Compared to social media and video marketing email marketing is old but don’t let this fool you. It’s still as relevant as ever.
It may not be as sexy as social media or video but it produces results and there are reasons why this is the case. During the course of this article, I’m going to show you why. If you stay until the end, I’ll even have a special announcement.
There is a lot to talk about so let’s not waste any more time.
What Is Email Marketing?
There are many marketing channels to choose from. Why should you choose email marketing?
Before I answer this question let’s first answer the question, what is email marketing?
It’ss a way to build relationships with prospects and current customers so they will buy from you both now and in the future.
The goals are similar to other forms of marketing.
Most marketing focuses on creating customers. If this is the goal, You are working to create a relationship with somebody by creating trust and providing value with the goal to convert them to a customer.
Email marketing can also play a part in retaining customers.
Anybody can choose to follow you on social or visit your blog on a daily or weekly basis. In both these instances, a person is coming to you. This is a good thing. You need people to come to you to have any legitimate shot to turn them into a customer.
When somebody signs up to be on your email list, they are giving you permission to come to them.
Think of it this way. You meet an acquaintance at the coffee shop, the local diner, or the park. You invite friends to your house. There has to be a certain level of trust.
However, trust isn’t always needed to get an email address. I’ll talk about that more a little later.
It’s good to remember though, if you have developed trust, they are more likely to read your emails.
Email Marketing Is Owned Media
I’ve talked about owned media on several occasions in different articles but I’m going to assume you’re joining me for the first time.
The obvious piece of owned media is your website. You have complete control over your website from the look to the content to the customer experience. The overlooked piece of owned media is email.
Chances are if you’re already sending out email to customers or people who have joined your email list, you are using a platform like Constant Contact, Active Campaign, MailChimp, or AWeber. You might be thinking, “Hold on, I own the content that goes in the email but I’m using (insert your platform of choice here). How is email owned media?”
Good question. Unless you have some very talented software programmers on your payroll, you are using a third party to deliver email. You don’t the means to send the email but you do own the one thing you absolutely need to have to send email in the first place.
You own the email list. While you and I might have some people on it, your list is unique to you as is the message you’re sending to the people on it. This makes it owned media.
How Do You Build An Email List
Without an email list you can’t do email marketing.
There isn’t any one way to build an email list.
The best reason for somebody to subscribe to an email list is because they already feel you are offering value to them or because they have developed some affinity for you.
I’ve told this story before but I’ll tell it again. I started following a marketing blog on Twitter around 2011. Over the next five years, I visited their site maybe 3-4 times a year. Being that they publish every weekday (minus holidays), they were barely a blip on my radar. I saw maybe 1% of the content they were publishing on their blog during the course of the year.
In late 2016, I visited their site from a link on Twitter and read an article that resonated with me. This lead me to read a few more articles which also resonated with me. I knew I’d been following them for five years on Twitter and I wondered why I hadn’t followed them more closely. Not wanting to continue to miss out anymore on what I considered great and helpful content, I signed up for their email list so I wouldn’t forget to visit.
One of the most popular ways to get an email address is through gated content. You have something they want and they can only get it by giving their email address. This is commonly known as a lead magnet.
A lead magnet could be an ebook, a checklist, a white paper, the results to a study, really anything that somebody might find valuable enough to trade their email address for.
If they really like the resource they’ve just “bought” with their email address, you have a great opportunity to build a relationship with somebody who could become a customer in the future.
The problem is that most companies see this as a buying signal and immediately start sending email trying to set up a demo or a sales call. This can be a dangerous strategy if you’ve never interacted with them before. Some maybe open to it but if their not, they are likely to unsubscribe and/or just ignore you in the future. So be careful and think through the next steps you are taking when somebody subscribes via a lead magnet.
Another popular way to get an email address is through webinars. If you want to sign up for my webinar and I’m going to ask you for some information including your email address.
I personally think this is a better way to get an email address than a lead magnet. It gives you 45-60 minutes to show your expertise and build trust. If you like what they hear, people will be more open to hearing from you again in the future but as with lead magnets, there can be a downside.
You are more than likely doing the webinar as a representative of your company and they may remember you more than your company. This creates a problem when they start getting an email from your company because they don’t remember how they got on the email list and just go in and unsubscribe.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started getting email and can’t figure out who the company is and how I could’ve ended up on their email list. It feels like stranger showing up at your house to hang out. On the spectrum it can feel anywhere from annoying to creepy.
My advice is to always segment people, at least initially, by how they ended up on your email address. You can re-segment them later based on their behavior but this way you can create an approach that helps build a relationship and not something that is going to push them away.
