Survey Says: Email Marketing is Alive

email marketing is aliveYet another Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homepreneurs a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.

Today’s Q:

What can you share about your experience with email marketing? What has worked and hasn’t worked for your business? 

Tracy Roberts & Susanne Myers from Piggy Makes Bank say:

email marketing tipsemail marketing tipsWe both have a lot of experience in email marketing in various niches. It’s one of our favorite marketing methods and is, hands-down, the most profitable one.

What’s worked really well for us is to use a combination of great, usable content (shared freely) and marketing products that we know will work well for our readers.

We are very careful about what we promote to our lists. We are both pretty protective of our readers and only share things we’ve personally found helpful and think are a good fit or our audience.

As far as email marketing and our own eProducts go, our most successful products have come directly from reader input based on an email we sent and a question we asked.

Invite your readers to regularly to share what else they want to hear about and what problems they come across. Then share solutions with them.

For example, at PiggyMakesBank.com we often hear about a reader needing to raise a little extra cash to pay some unexpected bills, fund a business expense etc. We’ve both been there and have developed a great system for running successful fire sales. We’re currently turning our experience into an info product to share with our market.

Our best tip is to stay in touch with your readers regularly and make it a two-way conversation. Listen to what they have to say, pay attention to both what they want and what they need and then deliver – because as we always say, “An RSS feed is not enough.”

Tishia Lee from Tishia Saves Time says:

email marketing tipsEmail marketing hasn’t been one of my strong suits. I’ve been pretty hit or miss with it over the years. Thankfully, I’ve gotten a lot better about it the last several months. Before I started getting serious about it, it was normal for me to go months without mailing my list! But now that I have taken email marketing a lot more serious and realize the potential it has, I’m starting to mail on a regular basis and learn more about building a profitable mailing list.

So, even though my email marketing experience is fairly short and limited, I do know what is and isn’t working for me. What doesn’t work is not mailing your list on a regular basis. Back when I went months without mailing them, it impacted me in a few negative ways once I did decide to send out a mailing.  One, people forgot who I was (or didn’t remember signing up for my list). Two, because of what I just mentioned in number one, I had several people unsubscribe from my list. And three, I lost out on a lot of potential with my list – potential to build a better relationship with them and of course the potential to earn a profit.

And what I’m learning that works is making offers. I’ve never been great at selling and because it felt pushy to me. I think that’s why I wasn’t doing anything with email marketing in the past. But, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that over the last four to five months since I have started selling to my list, I’m earning a consistent affiliate income for one of the people I’m an affiliate for. While it’s not a large amount, it’s been consistent and definitely motivating me to do more with email marketing!

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says

email marketing tipsEmail marketing is said to be going away via text messaging. I don’t see this anywhere near true. While many of my followers open my emails via a mobile device, they still open my emails, and I’m not sure they would stay on my list if I sent them as many text messages as I do emails!

I know they open them because of my fancy pants software that says so, but more importantly, because they write back. I make sure that every email adds value to their life and their businesses, but I also share me.

What I mean is that when appropriate, I share tidbits of my own life. They know when I’m excited and they know when I’m down.  When I shared the news about my mother’s illness, more people than ever let me know they were praying for her.

Email marketing is a super important element to EVERY small business. To work well, it should add value and a touch of personality.

Alicia Jay from New VA Advice says:

email marketing tipsI wasn’t really sure about the whole email marketing thing when I started my business, but I always do some research. I found some really smart people telling me to jump on email marketing right from the get-go, even if I only had four people on my list and one of them was my mom.

When smart people talk who have been there and done that in their online businesses, I listen. When I started, I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to write to my audience. It definitely got easier over time and now it’s one of the things I most enjoy about my business.

