4 Top Email Marketing Strategies to Skyrocket Leads!
Email list subscribers (ie: potential customers) think about your brand as a whole, and they’re not just thinking about how cool your emails look. In fact, even if it's only subconsciously, with every email you send (automated or not) they’re considering your products and how you communicate with them, as well as your style, tone, and mood.
If you want your email automation to be superior, you've got to think about and plan out the entire experience.
So let’s be real, getting someone to hand over their email address is not easy, it doesn’t matter if you’re a corporation or a small business. People are savvy researchers these days, and I too have had my fair share of “firstname.lastname@example.org” email addresses show up on my list, just to get the free content that I’m giving away.
The pure excitement of clicking “Publish” on your newest blog post still doesn’t take away that sinking feeling of seeing someone opt-in to download your freebie only to unsubscribe instantly.
All that work you put in to creating something educational and beautiful.
It sucks, but it happens.
Here’s the honest truth, you can never prevent that from happening all together, but what you can do is give people a reason to want to soak up everything you have to offer. Your overall email marketing strategy, including the bulk email marketing software that you use to send from are a critical piece of getting it right.
Email Newsletters…Not Vogue!
In the past, and still today, many companies send an email newsletter every week (or every month) because they assume people on their list wanted to know about everything that is going on at their company. Newsflash…that isn’t true!
Think about the last time a company you did business with 2 years ago sent you an email. If you’re even still subscribed to that email list, were you interested enough to open it and read everything in there? Probably not.
But what if that same company sent you an email about one specific topic that was relative to the exact product you purchased? For example “your item was recalled, click here to see what we’re doing about it.” You would be much more likely to keep reading or click through to see what they have to say.
Strategies for Growing Your Email Marketing ROI
The strategies for growing an email list are fairly black and white, but if you want to step up your game, there are some tactics that absolutely work and there are some that don’t.
My biggest mistake when I created my first free opt-in was that it was too complex. It's because I had a background in digital marketing and came from an agency job where day in and day out I spoke to people (and customers) who already understood the language.
Talking about a tactic like “Schema Markup” or “Consideration Stage Lead Magnet” didn't resonate with my blog audience because they weren't marketers.
But that was back in 2011, and I’ve honed in on the art of teaching email marketing ever since, and found a way to teach these tactics that are the absolute cornerstone of list-building. One simple but effective tactic has grown my list and the lists of my clients by leaps and bounds. In fact, I now gain about 600 new organic subscribers each week.
Six-Hundred each week.
I'm not kidding. If you're just starting out with list-building, 600 new subscribers a week sounds like a dream come true, right?
Before I jump in though, lets get clear, these are foundational strategies, not tips and tricks.
Tips and tricks are temporary, while strategies last for the long haul. Email marketing automation can be a huge, powerful, big deal with a lot of complex moving parts.
Luckily, getting started is fairly straightforward if you follow the right advice.
In fact, the only thing you actually need to do to get started is click this one button. (But before you do, please finish reading).
Attraction Marketing: The Foundation of Email Marketing Automation
The best digital marketing practice is to create long-term strategies that have been shown to be effective over and over again. This begins with attracting the right audience.
Here are 4 ways to implement genuine “attraction marketing” in other words…to make people crave your content, look forward to when you publish something new, and thus make them want to be on your list, part of your audience, and follow you on every social channel that you’re on.
1. Use an Interactive Quiz as your Email Opt-In (aka: Lead Magnet)
This one small thing has been wildly successful in terms of attracting new members to my audience, and it's the absolute cornerstone of good segmentation so that you can group your subscribers into the proper email nurturing sequence. At first glance it doesn’t seem to be an “opt-in” but as you guide your audience through a series of questions, it’s a fantastic way to group them into meaningful categories that you can actually nurture.
Not to mention, it’s a super fun way to engage. Don’t let the cost scare you, it’s well worth it. Just divide the annual cost by the amount of true, engaged people on your email list and you’ll see there is no comparison!
To use this quiz effectively, I ask questions such as “what phase of business are you currently in” and let them select answers such as:
“I’m just thinking about starting my online business” or “I’m currently blogging but not seeing much success.”
These are very different in terms of how you would help guide this person through to an eventual offer, even though both are interested in the same general niche of blogging to make money.
If you’re thinking about using a quiz, I would recommend checking out the Interact Quiz Builder. You can use their quiz templates to easily get up and running in a matter of minutes, or you can change the questions to anything you like.
The best part is that they integrate with any email marketing automation that you already use, and their metrics provide a really good overview (even better than Google Analytics) at grouping your audience.
I use tags in my email automation to funnel people into different categories, but even if I didn’t, I could go and download my list (already grouped) directly from Interact. If you are thinking about checking it out, click here for a free trial.
2. Grow your Organic Followers using the “Polite” Popup
Stay with me for a moment, I hate popups too. I’m always met with a lot of resistance when talking about popups because I know they are annoying and disruptive. But I challenge you to think about this in a new way.
As someone is reading through your site, a little while later, a sleek and slow window appears on the side and it’s just a follow request. You’re not hitting them smack in the center of the face asking for their email address. I use a this WordPress plugin and it’s a great way to increase your followers organically on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or even YouTube.
If you want to use great email automation and list segmentation, you’ll need to have greater data. Both of these tools listed above help you segment the answers to the questions so you can really nurture your list. You won’t be able to use the powerful email marketing automation features unless your list is grouped into different segments.
When planning and setting a goal for your email campaign, ask yourself these 6 important questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
Consider demographics, make sure what you’re saying is relevant to those receiving the email.
