If I learned anything from The Wonder Years, it’s that having friends on your side makes dealing with girls and bullies easier. When it comes to growing your email list, those same buddies who put up their fists for you in the schoolyard can do wonders (har har) for generating buzz and taking your audience places that you couldn’t travel to on your own – like a Colorado ski lodge.
What's in it for me?
Make them an offer they can’t refuse if they bring a friend on board. Reward those “power sharers” with coupons, access to special content and that lovely little rumor that Becky’s friend Hannah’s sister’s boyfriend told Becky.
Lunchroom gossip isn't all bad.
Create calls to action for current members to share with their social platforms. Make use of social media platforms for recipients to easily find you and/or spread the word and/or tell your parents that you’re at the library when you’re really…well, you know.
Let's hang out after class.
Interact with your customers – and come from a place of yes. Post questions on Twitter, respond to inquiries, monitor hashtags, agree to write guest blog posts, RSVP to speak at an event and participate in neighborhood block parties when there’s free food involved.
Make sound decisions, son.
Invest in ad space where your potential customers frequent. Is that Facebook? A car repair shop? The Chamber of Commerce? Advancing your audience converts the coins in the jar from copper to silver-colored.
Don't forget the formative years.
Nothing turns me off faster than the wrong their, they’re or there being used. Write coherently and passionately, engaging customers with your message rather than distracting with the incorrect version of its. Why should they have faith in you if you flunked elementary school?
Show, don't tell.
If you manage a food blog, then I want to see the steaming gourmet burger in my Inbox as I stumble over myself to click for the recipe. I want to share the recipe with my mom – who will recommend that my grandpa make it for our next picnic. You may have just gotten two new subscribers from me – all with a picture of a burger.
Tips for adding personality to your emails, engaging your audience and more
When I really connect with a brand or organization, I want to support them until I’m blue in the face. My home base in Austin, TX, is full of awesome local companies that get me going, like Alamo Drafthouse, Real Ale Brewing Company, PRIZE Boutique and Sweet Leaf Tea. This also makes my job in business development here at Emma that much more fun: I get to talk to brands I love about what email marketing can do for them and their burgeoning audience.
People become brand evangelists by connecting with the brand and its people. I'd prefer to become acquainted with a company’s culture, values and people, rather than be greeted with a coupon or sales announcement in my inbox every other day. Sales shouldn’t be the primary focus of your efforts; it's the byproduct once you've built a relationship.
Share your story and your people
Your marketing plan is about growing loyal followers and fans while upholding and solidifying your brand's style and values. Instead of sending a plain ol' email with your new inventory, have staff members share their picks of your new products. Likewise, ask colleagues to write blurbs about upcoming events or menu items that excite them.
Sending these staff picks every other month could be just the right formula to add some quirk and personality between your regular newsletters. Who doesn't like learning unexpected (and even embarrassing details) about the people behind the brand? (Take Emma's people page, for example.)
Use the right tools to stay relevant
While spinning a yarn, fully utilize all that your email marketing platform has to offer. Segment the audience you’ve built, and send targeted messages to unique groups.
And take advantage of autoresponders – they're easy to set up and get the right message to the right people at, well, the right time. Let's say your campaign includes links to various offerings on your website. Set up link-based triggers that go out to folks when you have a special price on the particular product they showed an interest in.
Keep in touch
Hosting a Friday happy hour? Send an email invivation with a link to an RSVP form. Later in the week, check in to see who hasn't RSVP'd, and send them a heads-up to let them know what they’ll be missing. You can even set up an email reminder to those who did RSVP to make sure they're still attending.
And if you'd like to stay up-to-the-minute on survey replies, be sure to turn on notifications in your Emma account.
You can't be expecteed to remember every detail about your contacts or customers, so use your Emma audience section to store important information like company name, birthdate and next appointment time. Then, use those date fields to set up autoresponders that send when a person's birthday or appointment rolls around. Set up easy personalization in the email, too – it's an easy way to snag their attention and keep them engaged.
