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By now, we’ve all heard the “email marketing isn’t dead” speech and, hopefully, we’ve grown tired of it. Of course email marketing isn’t dead. It’s affordable, it’s personal and it’s been proven, many times over, to have a significant ROI.

If you’ll notice, I didn’t say it was easy. Becoming an overnight success in email marketing isn’t realistic, but practicing commitment and endurance to establish an engaged audience is. Once you’ve made the decision to use email marketing to promote and grow your business, and you’ve signed up for an email marketing service, there are some things you can do (in a week or less) to ensure success.

Jump Start Email Marketing in 5 Days

Day 1: Create Freebies
Before you log into your email service account for the first time, think about ways you can entice and grow an audience. Free is always good, and if you can introduce something new — at no cost to people who sign up to receive emails from you — that’s even better. Plan to give away items like a complimentary sample of your product or a free consultation that gives limited-time access to your service or expertise. Likewise, if your service is knowledge-based, consider a free whitepaper, a PDF guide or an e-book that gives a preview of the brainpower they’d get, should they decide to become customers.

The next-best thing to free is discounted. There’s not a customer on earth who doesn’t love a good bargain, so deals and discounts are another way to entice and add value for new people who join your email marketing community.

Day 2: Build an Autoresponder
If you think sales and revenue are the main focus of email marketing, you’re mistaken. Yes, you want sales, but in order for this to happen, you need an engaged audience. Engagement starts and ends with you. With that being said, another to-do after signing up for an email marketing service is to create an autoresponder welcome message. This will be the very first message a person receives when opting in to receive emails from you and your business. Start the relationship off right by greeting newcomers with a subject line that uses words such as “welcome” and “thanks.” Because you’re offering a deal or free item, highlight that in your subject line, as well with words like “free” or “discount.” For the body of the email, let them know that you’re glad to have them join your community of subscribers; and tell them what kind of content they’ll receive and how often they’ll receive it. The goal is to engage and make them feel good about their decision to sign up.

Day 3: Test Your Welcome Message
After you create your welcome message, use your email service account to send a test to your personal email address. You want to see what your future new subscribers will see when they sign up. Clunkiness and formatting issues are a way to lose readers’ interest, because they are typically easy to fix. If you don’t notice anything, don’t stop there. Because your audience most likely uses different devices, you should also view your test email on multiple devices. Make sure it looks good on mobile, tablet, desktop and — dare I say it — wearable technology devices. If this seems extreme, just remember we said successful email marketing takes commitment. Show your commitment by covering all bases with this test email.

Day 4: Create a Sign-up Form
After you’ve created your welcome message and tested it in your own inbox, the next step is to set up a sign-up form on your website or blog. This will be the vehicle in which people are able to act on their decisions to say, “Yes, sign me up!” With a sign-up form, you’ll have an easy way to capture visitors who visit your site or blog and decide they want to hear more from you. Although I wouldn’t recommend referring to your email marketing audience as a “list” (that doesn’t sound very engaging), there is something to be said about growing the number of people who subscribe to your emails. Your email marketing efforts will only be as successful as your audience growth will allow.

Day 5: Get Your Starting Five
With a freebie, autoresponder (tested and approved) and sign-up form in place, you’ll be on the right track to starting a successful email marketing program. The only thing left to do is to start growing your audience. Friends and family are great candidates when you’re just starting out. It’ll give you a confidence boost to see your subscriber numbers growing, and it’s a great way to solicit early feedback about your content.