommended publications on the screen.

80/20 useful/fun vs. promotional

What content will your audience enjoy the most and help you build a brand of emails your readers actually want to open? The 80/20 rule is good – keep most of your content fun, entertaining, educational, whatever it is your audience wants the most, and sparingly send outright promotional emails for discounts, offers, shopping, etc.

Automated vs. blast campaigns

Many email tools will enable you to set up automated or “drip” flows, where you can send a series of emails based on a trigger. For example, if a reader signs up for your newsletter list, you can send them a confirmation of their joining the list, then an email with your 3 most popular issues, and later an email to invite them to follow you on social media.

Emails that you send to a certain group of folks all at once, like a monthly newsletter, are sometimes called blast or batch emails, or simply campaigns.

Planning for content

When you’re getting started, write out a list or a calendar of what emails you plan to send in the next, say, three to six months, and who you’ll send them to. Then you can start identifying what content – text, imagery, links to your publication, etc.– you’ll need to queue up to send those emails.

Anatomy of an email

Sparkpost, an email delivery service for large companies, has a good infographic on all the different parts of an individual email, from reply-to address, to subject lines, to body copy and footer content. These are all pieces of the individual email content you can plan out ahead of time.

Testing + Analytics

Most email tools will come with built-in statistics and reporting and even A/B testing or optimization features. Take advantage of them to learn and improve your email strategy.

Be sure to review how your emails performed in the days and weeks after you sent them. How many people opened them? Clicked on a link? Unsubscribed after getting the email? The more email campaigns you send, you can measure different approaches over time. For example, do your emails with videos get the most clicks?

If your email send list is large enough and your tool supports it, (say, more than 15K emails), you can also consider A/B testing for your campaigns. You can pick something to test, like your subject line or email design, or call to action, and your email tool will send your test options to a subset of your audience before sending the winner (based on criteria you define, like open rate, or click through rate).

More Resources

There’s a lot to master in the world of email marketing, but every journey begins with a single email, err, step. There are a ton of resources and forums on the web to help you learn, so don’t hesitate to Google for answers whenever you get stuck.

Here are some more resources that you might find helpful:

https://mailchimp.com/resources/

https://blog.kissmetrics.com/beginners-guide-email-marketing/

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/email-marketing-beginners-guide

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