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My 3-Step Email Marketing Strategy

This post was most recently updated on March 29th, 2017

My 3-Step Email Marketing StrategyMy 3-Step Email Marketing Strategy requires one main thing.

Care about people.

That’s pretty much it.

I’m about to show you the structure of how I put together a promotional email campaign.

I’ve made money doing this.

You can make money doing this.

Anyone can make money doing this.

But nobody can build a business of loyal, repeat customers who want to buy everything you’ve got, who turn to your for help whenever they get stuck, who tell everyone in the world how great you and your service and your product and your training and your grandmother are (only if you’ve digitally introduced your grandmother to them, of course… not required, not necessary, not even recommended).

So, before you start patching together some kind of email “campaign,” you need to ask yourself a few things.

  • Am I content to sell a few widgets to my “list” that will net me, oh I don’t know… let’s say $68.52 today.
  • Or would I prefer to forget about how much commission I can earn today, and instead, start building a business that could potentially net me hundreds if not thousands of dollars every day for years to come?
  • Do I care about the people on my list?

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The above numbers are taken from thin air.

You could make more, less, nothing, a million a minute.

I have no idea how you will apply this information, I have no idea what your business is, or even if you have one.

But you should!

And knowing what kind of business you have, what products/services you sell, what your price points are and who your customers and prospects are… you can adjust the above numbers to fit your own business potential.

Ok, I might be rambling.

You’ll have to let me know when that happens… just raise your hand or tap on your computer screen, something to get my attention.

Back on track.

You want to put together a handful of emails.

Send them to your list.

Make money.

What does your “list” want?

That’s right, your “list” is actually made of real human beings.

They have their own desires that may be different than yours.

They’re not looking for a handful of emails.

They’ve got more than enough in their inbox already, thank you very much.

I don’t want to shock you but, they don’t even care whether or not YOU make money.

It just doesn’t cause a big shift in their lives.

So, maybe you’re out of luck here.

Your “list” doesn’t care about you, your emails, your promotions, your products… none of it.

But there’s some good news that kind of suggests itself by looking at the bad.

If the “people” on your email list don’t care about you, that doesn’t mean they don’t care about anything.

They do.

They care about themselves.

They care if they are happy, healthy, fulfilled, excited, entertained, enriched and any number of other things that you need to make a list of.

That’s right.

Another list.

Stop looking for great affiliate promotions you can run with.

Stop deciphering commission levels and profit breaks.

Stop rushing to the swipe files to copy and paste “campaigns” into your auto-responder as fast as your little fingers can fly.

Make a list.

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You have permission to do it now, but please don’t close this tab while you do.

There’s more you need to know.

But for now, make a list of everything the folks in your targeted audience… what I usually call your “crowd” or your “peeps”… make a list of everything they want.

  • What do they want to achieve?
  • What problems do they want to overcome?
  • What motivates and excites them?
  • What fears hold them back?
  • What challenges stop them in their tracks?

Make the list as long as you can and then, think of how you can help these folks.

What information could you put in an email that would actually help people live their dreams, avoid their nastiest little pitfalls, overcome all the obstacles that stand between where they are… and where they want to be?

Now, write an email than can help them.

That’s right… just write.

Hi Howard (or whatever name you want).

I know you’re struggling with ….

I know it really sucks to feel like ….

I understand all you want is to …

So, I thought I’d send you along a little story (or a tip) (or a link to a blog post)… that could really help you out.

I know, because it really helped me.

Now, you have an email that might actually help some of the people reading it.

But even more, you’ve let them know something really, really, really important.


1. You care about them.

You can care about yourself, too, that’s fine.

But what you’ve really impressed on people when you write emails like this, is that you care about them.

  • You know what they want.
  • You know what they fear.
  • You understand them, because you are like them.
  • You’ve walked in their shoes, felt their pains, dreamed their dreams.


2. You have a way to help them.

Now, we can talk about writing an email campaign that will do just that, help people to solve their problems, reach their goals, and have a better life.

Now, you’re ready to build a business instead of swipe a commission here and there.

Now, you’re build a loyal following.

Now, folks trust you.

Now, folks are ready to turn to you to get their problems solved.

Now, you’ve got a what some marketers call a “customer base” and what I call “a crowd of folks who trust you.”

It’s the ultimate “crowd sourcing” strategy because your “crowd” has faces and names, and they’re all listening to you because they’ve all learned they can actually trust you.

Everyone Else’s Email Marketing Strategy

I see what other people do that they refer to as their “email marketing strategy.”

My students and clients often ask me what’s wrong with their email campaigns.

The question itself indicates that they’re not getting the results they expected when they first started building an email list.

It’s easy to understand why.

They follow the same “expert recipe” that everyone follows, and while it may have worked in days of yore, it just doesn’t anymore.

Here’s some of what everyone else tells you about email marketing.

Get a squeeze page.

Offer a free thing.

Build “a List”.

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Keep doing that so your list gets bigger and bigger.

Sign up for an auto-responder service, often referred to as an ESP or email service provider.

Automate a 3-day (or 5, 7, 30… pick a number) email sequence.

With every email you tell people to buy, buy, buy… and you make money.

Slick Alternative to Buy, Buy, Buy: Just give people free, valuable information to show them your nice, you’re cool, you know what you’re doing… and you make no money.

Super Trick Alternative: Mix up the Buy, Buy, Buy sequences with the “Pure Value” ones so that just when people thought you were just hangin’ out with ’em… you sell them something.

Send out “broadcast” emails as often as possible.

These are the emails that you didn’t write 5 months or years ago, that you write each day or several times a week.

More often than not, they’re just swipe emails that sound nothing like you, because they are NOT you.

They’re written by “teams of high paid copywriting pros” that put them together as swipes for some affiliate product you hope to score a quick commission with.

So there you have it.

