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7 Steps on How to Create an Email Newsletter and Have a Profitable Launch

One of the biggest lies in marketing is “the money’s in the list”.

It’s simply not true. I once had a list with over 25,000 subscribers and it didn’t make me a dime.

Why? Because I never built a relationship with them. I basically sent them ten pitches in a row and hoped they’d buy.

That hurts to admit, but it was a valuable lesson. And once I provided useful content – instead of hammering them with pitches – things began to take off.

People actually read my emails, took action on my advice, and bought what I recommended.

Now I’d like to share with you how to create an email newsletter and the exact autoresponder series I used to build long-lasting, profitable relationships on autopilot.

After all, the money’s not in the list… it’s in the relationship.

You’re going to need a worksheet to implement these advanced ideas. Lucky for you, we’ve got it for you. Download it now and keep reading to learn how to use it.

Can You Really Build Relationships On Autopilot?

At first, it sounds a bit foolish. Relationships by their very nature require an active participation on both parts, right?

Wrong. Bestselling authors, rock stars and Academy Award winning actors don’t know their fans personally. But their fans look up to them, buy their products and post pictures of them on their walls.

So as you can see, there is a relationship… and a very profitable one, at that.

But how do you build relationships like this?

In essence, a profitable relationship consists of three parts: your readers must understand who you are, how you can help them and (most importantly) trust you to follow through on your claims.

If you know how to create an email newsletter that is effective it will accomplish all three. Over the course of several weeks or months, your readers are exposed to a stream of valuable content. At first, your emails help them understand who you are and how you can help them.

The third step usually takes longer. But it’s well worth it, because once your readers know, like and trust you, they’ll buy from you over and over.

The following seven steps outline how to walk your readers through this emotional process on complete autopilot…

Step #1. Figure out what you’re going to offer.

Not your existing products/services… you need a free offer to lure people into your autoresponder series.

“Sign Up for Updates!” just doesn’t cut it, anymore. You need something irresistible. Something people will gladly hand over their email to get.

Whatever it is, make sure it’s specific.

For example:

  • 10 Days to Lower Your Blood Pressure By 10%
  • 24 Crucial Steps to a Recession-Proof Retirement
  • 30 Steps to Successfully Marketing Your Product Online

See how each has a specific number? Not only does it let readers know exactly what to expect… it also sets the expectation they’ll receive several emails from you.

This is important. If you release everything as an eBook, people will subscribe, read the report and unsubscribe immediately.

Once you’ve got your free product in mind, create an email series that delivers on what you promise.

Step #2. Map out your emails on an excel spreadsheet.

OK, for the rest of this post we’ll use Dave, a financial planner, as an example.

Dave dreams up a course on retirement planning. He’s decided to call it “24 Crucial Steps to a Recession-Proof Retirement.”

Rather than start writing, he maps out his overall content strategy using an Excel spreadsheet.

Since he’s got a 24 part course, he needs to write 24 emails which will be drip fed to his subscribers.

So in Excel he writes the subject lines (headlines) for his emails. (Note: I prefer to write several subject lines for each email, then choose the best of the bunch).

If you’re struggling for headlines, check out these templates:

The next step is to…

Step #3. Organize headlines into a logical order.

Dave’s got thirty killer subject headlines for his free retirement course. But the problem is, they’re all over the place. He’s got one email about annuities, another about estate planning and three emails about life insurance scattered about.

Dave needs to get organized.

He begins by grouping emails together by common themes. So those three emails about life insurance? They’re drip-fed to readers one after another.

But Dave finds some emails don’t fit his overall strategy. He deletes them, and writes more headlines that are more in line with the others.

The list looks good. But he’s got one more step before he starts writing.

Step#4.  Find complimentary products/services to offer

At some point, you won’t be able to satisfy all of your market’s desires.

The answer? Referrals.

You could easily refer your readers to complimentary services (e.g. estate planning, bankruptcy attorneys, etc.) and receive a referral fee.

Better still, let them generate leads for you at the same time.

