How To Tap Into The Email Marketing Goldmine
Actionable tips for small businesses to start making the most of email marketing. Right now.
Email marketing isn’t the sole domain of big brands. If you don’t collect – and leverage – email addresses from your customers, you’re ignoring a goldmine.
Email marketing is one of the most affordable and most impactful ways to build your business. It’s fast, simple and adaptable to your needs. Best of all, it has an immediacy that few other marketing methods can match.
However, next to its snazzy cousin social media, email marketing often gets ignored. Those days are over, my friends.
What Can You Do With Email Marketing?
Email marketing is a way of building relationships via email. It helps you achieve several goals:
- Deliver important information
- Stay on your customers’ radar
- Build your brand
- Drive immediate sales
- Turn leads into customers
- Turn customers into repeat customers
These goals aren’t just big business goals. Every business owner I’ve ever met wants something on that list.
The thing is, email marketing can seem intimidatingly ‘marketing-y’. It’s not a big leap to turn social media into a business activity, because most of us spend hours on Facebook/Twitter/Etc. anyway.
Most of us don’t casually leverage email marketing in our personal lives though, so it somehow seems like a bigger, scarier deal. Many people I speak to think email is more confusing, more difficult and more costly than it actually is.
Email Marketing vs. Social Media
I reckon email marketing is easier than social media. Social media seems easy but isn’t. The authenticity needed to generate great results takes more time and effort than most businesses invest. There’s no shortcut to authenticity.
With email marketing, you still have to be authentic but it saves time and effort in other ways.
You don’t have to do it 5 times a day, for one thing. You don’t have to come up with nearly as many content ideas. You’re generally working at a much smaller scale, so replies/engagement take less time to deal with.
I’m not suggesting you abandon social media, but email marketing should definitely get a look-in. It allows you to be much more personal, engaging with the people who’ve already engaged with your business.
Also, and crucially, it’s further along the sales ‘funnel’. You should only be emailing people who’ve given you permission to email them. That means they’re a warm audience – they actually want to hear from you.
That’s a pretty amazing platform, right?
If you’re not using email marketing, you’re ignoring these warm invitations. Your audience are frustrated. They’re ready for you to take them to the next level, but there’s no way to communicate that with you. You’re missing a step, between initial contact and sale.
That’s where email marketing can be most useful. It’s the difference between trike -> bike and trike -> stabilisers -> bike. It’s an amazing tool to deepen relationships, and move your leads that bit closer to the sale.
Types of Email Small Businesses Should Send
You almost definitely use email at the moment, but probably only as a tool to convey information. That’s not as good as it gets.
There are several different types of emails you can send, depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
Full disclosure: I’m not a big fan of email newsletters. They can be effective but they’re often not, because so many people are doing them wrong.
There seems to be this pervasive misconception that a newsletter should be all you, you, you. Like you’re standing there with a megaphone making announcements about your business. You’ll have seen the type. “Guess what we’re been up to…”; “ZappyDoo Marketing is proud to announce…”; “August’s Business News…”.
If your newsletter is all about your news, it’ll bore people to tears. One of the first rules of good copy is this: no one cares about you. They only care what you can do for them. Email newsletters are often guilty of forgetting that.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t send an email newsletter though. Just make sure to send a good email newsletter.
What does a good email newsletter look like? I’ll write a whole post about this at some point, but here’s the short n’ sweet version:
- Customer-focussed, not you-focussed
- Purposeful, not just ‘we thought a newsletter was a good idea’
- Digestible, with information in bitesize chunks
- Simple, not visually confusing
- Loads quickly – don’t include hundreds of images for the sake of it
- Includes a click-inducing, benefit-led, curiosity-arousing subject line
- Offers a transparent way to unsubscribe
- Includes social share buttons
- It’s ‘on-brand’ – it’s authentic
Numbers 1 and 9 are most important. If your newsletter genuinely adds value to your customers, and is authentically you, you’re onto a winner.
Don’t be put off by the title. A sales email is just an email where you’re asking the recipient to do something. It could be as innocent as sending a whitepaper to download, or it could be offering a product promotion.
Where email newsletters are broad, sales emails are narrow. You send them with one specific objective – to download, or register, or buy, or whatever it is. In copywriting terms, a sales email has one call-to-action, because you want people to do that one, single thing.
