Email marketing continues to dominate all other digital marketing efforts and for good reason. For every $1 spent, marketers see an average return of $42. Even if your list is small, there is still money to be made. I chatted with Tarzan Kay, a seven-figure copywriter who helps business owners master email marketing, to find out how to leverage a small email list.
Here are the tips.
1. Size Doesn’t Matter
There’s a commonly held belief that email subscribers are as good as money in the bank. But the size of your email list doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue. If this were true, you could purchase 1 million email addresses from a broker and be a millionaire by the end of the year.
“The buyer relationship is earned, not purchased. If you want to make healthy revenue directly from your email list - even a list of less than 2000 people - then focus on building a relationship with your email subscribers. That takes time,” says Kay. “It also requires you to shift the way you think about email marketing. This isn’t a one-to-many advertising strategy. It’s actually a lot more intimate.”
2. Start Conversations By Asking People To Hit Reply
“Most people think email marketing falls under ‘mass marketing’ - like a billboard or a superbowl ad. Verbiage like ‘email blast’ is misleading. Step one to making a ton of revenue from a small email list is to stop thinking of your email subscribers as ‘leads.’ They’re just people,” advises Kay. “These people share the same hopes and dreams we all do. If you want them to become customers, then treat them like human beings.”
Ask them questions in your marketing emails. Invite your subscribers to reply and tell you what they think. Start conversations from the inbox. It’s those conversations that will convert into your biggest sales. These subscribers will become your biggest cheerleaders.
3. Stick To Plain Text Emails
“If you want to start a friendly conversation, then your emails should look like an email from a friend. You can skip that animated GIF that screams “10% PERCENT OFF!” You can skip the banner graphic at the top too. That will actually decrease your email deliverability since it indicates a marketing email,” notes Kay.
As the number of images increases, the clickthrough rate of the email tends to decrease. So while it might seem counterintuitive to not have a fully designed email newsletter - statistics show they are less effective than plain text.
4. Imagine Your Subscribers Are Characters In The Show Friends
“Ross likes to see the data. Give him a nice meaty FAQ right there in the email, so that he knows exactly what he’s buying. Joey just wants to have a good time, so include a funny story or a silly GIF. Monica doesn’t care for a long sales pitch, just give her the checkout link and tell her why to buy, preferably in 3 sentences or less. Phoebe wants to hear what you’re doing to be a force for good, so if you donate a portion of sales to the local food bank, be sure to tell her that. You get the picture,” says Kay.
Of course you can’t appeal to all personality types in every email. That’s why you need to send lots of emails that vary in tone and content.
5. Send Way More Emails Than What Is Comfortable For You
Most would-be email marketers are scared of clicking “send” too often. But research shows that 49% of consumers want to receive weekly emails from their favorite brands. (Statista, 2017) Plus, more emails equals more sales - provided that they’re quality emails.
“If you’re sharing entertaining and informative content, your subscribers will tolerate a LOT of emails before hitting that unsubscribe button. This is especially true if you’re promoting something that isn’t available 365 days a year,” notes Kay. “If it’s a really special offer, don’t be shy to email your list daily, or even a few times a day, for a short period of time — then you can go back to sending 1-3 emails per week.”
6. Tell Me What You Really Think
“Want more email replies? Say something worth replying too. Share your honest opinion. Say something that contradicts a commonly held belief in your industry. Don’t be controversial just to get a reaction, but speak to what you feel most passionate about,” advises Kay. “Chances are there are people on your email list who share this opinion, but haven’t had the chance to speak about it with anyone else. Those are the conversations that will lead to repeat customers, referrals and subscribers who are your brand ambassadors. A great email is polarizing, which means some people aren’t going to like what you have to say. That’s just fine. Better to cultivate a small email list of super buyers than trying to appeal to everyone.”
No matter what the size of your list, big or small, the key takeaway here is to build a relationship. Think of email as the tool to do that.