Here is a quick story of how one email brought in over $5k in under 3 hours.
A few years ago, I was sitting in my client’s office talking about email marketing. There were a lot of screwed up faces, looks of disgust. How dare I ask them to email their list! I knew I was in for a bit of a fight.
Gross. Annoying. Salesy.
They didn’t want to do it. Why? Because they HATED getting marketing emails and therefore, so did everyone else, including their customers. I get it. Only last week my inbox was filled with promo emails from a store I buy from. They sent multiple emails promoting new products, one pushing a discount offer, and honestly, it was annoying.
Oh, wait… I like that.
Despite my annoyance, I didn’t unsubscribe. I just deleted without reading until something caught my eye -- a cute swishy pink and white (on brand!) number. I stopped mid irritation, clicked through and added to cart. Then I hawk-eyed some flats in the Spring-iest apple green. Fifteen minutes later, I am in deep and there
is no getting me out. My cyber cart is busting.
My point is no one loves email marketing. Just like no one enjoys sitting through television ads, radio ads, social media marketing and ads, right?
People don’t like ads, and they don’t like being marketed too, unless...
Unless you have something they might want or need. I needed some new spring/summer goodies. I want a wardrobe full of dresses and shoes. The right offer (cute dress) hit my inbox at the right time. I have probably deleted 100 emails from that retailer over the past six months, but not that day. That day I happily spent up.
The two quick lessons here are;
I didn’t unsubscribe even when the emails were annoying me because I still like the brand and I am interested in seeing what is coming out. I was annoyed at that time because I had a lot of other stuff going on, and I like to keep a zero inbox so I was overwhelmed that week.
Despite being annoyed I spent money. I have ignored months and months of previous emails, but I didn’t ignore that email.
So back to my clients and the $5k in sales.
They needed cash flow, and they needed it fast. They were desperate to launch a new product, but didn’t have the money needed and the clock was ticking. My question to them was “how many subscribers do you have, and when did you last email them?” The answer was “about 4,500 of them and never”.
What came next should not surprise you, a terse conversation about the wads of money they were missing out on and their failed counter-arguments about how no one liked email marketing and everyone would just unsubscribe.
I won. They sent the email. They made over $5k in sales before lunch. That was 80% of what they needed to move forward. They sent out a very brief but on brand email highlighting the stock items that would soon sell out. It worked beautifully, and it moved a whole heap of stock that had been sitting around. It was a win/win.
How does this relate to you and your business?
Right now your past, current and future customers may need or want what you have to offer. If you don’t put it in front of their faces, someone else will. They’re likely subscribed to other businesses that will happily market to them and accept their money.
But Melanie!! When I send emails people unsubscribe!
That’s fine. People unsubscribe for a wide range of reasons. Maybe they don’t need what you offer anymore. Perhaps they’re trying to reduce their inbox load. They might even have subscribed using multiple email addresses. Who knows! Who cares! That’s their business. There is nothing saying they won’t be back.
Great, but how do I get people ON my list?
You do a few things. First, you make it a big enticing option on your website. Notice how I said “enticing”? If right now you have a “join our newsletter” or “subscribe here” box I guarantee you’re missing out on a lot of potential subscribers. No one wants to join your newsletter or subscribe to your list. There is no tangible benefit to them in doing that.
If you own a product based business, for example, a first order discount or free shipping is a great incentive. If you can’t afford to cover either of those, you have a pricing issue! Your price should include a margin for marketing, and offering a discount in exchange for a sale or an email address is a cost of marketing.
My Profit Lovers will often say that they know I don’t like discounting. What I don’t like is discounting without purpose. I don’t like discounting as a method to generate sales because you didn’t manage your cash flow. Discounting should be part of marketing strategy, and not a reactive response to an empty bank account.
If you offer a service like accounting, legals, coaching, design you might need to get a little more creative but you have literally hundreds of incentives you could offer. What information would be helpful to someone who was looking for your service or offers?
Social media savvy? Already have a large following? Get into the habit of moving people from your social media platforms to your list asap. Share the offers mentioned above, or create some subscriber only offers like, looks behind the scenes or other content they can only get from being on your list.
