Last updated on September 30th, 2020
Many small businesses are lacking in adequate funds during the COVID crisis to deal with marketing issues effectively. For them, email marketing is amongst the most affordable means of reaching out to their target audiences. With some basics of this marketing strategy, businesses can overcome this crisis. A webinar with email consultant Sophia helps in understanding the email marketing essentials. Have a look!
Email marketing has always been at the top of the list of digital marketing strategies for businesses. it is not just affordable marketing means but effective as well. With an email marketing campaign, you can immediately reach your email subscribers with your message. No wonder, a personalized email message regarding your business makes a great impact on the email recipients.
If done professionally, email marketing becomes an effective tool to build relationships with prospective customers. It also helps in building leads and gaining potential clients. When the world is experiencing the pandemic crisis, businesses need effective email marketing more than ever before. This is because most of the other online and offline marketing tactics cannot be explored fully.
However, you will generate leads and build relationships with email marketing only if it is handled carefully. To educate business owners about the fine points of this marketing tactic, Designhill conducted a webinar on this issue on July 29, 2020. This leading creative marketplace organized a webinar on Email Marketing Strategies During and After the Crisis. The guest speaker was Sophia Le, who shared her experience of using email marketing and gave vital tips to the entrepreneurs.
Sophia Le discussed different aspects of email marketing strategies. She showed how email works best to maintain customer relationships, generate a lead, and create new strategies. She advised asking and answering some crucial questions before drafting your email messages.
Here Is The Video Of The Webinar With Sophia Le
Here Is What Sophia Le Advises On Adopting Email Marketing Strategies During and After The Crisis
Sophia Le: The first thing I want to say is that email is important, but it’s on the back burner of our to-do list. We want to talk about why it is so. We are going to go through five questions before you start writing an email to generate leads.
Let’s say, you are a brick mortar business or have a physical location. I understand the implications, but I’m not sure if it’s the right thing for me. What if I want to use text messaging or social media or mobile push because I have an app. So, you can use this framework as well for that. So those are the three things that we will cover today. So, before we dive into, why email we’re going to talk about what the word crisis means. I love this quote from author Stephen Fink. He wrote a book called Crisis Management Planning for the Inevitable. It talks about what a crisis is.
So, if you look at the traditional view of a crisis, it’s saying that disasters are bad we don’t have them. We don’t necessarily want them to happen so they can negatively affect 40 to 60% of businesses in the United States that never open again after a disaster. We want to avoid them as much as possible. Unfortunately, we can’t avoid them, for instance, a global pandemic.
A Crisis is An Opportunity
But what I want you to know is that even though we can’t avoid them necessarily, they are an opportunity waiting to happen. So, it’s an equal part of the danger opportunity. So, an earthquake can destroy your business. They are too fearful of coming into your store. But that is a great opportunity to do something different. Intellectually, we might know that, but it’s hard to understand, especially when you are in that fight or flight or freeze mode, where you are not sure what to do.
You can look at businesses around the world who have survived a crisis, whether it’s a natural disaster or some PR snafu. I use the example of Jack in the Box in the early night. When they had an equal life scare, no one wanted to eat at the restaurant. This is because they go through things that aren’t pertinent to me. What can I do? How can I use this information about a crisis being equal parts danger opportunity to make something of it?
I left being an emergency manager; part of it was in government and didn’t necessarily allow me to learn about marketing. But the other one was that my husband was sick. He’s a business owner. He took some time off from writing his book and doing his master’s degree, running a full time consulting practice. Later, the doctor then found out that he had a tumor. So, our life turned upside down. There were six months of doctor’s appointments surgeries, all this uncertainty about what our business was going to look like. He was running a thriving consulting business. I think he was working two weeks after surgery.
