Welcome to my epic guide to email marketing!
If you’re looking for in-depth guidance on what email marketing is, why it’s important, and how to go about it in the smartest way possible, then you’re in the right place.
I’ve made plenty of email marketing mistakes in my decade-plus as an online business owner. I’ve also done a lot of things right. And of course, I’ve learned a ton in the process.
This epic guide is my way of sharing that knowledge and experience directly with you, for free. Why? Because I know how important email marketing is to any business. And I want you to get email marketing right, for your sake and the sake of the people your business is trying to serve.
I want to pay forward what I’ve learned. So put on your email marketing cap (mine’s a beanie with a propeller on it) because we have an exciting ride ahead!
But before we get into all of it, we have to answer a simple question, which is . . .
What Is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is the promotion of products and services to your audience via email. And successful, long-term email marketing depends on building trust with your audience.
Your email list is vital to the success of your business because it’s the most direct way to communicate with your fans and future customers. As marketing expert Amy Porterfield says, “The energy of your business is directly tied to the strength of your email list.” I agree with this wholeheartedly.
Starting an online business today almost always means starting an email list, but when I started my first two online businesses in 2008 I did NOT start building an email list until a year and a half later.
That’s right—I made this mistake twice! I had active and engaged audiences, but remember—even fans may not check your website regularly. By waiting to collect email addresses, I missed out on a huge opportunity to connect regularly with my audience, and when I was ready to sell to my audience, I didn’t have a way to let them know. I missed out on sales because I hadn’t taken the time to build a relationship over email.
I missed out on a ton of marketing and advertising opportunities, and I didn’t even know how powerful an email list was for things like validation and data extraction. Plus, it’s an amazing relationship building tool for you and your audience—not to mention a safety net if you lose access to the audience you’ve built on another platform.
That’s why my biggest rule if you want to build an online business is that you must focus on starting and growing an email list—now.
With Email Marketing, Focus on Quality over Quantity
Another huge lesson I’ve learned about email marketing is this: it’s not the size of your email list that matters. It’s the quality of that email list.
Focus on quality over quantity. A strong business solves problems—focus on finding the people who have the problems that your business solves.
I’ve seen businesses with less than 200 emails have five-figure product launches! How? Because those business owners focuses on growing an email list with the right kind of people and serving them with the right kind of product. Email marketing is an incredibly effective form of marketing, no matter what type of business you have. Whether you’re into affiliate marketing, creating your own products, or even if you aren’t sure what you’re going to sell yet, email marketing lets you start connecting with your audience now.
Despite the Hype of Social Media Marketing, Email Is as Important as Ever
Email has been around since the 1960s, and it’s been in popular use for decades now. In terms of online marketing platforms, email is old news. In the age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email is practically a dinosaur. Right?
Here’s David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH), one of the founders of Basecamp, who puts it perfectly in a tweet he shared in early 2019.
Email is the next big thing. We're finally realizing just how precious these open standards were all along. Your way around Facebook, and all the other walled-garden parasites, goes through email.https://t.co/mHnLlnFKdm — DHH (@dhh) January 20, 2019
In 2013, hackers took down my website for over a week. I lost an estimated $12,000 in potential revenue. I also lost a ton of time (and brain cells from the stress). It was a pretty awful experience.
There’s something else I could have easily lost as a result of the website attack, and that’s my audience. In fact, I could have lost not only my audience, but my entire business after the attack.
But I didn’t lose either of these things, thanks to one very important thing: my email list.
As DHH says, “Email is the next big thing.”
Of course, there’s a little bit of humor in that statement. Because email never went anywhere! But the reason he says this is that compared to other marketing platforms and channels out there, email offers something different, something stable, something time-tested.
What am I talking about?
Well, as you might have experienced yourself, there’s a lot of things getting in the way of us reaching the audience we’re trying to build on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Why? Because on these platforms, you don’t own your audience. You have almost no control over whether your message gets to the people you want to see it.
