God has been kind enough to walk with me in the strategic growth of our marketing business, and the foundational “earthly” strategy He’s used has been the power of relationships — and forming them through email marketing.
Many businesses and ministries use email marketing of course, but often it’s with middling to poor results which is easily written off: email marketing doesn’t really work¸ they say. As with any media, however, the problem usually lies with the execution rather than the tools. As my Dad taught me when I was a boy: a poor workman blames the tools.
My last post dealt with (just a few) commonly-held myths about email marketing which, when adhered to, lead exactly to those kinds of poor results which I just mentioned.
So, let’s give you some tactics and strategies which do work, shall we? Because when you see “boot-strapping” internet businesses which are thriving these days (usually doing seven figures with 1 employee, and the owner working from his basement — yes, they exist and are actually quite plentiful!), or ministries which have a thriving internet presence that fuels their growth, a key “hidden” secret behind their success is usually excellent email marketing.
In a future post, I’ll discuss how the following can be systemized, but here are 3 essential components of email marketing which drive sales and ministry growth:
1. Write with sincerity and authenticity — not being smart and smarmy. And to do so, make sure that you are writing to an individual, NOT to a list.
As you write, visualize who that recipient is — in all regards. Which, of course, presumes that you have a good handle on that information … but that’s a topic for another day! Know their fears and phobias, their wants and needs, their objections and their hot buttons — and write with those clearly in mind.
That means writing to a real person! A contact list does not read your emails. There is no jostling crowd looking over shoulders reading a computer screen or iPhone. As far as your recipients are concerned and the effect you want to have on them — he or she is the only one receiving your email; he or she is the only one in the room with you; he or she is the only one you’re seeking to build a long-lasting relationship with (and, um, don’t worry about ending a sentence with a preposition or a dangling participle J).
2. Understand and integrate the Pareto Principle (The “80/20″ rule).
Your emails should contain approximately 80% valuable content and 20% pitch.
Or, put another way, 80% of your emails which you sent should be valuable in and of themselves (truly valuable — not junk which could easily be found by a random internet search on your topic!), which leaves 20% of your emails to prompt a specific response (a reply, clicking on a link to sales or lead-generation page, donating to your ministry, etc).
Your readers must believe, based on the valuable and actionable content you consistently provide, that you truly are their friend and advocate — that you’re not just interested in their money, but rather their overall well-being.
Doing anything less than this is abusing their trust (which leads to unsubscriptions and steadily-decreasing response), and forms no relationship with prospects, clients and ministry supporters.
And related tip: for goodness sakes, write about what your READERS care about … not about all the great, hottest things which you and your organization are up to. News-flash: people care a lot less than you think they do … unless you prove to them that you care about THEM. This is a Biblical principle, after all. (Hello, 2nd-greatest commandment! Nice to see you here.)
3. Write as much as you’d like!
Do NOT believe the myth that “nobody reads long emails”. The truth is far more reasonable: Nobody reads long, poorly-written emails — which, if you wrote them without keeping your recipients concerns in mind (see #1) are likely to be one and the same.
Because if you’ve successfully attracted the attention and increased the interest of your list, your readers will read every word you wrote and wish you wrote more, because …
… you are writing about something near and dear to their heart or wallet! And they just can’t get enough of what you can tell them about how what they’re interested in purchasing or supporting is exactly what they need or should be connected to, for all the reasons you can possible list (which usually confirms what they already knew or suspected).
Can I give you a 4th component?
Always write with personality.
Be unpredictable. Be controversial. Be engaging. Be fascinating. Don’t shrink back from who you really are. Make your contact list want to receive your emails rather than suffer through them.
In a future post, I’ll share with you how you can begin to systemize this process, and develop a foundation for long-lasting growth through leverage and email marketing.
Until next time, then?
Nate Hagerty is longtime friend of Joseph International. He is the former marketing director of a multi-million dollar tax firm and now the CEO of TaxProMarketer — the leading marketing advisors to independent tax and accounting professionals in North America.
Listen to an exclusive interview with Nate in the MP3 set of the recent Marketplace Christianity Conference, in Kansas City, MO. Click here for more info