I’m sure you’ve heard it by now – from marketing gurus, from podcasts, from your girlfriends – you’ve GOT to have an email list.
Although social media is the bright and shiny one in our marketing toolbox, your email list – while not glamorous – is where the heavy lifting happens.
Ready to dig in? Let’s go.
Benefits of an email list vs social media
- OWNERSHIP All that work you’ve put into building your following on Instagram doesn’t mean bunk if you get banned, censored or if the app disappears altogether. (Anyone remember Myspace?) Your email list? It’s YOURS.
- ACCESS & ENGAGEMENT There’s no guarantee your followers will even SEE all that content you worked so hard on. Estimates put the number at around 10% of your total followers. And engagement? That’s even worse. Smaller accounts under 10,000 have the best engagement – at a measly 1.55%. Over 10,000 followers? That number drops to 0.62%. source My email open rates in comparison averages at 43%. Which would you rather?
- CONNECTION Our email inbox is an intimate place. Instead of hollering into the abyss on social media, you can speak directly to your people – folks who actually want to hear from you. If done well, we can build real relationships between human beings that goes beyond a shallow, transactional one between business and ‘consumer’.
All this – and more – is why my email list is my primary marketing activity here at the farm.
In fact – I do very little else to drive our six-figure business while maintaining 50%+ year-over-year revenue growth.
I haven’t been active regularly on Instagram for a couple of years. I don’t do any of the popular social media – no Snapchat, no TicTok and definitely no Facebook.
We have a basic website with no online ordering capabilities and no weekly blog. We don’t pay for advertising.
Instead, I spend about 20 – 40 minutes a week writing to my Farm Family. That’s it.
So how do I turn less than an hour a week of marketing efforts into consistent revenue growth, new customers weekly and heaps of kick-ass loyal customers who’ve been with me for nearly a decade?
I’ve learned how to write great emails.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s some (completely unsolicited) feedback from folks on my list :
Just wanted to say… as a relatively new mom, this lovely little story of community was a much needed one for me today. Thanks for filling my inbox with a something so great. 🙂Michelle
I get a lot of emails. I’m see a tremendous amount of great writing, I just can’t read it all… but I read your emails every time. You’re an excellent writer. Thank you for doing work that matters.Allistair
As always, LOVE reading your email, THANK YOU!!! There is enormous amount of kindness in each and every one of them! Thank you for this! (for ex., today, just now, you made me even cry when I read your “If no one has told you lately – you are doing great!” 🙂 It’s good tears 🙂Marina
How would your relationship with your marketing, and your work life as a whole, transform if you knew that this is how people felt about it?
Instead of feeling like a slimy used car salesman or a pushy store clerk, worried that you’re ‘bothering’ your people or filling up their already stuffed inboxes with useless junk – what if you could be …
- The bright light in their day?
- Something they look forward to?
- Someone they look up to and feel like they actually KNOW?
Pretty good, right? Ok. Here’s how.
1 ) Know Your People
If you want to speak to someone as though you know them, it helps to actually know them.
A lot of us, especially when we’re first starting out feel frustrated by this. How do I know who my people are when I don’t have people yet?? It feels like a Catch-22.
We do this two ways. Number one, we niche. Having a clearly defined niched audience is the easiest way to speak clearly, directly and intimately to your email list. Don’t have a clue how to do that? Get started with my Find Your Niche Audio Coaching package.
Number two – we speak to someone we DO know. This doesn’t have to be a customer (yet).
Choose someone in your life who you would love to serve in your business, or your favourite customer if you have one.
- How would you speak to them?
- What do they most need to hear?
- What matters to them?
- What would make them laugh, feel inspired, think about something differently, light them up?
Speak to that real person as though they were standing in front of you – just ONE person – not many … and that’s where the magic happens.
2) Embrace a Spirit of Service
Rule number one of Slow Marketing? It’s not about you. Like, AT ALL.
One of the biggest mistakes we make as marketers is we talk about ourselves and our businesses instead of our people and their problems.
So when you’re writing to your folks, don’t think about how you can sell, think about how you can serve.
I keep myself grounded in a spirit of service with my personal mission statement : Nourish. Advocate. Educate. Inspire.
Those are my four core areas of service in my work and my life as a whole. So all I have to do is choose from one of those buckets and find a way to serve within them.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or a big deal.
- Speak to their worries that relate to your values as a business – I might share about the drought / record-breaking heat wave in our region that is worrying all of us, then bring to their attention how their efforts to eat locally (with me) are helping to address the root cause. Share with them how their support of your business impacts their world for the better.
- Teach – No matter what you do, the people who you serve love to learn about the inner workings. I like to approach this like a poet – it’s the details and the specifics that speak to the whole. If there is a particular part of your job that delights or intrigues you or that you do differently than others – write about that. I like to write about watching my pigs build nests for farrowing (birthing). Did you know pigs build nests? Pretty cool, right?
- Encourage and Inspire – In a world of twitter bun-fights and anonymous rage in the comments section – a little kindness and encouragement goes a long way.
3) Say thank you. A lot.
Every fourth post or so, I center my weekly marketing email around gratitude.
Not exactly typical big business right? Usually the rule of thumb is SELL every fourth email, not say thank you.
But that’s what I do.
Saying thank you, acknowledging your people and the impact they have on your life can become a personal gratitude practice with all the inherent benefits.
Listen, being your own boss is hard AF.
There will be days you want to burn it all down, no matter how much you love your work, even if you are walking in your calling. Maybe especially then. This work is brave and vulnerable and sometimes exhausting.
Expressing gratitude in a genuine, intimate way is the antidote to all the BS that comes with entrepreneurship.
It also makes your people feel incredibly seen and valued, which is one of the greatest gifts you can give another human.
- Thank them for their support in you walking in your calling
- Draw attention to the impact their choice to working with small businesses like yours make in your community
- Celebrate your shared wins – if you have a zero waste company, talk about how many bottles you’ve collectively kept from landfills and thank them for it
- Talk about the work you do and how it impacts the world – but emphasise that it couldn’t happen without people like them
Don’t make it smarmy – be sincere and vulnerable and genuinely grateful.
4) Don’t talk about your product. Talk about your values.
How much can I really say about pork and eggs? I mean – really?
But the values that drove me to leave a successful career at a government Human Rights agency to shovel pig poop? There’s a treasure trove of content there.
No matter if you’re a photographer or a designer or a brick-and-mortar store owner like me, if you have a strong WHY, you have a deep pool of content to draw on.
5) Be yourself.
By now you might be thinkin’ – that’s all well and good, Stace, but I’m not a great writer.
Guess what? That’s A-OK.
The best way to communicate with your people from an authentic, genuine place of impact?
Write as you speak.
If it makes it easier, actually record yourself speaking for a while then type it up.
This is easiest if YOU are key to your brand. There are lots of brands that have ‘personas’ but if you’re a solopreneur or creative, I’d encourage you to simply allow you brand to be YOU.
So just TALK to your people.
Imagine your favourite client or a real person who you’d love to serve and just talk to them. Don’t try to filter out your personality in favour of polished prose. Use slang, contractions and don’t be afraid to break a few rules of grammar if it helps communicate who you are.