Jeremy Gray – The Geriatric Entrepreneur
IBGR. Network. The World of Business at Your Fingertips
Is retirement not for you? Me neither! I have always known that retirement did not hold any attraction for me. Those financial product advertisement promising early retirement never resonated.
In season 10 we will look at how to launch your second career, in a time of raising interest rates and a falling stock market. I invite you to join me, as I build my business plan to escape the tyranny of the clock which limits my earnings to the hours I work. Over the next five years I plan to build an income portfolio that will support my family into the future. Please join me as I plan that journey.
Episode 5 What is e-mail marketing?
E-mail marketing was the earliest form of electronic marketing, introduced long before the days of social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc. Although some pundits are predicting the end of e-mail marketing it is still as relevant today as it ever was. Over the next four episodes I will cover:
The first ever e-mail was sent by Ray Tomlinson in 1971. The content of that email was entirely forgettable, even to Ray Tomlinson himself. He says it mostly likely was the top line of his Qwerty Keyboard. Contrast that with Samuel Morse’s first telegram delivered in 1884 which read “What hath God wrought” Samuel Morse knew he was making history. Mr. Tomlison was experimenting and as the first email was sent between two computers sat next to each other, the content was not that critical. But it was a historic first, nevertheless. Fun fact, as well as sending the first ever email Ray Tomlinson was the person who chose the “at” symbol to be part of an email address.
The use of email as part of a marketing campaign is usually credit to Gary Thuerk who sent 400 emails via Arpnet, a precursor to today’s internet. He was promoting machines produced by the Digital Equipment Corporation. The results of this effort were remarkable; it is estimated that the sales achieved from Mr. Thuerk’s email blast were $13 million. Email marketing had been launch and was here to stay. For his efforts Mr. Thuerk has been recognizes by the Guiness Book of Records as the father of spam.
However, the word spam meaning what we now call junk emails was not added to the Oxford English dictionary until 1988.
The growth of email providers in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s created new opportunities for marketers to deliver mass communication. The introduction of AOL email and services such as Hotmail provide individuals to have their own personal email addresses. This opened up a huge potential audience for email marketing. Of course, you can have too much of a good thing and in 2003 the United States introduced the Can-Spam law which set standards for commercial emails and the requirement to include an unsubscribe link in every message. Most countries have followed suit with their own anti-spam laws.
Today even small companies can access automation systems to enable targeted communication. However, it is critical that you focus on quality of your communication rather than quantity so the email is relevant and personal to the recipient.
Email marketing is when businesses use email to promote their product or service. It is a type of direct marketing, which means the company communicates with the consumer without the help of an intermediary.
Email can be used to build relationships with leads, convert prospects, and ensure existing customers have a great experience. Here are some examples of email marketing and different types of emails that you will recognize from your inbox.
Welcome email series: When a customer first interacts with a company, the business will typically send an automated series of emails explaining more about the organization and its product. For example, a tech company that offers a free software trial will send informational links to help the customer get maximum value from the tool. Towards the end of the trial, they may send emails focused on converting the person into a paid customer. These emails are highly targeted based on the offer the customer interacted with.
Email newsletters: Newsletters are general emails sent out on a regular basis. They will typically contain company updates and links to blog content or other material the recipient may find interesting. Newsletters are a low-cost way to stay in contact with many people. When a customer interacts with something in one of these emails; for example, if they download an eBook, the business can put them onto a more targeted email sequence.
Email reminders: Businesses send email reminders to customers who haven’t finished a task they started. If someone looked at a product on an eCommerce store but didn’t buy, the store can send an email reminding them to complete the transaction.
Transactional emails such as post-purchase emails: When a customer makes a purchase, businesses often send a series of emails telling them more about the product. Post-purchase emails are essential for increasing customer loyalty, for example, if your product is subscription-based as they increase the likeliness that the customer will find value in the service and keep paying. Post-purchase emails can also be used to upsell other or new products or run referral campaigns.
Nurture emails: Nurture emails provide prospects with targeted content based on the problems they are trying to solve. This could be links to blog posts, whitepapers, or video guides. The aim of these emails is to provide the prospect with useful information that keeps your company front-of-mind and ultimately turns the prospect into a new customer.
Cold emails: Businesses sometimes send cold emails to people they haven’t previously interacted with. These messages are typically the least effective form of email marketing. However, they may work in some types of B2B sales when they are highly targeted and sent from a personal account.
