Have you ever wanted to make a killer first impression with your email subscribers with a welcome and nurture sequence that helps to build brand loyalty and optimize traffic to your food blog? Today, I interview Allea Grummert, an Email Marketing Strategist and Conversion Copywriter, who shares how to grow your food blog subscriber list with a welcome and nurture sequence that will translate into more traffic to your blog.
We begin by talking about when someone subscribes to your email list, or maybe when they first even see that you have a form on your website and what is the kind of the journey that someone should take from kind of being like a nobody, all the way to a raving fan of your website at the end. First things first, opt-ins and why you need one.
What is an opt-in?
One of the best ways for them to even give you their email address is to create some sort of opt-in and incentive.. People can opt in just to get your blog updates or to join a webinar or whatnot. But a webinar or a PDF or some sort of like email challenge, those things are going to be more incentivizing for someone to engage, because they’re getting something back from you, having something of value to deliver.
Once they get on your email list, my hope is that they would hear from you immediately within the first hour and the first day. When I started my personal finance blog, I had a three email welcome sequence, so that every new subscriber would hear from me and learn my story and learn about what I was going to be sharing with them. So that would be my dream is that everyone has at least some sort of introduction. That’s better than them not hearing from you for two weeks until you send out another blog post.
But when someone opts into a form on your site, you have a couple different options: on your email service platform, you can have them submit their information, and it will say, “Success! You’ll be receiving a confirmation email soon.” But you also have another opportunity to have it redirect to another page with a little video or welcome, even before they get an email from you.
I’m curious as to how many opt-ins you recommend or if you have some kind of a guideline for that.
Give yourself the time to kind of play around and see what’s possible and at some point you have to think about what you want to manage. Do you want to manage 16 different opt-ins, or do you want to take the ones that are performing really well and just run with those and let those be your three opt-ins?
How often would you recommend revisiting what you already have and kind of auditing it, to see if it’s working?
Give it three to six months, once you kind of find your stride stick with that. That’s also why it’s helpful to niche down, so you can make sure that you’re attracting the right people for the type of content that you provide and the type of content that you want to attract those people.
Welcome your subscribers
I love that you set the stage for like, this is how quickly they should hear from you. Because I have signed up for so many freebies over the years and I don’t hear right away from the person. Then it doesn’t matter if it’s two days or two weeks or two years, I will not remember who that person is. All of a sudden it’s like, “I don’t know who this is. I’m going to unsubscribe.” And so by having that immediate, “Hello,” basically that handshake, you’re automatically connecting with that person and getting to know them in a way that they’re going to actually remember who you are the next time you email them. Which will hopefully not be in two years!
Yes, so like I mentioned, I had a three email welcome sequence, so that every new subscriber would hear from me and learn my story and learn about what I was going to be sharing with them.
And I was going to say there’s also this little kind of spot in that journey that a lot of people don’t think about. I have one it’s just duett.co/welcome and it’s a 55 second video of me, just letting them know what they’re going to be getting. I joke that it’s like 90% of the reason why I have a video, so people know how to say my name, because it’s spelled funny. I’m like oh, “I’m going to take a swing at it to see if it sticks.”
So I have a video, a link to explore the blog and then for like that low hanging fruit, like anyone that might want to hire me, there’s just a little blurb about how I serve clients and where they can go to learn more. That’s before they even get an email and in that video or right above it, I’m saying like, “Be sure to check your email. That’s where you’ll hear from me next.” This kind of helps close the gap there. It makes it feel a little bit more personal.
Building a nurture sequence
So let’s dive into talking about those next parts of that sequence. The welcome sequence we briefly talked about, you can do a lot of different things with that, but it’s important to have it. What is the next step? That nurture sequence, really forming that long-term relationship with somebody.
A nurture sequence is essentially how you are staying in touch with your new subscribers in a way that’s automated. This can look a ton of different ways, but think about it as simply as repurposing your archival content, your best content and making sure it’s showing up in the inbox of your new subscriber. So if it’s your most popular content, you want it out in front of people.
The nurture sequence gets that best content in front of your new subscribers in a timely way. It also gives you peace of mind, knowing that everyone on your list is receiving these top five recipes and individual emails over the course of the first month. That way when you send out updates or new emails, you don’t have to wonder when’s the last time you sent out a meatloaf recipe, everyone’s got it. What that does is it pairs your archival content with your new stuff, so your nurture sequence can go out.