How? Create a free guide covering these services (as well as your own) and let them distribute the content to their clients.

For example, you could write a free ten page guide on planning for retirement, then give it to attorneys who specialize in estate planning. They pass out the guide to existing clients (hopefully they have a newsletter, too) who are exposed to your bio at the end.

And where would your bio lead them? To your newsletter, of course! (Note: if someone calls you directly to do business, that’s obviously good too.)

Picture how powerful this is.

With just a few relationships like this, you could have your own automatic lead-generator, working for you 24 hours a day.

Best part? It’s completely scalable: so you could have five leads a month or five hundred… all for the same amount of effort.

Plus, these aren’t cold leads. They:

  • Were given your report by someone they already know and do business with,
  • Read your report and were impressed enough to sign up for your newsletter, and
  • Are constantly receiving quality content from you via email

So when you do speak with them, they already know, like and trust you. Which skyrockets your conversions.

Step #5. Write the non-promotional emails.

Now it’s time to write.

Dave gets busy writing his emails. Because he doesn’t have any web design experience, he simply sends his content in plain text emails.

If you have some HTML experience, however, (or are willing to hire a designer) you can do it a bit differently.

Pro tip: Instead of sending everything in an email, write just a teaser with a link to the full article on your site.

Doing so has many advantages. First, it adds valuable content to your site (which attracts links and traffic from the search engines).

Secondly, it gets your readers used to clicking your links. Every time your reader gets an email from you, they click a link and BAM!

Something valuable.

So when you send them an email for your product/service, they’re much more likely to click through.

Speaking of which…

Step #6. Write the promotional emails.

Dave selects three of his subject headlines to write “pitches” for.

So his subject lines aren’t “>>>BUY NOW!!<<<” or any such nonsense.

Instead, they promise a specific benefit and then deliver on it in the pitch. Then, towards the end Dave mentions how his product can help with the current problem.

For example, his product is pitching a one-on-one consultation. His email starts with “The One Thing You Must Do Before You Buy Life Insurance” and he talks about how you need to catalogue your assets and debts to find out how much insurance you really need.

But the problem is… that’s a lot of work, right?

So Dave offers to help them straighten out their paperwork for a fee. Suddenly, he’s the hero. He’s explained the problem and offered a solution his readers feel comfortable with.

Some people call right away.

Some are hesitant.

So Dave follows up three days later explaining how many people signed up for his service, and how he can only offer this to a specific number of people (this should be true).

Suddenly, those on the fence commit.

Easy, right?

Now at this point you need to…

Step #7. Schedule the emails in your autoresponder.

Try every 3 days or so.

How often you send your emails varies by industry. In a desperate market (e.g. foreclosure, medical issues, etc.) you may want to send an email every single day. Since your prospects are probably nervous about their problem – and eager to solve it – you can build trust in a much shorter timeframe.

On the other hand, if your market is about scrapbooking, consider sending weekly emails. It’s less work for you, and you’ll get far less unsubscribes.

Here’s a screenshot example of the autoresponder series:

You can download the worksheet here.

As you can see, there are 33 emails in this series over 81 days. Only six are even slightly promotional… and even those are useful.

Think about this. Someone signs up for your course and you stay in touch with them for 81 days and pitch them three times… on autopilot.

Not bad, huh?

The Biggest Asset of All

As I mentioned at the beginning, the money is not in the list… it’s in the relationship. By knowing how to create an email newsletter that rocks you can build these relationships for months, if not years to come.

Learn from my early mistakes: never sacrifice your relationships for a quick buck. Instead, play for the long-term. Even if someone never buys from you, they’re likely to share your content with someone who will.

I hope you see the power of this strategy. I hope you understand how much bigger your business can be (and how much less you have to work) using this strategy.

And most of all: I hope you take action.

Got questions? I’m in the comments below!

Plan Your Email Campaign!

Create a plan for autoresponder emails with this worksheet.

About Adam Costa

Adam Costa created two conversion funnels just like the ones outlined above. The first is Trekity.com, (a killer new travel site) and the other helps travel bloggers make money.

