Direct email marketing: 4 lessons I learned from a $10,000 email

7 min read
Kim Herrington

Direct email marketing is a dinosaur when it comes to digital marketing. As a result, it’s often passed over for new, shiny tools of current marketing trends. Lots of businesses are quick to jump at creating a Facebook page, but sending out basic marketing emails to their customer list is an entirely different affair. Email marketing tends to be an underutilized tool for most small businesses.

In 2016, my own email list gave me a lesson on the importance of focusing my attention on direct email marketing. My website teaches online entrepreneurs digital marketing and SEO, targeting individuals who can’t afford to hire a digital marketing agency.

One automated email sequence generated a surprise $10,000 lead for my digital marketing agency, Orsanna, and allowed my team and I to cultivate the lead in just a few minutes.

Compared to hours of work similar leads often take, it’s clear that email marketing works — and so I doubled down email marketing efforts in 2017.

Want to set yourself up for your own $10,000 return? Here are four important lessons about direct email marketing every business owner should know. Get ready to ink your own consulting contract!

1. Incentivize email subscribers.

Direct Email Marketing Gifts

With so much noise from hundreds of competitors, your business needs to provide more than just a valuable newsletter to get website visitors on your email list. Opt-ins incentivize your visitors to subscribe to your email list by giving them a useful resource they need

Most visitors who get to your site won’t sign up for an email newsletter without some kind of incentive because they want to avoid getting emails they won’t find useful.

Overall, most marketers set conversion goals for email signups between one and five percent, but opt-in incentives can raise email signups even higher — sometimes even resulting in a 20-percent conversion rate from visitors.

From extra worksheets and information to discount codes or special offers, opt-ins can take all kinds of forms. My $10,000 lead downloaded one of my many free SEO resources available on my site and was signed up for my email list as a result.

2. Start with a welcome sequence.

No matter your business, creating a relationship with your new email subscriber is an important part of direct email marketing. When your email subscriber knows who you are, they’re more likely to open your future emails. Welcome sequences are a great way to start introducing yourself, your company and what you can do to help your new subscriber.

A welcome sequence usually consists of a few emails sent over a few days or weeks to your new email subscriber.

For instance, after my lead signed up to receive my SEO resource, they received my SEO welcome sequence over the next six weeks. As part of that campaign, I introduced the lead to core SEO concepts, helping them understand what’s most important about SEO so they could learn and view me as a trusted resource.

Direct Email Marketing Welcome

Creating a welcome sequence can take some work to get it right and a bit of tweaking over time, but once you have a welcome sequence in place, it automatically starts to cultivate your email list subscribers into customers without you taking action.

Most welcome sequences are designed to turn email subscribers directly into customers by trying to sell a product or service, so they’re often overlooked by businesses that don’t sell online. At the time, I wasn’t even selling anything to my email subscribers, but it still resulted in a $10,000 lead.

Welcome sequences aren’t just for professional bloggers.

Creating a relationship with your customers, no matter how you serve them, is a good marketing move that can make future sales conversations easier. A welcome sequence is a step in the right direction.

3. Respond to replies.

Although we’d love marketing to be completely automated, creating interaction between you and your subscribers cannot only help to build a deeper relationship, but it can also improve your email delivery rates.

Responding to replies from your email list keeps the conversation going and helps to solidify your relationship with your subscribers.

You’ll likely receive questions from some subscribers about the content of your welcome sequence. It’s important not to ignore these replies and to respond. Email marketing can do a lot of footwork for your sales team, allowing them to educate leads and close potential deals in a short amount of time. But don’t overlook the power of direct communication.

Letting replies go unanswered can shatter your credibility with a prospective client.

A large part of cultivating my lead was a few quick emails back and forth answering questions pertaining to my welcome sequence. Eventually, it resulted in a productive sales meeting and made the job of selling much easier and faster. While responding to emails might seem like it takes more time out of your day, it could pay off in the long run — less time cultivating leads, more time for your new clients.

4. Keep a warm list.

One of the biggest goals you should have for your email list is to create repeat customers. However, emailing someone out of the blue six months down the road usually doesn’t work. Your email list might not know who you are by then, or they might not be willing to buy if you don’t keep your business top of mind.

Create an ongoing email marketing campaign to keep your email list warm.

When you have a targeted email list, use direct email marketing to provide your subscribers with routine emails that are both useful and relevant. Then, they’ll be familiar with you and your company so asking for something won’t be so jarring.

Most businesses make the mistake of sending out business updates to their email list.

While existing customers might be interested to know about your new office or team member, email subscribers who have never done business with you before will likely be uninterested. It’s important instead to continue to provide education and other content that could help your sales team or sales materials be more effective in the future.

For almost every business, having informed customers who know the value of your services or products makes it significantly easier to sell to them later on. By keeping your email list informed of your industry and what matters to them, you can continue to build your relationship with potential customers and referral sources while reducing the amount of time needed to make a sale.

Implementing direct email marketing

When building out your email marketing campaign, consider what it needs to accomplish to help your sales and business grow smoothly. Also keep in mind the type of relationships you want to foster with your potential clients.

Think about these questions:

  • What is one of the biggest struggles for sales?
  • What could we do to reduce the time to complete a sale?
  • How can we help our customers see us as we’d like to be seen?

After working through those questions, it’s time to start putting the pieces in place to set up your email marketing campaign with signup incentives and a welcome sequence. After that, continue to foster relationships with your subscribers by responding and keeping your list warm.