Hey there! I’m your host, Kristin Miller. If you don’t already know me, I’m a corporate marketer-turned entrepreneur, and I’ve spent over a decade creating and executing marketing strategies for businesses big and small.
And I am a firm believer that every business needs an email marketing strategy as a part of their marketing strategy. Doesn’t matter if you’re an online business, or brick-and-mortar, all businesses need a way to build a stronger connection with their target audience and stay connected with their clients or customers.
Email is such an effective and budget-friendly way to humanize a brand and build relationships. In today’s world, there really isn’t a reason to NOT have an email marketing strategy.
Today, I’m going to run through the basics of getting an email marketing strategy off the ground.
You’re going to need four things.
- Email service provider, which is the software platform that you send emails from. This will help you stay compliant with email marketing laws, easily keep your list up-to-date, and provide valuable insights on how your emails are performing.
- A physical address, which is a component of those email marketing laws and required for any email service provider.
- A way to generate your email list. We often refer to this as a lead magnet, which is something of value you give away to your audience in exchange for their email address.
- A plan for sending out emails to your list.
So let’s dig into the first component: an email marketing service, or ESP.
With so many ESPs to choose from, it can quickly be overwhelming to decide which to choose. Don’t sweat it too much. With so many options, there are a lot of really good providers. I’ve used both really expensive ones and free ones, and it’s truly hard to go wrong. Before starting to research specific email marketing services, it helps to first get an idea of what your requirements are.
Here are my best tips on what to look for when choosing an ESP:
Ease of use
One difference between services is how easy it is to use. The more complex providers allow for greater flexibility to customization and design, but often at the trade-off of needing to know HTML coding or the ability to hire out for putting templates or emails together.
Most online businesses don’t need overly elaborate email designs. In fact, templates provided from email services are often optimized for getting the best results and mobile-readiness. With the ability to change colors, fonts and graphics, there is a lot of ability to leverage templates while still keeping it on-brand.
Reviewing what template designs look like can give you a feel for their design style(s). Some have designs that are older, some are more modern and some have a wide variety.
What is looks like
One difference between services are how they look and feel when using them. Some have builders that are more visual than others, which can be particularly helpful when you’re beginning to use automated email sequences. If you’re like me, visual style builder may be a selling point if you like to be able to visually see how the pieces of an email sequence connect to each other.
Price: short-term and long-term
If you’re just starting out, your budget is probably something that is a key consideration in your decision making. While you can switch email providers later, it is best to find one that you can grow with; adding features as your business grows. Switching your list from one provider to another nearly always creates a loss of reach. As you review pricing for where your business is now, also look at how costs and features change as your email list grows.
Landing pages are a necessary component for growing your email list. The ability to drive traffic from your blog, social media, a podcast, mailer, or event to a specific, easy-to-find page just for enrolling in your list is critical. While many email services include landing page builders, not all do. If your email service doesn’t include a landing page tool, then you’ll need to create it through your website or through a landing page specific tool; the most popular being Lead Pages. If you need another third party tool, that can increase your monthly cost and is one more thing to connect together.
Compatibility of other platforms (integrations)
Whichever email provider you select, you’ll want to be sure it plays nicely with the other technology you already use. This can help you measure your efforts and leverage automation to its fullest.
For example, connecting your email to your shopping cart can allow you to automatically trigger abandoned cart emails. Connecting your email to your payment tool can help you segment your audience by who has purchased and who hasn’t, allowing you to send different messages to each group.
What (nearly) every service provider includes:
Templates: easy-to-use pre-determined layouts saving you from having to design an email from scratch.
Forms: used for collecting email addresses, forms can be included on landing pages or added throughout your website.
Automation: the ability to send emails based on triggering events, like a follow-up email sequence after a form is completed.
Segmentation: the ability to send targeted messages to people on your list based on their actions.
A/B Testing, or Split Testing: the ability to test out subject lines by using two subject lines in an email to see what connects with your audience best.
Compliance Assistance: nearly all email providers include assistance in staying compliant as email marketing laws change, such as the new laws in Canada, California and European Union.
Resources: the depth of resources available to help you make the most of the program varies, but there are resources available from nearly all.
Ready to get started?
Start by creating a list of the current technology you have, including your website, online form builders, social media channels, customer relationship manager (CRM), online store and payment tools.
Pick a few solutions that are on your radar from the recommendations of others, or if you’re not sure you can review these popular services:
Compare the integrations to see what aligns best with your current tools.
Next, check the price tiers for the solutions that align with your current set of tools. You want something that can grow with you, but that doesn’t break the bank in the interim.
After you have a feel for which solutions may work best for you and your budget, check them out! Try a free trial. Check out their resources. Dig in and see if you like how they work and feel.
Most importantly, don’t get stuck in over-think mode that holds you back from taking action.
Once you’ve decided on an email service, it’s time to get a physical address. There are a few different options for this one. Personally, I prefer to not use my home address and have a small box at a local post office. It’s pretty inexpensive and does the job.
Third, you need a lead magnet. Remember we said a lead magnet is something of value to give in exchange for that email address. Popular lead magnets include:
- Downloadable checklists or templates
- Guide, like my marketing journey guide
- Resource list
Your lead magnet should align or compliment what your offer is. Personally, I like to think about what I need my audience to know or understand before they work with me. It’s a great time to reflect back on the questions you get asked all the time. If you really want to validate it before creating, you can come up with two or three ideas for a lead magnet and ask your audience what they would find most valuable.
The key to a good lead magnet is to give your audience a fast win or a quick transformation. Making it easily digestible and easy to take action on means those who download it will likely use it and get more from it.
Once you have your lead magnet decided on, it’s time to create it. I personally love Canva for anything that is a download. If it’s text heavy, I usually create the copy in Word and drop it into Canva, which is a free tool that makes designing SO easy! You can export it as a pdf and you’re ready to go!
You can then use your email service provider to create a landing page for your lead magnet. You can promote your landing page on your social channels, in your blog posts and in emails. You can even promote your lead magnet with pop-up boxes on your website. I would always feature it on the homepage and social channels. Without traffic to your landing page, no one’s going to know about it and your list won’t grow. So be sure to promote it! When it’s a valuable tool or resource, it’s so easy to promote.
Once you have these three things nailed down, it’s time to move into planning your email calendar. I like to send weekly emails to my subscribers, which I align with the release of each podcast episode letting them know what’s coming at them for the week. Gone are the days of formal email newsletters, and it doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective.
Emailing consistently will help your audience know what to expect from you. Use the emails to let them get to know you and your business better. Give behind the scenes insights or special offers exclusively for those on your email list. Let them know about upcoming Facebook lives you’re hosting or to ask questions and get insights to help you with your next offer.
Bottom line, email marketing will only help you create a better connection with your audience. Starting an email marketing strategy can feel daunting, but hopefully these tips will help you breeze through the process a little faster.
That’s all I’ve got for you today. I always love to hear what others use for lead magnets. Send me a DM on Instagram and let me know what you’re using!