Clicks and Opens are not an appropriate primary goal. Marketers measure clicks and opens, but they are indicators and metrics of success, they should not be the primary goal of the email. Your primary goal should be “Register for our Webinar” or “Download our Toolkit.”
We’re not talking only about the time of day or the day of the week; consider where the recipients of this email is on their journey to purchase. Some people have just started researching ideas, such as “best time of year to buy a grill” while others have already decided to buy and are researching features & benefits of a gas grill compared to features & benefits a charcoal grill. Sending the right information to the right person at the wrong time is not going to translate to conversions. Thinking through exactly what you’re selling and when your buyer needs it is critical.
Where is your audience going to read your email? At their desktop in the office, on their phone during their lunch hour, or on an ipad while watching TV at night?
Why are you sending this message? Use this as a reality check, why does this campaign benefit the recipient?
How do you know if you’ve met your goals? Web traffic, twitter mentions, and a look at other channels can help you see how your campaign impacts behavior. Don’t forget to read between the lines; open and click-thru-rates may be terrible, but people may be logging into their account or calling customer service in response to your email.
3. Use Paid Ads to give away your Free Content
This sounds crazy. Am I right? Most of the time people create ads when they are selling their product or service, but I actually pay for ads to serve up my free stuff! To be fully transparent, I invest several hundred dollars a month using paid ads, but the ads are promoting my free lead magnets.
It’s a way that works well to invest in your followers in the very beginning, to make sure your audience is made up of people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Then you serve your audience so well so that when the time comes to sell to them, they have already qualified themselves as the perfect candidate to purchase.
If you’re familiar with the sales and nurturing process, you already know that most people aren’t immediately ready to buy anything, especially in this day and age of internet research.
Most of the time, people need to do their research and get warmed up before they are ready to buy anything, so running ads to your paid content is not going to be very successful. I've done it. Unless it's a gorgeous apparel item with a deeply discounted price, it simply does not work.
Would you click on something from a stranger and purchase without context or more information? Probably not! Instead, the best strategy is to place an ad that leads to free content with the goal of getting them on to your email list.
This technique is much more affordable than running ads that point directly to a purchase. The cost to acquire a new subscriber on your email list is a fraction of the cost of an ad that points directly to a sales page. It’s better to invest in serving up content (without the hint of a pitch) until you know the audience is engaged.
This is how you show trust and ultimately position yourself as the expert in what you’re talking about. Then when you have an offer, your audience is inclined to listen to what you have to say because they’ve had time to benefit from the free content that you’ve given to them.
At the end of the day, I will always spend money to acquire new people to my list over trying to run an ad to sell a product. I’m confident in my ability to serve my audience so well, that when the time comes to sell something, they are excited to become a bigger part of my community through the purchase of additional products, courses and services.
I’m just going to give it to your straight…
If learning about online business and email marketing automation feels like it’s draining you faster than your iPhone battery, then you’re not doing it right.
ConvertKit was designed to support your business so you can get on with doing the things you actually want to do.
Imagine…automated selling consistently without you having to spend hours and hours doing it!
Of course this isn’t just anything you’re selling…this is your dream job! What you’ve been dreaming about since you were stuck in that corporate cubicle trading all your time for a paycheck.
4. Exclusivity (Translation: Special Perks for your Email Subscribers)
It’s important to treat your community like insiders or VIPs. The people on your email list should be the first to know about anything new in your business. Not only that, they should be getting content that you don’t publish anywhere else.
Whether that is exclusive sales or other freebies, they will really feel like they are special if you don’t offer the same on your Facebook Ads or Twitter account.
Treat your email subscribers like gold, show them you truly value them, thank them, and let them know how much they mean to you. Too often, I’ve seen bloggers promote a sale all over their private Facebook group, on their email list, and then tweet about it and even run an ad. This doesn’t make subscribers feel like they are an insider at all.
Instead, offer your email subscribers something different, an additional discount code or access before you announce the sale publicly.
Keeping customers engaged with your business is crucial if you want them to remain loyal to your brand; it is also a critical step in helping you convert those leads into fully qualified customers. Having an automation system that literally makes money while you sleep needs to be well thought out.
Start by answering those 5 aforementioned questions. When you create marketing campaigns that intelligently follow up with the right people at the right time based on their actions and behaviors, it will be a true game changer for your business.
Providing great content is just not optional anymore; in fact, digital communications is just as important to your business as customer service. If you want to create and keep loyal customers, giving them great information and solving their problems is the key to your continued growth with email marketing automation.
Whether you're just getting started, or you're a veteran marketer looking to enhance your lead generation strategies, these 4 email marketing strategies are sure to yield big results for you in the year ahead!
For a preview of my favorite email marketing tools in action, watch this video!
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The first step to understanding how to structure your perfect opt-in (more commonly referred to as a lead magnet) is to determine why you're building a list in the first place. Many businesses start by creating a newsletter sign up on their website, and unfortunately, newsletters went out of style years ago. (If you're still sending Email Newsletters, read this first! The best strategy to grow your revenue online in 2019 is to build your list with a very targeted and specific lead magnet.
But how do you determine what the precise lead magnet will be? Ask yourself this question first: Who is your ideal customer? It’s critical to become crystal clear about your ideal consumer, and having only one list means that you don’t have a way to differentiate between who is who on your list. The biggest mistake businesses make in this initial stage of targeting is that they don’t zero in on the hyper-specific details of their ideal client or customer. When you offer a lead magnet, you can control your targeting and segment your list into meaningful categories.
First things first. Before you can even figure out what type of opt-in or lead magnet you’re offering, you’ll need to be crystal clear about WHO you sell to. This will help you determine the ideal client or customer that you want on your email list, because you don’t want just anyone, and you definitely don’t want as many people as possible. WHY? because Ideal customer’s recognize the need your product or service fulfills for them…they trust your expertise and they will come back to you again and again for help in solving their problem.