The expert plan.

Get people to sign up for your list, put them through a series of emails to build “trust” and then hit ’em up with your endless stream of disconnected sales pitches.

What Every Email Strategy Must Have

Here’s a quick list of the most important aspects of any kind of email campaign.

I don’t care if it’s “everyone else’s” or yours or mine.

These are the rock solid, absolute essentials of anyone’s email marketing strategy.

These are critical items, and you MUST pay very careful attention to them if you hope to be successful and profitable with email marketing.

Subject heading.

You need people to open your email in order to make money, so learn to write compelling subject headings.

Otherwise, nobody will open your emails.

That sucks when you’re doing email marketing.


Make sure your emails are getting delivered.

People won’t even see your subject headings if your messages are ending up in spam.

The best way to ensure high deliverability is to use a world-class auto-responder like my favorite, GetResponse.

If you try to cheap out on this aspect of your business by getting some second-rate service, all your hard work and advertising dollars will have been for nothing.

And the crazy thing is, that while GetResponse is one of the most reputable auto-responders on the planet, their pricing is pretty much in line with that of far less reliable services.

They even have a 30-day Free Trial offer that you can use by signing up with my affiliate link… GetResponse.

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Open Rate.

Do everything imaginable to get your emails opened.

This is the metric that tells you how good your subject heading is.


Now, usually, your emails contain a link for people to click on so they’ll see a sales page or maybe a blog post, etc… but usually a sales page.

It does you little good to get your emails delivered and opened if nobody is clicking through to your offers.

So, your email needs to do a really good job of convincing people to “click through.”

A good auto-responder, (I always recommend GetResponse) will keep track of all these essential metrics for you.

Every time I send an email via GetResponse, I can check back anytime to see how many of the emails I sent were delivered, what the Open Rate was for that email and what the Click Through Rate (CTR) was.

Not all ESPs (Email Service Providers) track this information.

That’s one of the reasons I always tell my students to use GetResponse.

But there are many other reasons, too.

GetResponse will show you exactly who has opened your emails, who has clicked through on your offer-links and it even gives you the one-click ability to re-send your emails to those folks who did not open them the first time around.

And if you ever have any questions, or need help, they’re just a phone call or live chat away… with hardly any wait time 🙂

Very cool.

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My 3-Step Email Marketing Strategy

OK, here’s my much vaunted, long awaited, personal 3-Step Email Marketing Strategy.

A lot of this has been developed through personal trial and error over the years.

Hopefully, getting a glimpse of what I’ve found works really, really well, will help you avoid your own trial and error, fraught with pitfalls attempts to get this right.

My 3-Step Email Marketing Strategy – Step 1


Email sequences work.

It’s that simple.

If you don’t understand what an email sequence is, I’ll explain it first by telling you what it is not.

It is not what many email marketers do when they put together 5 days of “welcome to my list” emails, telling peopleneverything they can think of about their niche in hopes of impressing them with their knowledge and expertise.

People don’t want to hear everything about the niche or the topic.

They only want to know how to solve their most immediate problem.

Well, how are you supposed to know what that is?


Why did they sign up for your list?

Did you offer a free ebook promising “how I made money with banner ads?”


Now, you know your subscribers are people… always remember that… people who want to know how to make money with banner ads.

Sure, they care about how YOU did it, but only if it’s something they can see themselves doing, too.

Now, you know your opening sequence of emails better be information that will help them do exactly that.

You might give all free information, you might be selling your course or an affiliate program… those things don’t matter.

What DOES matter is that your opening sequence of emails helps your crowd to achieve what they signed up to achieve, or overcome the problem they told you they have (the one they “told you” about by signing up for your freebie).

Now, how are 5 emails about banner ads any different than a 5-day email sequence on the topic?

It’s all a matter of escalation.

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If the first email in the sequence tells the reader, “here’s why this is important to do and I’ll show you 4 ways to do it in the next 4 days”… then you’ve begun a story.

Your reader/subscriber will say to himself/herself, “oh, I have to open tomorrow’s email to see what those 4 points are.”

In Day 2, you write “here’s the first thing you must do… tomorrow I’ll tell you the next.”

You see, your reader is now hanging on, day by day, to see what the 4 points are.

That’s a sequence.

You escalate the information, you connect the dots, you leave some things hinted at but undeveloped until “tomorrow”, etc.

You could just write 5 emails with the same information.

But if you don’t position each one as part of a larger story, then you lose the escalation factor.

Think of television shows.

Doesn’t a tv “series” of stories that are connected to the one before and after hold your attention more?

Isn’t it more engaging?

That’s because of the escalation factor.

It’s what made soap operas so popular.

It’s what makes the ongoing television “series” so popular.

Contrast that to just seeing one movie.

You were sold on seeing it, so you did.

You liked it, you hated it, whatever… you have to be convinced all over again to watch another movie even if it’s in the same genre.

But if you’re on episode 6, season 3 of a series you’re just loving, do you really think you’ll miss episode 7?

Not likely.

That’s the escalation of interest and engagement you want to build into a true email sequence.

People write 5 emails on the same topic and think it’s a “sequence.”

I won’t quibble over semantics, but in my mind, it’s not a sequence because it’s not sequential.

One email does not necessarily flow from the one before.

To cue people into the fact that the email they’re reading just part of a larger sequence, you must tell them!

“Now that you know how to put your video on YouTube, tomorrow I’ll show you how to get people to watch it.”

You can even tell them in your subject heading:

“YouTube video marketing, day 1 of 5”
“YouTube video marketing, day 2 of 5″… etc.

In fact, once you have your readers’ attention, as long as you’re giving them valuable information, and they knowyou CARE ABOUT THEM (remember that part?)… they’re going to want to open your next email.

Maybe they miss a day or two, but they WILL look for them when they get the chance, and then open them all.