What about people who have purchased?
Not only is it more profitable to sell to previous customers (you don’t have to spend marketing money to attract them) they’re more likely to purchase again. They bought from you once; they will buy from you again (unless they had an awful experience).
Make sure your shopping cart or your client or customer sales process includes the step where you move them onto your email marketing list.
* The rules on adding people to your email marketing list when they make a purchase can be confusing and they differ from country to country. You may need to add a specific “sign up for more offers” kind of box on your shopping cart, so please do check your local laws and rules.
How often should I email people?
Now you have people on your list … How often do you email them? Often enough that they know you exist, not so often that you can’t keep up with the task so you stop doing it. It’s the good old ‘joining them gym story’, you get excited, invest in fancy new gear, hit it hard for two weeks, completely burn out and never go again.
There is no golden rule here. It’s trial and error to find the right balance of sales vs annoyance for your subscribers and time vs outcome for you. I can tell you this, you’re much more likely to send too few emails than too many. I know companies that send daily emails with no negative outcome. So don’t worry so much about over emailing, worry more about under emailing.
Not emailing often enough can be more problematic for unsubscribes and low sales than emailing too often. I think we can all agree that it’s annoying when you get an email out of the blue from a business you purchased from years ago.
People often don’t even remember buying from you, so they hit the “this is spam” button fast. Don’t let your list go cold. If you’re going to email once every six months or so you’re going to get the spam reports.
My best advice is to start with once every six weeks and then improve from there. Move that space closer and closer together, and be consistent.
Yeah but I don’t have time to get into email marketing
So, you don’t have time for email marketing? Cool. Cool. You don’t have time to make money, so you must be killing it with sales because that’s what you’re essentially saying. So many women who tell me they don’t have time for email marketing are spending a whole lot of time (consciously and unconsciously) on social media. If you’re already making money from social media, then imagine what you could do when you pair that up with email marketing?
Guess what you don’t own? Your social media platform or followers. Guess what you do own? Your email subscribers.
If you’re finding time for social media but not email marketing you’re building a business on a platform you have zero control or ownership over.
I have been emailing but my results suck
There is a growth patch everyone needs to go through where you need to be emailing people to stay fresh in their minds, but your subscriber list is so small you don’t make any sales from it.
Keep going! Grow that list and stay front of mind. The payoff as your list grows will be huge. There is a saying in business “the money is in the list” and it’s never been more on point. If cash flow runs tight, you get an unexpected tax bill, you have a goal to reach or want to take a holiday a healthy list can provide what you need.
When you're planning your email marketing ensure you have the right mix of interesting content about your business, brand story, offers AND sales emails where you specifically ask for the sale. I make this mistake, I send a lot of free education content, planners, tips and tools and very few sales emails so even I need to get the balance right.
A final word on list building (in case you’re not already convinced)
You don’t own social media platforms, as I mentioned before. If you’re hacked or your account is banned for some reason, and I have seen them mistakenly banned or shut down, you lose all that hard work. You have no way of backing up your follower list.
If you have ever tried to recover a hacked or shut down account you will know just how difficult it is. Social media platforms don’t make money from people paying to use them; they make money from ads. So if your account is hacked or shut down, you will want to be a big ad spender to get help fast. Sometimes, even that doesn’t make a difference.
Email marketing platforms may allow you to start with a free account, but they will want you to move onto a paid account as you grow. If your account is hacked or something else goes wrong, you’re paying for the service so you will likely get help pretty fast because they don’t want to lose your business.
And finally… your list is also an asset of your business if you ever decide to sell. I need to write a blog post and record a video on how many women forget they’re growing a saleable asset, and a business with a big fat healthy list of subscribers is worth something!
If you haven’t started out with email marketing yet and want to know what tool I use… It's Active Campaign. It has excellent support, cheap starter accounts, and integrates with almost everything. They also have a LOT of training videos.
You can try them out for free here: Active Campaign. Start out with the Lite account; it has everything you could want and more!