Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Business Chat - Engage!


“Where’s that new series you’re working on, the ones in your email?” said my first customer today at a craft show. 
I showed her the new pendants and yes, she bought one. And so did the next customer. Then several other people commented about my last sailing trip, or how much they enjoyed my monthly letters. 
Did I actually email each of these women? Well, yes and no. Not a personal email but my last newsletter that I emailed to my mailing list. 
According to all the business books, Rule #1 of making money online is “build an email list.” In my opinion this rule applies not only to making money online, but to making money anywhere. Rule #2 of making money is to CONTACT the people on your email list. Rule #3 is to engage your audience and then leverage this to generate a return. 
In plain language, send your customer a newsletter and get them to open it and buy something. 
Let’s start with the basics: an email list is only useful if those people on the list are interested in what you have to say. 
Engagement is the real marker of success, not the amount of subscribers you have.
I’ll put this into perspective by giving you a real life example. My email list subscribers is arguably as powerful as an “average” email list that is 2 times bigger. Why? Because I enjoy an open rate of nearly 40%, which compares very favourably to an overall average of 19% (across all industries). Links in my newsletters are clicked more than 4 times the standard rate. 
A mailing list of 2,000 with an open rate of 10% is less effective than a mailing list of 500 with an open rate of 50%. Rather than focussing on getting the largest email list you can, it is better to focus on engaging those people on your list as much as you can. This is a case for quality over quantity. 
One of the biggest advantages to using a professional email marketing service is being able to track statistics like your open rate. For every bulk email you send you can see how many people opened it, how many pages they looked at, what they clicked through, how many times it was forwarded and loads of other details. 
If you want people to open your emails then I think the most important thing is to offer them more than information. Offer them a brand and a personality – give them something to get attached to.
I am talking about creating a persona that people can like. You want to create a kind of emotional connection that will compel them to open your email as if it were from a friend. Remember, people are buying handmade work because they want to know the artist. This is where you have to show up. 
My brand has been built on what my company is built on - adventure, travel, stories and dreams. I keep it light and positive. I make happy jewelry, I send out happy newsletters. Consistency is key.

Try not to sell (much). Don’t send a flyer, send a NEWSletter. If it looks like one of those papers cluttering up your mailbox, (you know the ones), “SALE NOW!” “Top ten selling items” “BUY THIS!” of course no one will open it. Would you?
Think of your newsletter as a letter to a friend. You want them to know what  is going on, what’s new. You want them to know where they can find you. Would you give a friend a hard sales pitch? 
We are presented with so much email noise that we are leery about anything that looks like an advertisement. By not screaming “BUY NOW OR THE WORLD WILL END” you will be regarded as more of a person and less of just another company trying to sell you crap. As a friend you are more likely to be trusted. This leads to higher opening rates and more click throughs. This leads to more sales. 
While there is more to building a successful email list that this, these tips are the foundations. Be yourself, talk to a friend. Show your friend what’s new in your world and then let your friend know where they can find you. 
It’s a good start. 

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