Zen and the Art of Email Marketing

There will always be an overwhelming amount of information swirling around the email marketing universe. New tactics, practices and services will constantly vie for your attention, even when your newsletter content was due to go out yesterday and your sign up form could desperately use a redesign. From time to time, you probably wonder, “How can I possibly be responsible for deploying an email campaign when I can barely keep up with the constant chatter about what’s new and fresh?” Never fear! Email marketing doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it might sometimes seem. If you take a Zen approach – one that focuses on making the process simple – you’ll find that you actually look forward to working on your campaign, if only for a few moments of peace!

There will always be an overwhelming amount of information swirling around the email marketing universe. New tactics, practices and services will constantly vie for your attention, even when your newsletter content was due to go out yesterday and your sign up form could desperately use a redesign.


From time to time, you probably wonder, “How can I possibly be responsible for deploying an email campaign when I can barely keep up with the constant chatter about what’s new and fresh?”

Never fear! Email marketing doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it might sometimes seem. If you take a Zen approach – one that focuses on making the process simple – you’ll find that you actually look forward to working on your campaign, if only for a few moments of peace!

Have a Purpose

Are you dipping a toe in the email marketing waters simply because everyone else is? Because your boss heard from a friend that it can do great things for your business? In other marketing mediums that would not be an acceptable reason for participation.

You wouldn’t spend millions on a Super Bowl commercial because someone told you to. You shouldn’t invest time and money into email if you’re not sure why you’re using it in the first place, either, even if it is the most cost-effective marketing method out there.

Decide why you’re emailing and set a goal for realistic goal for your campaign. Maybe you want to inspire brand recognition or build your prospect list. Perhaps you’re looking to increase profit, or give away a free report to website visitors. Whatever it is, establish your purpose and stick to it.

Focus on the Present

There’s no time like the present to make your campaign shine. Forget about making your newsletter look like the one Target sent last week. You’re only one person, and you only have a limited amount of time to make your message happen.

The quest for “perfection” often debilitates individual emailers. If you’re easily discouraged because your message isn’t highly styled or doesn’t include lots of pictures, don’t beat yourself up. It’s ok!

Do what you can with the time that you have. Only have twenty minutes? Focus on the meat of your message: the points that you have to make and the offers you must to extend to your readers no matter what.

Eliminate Clutter

Take a good look at how new subscribers are added to your list. Start by going to your website and walking through the sign up process as though you’ve never seen the page before in your life, or by watching a friend search around for your form.

Is it hard to find, or hidden by lots of text and links? Do you inadvertently drive visitors from signing up to receive your newsletter because it’s simply too difficult to do?

Never let that happen again! Remove any and all obstacles from sign up. De-clutter your website. It’s one of the easiest ways to ensure that new visitors will see your form and sign up to receive your information.

Practice Discipline

As with anything important in life, email marketing requires a certain stick-to-itiveness. You can’t expect it to do great things for your business if you aren’t willing to give it proper attention.

Sending a message here and there is really not an indication of a serious campaign. If you want your company to be seen as an authority in your field, you need to put in the effort to create a timely, relative newsletter.

Make a plan. Create a newsletter schedule and stick to it. If you inform subscribers of your message frequency when they subscribe, consider it a contract. You have to honor the commitment so that you aren’t coming up short of their expectations.

Be Grateful

While it’s always important to grow your list and increase your business’ following, at the end of the day, always remember to be grateful for the things you already have.

Think about the subscribers who are already on your list, the clicks you’ve already tracked and the content plans you’re making for your next newsletter.

Take a look at what other email marketers are thankful for – they’ve kindly shared their blessings with us!

Are You Feeling Zen Yet?

With all of the hustle and bustle of running an email campaign, we know how tiring it can be to keep producing high quality work.

Remember to keep these principles in mind the next time you’re feeling stressed – they should soothe your marketing nerves!

18 Comments

  1. Delwyn Lounsbury

    2/17/2011 12:25 pm

    I liked the part about removing obstacles. Keep up the good work. I look forward to your newsletter.

  2. Kit

    2/17/2011 1:32 pm

    Sticking to a schedule is something I need to focus on better. I’ll be looking into your service and thanks for the tips.

  3. Aaron Schulman

    2/17/2011 2:09 pm

    Thanks Rebecca,

    This is a creative way to theme a post of a lot of reminders to help keep it simple (the basics). I like the scheduling idea. We have also tried to communicate a future (events) calendar so people could have more advance notice of coaching events.