They see them as improving their lives, not draining their time.

And the nice thing about involving people in a sequence is that you get to control the narrative.

People will learn what you show them, they’ll travel down the path you want them to.

That’s because you’re resonating with them, not trying to persuade them to take some action that’s good for you, but of questionable value to them.

What that means is that you can structure an email sequence to build up a frenzy of anticipation for what’s next… even if you’re leading your crowd to a sales page.

That’s because you’ve conditioned people to expecting that whatever you send their way, free or premium, will help them solve their problems and have a better life.

That’s all they want.

That’s all you should give them.

My 3-Step Email Marketing Strategy – Step 2

Not everybody will buy your product or service.

Yet, your email sequence goes on.

Why is it that some people won’t buy?

I learned this some time ago.

A certain percentage of people who sign up for your email list to get the free course on YouTube marketing, will cool off to the idea once they’re in your opening sequence or two.

There could be many reasons for this.

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Maybe video is more difficult than they expected, or they try it out and it doesn’t feel right… or any of a million reasons that you’ll probably never know, and really don’t need to.

What you do need to know is that the people who back away from YouTube marketing are still excellent prospects for marketing.

If they joined your list to learn YouTube marketing it’s because they’re trying to sell stuff.

So what else might help them out?

  • Facebook ads?
  • SEO?
  • Sales Page copywriting?

You don’t know, but you can find out.

Here’s the way to find folks that might want to veer off the path you’ve laid out for them.

Find other methods they can use to market their products (using the same example).

This means, in most cases, a high quality affiliate program that might be available to teach them Facebook ads, SEO or copywriting… just to name a few possibilities.

Now, this might seem to be getting dangerously close to the hard-sell, constant-sell email campaigns that send most folks into fits of nausea.

But it’s different.

Very different.

Here’s how I do this.

I don’t look for the “product of the day” type of offering you’ll see on everybody’s email list.

I look for that occasional, big product launch that’s coming down the road a month or two.

I do my research, grab a review copy, talk to the product owner, etc., until I’m certain that this can really and truly solve the problems that people on my list are having.

Then I craft a whole new “launch sequence” of emails designed to introduce people to that idea.

But I don’t send it to everyone on my list.

I only send it to people who WANT it, and they must TELL ME they want it or they’ll never see that sequence of emails.

I’ll use the example of Facebook ads.

Half way through a sequence in which I’m selling my YouTube Marketing course or product, I send out an email to my list that says essentially this…

Hey, I hope you’re seeing how powerful video marketing can be. You’ll be learning a lot more about this in the next few days. Meanwhile, just about everybody knows how that Facebook marketing is another great way to promote your products.

Now, I don’t want you to get off track, but there is a special new course coming down the road in a few weeks that can really help you find your way with Facebook marketing.

IF you’re interested in learning more about this, please click this link and I’ll include you in my special 5-day Facebook ads training.

If you’re not interested, simply do not click the link and you’ll never hear about this again.

Now, those folks that click that link will begin a new sequence that runs parallel to the one they’re in.

Do you really think they’d click that link if they were not interested in Facebook ads?

Don’t you think they’re a pretty laser targeted prospect for that new product launch?

And they’ll become even more interested once they’re in my special Facebook ads sequence because again… just like in step 1 above, I get to control the narrative and create an escalation leading up to launch day.

Remember, I’ll write the narrative… no one-size-fits-all swipe that tells my readers “I don’t give a hoot about you, but I do love the commissions I can get by selling you this thing.”

Instead, I’ll be crafting a high quality email sequence that will in fact, be a valuable asset in and of itself.

And I’ll be inspired by the fact that I really and truly expect that people will benefit if they buy the product I’m promoting, but they’ll also benefit from what I teach them in the email sequence.

So the difference is this.

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If you’re watching your favorite show and a commercial pops up with someone yelling about how great Pizza ABC is, do you really think they care about you?

And because you don’t think they do, are you interested in watching their boring, arm-twisting commercial?

Of course not.

Yet, if you’re watching the same show, and your best friend sends you a text message that reads “Hey, I’m at Pizza ABC… this stuff is great, should I bring you one?” … you’re far more likely to pull out your credit card.


Because the guy on the commercial doesn’t CARE about YOU.

Your best friend, though, does.

So you can trust him.

While everybody else is trying to convince folks to buy the new launch product, they’re coming across like the guy on the commercial.

You crowd will buy it from you because you care about them.

They know that.

They already trust you.

Now you’re simply showing them, in the special email sequence, how the new Facebook course can benefit them.

Quite a difference in approach and believe me… a big, big difference in the results you will get from your email marketing.

My 3-Step Email Marketing Strategy – Step 3

I want you to notice something.

In Step 1 and Step 2, I set up email sequences as autoresponders.

In Step 1, somebody signs up for my email list and gets and automatic roll of email sequences based on their original interest (example: video marketing).

In Step 2, people opt-in for an entirely new autoresponder sequence (example: Facebook marketing).

This is just a single-launch sequence.

When the product has launched, the sequence dies for people who did not make a purchase, but for those who did, they will automatically be rolled into a new email sequence that is relevant to, in this case Facebook marketing.

So, maybe a graphics package they can use in creating Facebook ads, and so forth.

So what’s happening is that you get more and more closely refined segments of your email list that continually tell you what they like.

This is not only valuable to keep promoting congruent products to them, but in also creating your own products where you see the greatest interest.

Now, Step 3 is the “Broadcast” aspect of your email marketing.

If you’ve ever been on one of my email lists, you may or may not know about my email sequences.

It depends on what you signed up for, what you’ve purchased, or what you’ve told me in a survey that you’d like to hear more about.

So as my customer, you may have seen some of my emails but not others.

If you never buy my products, you probably get very few emails because you’ve displayed a low-interest in what I’m doing.