It takes work to get an email address. People have decided to invite you into their inbox. Don’t abuse this invitation or take it for granted. They can take the privilege just as easily as they can give it.
Email Marketing Tactics
You have their email, so now what?
You need to figure out how you’re going to communicate with them. Actually, you should have figured this out prior to asking for their email address but let’s look at some different ways you can use to communicate.
I’m going to discuss the three tactics that I see most often.
The Email Notification
I talked about this one earlier. I gave a marketing blog my email so they would send me notifications when they posted new content. There is nothing wrong with this, I do it myself but over time, if this is the only email going out, it can feel monotonous.
I came to see the blog as a great resource but not because of the email. It was because of their content. Going to their site became a daily habit. When that happened, the email notification became irrelevant. I stopped opening it and started deleting it. If it was the only thing I would have gotten from them, I would have unsubscribed.
If you’re publishing every day there may become a time where the email notification isn’t read anymore. It may just become more of a nuisance.
If you are publishing once a week, bi-weekly, or monthly the notification email might become much more valuable to your user but think about why you’re sending every email.
It’s a chance to connect and build affinity but it can also be a way to convince people they shouldn’t work with you and ignore you in the future. I said it earlier but I’m going to say it again because it is extremely important: Don’t abuse the privilege of being invited into their email box.
The Email Newsletter
Next, we have the newsletter. I’ve seen the newsletter in many different forms over the years. In many cases, it’s just a sales email dressed up as a newsletter. Don’t do this. Not only is it annoying but it’s deceptive and quick way to destroy trust.
The reason I like them is because they don’t pitch specific ideas that I have to do as much as they are showing me what is possible. They make me think and I appreciate that. Showing people an idea and letting them dream about how they can apply it in the best way for them is always better than showing and saying, “You have to do this in exactly this way.”
Content, whether it be a newsletter a blog post, or a video, should always be helpful. This doesn’t mean you can’t do other things within your newsletter such as promote your services and products but it shouldn’t be primarily about you.
You want to build trust and authority and it’s going to be hard to do this if you’re only selling.
The Sales Email
Last we have the sales email. They have one purpose and that is to sell something to you.
I have received sales emails that jump right into the sales pitch. They immediately are trying to get a conversion. They want to set up a sales call, demo, or just flat out buy something.
Sending this type of email to somebody who you have built a relationship with and is close to converting may not be a bad idea but it’s not a good idea if they have just joined your email list.
Another, and I think, a better way to write a sales email is to build some rapport. I learned about building rapport during my years in call centers. When people called in, most of the time it was because something had gone wrong which means they weren’t very happy. Building rapport was a good way to calm the caller and create some trust.
There are people who send me nothing but sales emails and I’ve yet to unsubscribe from their list. Why? They spend time to build a little rapport by giving information that is valuable to me. They talk to me like they understand my problems and then they make their pitch.
I may not be interested in what they are selling but they have shown me some courtesy and given me some ideas to think about in addition to making their pitch. In short, they built some rapport and trust with me. Because they’ve spent the time doing this, I don’t have an issue getting their sales emails because I like them and they might have something down the line that I will have an interest in.
A good sales email isn’t just a blunt instrument, it’s an art. You need to understand where your prospect is in relation to the marketing process.
This means you blasting out the same generic sales email is a bad idea. You need to craft an email based on where people are at. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Yes, it will take more time and effort but in the end it will be worth it.
I told you at the top that I would have an announcement if you stayed until the end but first a confession.
I have mostly ignored email marketing. If you have signed up for my list, the only emails you ever got from me is a notification that I had a new blog post. Boring.
I came into 2020 with the idea that I was going to focus more on owned media but still continued to ignore email. I’ll be the first to admit that it was a mistake on my part.
During this time of Covid-19, I have thought about what I do and why I do it. I enjoy helping people. That’s one of the top reasons why I do what I do. I have ideas and tips I want to share with you that are too long for a social media post but too short for a blog post.
After some thought, I’ve decided that the best way to communicate these ideas, tips, and resources with you is through a bi-weekly newsletter that is launching on September 2nd, two days after this article posts.
For those of you who have been on my email list and have been bored to tears, I apologize. I didn’t take the time to truly appreciate what I could do and deliver a good experience for you.
Reading the newsletters from Ann, Chris, and Trust Insights have inspired me to do better.
If you’re not already on the email list, hit the button below and join me. I look forward to connecting with you.
And for one final thought to end this article, don’t forget about email marketing. It may be an old tactic but it’s still relevant.