5 things I do so that every email newsletter I send performs WAY higher than industry average
5 secrets and strategies for email newsletters that out-perform industry averages
Gather round hunnis, I’m about to drop some serious insider info and share a behind the scenes look at my biz numbers!
If you’ve ever wanted to creep my stats or see how another business owner approaches online marketing, then this is the blog post for you. I’ve got screenshots galore, pulled directly from the dashboard of my email marketing platform.
Many people/brands/businesses keep these numbers private (which is 100% fine and totally normal) but clearly I’m an over-sharer who has no boundaries LOL! I’m all about transparency and sharing this sort of information with my audience, because I know we’ve all got a little voyeur in us :)
Disclaimer: I’m not an email marketing wizard - far from it, actually - but clearly I must be doing something right because my email newsletters consistently and dependably out-perform industry averages.
Also, it goes without saying that I’m not writing this blog post to pump my ego, to brag or show off for vanity reasons. Duh.
Instead, I’m getting vulnerable and putting myself & my numbers out there for scrutiny in this public way because online business (specifically web design/development and SEO consulting) is still a relatively new career path and we’re all trying to figure out how to do it successfully.
Think about it: many of us are solopreneurs or we run small businesses/teams, and there just aren’t that many opportunities to see how we compare to our peers, or have a benchmark to aim for if we’re still starting out - let alone know what’s normal and how our own numbers stack up!
So pull up a seat, pour yourself a glass of whatever tickles your fancy, and let’s dive right in!
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Why do I care so much about email marketing?
Alright before I share my secrets to kick-a$$ & high converting email newsletters, I should give you a bit of background here and explain why I care so much in the first place!
I’m a firm believer that every website or business (whether it’s online or physical) should have an email list.
If you don’t already have an email list, I strongly recommend that you start today - consider this some free, professional advice to do the damn thing and you’ll thank me later, trust.
At this point, email marketing is basically non-negotiable for anyone with a website. Whether your website is purely informational about your business/brand, if you use it to promote your services, sell e-commerce or digital products online, advertise an event, whatever. Email marketing is industry standard to get on board!
There’s insane value in email marketing and the truth is that email marketing converts wayyyy higher than other channels, such as social media.
For this reason alone, I’m always working hard to grow my email list and increase the number of subscribers. I also pay close attention to my stats and track my numbers every month (using my Website Growth Tracker, shameless plug).
I’m a bit of a numbers & data junkie but for good reason! There’s no point putting all this time and effort into email marketing only to find out that it’s not paying off or getting you the results you want.
Because here’s the thing: a big email list is great but an engaged list is better.
That’s why I’m always shouting it from the rooftop that you need to know you & track your numbers so that you can see how you’re converting and improving over time!
Every single week I send out an email newsletter to my list but I want to make sure that I’m providing VALUE to my audience and not just taking up space in their inboxes.
I also need to see that my emails are resonating with my readers and that’s why I find it so helpful to look at my numbers & stats, so that I can see how people are consuming and interacting with this content I send out every week.
Email marketing is forever a work in progress and there’s always room for improvement, but it’s still my favourite marketing strategy and the area that I see the biggest payoff, best results and most rewards for my hard work.
I feel reassured and validated when I look at my numbers because it shows me that what I’m doing is resonating with my audience and it gives me the encouragement to keep sending out these emails, week after week!
My approach to email marketing and how I communicate with my list
Let’s begin by looking at my approach to email marketing: the type of emails I send out and how often I do it.
I send out my regular weekly newsletter to my email list EVERY WEDNESDAY - without fail, rain or shine, 52 weeks a year. This is non-negotiable for me and like I said above, it’s something I truly enjoy doing.
In addition to my regular Wednesday email newsletters, I periodically also send out:
Launch emails (e.g., for my online course, Top Squarespace SEO)
Special blog posts (e.g., like this one, How Mariana pitched and booked $6700 worth of her services in just 4 days)
Announcements, reminders and/or replays of special video trainings or workshops
There’s one common piece of feedback that I keep getting over and over again, and it’s that I write a damn good email.
I have zero formal training in copywriting and I’ve never taking a course to learn ‘How To Write High-Performing Emails’ or anything like that. Nope, I’ve just figured it out with good old fashioned trial and error.
