Believe me when I say that you’re not the only small business owner that feels completely overwhelmed when it comes to thinking about how they might incorporate email into their marketing strategy. Since I launched Trigger Happy about a month ago, I’ve had the opportunity to talk shop with quite a few small business owners and I was surprised to learn that almost all of them had one thing in common:
Email Marketing intimidated the hell out of them.
They were so intimidated by the idea of using email to market their business that they often ended up avoiding it altogether and resorting to social media marketing instead. If this sounds like you, be sure to check out my post about Why Email Marketing Trumps Social Media When It Comes to Marketing Your Small Business.
So, after chatting with each of these small business owners, I left each of them with one piece of advice that I’m hoping will help you as well:
Start small. But most importantly, start.
Getting started is often the hardest part, with anything! But here are 4 easy steps you can take to start leveraging the power of email to grow your business.
1. Sign up for an Email Marketing Software Program.
Before you start collecting email addresses (oops, step #2 spoiler alert!), you’ll need a software program to help you a) store these email addresses and b) send pretty emails to them when you're ready.
There are many great email marketing software programs out there including MailChimp, ConvertKit and Constant Contact to name a few. I personally use MailChimp for my own email marketing and I also recommend that my clients do the same. It’s very easy to use, allows you to collect up to 2,000 email addresses for free and the paid plans let you do some pretty bad ass stuff like automate your emails, AB test to continuously improve their performance of your emails, segment your lists for more targeted and relevant messages and more.
So what are you waiting for? Get yourself a MailChimp account (or some other email software program) and let's get to work.
2. Start collecting email addresses.
If you haven’t already started collecting email addresses from your audience, now's the time to start.
Whether you’re strictly an online business or you own a physical store, find a way to start collecting email addresses from your audience as soon as possible. You can do this with a simple newsletter sign up form on your website (I can help you with this) or by simply asking your customers during checkout if they’d like to sign up for your newsletter and begin collecting this information in your MailChimp account.
You may have thought that you shouldn’t start collecting emails until you’re ready to actually start sending them emails, but that's not true. While engaging with your subscriber list on a regular base is definitely the end goal, it doesn’t need to happen simultaneously with starting to build a list. First start by building a list, and when you're ready to start engaging with them, they'll be excited to hear from you. Remember, it's all about taking baby steps.
3. Welcome each of your new subscribers.
A person’s inbox is a pretty special place. Most are quite protective of it and are very selective when choosing who they allow inside and who they don’t. If someone signs up for your newsletter, you’ll want to get the relationship off to a good start by sending them a friendly message to say hello and address these 3 very important things:
- How thankful you are for them placing an interest in what you have to offer.
- That you promise to respect their very special inbox and only send them things of true value.
- Let them know what to expect now that they've signed up for your newsletter (ie. how often they'll hear from you, the type of content you'll be sharing, any exclusive offerings for your subscribers, etc.)
Yes, welcoming each and every one of your subscribers will become a lot of work as your list grows, so you'll want to eventually automate this message. But I’ll be honest, when I first launched my business it took me a few weeks to upgrade my MailChimp account so I couldn't take advantage of their automation feature right off the bat. Instead of waiting until I upgraded my plan, I started by welcoming each and every one of my subscribers by manually sending them an email as they signed up. So, for those of you rockin’ out a free MailChimp account, you can do this too! And when you’re ready, turn this puppy on autopilot so you can focus on building out some newsletters beyond the initial welcome email. Which brings me to my next point…
4. Commit to a monthly newsletter.
When someone signs up for your newsletter it’s because they know that you have shit to say and they don't want to miss it. So don’t let them down by going dark after that initial welcome email. Start small by committing to sending out a newsletter at a cadence that you can be consistent with.
For example, maybe you only start by sending one newsletter a month and that’s totally OK! Then once you feel the urge to engage with your list more than once a month then perhaps you can try a bi-weekly newsletter. Just take things slow at the beginning and believe me, you’ll get the hang of this email marketing thing in no time.
And one last thing: While consistency is important, don’t just send a newsletter to say that you sent one. Make sure that every newsletter you send is packed full of value for your reader. Keep a close eye on your email engagement metrics (open rate, click-through rate and unsubscribe rate) to gauge whether or not your subscribers are diggin' your stuff.
Now, as always, I know that sometimes this stuff is easier said than done. So if you need a hand getting started or have any questions along the way, feel free to shoot me a note at email@example.com and I'll do my best to point you in the right direction.
Good luck! You got this.