Hi and welcome to episode 15 of startup marketing. Today we’re going to be talking about all things email marketing. By now, you know that I think having an email list is an important part of any business. And once you start building your email list, you’ll want to make things easier on yourself by creating workflows or automated sequences of emails that send to your subscribers regularly. Put even more simply, a workflow is simply a series of emails that sends automatically on designated days and times to your list subscribers. Email workflows are incredibly helpful to you because, once built, they save you time and keep you in front of your customers, increasing brand loyalty and product awareness. With any of these options we’re going to talk about, before you start creating, you’ll want to make sure you have a goal in mind. Remember, you want to serve your email list 80% of the time and sell to them 20% of the time. So, what is your end goal? Is it to buy something? Sign up for a service? Take a class? Deciding this ahead of time allows you to create an effective workflow and allow you to serve up valuable content while leading your subscribers to your desired goal.
So let’s dive in, what are the types of email workflows you should have?
This first one sounds obvious, but it’s often the easiest to overlook: a welcome sequence. Most email marketing platforms have templates for at least the first email in this series and some have an entire workflow already created, you just simply need to customize it.
Why is a welcome sequence important? This is potentially one of the first impressions someone has of your brand. You likely attracted them with a lead magnet, but, if they’re anything like me, they get that lead magnet email, head straight to download and don’t pay much attention to anything else that’s going on. Funneling them into a welcome sequence along with delivering the lead magnet, will help introduce them to your brand. These emails are a way for you to control the introduction to your brand, make an impression and set the stage for the relationship you’re going to have with your subscribers. Putting time and energy into how that interaction will go is essential. So give the subscriber the lead magnet and tell them what to expect next in the first email. Then, send a few more emails after the initial introduction and lead magnet to flesh out your story and move the new subscriber down the funnel and closer to your end goal.
Something you’ll want to take special care to do upfront when creating your email workflows is to make sure you have segments set up from the beginning. To do this, simply assign your lead magnets to a segment when you create your initial opt-in form and welcome workflow. A segment is simply a group that you assign your subscribers to based on certain criteria you pick. For example, each of my lead magnets from my resources page segments subscribers into categories: branding, free tools, coaching, marketing, and so on. Putting your subscribers in segments helps you deliver them valuable content. As your list grows, you’ll spend more time creating segment-specific content, but it’s well-worth it. Think about your own email habits. I’m sure you appreciate getting an email about something that’s directly related to your interests rather than things you find are unrelated to your interests or not valuable. For example, maybe you’re an avid baker. You like to purchase your baking supplies from an upscale kitchen supply retailer in town. You give your email to them. About half the emails you get a month are about their grilling classes and supplies, a portion are about baking (you like those!) and the rest are about sale items. After a while, you stop engaging with the emails because it’s annoying to sift through all the grilling emails to get to the baking emails. If this shop segmented you when you subscribed in to the baking category, you may get less emails, but find them more valuable. And because they’re more valuable, you purchase more often.
My point here is this: when a new person joins your email list, add them to a segment and as you’re able, narrow the content you send to each segment to fit their interests. This doesn’t mean there aren’t emails that everyone gets after your welcome sequence, it just means that 95% of the time, you’re sending interest-specific content to them.
Ok, so aside from a welcome sequence, what other things are good for you to have?
A monthly or quarterly newsletter is another popular option. These types of emails aren’t going to be ones that you can set and forget because you’ll want the content to be timely. Think current events or trends from your industry, favorite finds of yours that might interest your customers, new products or services, etc. There’s really no limit to what these newsletters can contain. My advice to starting a newsletter is to do some research and ask your subscribers via a survey what they’d like to hear about from you. This way, you’re really narrowing your focus to what the majority would like to hear rather than spending a ton of time curating information that may or may not be interesting to them.