The more you buy, the more serious I believe you are about blogging and internet marketing, so the more value-packed email sequences you’ll see from me.

However, you probably see all of my broadcast emails.

These are the emails I sit down and write every day (or I try to anyway).

These are emails that are really just relationship building.

You get to know me better, and if you reply to my emails as I always invite folks to do, I get to know you.

The broadcast emails are simply a way of keeping in touch.

Everyone gets them, in addition to any special sequences they’re getting.

If you hang out on my email list for a while and I see you’re not opening my emails, or clicking through on embedded links, or making purchases or replying to my emails… I’ll probably just deleted you from my list.

There’s no point in sending you even my broadcast, relationship building emails.


Most marketers think the more people they can send offers to, the more likely they are to make money.


The more money you’ll spend on monthly autoresponder fees, and the worse your delivery rates will get.

That’s because, when your autoresponder, or the email services you’re sending to like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and the others… will all see that a very low percentage of people open your emails, so they must be mostly spam.

The result is that your emails end up in spam boxes more and more, and fewer people who really WANT to see your emails, will ever get to.

So, in Step 3, I maintain a fairly robust level of relationship building via broadcast emails in order to monitor who does and who does not want to be on my list.

You see, even though I really do care about you as my subscriber, if you never engage with my emails or buy products I promote, I assume you don’t really care about me being your teacher and leader in the great digital universe.

Since it’s my business, I make the decision to cut you off my list.

I can’t afford to expect you to take on the responsibility of unsubscribing, so I make it my responsibility to maintain a high level of list management, which means… keeping people on my list who have shown by their behavior that they want to be on it, and deleting the others after a certain amount of time.

My Blogging Mentorship Program

So, now you know “My 3-Step Email Marketing Strategy.”

I hope it helps you make your own strategy more effective.

Please let me know how this might effect the way your implement your own email marketing strategy.

As usual, I encourage you to share this article with others on your social sites.


Donna Merrill
Donna is a well known blogger and creator of "Blogging Magic" - an intensive guide to blogging. "Blogging Magic" is for beginners who are trying to figure out how to bring their blogs to life with tons of visits, comments and social media interaction. It's even for advanced bloggers looking to reach new levels of authority and engagement with their audience.

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50 Responses to My 3-Step Email Marketing Strategy

  1. Abhinav Mohan July 23, 2018 at 7:06 am #

    Hey , Great Article !

    You have explained each and every point in detail which helped me a lot to understand about the email marketing.

    I completely agree with the points that you have mentioned about deliverability in your post.

    As far as my knowledge, deliverability of emails is also affected by cleaning up the email list and as well as also affected by doubleopt-in.
    Abhinav Mohan recently posted..Really Good Episode with Really Good Emails’ Matt HelbigMy Profile

  2. Vish April 10, 2018 at 7:54 am #

    Amazing stuff Donna 🙂 As you had stated,compelling subject line makes the user to open the mail and I had experienced that many times.

  3. Donna Merrill June 19, 2016 at 10:30 pm #

    Hi Lesly,

    There are indeed, different tripwires that cause people to open and read our emails. The bottom line, though, is that it does email marketers little good to have their emails opened unless people are converting into customers and clients as a result.

    Well crafted sequences should be designed, not to just get opened, but to move the recipient to take action, join, buy, call me… or whatever your target action point is.

    If this is not happening, email marketing becomes just another hobby that fails to build our business and fails to help our followers. If we have solutions to their problems, and we charge a premium for those solutions, people should be happy to become customers.

    That’s really what distinguishes email marketing from just sharing information and tips across the internet.

    Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  4. Lesly T. Federici
    June 19, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    Oh my. This is one for my hard-copy online tips for recall that I thumb through every so often. Lots of info here. And the program I use is Get Response – I love them. I like what you said about emailing people who WANT to hear from you. I can’t buy into emailing everyday. I think the internet world is half ADHD. If you believe in attraction marketing and giving value, and someone with integrity .. people will just want to hear from you. I don’t sweat it. Learning HOW to implement an email sequence is important. But being who you are, caring, and helping – those are the best emails I like to receive…

  5. Erika Mohssen-Beyk
    June 19, 2016 at 4:30 pm #

    Hi Donna ,
    Excellent post ,like always, I like the soap opera,
    it is good to remember and shows how it works
    best. It is true if one only wants to sell people may
    not even open the mail anymore. Telling stories
    works here as well.
    Thank you

    • Donna Merrill June 19, 2016 at 9:40 pm #

      Hi Erika,

      The story telling, soap opera sequences are magical.

      Just like on television, radio or any other media… people are wired to follow a story to conclusion. As long as open loops exist, they tend to await breathlessly for your next installment (email).

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Getting To The Next LevelMy Profile

  6. Mandy Allen
    June 19, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

    I believe email marketing is more about playing the long game than a quick sell. You have to nurture the relationship with your subscriber before you start trying to sell to them. I also have a policy that I never promote anything I do not use myself.

    Enjoy the journey!

    • Donna Merrill June 19, 2016 at 9:37 pm #

      Hi Mandy,

      Playing “the long game” can be a dangerous path to follow.

      It you are not quickly converting people into clients, buyers, customers or whatever your business model is designed to do… it usually only gets harder with time.

      For the most part, if a person has not understood that you have something of value that they are willing to pay for within a very short time (say, the first 7 days they are on your list)… they are not likely to come to that conversion point 3 months down the road.

      It’s important to make people understand almost immediately that 1. you can help them solve their problems and 2. they must be willing to pay a fair price for your help.

      Point 1 is YOUR obligation to demonstrate, while point 2 is up to the person who receives your offer. You can do #1, but if your subscriber doesn’t accept your offer and convert at point #2 within 7 to 30 days, however you’ve designed your campaign… then the relationship will do neither of you any good in the long term. It’s best to delete people from your list who show little likelihood of conversion, rather than keep sending them information and offers that are not resonating with them.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Getting To Know Your Target AudienceMy Profile

  7. Jasper Oldersom
    June 19, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    Hey Donna,

    This is a fantastic post.

