The latest research is in! And email marketing still brings in $38 for every $1 spent.
When you consider that social media hasn’t been very kind to small business owners as of late. And SEO is taking more and more effort. Email marketing is the best bet for generating more sales in your business.
So why isn’t everyone scrambling to get their emails written?
We wondered the same thing. And launched an investigative program to find the answers.
For years, we assumed “lack of time” was the culprit. But while “time” is always a concern for business owners, it wasn’t the primary issue. Rather:
- A lack of positive feedback
- Fear of opt-outs &
- No one to validate their ideas
topped our chart.
As it turns out…email marketing makes us vulnerable. (And yes, we’re including ourselves in that statement.)
After sending your email, you can’t help but wonder:
- What if my expertise is called into question?
- Does anyone really care about my personal experiences or does sharing only annoy them?
- Am I even welcome in my contact’s inbox?
- Is my message worth reading?
- If my call to action is too strong, will they think I’m just a sleazy salesperson?
If your efforts aren’t met with immediate results, you might assume no cares. Or your email ability has failed you. And ultimately, you stop sending emails.
A few weeks or months down the road, someone mentions the importance of email marketing. And you’re right back at it. This time, feeling guilty because you haven’t been consistent.
Nothing has changed since last time. You still don’t want to write emails. Perhaps you feel even more vulnerable than before. But you tell yourself that if you “just make yourself sit down and do it,” you’ll get those emails cranked out. And it will all be worth it!
Hmmm. What if it’s not a willpower issue?
What if you can’t write emails (or you hate writing emails) because you’re missing critical elements to make it happen?
And without those critical elements, the end result is that you, once again, stop trying.
That is…until you finally realize there are things you can do to make email marketing easier and much more enjoyable. Starting with:
Knowing What to Write About
Everyone in the marketing world talks about “Knowing Your Target Market”. Yet only a small percentage of business owners have ever done the research.
Most have a decent understanding of who their ideal prospect is. Or, they’ve worked with enough clients to recognize similar characteristics in the people they’re attracting.
Beyond that, they’re lost. They don’t definitively know what content they should be sending. At best, they’re making assumptions about what their community would like to receive.
And herein is the conflict.
As a business owner, you need incredible emails that keep your communities engaged and lead to additional sales. But you don’t know what those emails are supposed to look or sound like.
That’s a lot of inexplicable pressure. Even the best copywriter in the world couldn’t write the perfect email. Not without some direction.
The best way to know what your prospects and customers want from you is to ask. However, they don’t always tell. Maybe, if you incentivize them, you’ll get a few responses. But it’s not uncommon for a community to ignore your question.
And, some business owners don’t have time to sort through the answers even if they ask the question.
Here are some ways to determine what content works best:
Check out your competitors. Like you, they are frantically scrambling to find the right message. If you see them sending the same content over and over, you can guess they’ve found something that resonates.
Make a list of the questions your contacts actually ask. Not the infamous FAQs (because, let’s face it, we make up the FAQs on our websites). But really pay attention to how often you’re being asked the same questions.
Share information they need to know. But make sure you identify this as “stuff you didn’t ask for – but I’m looking out for you and you need to know this.” Your contacts will appreciate your concern on their behalf and they may actually absorb the content you’ve sent them.
Take note of the emails you receive “reply”s to. If a contact is taking the time to reply to your email, then whatever you said triggered them. If you receive several replies, then you know it’s a topic that really matters to your community.
Finally, test out all kinds of topics. And all kinds of formats. Until you find the right words and structure to get your community to take action. This, of course, requires you pay attention to open rates, click rates, responses, and sales that roll in following the emails you send.
Ultimately, the more you email, the more your community will let you know what they want. And once you know that, well, everything gets a whole lot easier.
However, until your community starts responding to you, you might consider…
And to guarantee your content is solid…
Finding an Email Marketing Buddy
Having a buddy, even for a short time, is the best way to remove email marketing anxiety. (And it does go away after you’ve had lots of practice.)
“Email sending anxiety is a very real issue, and, in fact, sending emails is considered one of the most common triggers for those suffering from social anxiety and productivity-related anxiety. The main reason behind email sending anxiety is the fact that there’s a pause between sending an email and receiving a response. That pause leads the sender to question themselves, their email, the content within it, the response to come–everything.”
As small business owners, we’re trying to send emails on a large scale. Knowing we may get little to no response from our emails. No wonder it’s so terrifying.
But an email marketing buddy can provide the validation you need before you send your content.
Imagine knowing your community will appreciate your message before you hit that “send” button. Would you hesitate if you knew the response was going to be awesome?
So who should your buddy be?
You have a couple of options:
1 – You could choose someone from your target market. This is the obvious choice, because if they like your content, you can bet others will like it, too. However, they can offer very few suggestions beyond “I like it” or “I don’t”.
2 – You could choose a marketing coach. Someone who is constantly looking for new, fresh ways to keep contacts engaged. A mentor, of sorts. But…most marketing coaches are not writers. If they don’t like your content, or the way you’ve written it, they may not be able to help you fix it.