When thinking about the broad scope of why you’re building an email list in the first place, consider what you are going to offer in the context of how it will help you move this ideal target client or customer closer to buying your product or service. Essentially the lead magnet is a smaller piece of what you plan to sell to them. For example, if you are selling marriage counseling services, your lead magnet might be “enter your email address and we’ll send you 10 text messages to instantly start a conversation with your significant other”. That is a very targeted way to get someone to opt into your email list, and it’s also a great way to prep them for an email nurturing sequence.
Whatever your nîche may be, it’s important to really think about WHO you’re selling to first in order to determine the lead magnet that will attract the perfect customers for you.
Nurturing and Segmentation
Understanding and thoughtful planning of the sequence of events that happen once someone gives you their email address in exchange for your lead magnet is critical. Some people call this the “funnel” or nurturing sequence. If set up properly, it’s the process by which the person moves through their customer journey inside your sales funnel and eventually emerges as a customer instead of a prospect. With digital marketing, the strategy is put in place as soon as a person provides their email address. Another term for the structure of this process is email automation.
In the past, businesses used to just send an email to deliver the guide, freebie, or whatever it was that was requested. That is no longer the best strategy. Instead, smart business owners use the first email as a way to connect and establish a relationship with their new prospect.
It may sound counter-intuitive to not want “everybody” on your email list, but the tighter the list the better. In other words, the way most businesses think is, the more people on my list the more potential customers I have to sell to, but that’s just not how it works with online marketing in 2019. People are savvy buyers, they do research online before they buy, and they know what they’re looking for, so unless you have established a rapport with your list, they will simply ignore your emails.
The biggest secret to generating revenue with email is to have an engaged list. Once you do, you can evaluate important digital metrics such as how people found you, what content is effective and working, how your ads and content offers affect your bottom line, and which of your online campaigns are converting the best.
Lets go back to your offer to see what kinds of people could potentially end up on your list.
There 4 kinds of leads that will opt-in to your offer …
1. Freebie Seeker
3. Proof Seeker
4. Raving Fan/Evangelist
1. Freebie Seeker – no matter what you offer, she just wants the free download. She will probably never spend a dime on what you have to offer, she’s just looking for the next free download. That is not your ideal customer.
2. Researcher – She’s following your channels and she likes what you have to say, but she’s still not sure if you have the right product to solve her problem. What happens after she downloads her lead magnet is very important. The follow up sequence (or funnel) is critical for this type of lead in order to move her forward on her buyer’s journey.
3. Proof is in the Pudding – this person needs proof in order for her to open her wallet and buy from you. This is something easy to do once you have a page built specifically for testimonials or case studies, depending on what type of business you have. I will also go into more detail about this step in another video.
4. Raving Fan/Evangelist – she’s the perfect lead…she’s a big fan of you and your business. These leads are a critical part of your list b/c they will tell her friends and followers about you and what you have to offer.
For my email automation, I use and highly recommend ConvertKit. It's a platform that is easy and intuitive to use, and integrates well with just about any other platform.
The 4 types of leads mentioned above will always make up the majority of your list. Understanding the funnel means that you need to treat each one of these types of leads differently with a different follow up sequence. I know it sounds like a lot to set up 4 different followup sequences, but if you do, it will make your online marketing so much easier as you move ahead.
When you send the same message to everyone…nobody listens.
Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.
When a business or blogger has collected emails, whether by doing so with their opt-in, manually at a brick and mortar, or over a period of time as people have signed up for a service or product, a list that numbers in the hundreds, the thousands, or even the tens of thousands can sometimes seem overwhelming.
It’s not uncommon for bloggers and small business owners to have a large list but still be unsure just how to use email marketing and automation to generate revenue for their business. This was the exact case when I was recruited to assist a client who had a list of over 40,000 people, but an email open rate that was lower than 20%. (Quick backstory: I worked for a digital agency, and in corporate marketing for 14 years before I started my blog). Anyway, at the time, the owners of the company I worked for didn't quite understand how to convert those “people on their list” into a loyal audience who would open and read their emails, let alone turn them into paying customers.
When you have just one list of email subscribers, and they are not grouped into different categories, the key to unlocking revenue with email automation is to first solve the challenge of moving them into meaningful groups. Your very first step is to design a Segmentation Campaign; this is how you begin to group your list based on actionable behaviors that they take. What is an actionable behavior? In digital marketing, it's something you can measure…such as a click.
The Email Newsletter: Why So Many Bloggers and Small Business Owners Still Get it Wrong
Perhaps you’ve sent a campaign or two, or maybe you send a weekly or monthly newsletter to the subscribers of your blog or the customers in your business, and you have watched your “open rate” go down with each email you send. If your open rate is less than 60%, you’re in the right place to gain some insight. There is definitely a secret to getting people to open and read your email, and over the years I’ve watched as even the organizations and businesses that I want to hear from struggle to get it right.
The Segmentation Campaign
First and foremost, when you have a very large list, the first task is to clean it up and get it separated into meaningful categories. If this sounds tedious, all the more reason that you need to move it to the top of your to-do list. Why? Email marketing simply does not work when you send the same email to a large group of people.
Think about it this way, too many choices confuse people. Too many choices cause a person to close their browser and not even make a choice. You simply cannot connect with your audience in a meaningful way by sending the same email campaign to everyone; that will never generate revenue for your business.
In order to make a meaningful connection, you've got to deliver super-targeted information that over-delivers on value. Every, single, time! It's so important to clearly illustrate how your business, product, or service is going to solve a problem for your intended audience. But first…your audience needs to actually have a problem that you can solve! If the problem doesn't exist, guess what? They don't care if you can solve it. It comes down to choice: If you provide too many choices, it's just easier for the recipient to not make a choice and do nothing.