Promotional emails: Email marketers can use promotional emails to inform existing or potential customers about special offers, seasonal deals, or other sales promotions.
And do not forget that emails can be so much more than text. Including a video in an email can be very powerful. Videos can dramatically increase click-through rate (CTR).
For example, B2B software company Igloo Software decided to show off their workplace culture by creating 200 videos in three months for future email content. This approach doubled their CTR.
Episode 6 Make email the backbone of your marketing – maintain control.
Sahil Lavingia in his book “The Minimalist Entrepreneur – How Great Founders do more with less”
Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook can take away your business at any time by changing the algorithms, shutting down your account, or making you pay to turn up. Social media is a great place to gain distribution but you are building on rented land. Once you have social media followers, start building an email list.
Email is a peer-to-peer network giving you a direct line to your customers. This is not controlled by anyone but yourself, not at the mercy of an algorithm or whether you spend money. The author’s position is that when someone gives you their e-mail address they are your friend, not a stranger. But it is very easy to lose that friendship. You would not spam your friends so you should not spam these contacts either. I have had some bad experiences recently. Look I get it, a business owner has spent time to develop a piece of useful content, or to produce a YouTube video. If I want more, then I buy the additional information such as an e-book, with my email address. And I know I will get some follow up e-mails and if they are not to frequent and add to my knowledge, provide inspiration, or entertain me that is fair enough. But sometimes I find I have opened myself up to a barrage of emails that are thinly disguised sales pitches. That’s not what I signed up for. I unsubscribe and no longer consider the sender my friend. Just as described in Season 8 episode 41, for any type of content you produce, ensure your emails first educate, second inspire and finally entertain. And only send out an email when you have something useful to say.
At first you should be able manage your email list manually but later you will want to automate the process. An email marketing service like Mailchimp or ConvertKit will help you gather the email addresses from your growing number of fans. And by all means give something in return, a PDF guide, a video, a short book, to solidify the relationship. But then be considerate in your follow up and you will build a loyal following.
Remember consistency is important, if you have a newsletter send it out at the same time every week, or every month. The frequency should match the time you need to prepare relevant content. There is no need to post four times a week, if monthly is more appropriate to your business and your ability to deliver. When to send it out? There are many folks out there who claim to know the best time to send out a post on various social media. I Googled best time to send out an Instagram post and the first return was from Sproutsocial who advised
The advantages of email marketing?
First, email marketing is cost effective. Email platforms are often free or priced very affordably.
Second, email marketing campaigns are very easy to implement. With the help of email automation tools, you can run email campaigns 24/7 without your direct involvement. Just do the initial setup, and everything pretty much runs by itself from there.
Lastly, it’s highly profitable. Email marketing continually delivers substantial investment returns, as you’ll find out in the later sections of this guide. It’s a tried and tested business investment that brings amazing results.
4 reasons email marketing is crucial to your small business content strategy
Email marketing can take your company’s content strategies to the next level. By adding email marketing to the mix, you can connect with your audience directly through their inbox. Remember people maybe too busy to check their social media but they will almost certainly check their email regularly.
Below are some of the reasons you need to integrate email marketing to your content strategy.
1. Emails generate better results than most marketing channels
Among marketing channels, email marketing yields the highest return on investment (ROI) for the past 10 years. Ascent a service offered by The Motley fool claims that it also has the highest conversion rate (66%) for purchases made in response to promotional messages.
For every dollar spent on email marketing, you can earn up to $44, with almost 4.3% of shoppers buying from these campaigns. Plus, compared with social media, email is deemed 40 times more effective in acquiring new customers. You’re also more likely to get click-throughs from email marketing than tweets.
Get better results out of your email marketing campaigns by using these tips.
Use email marketing software with performance optimization and analytics features. This allows you to make data-backed adjustments to your campaigns.
Track your key performance metrics regularly. Experiment with tactics to see which ones work, and continually improve them.
2. Emails help with customer engagement and retention
Connect with your customers by collecting their emails and getting their consent to include them in your email advertising campaigns. Promotional emails are perfect avenues for educating your audience and presenting your offers without being too pushy or intrusive.
Remember these tips when reaching out to your customers using email marketing.
