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Hi and welcome to episode 11 of startup marketing. Today we’re going to talk about email marketing. I’ve mentioned email marketing before in regards to being a great free marketing tool and today we’re going to do a deep dive into why email marketing is so beneficial for your small business.

First and foremost, the best thing about email marketing is that you OWN your list. I think it’s easy for small businesses to really focus on their social media channels; increasing the number of followers, starting a community or group and having a lot of engagement from their followers. And those things are all very valuable and can be a great revenue generator for your business, but, what happens when the algorithm changes and it’s harder to get your posts in front of your followers? Or what happens if Facebook or Instagram go away next week? Will you lose access to a lot of your customer base? If you answered yes, email list building needs to be a high priority of yours. If you’re just starting out, email marketing is where you want to focus your effort. If your social media channels change overnight, your email list is something that you won’t lose. Your email list is a direct reflection of the strength of your business. You want to be able to turn to your email list at any time, put out an offer and generate money. That’s the goal. You don’t just want anyone and everyone on your email list. You want people who will find value in what you have to say and are likely to buy from you because of that value you offer. 

Creating an engaged email list is so valuable to your business because these are people who have potentially purchased from you in the past, or have willingly given up a precious resource (their email address) to hear from you. Which means they’re more likely to purchase from you. You don’t want to grow your list just for the sake of growing it. You want to grow your list with potential buyers so that at any point you can turn to them with an offer and generate revenue. 

Now, is there a reason why you haven’t started your email list yet? Are you weary of the technology and how to use it? Are you unsure about what you’ll talk about? Let’s talk about how to get through all of these things and how to successfully build your email list. 

If you’re struggling with the technology, simplify your choices. Ideally, what you want is an email platform that connects to your website and allows you to collect customer email addresses at point of purchase (if you’re a retailer). Pick two or three email platforms to evaluate and then pick one of those. If you do too much googling, you’re going to end up in analysis paralysis. The ones I like best for small businesses just starting out are: Flodesk (the one I use because it’s super intuitive), Mail Chimp, Campaign Monitor and Constant Contact. They vary in price point and features, like I said. Pick a couple to evaluate and then start with one of them. If you go with something like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact, they’re going to have easy integration into your website (like almost instantaneous). Others may require a little more work, but will have tutorials about how to connect all the pieces to your puzzle. 

If you’re just not sure what to say in your emails, refer back to episode 10 where I talk about a content process. The process I outline increases the “like, know, trust” factor that’s extremely important in marketing. You want your audience to like you, know you and trust you. Email marketing is the perfect way to create that kind of relationship. The way I outline how to break down long form content into social media also applies to emails. Your main goal when it comes to email marketing is to serve serve serve. 80% of the time, you want to be offering your email subscribers content that adds value to their lives: it solves a problem, teaches them something, you get the point. 20% of the time, you sell to them. 

So, how do you start attracting people to your email list? First, it’s important to remember that everyone starts at zero. That can be really hard when you’re scouring the internet looking for advice on how to do this. A lot of entrepreneurs like to say “I started with my list of 700 and was able to grow it to 30,000 in six months!”, which, when you’re starting out building your list just makes you feel really sad. Trust me, I feel this all the time. I’m in the early stages of building my email list and it’s hard not to play the comparison game. I’m not starting with a list of a few hundred people. I started building my list at exactly zero. And I won’t lie, it’s been hard to be patient and not expect overnight success. But, I know by staying true to the framework I’m about to outline, that I will get my list growing. The slow progress is a good reminder that it really takes time and effort to generate an email list. 

The first thing you want to do is to create what marketers like to call a lead magnet. Also referred to as a freebie or a freemium. Whatever you call it, it’s all the same. A lead magnet is a piece of free content that you offer in exchange for someone’s name and email address. All you have to do is start with one lead magnet. You want your content to be so amazing that it resonates with your ideal customer and they get so excited about what they’ve seen they’re willing to purchase from you down the road. 

If you’re a mom and preschool teacher who wants to sell pre-school curriculum online for example, you might want to put together a checklist of the essential items a stay-at-home mom would need to make homeschooling easy. Or put together a daily schedule that parents considering homeschooling their child could look over and test. If you’re a chef that offers vegetarian meal deliveries, maybe you offer your top three favorite vegetarian recipes to get people started. If you’re a roofing company, maybe you put together a checklist for homeowners to use after there’s been a bad storm to assess whether or not they need to call their insurance company and file a claim (then hire you). If you’re a boutique or restaurant for example, you can offer a discount coupon. There’s plenty of options for you, as you can see. As you know, with each podcast, I offer a free resource. My most popular ones are my 12 month marketing plan outline and guide to selecting a logo. Eventually, you want to have several lead magnets that you can test to see which one gains the most traction for you, but to start, plan for just one. You want it to be valuable and worth handing over an email address for. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, what are their pain points, what solutions or challenges can you help solve and in the simplest way? Once you’ve got those questions answered, work on your lead magnet. Remember, you don’t like giving out your email address for just anything, so make it worth their while. 

Once you have your lead magnet created, you’ll use your email service provider or website to create an opt-in form. This is simply a page that you can link your content to when you promote it where someone can enter their name and email address then click “download” to get the piece of content. Then, the content is available for download immediately or they receive it straight to their inbox. This is how you collect email addresses online. 

You can promote your free content on your social media channels, using Instagram stories, posts, Facebook live, LinkedIn articles and/or posts,  Pinterest, Snapchat, Tik Tok. Wherever you are, talk about your freebies. Do quality hashtag research to help you gain visibility on those platforms. Just remember, you’re going to have to show up in whatever channels you use consistently to talk about the offers so that you can promote them. A former coworker of mine used to say “you can’t sell a secret”. If you’re not out there talking about your offers, you’re not going to grow your list. It’s not likely that people will magically stumble on your content and be like “yes! I’ve been looking for you!”. Your ideal customer is out there looking for you, but it’s up to you to put yourself out there and shout from the mountain tops that you’re here with valuable content or products and services. 

If you’re a brick and mortar store or an online store, you’ve got another option to capture email addresses: the checkout. Don’t be afraid to ask people when they’re standing in front of you if they would like to provide an email address. I know what you’re thinking: it’s hella annoying to be asked for your email address at a store and you usually say no. I’m no different, my friends. But,  I’ve found that it goes a long way when you ask and they hesitate if you say something like “I only send a few emails a month and you can always unsubscribe if you’d like”. Or explain what you get in the emails “I only send a few a month and it’s usually about sale items or special events we’re having in the store.” At the end of the day, people want to know they’re not going to get 50 emails a month from you or that you’re just going to try and spam them. 

Now, once you have people on your email list, first and foremost, deliver the freebie you promised. But then create a workflow or email sequence in your email provider that feeds them a few more emails. What’s your goal after this freebie? It is to get them to purchase a product or service from you? Great, you can create a little schedule of emails that send automatically to a person on the time frame you set that leads them to your desired goal. Remember, you want the subscriber to like, know and trust you. You want to serve them and then sell them. So, provide that freebie and a handful of other emails that add value BEFORE you ask for a purchase. 

This, my friends, is how you build an email list that generates revenue for you. I promise I will do a deep dive into the types of email sequences you should have once you get set up, but let’s keep it simple to start. Your assignment this week is to think of the lead magnet you can put out into the world, create it and start promoting it. 

To help you with this, I’ve created a guide you can download to help create the lead magnet and a checklist of ways to promote it. You can get it at: getauthenticbranding.com/resources. 

And of course, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please rate, review and subscribe to Startup Marketing to help other women like you find this podcast. 

Until next time!