What do you think of these simple tips to add personality, get your audience engaged and keep them connected? Have some of your own? Ask your social followers what they think, and share in the comments here. You’ll have your audience evangelizing from the steps of their fire escapes in no time.
I talk to customers every day who run their own businesses and rely on Emma to share their story and connect with their customers. I recently had the opportunity to connect with Christy Farr, a life coach here in Nashville, and I learned how she used Emma to take her one-woman company, Seeds & Weeds Coaching, from maintenance mode into a period of high growth.
With a little planning and a lot of heart, Christy created a community of clients with a 30-day Sick of Being Stuck email series and breathed new life into her own business. Read on to hear Christy's story, in her own words.
1. Tell us a little bit about a day-in-the-life of a life coach.
My day is an ever-evolving balance between empowering others and managing "the business" of empowering others. Every day starts with writing – blogs, class materials and newsletters – then it's to the phone for coaching sessions with clients, group coaching with students or a book study. Throw in networking over vegetarian Indian food; collaborating with other coaches, healers and teachers on new projects; and looking for more powerful ways to serve my community, and you can piece together any given day in my world.
2. How has Emma helped you grow?
Emma helps me grow by meeting me wherever I am, no matter what. And every single time I get stuck, Emma has what I need to keep moving forward. When I needed to maintain my contact list and mail a monthly newsletter (aka, lick my wounds from the violent experience I accidentally had with the dark side of virtual marketing for life coaches ... only a touch of exaggeration here), Emma was there. And believe it or not, last summer when I faced the possibility of closing Seeds & Weeds Coaching (essentially for lack of engagement from the community I was trying to serve), it was Emma that helped me bring the business back to life.
I know how that sounds, but it's actually true. After two and a half years, the business still wasn't sustainable. Even more disheartening than the poverty (literally), was knowing that I wasn't doing what I was born to do. If I was reaching "enough" people, I'd be making "enough" money. If working for someone else could could solve both of those problems, it was time to consider the possibility. The decision felt impossible, and every time I would meditate or write or talk about it with someone else, I heard the same lesson in my head again and again. Maddeningly, it's something I always use to cultivate ideas in other people: You already have everything you need to take the next perfect step in this journey.
Rather begrudgingly, I agreed, "Fine, I have everything I need." A quick inventory revealed that I had only three things I could use to give this business one more chance: Me, Emma and the idea that when any of the gardens of our lives are unwell – body, relationships, money, creativity, spirituality, etc. – we can radically transform the situation by releasing that which no longer serves us from our physical environment. That was all I had, so I went for it, and "Sick of Being Stuck September" (SOBSS) changed, well, everything.
3. Creating a 30-day email series requires a lot of planning and content. What's your secret to success?
The program included daily clutter-clearing challenges, articles, group calls and community support, and I managed the entire thing through Emma. Now, I wish I could tell you that it was premeditated and smooth, but that would be a lie. This was, after all, my Hail Mary pass, and it took everything in me to get those emails crafted and sent every day with everything else that SOBSS stirred up.
There were times that I was writing emails at 1 a.m., climbing up the stairs and crashing for a few hours before I was up again getting the children off to school. Toward the end of the month, some of them were even written the morning they went out. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. Six hundred people signed up for that program, more than doubling the size of my newsletter list. And when I say everything changed, I mean the "now I have coaching clients, a monthly class with students actually paying to come, and the book is on the editor's desk" kind of everything changed.
I suppose that the secret to my success really boils down to integrity. I did everything in my power to keep promises that I made to myself (pursuing my dream), my family and the wild and wonderful people who said and continue to say yes to the Sick of Being Stuck invitation (crafting and sending the emails). To be clear, it's not perfect, but it's my best, and my students can affirm that my perfectly imperfect is enough to rock their collective worlds.
