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I emailed my list 156 weeks straight: here’s what happened.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I’m not an email copywriter nor do I offer email writing services. But it’s something I’m often asked about: “Who writes your emails?”

Answer: me!

I’ve been writing weekly SEO tip emails to my list since April 2019, and have only missed about 5 weeks (I take a couple of weeks off between Christmas and New Year and the odd week I’ve been sick).

This blog is to share my experiences of email marketing because I know you hear about it ALL the time from marketers and copywriters and people who sell emailing writing courses.

But what about the average, non-writer business?

The small business owner who doesn’t have a massive list, a huge budget or a team of assistants?

Does email work?

Bloody oath, it does!

 

How I grew my email list

I’ve created 3 different opt-in freebies to grow my list, and my most successful one has been my free On-page SEO Checklist. This one is specifically targeted to my copywriter and content writer audience. I know this is something my clients love to get a reminder about- where to put SEO keywords. It truly is a winner.

But it’s not enough to have a great opt-in freebie- you need to promote it! My list has grown fast whenever I have been relentless in promoting my freebie.

I’ll admit, I was too busy in 2021 to post on social media as much as I did in 2019 and 2020, so my list stalled a bit.

But I’ve gone back to promoting my checklist EVERY SINGLE DAY and in multiple ways. On Insta stories, in the Insta feed, on LinkedIn.

 

How I segment my list

Even though I’ve been working with copywriters and content writers, I still have many small business owners signing up to my lists.

When I used to run my free SEO challenges, most people who signed up were small business owners and they have remained on my list ever since.

I now have two separate email groups- copywriters, content writers, marketers and web designers are on one list, and other small business owners are on my other list.

When I send out my weekly emails, sometimes I write one email and then slightly tweak it for the small biz crew, other times I send the same email and other times I write two completely different emails. It really depends on the week, how busy I am and how inspired I am to write.

 

Do I pre-write and pre-schedule my emails?

In short, no.

I know I should batch write and pre-schedule, and I recommend you do. But the reality is, I find new content ideas all the time and love writing something on the fly.

I have pre-scheduled emails before but never more than a month’s worth.

What are my open rates like? How do I improve these?

My email open rates have been between 30% and 70%. I find as my list grows, my open rate decreases, which is pretty normal for most small businesses.

I recently gave in and focused on list hygiene. I deleted users who had not opened a single email of mine since signing up. I deleted about 100 subscribers and also cleaned up those that had signed up using two different email addresses (by deleting the one that they hadn’t opened anything with).

This improved my open rate immensely, and now it is consistently sitting between 55%-70%.

What are my click through rates like? What have I done to

 

What subject lines have worked best for my emails?

My most popular subject line to date has been:

“Cold toast, with butter not margarine”. 69%.

It’s a weird one, yeah? I can only guess that it stood out in people’s inboxes and got them curious enough to open my email.

Other subject lines that have worked well:

-Why do people love my voicemail message? (56% open rate)
-How to handle the lettuce shortage (59%)
-Ever eaten a teaspoon of butter? (61.24%)

A couple of weeks ago I personalised the subject line with the person’s first name, as recommended by many email copywriters. But TBH? It didn’t sound like “me”.

It was like I took an email copywriting course and did what I was told to do.

Maybe it would work for your audience, but it got me an open rate of only 48% which is lower than what I normally get. So I won’t be trying that one again for a while.

What action have my subscribers taken after reading my emails?

In every email, I include at least one CTA in the email itself and one at the end in my “P.S.” section.

I include a link to a related blog post, and if I’m really organised and have a bit of time up my sleeve, I might smash out a new blog post so I can promote it in my email and give my readers something juicy to check out. The more contextual links I add, the higher the click through rate.

My email readers have:

-Emailed me for a quote for keyword research
-Checked out my rate card
-Visited my keyword research services page
-Read a blog post or two
-Bought my SEO courses
-Referred my details to a friend, who has then contacted me

My most popular email in terms of replies from subscribers, was about whether I thought WordPress was the best website platform. This is a “controversial” topic in SEO-world and I took on a view that is not common among hardcore SEO enthusiasts. My readers loved it and were relieved to read my views.

Honestly, I can’t say there has been a single email where a reader has NOT taken any action at all. If there’s been a CTA, there’s been action!

What have people said about my emails?

I often have people replying to my emails to comment on something I’ve said, to ask a question or to ask me for a quote.

During the first COVID lockdown when most of the world was stuck indoors, I had a lady from the U.K. reply that she was so happy that I had continued to send my weekly emails as it made her life feel more normal than it was.

This really hit home- how important my emails are to people, even if I don’t get a reply some weeks or have a lower open rate than usual. People notice!

Have I ever had any negative feedback? And what about unsubscribes?

Yes! It’s funny, when I write my emails I picture one person in my mind, as though I am writing to that one person.

One week, I must’ve done it really well because a woman replied to my email saying she was insulted that I had made fun of her website in my email. I had NEVER seen this woman’s website but I obviously hit a nerve!

She unsubscribed.

I probably get 1 person every week or two who unsubscribes. In the early days I used to check to see who it was that unsubscribed but now I don’t care anymore. People unsub for so many different reasons and if they don’t want me in their inbox, then I don’t want to pay to have them on my list.

How do I come up with ideas for my weekly emails?

I don’t have an exciting life- I’m your average suburban mum running a business, raising her kids and enjoying life.

I look for stories in the everyday stuff- from exploding water pipes to buying a lottery ticket, from growing vegetables to my relationship with my sister. And I relate it back to SEO or something related to SEO, because the themes are usually the same:

-Things that grow, just like website traffic grows
-Things that are visible, like a website that’s visible on Google
-Things that take a lot of time, because website growth and SEO takes ages
-Things that require consistent behaviour, because SEO requires consistent behaviour

Some weeks, I focus more on the SEO tips without a lot of storytelling, trying to teach my reader something new.

But I find the storytelling ones are more successful because everyone loves to read a good story!

 

What’s my biggest tip for YOU, about email marketing?

Be persistent. Be consistent.

Be like the annoying mosquito buzzing in your ear on a hot summer’s night.

(No, on second thought, don’t be ANNOYING like that but be consistent.)

Be a reliable person who follows a regular email schedule. You don’t have to email every week- you can email fortnightly or monthly. But I prefer weekly because it keeps me front of mind.

Don’t be the douche who only emails when they’re in launch mode. This is like making a new “friend” and then they ask you a week later if you’d like to host a Tupperware party.

And if it’s been ages since your last email? Don’t start your email with “It’s been ages since I’ve emailed you!” People don’t care. Some people don’t even notice, if you’ve never been a regular emailer to begin with.

Just be consistent. You might not get a lot of response or action to begin with, but it’s amazing how one day someone will contact you and mention that they love your emails.

It really is a great way to nurture your leads and build a good relationship.

And it’s so much more rewarding than social media!

I bet you’re now curious about my emails?! Sign up to the only SEO emails anyone reads anymore (and you’ll get my free checklist too!).

 

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Nat Alleblas- SEO Sleuth: helping copywriters, marketers and web developers with their SEO needs. When she's not slaying SEO, Nat can be found with her head buried in a book or is smashing out a spin class. But not at the same time. Loves eggplant lasagna.