Your email marketing content needs to pack a punch. It needs to be value-laden if you want to retain your customers. You can share tips and tricks, how your product solves their problems, its features and best uses, etc.
Send email content with interactive formats, and diversify. Insert videos, infographics, GIFs, and different newsletter layouts, for example.
Keep your subject lines concise and straightforward. Be direct or ask questions that rouse their curiosity. This will increase open rates.
3. Emails encourage your audience to take action
Use marketing emails to influence your audience to take action on your offers. Let’s say you sent an email with a video tutorial of your product kit. At the bottom of your email, tell your subscribers to click the “Buy Now” button to purchase your product.
You can even sweeten the deal by offering a massive discount to whoever clicks your call-to-action (CTA) button and makes the purchase on the same day.
Apply these email marketing strategies to make your email messages more compelling.
Make your CTA buttons stand out with contrasting or bright colors. Keep your text short and actionable as well.
Ensure your CTA buttons lead to a landing page, rather than your homepage.
Perform split tests to determine which email versions bring better conversions, click-throughs, opens, and other desired actions.
Add CTA buttons so it’s easier for your subscribers to take action on your offers.
4. Emails improve brand awareness
Use emails to improve your customers’ understanding of your brand. By talking about your values, mission, products and services, etc., your audience will have a better grasp of what you are about. As your clients’ brand awareness grows, it’s easier for them to advocate your company since they understand you better.
Improve your brand awareness by considering these tips when sending emails.
Episode 7 Email Marketing – The How Part One
If you are transitioning from a corporate career to being a solo consultant, coach or content provider a major challenge you will face is that you will need to learn skills that in the past you relied on others in your organization to provide. Yes you could pay folks to do this work for you but our objective is to build your business at the lowest cost possible. And at the outset it is unlikely that you will be so busy that you do not have the time to do this yourself. So let’s not spend those dwindling retirement savings on others, our objective is to increase your savings or at least not deplete them.
Over the next few weeks I will share with you the how to ideas I have found searching the internet on various topics – this week its email marketing. Over the following week I follow the advice I have shared with you and report what has worked and not worked for me. Plus how hard it has been to implement the ideas. You can also follow my progress or lack of it on my companion website – The Geriatric Entrepreneur.
So let’s get started. you understand the importance of email marketing, perhaps you already have a mailing list but no one is signing up. You feel like the exhibitor at a major trade show who has no visitors to their booth.
Do not despair, maybe we can fix the problem with the ideas I will share in the next two episodes.
Building an email list can be challenging. Set yourself modest targets say attracting your first 50 subscribers and celebrate that in a way that means something to you. Experts will say to build a sustainable business you will need many more but even businesses that have tens of thousands of followers had to start somewhere. Remember the Chinese proverb a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. So celebrate that first subscriber with the treat of your choice.
I believe it is essential to have a website if you plan on building up a mailing list. Personally I have used WordPress to build my websites. Having a website with an audience gives you a serious edge if you’re growing your email list. But how do you get people to sign up? In the next two episodes, I’ll share some tips I have found while researching how to start building my own email list. These will include ideas converting site visitors into email subscribers and how to measure your progress to ensure you’re hitting all the right goals. Of course, getting visitors to you website is another challenge, which I will cover in a later show.
While your website is an essential marketing channel, email marketing can be a useful channel to add. It helps you stay connected to your audience and provides personalized content that delights and benefits your readers. And the stats don’t lie when it comes to email’s popularity with creators: a staggering 16 billion emails were sent with ConvertKit, a marketing hub for creators in 2021. Incidentally I have chosen ConvertKit for my email management system. To follow how I am setting up and using ConvertKit please check out my companion website “The Geriatric Entrepreneur” It’s still in beta mode but if you are interested here is a link
While email marketing is a significant driver of revenue, convincing your audience to sign up to your mailing list isn’t always easy. People are protective of their inboxes. A survey by Storydoc reveals that a meager 16% of Americans let more than 11 brands send them regular emails.
Even when people opt-in to mailing lists, they don’t always read the emails. The average email open rate for ConvertKit creators in January 2022 was 36%.
If you want your audience to sign up to your mailing list, you’ll need to provide them with two things:
Add a smart incentive: Consider sending valuable educational content. People want to be educated, inspired, and entertained. In his book “The Minimalist Entrepreneur” Sahil Lavingia suggests that you progress in a sequence which starts by educating your audience, then inspiring them and finally the most difficult goal, entertaining them. A lead magnet can be a useful addition, I am writing a primer on pricing theory and its application which will shortly be available on The Geriatric Entrepreneur. Discounts, or prizes are another option to be considered.
