Let's talk about email marketing


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Hey All,

As many have seen, email marketing typically returns the best compared to any other marketing channel. This is typically because users have actively opted into the list, so it's not interruption marketing it's permission marketing.

What are you currently doing for your local clients when it comes to email marketing? Are you doing the typical "monthly newsletter" or are you doing something a little more time intensive & more creative? Are you using email marketing as a part of the mix at all??

Very interested to hear some of the responses to this question.
 
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Great topic Eric,

I've often wondered too... why no one here ever talks email even though it's typically the best SMB marketing channel as you said.

WHY don't we talk email marketing here??? Is it because...

1) There's no category for it and we are so Google/SEO focused?

or

2) Most here are SEO focused and don't do email for clients?

What say ye?
 
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It's hard to be all things to all people, it takes a lot of work to master your craft. I'd also say that email marketing and (many elements of) local SEO don't overlap much. Copywriting really is it's own craft.

I'm not an expert in email marketing by any means, but I've had my hands dirty in a few campaigns, I've got friends that have gone down that rabbit hole, and I've been having great results with it in my own business. It really beats trying to get SEO clients from cold traffic after all.

In my view, email marketing is best suited when you're finding people early on in the buyer's cycle. If 90% of the people finding you through a given traffic source aren't ready to buy today, but will probably buy in 6 months, that's when you need an autoresponder. It gives you a chance to form the relationship, educate, and establish authority before the final purchase is ready to be made. A dentist might be able to make an email marketing system profitable, but for a personal trainer, a guitar teacher, a CPA, maybe a funeral director and a wedding photographer, it's absolutely a no brainer. Once you capture the market that's ready to make a purchase today, in some industries you're leaving on the table the 90% that are mulling it over, thinking about it, or maybe even just interested in learning a little bit but have never even considered hiring someone to do it for them. That's where email marketing really shines.

It's hard enough to put together something competent for yourself though. Crafting story and character for the average business owner is a real art, and I have a ton of respect for people who can do that. I saw an episode of Anthony Bordain's part's unknown recently with a pig ear sandwich restaurant owner in Mississippi. I loved what the owner said after he saw the segment on his business. Something like 'I never thought about myself that way before until I seen what you said about me, I thought I just sold food.' It was a really cool how they tied it into the local history. They gave him and his restaurant just a ton of personality and meaning. I could maybe hone that skill, but I'm a few thousand hours away from really commanding it, and all this local SEO work isn't particularly adding to that count.
 
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Why not hire a copywriter who could deliver that voice with more efficiency, but leave the strategy development on your plate? I definitely agree that copy-writing is difficult and is a skill that takes years to develop. Why not hire help and design the strategy around the campaign? I know it would eat into margin, but if you keep bringing solid campaigns to the table then maybe you could use it as a retention play with the client.

What campaigns have you seen work for personal trainers, teachers (whether it be guitar or w/e), CPAs, etc?
 

jwypick

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Education! I'm using email for exactly that purpose. It creates a personal contact with my customers where I can dole out bits of information that help them. Selling the benefits of email to my customers is kind of like selling the importance of great content. How do I do that? I can't write it for everyone! But I am looking around at places like fiverr to see if I can set something up. I think content and email are great tools but how can we offer them?
This forum is awesome!
Thanks to all!
 
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As far as music teachers and personal trainers go, just look at which industries are most profitable. The guitar training industry especially is huge, I used to know a guy that did that. A number of years ago now I was involved in Jeff Walker's product launch stuff and made some friends in that scene. I lost touch with a lot of them when I realized I had no interest in managing complex, larger projects, but I saw some pretty cool behind the scenes things while I was still keeping in touch with people who were. None with a local business owner per-se, but there's not really a difference. Once you've got an audience that excited about who you are and what you can teach them, it's just as easy to sell an in-person product as it is to sell a book or whatever else. The only catch is it has to be something people are interested in following and learning more about. That's why some industries are vastly more suited for it than others. You could maybe make a dentist work, but it'd be a lot harder since no one's all that interested in learning what a dentist has to share. That's what separates the guitarist, the personal trainer, even the photographer. Even before people find your client's list, their already on others, watching youtube videos, making pinterest boards, reading tutorials, and whatever else.

If you can find a copywriter to outsource the work to, then yeah... that'd be the way to go, but finding a good writer that can actually deliver something that'll convert is a challenge. You're either going to have to sift through a ton of people to find someone that doesn't know how valuable their skill is, or pay a lot for someone that does. That or settle for a more boring, lower conversion campaign. That'll still probably make the client a good return on investment, but to be honest, I haven't spent any time with email marketing that isn't done as a cult of personality, so I don't know what the numbers would look like. If someone's got stories about a more reproducible, 'boring' email marketing program that worked well for clients, I'd love to hear about it, it's not something I've done before.
 

jwypick

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Awesome James, thank you! Great reminder to always keep your market in mind, choose wisely. Loved the dentist thing........
 

JoshuaMackens

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I think email is a phenomenal investment. It would be different for each industry of course but you could easily scale it per industry. What worked for one plumber will more than likely work for another plumber, etc.

One huge benefit of email marketing, above and beyond the obvious, is keeping you top of mind for your customers so they can refer you. If you're sending emails twice a month loaded with great content that makes you look like the expert, your customers are more likely to remember you when they're at a dinner party and their friend talks about how their basement was just flooded and they need a mold guy. Guess what's the next sentence out of their mouth because you're the top of mind expert?

"Man, you've got to call Soandso. He would know exactly what to do with this."

That's just one massive benefit of email marketing among many others.

To answer your question, we're too busy crafting our Local SEO expertise to move into email marketing. We want to be THE #1 Local SEO company. It takes a lot of work. And just when you're getting closer, Google changes it up again.

But yes, if we had that mastered along with a few other Local SEO related internet marketing disciplines, email would be on our list to do.
 

mborgelt

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I think email is worth its weight in gold for one reason: If Google, Facebook and Twitter all die tomorrow, I can still reach my leads and other members of our community. James is very correct in that copywriting is an art form unto itself which is where the rub lay with email marketing. People are hesitant to give up their email unless it is worth it and are highly prone to opt out of your email updates the second you stop servicing their needs.

It's interesting that you posted this as right now we are looking at scalable solutions for "set it and forget it" campaigns for our clients (although it's really more like "set it so the leymen can maintain it."

One thing that has helped our email efforts tremendously is by exchanging something of decent value to the user that gets updated. This patches so many holes on the path to conversion and retention that it's SOP for us now. I'm curious to see what others are doing in this space!
 

JoyHawkins

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Does anyone recommend any specific tools for email marketing? Definitely something I currently under-utilize.
 
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What's your budget and your goals? If you're interested in starting small, I recently started playing with Mailchimp again, and they have a surprisingly robust system in place now, much more so than what I saw with them a few years ago the last time I gave them a try. You can set up branching campaigns to send certain messages on trigger. For example, email A goes out to everyone who opted in from a given lead gen source. There's a link in that email. Those who click on it get email B a few days later, those who didn't click get email C. There's a lot of power there to make some pretty smart campaigns, though a lot of those features (including any kind of a classic autoresponder with a schedule) don't come with their free account. It's still cheap though unless you're planning on building a list into the 5 figures or above.

Infusionsoft still seems to be the gold standard though from what I hear, but it's been a long time since I've been a part of a project using them.
 

mborgelt

Local Search Expert
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I recommend Leadpages for capturing emails. Their forms convert and the user doesn't get distracted by the other options on your website. +1 for Mailchimp and its automation features.
 

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