How To Engage Your Top People With Authentic Email Marketing
Updated: May 25
Achievable Strategies For Busy Small Business Owners
I had the pleasure of presenting a webinar to local business owners on email marketing..... on my birthday! Am I crazy? Yes. Was I fired up to share all this fabulous information? Definitely.
Let me tell you, what started as a little idea to share some of the knowledge that I've accumulated in my 7 years of email marketing for local independent businesses, became a literal crash course in everything you need to know to start or upgrade your emails in 2021.
While I don't cover too much of the technical or deeply strategic side of email marketing for local businesses (because that gets really specific to your business + platform), I do share my fool-proof framework to work within that ensures you're investing your time and money wisely for a guaranteed outcome.
1. Why should an independent business have email marketing?
2. Content : What do you even say?
3. Free resources to make it happen.
4. How do you collect & organize the email list?
5. When to outsource.
Watch the replay or scan over the info (Hey, who reads 100% of anything online anymore?) below:
Why should an independent business have email marketing?
Do you send regular emails from your business? Do your competitors send regular emails?
Any way you slice it, if your jump in this email game you'll get - or get a change at - the upper hand.
Email Directly relates to your engagement with customers. It targets the best case customer and directly connects them to your offers. You know as well as I that repeat customers are pure gold.
49%-61% of consumers said that they would like to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands on a weekly basis. Additionally, those who want their emails monthly or less are in the bottom 15%.
Who thinks this is so freeing?!
Besides content + technical know-how, which we are about to cover in lots of detail, it feels great to know that people want to hear from you!
This one gets thrown around in the biz a lot: For every $1 spent in email marketing, your return on investment is an average of $42.
60% of consumers say they’ve purchased something as a direct result of a marketing email.
“Email marketing is more likely to drive sales than social media marketing. Contrast that with the 12.5 percent of consumers who say they’d consider using the ‘buy’ button on social media.”
If you're skimming, but want the story (and to see my elementary school picture), go ahead and scroll up to the recording and start playing at about minute 4:30.
I tell this story about me showing up to a school function in FULL COWGIRL COSTUME when everyone else is wearing their school uniforms. It's the quintessential mortifying moment that the folks at Disney Channel would make a movie about.
But, guess what? When it come to email marketing - is the moral of the story to not be afraid to stand out from the pack? Nope! Well, yes… but what I’m saying today is that NOT being scared is for kids.
I want you to make a choice. To try something that might stretch you + to trust your gut. If a cowgirl get up feels right - do it! Tell your stories and interact as the amazing business owner that you are. People respond to that. People will emotionally connect with that. And they’ll become your cheerleaders.
How does email marketing fit into your business?
Most people want to hear from you weekly.
But first (even before ☕️), I want you to form a habit (like ☕️) + to get comfortable.
So, let's look at two factors to determine your email frequency:
Schedule. Just start by sending monthly emails and work up to at least twice a month or weekly, as you get comfortable with the process.
Speed of doing business. Large purchases like real estate, travel, high ticket service providers are going to be on a longer life cycle. Businesses on a shorter life cycle might include retail, coffee shops, or recurring classes. If that sounds like your industry, you’ll want to consider upping your frequency.
REMEMBER: Quality + Consistency over Quantity!!
So you want to start emailing your customers and clients, but what do you even say?
I want you to remember these two things: customer first + less is more.
Like everybody’s mama says,
“If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.”
But what is quality content?
The next section is going to get you thinking about all the ways you can share quality content with your subscribers.
But first, I’m going to say something polarizing: Newsletters aren’t great marketing.
The era of the newsletter is extinct. Newsletters are for + about YOU, not the customer. So what do you do, then? You can and should split it up!
Work Smarter, not harder. Have your existing content work for you in your emails.
Have your long form contact roll 'downstream' into email, and even social media content. Here's how it will look:
Blogs > Email > Social
The same prompts you find here for emails can be blogs, too! Plus a whole world of how-tos, subject matter teaching, FAQs, and more.
That also goes for events! Follow that tributary down from the event just existing….
First can be the Invitation to attend > to a follow up email with a great picture + summary or thank you after the event.
If you think of your content like this flowing river, you can follow this information up-stream, too.
Collections + Round Ups
Best of Social Media (This is awesome social proof)
In-store best sellers? Staff favorites? The “beach” edit?
Hey, skimmer 👋 if you want the all the content ideas from the brainstorm, scroll on up and check in to timestamp 13:37 on the video.
I want you to ask yourself this question after you draft ANY email. What happens now?
It’s not worth your time or money to send anything out unless you can ask the recipients to do the next step.
Here are some examples of Calls To Action that aren't "Buy Now':
Come see the new inventory > link to directions
Book this popular class or trip > booking link
Read the blog > link to website
Welcome this new staff member > book or visit
Steal my process for creating content calendar.
Remember the Waterfall: Reuse content & let it do the work for you!
Always put yourself in their shoes. Ask, does it apply to me? Do I feel like I’m walking away with more quality info than I came with? How will this help me survive + thrive?