One type of sequence that I personally love getting and is specific to non-profits is a campaign update email. If you’re a non-profit, or really any organization that’s raising funds for a cause, sending campaign updates is a fun way to engage with your list, generate more donations and keep them up to date. As a campaign progresses, keep your donors up to date with the progress toward your fundraising goal. This doesn’t work as well for single days of giving, but if you’re doing a drive over a period of time, this is an awesome way to stay in front of people. Each year, my husband and I participate in a gift giving fundraiser for our local Children’s Hospital NICU. It lasts about a month and each week we get an email updating us with the progress toward the final goal. It’s motivating for us to continue to recruit friends and family to help donate to a cause we care about, but it’s also inspiring to see how a small group of people can mobilize and generate enough funds to reach the $5,000 goal in just a few short weeks.
But, these campaign updates don’t need to stay just within the time period. If you have regular donors, consider sending out a quarterly update about where their money has been put to use. Someone doesn’t need to have donated recently to be made to feel good about their contribution. Many non-profits raise money all year long. I might donate to you in March, but it’s nice to hear from you in August to let me know what my money’s being used for and the impact it’s having.
Ok, so we’ve got welcome sequences, monthly or quarterly newsletters, and donation sequences. If you’re a retailer, the other workflow you might want to have on hand is a sales workflow. Define a time period that you’d want to promote your sale items to your subscribers, note your goal (move sale inventory), and then create a workflow that you can swap out photos and product descriptions in to accomplish engaging your customers in your sales. There’s a local boutique here that I like to shop that does a really great job of this. It’s a pretty short sequence, but always something I open to see if there’s any good deals to be had (I’m also a shopaholic, so maybe I’m biased because finding cool things on sale is especially thrilling to me).
First, they start off by teasing the sale. I usually get an email letting me know that they’re going to be having a sale in the next few days and how long it will last (they have an interesting technique where the sale doesn’t last forever, it’s a quick blitz to drive you into the store or online during a set timeframe). So, I know to be on the lookout and I know that inventory is usually limited. When the sale starts, I get another email telling me what’s on sale and letting me browse the inventory. Then, I get a final reminder or last call right before it ends. It’s effective and quick. Having a sale workflow set up in your email platform means that whether the sale is last minute or planned weeks in advance, all you have to do is go ahead and edit the details of each email, not plan out the timing and content.
Another good email for retailers is a cart-abandonment email. If you’re not a retailer, stick with me, because I’ll tell you how to tweak these for your services. If you’ve got folks who have put things in their cart or signed up for a discount code but haven’t followed through, have a quick reminder email ready to go for these folks.
If you’re not a retailer, but more of a service provider, having a sales workflow might still be valuable to you, but it may look more like a limited time discount on your services, if that’s something you do. Or, you could tweak the concept slightly to driving traffic to a limited time offer like a free webinar or mini course that you’re offering. You can still use a sales sequence and have it sitting on the shelf ready to go. If you have potential clients that have previously reached out to you that just sort of fell off, a little check-in email could go a long way.
The last email sequence you’re going to want to set up is a re-engagement email series. Every list inevitably has a group of subscribers that doesn’t open your emails. For this series, start by sending a friendly but upfront email with the message that’s along the lines of “hey, you don’t usually open our emails any more, we don’t want to see you go, but if you’re no longer interested, that’s ok too.” I’ve been on the receiving end of a couple of these and it’s really nice. For one, I truly didn’t have a need for their products anymore, so it was nice to rid my email inbox of the unnecessary emails. For the other, it was actually a brand I loved, I just sort of stopped opening the emails because I was trying to be a little more intentional with my dollars. I told them “yes, please keep sending me emails’ ‘ and was able to re-engage with them. After that initial contact, I received a couple of special discounts and product emails and it was exactly what I needed to remind myself why I had joined their list to begin with.
So, there you have it. Six types of email workflows you’ll want to build out as you grow your email list: a welcome sequence, a newsletter, a campaign update, a sale workflow, a cart abandonment workflow, and a re-engagement email. I’ve created a free guide to these workflows for you that you can download at: getauthenticbranding.com/resources.
Your assignment this week is to download it and pick one workflow to build out. I know it can seem overwhelming, but starting with just one will give you the confidence to build out even more of them. And, once you do, your life will be so much easier! You’ll be engaging with your email subscribers more often, which will increase your sales and brand loyalty all at once.
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Until next time!