What Sending 62,619,592 Emails Taught Me About Content Marketing

email marketing

I started Quick Sprout on April 17, 2007. Since then, I’ve collected 184,291 emails – 126,443 of which are still active. Since the blog’s inception, I sent 62,619,592 emails.

It sounds like a lot of emails, but it really isn’t. Every time I write a blog post, I send out an email to my whole list. Plus, each week, everyone on my email list receives extra emails on marketing with information not published on the blog.

Download this checklist of 10 lessons I learned about content marketing from sending 62,619,592 emails.

In essence, I use emails to help grow my content marketing efforts. Here’s what sending 62,619,592 emails taught me about content marketing:

Emails drive a lot of traffic

Can you guess how much traffic Quick Sprout received from emails in June? It amounted to 83,493 visitors, which made up 16.25% of the blog’s overall traffic. That doesn’t sound like a lot of traffic in the grand scheme of things, but it matters because of the quality of the visitors. Those visitors are much more engaged (more data on this later in this post).

What’s interesting is that June was a low-traffic month for Quick Sprout because I didn’t spend much time thinking through the titles of my blog posts. For that reason, the blog didn’t do as well as it did in previous months. In July, I’ve been spending 30 minutes thinking about each new post title, and I expect my email traffic for this month to be around 109,239 visitors.

If you want to drive consistent traffic to your blog, you need to collect emails. The most effective way to do this is through pop-ups. I know many of you hate the pop-ups – you told me as much, but they account for 81% of the emails collected through this blog.

The sidebar opt-in is the second most effective email collection area, but the pop-up beats it out by far. If you want to be less aggressive, yet still collect a lot of emails, you can use Hellobar’s free email collection bar. When I tested it, my email collection rate went up by roughly 28%.

Emails create more comments

For the month of June, the blog received 3,722 new comments. Of those 3,722 comments, 1,860 were from me, and 1,862 were from you. Out of those 1,862 comments:

  • 209 were driven by search engines
  • 406 were driven by social media sites
  • 581 were driven by direct traffic
  • 666 were driven by email traffic

Although emails made up only 16.25% of the blog’s overall traffic, they generated 35.7% of all June’s comments. It just goes to show that blog readers who subscribe are more loyal, engaged, and vocal.

If you want to grow the number of blog comments you are getting, you need to consider collecting emails. The more blog comments you generate, the more text will appear on each of your web pages, which will increase the amount of long tail traffic you get from search engines.

Emails create more social media shares         

Social media shares were a bit tricky for us to track. All we could track was the number of times you clicked on the social media sharing buttons. I know that if you click on a social media sharing button, it doesn’t mean that you are necessarily going to share the post, but it does show you have the intent to share it.

Still, the data was interesting. For the month of June, there were 6,552 clicks on the social media buttons. Here’s how many clicks each channel drove:

  • 1,445 clicks on the social media buttons were driven by search engines
  • 1,488 clicks on the social media buttons were driven by social media sites
  • 1,372 clicks on the social media buttons were driven by direct traffic
  • 2,247 clicks on the social media buttons were driven by email traffic

If you are like me, you assumed that if someone came to your blog from a social media site, he or she would be more likely to click on the social media promotion buttons.

Although absolute numbers above don’t show it, it’s actually true. When it comes to social media sharing clicks on Quick Sprout, email traffic beats out social media traffic only because the blog gets three times more traffic from emails than social media.

Percentage-wise, emails drove 34.3% of all clicks on the social media promotion buttons. This again shows that email traffic is very engaged.

Emails drive revenue

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Quick Sprout loses money. But I recover some of my costs by selling memberships to the Quick Sprout University.

Can you guess where the majority of the sales come from? If you guessed email, you are correct.

Forty-four percent of the blog’s revenue comes from email, 35% comes from search traffic, 13% comes from direct traffic, and 8% comes from social media traffic.

And it isn’t just me. Blogs like Social Triggers and I Will Teach You to Be Rich also make the majority of their revenues from email. Why? Because email subscribers tend to be more loyal. If they took the time to give you their email addresses, and they enjoy reading your emails, they’ll probably enjoy your paid products too.