    One thing you said ” Whatever it is, establish your purpose and stick to it.” I know this is a great way to keep focus and move forward, but it is also good to use conversion-optimization (getting feedback, split testing, usability testing) and ultimately change strategies if the fish aren’t biting on a particular direction you are going. We started a contest recently and made quick changes on the fly to the process, simply because people were finding it to be too many steps to get entered into the contest.

    We did as you say “establish the purpose and stick to it” but tweaked the process immediately when we realized that a few were not going through because it was challenging to fulfill the requirements (investment / reward) was out of balance.

    Another way I have found to keep posts going (when you get email newsletter block) is to always have a time each day to read your favorite posts from some of your news sources relevant to your topic. I subscribe to Aweber’s blog posts, and several others on the front edge to keep me on the front edge and I can always find inspiration from others’ tool reviews, strategy reports, newsletters etc.

    Also- removing clutter from opt-in pages has helped us always – using more of a squeeze page format, we have found it keeps people focused on the AIDA process and certainly obtains more conversions.

    Thanks for this creative post- Rebecca

    Your thoughts?

  4. Howard Robinson

    2/17/2011 2:15 pm

    I needed that. Good, timely advice. Thank you.

  5. zarka

    2/17/2011 7:58 pm

    Thank you for all the good Ideas but I think one still have to do a lot advertising to attract new subscribers. That takes long time but at the end it will hopefully work well.

  6. Haywood DeJarnette

    2/17/2011 9:16 pm

    The “Practice Discipline” is what most marketers lack when email marketing and lead generation! Excellent post!

  7. Steve Joyner

    2/17/2011 11:43 pm

    Rebecca, I am feeling the Zen after reading your articles content. Made me pause a few minutes and rethink the what am I doing in my email campaigns. Look forward to further posts from you in regards to email campaigns.

  8. Lush

    2/18/2011 9:51 am

    I think the discipline to honour the commitment of the frequency of the followups is a very key skill in email marketing. We are still trying to get the resources together to engage our subscribers actively.

    Looking forward to achieving it soon!

  9. Rebecca Swayze

    2/18/2011 11:01 am

    Thanks for the feedback, everybody!

    Aaron – I completely agree. Assessing feedback and split testing are both important strategies. It’s surprising how many companies continue to do the same things even when “the fish aren’t biting.”

  10. Sue Ashcraft

    2/18/2011 12:28 pm

    thanks–this was very helpful, as I am a beginner. I am challenged to get specific on my goals for e-mail compaigns.

  11. Gary Pelton

    2/19/2011 7:39 pm

    Great Article,

    Is there any way that I can get a copy of this article?

    Thanks

  12. Rebecca

    2/20/2011 2:46 am

    What a lot of interesting information for a new “kid” on the block, very helpful for the correct way to go and put into practise. The Zen is all good. Thank you again

  13. Mike Behnken

    2/22/2011 1:06 am

    This is so confusing … seems most use autoresponders to spam people.

  14. Rebecca Swayze

    2/22/2011 9:06 am

    Gary – You are welcome to print out what you see here if you’d like a physical copy of this article.

    Mike – While some companies might use autoresponders to spam people, we take great measures to ensure that none of our customers do. We are a permission based service, so anyone that receives messages sent by AWeber must specifically request to receive them.

  15. Mater Johnson

    2/23/2011 12:36 pm

    Hi Rebecca, You really gave me a lot to think about. Much of the advice and tips that you give are basic, but never the less, need to be heard and read and acted upon. I think many people, (I know I do) waste a lot of time trying to perfect their site and content. Thanks for all the great information. Great Newsletter!

  16. Yee Shun Jian

    2/24/2011 5:07 am

    “Practise Discipline”

    – The good thing about the follow-up feature is that you can add emails into the follow-up sequence as and when you like and set the frequency as well…

    So that means if you aren’t THAT disciplined… you can write a couple of emails at one shot and space them out by the frequency you’ve chosen (once a week/fortnight) instead of adding one every week/fortnight.

    Also you can use your popular blog posts as content in your follow-up sequence so you don’t have to worry about coming up with “new content”.

  17. DB

    2/27/2011 3:20 am

    This is a brilliant post, Rebecca! You’ve managed to distill the principles of success into a simple, easy to read post.

    All email marketers that are feeling discouraged should be given a copy of this post!

  18. kathrine bocsh

    6/28/2011 6:35 pm

    hope is a light and this post is sparkling amazingly, thanks Rebecca