Multiple reminders to subscribe: Every day is different. Some days readers may be overwhelmed and tired of newsletters flooding their inbox. On another day, they might have just enjoyed your most recent piece of content and are feeling ready to keep up with everything you post. Providing multiple opportunities to subscribe will increase your chances of gaining more subscribers.
4 ways to turn website visitors into email subscribers
These four tips will help you offer plenty of chances for website visitors to join your mailing list.
1. Embed a form on your website homepage
As a creator, most new visitors land first on your website’s homepage. Whether they’ve been referred from your social media page or a mention on another website, it’s usually their first stop.
The homepage is also the easiest page to return to if readers run into a 404 error page or any other issues on your site. So, it often gets the most traffic and therefore it makes sense to take advantage of that traffic by embedding a sign- up form on your website homepage.
Homepage forms can capture first-time visitors while you have their interest and provide more nurturing opportunities in the future. Author
4 tips for an effective homepage sign-up form
ConvertKit recommends that you add your form 2-3 blocks down. You want readers to see the sign up form as soon as possible, but you also need to build a measure of trust before they encounter the form. They should get a sense of what your site offers and whether they can benefit from your content or product before they encounter the form.
Set up your form block a contrasting color. This ensures that it stands out from the entire homepage, making it impossible to miss.
Create a low-effort form. Adding more than two form fields will discourage sign-ups. Maybe you will only collects email addresses, but if it’s important to you, you can collect first names too.
Alternatively, use a sidebar form. If your theme doesn’t support homepage embeds or it’s too tricky to figure out, the next best thing is a permanent sidebar signup form. Use a simple sidebar form if your home page is also your blog posting page.
2. Embed a pop-up form on your website
Although they may be annoying to some people, pop-ups are highly effective. Statistics show that the top-performing pop-ups have an average conversion r ate of 9.28%.
What makes pop-ups so effective? A key factor is that they stop the reader in their tracks by interrupting scrolling. Site-wide pop-ups can reach even one-time visitors before they leave.
The last thing you need is for your pop-ups to annoy site visitors and drive them away, instead of winning you subscribers. Follow these best practices as you build your pop-up form:
Choose a good trigger duration. No one likes pop-ups that show up as soon as the site loads. I mean, visitors don’t even know that they like your content
yet—it’s like trying to sell to someone before they know your name. Not a good look.
Add an incentive. An incentive is a reason why people should subscribe to your mailing list and it will vary depending on your business. For example, The Clean Eating Couple offers potential subscribers a “free healthy meal plan.” Ideally, all your sign-up forms should come with an incentive, but particularly pop-ups because they can soothe an irritated visitor whose browsing has been interrupted.
Keep it brief and clear. Pop-ups should contain snappy, easy-to-understand copy. Tell readers what you want them to and what they’ll get in return—in one sentence.
Have a visible exit button. If you’ve ever been stuck with a pop-up you couldn’t close, you’ll know how frustrating it can be. I’ve closed many websites because I couldn’t find the exit button for their pop-ups. Ensure that there’s an easy exit for mobile and desktop viewers by testing your pop-up once it’s published.
Optimize for mobile devices. Increasingly folks access and transact with websites via their mobile device. According to Outerboxdesign.com in the US 50% of internet purchases were made from mobile devices. Checkout.com reports 88% of Indonesians make online purchases via an App on their phone.
Episode 8 Email Marketing The How – Part 2
3. Link a landing page to your website's navigation
Some readers may block pop-ups on their browsers or be referred to specific blog posts (not your homepage) on your site and miss your calls to subscribe. Linking a landing page to your website’s navigation bar is one way to reach these visitors. It also ensures that the landing page you worked hard to build won’t just collect dust.
A newsletter landing page tends to convert more visitors because it has one call-to-action: Subscribe. It also wins over forms because you can share a link to your sign-up landing page on other platforms such as social media or links on other sites.
Additionally, because your landing page is all about your newsletter and readers enter it voluntarily, you can spend a bit more time persuading them to sign up.
How to make your landing pages more effective
If your landing page isn’t winning over subscribers, it may need some extra optimization. Try these tips.