Conclusion

If you want to maximize your content marketing efforts, you need to collect emails. Not only will it help you increase your traffic, but it will also increase the number of comments you get per post and even your revenue, if you are selling products.

The best thing I did for Quick Sprout was collect emails. If you want your blog to thrive, you need to start collecting emails.

So, what you do think? Are you going to start collecting emails now?

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Comments

  1. Another great post.

    Email marketing is argubly the best marketing strategy but if you do it right. People still use email to communicate each other.

    I was wondering what is the average click through rate on your links in the email?

    Thanks Neil!

    • I don’t track that. It requires custom tracking on the URL and that has caused problems in the past when those services go down, people can’t click through and get to the blog.

      • You can track the email click throughs pretty easily with Google Analytics altered links which would work even if Google goes down, and then compare them to the number of emails sent. Given the detail with which you measure everything, can I ask why you choose not to track this?

      • But isn’t that what this is (although not as accurate as specialised tracking, agreed), that’s tacked on to your URLs in your email…

        ? utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email

        • Matt Auckland :

          Good point, surely that is tracking.

          Is WP that restricted that you can’t create a custom redirect link for email marketing? Heck I built my own MVC framework for my media clients, and even that can do it.

          I suppose though if you use services like Mail Chimp, you can track a lot of levels of email interaction. Just depends on if you’re willing to pay for that level of analytics or not.

    • good post. thanks

  2. Bobby Holland :

    btw – I just “dragged and dropped” you from my updates tab to my primary tab in Gmail 🙂

    great stuff, always look forward to your content!

  3. Another great post from one of the top online marketer on the planet !
    You deserve an award Neil !

  4. Great insight. Very useful.

    Never thought about the issue faced with click-tracking? Is there not such solution that can be built within the existing domain like GA event tracking?

    Azzam

  5. Tushar Thakur :

    Ohh 184,291 emails? I can’t image the Aweber bill. 🙂

  6. Dustin Davis :

    Gmail sent me here. 😉

  7. Chris Munch :

    Spot on Neil, and great how you broke down those numbers. Great you are tracking social media clicks by traffic source too, most people don’t do that.

    You mentioned QuickSprout loses money. That surprised me as I figured as lead gen for enterprise level clients, cross-selling your software and selling your paid traffic course it would be profitable.

    Did you have a breakdown on the numbers or more info somewhere? You mentioned another post.

  8. Enstine Muki :

    Hey Neil,
    That’s a very big figure 😉
    62,619,592 sent! What were the Open and CT rates?

  9. Wow another great post Neil. Actually subscribers are that which really want to read your blog, they doesn’t like social media creepers that come and go like a UFO. Growing email list is not an easy task but offering some free gift for subscribers can help you a lot.

  10. Hey Neil, great post.

    What are your thoughts on confirming emails? Do you know if its true that ESPs send fewer of those to spam or promotion folders?

  11. Patrick Williams :

    Great stuff again Neil! I actually just sent the hello bar plugin over to my programmer to install on our site now!! We need to collect more emails and customer info! Great stuff! Oh, and I read your blog via your email blast every time you send one- so it is working!

  12. Bobby Holland :

    Looking at the source code, I see “Get Response” as the form, but this could be integrated into something like OptinMonster. The only reason I think OptinMonster is because of the exit popups you get occasionally from quicksprout.

    My best guess then is OptinMonster as the form integration and Get Reponse as the email list management platform.

  13. Hi,

    Thanks for the tips, email marketing is actually very powerful, but unfortunately with the new features of Gmail, that is actually used by lots of people, promotional emails dont get a good CTR

  14. Hi Neil. Great post as always. Can the Hellobar be used on an HTML site? If not, do you know of something similar we can use?

    • Bipper Media :

      Hi Rika – yes, HelloBar provides embed code that can integrated into any website. It’s just with WordPress they provide a plugin to make it easier.

    • Rika, it should work. Shoot me an email if you are having issues.

  15. Bilal Ahmad :

    Interesting data and very helpful. I have done the mistake of not collecting emails of my readers from day 1 and that is why now I have planned to collect from the day 1.

    Your data has motivated me again. Thanks neil for this very useful sharing.

  16. Thanks for all of your hard work! I look forward to all of the emails you’re sending out. The transparency of your site and your processes really motivates me to keep working my side projects and start having real conversations with like-minded people.

