Email marketing is the holy grail of online business.
(Stay tuned for an in-depth post with that title 😉).
I’m halfway through my second cohort of Email Insiders VIP and even with only running this twice I see the patterns and similar challenges.
As things start shifting to Web 3.0 (you can read more about Web 3.0 and what that means here), it’s never been more important to create an email list.
And here’s the kicker…
I’m not sure that it matters where you do it. GASP!
Most traffic sources work when you do the work.
Meaning, if you put the time and energy into Instagram, consistently post, and engage with people who are engaging with your content, I have no doubt you can drive traffic and business through Instagram.
I would say the same is true with Twitter, Tik Tok (not that I know anything about that), Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest, and quite possibly Facebook (although my guess is you have to be going live in order to get any traction. I don’t spend much time on my business page anymore so don’t hold me to this).
All that being said, your priority on these platforms should be to connect with your ideal audience and drive them to subscribe to your email list.
When you have a solid system running that is driving traffic from one platform to an email list you own, then move onto the next platform.
I was recently talking with a friend who does social media management (and am considering hiring her to help me with my own, because I’d much rather spend time writing, recording, and creating).
She spends a LOT of time on social and said “two platforms are plenty.”
Which works for me. Right now my platforms of choice are Twitter and Instagram (I’ll share the strategy and what I’m going to do with that in another episode).
My first priority though?
And writing… ALL the writing possible.
When I started my business way back in 2008, I thought I could write fairly well. I never would have called myself a writer, but let’s just say at the time “ignorance was bliss.”
Because I was able to write papers in high school and college and do well, I didn’t think much beyond that (as I said, ignorance was bliss and maybe I was a little cocky. The older I get the more I realize how much I don’t know).
It wasn’t until I started my WPChick Podcast in 2013 that started appreciating and more importantly, enjoying writing.
Because of the way I talk I knew that I’d have to write my solo show episodes out first (and you can probably tell I’m not reading them, I simply use them as a guide so I follow somewhat of a cohesive flow).
I cringe a bit when I look back at older posts… for both the way it was written and how much needs to be edited and updated, but the bottom line?
I DID it.
And I kept doing it.
When I decided I wanted to put more time and energy into email marketing I had been following Ben Settle for a solid year before I really stepped into it.
Ben has a physical paper newsletter (Email Players) that he sends monthly and he emails daily.
Often times he emails more than once a day.
He doesn’t worry about people unsubscribing, not liking him, or not buying.
He keeps doing his thing.
After watching what he did for a year I jumped in and started doing my own daily emails (although I called them my ‘almost daily emails’ – I emailed Monday through Friday and often times on the weekend).
Next to starting my podcast, putting the time and energy into email marketing was the best thing I’ve done for my business.
And probably my only regret in my business is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Now I’m on a mission to help people get over their fear of writing and sending emails.
Just like anything else you’ve learned online, you CAN learn how to write emails. Emails that sell, connect, engage, inform, educate, and entertain.
You just need to do a little “Entrepreneurial Adulting” and learn to be comfortable with the discomfort.
Unless you can hire someone, spending the time and energy to learn how to write for your business is what will bring you the greatest reward.
No matter what type of content you create, there is an element of writing in it (yes, video and audio too, even if it’s just captions).
What I’m doing
It’s been 5 years since I started my ‘almost daily emails’ and I haven’t looked back.
The last two years have been more about copywriting (learning it, practicing it, understanding it). With the current opportunities online, and getting clearer on what I want my life to look like I’m going to take things a step further.
Here are my plans:
I am committed to a daily writing practice.
To use a methodology from James Clear in “Atomic Habits” – I don’t want to set a goal to write every day, I want to create a habit and become someone who writes every day (powerful reframe, wouldn’t you say? Great book btw).
Where most people go sideways with even getting started with email marketing is that they think they need to do “all the things” from day one.
As an example:
Let’s break down each of these in more detail.
Have the perfect lead magnet
Does such a thing exist? Possibly, but not without a bunch of less-than-perfect lead magnets when you’re getting started. The worst thing you can do is copy exactly what someone else is doing.
The second-worst thing you can do is not try at all (meaning, you put something up because you know you need a lead magnet, but you’re not actually solving a problem for your new subscriber).
So much of email marketing (dare I say most of it), is about the psychology behind what you’re writing. How do you want people to feel when they read your emails?
Probably one of the best lead magnets I ever had was when I was getting started with StudioPress themes for WordPress. Many of the themes had a ‘featured gallery’ widget (all you old-school WordPress people remember this one) and many people didn’t know how to set it up.
So I created a training on it with screenshots and step-by-step instructions.
It solved a VERY specific problem.
(If only I really understood the power of email marketing back then).