If you don’t have a nurture sequence yet, what would you recommend for getting started with that? Then ideally like how long should it be, long term?
Getting started is most of the battle. Setting it up so that after they complete your welcome sequence and they know who you are and how to connect with you and maybe being segmented into different audiences, then they go into your nurture sequence, that’s where I would share your top content. So I would say go to Google analytics, and find out what your top content is. When I look at clients’ Google Analytics, I look for themes. So when you do that, you’re like you’re taking the top content over the last year and then you get to play around. Do you want it to be a feature email on just one recipe, so on and so forth,
With your welcome sequence, do you typically have somebody just receiving the welcome sequence and then when they’re done with that, they start receiving your regularly scheduled content as well?
Yes, so I like to think of the welcome sequences as like a protected environment. While they’re getting anywhere from three to five emails, there are no other distractions. That’s the important stuff you don’t want them to miss and then at that point, the flood gates open, and they can be getting nurture emails, funnel emails, and then your live content as well. What’s cool about the welcome sequence is that you can segment your audience by a certain topic or skill level, and you get to craft this journey for them.
I would love for you to talk a little bit more about the segmenting that you mentioned. I think that is something that’s super underutilized and can be so powerful for food bloggers to know so much more about their audience. But also to really be giving them valuable content that they want. So can you just talk to us about how that works and why it’s so awesome.
So an example would be when I worked with Pinch of Yum, we segmented their list by beginners and people who are a little bit more comfortable in the kitchen. This way we are not sending those people who clicked that they’re familiar in the kitchen, stuff that they don’t need, and I call that noise. Just because you can send out an email to everyone doesn’t mean that you should, because if you’re showing up with irrelevant content, then that can make them really unhappy or feel like, “Ah, this is below me.”
So then what you see in the nurture content, the sequence for each of those, is they’re each five emails long. You see higher engagement, you see higher click through rates, you see higher open rates because that information is personalized towards them.
What would you recommend to somebody, maybe they’re in that experimental phase, this is their first opt-in. They really don’t know their audience super well yet and how would you be able to use this tactic of segmenting your list and just using your email wisely, to be able to learn more about your audience?
What I do is I have link triggers in my welcome sequence, and I consider it data collection, like who makes up my audience? You could ask somebody what they are interested in and that’s what they could click on. The point of doing any of that is because my reason is data collection, I don’t want you to just collect tags for the sake of collecting tags. But that will be helpful going forward.
You had kind of mentioned having your nurture sequence kind of in the same timing as like your live content. Can you talk a little bit more about that balance of sending both of those things at the same time?
What I always recommend is picking a day of the week, that both would go out. You can set up as a sequence of then five days later, and then four days later, and then two days later, and I have no idea who’s getting what email today and we just live in that gray space of unknown.
So with your nurture content, you can set that for maybe even your secondary day. Use your live broadcast content, the new stuff, experiment and figure out which days you’re getting the most engagement, while your older nurture content is still running. The point being that your subscribers are still hearing from you both times.
How far ahead do you recommend scheduling those kinds of live broadcast type of emails? Is there an ideal timeline for that? Is it just, if you can be ahead of it?
There are a couple of different things you can do. You can set it up as a newsletter that you write up and craft and add in the photos and all that. With that, it’s just whenever you have the time to promote that blog post. I would say set a schedule. The other alternative would be to set up an RSS feed. A lot of people kind of stick up their nose at it, but if you think about it, if you were in an intermediate phase where you are focusing on creating really great content, and you’ve got like even a one email welcome sequence, set up an RSS feed. So that when you publish a blog post, it goes to your list automatically.
Or you can set it up as a digest so that every Friday you just pop in and see these three new blog posts are all queued up, and you can then send it to your list. Make it easy for yourself to share your content. Get it in front of people. Get them to your site and then as you have more time in the future, you can craft more polished newsletters. But at least you’re not holding out that content from the people who really want it, which is why they’re on your email list.
So is there anything else we need to know about nurture sequences and how those work? You briefly mentioned when you can sell, which I know for some food bloggers, there really isn’t anything to sell. But for a lot of them, they are starting to have some sort of digital product or affiliate links that they want to share. So is there anything that we should know about when that’s okay?