  17. Bipper Media :

    If you produce content that your audience enjoys reading, then people will natural be interested in receiving future updates from you. One of the most subscribed to sites out there are those that provide entertaining content (i.e. Buzzfeed, ViralNova, etc…)

  18. I don’t know what your email service is, but I use aWeber and when you create a form you can select form type to be a lightbox. This will popup the form and you can set a delay/popup frequency etc. I assume GetResponse has the same feature. With other words, you don’t need a plugin.

  19. William Artamon :

    Thanks for the post Neil.

    I am curious about newsletter opt-in conversion rates. Ours at http://WorkoutLabs.com is around 9-10%. What kind of rates have you seen with your clients and what are you getting on your properties, including QuickSprout, if not a secret?

  20. Nikhil Waghdhare :

    Hey Neil,

    I agree with you. Emails are worth. They also helps to make money an drive conversions… 🙂

  21. Always knew emails were good but didn’t realized how good! thanks great post, opened my eyes a bit. Not sure how well it would work advertising a webdesign service via email, though?

  22. Aravind Ajith :

    Email brought me here! Great article. Made me rethink about email strategy on my websites.

    Which email solution are you using?

  23. Neil, once again a very amazing analysis and well laid out information. I just laid out plans to begin collecting emails as my traffic is continually growing, but i’ll try the best i can to avoid the pop-up, haha. Just checking out the Hello Bar to see what it has in store for me.

    Thank you very much for this post. Quite resourceful.

  24. Jaime miller :

    Email is really a underrated tool for business, many seems to have that its outdated way to generate revenue but like you showed trough the data it’s still valid when done right. Thanks Neil great post!

  25. Neil, great post. Im wondering how you check which traffic source make whichs actions at your site, especially how do you track the clicks on social media buttons and comments?

  26. Its a great number you have shown us, like me start-ups your analytics are inspiration to us, thanks for sharing neil.

    From this article I have learned importance of the email marketing and its powerful tool for long term.

  27. Great post! Question: What email subscription service do you use? Like MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, etc.? I’ve used MailChimp in the past, but had like 5 or 6 people mark as spam and they shut down the account. How do you prevent that from happening? Thank you so much!

    • Laura, I have used them all. They all do great things depending on your needs and list size.

      • Thanks for the response, Neil. Since we’ve tried MailChimp in the past with no luck, maybe we’ll give aWeber a shot! 😉

  28. Hey Neil, I love your latest headlines. Last month I definitively wasn’t as engaged in them, so I can tell the difference.

    Do you think that Quick Sprout will become profitable at some point?

  29. Definitely it worrks… I’m join in. Great post Neil. I love your writing style. Congrats from Spain.

  30. Very inspiration Post Neil, Great Details for your email marketing efforts and yea, email marketing is great way to dive traffic, comments and sales. Thanks Neil 🙂

  31. Tarun Singh :

    It’s great to see the stats.Which email service will you recommend ?

  32. Pawas Gupta :

    Emails are brilliant. Brands are already using it successfully, unfortunately many small businesses here in India are still not using it effectively. I believe its because marketers here blast emails to random people, which at the end destroys any ROI expectations. Permission marketing is not very popular here. Though big brands have successfully integrated email in their marketing mix, small business still struggle to drive sales from emails.

    Here is a post we did to encourage small business owners to take on email marketing,

    ncmborz.com/blog/why-brands-adore-email-marketing/

    Oh and yes, Brazil was terrible. 🙂

  33. I’m just at the start of building a presence online but I always read your emails as the content is interesting: well researched, useful and easy to read. Lesson to us all. Thank you.

  34. Great post Neil,

    In fact, I am motivated to leave a comment because I am confident you will respond. The science is sound. 😉

    I had a question about blog comment systems in general. Do you think there is an advantage to having a custom comment form like the one you use on Quick Sprout over a Facebook social platform comment posting system. I guess not everyone uses Facebook, but then again, you wouldn’t need to enter your name, email, and website to comment which would remove some points of friction?

    All the best,

    Adam

  35. Ryan Biddulph :

    Hi Neil,

    My new blog went live went hours ago and I set up my email subscription feature right away. People dig email. Build a list. Allow people to receive your latest updates to build a bond with them.