Here are the biggest things that work for me when it comes to email marketing:

  • Talk directly to your audience as individuals. I use the word “you” often and picture that one ideal client when I’m writing. This has resulted in more people opening my emails and often replying back, even when I don’t ask them to.
  • Be yourself. It works best for me when I think of it as writing a letter to a friend. I’m not afraid to let my personality come out and share some personal things about myself. This has really helped people relate to me and build the whole know, like, trust factor.
  • It’s okay to sell and market your products and services in your emails, but be sure to provide your audience with great, free information as well. Most people expect that you’re going to try to sell them something at some point if they sign up for your list. But if you also provide them with great content that really helps them, they will see you as an expert, appreciate the help you offer and be more apt to buy when you do sell in an email.
  • Find a schedule for sending out your emails that works for you and stick to it. I don’t necessarily believe that you have to do what everyone else tells you and email every single day. But you do need to make a decision, let your audience know when they should expect to hear from you and then stick to that as much as possible. This will help them to trust you and they will look forward to your emails.
  • If you’re not sure what they want, ask them. When I get to the point where I’m kicking around a new product idea, I stop myself and do this really important step. I write up a quick email message asking my audience if it’s something they really want and exactly how I can help them with the problem. I usually make it super easy for them to answer me by including a short survey. This way, it takes them just a couple of seconds to respond and now I know that there is a need, ensuring that there will be buyers when I’m ready to sell.

Stephanie Watson from Barry Publishing says:

email marketing tipsI’ll admit that when it comes to email marketing at this point, I’m a dismal failure. I have lists, very small ones that I don’t spend time building, and that while they all have autoresponder series going to them for about 12 weeks, once that’s done, other than blog updates they get nothing from me. It’s sad because I know better.

I work for clients who have amazing lists and amazing results so I know exactly what to do to improve, but for me right now it’s not a priority even though it should be. I’ve spend the last two years redefining my business and that means redefining my email list marketing strategy too, and at this point I haven’t fully developed that. My poor excuse is that my clients come first, and anything that needs to be done for myself has to wait.

In the past I was much better at doing it before I became a service provider. Email marketing still works better than social media marketing, or really any type of marketing that exists. If you can build a targeted email list, even a small one, you can and will increase your income, exponentially. Even as small as my list is, if I remember to send them information about a new product or service I have tried, at least two or three will purchase from my recommendation.

Keep Building Your List

Who is on your list is more important than the size of your list. Keep building targeted subscribers. Grab their email addresses as often as you can from any page you can. Sign up customers automatically for your list, ask people to sign up for your newsletter, have a sign up form on lead pages even for those who do not buy. When you have their attention, get their information. You’re actually more likely to sell them something from email than you are the first time they visit your website anyway.

Segment Your List

It’s important try to keep, at the very least, buyers and potential buyers on separate lists. You have your newsletter, you have leads, and you have customers. Leads and customers need to be on separate lists and your newsletter should be directed to everyone but if set up right can move people to the right lists based on their behavior. Email autoresponder services like Aweber offer a lot of functionality when it comes to audience segmentation, learn to use it (or find an expert) so that you can market to each person better.

Communicate Regularly With All Lists

A huge mistake people make is having a fear of sending their lists information. I have taken on clients who haven’t emailed their lists in months because “every time I send something someone unsubscribes” but the point of the list is to build a relationship and encourage some kind of buying behavior. You actually want people to unsub if they’re not interested. This is how you qualify your buyers and keep a clean list. But, one of the main reasons people unsubscribe from lists like this is they simply forgot they signed up and think its spam when you finally do send them something. Try to some something once a week to your list subscribers so they remember you.

I need to take my own advice that I give clients, because I know it works. Email marketing is more important than ever and should most definitely be part of your online marketing arsenal. I honestly don’t think you can build a substantial passive income without a healthy email list and email marketing campaign.

Samantha Pointer-Foxx from Get It Together says:

email marketing tipsI have been doing email marketing in some form or another for about 6 years. I currently use Aweber to talk with my clients and potential clients. I like that I can set up autoresponders and basically keep in touch with my list quite often. I am still learning daily what works and what doesn’t when it comes to email marketing. One thing that does not work is not being consistent with touching base with your audience through email. Also learning that if they signed up to your list they are telling you that they want to hear from you. I struggled with that one for a while. I didn’t want to annoy people, but I’m not. They are waiting to hear what I say!

Helena Bowers from Your Message Amplified says:

email marketing tipsEmail marketing is my all-time favorite marketing method. I’ve been doing it since before there were autoresponders, and you had to run all your mails through your own Internet account. In all the years I’ve been doing internet marketing, the one thing I’ve never been without is a mailing list.

