• Alison Price

How to start email marketing

Email marketing is considered the number one marketing channel. With over 4 billion people using email, it is an area of marketing that deserves your attention.

But how do you build your email list and what do you do with it once you have one? Let’s take a walk through the process…

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is the delivery of content straight into the inboxes of those who have actively requested to read or view it.

It can be used to stay connected with your audience and demonstrate your expertise and knowledge with a view to warming them up into a position where they buy your product or service.

Email marketing benefits

These are wide and varied, but let’s run through a few here:

ONE Unlike social media there is no algorithm or other distractions to compete with, allowing your content to shine through. Delivery of email is pretty much instant too, so if you have time-sensitive information to get across it’s more likely to land at the right time via email.

I’m sure you’ll have noticed recently that social media platforms are changing and changing fast. They are shifting towards ‘discovery’ content rather than content from accounts you’ve chosen to follow, with that content being predominantly video.

Here’s a quote from Mark Zuckerberg (Owner of Meta - Facebook/Instagram) in an article in the LA Times - 27 July 2022:

“One of the main transformations in our business right now is that social feeds are going from being driven primarily by the people and accounts you follow to increasingly also being driven by AI recommending content that you'll find interesting from across Facebook or Instagram,” Zuckerberg said.

“Reels is one part of this trend that focuses on the growth of short-form video as a content format, but this overall AI trend is much broader and covers all types of content. Right now, about 15% of content in a person’s Facebook feed, and a little more than that of their Instagram feed, is recommended by our AI," he added.

“We expect these numbers to more than double by the end of next year.“

Now there’s an incentive to focus your marketing efforts away from social media if ever I saw one. Capturing valuable leads on an email list is the most effective and authentic way to grow your business consistently and with longevity.

TWO It gives you control over your list and marketing. Unlike your followers and page likers, you own your email list so you can choose to market to them in the way that works best for your business. Consider what would happen if your Facebook page got closed down today, how would you reach your audience? If they’re not gathered on an official email list, they’re simply lost. And with the social media algorithms leaning away from showing our posts to our followers, it just cannot be relied upon as a consistent form of marketing anymore.

THREE You can also personalise your emails (even just using the recipient’s name in the subject line is shown to increase their likelihood of opening it) and send specific types of email content to subsections of your list. For example if you have a section of your list that has signed up via a lead magnet (more about those here and later) about a certain subject and you have a new service related to that, you can email that sub-section first to introduce them to that new offering.

FOUR It allows you to nurture relationships with your audience, providing that all important human connection which is so vital these days. Regardless of whether the recipient makes a purchase or booking based on the actual email itself, it is still an effective way of adding value to your brand. Turning up consistently in people’s inboxes is vital – communicate with them regularly, sharing insights, news, views, links, stories and occasionally a sales pitch. They’ve signed up because they’re interested in what you have to say… so say it.

FIVE You can promote content from elsewhere such as blog posts and website activity (such as offers, promotions etc.) You’ve spent so much time becoming the expert in your field… you’ve done the training, written the blogs, led the classes, so turn that content into email marketing. The email itself doesn’t have to link to anything, it can be used simply as a communication channel with content repurposed from elsewhere.

SIX You can run surveys and polls in an effort to better understand your audience which in turn shapes your business goals and leads to growth. Asking questions can help you get to grips with what your potential clients/customers are struggling with and work out how you can provide a solution to this. People are usually happy and willing to help by completing a short survey, so why not give it a try? You might gain some useful insights.

SEVEN It doesn’t cost much to set up and run but has a brilliant return on investment (ROI is approximately £40 for every £1 spent). We’ll talk about the tools later but all you really need is an email address and your typing skills.

EIGHT It generates traffic to your website by way of links, sending your audience back to your site to read a blog post or learn about a new service. And we all know how much Google SEO loves traffic and backlinks.

Email marketing ideas to grow your email list

So you think you might want to start email marketing, but how do find people to send your emails to?

Lead magnets – Ideally you want to capture your website visitors and get them on to your list. How do you do this beyond simply asking them to submit their email address? Well, it’s a great idea to provide something in return. A lead magnet (aka freebie) serves many purposes – it demonstrates your expert knowledge and provides an immediate solution to a problem your audience has to name just two.

Have a read of this blog to find out more about what a lead magnet is and what to include in one. Offer it as a download in exchange for their email address and you have started to grow your email list, hooray! Over time, having a few lead magnets available will give you an insight into what people are visiting your website for and allow you to segment people into groups depending on what they have chosen to download.