    Email is still about the most convenient, intimate form of connecting online. Social media rocks of course but nothing is quicker or easier than checking your email inbox, reading content and responding quickly.

    Cool story; just this morning I had a nice email dialog with Chris Brogan….I mean, the guy is in the Neil Patel rarefied air, guru level of teacher ;)….and he responds quickly through email and engages.

    Of course Neil I am busting your chops on one level but really, you and Chris have become my 2 role models. I believe you both are the top online/offline guys for teaching people how to build a community through engagement, and how to build a business through caring.

    Email will rock as a content marketing platform as long as there’s an internet, or until they find a quicker and easier way to develop messages on the web.

    Congrats on those awesome numbers, your engagement, your blog and your business success. Your authenticity is second to none.

    Thanks for the share. Tweeting in a few hours, so all my East Coast buddies can read this bright and early.

    Ryan

  36. Really admire you Neil.
    Never hesitating in sharing your knowledge.
    Appreciate it. The numbers will for sure keep on rising be prepared hitting another milestone soon.

  37. Lakhyajyoti :

    Another informative post. Neil, which email service you are using?

  38. Chirag Mishra :

    Hey, first of all it’s a huge no. – 62,619,592 mails, great efforts!

    Enlightening tips! I didn’t know about that we can generate revenue with the mails to. Now I’m going to start collecting emails.

  39. Neil, my company doesn’t have a lot of blog subscribers, but we have collected a lot of email IDs from customers and potential customers who’ve done a free trial of our SaaS platform.

    Is it ok to send emails for every blog post to that list? Or is that considered inappropriate?

    • Sara, that’s a great question! My company is in the same boat. We don’t have a lot of blog subscribers, but we do have a nice long list of past clients, present clients, and newsletter subscribers. I’m very curious to hear Neil’s take on this, because we really want to start sending our blog posts out via email marketing!

    • Sara, I would go for it. As long as you are providing quality content then what’s the matter 🙂 ?

  40. Arman Assadi :

    Hey Neil,

    Fantastic stuff man — really enjoyed seeing all the data. How have your open rates evolved as the subscriber base has grown?

    I know open rates and CTR’s are all relative to each blog/person and how strong the reader relationship is, but I’m curious to hear what you consider a “good” score vs. a low one.

    Thanks for the awesome content! 🙂

    • I can keep them at 20 to 40% depending on the email. It’s dropped as low at 10% at one point, but I then cleaned the list and changed providers to increase the open rate.

  41. I totally agree that email, in the form of a newsletter, is a powerful tool. Every time we use it for one of our clients projects both visits and sales peek.

  42. Every time you post i read your blog and each time there is something to learn . I really like this post because you actually mentioned all you data here that in june month how much traffic you got from different resources and how you collect emails.
    what writer you are Neil Keep posting .

    Thanks Neil .

  43. Thanks for this detailed analysis, I have traffic on my blog but don’t get comments on my blog post, I was thinking how to make this happen, may be this post will help me.

  44. Hello Neil,

    informative post, but i implement and did not get any good respond.

    regards
    kapilheera

  45. Akshay Hallur :

    No doubt that Email marketing is one of the best marketing strategy. If done properly we will gain atleast 20% of the overall traffic by email marketing.
    It helps loyal readers remain as loyal visitors. It pings about your blog to your readers. Email marketing is just another Pingomatic for readers.
    Thanks for sharing, Neil 🙂

  46. Salman Aslam :

    We’ve just sent our first newsletter yesterday and growing our email list through content marketing.

    I believe it will be our one of our great assets in months to come as our list expands and considering the fact how much traffic you’ve been able to get through subscribers.

  47. Really Neil Sir. You provide awesome stuff to us via quicksprout. salute to you sir.. 🙂

  48. Conrad O'Connell :

    Just wondering why you tag all your emails as

    ?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email

    It’d be more valuable to tag the links in the email as

    source – Aweber

    medium – email

    campaign – name of blog post

    Then you could easily tell how each post performed in terms of email traffic by analyzing the campaign data in Google Analytics.

    I actually wrote about this topic before with your SAAS, Crazy Egg here > http://91digital.net/blog/saas-company-screwing-analytics/

    Just thought I’d point this out ;).