Think about a problem you can solve for your audience and make THAT. Then do it in the format that works best for you. I love including audio of a written lead magnet because I enjoy podcasting – and it’s a medium of content I enjoy consuming.
Know how to use your email service provider inside and out
Is it good to learn how to use your ESP as effectively as possible?
Of course, but not for the sake of not starting.
A little more Entrepreneurial Adulting is needed here. What you need to know how to do is link a form to your ESP and send an email.
You can get into segments and all the ninja tactics later.
If you don’t like doing this stuff of course it’s going to be harder or more difficult than it would be for someone who likes to learn new software.
Do it anyway. Schedule in the time, watch a webinar, go to YouTube or hire an expert to teach you how to use it (you can probably learn the basics in a session or two).
I remember listening to a Marketing Secrets podcast with Russell Brunson. He was talking about how someone had asked why he didn’t segment his lists because they already had purchased Expert Secrets but were getting emails about it.
His response was that most people still hadn’t implemented everything in the book (or possibly not even finished reading it?) – or reminded them to read it again or send it to a friend.
Worrying about this type of stuff is simply a form of procrastination.
Create the habit of writing and sending emails first.
You don’t go from kindergarten to a Ph.D. in a minute. Allow the for the learning curve and trust the process.
Have multiple lead magnets and sequences
I don’t care what everyone else tells you… do NOT worry about multiple lead magnets until you have ONE that is working and you are communicating with your subscribers consistently.
Then you can start creating more.
Worry about content upgrades later. Right now?
Get ONE thing working.
Know how to write well
It’s perfectly O.K. to start where you’re at.
Be honest about what you’re doing, what you hope to accomplish, and why you’re doing it. You’ll find most people are less critical when you’re transparent about things.
There’s a reason “build in public” resonates with people.
Being that vulnerable and honest about what you’re doing is scary… it helps to know that other people have fears, doubts, challenges, and DO IT ANYWAY.
It helps us find the courage to do it too!
The more you write, the better you’ll get, but it’s important to look for people, tools, and resources that can teach and guide you.
Have perfectly formatted emails
Keep your emails clean and simple.
Some formatting is good (this is where learning about writing frameworks and best practices will help), but since we can’t control how are emails look in every email client (Gmail, Apple Mail, etc.) it’s better to have less formatting.
No one wants to read an email that looks like a novel.
Break it up with headlines, bullet lists, short sentences, etc. (take a look at what I’ve done with this post). I include an image or two sometimes, but not many.
You don’t want to use too many images.
Most importantly, TEST how you format your emails.
I wouldn’t change things up every single time you email, but it’s worth testing.
Know how often to sell, how to teach, how often to entertain
Looking for data or what you “should” do is another form of procrastination (beyond best practices).
Unless you’re launching something, you just have to test and try things when it comes to selling. Ben Settle sells every single day in his emails.
Primarily for his physical newsletter (he also sells books and the occasional course or training).
My only word of caution here would be that you need to make sure you ARE selling. Set the expectations from the beginning that you provide value but you also sell (there are multiple ways to do this).
I made the mistake of rarely selling and created a list of freebie seekers.
What’s the point in paying for an email service provider and building a list if you’re never going to sell to them?
Know your metrics inside and out
I am absolutely NOT a fan of data and metrics.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t know the value and importance of them.
However, my primary metric is whether or not I am able to make sales from my emails.
My second metric?
How often people respond to my emails.
Start with these, then go deeper.
I would simply make sure you have Google Analtyics set up. Even if you never log into GA, make sure it’s set up.
The metric to ignore?
Not an easy one, but anyone who unsubscribes probably wasn’t going to buy now anyway. And you never know the reason behind someone’s decision to unsubscribe (the only time I fill out my ‘reason’ for unsubscribing is when I’m on a list twice, otherwise I don’t bother).
A golden rule of email marketing is to NOT personalize it.
If you get upset or worried every time someone unsubscribes you’re going to make yourself miserable.
Email marketing may not come naturally to you, and that’s O.K.
It was not an easy transition for me (mainly because I was in massive resistance to it) but I knew I needed to learn how to do it if I wanted my business to succeed.
Is that true for everyone?
I think so.
There aren’t many successful online businesses that don’t use email marketing as a core of their marketing strategy.
Some people may have the belief that you have to be on social media.
But is that true?
If you have a paid traffic plan in place that drives subscribers and customers, you probably don’t need social media.
But I can guarantee you that a paid traffic plan requires an email marketing strategy to succeed.
It’s NOT too late to start.
You simply have to start.
Commit to getting better and better at it, then when you’re able to send an email and see sales roll in? You’re going to be so grateful you put the time and energy into it now.
You know the old saying: When is the best time to plant a tree?
The second best time?