37 comments

  1. Thank you Adam,
    This is a nice blogpost. As a fan of planning and working step by step (is there any other way to work? huh?), I love the structure of how to build a newsletter.

  2. That was a very useful post!

    Key things that I learned:

    1. Offer an e-mail series as a freebie. I’ve seen it on some blogs, but I have never considered doing it myself. However, after reading your post, it totally makes sense.

    2. Don’t send out the whole article, send out a teaser with a link to your blog instead. That’s another great point that I didn’t consider. I’ll definitely apply this both to my autoresponder e-mails and to my blog update e-mails.

    I don’t have a website or e-mail list at the moment, since I’m still working on setting everything up, but anyway..

    What do you think about this:

    1. Offering a free e-mail series on a certain topic (7-12 e-mails).

    2. Then sending an e-mail telling people that I’m thinking about creating an e-book on that same topic and asking them whether they think they’d be interested in something like that and whether they could help me by filling out a questionnaire.

    3. Then sending an e-mail with some sort of questionnaire that would help me identify their key problems and such in regards to that particular topic (only to people who replied that they would be interested).

    4. Transition to sending people my newsletter issues that are not necessarily about that certain topic, but keep engaging with them about my possible e-book, so I’d know exactly what my readers want.

    I want to do something like this because I’d like to start developing my first product and monetizing my blog/e-mail list pretty soon, but I want to figure out what my audience wants first and that seems like a good way to do that.

    What do you think?

    Agota

    P.S. Wow, you’re everywhere, one day it’s Think Traffic, another day it’s Firepole Marketing.. 😀

    P.P.S. “Confirm that you like Firepole Marketing..” – hahahahahaha 😀 😀 😀

  3. Thanks for writing this Adam – my favorite idea was creating materials for professionals in related industries to distribute that point back to you. That’s a brilliant idea – keep up the good work!

    Grant

  4. Hi Adam,

    So what happens after they complete your 20 Step Guide? Do you then move them to a more traditional weekly update email that keeps them in the loop with more valuable content and any upcoming programs your launching or are they done once they finish the auto responder you set up.

    How do you transition them from a structured guide to a more traditional newsletter built for retention?

    Curious how this system would work out.

    Bryce

  5. Adam,

    Very excellent work…

    The only thing that I will disagree with is that you MUST HAVE a free offer.

    I’ve done both the free offer and no free offer on my site and I can say in earnest that I prefer the NO free offer…

    And here is why… The Quality of the Subscribers.

    With no free offer the people that subscribe WANT more of your content. Their interested in what else you have to say and in that forum they’ll buy your products because they BELIEVE.

    Now I don’t think this will work for everyone but it has worked for me.

    Thanks again,

    Ryan H.

  6. Hi Meagan,

    I believe your newsletter content should be (mostly) exclusive. While my newsletter posts are on my blog, they’re hidden – so it’s similar to getting email content, but the web provides a much richer experience (links, pictures, videos, etc.).

    Anyone who has a newsletter that simply sends updates is missing the real power of this system.

    Hope this helps!

    1. Awesome! That definitely answered my question. Now all I need to do is to figure out how to post my content on my blog and hide it!

      Thanks so much!

  7. This was a great post Adam! Thanks so much! I do have a question though. I’ve been reading a lot about email newsletters lately and it seems that there are two schools of thought.

    1) Exclusive newsletter content
    2) Accessible newsletter content

    At the moment, I’m promoting that if you opt-in to my newsletter you’ll get exclusive content that can’t be found anywhere… which makes people feel a part of something special.

    I like the idea you spoke of about linking to the full post on your blog and increasing clicks within your email, but if anyone can get your content on your blog then what’s so special about your newsletter? I know they’re getting a freebie for subscribing, but it’s almost like there’s nothing else special about it.

    I’m subscribed to newsletters like this & 90% of the emails I receive seem to just fill my inbox with updates on what’s new on their blog. Now of course the other 10% varies as far as deals, promotions, and updates, but it seems like the exclusive content would be more appealing to readers.

