What is email marketing and why should I be using it?

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is the process of sending marketing emails to the people who have shown an interest in your products or services. The goal of email marketing is to deliver a series of emails that will persuade your audience to take a particular action, such as purchasing a product, signing up for a newsletter, or clicking on a link.

If you’re a service-based solopreneur and not using email marketing in your business, then you’re probably missing out on an opportunity to produce more income in your business.

Sending email campaigns is a great way to nurture a list of potential customers. You can tailor them to the interests of your current and future customers.

What do you need to start email marketing?

There are 5 basic elements to an effective email marketing system, let’s take a look at each one;

1. Email Marketing Platform

An email marketing platform (also known as an email service provider) will pretty much take care of everything for you, once it’s set up and configured to your particular needs.

Examples of email marketing platforms include Mailchimp, Aweber, Active Campaign, Keap, Constant Contact, and my personal recommendation for service-based solopreneurs, ConvertKit.

There are dozens (if not hundreds!) of options to choose from, and ultimately only you can decide which is the right one for your needs. 

The core of every email marketing platform is the email ‘list’, a term you’ll hear being mentioned repeatedly as it’s the single most important feature of your email marketing system.

2. Lead Magnets

In order to attract leads into your business, people who match your ideal client profile, you’ll need to have ‘lead magnets’. I guess the name says it all, but these are what attract leads to your email list.

A great lead magnet is something that provides the recipient (lead) with genuine value, to the point they’re prepared to give you their email address in return for your lead magnet.

So, you might be wondering… “What could I give away as a lead magnet?”, and if so, great – you’re thinking exactly as you should be! Put yourself in your client’s shoes for a moment and ask yourself what’s my biggest challenge right now in my business (or ‘life’ if you run a B2C business)?.

The answer to that question will give you your first lead magnet idea. How you deliver that lead magnet is entirely up to you. It could be via a downloadable PDF document (most popular), a video for them to watch, an audio file to listen to, or even a one to one call with you.

Whatever it is, and however you deliver it, make sure you’re giving true value to the recipient. I see too many people fall into the trap of creating a lead magnet without much thought or effort and it normally results in the lead leaving with a sense of being underwhelmed. And they don’t usually return.

So, I’ll say it one final time… make sure you create something of true value! Once you’ve created it, look at it and ask yourself if you’d be wowed if you received it. If the answer is yes, then job done – you can beat your chest with pride!

3. Landing Pages

Once you have your lead magnet created, you’ll need a ‘meeting place’ where you can perform the ‘value exchange’ process; i.e. you give away your lead magnet, and the lead gives you their email address. The most common place for this to happen is on a ‘landing page’.

A landing page is essentially a web page with a single purpose and little or no other distractions. In other words, just get the job done – make it easy for your lead to submit their details and even easier for them to get your lead magnet.

Typically, landing pages are hosted by your email marketing platform, however, they can also reside on your own website if you prefer. The challenge you can have with having it on your website is the other ‘shiny pennies’ that could distract the lead. They might end up reading a blog post or your ‘About’ section or even be further distracted by clicking away via a social media link.

You’ll undoubtedly have used a landing page before, you know the page that simply has the offer, and a little form to complete (name + email), and then click ‘Submit’. That’s a landing page. By the way, the little form on the landing page is also known as a ‘lead capture form’ and is a standalone artefact in its own right (these can be embedded on your website, but let’s not digress too much – that’s a bit more advanced and not needed for now).

4. Email Broadcasts

An email broadcast is exactly what it sounds like, an email sent out to your list (or a segment of your list) of email addresses at the same time (i.e. all at once). You can use an email broadcast to promote a specific piece of content that you know your audience will be interested in. For example, if you have an upcoming 1-hour webinar, then you might use an email broadcast to promote the webinar a couple of hours before it’s scheduled to begin.

Email broadcasts can be thought of as ‘of the moment’ emails, where timing is relevant and probably wouldn’t be practical to ever reuse that particular email. A common example of broadcasts is newsletters.

These are emails that are typically sent out to your list on a weekly or monthly basis. You’ll find the content of the email is similar each time, and the purpose of the email is to keep your audience up to date with what’s happening in your business and maybe to highlight a specific piece of content you know your audience will be interested in. 

5. Email Sequences

So, you’ve got your landing page and your email broadcast, now it’s time to start creating some ‘email sequences’. An email sequence is a group of emails that are sent out at different times throughout the week or month. 

You can create an email sequence with a single purpose, such as to build your list, or you can create an email sequence with multiple purposes, such as to build your list and then upsell a specific piece of content. The key to an email sequence is that you should be able to reuse the sequence and send it out again and again to different people on your list, depending on when they join.

The way I like to use email sequences in my business is to support my leads who have just requested one of my lead magnets. Let’s say someone downloads my “The Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing” PDF; as soon as they do so, my email marketing platform (ConvertKit) adds them to a sequence that is relevant to that particular lead magnet and drip-feeds a series of emails over the coming days or weeks.

Example Sequence (the day: the email: the rough content)

  • Day 0: The lead requests my lead magnet (the Guide)
  • Day 0: Email 1: ConvertKit accepts their email details and sends them the Guide.
  • Day 1: Email 2: Welcome to my world, I hope you’re getting value from the Guide.
  • Day 3: Email 3: Here’s some further information about email marketing platforms options
  • Day 5: Email 4: Here’s some further information about lead magnets.
  • Day 8: Email 5: Here’s some further information about landing pages.
  • Day 10: Email 6: Here’s some further information about email broadcasts.
  • Day 12: Email 7: Here’s some further information about email sequences.
  • Day 15: Email 8: Here’s some further information about list segmentation.
  • Day 17: Email 9: Here’s some further information about automation.
  • Day 20: Email 10: Here’s some information about my digital course that you might like.
Example Email Sequence 1
An example email sequence that is drip-fed to your email subscribers.

Why you should definitely be using email marketing your business.

It’s a widely accepted fact that email marketing presents a return on investment to match or surpass any other channel. During a 2020 survey carried out among marketers worldwide, it was determined that for every $1 invested in email marketing, brands earned on average, $42. Among the presented industries, the return was highest in the retail, eCommerce, and consumer goods sector, with $45 per one dollar spent. (data source: statista.com)

This ratio of approximately 40:1 stands across all most businesses and solopreneurs are no different. So, if you aren’t yet using it, it’s time to get started!

So, that’s pretty much all you need to know to get going with your own email marketing system.

To get started today, here’s a list of recommended actions:

  1. Get a free 14-day trial of ConvertKit (premium plans start at $9/m if you decide to stay)
  2. Design and create your first lead magnet.
  3. Build your first landing page in ConvertKit.
  4. Write your first sequence of emails to support your lead magnet.

If you do these, you’ll be in good shape.

Good luck and let me know how you get on – in fact, send me a link to your landing page so that I can subscribe to your list!