    Caring about your list is super essential. I always opt out when I feel like someone is just trying to squeeze money out of me, but “forget” to provide value.

    The questions you mentioned provide deep insight into the mind of your market. Once you know what they desire and what their problems are, you can start to come from a place of empathy and truly help them.

    The way you set up your e-mail marketing is interesting. That way your most interested customers automatically build the strongest relationships with you and get more contact points, without bothering your regular customer too much. And it’s way easier to convert a buyer for another product or service than it is to acquire a new one.

    Thank you for showing us the right way to do email marketing with full integrity, Donna.

    I hope you had a great week.

    – Jasper
    Jasper Oldersom recently posted..7 Recent Posts On Copywriting You Don’t Want To Miss Out OnMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 19, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

      Hi Jasper,

      Caring is everything.

      If you don’t really care about people, they know it.

      Unfortunately, a lot of good folks I’ve worked with really do care about people but one of two things spoils the relationship… either 1. they don’t know how to relate their sincere caring, or 2. they just don’t have the tools and skills to help the people they care about.

      So, yes, the methodology can be right, but you’ve got to be able to score on those 2 critical points before even engaging people in it.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Getting To The Next LevelMy Profile

  8. ikechi
    June 18, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

    Hi Donna

    This post about email marketing is just unique. I don’t think I have ever been able to understand Email marketing to this extent.

    You are just on point that solving people’s problems is the building block to a great email marketing. Most people just follow formulas without a clear picture of what their email does to their audience. It is all about sell, sell, sell and nothing of value to give.

    Thanks for sharing your awesome insight. Take Care

    • Donna Merrill June 19, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

      Hi Ikechi,

      The reason so few people have success with email marketing is that they think it’s all about (1) building a list and (2) selling stuff to people on that list.

      It’s so much more, as I’ve explained in this article. If you don’t master the nuances of email marketing, it will be difficult to make it the vehicle to blogging profits you assumed it would be, just by virtue of building a list.

      I’m glad you got some value from this, Ikechi.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Getting To Know Your Target AudienceMy Profile

  9. Lea Bullen
    June 16, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    You’re so right about considering your audience. Too many times when you’re trying to each other people you tend to just think of yourself, but you have to look at it from their point of view. Essentially it’s about them. That’s what about.

    Lea Bullen recently posted..How to Improve Your Life Without Doing Too MuchMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 19, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

      Hi Lea,

      Yes, it is so important to know what your audience wants and needs, otherwise how can you possibly deliver the solutions to their problems?

      Afterall, blogging and online marketing is ALL about solving peoples problems.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..10 Ways To Make Your Blog SocialMy Profile

  10. Ben
    June 16, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

    Hi Donna. Thanks for sharing so much information. This is a project that I’m going to be working on soon, so it is very timely for me.

    I have one question. You watch your open rates to see who is engaging with your emails. From what I’ve read, open rates are highly suspect. The only way that ESPs can see if an email is opened is when an image is downloaded in the email, usually some 1×1 pixel hidden image. If your subscriber has images turned off, you will never know that he/she opened your email. When I sign up for one of you lists, which I will likely do soon because you are one of the marketers that I respect and I want to see how you do it, you probably won’t see that I’m opening your emails.

    Or do you look more at people clicking the links in the email? That isn’t completely accurate either because anyone who has text-only email will have to copy and paste the displayed link, which may not have the tracking code in it. That probably isn’t as much of an issue as just having images turned off.

    What are your thoughts on that?
    Ben recently posted..How to Filter Water When BackpackingMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 19, 2016 at 7:08 pm #

      Hi Ben,

      You are right… “open rates” like any other analytic feedback are far from exact metrics. Now, the precise reason depends on your ESP, email service provider. I know that with GetResponse, if people don’t view your email message in html, they probably won’t get figured into the stats. So, yes, it’s always better to have some kind of an image, even if it’s in your signature. Helps matters, but nothing’s perfect.

      I think that click-throughs are most reliable because they measure a precise behavior that registers only when someone actually clicks your link.

      But don’t get too hung up on these things. Use them as guidelines and meanwhile, write killer emails. Your business will improve because of it.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..7 Things Top Bloggers Never Stop DoingMy Profile

  11. Dana
    June 16, 2016 at 8:20 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    This post is a keeper. I’ll be referring to it many times, that I know for sure.

    I’d like to think my emails demonstrate care for those on my list.
    I talk to them like I’m talking to a friend. I picture their struggles and remember how I overcame them and point them to a blog post discussing it in further detail with insight and solutions.

    I know I still have a lot to learn though. This will be a work in progress.

    It’s true. People care about what will help them. Not us, not our achievements, etc. It’s a good idea to remember this.

    You’ve given a lot of fantastic info here Donna. Off to share.
    Dana recently posted..Our Thoughts and Beliefs – Are They True?My Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 19, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

      Hi Dana,

      I’m glad you think this post is a “keeper.” In fact, I’m just working on a software that will help me offer some of these posts as pdf downloads (ebooks). That would be nice to offer to folks who so often tell me they want to refer back to my articles.

      As for email marketing, I know one of the big hurdles I had to clear was to start selling people my trainings, instead of just giving them “value.”

      The truth is, emails can give excellent and free value, but they become much more valuable to your subscribers when they have to pay for you content upgrades. That’s just the truth of the matter. Anything you can teach for free will become much more helpful, and actually improve peoples live MORE, if you can upgrade it into a premium training or coaching or something.

      When people pay for something, they definitely take it more seriously and will be infinitely more likely to implement it instead of just “reading” something cool.