4. Where do you draw inspiration?
That one is easy. I'm inspired by what's not working. I believe that our struggles and challenges are a direct result of living out of alignment with the truth of who we are as individuals. The coaching, writing and teaching allow me to address the needs that my clients, readers and students bring to the table. When something stinks, they bring it to Seeds & Weeds, and we work together to craft a new way of being for them, a shift into thoughts and actions that will cultivate better results. I've found that when we are willing to accept lessons from the natural world, our lives can begin to bloom.
5. You can invite any four people to happy hour. Who'd be there?
Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Anne Lamott, Dolly Parton and Ellen DeGeneres.
Question of the day: Where is Sally Field now? For the last few years, she's been a spokesperson for the osteoporosis drug Boniva. But you likely don't know her for that. You may know her from Steel Magnolias or Forrest Gump. Or, like me, you can't shake her (often-misquoted) Oscar quote: "You like me, right now, you like me."
Ever feel this way when you look at your email results and social shares? It's a nice slice of affirmation to see that folks like your content.
In fact, you can do even more to make sure your email marketing campaigns are well received – and shared. Let's take a look at a few Emma customers who are doing just that, by making the most of email in combination with Instagram, Facebook and more.
Sara Kate at The Kitchn asked the Emma design team to add social media buttons to her email signature. One takes clickers to her smart Instagram page, where she shares images she's snapped on the streets of NYC. Most images are a celebration of her neighborhood, and it's a great way for email subscribers to get to know her better.
We'll add social media icons to the bottom of your email template gratis or for a small fee, depending on your customization needs. Head to our design form to request an add-on, and, hey, be sure to follow Emma on Instagram, too.
Nashville-based Summit Property Management opts for simple, gray social buttons to anchor their stationery. They've added, "Stay in the know about Nashville real estate" above the icons, and while the buttons stand out due to their size, their color and simplicity don't detract from the stationery design and email content.
When you've got varied and multiple messages to share on different social platforms, email becomes the perfect place for all of them to come together.
It's time to highlight a few new features that we've added to Emma's signup forms, those helpful little screens that connect to Emma and allow new subscribers to join your email list.
Quite simply, they're more flexible than ever.
Customize your forms
We've always wanted to make sure you can customize your signup forms to collect the member information you need, whether or not you have web development skills. That's why it's easy to add your company logo as well as collect first and last names, company name, birthday and more using Emma's signup forms.
Did you realize your account comes with unlimited forms? Your forms can be posted anywhere you'd like – on your website, on Twitter and Facebook, and in your email signature, for example. And if you create separate forms that filter to unique groups in Emma, you can keep track of how many new subscribers are joining from the different locations.
Now, let's talk about the new features that make signup forms even easier to build and manage.
Share details with new subscribers
When you build your signup forms, it's important to consider the subscriber experience. Put yourself in your subscriber's shoes, or at least in front of their computer. When they sign up, they're likely thinking some (or all) of these things:
I'm excited to hear from you. What content can I expect to receive?
How often will you send me emails?
Will this process be simple and quick? Can I change my mind later?
It's a good idea to share answers to these questions atop the signup form itself. It instills trust and encourages your visitor to click submit, rather than abandon the form.
But don't stop there. Now that you've wooed them, use the form's thank-you page as an opportunity to win them over. We've included a WYSIWYG editor to allow you to type a simple thank-you message. Or, use our new re-direct option to send folks to your website or to share a link to downloadable content, a coupon or your features page.
With the freedom to take new subscribers anywhere you'd like after signup, we're empowering you to begin engaging with audience members right away.
Give folks the ability to manage their email preferences
You've always been able to customize the confirmation message that folks receive in their inbox after signing up. (You can even turn that confirmation message off, if you'd rather replace it with a welcome autoresponder.)
Now, we've added that same customization to the manage preferences message, the email that existing audience members receive when they re-visit your form to update their contact information. It's a nice way to tailor the experience to new and existing members alike. And if you don't want Emma to send the manage preferences message, go ahead and turn it off.