Webinars and short email courses are on the rise as methods of growing your email list. I have a short 5-day email course myself, where subscribers learn about a subject across a specific duration. This keeps them engaged and looking forward to the next email. Mine finishes up with a digital checklist at the end so that subscribers can tick off what they have actioned. They take a little while to write, but once that’s done all you need to do is automate it using your email marketing software and you’ve got yourself a mini e-course! It’s nice to mix things up a bit, vary the information you are giving away so that your audience is kept entertained and informed. Webinars act in a similar way by offering free information, in this instance delivered in a real time situation in exchange for an email address.

Competitions are another way to grow your list. Promote it offline through your usual marketing channels (in-person networking, classes, events, memberships) and online via your website and social media. And of course don’t forget to include the subscribers already on your email list, they’re very important. They’ve already supported you this far so make sure you look after them.

Subscriber boxes on your website are a great way of building your list. Have them in a prominent position or as a pop-up. Invite visitors to join your list and tell them what you will be sending to them if they do (news, views, exclusive content etc.)

Promotions – You could offer a discount or added value proposition within your signup box. We’ve all seen them – 10% off your first order when you sign up to our newsletter – that kind of thing. Experiment with what works best for your business.

Offline marketing – Collect email addresses at trade shows and events making clear that’s what you intend to do with the data. Ensure a checkbox is ticked, giving you permission to email them. You can also collect email addresses at the point of sale in your store, salon or class.

Send great content – Emailing your list with insightful and entertaining content will encourage them to share the email with others in their network, along with providing a talking point. Your audience of superfans will appreciate being notified of new products and services first so be sure to make email marketing your first port of call over social media.

Share the link to your signup page across all marketing channels. For example include it in the footer of your email so current customers/clients can join, and add it to your social media bios.

Call to action – Use your link to subscribe as the CTA on your social media posts. Instruct people to find out more and sign up for more tips expert knowledge. This is a slightly gentler way of encouraging contact with potential new customers/clients rather than asking for the sale straight away.

How to get started with email marketing

It’s all looking good isn't it? So, what next, how do you get started?

Step 1: Get yourself an email marketing software account. I love MailerLite but there are many others out there. If you want to grab $20 credit on your account once you upgrade past the free subscription then hit this link (I will also get $20, hooray!) and get to grips with how it all works. MailerLite has a great help section for you.

Step 2: Have a think about how you might segment your list so you can market to them effectively. What have they shown that they are interested in? How do they like to consume information? This will become apparent as your list grows if you have provided a range of different ways to sign up and assigned them into groups via the forms.

Step 3: Using the list above and with a little help from Google, have a think about how you might attract people to join your list. What would your audience be most receptive to? Choosing a few methods to grow your list is ideal, then over time you can see which has been the most effective.

Step 4: Research how to write and set up welcome emails and nurture sequences. When someone joins your list that’s when they are at their most engaged… so you don’t want to leave them hanging the moment they’ve signed up. Welcome them with at least one email instantly, that way they know that the submit button works, then tell them what they can expect from being a subscriber.

Step 5: Email them! If you’ve put the effort in to build your list you need to actually email your subscribers. They have requested to see you in their inbox so don’t leave them languishing in silence. Welcome them, communicate regularly, and they will stay engaged. The next section can help you with this.

Types of email marketing

Welcome email: As mentioned above, make sure you set up an email sequence to welcome your new subscribers. Just after signing up is when they are at their most engaged with your brand, so send them an email thanking them, explain how you can help them and what they can expect from your email marketing.

Newsletters: This can be a round up of information, news, views etc from your business’ perspective. Try to keep it short and light-hearted, and most of all relevant to your subscribers.

Blog announcements: Get more eyes on your new blog post by telling your subscribers you’ve written a new one. Provide a little summary and a link to it so they can go off and have a read for themselves.

Product/service launches and updates: Keep your subscribers informed with exclusive ‘first to know’ content about your business and its new products and services.

Event invitations: Encourage your subscribers to join you at in-person events or sign up to new classes.

Polls/surveys: Gather insights into your audience’s issues so you can shape your business to help solve them. Keep them short but relevant.

In conclusion

That was a bit of a whistle-stop tour through email marketing wasn’t it! There’s a lot more detailed information out there to help you of course, but hopefully that’s given you a valuable insight into the benefits of email marketing and why you should push it nearer the top of your marketing activities.

If you fancy a lead magnet to kick start your email marketing list growth, have a read of this blog and download the checklist here.

If you're looking for some smart branded digital graphics to use across your business including email marketing, check out my services here.

And of course, if you’d like to join my email list grab yourself a freebie here or sign up below:

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