Email Marketing: Where Do I Begin?
Each email campaign that you send needs to have one of these 4 primary purposes:
This is a fancy industry term that means the purpose of the email is to introduce new connections to your brand; this is the time to bond with a brand new subscriber when they are the most excited to hear your message. People are the most excited the moment they enter their email address and sign up. Think about it. They are offering up their email address in exchange for something that they deem valuable (your Lead Magnet). A lot of businesses miss this unique opportunity to teach this new subscriber why you are amazing. Sometimes called the “welcome” email, know that it is the single time that a new subscriber is most likely to read what you have to say because they are expecting it.
The engagement campaign is the most widely used type of email marketing campaign, but it’s also where the most companies fail. The idea of the engagement campaign, and this is true whether it is done via email or on social media, is for a business to talk about what moves your potential customer. This could be very different for the different audiences within your broad audience. Remember, you’re not just “selling your product” you’ve got to make a meaningful connection with your customer and do it in a way that educates them about why your product or service will solve their problem and change their life for the better…and you’ve got to do that better than your competitor. You simply will not be able to engage with someone if you’re not speaking about something important to them.
Every email campaign and every post must have a purpose. What could be worse than posting something that isn't directly related to how your product or service benefits the consumer? Posting about, emailing them, or blogging about yourself!
Although it’s a time to begin to encourage your audience to buy what you have to offer by describing how it is relevant to them, the important thing to remember is that in order to be relevant, you’ve got to really dig deep into their beliefs, attitudes and desires. You’ve got to zero in on exactly what is important to them.
Consider this example: I once did some work for a professional who provided a service. He was certain that I was his “target audience”. (We are a family with two working parents, 2 kids and 2 pets). His rationale was that since both parents in the household worked, we therefore must have insurance to pay for medical services, so that makes us more likely to schedule an appointment regularly for a preventative visit. Another part of that rationale was that women heads of households make the family buying decisions, so his target market was women between the ages of 25 and 55. The reality is, that audience is way too broad. If you intend to make money with email marketing and your audience consists of a broad target market (such as “women between the ages of 25 and 55”) then it’s time to rethink your approach. There was no way that he was going to be able to make a meaningful connection with the “me’s” of the world, especially when he was using email to send me a newsletter to tell me about the latest award his practice won.
Can you see how important it is to get crystal clear about your audience? Gender and age group is far too broad to make a truly meaningful connection. Instead, look for a different way to engage. What does your target audience eat for breakfast and why? Do they wake up at 5:00am and go for a jog in their neighborhood before they feed their cat and clean the litterbox? Where do they work, shop, vacation, and what kind of car do they drive?
If you really know who your customer is you can tailor an email campaign that engages with them on an incredibly personal level. Even though the recipient of your email may not know you personally, they can read into everything you write about, and the tone of that written word strikes a subconscious chord. If you can use words to talk to the recipient of your email as if you’re talking to your very best friend about how your product or service will make life better for them, then their interpretation will no doubt be positive.
In turn, their view of your brand will be positive. My pet peeve to this day is reading an email that says something like “I’m so proud to be awarded the honor of the top “insert whatever profession you want” under the age of 40 in my hometown.” Really? I mean, kudos to you Mr. Award Recipient. Go ahead and post it on your social media feed, but don't expect that emailing that information to me is going to move me to buy something or schedule an appointment.
What I’m trying to say here is that you can control the interpretation of the person receiving your email and truly engage with them by providing a meaningful connection about how your product or service benefits them…not by touting your own horn.
The ascension campaign comes after a successful engagement campaign, and only once you’ve started to measure the behaviors of your email recipients. Asking a client to upgrade their experience is where the big money happens, but they first need to trust your brand and have had an experience with you that over-delivers. Once you’ve made one sale, you know what your customer is interested in, so now you know exactly what your customer is likely to want or need to do next. If a customer just used your app to make a donation to their favorite cause, the next step is to say “Thanks for donating, would you like to start a fundraising campaign of your own?” Think about how the big companies use this strategy: Facebook has a strategically placed button on business pages that says “Create a Business Page” and that is not by accident.
The ascension campaign directly correlates to the most important part of email marketing…the segmentation. Dividing up your customer or potential customer list into meaningful categories and then capitalizing on what you now know about them is the key to a successful ascension campaign.
I can’t stress how important it is for every business who wants to succeed with digital marketing to learn what your audience likes and dislikes by measuring their behaviors so you can follow-up with anticipatory practicality about what they will want to do next. If you send someone an email and they do not click on the link, for the love of all things do not simply send them the same type of email again.
If they did not click, it means they were not interested! You can dig deeper into why they may not have been interested and create a different campaign to re-engage, but that comes later. First you’ve got to ensure you have your campaign set up in a way that can accurately measure and make sense of the data that is being measured. You’ve got to know what you’re looking for. How do you know what you’re looking for in terms of measurement and data?
Lets look back to the Small Email List example where we talked about raw honey and essential oils. Suppose you have an email list with 4,000 people on it and you don’t have them “segmented”. The first goal is to separate the list into meaningful categories. You have reason to believe that more people are interested in essential oils than in raw honey, so you decide to focus on essential oils as your first campaign.