    I’m just wondering what your thoughts are on this. Thanks so much! Again, great post!

  8. Adam,
    Great article, extremely useful. I have been working on a “free report” and putting into an auto responder makes much more sense. Here’s my 2 part question. I don’t have an auto-responder set up yet so:

    1. Do I automatically add those already subscribed to my blog to the newsletter?
    2. What happens when the “30 days to blah, blah” report is over? What are they receiving then?

    Thanks for sharing!
    Joe

    1. Hi Joe,

      I’d recommend asking your subscribers to opt-in to your free report. This way, you don’t start sending a ton of information to someone who hasn’t asked for it.

      Once the report is over, you can still announce new blog posts as you publish them, and (provided it’s worth it) keep building out your autoresponder series. Just think: you could have a year’s supply of content drip-fed to your audience. Pretty cool huh?

  9. Great post Adam. Took my time with this one. Had to take notes. I once read a book on the subject and basically you explained everything in much less time. The book was good but as you can see I don’t remember the name. Now I got my notes and can begin working on things.

    Great post, thanks.

  10. It’s like you knew what I needed! I am planning and cultivating a new list and newsletter series – I just started my list and figured that I would make specific plans once I got THAT started and here come’s the outline for me right to my inbox. Thanks, man! 😀 I really appreciate the tip of putting a teaser in the email with a read more on blog link. I was wondering which paid off better in conversions – full article vs. teaser and link.

    Obviously, my question is….what next? Should we make a new series – lather, rinse, repeat? Are there benefits to later transferring the first series into an ebook? I am not attached to the ebook thing – I’d rather generate other products – but it’s out there as a part of the general discussion so I thought I’d ask! 😀

    I like the infographic thing – might be fun to offer something like that for your referrals article.

    1. Sometimes I get USP and ESP mixed up 😉

      To be honest, I’ve never tried to test conversions from full email vs. a teaser – but for the reasons I listed above, I prefer to send people to my site for the goods.

      Once you have a profitable sequence, you can release it all as an eBook for your subscribers or just keep building the sequence out.

      Remember, you can (and should) update your readers when you publish something high value. So even if they’ve gone through the whole series, they still receive updates about your best content.

  11. Hi Adam,

    Thanks for the great information.

    But I’m wondering … does a person who signs up for your autoresponder series also get automatically added to your general email list?

    Since I’m not currently selling a product, I don’t have a prospect list vs. a buyers list.

    My main goal is to get everyone on my general list, using free information as the incentive.

    Could you clarify this?

    Thanks,
    Penelope

    1. Hi Penelope,

      Yep – everyone gets added to the general list. In fact, I rarely use buyers lists – I figure if you trust me with your email, you get all the benefits my buyers do, too.

  12. This article just rings so true. My background is through offline sales and advertising and people buy from people. I always used the mantra “If you push something too hard, it will fall over” Building a relationship of trust is paramount if you not only want to make a sale but want that customer to come back for more time after time.,
    I send a thank you and welcome email as soon as someone signs up and then follow this with another two which are sent out over the next two consecutive days. I then send a regular information only email each week which is delivered on the same day. My first promotion was after 14 weeks, (those who haven’t purchased are still subscribed), and so I have just changed this to 4 weeks as an experiment to see whether an earlier promotion is accepted in the same way, or has more or less impact.

    1. Hallelujah!

      It’s so great to hear people who “get” email marketing. I love your quote:

      “If you push something too hard, it will fall over”

      So very true. And besides, why push at all? When you could just create something your audience wants and offer to them?

  13. hi Adam
    my first read of your blog its a very well written article containing a lot of info
    I notice these days that IM rearly mentions about starting up a newsletter to mail to your list
    wheras a few yeras ago everyone was prompting there ezines
    I think these days everyones in it for a quick sale i have had emails that have no info only a llink to the latest affiliate link or Warrior special offer
    cheers
    peter mcgrath

    1. Hi Peter,

      It those guys that give marketing a bad name. I actually caught flack from a guy because I wrote about creating high-value newsletters for the aweber blog (which got picked up by Copyblogger). He figured that since I have a marketing background, I was about to jam crate-loads of crappy products down my subscribers throats.