Okay, I know we're *just* talking about emails + not about the best 550 cord knots to save your life as you dangle from a cliff...
But hang on with me here.
Your customer's loyalty + buying decisions start at the Lizard Brain level. In other words, the part of the brain that addresses the survival of the individual is the gatekeeper for accepting new information (attention) and sorting it in a way that is important to the individual enough for it to be remembered.
So, what do you do? In your planning stages, outline each email, what the media will be (so you can make it or retrieve it) + the CTA.
BONUS : this goes for social posting, too.
Why should you template your marketing emails?
Ounce of prep will save you buckets of time for each email.
Check your brand guide. This helps brand recognition + trust. Please don’t sabotage your brand by showing up differently to your people’s inbox each time.
Why do I have these pictures of Queen Elizabeth and Katy Perry?
The Queen of England famously has a template for how to dress. Clearly, it’s not un-fun or dull in any way, and she is fully expressive. Katy Perry, on the other hand is a chameleon. Her clothes, hair, makeup all changing to completely transform her person - sometimes she’s unrecognizable.
In your marketing, Be the Queen of England, Not Katy Perry.
Go check it out my recent blog post on branding, if you want a more in-depth look at how you should develop and use your branding everyday.
Free Resources To Make It Happen
Marketing Email Software:
Both Mail Chimp and Sendinblue include free segmentation and an address book. Regular email campaigns + some basic automation.
You might already have access If you have your site on Wix, Shopify (Or Squarespace + even SquareUP POS with a service upgrade).
PS: If you have or are thinking about switching to one of these drag + drop website builders, my bog post, The Achievable Guide To Empower Your Small Business Website (Jackpot Tips for 2021), has more than you ever wanted to know about this.
Free Photo Editing Websites + Apps:
Subject Line Testers:
How do you collect and organize your email list?
Use Your Existing List
First: Export as CSV file + use the import tool in your marketing email provider’s software.
Second: Send opt-out courtesy email.
For this courtesy opt-out email, make sure that the sender name + email address matches the sender profile that your people are used to seeing. For example, use the business owner's name and email instead of a more generic 'Staff' and info@ address.
Don’t worry about making it look wildly beautiful or extra branded. In fact, make it look as similar to the type of email they usually get from you: Greeting with their name using merge tags, body text, sign off or email signature.
You’ll include a link to the unsubscribe page if they wish, but other than that its business as usual.
Once you've imported + vetted your existing list, you can focus on collecting more emails for your email marketing community.
Digital Sign up forms: Link from website, social media.
Physical Sign up: In your restaurant or store, at events, QR code with purchase.
Remember about that valuable content?
It’s been proposed that an email is worth $10-$15. Offer people something in exchange for their email.
It doesn’t have to be monetary, though it certainly can be. Discounts, free codes, access to earn points or earning extra points with sign up, are all great monetary rewards. But, you can simply offer exclusivity. For example, be the first to receive xyz, get our signature offer, download the guide to xyz, or get special VIP access.
Whatever you do, please follow through with it.
If you’re promising them they’ll be the first to know about something, don’t go posting on your social channels about the something before the email goes out. Plan to wait a day.
Organizing Stuff + An Aside About Merge Tags
When you import, go ahead and ask for at least first names so you have that information in your database before you want to use it.
Adding personalization (merge tags) goes further than names - you can use segmentation base off of other information that you collect in your sign up forms or with past purchasing behaviors.
Specific Product or Service Users
You don’t have to use segmentation all the time. In fact, you’ll probably only want to use it for very targeted messages.
Segmenting an email can be as simple as just duplicating your message and changing the context.
"Shirley, we’d love to see you at our next event! You’re in our VIP program so we feel like we can say that we’re friends, right?"
"Because you recently enrolled in *this experience*, we recommend our latest blog, xyz."
When is it worth it to Outsource?
To the Robots
Automation with welcome, birthday, subscriber anniversaries are easy tasks to give to your little robot army.
Setting up rules for re-engagement campaigns to send automatically when people aren't clicking or responding as actively is an excellent way to re-energize sleepy lists.
Make sure your template is in good shape and plan ahead so you have enough time to review a test email that an employee creates. Remember that brand consistency. Be the Queen of England.
Employees can write emails about lots of in-store subjects. Try things like "Becca’s favorite styles", or "How Jon makes his famous latte".
To a Contractor
When you enjoy doing other things for your business more than email marketing, it's a good sign that you should hand that task off to someone else. If it’s a chore to you, it will show. Plus, you became an entrepreneur to love what you do, not to add sources of anxiety to your day.
Another sign you should outsource is when you want to have a email list, but can’t be consistent or don’t know how to start. It’s possible to share the workload if you still want to have a creative ‘say’. You can develop your content calendar, or get help with your account set up.
Outsourcing your email marketing will give you a strategic edge, free up your (busy) day, and funnel qualified + energized customers to your business time and time again.
Wanna connect more on this? I'd love to see you in my inbox!