Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.

- McKinsey

Balance.

Maybe the most common email I get about how to be a good email marketer is this: How do I balance sales emails with non-sales emails?

Or, how do I create a balance where my subscribers don’t feel bombarded?

My answer? Use the 3-to-1 rule. Let me show you what that is and how it works.

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The 3-to-1 rule is simply this: For every three value-creating emails you send, you allow yourself to send one sales email.

This helps you not just balance your free and paid content… but it actually tips the scales in favor of your free content.

So with the 3-to-1 rule, if you were to send a newsletter every Tuesday, the fourth Tuesday’s newsletter could include an offer or sales pitch.

That’s the simple way to use this rule to achieve balance.

When we get into sales campaigns, however, we tend to send 4 or more emails to every subscriber on our list. The first emails in a sales campaign may not be selling directly – that is, there may not be a call to action to buy in the email – but once the offer becomes available or the product launches, plenty of sales-focused emails will follow.

Each one of those counts as an individual sales email. So for each one you send, you must have sent 3 emails that offer value for free.

Which means that you should have sent 12 emails with free content before you’re allowed to send 4 emails with sales pitches. In your business, that could translate to launching a campaign every three months.

Why plan your emails like this? To achieve balance and feel good about yourself as an email marketer.

Remember: you ARE allowed to sell to your subscribers. In my opinion, you SHOULD offer great products and services for your prospects to buy; remember that they actually have a need for what you’re offering, and you, as a business, ought to share with your subscribers everything that they need. Free content will go a long way for a lot of your list, but some subscribers will want more. You’re allowed to sell to them.  And you can feel especially good about doing so if you’ve given away far more than you’ve ever asked for.

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