I don’t follow a super strict, technical or optimized formula for my email newsletters either. I’ve had a lot of success using email templates to pitch my web design/development services but not when it comes to my weekly email newsletter - that’s a whole other beast.
instead, I write from the heart so that my readers/newsletter subscribers get to know me. I want them to see me as a real person who sits down at her laptop every week to write and send out these email newsletters, and hopefully develop a relationship over time.
Email marketing is NOT something that I outsource - and I probably never will, to be honest. Every email that my audience reads was written by ME, and so long as it’s still something I enjoy, it’s going to stay that way. I also stay clear of heavy email newsletter automation. Like, duh, I have some basic email automation set up (e.g., when someone signs up for one of my freebies or my free email course, Launch Your Best Site), but all my regular newsletters are totally current and written in real life/real time.
Another reason why I love email marketing so much is that I get so many replies to these emails and it’s a real pleasure to email back & forth with my audience. When I ask a question, people answer. They share their news, tell me what they’re working on, projects that they’re busy with, what they’re stuck on or how they’re crushing it.
These natural conversations aren’t just fun, they’re also really great for business insights and getting to know my audience on a deeper level. It influences the products I create, the services I offer, the workshops and trainings I release, and more!
When it comes to email marketing, I don’t think the platform should be your biggest concern - instead, focus on creating quality content. I currently use MailerLite but I’ve also used Mailchimp and ConvertKit in the past - they’re all great for different reasons.
Alright enough talk, let’s talk numbers!
What are industry average numbers for email marketing?
I use THIS article as a reference point to see how my own email marketing and newsletter numbers stack up to industry averages.
According to that study, here are some average email benchmarks for all industries:
Average open rate: 17.92%
Average click-through rate: 2.69%
Average unsubscribe rate: 0.17%
Average click-to-open rate: 14.10%
Average bounce rate: 1.06%
Personally, I’m most interested in open rates and click-through-rates so those are the numbers I focus on the most.
Campaign Monitor also shares this interesting infographic which I looked at to see how my own numbers compare to specific industries:
I’m not exactly sure which industry to include myself in - maybe IT/Tech/Software Services or Professional Services - but either way, those Open Rates are around 18% and I’m WAY higher than that.
CHARLOTTE’S OPEN RATES
My weekly email newsletters open rates are routinely in the mid-30s% to low-40s%.
In 2019, my email newsletter with the lowest open rate so far was 22%.
As my list grows, my open rates have varied a little bit. I occasionally get open rates that are lower that my normal (i.e., in the high-20%) but again, that’s still way above industry averages and not a weekly low/trend.
CHARLOTTE’S CLICK THROUGH RATES
When it comes to click-through-rates, my weekly email newsletters are a bit all over the place LOL! I reviewed my stats and don’t want to include launch emails or announcement for free video training workshops in those numbers, because the click through rates in those types of emails are always way higher, which makes sense.
Looking back on 2019 click through rates for regular email newsletters, I still perform higher than industry average.
My lowest click-through-rate in the last 6 months for a regular weekly email newsletter was 0.92% and the highest was 8.75% - as you can see, just a liiiiittle bit of variety LOL!
Take a look at some examples here:
So, now let’s take a look at my email marketing secrets.
I’m going to share 5 things I do to every email newsletter I send out so that it performs WAY higher than industry average.
1. A/B test email subject lines
Let’s start off with the email subject line, or the title of your email.
This is SO important because if you email subject line sucks, then why the heck would someone open the email to keep reading?
Your email subject line can be informative, a teaser, direct, vague, or whatever you want really - but at the end of the day, it’s a major factor in email open rates so you don’t want to mess it up.
I’m a huge fan of A/B testing and use this feature to test out different email newsletter subject lines. I’m pretty sure that A/B testing email subject lines is a standard feature in email marketing, no matter which software you use. I personally use MailerLite and it’s definitely included, yay!
Here’s an example - you can see that I’ve set it up to send out the two versions to a small segment of my list and then a winner is declared.
Personally, I set my A/B testing to compare 2 different email subject lines. I send those out to a small segment of my full list and one email will be considered the “winner” (based on open rates I think). Whichever email subject line performed the best is declared the winner and that’s the email subject line that goes out to the rest of the recipients.
Here’s another example that I used a few months ago - again, note that I’ve sent out two versions to a small segment of my list and then once a winner is declared, the remaining recipients will receive that email subject line.