I love a good sales email. Firstly, the obvious point is that they can be super effective. You can use them to achieve a specific goal, which can have a huge business impact.
Secondly, I love sales emails because they’re so measurable. You only want them to do one thing, and that single-mindedness is easy to track. You can see, tangibly, that your email drove £X in sales.
Side-note: In the copywriting world, you’ll hear that called direct response – some copywriters love it; others shy away from it. There’s nowhere to hide, which can scare people off.
It’s fairly easy to write an average sales email, but hard to write a great one. That’s because sales copy is notably psychology-orientated. It’s definitely not just writing. A good sales email understands how to hook a reader, how to compel them, how to create desire.
I’m bias, but a good copywriter can add immediate value working with you on sales emails. They’re revenue-generating tools, so getting them right has an obvious financial implication.
If you are forging ahead yourself, here are some pointers. I could write a book on this (if numerous Copywriting Greats hadn’t got there first), but here are five easy-to-action tips you can use to instantly improve your copy.
1 – AIDA
Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. You might have heard this one. The idea is that you have to grab your prospects’ attention, pique their interest by expanding on your offer, create desire, then ask them to take action.
2 – PAS
Copywriters love acronyms. PAS stands for Problem, Agitate, Solve. This means you show your prospect that you really understand their problem, then show them how your product/service solves it.
3 – Cut, Cut, Cut
Be brutal when you edit. Cut 20% off your first draft, then ask someone else to cut another 20% off too. Then you can send it.
4 – Short Sentences
This will make you a better writer almost instantly. Write your first draft, then go through and cut any sentences over ~15 words. Use ‘glue’ words sparingly.
5 – Focus on Benefits
This is such common advice that you might’ve heard it before, but most people still don’t do it. Here’s a feature: ‘Laptop X includes a 3.5ft extension cable…’ Here’s a benefit of the same: ‘…so it doesn’t matter how far your socket is from your desk, and you can work from anywhere’. That’s a stupid example, but the point stands. Don’t just tell me what your product does; tell me why I care.
There’s a lot more to sales copy than this, but if you action just these five tips today you’ll be a more effective writer than 80% of people. Professional copywriters excluded, naturally.
Lead Nurturing Emails
All emails should be nurturing (relationship deepening) emails, but ‘lead nurturing emails’ is a recognised term so we’ll stick with it.
Lead nurturing emails come in a sequence, not as a standalone. They’re a series of emails designed to move your leads further along the ‘buying funnel’ to the point of sale. Basically, they nurture people from leads into customers. Warm them up, so they want to buy from you.
Lead nurturing emails are automated, so they send at scheduled times as you collect new leads. As such, they take much less time investment. They’re also more effective, with various studies showing they generate better results (more clicks, more sales).
Lead nurturing emails take much less time investment, and they’re more effective.
Like sales emails, lead nurturing emails aim to lead the recipient through a specific journey. The difference is that this process doesn’t just happen within each email. It happens externally, across the whole sequence. Every email in a lead nurturing sequence has to be effective itself, but it also has to be an effective part of the whole.
Lead nurturing sequences have an objective just like sales emails do, but the sales cycle is longer. To that end the tips above apply, but in a more spread-out way. Lead nurturing emails are… softer. Nurturing in order to sell, not just selling.
Still keep it short, and be brutal about editing. Cut filler words mercilessly. But you’re aiming for small wins, not do-or-die. A response. An article click. A share. A referral. All little goals on the way to the sale. It’s helpful to ‘map out’ your sequence first, so you know what each email has to achieve and how that contributes to the whole.
Then keep the cardinal rule in mind: make sure you add value. Particularly in lead nurturing emails, you can’t afford to piss your prospects off. Otherwise they won’t open any of your subsequent emails, and you’ve lost a warm lead. Never send a lead nurturing email just because. You’d be better off not sending anything.
And that’s me done. This was originally intended as a quick 500-word piece, but there you go. What can I say, I love a bit of email marketing. My final word is this. Too many businesses aren’t leveraging email marketing, but it’s a low-investment, high-return activity and you really shouldn’t ignore it.
I’m Ettie, a freelance copywriter. I help businesses like yours distil your message and drive your customers to action. I make your website sparkle and your products leap off the page until your audience beg you for more.
Email marketing is my bread and butter. If you need a helping hand, get in touch.