So, you want to send email blasts for your blog? If you do, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, how do I do this? Where do I start? Here, in this guide, I will cover all the basics for email marketing on your blog, from creating your email sign up, picking an email platform, designing your emails, and most importantly, maintaining CAN-SPAM compliance.
First things first, if you don’t already have one, it’s time to add an email sign up to your blog. If you have WordPress, this is really easy, all you need to do is add the plug-in.
If possible, choose a sign up form that automatically includes double-opt in. Don’t know what double opt-in is? It’s the industry standard for email sign ups, after someone fills out your form, they will receive an email to verify their address. Why should you do this? This verifies that the email address is valid, and that it belongs to the person who filled out the form. While double opt in is not typically required, there are some email service providers that require it.
If you use WordPress, please, never, ever — EVER use the built in WordPress functionality or plug-in for email blasts. Many are not can-spam compliant, and that could put you at risk legally.
Choosing your Email Platform
When choosing an email platform, your decision will depend on whether you wish to utilize a free service, or a paid service.
So, what are the pros and cons of each? Here are a few…
Free email platform pros:
- Some have great features
- Management of your unsubscribe and bounce lists
- Typically easy to use, and incredibly user friendly
- Limited number of sends or contacts
- Restricted functionality (on some platforms)
- Restricted reporting (on some platforms)
- Less control over your sending reputation (this helps determine if you land in spam, or in the inbox)
- Less control over your campaigns – You may be limited to basic templates, and may not have the ability to schedule your campaigns during peak times
- Your account can be suspended or terminated for going over spam complaint limits
Paid email marketing platform pros:
- Full control over your campaigns
- Full control over your reputation (including dedicated IP addresses, DKIM, and SPF records)
- Access to all features
- Access to all templates
- Customer/technical support
- Deliverability support
- Not free
- Some features may require an additional cost
Please note, the above pro and con lists are general overviews, these do not apply to every email platform. So before choosing one, do plenty of research, look for 3rd party reviews, and try out trial periods for paid services if they’re available.
What is a fit for you will depend on what you want to do with your campaigns. Keep in mind, you can always start on a platform, and move your list later.
If you’re looking for a free service that integrates easily with WordPress, I recommend MailChimp.
When designing our emails, I recommend sticking simple, unless you have a background in web design and know HTML. In your chosen email platform, select a responsive template that best suits your needs. From there you will be able to insert pictures, text, etc. If you can use WordPress, you can easily learn to utilize email templates.
You can also download free responsive templates here.
Maintaining CAN-SPAM compliance
This is the most important part of your email campaign, as not complying can lead to heavy fines from the FCC being blacklisted, and banned by your mailing platform.
- Be sure you are emailing users who have successfully signed up for your email list.
- Never purchase an email list, or send emails to people whose addresses you found listed on the internet.
- Do not email people directly to get their permission to email them, this is what your form is for.
- You just include a physical address in the footer of your email. If you are not comfortable using your home address, PO Boxes are allowed.
- You must include an opt-out link in your email. Preferably at the top, and bottom of the email.
- If someone asks to be removed from your email list, you must comply within ten business days.
So, now that we’ve gone over the basics, you need to decide what content to include in your email, and when to schedule it. I recommend testing scheduling your emails on different times, and different days each week to see what performs the best for your list, as all lists are different. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below!