Track it with Google Analytics
Now, not only can you add Google Analytics tracking to your email campaigns, you can also add it to your signup forms. Simply plug in your Google Analytics ID on the tracking tab of your signup form, and you're all set to begin tracking how new subscribers start interacting with your site. The reporting lands in your own Google Analytics account rather than on your Emma response page, which means website data is kept consistently in one place.
Receive real-time notifications
Once you have your signup forms set up to collect new subscribers, you'll want to keep up to see who's new. You can do that by logging into your account and viewing recent activity on your audience page. Or, you can set up email notifications to get a heads-up every time someone subscribes. Our new feature allows you to choose your frequency, in case you'd like to be notified weekly or monthly, rather than in real time. You can also add up to three email addresses to receive notifications, so it's easy to send to someone else in your office, too.
We hope you'll put these features to work as you continue growing your email audience. If you have questions along the way, we're here to help.
Note: If you're bypassing the Emma-powered signup forms and using your own subscription forms, check out our API documentation to easily connect your forms to your Emma account.
The API (which, if you're not familiar with the term, is an interface that developers can use to get other programs talking with Emma) is actually the foundation upon which we built our new platform for the Emma app. It's how we were able to build and release our new design tools, subscriber notifications, social sharing enhancements and Google Analytics integration. In the coming months, you'll see even more exciting features added to your Emma account, and that's all because of the flexibility and power of the API.
Our development team built the API last year, and they have been migrating customer accounts to our new platform for the past several months. We're nearing the end of that migration process, so most customers now have access to our public API right inside their account. We've also completed our documentation for users, which you can read here.
We'll be working on our own set of integrations to make available to our customers, (our Salesforce integration and iPhone app are just a couple projects in the pipeline), but the beauty of the API is that any developer can use it to build just about anything. From simple calls that add audience members from outside Emma to more complex integrations with sophisticated CRMs, it's all possible. In fact, one of our agency partners, Mightybites, has already begun building integrations for clients using the API. We shared their story on the blog earlier this year.
For tech folks like me, the API is the darling of all the work we've done to make Emma better over the last year or so. It's not as obvious as some of the other features we've worked on, but it has the potential for endless integration with other apps and databases, and I'm excited to see how it gets used by the Emma community.
How do you plan to use the API? Comment below to let us know.
When I was 13-years-old, I thought I’d marry a Backstreet Boy. I had their faces plastered on my bedroom walls, and I knew their middle names and birthdays. Since I was such a big fan, I talked about them all the time because that’s what we do when we love something: We tell everyone.
Fans of your product, service or content are likely already chatting you up to their friends, and that can be very good news for your business. Take advantage of this by making your brand and message as visible as possible, and your fan base will grow even larger.
Need some ideas for expanding the reach of your email campaigns? You’ve come to the right place.
Post your signup forms (almost) anywhere
I’m always surprised to talk to Emma customers who haven’t yet made use of their unlimited signup forms. They’re included for free in your account, easy to create and allow you to pick up new subscribers wherever you interact with folks -- in store (via a tablet at the register), on your blog, on Twitter, on LinkedIn and more.
So, go ahead: post those forms all over the place and watch new subscribers roll in. When you create separate forms that filter to separate audience groups, you’ve built in automatic audience segmentation, so you can eventually send separate campaigns to your Twitter audience versus your in-store customers, for example.
Another way to attract even more new contacts? Offer discounts or exclusive content during the signup process, and then set up a trigger campaign to make good on that promise once they’ve subscribed.
Target your subscribers by interest
Just as you might send unique content to folks based on how you met them (or where they signed up), you can show subscribers how well you know them by setting up trigger campaigns based on their interaction with the first few campaigns they received from you. The Direct Marketing Association’s Email Experience Council reports that triggered campaigns had a 96% higher open rate in the fourth quarter of 2011 than typical email campaigns.
Let’s say folks clicked a campaign link to read about the seasonal trees your nursery just received (we’re fans of the pink dogwood, by the way). Set up a link-based autoresponder so those folks also receive information about soil treatment. When you connect with your audience in this way, they’ll be likelier to open your next round of campaigns -- and to start telling others (via email forwards or social shares) about your campaigns.
