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Reimagine End of Life Workshop 3: How Do I Grow My Email List? Building Your Online Community

reimagine Feb 24, 2021

Before we get started, we should begin by addressing the question, "Do I even need 
email marketing?" You may have signed up for this webinar because you understand the value of email marketing, or you may be questioning whether it’s worth your time.

Your time is, of course, your most valuable resource, so it is a fair question. Personally, I do believe that no matter the size of your business, email marketing can be an incredibly effective tool, and I’ll share a few reasons why I, along with our clients, have found it so valuable.

One of the most compelling reasons for implementing email marketing is because you “own” your list. You are likely on Facebook and Instagram, and both are great ways to connect with your audience. However, the downside of social media marketing, if you use it as a tool by itself, is that you do not “own” your list.

By this I mean, at any point your list could go away. Likely, it will not, but there is a level of insecurity there. If something happened and your account was hacked or closed down without your approval, you may not be able to retrieve your lists. This does not happen often, but it is a risk to be aware of.

Additionally, the parameters affecting who sees your messages when are not in your control unless you are paying for advertising. When Facebook moved away from organic posts to ramp up their paid advertising, I watched many clients lose their audience quickly. While before they had great engagement, now the number of eyes on their posts were greatly diminished. 

If you build your business solely around a social network, you are effectively building a house on someone else’s land. You do not own the platform, rather you are using someone else’s space and they can change the rules or the experience at any time. Again, social media is  good and helpful, but email marketing helps you move your audience from social media only over to email, where your list is yours.

My favorite reason to engage in email marketing is because it helps you nurture your audience, or your community. A good rule of thumb in marketing and communication is the 80/20 rule, nurture 80% of the time and “sell” 20% of the time.

If you’re not sure what I mean by “nurture,” it’s helpful to remember that each person on the other end of your screen is a person you are growing a relationship with. Just like our personal relationships, some will engage with us more frequently and at a deeper level, while some will remain in the background, but they are all important.

The goal of nurturing your audience is to provide value and build trust. You provide value by sharing your knowledge and unique offerings with them. This looks like helping build awareness for what the end of life experience can look it. It includes educating your audience about your work and the work of others alongside you. It looks like meeting your community where they are, listening to their needs and concerns, and sharing resources to provide guidance and support. 

From a business perspective, receiving a new contact's email address is essentially your first transaction. On average, email marketing campaigns generate about $38.00 for every dollar spent. That’s an incredible ROI, or return on investment.

While 80% of your email communications should be focused on nurturing, that does leave 20% for “selling.” And by selling, I do not always mean promoting a direct sale or transaction for your service. “Selling” sometimes will mean a smaller step like scheduling a consultation call to learn more about your work, forwarding a newsletter to someone in their life who may benefit from the information, or attending a free webinar where you continue to offer education. 

And last but not least, I would recommend adding email marketing to your overall marketing plan because it helps you create personalized, segmented messages for different audience members. With other forms of communication, you’re sharing the same message at the same time to all members of your community, regardless of their specific needs or circumstances.

With segmented email marketing, you can send specific messages to a segment of your audience. This means you can send the right message, at the right time, to the right people. Not only does this make your communication more efficient, but it also helps you build trust with your audience because you are providing laser-focused value and support in a way that helps them feel seen, understood, and cared for well.

For example, if you are a grief therapist you may want to segment your audience into those who are grieving more immediate losses, and those who are further out from the acute loss and learning to integrate their loss in their daily lives. The support and information they need is different, so you can tailor your messages to meeting your community where they are.

I wanted to talk for a moment about trust before we go any further. We all know what it feels like to get unwanted email. It feels terrible, irritating, and leaves us with a bad taste in our mouth for the company of individual who sent us something we didn’t want.

When you receive someone’s email address, they are trusting you with their inbox and they want to hear from you, but they want to feel cared for, understood, and like what you’re sending them is worth their time. 

You have information you know will be helpful, so make sure you are prioritizing that as you carry about your email marketing. Make sure what you’re sending is serving the recipient and respectful of their time.

 

If you’re getting started with email marketing, chances are you’ve considered MailChimp. It’s one of the most popular options on the market for small business email management, it’s fairly easy to use, and there is a free version available. 

If you’re dipping your toes in and do not anticipate growing your list quickly, this is likely a good fit for you. It is worth noting that MailChimp does not make as much financial sense as your list continues to grow, because the functionalities do not necessarily grow as the cost grows with your list count.