3 – You could choose a copywriter. Copywriters do a great job of getting into the mindsets of the target market. And they usually cover a wide range of industries. Of course, copywriters tend to burn out quickly, and they may not be super excited about taking a look at your content. Especially if they’re not getting paid.
4 – You could choose a small business owner from a similar industry. Not someone you’re in direct competition with, but someone who complements your offering. They would have a decent understanding of your target market, and you could help each other to get your content created. But you’re counting on your existing marketing skill levels to make decisions.
There are pros and cons to almost anyone you choose. Choose someone anyway. If you’re not getting the feedback from them that you need, simply choose someone else. And try again until you’ve found your feedback friend.
Whoever you choose, make sure they support you emotionally and push you to get that content out – even when it’s uncomfortable to do so.
Before you know it, you’ll be confident enough to send your emails on your own.
Recently, a lawyer reached out to us for help. She needed to get (and stay) connected with her list. But the fear of opt-outs prevented her from sending any messages. After several minutes convincing her that opt-outs were often a good thing, she sent the first email she had drafted in a very long time.
A few days later, this was the message she sent us:
“YOU WERE RIGHT!
I had the most AMAZING responses from that cool attorney email.
Four client appointments for the 15-minute call scheduled.
One realtor that is saving the information to share with referrals.
Three reconnection requests from dormant referral sources.
Lots of general praise from business owners.
Comment from a prospective client who agreed that meeting with me was “Cool.”
And even praise from other marketing people I respect!
Just blew my mind.
Who cares if I get some unsubscribes if I get this positive reaction. Make room for the real tribe, right?”
Email buddies are a fantastic way to get past our fears and write messages that matter.
One word of caution: listen carefully to their feedback. If your buddy doesn’t like your message, or they’re bored, or they’re confused…don’t excuse it away. You asked for their feedback because you need it. Consider carefully everything they say.
And again, it won’t be long before you won’t need a buddy at all. Which leads us to our next tip.
Staying Focused on the Relationship
We don’t read emails to consume information. If we want information, we Google it. We read emails because we “get” this person. We want that relationship with the person and to be part of their in-group.
The information you send is simply a bonus to what your contacts really want.
They want someone they feel connected with. Someone who makes them laugh, or smile. Someone who calms their fears. And someone who is…dare we say it…entertaining.
At Ready To Go Copy, we follow a very important rule:
Do Not Send dreary emails
Especially now, when the stress of pandemics, politics, and general upheaval is running rampant. Your emails should be a source of happiness.
Not that your messages can’t carry a serious tone. Or that everything you write should be pleasing to your reader. But their time is limited. Respect that time-limit with the same kind of approach one friend would use with another.
Give yourself permission to relax and have fun. You’re building relationships.
If that idea overwhelms you, here are some suggestions for keeping your emails light and engaging.
Use More Visuals
- People are 40X more likely to share your content when it includes visuals
- Retention goes up by 65% when you include visuals
- Some companies have seen as much as a 100% higher conversion rate when they use memes and gifs
Reference Pop Culture of Other High Interest Content
You don’t have to overdo this one. You don’t have to drown your contacts with entertainment. A little bit goes a long way.
The email Heidi (our testimonial from above) sent her list went a little something like this:
In the movie Mean Girls (and don’t ask me how I know this), Amy Poehler’s character says, “I’m not like a regular mom. I’m a cool mom.”
<She included a meme from the movie here>
Is it too cliche if I say the same thing?
I’m not like a regular attorney. I’m a cool attorney.
But I suppose you want proof, right?
Okay here goes…
And from there on out, the email covered only serious content. But, by then, readers were already hooked.
Anytime we share common experiences (ie pop culture memories) we create instant connections.
Get More Vulnerable
Emails were designed for interpersonal communication. It is we that turned them into cold, business content. Wouldn’t you much rather get an email from a friend than from someone trying to sell you something?
Here’s what a lot of people don’t realize – being closed off turns people off. If you want your contacts to ignore your emails, then be a fortress who never opens up.
Think of all the reality shows you know. The winner is the one with the personality, the shared stories, the human interest stuff. Nightbirde from America’s Got Talent shared about her cancer struggle. Sean Lowe from the Bachelor shared about his religion of all things. And people loved them for it.
My favorite example is and probably always will be Crocodile Hunter Steve Erwin. When I was a teenager, my family watched Crocodile Hunter. Not because we like crocodiles or snakes (eww…you know?) but because Steve Erwin was passionate and real. And it was absolutely hypnotic.
If people get to know you, they stick with you.
- Brands that tell their story well can increase the value of their product or service by over 20 times
- What are you going to remember from this post? Not the stats we shared but the stories you read. Heidi’s story. The Steve Erwin memories.
Overall, you need to focus on the relationships you’re trying to build. If you genuinely want a connection, then the content tends to fall into place on it’s own.
Ultimately, you have to have fun. Or you’re not going to be doing this for long. Something else will take your attention and that will be the end of it.
Keep practicing until it becomes easy and enjoyable. Your bottom line is going to thank you.