Ever wondered how you could build an email tribe ready to use your services when they need them? Well, it’s possible. And an important tool to use is email marketing. Yet it’s a too often overlooked and underused instrument by many freelancers. Yes, I’ve been guilty of this, too.
Email marketing works.
In this article we’ll look at why email marketing should matter to you and how you can include it in your marketing arsenal.
The #1 Reason for Email Marketing’s Success
Email marketing works because it’s not just another marketing ploy. It allows you to build relationships with your readers. People will only do business with people they trust. And emails invoke trust. When someone subscribes to your email newsletter that person is saying, “I like what you’ve said so far: give me more.” The trick is not to disappoint them.
Rachel Foster is an example of a freelance copywriter using email to attract prospects. She targets B2B marketers who love her content and sends them a monthly newsletter, Fresh Perspective, in which she gives tips and asks her subscribers to download and share her content.
Rachel doesn’t sell outright; instead she demonstrates her expertise. That’s what your readers look for. As you continuously demonstrate your knowledge your audience will respect you. When the time does come for you to pitch or sell, they’ll be more than willing to buy. Why? Because they already know you’re a problem solver.
It Will Always Be Yours
Google’s major update, the Penguin, affected thousands of sites. Companies and businesses saw their Google rankings drop or become non-existent.
Don’t allow your online visibility to be dependent on third party sources.
What if Facebook makes a change that shuts you out unless you’re willing to pay to have your content seen? What will happen to your fans and followers? They may be lost forever, but the email list you build will live on.
Tip: As you build your email list, communicate with the people on your list consistently. Plan your content in advance, which will prevent overwhelm.
All right, so I’ve peaked your interest and you believe you can do this. Now, let’s answer the question that’s probably at the front of your mind:
Just How Do You Start?
First, define your target audience of one. Will you target the B2B marketer who sells to schools? Or will you focus on the Health Care Industry? Whatever you do, don’t be the ‘newbie’ who tries to appeal to everyone. It will get you nowhere fast.
Let’s break down defining your audience of one with the following fictional example:
Step 1: Create a Google Doc (or a Word doc if you prefer) which you’ll name Kathy Spear’s Life.
Step 2: List her name, gender, hobbies, age, job description, fears, future aspirations, and marital status. Yes, you’ll need to go deep.
Step 3: Research! Don’t make assumptions about her here. Visit groups on LinkedIn where your target audience lives. Read other blogs that cater to your audience. Devour comments they make. List the questions they ask and the comments they post. Copy and paste these comments into your document — you’ll pull the exact wording from these to help create your copy.
Step 4: Read industry reports like the annual content marketing report from CMI and MarketingProfs. In it you’ll get a first-hand look at some of the concerns your audience may have. Use it to your advantage.
Step 5: Attach a random photo to this document. You’re giving life to Kathy, after all. Your intention is to build a relationship with her, so make her as personable as you can.
These steps are important as they’ll help you keep your focus on whom you should write to.
It’s All in the List
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Building a list and creating lasting relationships. But to what end? You may even be wondering just how you will build this list.
First, give to get. Readers don’t really care about you or how you feel. Their main concerns are: will this make my work easier? Lighter? Will it give me more free time? If it doesn’t benefit them personally as well as financially, then they won’t engage with you.
Next, give away something on your site/blog. Create a simple hack/cheat sheet and collaborate with someone with a larger audience who might benefit from your content. Whatever you create must serve them.
Use content upgrades. Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income used Content Upgrades to build his list. It works like this. Every time you write a post for your blog, include an additional piece of content. Readers must give their email address in exchange for your free content. This is separate from the anchor content on your site, which may not be relevant to every visitor at the point of visitation.
Why do this? Because it’s relevant to the piece you’ve just written, so your readers get more value and are more willing to sign up to get it.
Always offer an opportunity for visitors to sign up on your site. Here are a few popular options:
- Floating Bar. It attaches itself to the bottom of the user’s screen and scrolls along with them.
- Hello Bar. A free notification bar that displays a message at the top of your blog. What you say is totally up to you.
- Pop-up Bars. The pesky little boxes you close out as soon as they, well, pop up, on your screen. Annoying as they may be, they convert well — 1,375% more than other email captures or sidebar opt-ins.
Check out any of the options above and choose one which best suits you at this time and install it on your site. Then it’s time to get subscribers!
How To Get Your First Sign-up
Anybody can write or create material to sell online. But there’s an art to getting people to subscribe to your blog or newsletter, especially when you’re just starting out. Here are a few things that work well.
Guest post. I’m a big fan of this avenue because when done right it opens up many goldmine opportunities. To start, create a list of 10 sites you’d like to write for. Pick topics you’re familiar with and pitch the site. Write an epic post and create a content upgrade for each post. Use a call to action to encourage readers to download the free content and collect their emails to start building. Rinse and repeat.
Barter. Create something of worth and give it away to an influential online person in exchange for allowing their visitors to sign up and collect it.
Write for non-profits. They are always in need of good writing. Use them as a stepping-stone to build your list.
Tip: Always go for the audience who will be more likely to use your services. Although Aunt Martha may be nice, your 86-year-old aunt may not be the best match for your services!
Help! What Do I Say?
- Create a newsletter. MailChimp gives you lots of flexibility in creating a newsletter and building your list for up to 1,200 subscribers. Don’t worry about the fancy bells and whistles just yet. The goal is to start and to include top-notch content. As you get better you’ll definitely want to invest in some good design skills to showcase your brand.
- Include a post/interview with someone in or outside the industry that can cross-pollinate and give value to your audience. Don’t think that because you’re not in the fitness niche you can’t learn from someone who is absolutely doing well using social media in that area. We can always take tips from others who do well.
- Let your message count. Inboxes are busy. Don’t just write for writing’s sake. I signed up for Taylor Pearson’s list to receive a free piece of content he was offering. Now I’m a fan for life, because his content is so helpful despite the fact that it has nothing to do with B2B marketing or even directly building a business. Your content must resonate or it will be worthless.
- Employ some copywriting skills. Touch emotions, put a new spin on conventional wisdom, and engage your reader’s mind.
The new year is an ideal time to launch your newsletter/email marketing campaign. Why not start doing some research and putting things in place to get it started by then? Here’s your 10-step action plan to do so:
- Review your inbox for your favorite newsletters. Identify two or three reasons why you like them.
- Create your ideal B2B prospect. Find opportunities to help him/her.
- Use the tools and software necessary to help you build the list.
- Create two or three content upgrades for the posts you’ll write to build your list.
- Look for ways to encourage sign-ups for your newsletter.
- Research and start guest posting on bigger sites.
- Barter with companies and sites with larger audiences than yours.
- Create promotions on social media to encourage sign-ups.
- Write for non-profits.
- Produce and publish your first email newsletter. Yeah!
Have you used email marketing with any success? Share with us in the comments.