I will preface this next section by saying that I have strong opinions on email platforms, so I’ll just put that out there. ActiveCampaign is my hands down favorite.

If you are going to pay for an email service, even if your list is really small right now, I would suggest going with ActiveCampaign over Mailchimp. Even if you don’t need all of the functionality right now, you’ll be well set up for the next steps and you will not have to redo any of your foundational elements, tagging, etc for your list if you transfer later.

ActiveCampaign gives you an opportunity to build more custom, complex automations that help you connect with your list members in very personalized ways based not only on their basic information but also on their behavior and interaction with your communications. I have a helpful resource I’ll email out after this webinar that will walk you through how to best set up your account if you go this route.

 

When it comes to setting up your email platform, there are great tutorials online to help you walk through this in your platform of choice. 

The basic steps are easy, and if you get stuck along the way you can always do a quick search and most questions will be easily answered.

  1. First, create your account. You’ll need basic information here and a payment method.
  2. Second, import any contacts you currently have either in your gmail, in an old platform, or on paper lists you’ve collected from events and meetings.
  3. Third, create a branded template. This can be as simple as popping your logo into the top of the template and adjusting any colors. Unless you’re a professional designer, the simpler you keep it the better...but you do want to make sure it’s consistent with your visual brand.
  4. Fourth, before you send anything out, make sure you create a plan. You can start really simple and share a monthly newsletter that offers an educational component, shares any upcoming events or offerings you may have, and then closes with a call to action to schedule a consultation, for example. As you get comfortable, think about other ways you can add value in between these newsletters. Identify points where your audience may have questions or concerns, and add in communications at those point to serve as a support and a guide.
  5. And last, make sure you remember to measure and adjust based off what you learn. Keep an eye on open rates to learn what subjects resonate with your community, and keep an eye on which links are clicked to help inform what future content you share.

 

I know many of you are coming from different places today. Some of you may already have tools set up and working for you, while others may be started from scratch.

In order to make sure this section is helpful for everyone, I’m including three recommendation levels of starer, intermediate, advanced.

If you find yourself overwhelmed or confused at any point, I encourage you to stick with it and stay on until the end. At the end during our recap I will address overwhelm and give some practical tips for selecting your best next step without driving yourself crazy. 

 

The best way to get started is to add an email subscription opt-in on your website. You can do this two different ways, or you can combine both options.

The simplest solution is to add a short form in the footer of your website where people can add their email address and name if they would like to receive updates from you. It is important to not just say something generic like, “Join my newsletter list.” You have to address what they are going to get out of the exchange. A better approach is to say something like, “Join here to receive monthly grief education, support, and tools you can implement at home.”

You can also consider adding a pop-up subscribe window. Like most people, I have mixed feelings about this, but I did want to share it here because they are extremely effective. As long as you are waiting at least 10 seconds after the person lands on your site, and you are adding value, I think it’s worth trying out to see what kind of response you get. You can promote your lead magnet here, a free consultation offering, or keep it basic and use the same copy from your footer.

If you are already capturing email addresses on your home page and want to try something new, creating a content upgrade for an existing blog post is a good next step. If you are using an existing blog post, you’re already halfway there. If you have a bank of blog posts to choose from, make sure you select one of your most popular ones.

A content upgrade is something that you offer at the end of a blog post. If someone reads through your post, ideally they are motivated to take some sort of action at the end. It’s a great time to present a next step because they have just engaged with you and you have likely earned their trust. 

This could be as simple as offering a free consultation. If you have a blog post, for example, to explain each of your services, you can have a sign-up at the bottom for a free consultation. You can also use lead magnets as content upgrades, which we’ll talk about next.

Next let’s take a look at lead magnets. A lead magnet is an incentive, usually in the form of free downloadable content, offered to potential clients in exchange for their email address.

When executed well, lead magnets effectively generate leads, promote social media engagement, and increase website traffic. These are fantastic short-term benefits, but lead magnets can also bring long-term gains. With time and consistency, they can invite your audience into a long and committed relationship with you. They build brand affinity and trust, and position you as a credible authority, thought leader, and reliable resource.  

A lead magnet can come in many forms, but the simplest option is a checklist. This can be designed on most computers and Canva.com is a great resource if you need design support. If you have a blog post about how to manage grief during the holidays, for example, creating a checklist of basic recommendations from your post can be a great tool for people to print off and keep around their house as a reminder in the day to day.

