I was recently talking to a friend about growing and sharing her health + wellness business through email marketing, and it spawned the idea to go ahead and write a full post on the topic! Mainly to help define what it is, why you need to build a list, and how to make this whole seemingly complex process easy-peasy.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
So, what is an email list/email marketing?
Tools known as “email marketing providers” (EMP) – allow you to build a list, manage it, design, and send out emails. If you’re a kvh. Insider, you know that mine hit your inbox ~1x/week on Wednesdays. They’re primarily 300-500 words and usually include a logo/header that I’ve designed, maybe an image, &/or a graphic at the bottom that directs my readers to a blog post, or whatever else I’m sharing in that email.
Other than those images/graphics I’ve created and uploaded, it’s just text. But the EMP essentially ‘hosts’ everything else. It allows you to generate subscribers through a simple sign-up form on your website and do things like create more advanced sequences – for example, all those sales funnels you’ve heard about, or creating a string of say, 5-10 emails that send automatically in a “sequence”.
With an EMP, you can schedule emails, create triggers, etc. Those are some of the advantages rather than just using something like a massive list through Gmail. BUT an EMP does connect to your Gmail/website email so they’ll still come from you – obviously – and they should feel personal!
EMPs also help you to pass email regulations when mass-emailing so your messages don’t become treated as spam. AND they give you advanced analytics so you can see who/how many people have opened your emails, who clicked what, etc. Pretty nifty, right?
How do I know if it’s right for me?
Email is a great way to attract interest in your business/blog but by doing so in an indirect way that really focuses on the why behind it all, and allows you to enhance the service/value you’re offering. It’s also a great outlet for further creativity, sharing your passions, &/or brand awareness, all in one place.
Email is great in the sense that when people sign up they’re literally saying they WANT to hear from you. No algorithm or social media platform can change that because you own your list! You can also divvy your list up into different groups – so say, clients/customers, potential clients, general newsletter subscribers, by topic, etc.
For service based-businesses…you’ll stay top of mind, nurture leads, generate referrals/word of mouth, and be their go-to resource when they need it.
For product based-businesses…you’ll stay top of mind, invite your readers to partake in your brand, share offers, sales, discounts, new product releases, limited editions, company stories, customer-testimonials & reviews, etc. Sometimes people want what you have, but for one reason or another, they can’t quite pull the trigger yet. This gives them time and the ability to buy when it’s best for them, without forgetting about you!
What tool should I use?
I’m only going to mention my top 2 favorite tools because this post is more about the why behind email marketing, and not so much, a comparison of all the tools/programs out there.
I currently use a program called Convertkit and love it. I used Mailchimp for a while to get me going because it’s free up to your first 2,000 subscribers. Convertkit is $30/month starting out but in my opinion, is way better suited to blogger/small biz type people who want to segment their list easily and efficiently with multiple opt-in forms. They’re templates are pretty plain and straightforward but that makes it easier than having to worry about customizing templates all the time. AND less image-heavy emails are also less likely to end up in the spam folder. Win-win.
Convertkit often hosts free webinars and then at the end, many of them offer a free, 1-month trial. Which is what I first did when making the switch from Mailchimp. But honestly, either platform works! Check them out and decide for yourself or feel free to get in touch and I can help make a recommendation based on your business.
How do I get started?
As far as building a list, I started from a few subscribers (plus family & friends – wink – thanks, ya’ll!) that I had from my original blog before ever turning it into a business. I also did a big giveaway during my final grad school project and made email subscription part of the requirements to win.
Moral of the story, there are lots of ways to gather addresses, and you can definitely start with whatever you have – just make sure you ask permission and are always clear in your intent.
I’d argue that you NEED to have a lead-generator. I know it’s fun to think a magical fairy will drop new subscribers out of the sky and right onto your website where they just so happen to be begging to fork over their email address but that’s just not the case. So, avoid having a generic sign-up form that says, “Subscribe for my emails!”.
No one, I repeat, no one needs more emails in this day and age. So you need to tell them why it’s of value. Make it something they really want and will benefit from!
Use unique call-to-action buttons or a clear, non-distracting landing page. For example, instead of just “Subscribe”, say “Give Me My Guide!” or “I Want In!” or whatever makes sense according to your incentive.
What are you offering them from the get-go? Here is a general list of content formats you could create & offer, according to your business:
- a list of quick tips
- a checklist
- a video (or a series of videos)
- an email training course
- a list of resources
- a short e-book
- templates/sample format
- design freebies (wallpapers, icons, fonts)
For retail-centric or product-based businesses, there are more obvious ones like:
- discount code
- free shipping code
- birthday incentives
How do I maintain it?
As mentioned above, have some kind of lead generation on your website – a freebie or download – anything that suits your business and your ideal reader’s interests.Then have a welcome email that automatically sends to them after subscribing so they know what to expect. Even better, is a full welcome sequence but we can get into that later, too!
Next, as far as maintenance, committing to a consistent schedule is most important. For example, you could commit to sending 1-2 emails per month starting out. You could later increase your frequency to say, 1-2x per week as you get into a groove and have more content to share.
Consistency builds trust and keeps your subscribers from forgetting about you only to later unsubscribe when they’re like “Who dis!?”
+ Always be transparent
+ Set expectations (let them know what’s coming & when!) + follow through
+ Be consistent
+ Have at least 1, automated welcome email
+ Don’t call it a “newsletter” (BORING.)
+ Aim for 300-500 words MAX (or less!) per email
+ ^But most importantly, make sure it’s just fun to read regardless of length
+ Include simple, relevant opt-ins in your blog posts
+ Solve problems
+ Serve, serve, serve
+ Provide value
+ THEN Deliberately sell (to a primed & ready audience!)
It’s not sleazy to sell when you’ve properly cultivated your audience. In fact, it’s important to make some pitches, otherwise, they’ll forget you’re even selling something and you’ll fail to convert prospects into actual paying customers!
SO, what other questions do you have? Where do you need more support or clarity? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll get back to you or address it in another, forthcoming blog post.
Good luck & happy emailing, friends!