Any Crisis Can Hurt Business
So, for me, who was a government employee, we had paid time off. I had health benefits to make sure that he could get through his surgeries without financially impacting us. But if it were our business, the situation would look so much different. That’s what small businesses have to deal with. The crisis is not necessarily the big global epidemics, but it is the life’s crisis such as someone having cancer, is sick or can’t work due to a car wreck. Those are the things that we have to be cognizant of as small business owners. These are the things that we need to be careful of.
Designhill: What are the best email marketing platforms?
Sophia Le: I use ConvertKit, but it depends on what you are trying to do. Are you trying to send a newsletter Or, are you trying to do some automation? Are you trying to set up a welcome camp? These are the ones to get started, and ConvertKit is affordable. MailChimp is a good one. For more advanced ones, I would say a lot of small businesses use Active Campaign.
I was now coming back to the story. The reality is that during the situation, I didn’t know what to do. I was a trained emergency manager. I have a degree in managing crises. I could alert people, and I needed to tell somebody I needed to tell his family or my family or friends. I wanted to try to explain why we weren’t going to Christmas parties or maybe that they should come to the hospital visit him.
So, I started emailing everybody to tell them what was going on regarding my husband’s treatment. This whole process that I used to alert people during an emergency. But what does it have to do with my business?
Email is amazingly efficient. First off, there’s $42 that you make for every dollar that you spend on email. Everyone is always checking email and phone, and getting the phone on email.
The average person checks email 15 times during the day.
Most Businesses Depend on Emails
Also, 81% of people of small business owners rely on email as a primary customer acquisition channel.
Make Your Business Familiar
So this makes so much sense from a business perspective that it uses email. Businesses not only can alert customers during a crisis but also build a relationship in general. You cannot talk to people one on one all the time, but you can send them an email. That little touchpoint will make such a difference during an emergency. This is because people are more likely to trust a person they had not seen before. They might trust me as they buy my products.
Everyone got an email during this time from a business that they haven’t heard for many years. The more you can build a relationship before a crisis happens, the more likely they can trust you. Know that familiarity always triumphs over authority.
Tips For Writing Emails
We are going to talk through a framework about how to write these emails. The framework is called the Single Overriding Communications Objective. This is a framework that the Center for Disease Control uses to make sure that their doctors are well prepared to talk to the media, before any press conference. The framework helps you write your email message by asking five questions.
What is your message?
The first question to answer is, what is your email message or primary message. It is about what you are trying to say. If you don’t know what your goal is then, don’t bother sending the email. The message during a crisis or after a crisis, should something to do with your business. So you might say that you have to shut down or there’s a discount or anything else.
What should the recipients do?
The second thing is, what is it that you want your recipients to do? This is otherwise known as a Call-to-Action. So, a lot of us get emails sometimes we read them to the end of them say what is it that you want me to take action on? Do you want me to buy something? Do you want me to reply, knowing what the action you want your recipients to do? Maybe it’s to be aware of something. The call to action makes your email that much stronger.
What lists or segments need to know this?
Then it is also about the list of segments that need to know your email message. Everyone has received an email blast, but you should understand who needs to know your message. They may be your customers or vendors. When you understand the listing segments, it helps in making sending personalized messages. Such a message resonates during a crisis or at other times.
What facts or data support the message?
During a crisis, emotions are charged up. Customers are either angry or upset. They are going to take the anger out on your business. Therefore, take emotion out of your message, put facts or data to support it. Then, they can easily argue with you if the message makes sense.
Who should ‘send’ the message?
Then the last thing to note here is who should be sending your email message. This is about knowing who the spokesperson is for the message. If you are a freelancer, you are going to be the spokesperson. But if you are a bigger company that has a CEO, a couple of people, then the message might come from the top. It could be a marketing person. But find out who that person is that your customers trust or whatever your lister segment trusts will ensure that a message sticks during after a crisis.
A Real-Life Scenario
Now, we will apply the above framework on a real-life scenario, which is a webinar email reminder. This is not a crisis. But again, a lot of people haven’t necessarily been through a crisis. We will take this situation.