    • I agree with you, but I also tag it that way as the popup software knows to not fire when someone comes from that string. Once I fix it, I can then start tagging it right. 😉

  49. You just gave me another argument to keep promoting the use of Social Media for e-mail gathering.
    Thanks a lot for being an inspiration!

    Keep up the A W E S O M E work!

  50. Marie Williams :

    Hi Neil,

    I couldn’t agree more with your findings; email does both result in more sales and loyalty.

    I think it’s fairly insane how many new bloggers skip the step of collecting emails or use something like Feedburner as a replacement for an email marketing service which gives you control.

    Collecting emails is not optional for bloggers who want to succeed. Thanks for sharing your stats and data to support this.

    A great read as always.

  51. Jasper Oldersom :

    Thanks for this awesome post again Neil 🙂

    Goes to show that e-mail marketing is still not going anywhere and that building a list is still something your blog absolutely needs.

    Cheers!

    Jasper

  52. Extra time spent to write Title means several thousands of extra page views and social shares. I follow Upworthy style – Write at least 10 titles (instead of 25). Pick the best one. If I’m stuck for ideas, I use UpworthyGenerator.com

  53. Mike Wanner :

    Neil I think I like everything you write.

    I send a fraction of this and the email broadcast costs are insane. Can you share an estimate on the email broadcast costs for 62M emails? For us, around $11,230 per year for email service costs and an additional $9300 or so for hosting the pages all those subscribers landed on.

    Mike

    • Mike, glad you like everything. Looking forward to hearing more from you. Let me look into the numbers you provided and get back to you.

  54. Again great staff Neil from your brilliant ideas.
    We can really try it for our blogs….

    Thanks,
    Deb

  55. Hi Neil,
    I’m checking to see if you require registration.

    BTW I am enjoying and prospering from your 30 days program.

  56. Thanks Neil. Its Sounds Good that emails can make money also.

  57. Stuart Walker :

    Nice post Neil.

    Like yourself I’ve found emails drive a LOT of traffic to my site.

    Around 30% of all traffic in fact in my case.

    And this traffic is much more likely to take action than any other source.

    Email marketing works so well it’s crazy but so many ‘marketers’ don’t do it or don’t put any effort into it. Madness.

  58. Julius Orias :

    This is a great post Neil. Gmail send me here too..lol 🙂

  59. Email marketing has consistently provided the best ROI for me. Not only with personal projects I’ve worked on, but for clients and employers too.

    I used to work in e-commerce, and the ROI for email was ridiculous. It was a great way to boost business out of season and also created a great feedback loop where customers sent feedback regarding their favourite products and also use to compliment me on the terrible jokes I used to tell in each newsletter.

    I’ve found the best strategy is to not just sell in each, offer something of value that your audience will find useful, personalise the email if you can, and be prepared to speak to people that take the time to reply. If you do these things, you should see some decent results.

  60. Hi Neil,

    I wonder when you should start to build your email list? I have just started my blog, i know that collect emails is a MUST. When is -really- the best time to start doing that: from the begining, when i have x uniques per month, 3 months after start?

  61. Amazing. Email is definitely the way to go. Pop-ups are good, but I would give it 15-20 secs though before popping up. I would think this would turn people away more. I wonder which would do better. A straight pop up or one that is delayed. I would think delayed.

  62. Nice post I like this post I think very body like this post and I hope very body like this blog.

  63. Thanks for sharing.

  64. Thanks for Sharing this Post i have many traffic on by blogs but i am not able to convert that traffic to my targeted customers and did not got any of them comments from the users. i think this post will help me to convert my traffic.

  65. Great Neil,

    I get to know about this content while crawling the web; you nailed it.
    A number of emails you sent since the start was incredible, but as an outcome, you established yourself as an expert with your audience.
    It motivates us to collect email by providing value!

    Cheers!

  66. Somnath Gujarat Hotel :

    Hello! I’ve been following your site for some time now and
    finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Texas!
    Just wanted to tell you keep up the great work!

    • Awesome, thanks for leaving a comment. If you have any questions or feel confused about anything, please don’t hesitate to ask

  67. android pos system :

    Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog loading?

    I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if
    it’s the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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