In this example, you decide to run a campaign in the summer since it's a good time to teach people how to use essential oils to make their own sunscreen, so that will be the focus of your first campaign. Since the goal of this email campaign is not to sell a product but instead to begin to segment your list, your “landing page” could be as simple as a blog post that instructs people about how to make their essential oils sunscreen. On the sidebar of the blog, you may choose to have a picture of a jar of honey which will serve as a call-to-action leading to purchase the honey. Don’t forget to attach a UTM Parameter to the link in the email so that you can effectively measure who from your email list clicked on the honey. At this point it doesn’t matter whether they purchased anything, what you are measuring and attempting to differentiate is who is interested in honey and who is not. From this email campaign, you can measure the following behaviors:
Who on your list is interested in the blog about making your own sunscreen (behavior: clicked the link within the email and landed on the blog page)?
Who on your list is potentially interested in both sunscreen and honey (behavior: clicked the CTA for honey on the sidebar)?
Who is not interested in sunscreen at all (those who did not click)?
As you can see, you have now segmented your one list into 3 different lists after sending this email campaign. You can almost instantaneously group them based on what they showed interest in. Now you know that you could potentially talk to list number 2 about the honey. Not only that, you could send an email a few hours or a day later educating them about the differences between raw honey and processed honey, or perhaps write a blog about how to store honey. They’ve already shown you they are interested in honey, so tuck away that information and think critically about how you will use it to market to them in the future.
Which leads effectively to the folks from your initial large list above who did not click, they did not show interest. That is the segment you’ll focus on with a “re-engagement” strategy.
Re-Engage & Win Back
If someone has fallen out of touch or stops opening your emails, the re-engagement strategy is used to create a way to entice them to come back before the relationship grows cold. This is the lowest of low hanging fruit; it’s the time to reinforce your value and re-engage. Many companies do not have a systematic process by which they manage weeding out the people who are genuinely interested from the people who are just “looking” for information.
You never want to email someone who did not click. The result is that you waste a lot of time and effort. There are times when I purchase a product online and then I begin to receive an email a day from that company. Even if I don’t click in the email, I start getting bombarded with more emails. Newsflash, I’m not that interested, why are you still sending me stuff I’m not even reading? Now the company has left a bad taste in my mouth. The worst of the worst is when I click to unsubscribe and they send me a message indicting that it might be a few days before I’m removed from their list. Companies can be fined for not following the law, according to the GDPR, the opt-out or “unsubscribe” link is very important in the grand scheme of things.
Don’t risk your email deliverability (in other words, the spam folder) because once you go down that road, it’s hard to recover. The last thing you want is for people to delete your emails and mark them as spam. Future emails will not make it to their inbox and you effectively decrease your chances of ever making a stream of revenue from email marketing.
Instead, if a prospect on your email list has not actively engaged with you for over 3 months (by actively engage, I’m talking about clicking a link in your email or actually purchasing something) then the best practice is to remove them from your email list. If you sent an email campaign and they did not engage, the re-engagement campaign can be sent any time between about 2 weeks and 3 months to test a “win back” strategy. You know that the people on this segmented list have no interest in sunscreen. Consider what else you might know about them. How did they get on your list in the first place? You might go back to basics and write a blog or provide a lead magnet that entices them to get to know you better.
Once you are crystal clear about what each segment is truly interested in, think about how you will appeal to them. How is your product or service going to absolutely hands down change their life for the better? HubSpot defines Lead Nurturing as the purposeful process of engaging a defined group of prospects by providing them with relevant information at each stage of their buyer journey. The goal is to create tactics that active move people through a sequence of events that is designed to move them from just interested to a paying customer. Attribution information (the data that you’re measuring about their behaviors) in other words, the pages they viewed and the content they downloaded will help tell you what stage of their “journey” they are in. Based on this information, you can design a nurturing strategy that talks to them about what is the most important to them.
Best Email Marketing Software for Bloggers and Small Biz: ConvertKit
For my nurturing sequences, I highly recommend ConvertKit (for Bloggers who are making from zero to $150,000 in annual revenue) and AWeber (for Small Business Owners making between $150,000 and $250,000 in annual revenue). They are both email marketing automation platforms that are easy to use and integrate well with a variety of different website builders.
ConvertKit is particularly easy to use for those who are new to blogging and email marketing. They have great customer support as well as video tutorials and even free email templates for nurturing sequences to help you get started quickly! The difference is that with ConvertKit, things just make sense. Some email marketing systems are clunky and hard to figure out the integrations, but ConvertKit will definitely be your BFF because the internal dashboard functions a lot like HubSpot in that it makes everything obvious…but doesn't have the big price tag like HubSpot!
HubSpot for Business making between $250k and $5Million
If you are a business owner with annual revenue between $250,000 and $5 million, then I highly recommend checking out HubSpot. HubSpot is an all-in-one platform, and is a treasure-trove of valuable tools to streamline your marketing automation and sequencing. It's kind of like InfusionSoft functionality in a much more user-centric dashboard (like ConvertKit) but much more modern and easy-to-use than InfusionSoft. Oh, and it has about 40 more bells and whistles too!
Remember, segmented email campaigns have an open rate that is 14.32% higher than non-segmented campaigns.
Asking people to opt-in to your email newsletter worked well in 2010, but these days bloggers and small business owners need a more advanced strategy.
Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.
So many businesses, both large and small are still sending out email newsletters, and by the way…that is not the same thing as using email automation to grow your revenue, in fact sending newsletters will very rarely, if ever, provide any return on investment for your business. Let me show you the difference.
First things first. We’ve all got way too much email in our inbox right…
it feels like every time you unsubscribe from something, you get 10 more emails in return. Email Marketing Automation is everywhere.
I’ve even changed my email addresses just to get rid of all the noise.
So think about the typical email newsletter…a company shares once a month, or maybe even once a week. Maybe they’ve moved into a new location, or maybe they’re welcoming a new employee. If you make a living as a blogger, you might be sharing an excerpt of your blog posts and then linking to the last 4 or 6 blogs that you wrote.