First, take the primary message. For this particular webinar that we’re on, a webinar is happening, so you want to alert them about the date, time, and subject. So that’s the private message that a webinar is happening. Then, to say that you should join our webinar is the call to action, which is to register, so you have a button that says register for the webinar.
The audience, in this case, was the small business owner. Then, the spokesperson would be someone from the company, the community outreach specialist, someone for this webinar, who has already built a relationship with the recipient of the email message.
Then, it comes to supporting your message with data points. In this case, the facts would be the time date, which is July 29, 2020, at 9 AM pacific time. The topic is Email marketing during after crisis objectives are the bullet points that we talked about?
So, you can put those learning objectives during the webinar in bullet points such as:
- Why does email work best for building customer relationships?
- Five questions to ask before you start writing an email
- How to engage in text messaging, SMS, social media, mobile push notifications, so on.
You will find that the SOCO framework works well. Figure out what you want to say first. Then, you can determine all those things. That will help you during a crisis but even, as you are developing your marketing leads.
Designhill: How to arrange a new strategy to attract customers to the tourism industry after COVID-19?
Sophia Le: If you are in the tourism industry, let’s say you are in Alaska Airlines, it is empathetic to the situation that’s going on right now. It is all about understanding the situation. So, Alaska Airlines sent a good email, because I have credits with them. They said we understand the need for flexibility for your family right now.
The airlines say that we let you use your voucher a year in advance. so reducing the risk for them to get on a flight or get on a cruise ship or go on a trip is in your benefit. You may ask them to pay right now, but maybe you scheduled for December, but let’s say COVID-19 still happening then.
Therefore, you make that voucher available for the next year and give them the flexibility to reschedule. Try to add value to understanding where your customers are at right now. How to avoid getting into the junk folder? I would send relevant information.
Designhill: Is there a CRM for professional relationships, not keeping track of leads or connections but connections?
Sophia Le: I think LinkedIn has some functionality built-in, but I don’t use one myself. I utilize the tools that you already have versus getting new ones. If you use Google Docs every day, then maybe you can use a Google Sheet to keep track of professional relationships. I know that a former emergency manager might have a great time. CRM, for professional relationships, he uses the V card on Outlook.
So, it had a title, name, email address, phone number, then little details. The details said, we met for lunch on this date, they ordered fish tacos or something that helped him remember things. So that’s what he used. But I think it is a tool that you are willing to log into every day. This way, you maintain a situation at a job where we control the narrative sense of research in the public.
But management decided to ignore, hoping it went away. That would happen. There is no point in ignoring it. Make sure that you can deliver on your promise.
Designhill: How to build an awesome email list for a particular niche?
Sophia Le: When you are building an email list, know what problem your customer is trying to solve. Let’s say I’m an email marketing expert. People are going to ask me how to build an email list. So, I would put together a PDF or some sort of downloadable thing or a series of blog posts with three to five steps that they should do. So, understand what the problem that they’re trying to solve is what your solution is why your solution is better than others.
If you could tell me a little bit about your business, you could tell me about your business. How do I gain more email subscribers is about adding value, making sure that you can be found on the internet. Some people do podcasts guest posts. I do a lot of guest posts myself getting published in places. Doing a course on Skillshare will make it easy for people to find you.
So, you should address how to email very wealthy clients from Florida effectively. But I think there’s something about a yacht that makes the wealthy people love it. There’s a feeling that they get when they want to buy a yacht. It’s all you buy a yacht every day. Are they trying to spend more time with their family? Are they trying to travel more? I’m understanding what that motivation is for buying a yacht will help you figure out how to email to them effectively.
Designhill: How frequently should you send emails to your customers or convert leads without irritating your members so that they don’t unsubscribe you?
Make sure that every sales email that you send, you want to make sure that there are five or six of them that are not meant to be a sales-related email. Let’s say, I’m going to use Shreyas’ example who’s a graphic designer. Maybe, she gives five emails about how to build a logo or how to run a T-shirt contest, etc.
