As a small business owner, the last thing you probably want is another item on your to-do list. You’ve probably heard people say you need to use email marketing. We’re here to tell you…they’re probably right.
Email can play a critical role in your marketing funnel. It lets you connect with your audience in ways social media and ads simply can’t. After all, when someone subscribes to your email list, there’s something there.They’re at least a little familiar with you and, if they’re subscribed to your list, you can safely assume they want to hear from you. Inboxes are crowded these days, so people don’t hand out their email to just anyone. You’ve got to make those emails count.
Why you should leverage email marketing
Email has the ability to be very personal. While most brands also use social media to connect with their audience (and we recommend you do have a presence there to help bring people into your funnel), it can be incredibly difficult to get the organic reach you want. Social media algorithms and content overwhelm often don’t allow for the same connections as email.
With no algorithm to get in the way of your content, email is much more direct. Plus, research shows consumers prefer brands reaching out to them via email because it’s permission-based. The people on your list signed up to get updates from you, so they’re much more likely to pay attention.
In fact, a study by MarketingSherpa found that about 60% of consumers subscribe to a brand’s email list for promotional news, while only 20% follow them on social media for the same reason.
So yeah, email works
Secondly, you own your email list. You don’t own your Instagram or Facebook account. If something were to happen to those platforms or your account were deleted for some reason, all of your content (and your followers) would be lost. When you own an email list, that valuable group of people is yours to hang onto. You can always reach out to them directly and connect.
Email is also incredibly cost-effective and you can get started for literally zero dollars. Even as your list grows or you start to integrate more automatic sequences and campaigns, the rates for email marketing services are very affordable.
Email marketing software companies like MailChimp and Constant Contact help you upload and manage your email lists and create email marketing templates all from one place. If you have less than 2,000 contacts, you don’t have to pay any hefty fees, which is great while you’re building your list.
Types of marketing emails
Emails can take many forms, but here are the primary types:
- On-going newsletters: Nurture your audience with regular emails. You can share business updates, provide educational or entertaining value, or drive traffic to external content.
- Promotional emails: Offer discounts or special promotions on your products or services.
- Sales campaigns: If you have a big launch coming up, a thoughtfully planned email sequence can help you generate buzz and drive sales.
- Welcome series: This is an automated group of emails that are sent when a new subscriber first joins your email list. It helps them get acquainted with your brand and guides them through the different ways you can help them.
So, with all this in mind, how do you make sure you’re sending emails that turn readers into buyers? How do you send emails your audience actually wants to read?
Here are four tips to build prospect relationships with email marketing.
1) Nurture relationships by providing value
One of the most compelling reasons to integrate regular email marketing is to nurture relationships with your audience. As we mentioned, the people subscribed to your list already have a connection to you. So it’s up to you to keep that connection going.
The most devoted email subscribers are the ones that already like you and, the more invested they are in your relationship, the more they’ll pay attention to your emails.
So this means you shouldn’t make every email “directly” promotional. You don’t need to be making a hard sell every time (in fact, you shouldn’t). Use your emails to connect with your readers. Provide value through entertainment, education, insight, or reflection. Discounts and special offers don’t hurt either, of course.
The sky’s the limit, so don’t feel like you have to fit into the same email box everyone else seems to be in. Think of ways you can use email to stand and out and authentically represent your brand. Maybe it’s a little “Wednesday Wisdom” or a funny story with a lesson in it every couple of weeks. Maybe it’s regular tips based on your expertise that gives readers ways to make improvements in their life or business.
When people get value out of your emails, they enjoy them. When they enjoy them, they open them.
2) Break patterns by telling stories
On a similar note, storytelling breaks patterns. And, in a world of endless content where the same messages are constantly regurgitated (i.e. “BUY THIS!”), we need to break those patterns to connect with our people.
That’s why one of the most compelling strategies for email marketing is storytelling. Storytelling is deeply rooted into us as humans so, as soon as you weave a storytelling element into your promotional content, people are much more likely to be interested. It helps them see the “person” behind your business.
People like to work with and buy from other people!
So, perhaps in some of your emails you tell a success story about one of your clients or customers. Maybe you tell a personal story and tie it into a lesson you want to communicate. Maybe you fill them in on your brand’s backstory and what inspired you to start your business or create a new offer you’re launching.
If you can hook your readers with a story, you can increase the chances that they’ll continue reading (and make it to that oh-so-important call to action).
3) Provide extra value by driving traffic to your other content
Emails are also a fantastic way to get more eyes on your other (valuable) content. Since email is so direct, it eliminates a lot of the risk that your content will be lost in the internet abyss. If you’re publishing valuable blog posts, social media posts, videos, or podcasts, use email to send your audience there.
You can simply provide a short introduction so they know what to expect and why they should care enough to check out the content. Then follow it up with a clear call to action that directs them to it. The goal is to have your email marketing work in conjunction with your entire digital marketing ecosystem.
Bonus tip: You can add extra value to your emails by sharing content with your list before you promote it anywhere else. This gives your subscribers “first dibs” on any offers that might be tied to your content or, at least, helps the content feel a little more exclusive. You can even consider sending additional exclusive valuable content to your email list only, which you can use to help entice social media followers to subscribe.
4) Stay consistent, stay top of mind
One thing that prevents many small business owners from starting their email marketing plan is overwhelm. For example, you may feel like you need to email your list multiple times a week, which is unrealistic for many small businesses. Even once a week is a lot to keep up when you have a small team or if you’re a solopreneur. If you or other team members can do it, go for it! But if not, don’t let that stop you from using email at all.
Consider this your permission to drop unrealistic expectations. You don’t need to email every day or every week if you don’t want to. Bi-weekly or monthly emails can do wonders.
The main thing is to stay consistent. Don’t email your list three times a week for a month and then leave them hanging for months without a single email. As we’ve mentioned, people get a lot of emails on top of all the other content they’re absorbing day to day. So it doesn’t take much for them to forget what your emails are all about if you regularly disappear on them.
This doesn’t do good things for your open rates or relationship nurturing. Work out a schedule that works well for your business. Develop a style for your newsletters so readers start to know what they can expect from you.
When your audience starts to recognize your emails as valuable in some way, they’re far more likely to remember you and keep reading your stuff. Which brings us to the main goal here: staying top of mind.
When you’re top of mind, thanks to digital marketing strategies like email, you’re miles ahead. Because, when an engaged, nurtured prospect is eventually in the market to buy what you sell, who will they think of?
If they know and like you and see you as an expert in your field, chances are greater that they’ll reach out.
Don’t know where to start with email marketing?
We know it can be intimidating to start up email marketing. That’s why we offer free consultations to help walk you through the process. Once you get the right guidance, it’s pretty easy to run with.
One other thing to keep in mind: No matter the size of your list, you’ll want to start segmenting your list so you can send more targeted emails to different groups of people when necessary. The more relevant your email topics and promotions are to each reader, the more likely those readers will continue to open your emails. We can help you figure out the best way to segment your list.
Want to chat email? We’d love to help you get started. Shoot us a message if you’d like to set up a free consultation.