Another option is to create a long form content PDF. This could be something like a short eBook, a longer educational article or a guide.

If you want to get a little fancy, you can also create a quiz as your lead magnet.  At some point, you have likely taken one of the quizzes circulating social media. And just to clarify, I’m not talking about one of the character quizzes or entertainment-only quizzes. I mean quizzes that feel more educational and like an assessment.

These work at capturing our attention because as humans, we are naturally curious. We love learning, and the more tailored the topic is to something we are interested in, the more effective. Make sure you’re speaking directly to the audience you want to connect with. So, if you’re an estate planning attorney, you could create an assessment that helps them gauge if they actually have the correct paperwork completed and a plan in place that addresses them as a person, not just a number.

Whenever you create a lead magnet, you’ll need to use your email platform to create a form that you add to your website to capture the email address. When someone fills out the form, they then receive an email with the PDF. Or, if you have created a quiz, they enter their email to get access to the full results and recommended next steps.

Once you have a growing list it’s important that you handle it with care. On the other end of those emails are human beings, and an opportunity for you to connect and serve.

First, deliver what you promised. So if your sign-up tells them that they will receive monthly emails with support tools, make sure you deliver consistently.

Second, create a welcome sequence. You will be adding new emails over time, and as those new people come on board they want to get to know you. Without a welcome sequence, you’re essentially dropping them into the middle of a community that’s been going for months or years. A welcome sequence is a series of emails - usually between 3-5 emails - that is dripped out over time.

So if I sign up for your mailing list today, for example, I should immediately receive whatever the lead magnet was, if there was one. Then, tomorrow, it would be nice to receive a welcome email that that introduces you, tells me a bit about your background and your work today. A few days later you could send me one of your most popular resources that I may have previously missed on social media or on your blog because I am newer to your community.

Third, make sure you share your ask. I know it can be hard to feel like you’re selling yourself,  and it’s something I have come up against myself. It doesn’t feel natural, but it is best to be straightforward. So for example, to close out your welcome sequence, you could send a personal invitation for a free consultation. Let them know what to expect in that first meeting. You are here, doing this work, because you have something to offer. When yout think about support and difference you know that you can make, it makes the asking and selling parts a bit easier.

And last, take time to create a communications plan. Again - this can be as simple as a monthly or quarterly email, but make a plan and stick as close to a consistent schedule as possible. This will keep you top of mind for your audience and continue to foster a relationship of value and trust over the months and years to come.

 

One of the common questions we get through our marketing agency is about deliverability. Our clients want to know what makes their email go to spam and how to ensure that what they send out gets in the inboxes of their intended audience.

While this is tricky to navigate and there are no guarantees, there are a few ways to increase your chances of good deliverability.

First, make sure you use the spam filter in your email platform. Inside ActiveCampaign, for example, when you are in the final window to send your email there is a note at the bottom that indicates if your email has “passed” the Spam inspection. The system knows what triggers to look for and will give you pointers if something throws a red flag. One example of a red flag may be using the word “free” too many times or using too many exclamation points.

After that, do what you can to increase your open rates. Each email you send is assigned an open rate, which is the percentage of emails that were opened out of all that were sent. The higher your open rate, the higher your reputation is with email clients. The higher your reputation is, the more emails you will likely have delivered. You can increase your open rates by experimenting with different subject lines over time to see what resonates best with your audience.

The best rule of thumb for deliverability is to make sure you’re sending quality content. 

A wanted to include a very quick note about GDPR, which stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It was put in place to make sure email address privacy is protected and to cut down on SPAM. You may hear about this when it comes to collecting email addresses, but the short answer is you don’t technically have to worry about it right now unless you are collecting international email addresses. If you are, there are many articles online that will help you make sure your email marketing is in compliance with GDPR. It will likely come to the US at some point, so it’s good to have on your radar, but not an immediate need. 

So...you can take a deep breath because we have reached the end! I know this can be overwhelming, so I wanted to take a moment before we wrap up to address that.

If this feels overwhelming, the important thing to remember is you do not need to do all of this at once, and you may not even need to do all of it - ever. The goal here was to show different options.

 

This is the last in a series of three marketing workshops hosted by Reimagine. We recommend you begin with this video and follow along in order.

  1. What is Your Story? Clarifying Your Brand Messaging
  2. Building Your Digital Home: Marketing Tools & Platforms for Getting Started
  3. How Do I Grow My Email List? Building Your Online Community