      Once you strike that balance in your business, between giving and selling, you’re on your way to achieving anything you want. And the main reason is because your followers will start to achieve more once they start buying your training because they’ll actually have the incentive to DO something instead of just learn something.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..4 Ways To Write More Blog Posts, And Write Them Better And FasterMy Profile

  12. Imran Khan
    June 16, 2016 at 8:33 am #

    I would say, one of the best as well as detailed post indeed about email marketing strategies. I must say, very useful strategies summarized by you.
    Thanks for this worthwhile post.
    It’s going to definitely work!
    Imran Khan recently posted..Top 10 Best Home Remedies for Weight LossMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 19, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

      Hi Imran,

      Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you found some things to help you out, here.

      Remember, it WILL work if you implement it… too many people think it will work just because they read about it, haha.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  13. Stella Chiu
    June 15, 2016 at 9:52 pm #

    Hi. Donna

    Wow, this is a pretty long article about E-mail marketing. There are many points and examples that really need time to absorb and digest.

    Glad that you reminded us our e-mail marketing need to make the readers feel that we care about them as “person”. It takes time for bloggers to master the fine line between in-personal one and personal one.

    I will keep in mind of using “sequence” as e-mail marketing for product launch.


    Stella Chiu
    Stella Chiu recently posted..7 Ways to achieve Life with BalanceMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 19, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

      Hi Stella,

      Some of this takes time to “absorb and digest” as you say, but the best way to learn your way around email marketing is to do it.

      Even if you’re doing it “wrong” (which mean ineffectively)… the more you do it, the more all this makes sense and the better you get at it.

      Start with writing your autoresponder emails in sequences, as you say you want to try. That’s an excellent place to start, and one of the most powerful methods of email marketing.

      So, go for it 🙂

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

    • Chery Schmidt
      June 19, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

      Hello Donna, Good stuff my friend! As you know I am taking some time offline for a while, but wanted to thank you for your help and have taken me some notes to reference later.

      Thanks for all you do my friend..
      Chery :))

      • Donna Merrill June 22, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

        Hi Chery,

        Enjoy your time off line. I know I will be seeing you and your awesome grandson on Facebook.

        I look forward to that,

        Donna Merrill recently posted..Piggy Back BloggingMy Profile

  14. Chery Schmidt
    June 15, 2016 at 9:11 pm #

    Hello Donna, This 3-step email marketing strategy of yours ROCKS! I really got some great tips here my friend! I have been shooting out emails to my list at least once a week and my opening rate has been getting better. YEH! But I know I have a ways to go yet..

    Thanks for the great post..
    Chery :))

    • Donna Merrill June 19, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

      Hi Chery,

      Hope you can make use of the strategies I have given you here. I would add that once a week is not really enough for highly engaged lists. It’s okay for “maintenance” lists… that is, people who joined your list over 90 days ago and rarely click on your links and have never purchased anything.

      But for highly engaged lists, it’s really good to email them once a day (or even more, sometimes).

      You shouldn’t have just one list, you should have people segmented into different types of lists, including what I just mentioned.

      Everybody has different needs, interests and engagement levels. You need different list for different folks, and you need to run your lists differently. The example I’ve given in this article is basically for people who have just joined your list within 60 days, and are showing interest in what you’re doing by their open, and click through behavior.

      Hope this clears things up some and doesn’t make it sound confusing.. It’s really not.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  15. sylviane Nuccio
    June 15, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    I have to say that I feel that most marketers don’t truly think of their list being made out of real people.

    The reason I’m saying this is that I belong and have belonged over the years to many, many lists and their email always sound pretty much the same.

    It’s very important not to fake it, but rather being an honest human being not afraid to show feelings and kindness and build relationship with individuals in our list the best and smartest way we can.

    Great examples you gave here.

    sylviane Nuccio recently posted..How to Write a Blog Post that People Yearn to ReadMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 15, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

      Hi Sylviane,

      Unfortunate, but true for some marketers. They are writing to sell, not to engage. It is like a dance when we are emailing. We have to share and give some good advice. If we are emailing just to sell all the time…no one will open the email.

      I too have lists whereby I know when I see the name of the person, its going to be a sales pitch each and every time.

      As marketers, we just cannot go there.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  16. Joy Healey
    June 15, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    That’s a real encyclopedia of an article on email marketing!

    Some great tips for me to incorporate because I really struggle with email marketing, which is a shame because I really enjoy writing my blog posts. But I just don’t “feel” it with emails – probably because, even when I try really hard, I don’t get anywhere with it.

    If basing emails on something else I always put my own spin on it, because most of them just aren’t how I would “speak”.

    Then when I get no response I’m disheartened again and it’s chicken and egg. Once or twice people have replied back and we’ve communicated, but mostly it’s a one-way street.

    Perhaps the title is my biggest problem – getting them opened. Need to work on that 🙂

    Yes, I’ll ponder.

    But I can confirm that I love GetResponse. I chopped and changed from it a couple of times but I missed its features so much I cam back 🙂

    Joy – Blogging After Dark
    Joy Healey recently posted..Lead Generation Process InfographicMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 15, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

      Hi Joy,

      If you enjoy blogging then email is quite the same. Just write like you would a blog post. Remember the first line of this post? Care about people. Now I’ve known you for a while and can say that you DO Care About People!

      Just write without expectations. What happens many times is that we do an email sequence and expect something. If it is not working, tweak it. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tweaked an email sequence. No open rate..or very little or no one responding, etc.

      Consider too that most of our emails end up in spam boxes unless we Tell people to “Whitelist them”

      So my friend ponder…I know you will be great because you are very engaging.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  17. Edward Thorpe
    June 15, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    ‘You gotta prove your intentions are honorable’, right?

    I’ve always thought of marketing as a series of sequences similar to dating and maintaining a relationship. This post about your 3-step email marketing strategy sorta reminds me of that idea.