She is creating value for the customer, but when you get to the sale, it doesn’t necessarily detract from the fact that you are giving value to them. So does sending value before you ask for the sale make sense?
Designhill: How many emails should one send to a customer within a week?
Automated Emails Are Important
Sophia Le: I am a believer in automating stuff. Therefore, what I work on a lot is onboarding campaigns or welcome campaigns. When they join your email list, they automatically get a welcome email; they get five emails about the problem that you solve. Then, you let it go after that, then maybe use it monthly. But I’m a believer in it, and if you email your friends every day, I’ll go ahead and send them every day. But if you only email them every once in a while, you should be authentic to what you naturally do as a person. Make sure that you maintain relationships because it will translate over to your business.
But know that email marketing will not necessarily make your business rich overnight. This is because you got ConvertKit or any other such tool. So, you should be clear about what it is you are trying to accomplish with email marketing. For instance, do you want more leads or more sales from your email marketing campaign? In that way, email can be a tool to help you achieve that target.
Use Text Messaging
I think everyone is talking more about lead generation. Therefore, information about text messaging, SMS will be more helpful. So you can use this framework to do text-based messaging. It may be that you don’t want to necessarily use email or spend a lot of time on email. But you are good at text messaging, or you have a mobile app. You may also be addicted to the social media page and use Instagram every single day. There’s a framework that you can use to do the same.
If you are going to adopt something text messaging, you need to understand your character limits to send as much information as you want. My boss went through a situation where he enabled text messaging on an emergency email alert sent backward to multiple people. You can get across a clear message text messaging by using that framework.
Update Customers Through Text Messaging
The other thing about text messaging is that you can always send an update. A lot of government agencies especially use text messaging during a crisis. You also want to send an update in a situation of an active shooter shooting around. Royal Canadian Mounted Police from Nova Scotia are continually using that same framework for the primary message call to action.
Then, you should be clear about what it is that you want people to do at this time. They repeat that because the information is rapidly changing. You can always send an update, especially if you are utilizing these platforms with email. But again, you have much more free rein, in terms of your body text versus something Twitter or text messaging.
But make sure that you have a single call to action. We talked earlier that a call to action is about what it is that you want your customers to do? You can have that single call to action. But again, you have to be careful when you are doing it via text message.
Designhill: What is a great way to jumpstart email marketing?
Sophia Le: I should have a business email. A normal email is okay for email marketing, but I would use a business email myself, from a deliverability perspective. Otherwise, if you use your email, then you are going to get flagged as spam, possibly. Then, the emails that you want to send to your friend’s family aren’t going to get through. So, I have a separate email address. If you own your domain, you can do customer service or customer support type email.
Designhill: Which is a best email platform?
Sophia Le: I think Active Campaign will probably be the best one for small business owners, graphic designers, or freelancers. MailChimp has it. I haven’t looked at it in a few years, but it was pretty elementary at that point. I’m using ConvertKit right now for myself. It has some automation, and it takes a little bit of a learning curve. But, the more advanced you get as a business, the more advanced email platforms you need.
I would say start with one, especially when that is free or low cost. Then, you will move to a larger service provider. I do work for a big email service provider. CocaCola is always changing its email service providers every couple of years. So, don’t be afraid to try new tools.
Designhill: What is the key to going from little to no engagement with emails to successful email campaigns?
Write Something Every Day
Sophia Le: I would say that you make a habit of emailing. You should get to the point where you are writing for 15 minutes a day; you don’t even have to write anything different. Write about whatever you do, such as your yacht sales or about your graphic design. You do something different than other people. So, write down those things every single day, even if it is for 15 minutes. After a week, you are going to have something that you can piece together into an email.
I know that sounds vague, but I’m a big believer in it. If you have this big goal ahead of you, you need to do something small every day. I would say, try writing for five to 15 minutes a day then see if you can piece together an email once a week then see if that works. if it doesn’t, then you can try something else.
