We've talked a little recently here on IFB about how important an email newsletter can be for driving traffic to your blog, but it's still not a tool many bloggers use. It should be. Besides search engine traffic, the IFB newsletter is the most important traffic driver to the blog, and my email newsletters consistently bring traffic & engagement to my blogs.
Bloggers who sell things (ebooks, etc.) have written a lot about the benefits of email newsletters (Chris Brogan recently wrote about it in ProBlogger) in getting readers to buy their products, but they can be good for us “regular” bloggers too. Here's how –
- Push your message to your most ENGAGED readers
Believe it or not, not everyone uses social media like bloggers do. Nearly everyone uses email though, and people are extremely protective of their email, so when they allow you to email them, it's very valuable.
- Feel more personal
You can talk directly to your readers via email, something that is more “intimate” and personal than social media, or your blog even.
- Provide a call to action
Asks readers to click through to read more.
Collecting email addresses is one of your most powerful tools as a blogger
All of these things help create and maintain community around your blog, which is so important, especially if you monetize. Collecting email addresses is one of your most powerful tools, and you should start early (Mailchimp is my favorite newsletter service, but Aweber is good too).
Hopefully It goes without saying that having access to your readers' email addresses shouldn't be taken lightly, that your email addresses should never be sold or given away, and you should always be transparent about what you're going to DO with your readers' email addresses. For example, if you're requiring readers to leave email addresses to enter a giveaway on your blog, be up front about whether or not you're keeping them for yourself, or if you're sharing them with the giveaway sponsor.
Now that you know how important having an email newsletter is, what do you put in it?
There are a couple different types of email newsletters: rss-to-email newsletters that send out emails daily when there are new blog posts, and “regular” newsletters that you create manually and send out daily, weekly, monthly – whenever you choose. They are both equally important tools in my opinion.
The rss-to-email newsletter gives your readers another way to read your blog: directly in their email. Mailchimp offers a great rss-to-email newsletter option that's so easy to set up and sends out automatically whenever you choose, AND can be customized with your blog header, additional information (links to popular posts, other content), and ads (monetize!!). You can't do anything else with it as far as main content is concerned, because it's automatically filled in with your latest blog post(s), but it's far superior to bloglovin' in terms of how much information you can push to your readers. Bloglovin' and regular rss are important also, but giving your readers an option to have blog posts delivered directly to email is a great tool.
You can do only this, or you can alternatively/also send out a weekly, or daily email newsletter that you create and populate with content manually (most newsletter services have templates for newsletters that are super-easy to use). A weekly newsletter is a great option to provide for readers who just want an update once a week instead of every day.
What can you put in the newsletter to keep it interesting and to attract new subscribers?
- Blog posts: definitely do a round-up of your latest blog posts, maybe not all of them, but at least your most popular/favorite
- Facebook updates: did you have an interesting discussion on Facebook? Post a link to that to get people engaged there.
- More social media updates: post some of your favorite instagrams from the week, your latest pins on Pinterest, Tweets, etc. Also use this opportunity to make sure you have all your social media links available to your readers.
- Exclusive newsletter content (this is my favorite!): do a weekly link roundup or shopping finds post that your readers won't find anywhere else. Get an advertiser to sponsor your weekly newsletter and offer a discount code in it. Post your favorite sale finds, or outfit outtakes. Your newsletter should contain something in it that your readers can't get anywhere else, that will entice more to subscribe.
Once you've sent out your newsletter, don't forget to promote it on social media sites as a teaser to get more subscribers and to remind readers to check their email.
Do you have an email newsletter? What do you put in it? How have you kept it interesting and attracted new subscribers?