Again, take a look at both examples above to see how my email newsletter open and click through rates compare to industry averages. Pretty darn good, eh? :)
It might seem like a no-brainer now but A/B testing email subject lines is something to try out that could majorly improve your numbers, if you aren’t already!
2. Insert an emoji into the email subject line
I’m not sure if there’s a scientific reason to use emojis in your email newsletter subject lines but anecdotally, I’ve noticed that since I’ve started including emojis in my email subject lines, my open rates have increased!
Take a look at how I’ve used emojis in recent email newsletter subject lines:
Maybe it’s because emojis humanizes the newsletters, reminds people that these emails are coming from a real person who doesn’t take things too seriously? I”m not a robot or a massive brand, just a girl on the internet that they’ve decided to subscribe to? Who knows.
I also think that emojis can help lighten up what could otherwise be just another boring old tech email. My niche and area of interest is web design & development and SEO, which aren’t exactly the most thrilling topics out there, and I find that the occasional emoji helps keep things interesting and engaging.
3. Tell a story
This is perhaps my biggest differentiator and what truly sets me apart from my peers.
I know for a fact that my email newsletters stand out from other people, brands and businesses online, and they’re one of the main reason why my audience follows me and reads my emails every week, month after month, year after year.
My weekly email newsletters generally follow the same general format:
Salutations, intro, check in on how everyone’s week is going so far
Tell a story
Circle back to my services or product
Wrap it up, sign off with a question or something
Every section of the email newsletter is important but in my opinion, it’s the story section is the real meat and potatoes of my emails.
Usually my “story” is something that happened recently in my real life, a lesson learned, a new experience, something I’ve noticed (IRL or in my business), etc.
These stories are fun and often pretty entertaining (for a tech email, at least - I never claimed to be a comedian!), which definitely sets my emails apart.
I write in a casual tone and use friendly language that isn’t filled with tech jargon either. It’s approachable and readers are constantly replying to tell me that it feels like they’re reading something from a friend. GOALS!
Also, I often include a photo in my email newsletters - these photos are rarely personal or anything, but again it’s enough to help with that like, know & trust factor.
I used to get hung up on HOW to write a serious email newsletter and I could honestly spend hours tweaking it until it was ‘perfect’ - but looking back, that was a total waste of time.
Instead, here’s my recommendation:
Pick a topic or something you want to talk about and then set a timer and just start writing. Imagine you’re drafting an email to a friend, don’t overthink it. Once you’ve got a draft, you’ve finished the hard part and from here, you can edit the email newsletter, go back to add in any important information/details that you might have forgotten, and ensure that you’ve got a super clear CTA (more on that below).
4. Include a clear & direct Call-To-Action (CTA)
We’ve already talked above about the importance of click-through-rates in your email newsletters and one of the best ways to secure a high click through rate is to use extremely clear and direct CTAs in the body of your email.
If you’re using email marketing to sell your products/services/offerings or grow you website in any way (which you probably are, if you’re reading this), then you MUST use calls-to-action effectively!
It’s not enough for people to just open and read your email - you want them to actually DO something, so give them very blunt instructions of what you want them to do for next steps.
I use CTAs in my email newsletters to get readers to:
Watch a video training or workshop replay
Buy now - e.g., for a product
Visit a page on my website - e.g., my Services page
Check out my feature on another publication - e.g. if I’m a guest on a podcast
I use big, bright red buttons because those are immediately eye-catching.
I also use explicit language - buy now, click here, etc. It might seem a bit forward or sales-y if you haven’t used this kind of direct language/wording in your emails before but don’t shy away or hold back here!
This is how you’re going to get good results, trust me.
Email marketing can be a really fun part of your overall marketing strategy and personally, it’s the platform that gives me the biggest payoff in my business.
I work hard to write and send out weekly email newsletter that are equally entertaining, informative, valuable and keep people coming back for more.
It’s a great way to develop long-term relationships with my audience and almost all of my clients have hired me after subscribing to my emails. I can definitely see the payoff in my own business, and this is particularly true anytime I go to launch a product or remind people of my services.
When it comes to email marketing, it will take a lot of trial and error to find your “voice” and create the kind of content that resonates with YOUR audience!
These strategies have helped me out enormously and I’ve been able to consistently out-perform industry averages when it comes to email marketing, so try them out in your own email newsletters and let me know how it goes!
PS if you haven’t signed up for my email newsletter already, you can do so right here or add your email address below.
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