Have a powerful headline. Headlines matter; for most visitors, it’s the only thing they’ll read on your landing page, so make it count. Tell readers what your newsletter is about in one sentence or phrase.
Tell subscribers what to expect. Few people will sign up to receive random emails from a stranger. Share what kinds of content subscribers can expect or which incentive they’ll receive when they sign up.
Make the page visually appealing. While this depends on your audience, adding a little cheer with a bright photo or graphics can draw visitors into signing up.
Use one CTA. Don’t try to sell more than one thing on your landing page. Otherwise, you’ll distract visitors into pursuing another action. Focus on getting them to sign up. You can include the signup button multiple times on the page, but it should be requesting the same action.
Try advanced segmentation. Another benefit of a landing page is that you can qualify readers by including a checkbox list of preferences. This allows them to select which kinds of content they’re more interested in. You can set up tags for each selection in your Landing Page settings and automatically segment subscribers when they sign up, allowing for more personalized communication.
Link a landing page to your website's announcement bar
If you want something unmissable, but not as disruptive as a pop-up form, consider using an announcement bar linked to your newsletter landing page. Announcement bars are simple and work well on desktop and mobile devices.
Creating a winning announcement bar
Follow these three tips for a top-notch announcement bar:
Spotlight the incentive. Give your audience a reason to sign up.
Be concise. It’s a single bar, so you have one line to make an impression.
Add a pop of color. Make your bar stand out using a bright or contrasting accent color.
How to measure your conversions
When you’ve set up all your sign-up forms and landing pages, the next step is tracking their performance.
If your website gets substantial traffic, you should start to see subscribers rolling in. It’s important to measure the conversion rates of each form, so you can determine what’s working and what isn’t.
Use one (or several) of the following tools to see how your forms are performing
Google Analytics: With Google Universal Analytics, you could view each page’s Bounce Rate on your website—including your newsletter landing page.
Google Analytics 4 has replaced the Bounce Rate feature with Engagement Rate. You can get a sense of user engagement by reviewing the Average Engagement Time.
Conversion rate optimization tools: If you used any of the CRO tools, you can easily track form metrics on that platform.
If you are using a service such as ConvertKit or Mail Chimp they also have tracking tools that can help.
What if your forms aren’t gaining traction? It may be worth tweaking the elements. Consider doing the following:
Testing your landing page
Changing the copy on your embedded form, announcement bar, and pop-ups Adding an image to your forms
Adjusting the trigger duration of your pop-up form Trying a new lead magnet or incentive
These things can have a huge trial and error phase, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Other tips for nurturing subscribers
After working hard to gain new subscribers, we want you to keep them for a long, long time. Here are three tips to help you.
1. Have a solid Welcome email: Wouldn’t you welcome guests invited to your home? You should also send a quick hello to new subscribers. It doesn’t hurt that Welcome emails are some of the most effective emails you’ll send with a whopping 52.9% conversion rate.
Your email could either be part of the message delivering the incentive or a separate email introducing yourself to new readers. Keep your Welcome email brief. You can start by introducing yourself, your business, how often you send out an email, and how your newsletter will serve readers. It makes readers feel appreciated and ensures that the first email they get from you won’t be a “sales” email.
2. Try a Sequence: Sequences are pre-scheduled email series sent to nurture readers and build trust. You can s et up different sequences depending on the sign-up form.
Sequences could be Welcome email sequences including educational information (like a seven-day course for beginner cooks, for example), unrelated weekly emails sharing your top-performing blog posts, or even emails to lure back customers who abandoned carts on your website.
The goal is to keep readers interested, cultivate a trusting relationship, and hopefully lead them to purchase a product or two from you in the long run.
3. Keep your word: Do what you promised on your sign-up form. Don’t send more emails than you said you would, share only relevant content, and contact readers on the days they expect (unless in exceptional circumstances). Even if you do run a Sequence, avoid sending multiple emails in one day and ensure readers can opt out any time without unsubscribing entirely.
Make your website work for you
Email marketing is powerful. It can grow your business, become a source of income, or simply keep you closely connected to your audience. In 2021 alone, ConvertKit creators earned over $4 billion using email marketing.
Your website is one of the easiest tools for building a mailing list. You can use more than one of these methods to start driving sign-ups. The key is to give website visitors multiple opportunities to sign up for your email list.
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