Use email + social together
Stop using Facebook to creep on your college boyfriend’s recent antics (man, he really hasn’t grown up, has he?) and create a Facebook business account for your brand instead. Add a tab for your page, and post an Emma signup form to it. Set up a Twitter account and cross-promote your website, email campaigns and Facebook presence there.
With Emma’s social posting feature, it’s easy to post your email campaigns to your Facebook and Twitter pages, right after you’ve sent them to your audience. And make sure to enable social sharing in your campaigns, so recipients can click to share your newsletters on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
This one seems obvious, but seriously: Don’t be an email sender that your audience starts to ignore -- or dislike. Prune your content for relevance, and stick to your editorial calendar. Ask subscribers how often they’d like to hear from you, and respect their preferences. Sending frequency -- whether you’re sending too often or not enough -- is the primary reason for opt-outs.
And make sure to treat brand new subscribers and your most loyal customers differently. New folks need an introduction to who you are and what you do, while your biggest fans likely want to get more involved in product sneak peeks, giveaways and events.
Remember, your audience is letting you rent space in their inboxes -- so strengthen those relationships into something that builds your business. If you build it, they will come; if they like it, they will share.
A primer to start building your email list easily and effectively
When I was a kid, I was cursed with the summer birthday blues. When my July birthday hit, I'd be ready to celebrate, but since I didn't have a classroom to share the news (or the cupcakes) with, I didn't get any of the attention that's lavished on those lucky enough to be born during the school-year months.
It's a frustrating feeling to have a great announcement to make, but no audience to hear it — just ask any business owner who's just beginning to build their email audience list. Your news may be more about software updates or new product lines than cupcakes, but the challenge remains: If the classroom doesn't come to you, how do you find the right folks to share in your celebration?
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to find the right audience members and play well with Emma's permission policy, too. With a little advance planning, you'll set yourself up to share your brand with the right folks — and engage them from the start.
If you're new to email marketing and not sure how to attract subscribers, follow these tips to get your program up and running:
Create a strong signup form. Your signup form is the perfect place to gather all the subscriber information you need to know. Make a clear distinction between what you must have (mark it as required) and what can be shared at your subscribers' discretion. You might need to know their zip codes to send them accurate info about a store in their area, but you don't need to send birthday coupons to everyone — just the folks who choose to fill in their date of birth. Remember, subscribers may abandon your form if they feel that the process is too long or intrusive. Also, let your subscribers know what to expect as a new member of your list. Will you be sending daily, weekly, monthly or on some other schedule? Will they see promotions along with newsletters? Can they pick and choose the news types they want to receive?
Identify all of your customer touch-points, and get used to asking folks to join your email list. Think beyond your website for a moment. Does your company send transactional emails? Do you tweet? Have a Facebook page? You'll reach the biggest audience by making your email signup forms as visible as possible in as many places as possible, so identify your points of contact. And think beyond your online presence. Put a fishbowl near your store's register so customers can sign up by dropping in their business cards. Encourage your sales team to bring up your newsletter in their daily calls or demo classes. Even include a link to your signup form in your own email signature. Every interaction is an opportunity to build a relationship.
Create a welcome trigger. Catch your subscribers when their curiosity is piqued: right when they sign up. Your automatic welcome emails can net four times the normal open rate and five times the normal click-through rate. A welcome email is the perfect time to reinforce the benefits of your newsletter, give subscribers a discount on their next purchase or simply thank them for signing up.
Ask subscribers to share your emails with their networks. Then, provide unique and entertaining content so they can't help but do so. Incentivize the share, too. Reward those who share with a special coupon or unique content from your brand. That's a built-in loyalty program!
Give a little thought (and a lot more action) to these four tips, and you'll be growing your email list in no time.
This is part one in our blog series on audience growth. In our next installment, we'll talk about more ways to maintain a healthy, engaged list.