So now, think about how you feel when you’re busy opening emails and you receive a business newsletter and it’s filled with all kinds of links and different things going on…maybe one thing catches your eye, but the reality is, you’re way too busy to click through on every single link in there, because there are just too many choices and you really don’t have time.
Maybe you’ll come back later, but the data shows that’s not likely. What data? Marketing data from all over the world that is aggregated and published by literally every important marketing company that exists (HubSpot, Salesforce, SEMRush, you get the picture). Anyway…if you do send these kinds of newsletters you’re not going to like this data very much but it’s the truth; most people don’t care about what’s new in your business this week.
What people care about is how you can solve their problem, if they happen to have a problem that you have a solution for.
So how does all this translate into setting up automated campaigns that actually generate revenue for your business?
The key is to set up your email marketing automation using JUST ONE nurturing sequence at a time which corresponds to your audiences exact place in the sales funnel.
Wait, what? What does that mean and how do I know this?
Because so much automated intelligence exists that allows thousands of marketers every day to analyze their data…and it’s all black and white. In other words, nobody has go “guess” anymore.
In the past, a business would market their brand by placing an ad in a magazine or on billboard, and back then, they never had an accurate way to measure how effective their ad was. So all these dollars were spent on traditional marketing, but how did they know what really worked or what KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure? They didn’t. If they were smart in 1995, they set up different phone numbers so they could track where people saw their ad based on whether they actually called their business, but that’s old news because now we can accurately track email clicks on both websites and within email marketing campaigns, and that’s how we know that email newsletters are just not effective.
So instead of sending another newsletter, here are the steps you can take TODAY to start turning things around:
Write down the exact problem that your audience has.
Write down the exact solution that you provide, that solves their problem.
Apply your solution to the sales funnel; now if this sounds a little confusing, lets look at a real live example.
In the world of digital marketing, being able to pinpoint a prospective customer's place in the sales cycle and associate it with an appropriate nurturing sequence is called Journey Mapping. You’ll first figure out whether your audience is in the awareness stage, the consideration stage, or the decision stage of the sales funnel. These are 3 markedly different phases of decision making, and will affect your email nurturing sequence depending on what phase they are in.
So how do you know what phase they’re in? Digitally, this is done by segmenting or grouping your website visitors into categories based on the measurable actions they take on your website. For example, you gain some perspective on your audience by paying close attention to what blogs they’re reading on your website. Which of your posts gets the most traffic? To accomplish this in a very early stage (if you are used to sending email newsletters and you’re looking to transition to automating your emails for the purpose of generating revenue) then you’ll need to begin by sending an email for the sole purpose of grouping your audience into different categories.
A segmentation campaign is as simple as sending an email that provides two different options…so say your business or blog is about sustainability, ultimately, you’re selling a digital course that teaches people how to build a bin for composting, so your blog topics are likely all related to gardening and composting.
If you already have subscribers on your email list and it’s just one list, you’ll start by sending an email that offers only two different options: either click here to read about learning the importance of composting for sustainability, or click here for a cost comparison of buying different types of compost bins compared to building your own out of leftover household materials. That differentiation now clearly separates your audience into beginners versus advanced. You’ll know based on who clicked which link where they are in their personal journey. So then ultimately if your goal is to sell that digital course on how to build your own composting bin, then you know how to properly nurture people based on where they are in their educational journey…in other word’s their “buyer’s journey”. Then you can take measures to properly group people when they first sign up for your list. You can do this in a few different ways:
Add a choice to your opt-in form so instead of asking only for their email address, you’ll add an additional question that will give you the answer to what you’ll eventually send them…so it might say “what type of gardener are you” (so they choose: I’m a beginner or I’m advanced).
This can also be accomplished by taking a quick survey on your Facebook page or even emailing your current list and saying that you want to provide content that is relevant so you’re taking a quick survey to see what your readers are most interested in. Then as they click, you’ll again go back and analyze your data to find out more about your audience.
As you can see, talking to your audience about precisely what they’re interested in is a much better way to nurture them through the different stages of their buyer’s journey and toward making a purchase from you.
Here is a video with some more info. to help you better understand email marketing. If you enjoy this video, I would love it if you would Subscribe to my YouTube Channel! I post brand new videos every Wednesday!
Email Marketing Automation Platforms
I started off using MailChimp in 2006, just like most small businesses do, because of cost constraints. Now that I have a much better understanding and appreciate efficiency, I would highly recommend ConvertKit or AWeber. If you are a blogger, ConvertKit is the way to go because it's simple and intuitive to use, and it makes segmenting your audience super easy. AWeber has a slightly more techy learning curve and would be best suited for more established small businesses who already has a small marketing team and needs a solution that integrates across a wide-variety of other business processing tools.
Have an enterprise sized business? The most robust platform for Marketing Automation + Website Builder all in one for Small to Medium Sized Businesses who have revenue between $250,000 and $5 Million in annual revenue is: HubSpot (Click for a 30-Day Free Trial)
What list? Why do I need an email list and how do I start one?
Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.
So you’ve been hearing about how a lot of people make money with email marketing, but you're wondering what in the world a lead magnet actually is, and where exactly to begin.
Perhaps you have a business, or even a hobby and you’ve got a product or service that you know people will be interested in…if you could just get the message out to the right people.
Hang tight…there's a video with tons of examples of lead magnets coming your way in a few more paragraphs. But lets start at the beginning…
The Importance of Your Nîche in Crafting the Right Opt-In
It all starts with your nîche. The most successful online businesses have a very distinct nîche, and I'm not talking about the “blogging nîche” or the “make money online” nîche. That's all find and good, but that's not a nîche, it's an industry. And there's a big difference.