Designhill: How do we use a referral program email strategy to have pre-order for luxury goods?
Sophia Le: You should have a picture of your luxury email good and then run a Facebook ad. The first hundred people that order for your luxury goods get 20% off or something that. But don’t cut your costs if it’s going to impact your business. Think about what it is that is making your luxury goods different from others on the market. Then, using that to your advantage in marketing because people want something different. They want to see something that they haven’t discovered yet. That could be part of your email strategy.
Designhill: How do I increase the open rate of my emails? How do I improve on the CPI part of it? Can you give some tips on that?
Sophia Le: When it comes to open rates, you always focus on your subject line, first foremost, because if it doesn’t get opened, it doesn’t get read. If you find that people aren’t opening them, or the open rate is horrendously low, then work on your subject line. You can Google for the subject line to find little formulas that can get people’s attention. You could add an emoji or a question. So, what you are trying to do is be efficient, so if you are getting an email from a friend, you might say, hey, drinks at 10 tonight, or something that is a very, straightforward subject line.
But, then there’s also the Curiosity ones, which is when marketing comes in. So again, you try to open up that gap. So there’s supposed to be an unanswered question in their brain in some way when they open an email. That’s what you are trying to do when you write a subject line. But if you are getting open rates still you are not getting click-throughs, then you start working on your primary call to action.
Designhill: Is there any basic structure or guidelines for ending emails?
Stick to The Fundamental
Sophia Le: You have people who always start with a story. The guideline is to understand those five things that I talked about. You should ask these fundamental questions as part of the guidelines. Ask what is it that you are trying to get across? What is the primary call to action? Who is it that you are going to send it to? Then, the data of facts will support. That will make up the body in the email format, but everything else should be personalized.
Again, how do you write to your friends family, then that will translate over to your customers. Everyone writes differently. If you are unsure about how to start, what I would recommend doing is switch on your iPhone. There is a recording app there. Go for a walk and talk about the things that you are going to solve for your customers. Then, you’ll find patterns that you can translate into your writing. This is because you should not get so concerned about the rules.
You need to build that relationship. I found so many offers of help in building relationships with people. If you build that relationship in advance when something bad happens during COVID, they will come to you. Then, you can use them to bolster the next new opportunity for business.
Designhill: Does having an email domain for your business seem more professional than using Gmail or other free email services?
Sophia Le: Yes, absolutely. I know it’s hard to set up, but I would highly recommend it. It makes it look like you are a real business. I know it sounds silly because a lot of us do use their emails. I mean, Hillary Clinton used a personal email for the Department of State business. But, it helps you separate what gets audited versus not, especially you can own the content in your domain against having it on Gmail searchable.
Designhill: What is a rule of thumb for email marketing B2B versus B2C clients?
Sophia Le: For B2C, I would focus more on imagery versus B2B. So with B2B, you can get away with text, longer emails, and less design. Whereas for B2C, you probably try to get more attention because they, the conversions are one-off. If you are a B2Bclient, then you usually get a referral business. In b2c, if you are shopping, you get one item. So you are constantly trying to give new things. That’s the primary difference.
So, these are the find points that you should be following when creating your email marketing strategies. You should pay attention to what Sophia Le has to say and try your best to apply those tips during the pandemic crisis.
While marketing your business, another thing to ensure for your business growth is that its visual identities are impressive. You need impactful logos, business cards, brochures, etc. identities that convey your brand message.
At Designhill, you can outsource your design requirements to create logos, etc. visuals. Just launch your design contest at this marketplace and get your brand identities.
Email marketing is amongst the most effective and affordable means to generate leads and build relationships. Email consultant, Sophia Le advises writing your email messages carefully by first knowing the audience well and what to write. You need to consider your target audience. Also, use text messaging as a supporting tool for your email marketing strategies.