For my personality, I’ve found that the more formal newsletter style works best. I’m not a very spontaneous person, and I don’t really like to share a whole lot of details about my personal life, so having a format and set mailing days works well for me. Although I will admit, I’m building a new list right now and am adopting a more informal approach with this one just to see how it differs from creating a full-blown newsletter each week.

A couple of things I’ve learned along the way…

  1. Have a reliable mailing list provider. Sure you could use one of the do-it-yourself ones, but it’s safer and easier to have a provider that only focuses on email, has relationships with ISPs and knows how to get your emails accepted. I’ve always used Aweber for that very reason. They know what they’re doing, and do it well.
  2. Be consistent. Whether you adopt a formal or informal approach, you need to have some sort of schedule so that your people know when they will hear from you. You really do need to keep a top-of-mind awareness in your subscribers’ minds. There’s so much noise out there now, that if they don’t hear from you on a regular basis they will forget who you are and why they wanted to hear from you in the first place.
  3. Be yourself! People sign up for your list because they want what you’re offering and they want it from you.

One last thing…. Treat the people on your list like the treasures they are. Always remember they are a group of individuals, not one nameless, faceless list. Out of all the places they could get their information online, they chose YOU to keep them updated. That can be a heady feeling, but don’t let your ego get in the way. Honor and respect their choice, and work at building a relationship with each one.

Email marketing was the first thing I learned online, after learning to build web pages. And with all shiny new stuff out there to play with, it’s still the one “old-school” marketing tool I will never give up.

My insights

email marketing tipsThe big rumor around the web these days is that email marketing is dead. You’ll find people from both schools of thought, those who think it is because email tends to be cluttered and spammy and those who swear their success by it. I, for one, believe it happens to be alive and well. Why? Because I look forward to emails from certain brands and personalities. And, truth be told, many times I make purchases based on a marketing message I read in an email. Recently, I’ve decided to place a little more emphasis on learning more about email marketing. So, I asked the Sparkplugging advisory board to share their experience with this cost effective ‘mad’ tool with a return on investment of 4,300% and which propels 66% of consumers to make purchases online – statistics (along with other good ones) I read on the Hubspot blog.

Allow me to focus my insights on the list building aspect of email marketing, since I’ve been testing out some things. Based on my research, I began putting up some (annoying) popups on my most viewed pages (in an effort to grow my list). The word is that popups tend to do fairly well. I tested a a variety of plugins but most notably Optin Monster (paid) and SumoMe List Builder (free).

Here’s what I got. OptinMonster resulted in an increase of sign ups of 5.1% BUT only less than 1% confirmed their subscription. I tested out total of 5 different email addresses to explore this further. Out of the 5 email addresses I submitted in the sign up box, 4 ‘please confirm’ emails went straight to the junk folder. I take it that there is a high possibility that most people were not getting the confirmation emails, even though I gave them instructions to check their spam folders right after they signed up. If it’s a tech issue, then let’s just say it doesn’t work well for less than tech savvy people like me.

Sumome List Builder did nothing for me in the 6 days I had it live on my site. What I like about it is that it’s free, simple to use, and clean, although, not aesthetically inviting. I got no sign ups which according to JeffBulla’s Blog, it gets conversions of upwords of 4% to 5%. I might have to look into this further.

In general, the consensus amongst the Sparkplugging Advisory Board is that email marketing is not so dead after all. The problem is that many of us don’t take full advantage of it and don’t execute it properly. I am guilty of not being as consistent as I should, especially when it comes to promoting products.

As of now, I am having some success with it, although nowhere near my goal or significant enough to make note of. I’m sure a huge piece is establishing a consistent schedule and message that combines both relationship building and promotions.

I think, however, that nonstop daily promotional emails work for certain business models and target groups. Overall, I don’t see that for Sparkplugging. I like the idea of selling less but selling hard (when I do sell) – a philosophy I stole from Derek Halpern’s Social Triggers. I have a long way to go since I am still planning and organizing some things on the site but since things change so quickly in the internet marketing space, I might also change that thought. We’ll see how it goes.

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