There’s a very specific and unique group of people all over the world who can benefit from what you have to offer, it’s just a matter of finding them and connecting with them. You probably already know this, and even though I've gotten so much LinkedIn spam messages lately, you'd think that business people know this too, but they are still implementing old-school “cold” sales prospecting techniques in the hopes of getting business. That may have worked in 1999, but it doesn't work today.
The right way to build an email list is to let people add themselves to your email list because they choose to, not because you choose to.
Part 1: Credibility of your Brand
Before you can even think about running a successful email campaign that will generate revenue for your business, you’ve got to begin with an audience of people who actually want to hear from you.
If you haven't started building an email list yet, you might be thinking:
Yes, there are people are out there, but where and how am I going to find them?
It's called “Attraction Marketing” and it's the first step in building a list of people who want to hear from you. Attraction marketing simply means collecting the contact information of people who show interest in your product or service.
In order to get the word out and educate people about your product or service so that you can be deemed trustworthy and credible, you’ve got to first demonstrate that your product or service is valuable to people without the expectation of anything in return.
The most common way to do this is to make sure your website is up to date with current information, and to write and post more in-depth educational articles on your blog and resources page. Creating quality content around your topic is the key to growing your subscribers, followers, list, and ultimately your tribe.
It sounds rather simple, but there's a lot to know to get it right. Most people give up too soon.
It's incredibly important that your online presence is real. When social media first started…some time around 2008 or so, I remember people would create profiles using only their first name.
Still today, I see so many websites that post articles by the “Admin” and that just screams “not a credible source” to anyone who is reading it. If you want to be considered a thought leader and expert in your industry, it's critical to begin to establish credibility. That begins with your website.
Putting yourself out there can be tough. You get exposed to criticism sometimes, and learning all there is to learn can feel overwhelming. Don't let that stop you. If you've got the passion and the drive, you will be successful…you just need to follow the business model for the best results.
The Online Business Model
I’ve seen many websites that post a very short or generic write ups about a product or service that really isn’t helpful or informative to the reader. Doing this is just an exercise in mediocrity and it’s not going to build brand credibility at all.
Take the time and effort to think thoroughly about what you are writing about. How is what you’re offering going to change the life of your intended audience?
In order to begin building credibility for why you are an authority on your topic, you’ve got to demonstrate that you have the knowledge, experience, or expertise to provide guidance on the topic.
Writing up a blog post and linking to someone's affiliate product because it “helped you a lot” is not very helpful to other people. Unfortunately there are a lot of bloggers out there who make that mistake. The purpose of the blog is to inspire and educate, and if your blog is nothing but links to paid products, nobody is going to come back. That makes for an audience that is completely unengaged to the point where they actually avoid you.
Your goal should be to deliver so much value to people that they literally follow you on all your social media channels just so that they don't miss anything you put out.
If you have no email list at all, your first step is to begin by writing a collection of blog articles about your product or service to help establish credibility for your brand. Don't skimp on this. You need to build a foundation, otherwise it's just not going to work.
Part 2: The Lead Magnet and using SEM to Speed Up the Process
Once your website has enough information to demonstrate that you’re a credible source, the next item of business is to focus on creating a way to drive traffic to your website.
Just because you have a beautiful website with a lot of information on it doesn’t mean people will just automatically start to find you. Many people have heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which is one way to focus on bringing organic traffic to your website, however know that organic SEO is a LONG TERM STRATEGY and it doesn’t happen overnight.
In fact, even with proper SEO in place, it can take months to begin to generate traffic organically. In order to start driving traffic immediately, SEM (Search Engine Marketing) tactics come into play. Keep in mind that SEM is the paid form of SEO. SEM can include paid social media ads or paid network ads.
Engaging in one or both of these types of digital advertising will provide an influx of traffic to your website, but the most important thing to understand in the grand scheme of the online business model is that the purpose of using SEM for a Lead Magnet is not to generate revenue, it’s to generate traffic and build your email list.
I'm going to say that again, because it's the most important part of building a sustainable business model:
The purpose of using SEM for a Lead Magnet is not to generate revenue, it’s to generate traffic and build your email list.
I know what you might be thinking: Why would I pay for an ad that doesn't generate revenue?
In order for SEM to be most effective, it’s important to design a campaign that has the distinct purpose of building a list of people who are interested in what you have to offer. Remember, this is only the first step. You can read more about how this strategy works in this blog post about the 4 Top Email Marketing Strategies to generate revenue.
My favorite lead magnet is a quiz. I've added thousands of people to my list by using a quiz. If you're thinking about using a quiz as your lead magnet, I recommend checking out Interact.
Simply driving more traffic to your website isn’t going to sell your product or service though, so typically the Lead Magnet tactic is used to generate what we call “Marketing Qualified Leads” or people who have raised their hand and indicated that they have an interest in your product or service. The next step in the process is actually selling to those leads.
This new list of people requires “nurturing” because it’s most likely they are not quite ready to buy anything from you yet. Why? Because they are just starting to get to know you.
Think carefully about what you do when you hear about a product or service that is “new to you”. You simply “Google it” and read about it. You look at reviews, read some additional articles, and do some research online to see if that product or service is credible and meets your needs.
People who are in this “research” phase are what marketers and salespeople refer to as the “Top of the Funnel” or the “Awareness” Phase of the sales funnel.
They are in the beginning stages of educating themselves about your product or service, so they are interested…but not quite ready to purchase anything yet. This is a prime candidate for someone to join your email list.
Because if you have a well planned email campaign, you can persuade this person into buying your product or service over a competitor by using thoughtfully planned words, photos, and videos that are designed to move people into action.
