Email marketing has gotten a bit of a bad wrap over the past few years – a combined result of old-fashioned practices (newsletters, newsletters and more newsletters) or those who seem to think they can email you 21 times in 10 days (yes, that has happened to me on more than one occasion).
It’s enough to make the everyday small business owner think that it is just plain ineffective and spammy. Which is true – if it is used in the ways mentioned above.
But what if there was a middle ground? A way to use email which keeps you engaged with your prospective customers, encourage them to buy and have them actually thank you for sending you them emails.
The undeniable truth is that email is still the most effective way to convert leads to customers and if you are not using it, you are missing out.
There are many reasons for this which I won’t get into here – but it all boils down to the fact that if you have an email list you have a group of hot leads you can get your message out in front of. Those people who weren’t ready to buy straight away and just need that extra motivation to do so. Email delivers that motivation.
So how do you actually create a non-spammy email strategy? Here are the 6 steps to setting your email marketing strategy
Step 1: Create an Email Opt-in Incentive
To get someone to signup to your list, it is simply not enough to say “sign up to my newsletter” or “to get updates”. An email address is a form of currency these days so we need to offer something of value in exchange to get that address.
Examples include e-books, checklists, workbooks, quizzes and webinars. The important part here is that it attracts the attention of your ideal subscriber and customer where they are at now.
Step 2: Get the Sign up
Now you have an opt-in, you need to create a way for your future subscribers to easily sign up. This involves including a number of sign-up forms on your website and also a dedicated “lead page”.
The key here is using imagery and messaging that is really focused around the benefits or outcomes they can expect from the opt-in incentive. At a minimum this is an enticing headline.
Step 3: Welcome your New Subscribers
Once someone is signed up to your email list, this is the point when they are most interested in hearing from you – so take advantage!
Many businesses stop short here and just deliver the opt-in incentive and then the next email they will receive will be the latest newsletter.
But this is your chance to share the most important information about your business, how you can help them and what next steps you can take.
This can be a single welcome email or a full series.
The key here is to continue to provide value. This can be in the form of extra tips, a bonus resource or sharing stories. Think strategically here about the objections and barriers to purchase your customers typically experience and try to weave these messages throughout.
The ask for the sale is just a small part of this process and can be the final email in a series and/or a small call to action in your first welcome message.
Because you have led with value and knocked down some of those barriers to purchase, your leads are much more likely to convert to customers than if you just bombarded them with “buy me” messages.
Step 4: Generate Traffic
Now you have all the basics setup, you need to get your opt-in in front of your ideal subscribers. The possibilities here are seemingly endless but you have the added benefit of offering something for free – a much easier ask than trying to get people to buy something.
There are two ways you can try to promote your opt-in: Directly and Indirectly.
Directly promoting your opt-in via social media posts, ads or in Facebook Groups. Indirectly by promoting content such as blog posts that lead people to your website.
Step 5: Send Regular Updates
No matter what size list you have (yes, even if you only have 3 subscribers), you should still be sending regular email updates.
And I’ll be clear – I’m not talking newsletters here. I’m talking about helpful or inspiring messages that people want to read.
If you continue to lead with value here, you will start to get reply’s and thank you’s which is a pretty amazing feeling.
Step 6: Ask for the Sale
Ok, this isn’t really a next logical step as it is something you will be weaving throughout the above. But it is worth addressing separately as there is an art to this.
You do need to ask people to buy your stuff. After all they do need to know what you do in order for them to buy it from you.
The choice of how you do this is up to what feels good for your business – it could be included in every email update or you run the occasional separate promotion.
Aim for no more than 20% of the time and you should be ok. But don’t just assume people know what you do and how to buy from you – because they might now know!
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to email marketing strategy. The potential is huge if you start adding in things like segmenting, tagging, retargeting, post-purchase sequences and more. Email can truly become your best sales person if you let it.
But we all need to start somewhere and the above 6 steps are what I recommend all small businesses have in their marketing toolkit.