Facebook can control how often people see your posts. YouTube can control how often they see your videos. Your access to your audience is at the mercy of algorithms and your willingness to open your wallet for ads and sponsored posts. Instagram could go down tomorrow, and where would you be?
But with email, you fully own your list. You basically have a direct line to each person on that list. And if you’ve set a precedent of providing value to those people, they’re going to want to open your emails every time.
Getting Email Marketing Right Is a Must
So email is back (even though it never went away), and it’s still perhaps the best way to stay in touch with your audience.
And that’s why if you haven’t been focusing on email so far in your online business journey, now is the time to make a change. Email is how you will take control of your audience and serve them better. It’s how you’ll develop an insurance policy for your business. Whatever happens with social media platforms and other technologies won’t matter because—as I learned when my own website went down—you’ll still have access to your audience if you have them on your email list.
You’ll have a lifeline.
So getting email marketing right is a must. But it’s not enough to just have a list and send occasional emails to it. Successful email marketing requires you to understand all the ins and outs of this marketing platform.
What to Expect in this Epic Guide to Email Marketing
Over the next seven chapters of this epic guide, I’m going to help you to develop that deeper knowledge and become your own email marketing expert. I’ll give you the tips, strategies, and tools you need to become a confident and capable email marketer. I’ll also point out some of the pitfalls and mistakes to avoid as you build your email marketing expertise.
Here are the topics I'll cover:
Chapter 1: How Email Marketing Works
Learn what email marketing is and how to build an ethical, non-slimy email practice for your business. This chapter will teach you how to use email as a tool for building relationships with your audience, as well as the fundamentals of what every email needs.
Chapter 2: How to Start Email Marketing
I share my three foundational rules for building a strong email marketing program and five techniques that will help you to attract the right subscribers for your individual business. Let's bust some misconceptions you may have about email marketing and get your email program started!
Chapter 3: Email Marketing Tips
This chapter is packed with advice for sending emails that your subscribers will look forward to reading. Learn about the difference between autoresponders and broadcast emails (and when to use each) and how to segment your audience so that you can customize your message to smaller groups within your list.
Chapter 4: Email Marketing Case Studies
In this chapter, I cover how Steve Chou made a few key changes to his email marketing program and dramatically grew sales of his online course. The lessons Steve learned are universal, and no matter what you and your business have to offer, I know these lessons will make a difference for you, too.
Chapter 5: Email Marketing Mistakes
We all make mistakes, but the good news is that once you know you're making it, you can fix it. I have compiled an epic list of the 25 most common email marketing mistakes. If you have an established email marketing program, this chapter is an excellent tool to help you audit your current setup, and if you're just getting started, check back here periodically to stay on track.
Chapter 6: Email Marketing Tools
I share my top eight tools for making the most of your email marketing program. I have tools to help you grow your list, thank your audience, and use the information stored in your email marketing program to customize your website.
Chapter 7: My Recommended Email Marketing Solution
Choosing the right email marketing platform is important. I have used three email marketing platforms since I began my business, and I'm confident that I've found the platform that provides the right mix of customization and ease of use. Let me walk you through it and show you how it can help you.
Pat Flynn's Epic Guide to Email Marketing
How Email Marketing WorksRead more
How to Start Email MarketingRead more
Email Marketing TipsRead more
Email Marketing Case StudiesRead more
Email Marketing MistakesRead more
Email Marketing ToolsRead more
My Recommended Email Marketing SolutionRead more
Ready to go? On to Chapter 1
Create Winning Emails
Learn to Write Great Emails.
Once you’ve set up email marketing, you have a direct line to each person on that list. And if you provide value to these people, they’re going to want to open your emails. Every time. Score!
Write Winning Emails with These Great Game Plays
- Plans for emails to round out campaigns— Each “play” in this playbook has a unique purpose and structure.
- Timing to strengthen the relationship you have with your audience— Like a “choose your own adventure,” you select what structure works for you.
- The when, where, what, and how for your Calls to Action (CTA)— For when it's time to finally pitch to the people who trust you.