In the past, before the internet provided all this information at our fingertips, sales people were the ones tasked with the responsibility of educating consumers.
Today, people are savvy and don’t really need salespeople; they take time to learn everything they can about a product or service online before they really consider buying it.
If you begin to form a list of hundreds or even thousands of people who are moderately interested in your product or service, you will be able to turn them into a paying customer with exactly the right information at the right time.
But first, you’ve got to find those “moderately” interested people.
Remember, they’re not ready to buy just yet. Based on the psychology of behavior, we know that a lead magnet will entice people to have a look at what you are offering. A lead magnet is defined as something valuable but free. You’ve got to make sure it’s valuable, because people will judge your brand based on whether the lead magnet actually helped them.
Think about how you landed on this page. Is what you’re reading valuable? If it is, you’re probably still reading.
Now think about your own product or service that you’re trying to market and sell. Is there something free you can offer people that will entice them to learn more about your brand?
Once they “consume” your lead magnet, your “free advice”, they will either determine that what you have to say is credible and trustworthy or not. If it’s credible, they will likely be receptive to what you have to say during a future engagement.
That future engagement might be an email coming to their inbox or another digital advertisement. The important thing to understand here is that the first engagement with your brand was enough to entice them and hopefully turn them into a warm lead instead of a cold lead. Now they recognize your brand or your name.
It's not enough to make them purchase something immediately, but it's enough to hold their interest.
This is the power of online sales and marketing. This is how you begin to build a list of people who have an interest in your product or service. It’s also how you begin to group or segment your list into meaningful categories. For more information on some ideas for creating the perfect Lead Magnet, watch this video:
Part 3: Trust
The reason why you need to segment and categorize your email list is because not every one of your customer’s cares about the same news you have to share at any given time.
Think about the last time you took your car to the shop for service. Maybe you replaced 4 tires because if you didn’t it wouldn’t pass inspection. If the shop sends you an email about a sale on new tires a month after you just bought 4 new tires, you’re probably not going to be too interested in clicking on that email. It’s not relevant to you at this particular point in time, so it gets bypassed or deleted.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not interested in that company, but when something isn’t relevant and the business didn’t take the time to acknowledge that, their email will not get opened, and it may even get deleted or unsubscribed from. You can see how important it is to ensure that what you are emailing is perfectly relevant to the person on the other end of the email. This affects your open rate. It affects the credibility of your brand, and it affects how much attention people will pay to your emails in the future.
With trust being a critical element, you can see how important it is to only send email to people who have genuinely requested it from you. Back in the days of old sales tactics, people would purchase a list of people from an outside source or and “cold” email people. In fact I still get contacted “cold” today by people on LinkedIn because B2B sales people haven't yet embraced the proper online business model.
It’s likely your emails and messages will get deleted or ignored, or worse, unsubscribed because these people are wondering why in the world you thought it was okay to email them in the first place. Don’t be that business. Don’t be the business that has diminished credibility in an instant because you emailed someone who didn’t specifically ask to receive your emails.
The exciting part about creating a Lead Magnet is that by doing so, you are beginning to build a community of people who trust you and deem that what you have to say is credible. Although they may be at the “top of the funnel” they are still somewhat interested in what you have to say. This creates an opportunity for you to begin a “Nurturing Process” which is just a fancy term that means a systematic way to lead them on a journey or path toward eventually purchasing your product or service. The Lead Magnet serves as the perfect way to begin collecting a list of names and email addresses of people who are interested in what you have to offer. Here's what the digital sales funnel looks like visually.
Action Item for You:
It’s time to start thinking about what you can use as a Lead Magnet to begin building your list. What is something valuable that you can provide to someone who might be interested in your product or service? Could it be a printable comparison chart, a worksheet, or an ebook? A “how-to” guide, a video tutorial, or even a sample of your product.
Anything you can provide for free that is valuable can be your Lead Magnet. Think carefully about how you’ll promote your lead magnet. Remember the objective is only to collect a name and email address. Some large businesses use contests as a Lead Magnet.
You can entice people to provide their email address in exchange for a chance to win something, but you’ve got to consider how that strategy will play out later. Can you firmly deliver on your commitment? How will that interest in winning lead to what you’ll ultimately try to sell them in the future?
Here is an example: Maybe you build raised garden beds for a living and your goal is to get people to purchase a raised garden bed with an irrigation system. Your lead magnet may be a video-tutorial on how to properly compost for your garden. You might promote this with a series of blogs written about composting and then offer a 4-minute video on building your own compost in exchange for someone’s email address. In that case, you’ll want to create a special “Landing Page” on your website which is aimed at doing one thing….getting people to watch that video. In order to watch the video, they will be asked to enter their email address. Remember, they are probably not yet interested in buying your raised garden bed with an irrigation system, because if they were, they would be on your main website seeking your telephone number to schedule an appointment.
The purpose of the Lead Magnet is to begin building a list of people who may potentially be interested in buying from you in the future. Have questions about your Lead Magnet? Join my private Facebook group where you can ask questions and connect with other bloggers, social media influencers, and online entrepreneurs!
What's Next after I've Gotten Clear About My Lead Magnet?
If you're still kind of new to email nurturing, you'll need a tool for automation if you want to make money while you sleep. I highly recommend using ConvertKit for your email automation, as it integrates very easily with WordPress and a variety of other website builders. Most people choose a tool such as MailChimp because it's free at first, but don't be fooled. As your list starts to grow, you'll quickly recognize that it's not the most intuitive and they do begin charging you. Once you get to that point, you have very little time and patience to transfer elsewhere, so do yourself a huge favor and start off on the right foot.