    It also reminds me of the old sales ‘formula’ of feel – felt – found. Good post, well written and smart tips.
    Edward Thorpe recently posted..Why You’re Not As Smart As You ThinkMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 15, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

      Hi Ed,

      Glad you enjoyed this post. Indeed, you said it “You gotta prove your intentions are honorable” and it is only by doing not saying does it happen.

      I like that old sales formula “feel – felt-found” I will remember that one!

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  18. Donna Merrill June 15, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    Hi Jennifer,

    That’s what I like to hear…laughter! It really does get down to caring about people. That’s all we need to do. But then I did ramble on didn’t I? I kind of lost time and space while writing this.

    Want a bigger laugh? I actually had to cut it down while editing…I put too many examples in and realized the reader was going to get all confused and think “what the heck is she doing??”

    I’m glad I have answered a lot of questions for you here. It’s always fun communicating with you.

    Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  19. Ilka Emig
    June 15, 2016 at 3:45 am #

    Hi Donna!

    Thank you for this insightful and resourceful post.
    Loved it! Love it! Loved it!

    I will have to read it again – and maybe again. But I will take your advice and put your strategy into action.

    Have a wonderful and blessed day, Ilka
    Ilka Emig recently posted..A surprising life lesson from the discovery of penicillinMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 22, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

      Hi Ilka,

      Absolutely, we can read all the advice, but it is not until we put it into action does anything work.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Piggy Back BloggingMy Profile

  20. Jennifer Giacoppo
    June 14, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

    Hey Donna,
    firstly I want to start of with hahahahha. Man you crack me up. I love the opening of My 3 step Email marketing and then going into Care about people-that’s pretty much it.

    I love your to the point humour especially the part about your grandmother….so funny….so fun.

    No wonder your blog is so popular…..your heart and your caring and your humour are contagious.

    So funny, so funny , so funny as I keep reading….

    I like the important info you shared about Getresponse-good to know .Thanks for that.

    Wow Donna you have over-delivered on this one.
    I learnt so much and it all makes perfect sense.

    That was a killer post. I am yet to set up my email marketing as I am working on creating courses etc….but this has answered a lot of questions I had…..awesome. Thankyou once again for creating such a killer post-Lashings of Love Jennifer

  21. Mark
    June 14, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

    What a smoking hot “how to” blog post Donna!

    And I will definitely have to bookmark and read this one
    over several times, before I can even begin to properly
    digest a small fraction of the incredibly helpful content
    you’ve shared.

    Effective email marketing is such an important component
    to our long term online success,and your detail rich post
    really makes that abundantly clear!

    Thanks for offering specific examples and easy to implement strategies,
    for going from amateur email solicitor, to advanced email marketer.

    Clearly, one proven approach, allows all the positive magi to happen, over
    and over again!

    While the totally wrong approach, does nothing more than alienate your subscribers
    and cause them to lose interest and unsubscribe at alarming rates!

    Thanks so much for the Harvard type MBA lessons, in effective email marketing!
    Mark recently posted..Seven Potentially Profitable Reasons Your Small Business Will Benefit From Free Contests!My Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 15, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

      Hi Mark,

      I did get carried away when writing this. First when I realized how many words I was writing, I thought to make it a two part series…but then I guess I was on a roll lol. I can always elaborate and get some images and infographics and make this into an ebook he he he.

      Email marketing is important, It is one of my passions so indeed, put this aside when you have the time to roll up your sleeves and put it to use.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  22. Atish Ranjan
    June 14, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

    Hello Donna,

    What an awesome write-up about Email Marketing. No words to say in the comments as you said everything that one needs to learn about email marketing.

    This is tough to get success with Email Marketing until you know whom you are pitching the email to get some sales. You must know the behavior of your list.

    I have an email list and most of the users are just interested to read the articles, so there is no point sending them sales emails.

    Learning about the list users is very important analysis one needs to do for getting success.

    You have done an awesome job writing this content, Donna. I can sense how much time efforts you have put on this. Keep up the good work.

    Enjoy the week ahead.
    Atish Ranjan recently posted..Benefits of Expert Roundup PostsMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 15, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

      Hi Atish,

      I think I got carried away with this article…I usually don’t like to write too long of an article, but I had so much to say lol.

      So your email list is interested in reading and not purchasing anything? Hmm….I had the same thing going on a while back. If I ever introduced something to purchase …that was great and something I used myself…..nothing.

      If it is your intention to sell on your list…you need to gather up a new one. I just eliminated half of my email list last week because I gave them three chances to stay, and if they didn’t respond I removed them. Who wants dead weight?

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  23. Monna Ellithorpe
    June 14, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    What a great explanation of how you do email marketing and why you do the things you do. Great suggestions for any of us to dissect and start applying to our own campaigns.

    Thanks for everything you share.

    • Donna Merrill June 14, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

      Hi Monna,

      I just had to share what has been working for me. You know me by now Monna that I love to write about things I have struggled with myself. Then find an answer after much pain and write it for my readers.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  24. Muhammad Tabish
    June 14, 2016 at 11:12 am #

    Hello, Donna Sis!
    I’m Back 😛 How are Aye? This is Awesome Killer advice … Yet another article of your that I’m storing away to use on my own process tonight or this weekend. Keep Up The Good Work, Thank’s For Sharing,
    Have a Great Night!
    Muhammad Tabish recently posted..Ron Puryear and the World Wide Dream Builders (WWDB)My Profile

    • Donna Merrill June 14, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

      Nice to see you back 🙂

      Good to know you found this article of good use. Yes..I did get a bit carried away here and its a good idea that you store it away for future reading.


      Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  25. Marquita Herald
    June 14, 2016 at 9:43 am #

    I just love this post Donna! I think you are so right about how easy it is to forget that our “list” is made up of individual people. I certainly fell into this trap and it had me feeling frustrated and very disconnected from them and I honestly didn’t know how to fix that. I ran surveys and while the responses were helpful, they didn’t make me feel any closer to the people on my list.

    Then one day I read an article on HUB with several examples of welcome emails and one caught my eye enough that I quickly updated my own welcome email and it changed everything! All I did was ask new subscribers to reply ‘right now’ and tell me what they hope to gain from by site and what their biggest challenge is. It is so simple, and yet people are sending me these incredible stories and it has really helped me to not only see my list with a ‘face’ but I think about these stories and the people behind them as I’m writing. So as far as my email marketing strategy, I’m not as good as I’m gonna be, but I’m a whole lot better than I once was. 🙂

    • Donna Merrill June 14, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

      Hi Marquita,

      Thanks so much for your input here. I used to feel the same way….like I was writing to strangers. Then I made an avatar from a very long complicated list that I wrote of my ‘perfect client’ Now that started working.

      I find that communicating with others are the best way I can work. I have to say that many have answered me in my email correspondence. I have this thing I do on Friday’s called Friday Focus Group. I do give a little ditty to focus on and the response is amazing.

      The big thing going on now with email is that the companies are sending stuff to spam. So, I like to tell people to “white list” my email so they can receive it. I cannot tell you all the messages I get from folks that ask me “I just purchased your ___ and I can’t find it” My reply: Check your spam box.

      Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

      • Marquita Herald
        June 15, 2016 at 11:49 am #

        Great advice Donna, and I am going to add the recommendation about white listing my email.

        • Donna Merrill June 15, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

          It does work well Marquita. We have to always remember we need to guide our readers and subscribers. If we tell them to white list..they will and we won’t have all that customer service to do. 🙂

          Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  26. Donna Merrill June 14, 2016 at 9:33 am #

    Hi Enstine,

    Thanks for visiting today. You’ve raised some really interesting issues about deliverability. I sort of touched on it in this post, but was more focused on the substance of your emails than whether or not they were being delivered.

    But absolutely, as I mentioned in the article, no matter how great your emails are, if they’re not getting delivered then they’ll have no impact and you business will flat-line.

    I know there’s a bit of a war going on right now among ESP’s to see who can get a better deliverability, and it reminds me of the Google slaps phenomenon that hit. Overnight, people who had built their business around around Google rankings had their pages de-ranked and they lost all their “steady” income.

    Let me say this. No matter what your deliverability or what Google does, or Gmail or the big ESP’s… your core concern as a blogger or internet marketer must be providing value to your readers/clients. You can always find a way to deliver that value, but when the ESP’s won’t put your emails in your followers’ inboxes, then you’ve got to find another way to get them out there.

    Finding other ESP’s may help and I’ll be very interested in your testing of Amazon SES.

    In addition, I’m even thinking of starting to run some of my key email sequences on my Facebook page, LinkedIn posts and Twitter.

    I wonder what you think of that idea?

    You know, when people got Google slapped, they scheme methods for “tricking” Google. Now, if our emails aren’t getting past spam blockers, we try to get around them.

    The bottom line, though, is that we as bloggers and info marketers must develop content that people really value. If we don’t, Google doesn’t want to rank it, ESP’s don’t want to send it, Email Providers don’t want to inbox it.

    Yes, those big middlemen are part of the problem… sometimes.

    But sending out a bunch of crap that people don’t want to read is really the part of the equation that we need to be mindful of.

    Nobody wants a bunch of commercials.

    As content providers, we are challenged to do a better job on our part so the broadcasters… Google, ESP’s and all the rest… don’t feel a need to spam block our content.

    Thanks again for your great insights on the topic, Enstine.

    It’s always a pleasure.

    Donna Merrill recently posted..Are You A Blogging Zombie?My Profile

  27. Enstine Muki
    June 14, 2016 at 5:34 am #

    Donna I can’t remember the last time I read something like this on Email marketing. A lot of meat based on personal success stories.

    I almost don’t even know what to say in this comment because you covered a lot of things.

    Let me talk a bit about the choice of marketing platform…

    You know recently, I moved to MailerLite and started talking about it on my blog. Feature wise, they are great but in your comment on my blog, you mentioned something about inbox deliverability and I think that’s still a major point with most of the platforms out there.

    To be quite frank, I got bad experience with Aweber when I just started. I moved ton INinbox where at one moment, I got over 30% open rate on a list of over 2000 readers. That was very exciting, until recently when INinbox did what they did.

    Though a lot of factors affect inbox deliverability, I think the tool you use matters a lot. Most of the tools allow SenderID and SPF records settings. But that may not bring a big difference.

    Getresponse delivers your emails straight to my yahoo inbox. But a few times, I have found them in SPAM and had to mark as ‘NOT SPAM’

    i have head of amazon’s SES and this morning I signed up to it. I will be running a test as soon as approved.

    A few weeks back, one of my readers, creator of GlockApps wrote to me about this issue and we have been talking deeply on improving inbox deliverability using his app. According to one of the reports generated, mails sent through Amazon’s SES seem to get more access to the inbox of many popular email service providers.

    Another hot issue at the moment is Gmail and the “Promotions” tab.

    Some of my readers have replied to my mails mentioning they were caught in the “Promotions” tab and that also happens with many emails sent through aweber, like Matthew Woodward’s income report email on the first of June, and many others.

    Tell me…
    Have you heard from your subscribers who are on Gmail about where your mails are placed?

    When I looked at stats from MailerLite, 74.14% of my subscribers are on Gmail and that’s alarming.

    I’d like more discussion on this.

    You now see why we like coming to this blog. I’m sure many of us will go away with a lot of goodies
    Enstine Muki recently posted..Thrive Content Builder Alternative ~ Forge content BuilderMy Profile

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