Yes so it really depends on what you’re selling. But say you have a cookbook or an eBook. What you can do is think about how you’re priming your audience, like wetting their appetite, before you pitch it. So if you have a whole book on desserts, maybe you segment your list by people who want to learn about desserts. They get three emails with just some of your top recipes and then a fourth email pitching them for where to get the rest, and it’s $6.99.
So think about it in context of that whole flow, getting them thinking about desserts will make it a lot easier to make that sale, versus like every other email is like an entree and a snack and then you hit them with a dessert email, like a sales email. It’s going to hit a little differently than if they’re already thinking about it.
Anything else we should know about nurture sequences, or any follow up that happens after that, in that journey?
So one thing, going back to just know what your goals are and think about what you want your nurture sequence to do. Think about it: it could just be staying in people’s inboxes, so they know your name. It could be getting consistent site traffic back to these older blog posts; that’s an opportunity cost. If you’re not doing it, people are not going to your blog post, it’s as simple as that. Because they don’t know about it, or they’re not being prompted to. Then the other thing to think about is sales. It could be a product, it could be linking to a page where you talk about your favorite tools or spices, and there are affiliate links there. So when you are writing your emails, keep that in mind.
Otherwise once a nurture sequence is complete, you can always add on more to it. A nurture sequence can be a long list you want, and you could go back to segmentation. You could also then kind of have a catchall. Once everyone’s done with those, you have this ongoing endless broadcast. So the emails that you curate and send out when you’re done with it, just copy and paste that information into your nurture sequence, so that new subscribers who aren’t on your list, when you send that on May 15th, they’re going to get it in October. Make sure that you’re optimizing that content and the traffic to your site. And that being said, make sure that the content you do include in a nurture sequence in your welcome sequence is evergreen, so it’s not going to be out of date if someone gets it in January, or if they’re not getting Christmas recipes in May.
Is there anything else that you want to share with us about nurturing your email list and just really building that group of loyal fans?
The only thing that comes to mind would be a different type of segmentation. Set up your segments: You might have a “vegetarian” segment and you could have an “everyone” segment. You could have a “meat only, non-vegetarian” segment and what that does is it’s all of your subscribers who are completed with a welcome sequence, who do not have these tags or who have this tag. So that way when you go to send your broadcast or your campaign, you don’t have to remember all those tags. You don’t have to remember all the different inclusions and variables, you just send it.
So do you generally recommend any other platform besides Convertkit? I know I get this question a lot and I know we both personally use Convertkit. But if you have any other recommendations, I’m sure people would love to hear them.
Absolutely! So when you’re first getting started and there are a couple of different recommendations.There is the free plan with Convertkit. So even if you don’t have an automated welcome, just get in the habit of sending emails or building your email list. They have a free landing page only type plan. So the only reason I’d recommend that is so that you’re not having to migrate over from another platform. It just takes time, it’s a little stressful and you’re like changing out forms on your site, when in reality, you could just start on a platform if that’s the one you want to build out with.
So when I started my business, I actually used MailerLite, which is a pretty sweet platform. I know food bloggers who use that. It’s kind of like if MailChimp and Convertkit had a love child. You can drag and drop and you can put in images. I will say that the only reason I don’t love it is the delay is so long and that happens with Active Campaign too. That would be the other one that I recommend. A huge reason why I’m on Convertkit is just how easy it is to toggle between everything, but Active Campaign and MailerLite are both solid platforms. So I’d recommend those as well because all three of them really allow for tagging and creating a subscriber centric list.
Whereas I’m not a huge fan of MailChimp for many reasons, as it’s harder to organize your subscribers, for example. If you have one thing that you’re responsible for, with any of those service platforms, it’s serving your subscribers well, and being able to segment them when needed.
I would love for you to just share where people can stay connected with you and learn more about your services and how to work with you, or just how to follow along with your tips and tricks along the way.
You can join my email list through my website. If you go to duett.com/resources, there are a handful of resources there. One in particular, is all about tags and segmentation, if you just want the shortcut to understanding what tags and segmentations are and specifically how to use them, especially if you’re a Convert Kit user. You can also follow me on Instagram.
Allea Grummert is an email marketing strategist & conversion copywriter who helps online business owners make a killer first impression through automated welcome & nurture sequences. She helps her clients build intentional email strategies that engage readers, build brand loyalty and optimize conversions for sales and site traffic.