      Which I don’t.

      I follow Seth Godin’s approach: attention is scarce. If your readers give you their attention, you better deliver on it BIG TIME.

      Smart marketers focus on building long-term relationships with their readers. Dumb ones go for the short sale (and end up burning bridges).

  14. This looks a great idea. How do manage the relationship between the people who have already signed up to your site and those who get this special information? Do you have a signup on a page on the site that is not hidden? Also each email has its own hidden page I presume – otherwise after the first one, the person who clicks on to the site would see the others which are the part of the subsequent sequence of hidden emails.

    Thanks
    Rosemary
    http://www.grandmasfootsteps.com
    @gmasfootsteps

    1. Hi Rosemary,

      I’m not sure I understand your question (I’m dense sometimes). All my subscribers receive the same series of valuable emails (called “follow up” messages in aweber) whether they sign up today or six months from now.

      When I release a high-value blog post (publicly) I send a “broadcast” message announcing it to my readers.

      Each follow up message appears on a hidden page on the site.

      If I misunderstood your questions, let me know!

  15. This was a cool post. I have recently set up a newsletter that follows pretty much these exact principles.

    One additional thing that I did was to ask people to “say hi” to me in the first email. So basically in the email that they receive immediately after signing up, they’ll be thanked and asked to just reply and say “hi”.

    Besides this, I ask them to tell me if I can help them somehow.

    It is still early days, but things look quite promising at the moment. About half of the people have replied to the first email and the open rates are definitely more than 25% on the following emails, which is not bad at all 🙂

    1. Solid advice – I like to ask how I can help early on. It helps build trust, provides excellent insights into your audience and (best of all) you get to help people!

  16. Hi Adam,
    I have a natural living site and my goal is to offer classes via teleconference and webinar. Also I will be offering consultations to assist people in changing their lifestyles and their health. I have been taking the approach of building my subscribers list with a goal to send them content twice a week. What would be the best strategy to get my readers to join the teleconferences and build their trust to participate in consultations.

    1. Hi Amiee,

      Are your webinars free? If so, go ahead and tell your subscribers about it now. If you are charging for them, you need to provide a TON of value in your emails first.

      Then, highlight a major problem your market has and offer the courses as the ultimate solution.

      I cannot stress this enough: even when you “pitch” your audience, it’s gotta be valuable in and of itself. Always, always, always deliver value!

  17. Nice article, Adam.

    I was wondering how you offer a course as a freebie if you have no physical product to give. I stupidly enrolled a book I wrote in KDP select and I can’t give it away for a few months.

    Just say you offer a 10 day course or 10 step ******, would you just give them the course in each email or would it be better to send them to a hidden page on your site?

    Also, would you still send the welcome email before the course, thanking them for joining up and asking them what you want to speak about?

    Cheers

    1. Hi Jamie,

      I definitely send a welcome email first, giving them a heads up on what to expect.

      Then each email is a “teaser” and asks them to click through to read the rest (which is on a hidden page).

      There are a few reasons I do this:

      It keeps people coming back to the site
      They visit other pages (mainly because I link to them in the lesson)
      There is an off chance they might share the lesson with someone else, who could opt in

      You can see an example lesson here:

      http://travelbloggeracademy.com/50-guest-posts/

      I use Premise to create these pages quickly.

      Cheers,

      Adam

  18. Adam –

    Very useful. I’ve been learning, reading and just soaking up, blogging & copywriting for a while. A hurdle I’ve yet to cross is my offering. I can think of tons of stuff i would do if I were a lawyer, insurance guy, etc. I have no real “experise”. I’ve always been in sales. I have interest in fathering, leading and writing. Should I come up with an “offer” and start there?

    Thanks,

    Jon

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