You get a notification, a new email, something you receive every day. You immediately scan the details, the subject line and the sender.
“Do I want, or need, to read this now?”
If the subject line was actually engaging enough to make you open the email in the first place, it’ll only take 5 seconds of reading the email for you to decide if it’s worth your while.
We’ve all been there, either hooked and interested or put-off and annoyed by icky sales-driven emails.
And if you’re new to email marketing, it can be a daunting task if you haven’t put much thought into it. But it can also be an unbelievably rewarding addition to your business: you can drive even more traffic to your online shop, convert more sales of your creations and turn your followers and readers into your biggest fans.
My aim for this lesson is to show you the simple steps to start and improve your email marketing, drive traffic to your list and increase those “You’ve just made a new order!” notifications you get in your inbox.
Why email marketing matters
It seems kind of old fashioned, but emails are still one of the most effective (and free!) ways to market your handmade shop.
Here are some of my favorite reasons why.
Your subscribers belong to you
If you have 1,000 email subscribers, every time you send out an email, 1,000 people will get a notification.
If you post a photo on Instagram or Facebook, it might only reach a couple hundred of your followers. The only way to reach your entire audience is to pay for it via boosts, sponsored posts and advertisements. In the end, that audience doesn’t belong to you – it belongs to the social media platform. And heaven forbid the day that your accounts are hacked or shut down. Your followers are gone in a poof.
With email, every single subscriber belongs to you and you can control exactly what happens with your list.
You can be more personal
Remember when email was used as a way to contact loved ones on the go? Email quickly took over sending snail mail when a phone call wasn’t viable.
At it’s roots, email is a personal way to get in touch with someone you know and share information with them. It’s like having a private one-on-one conversation, without all the chaos and chatter of other people.
Think about it. With email you can:
- Speak honestly and directly to your readers. You can build rapport, share your struggles and privately respond to any questions your readers have.
- Personalize your emails with targeted messages, like addressing all your subscribers by their first name.
- Categorize your lists with different groups of readers so you can send content that is adapted to each group.
Social media is great for building a community, blogs are awesome for sharing information but emails are the best tool for building a deeper relationship with each individual reader.
You can help nurture people who aren’t ready to be your customer
Not every reader is ready to buy your creations. Email is a great way to engage and nurture people in your community and turn them into your biggest fans and customers.
There’s so many ways you can do this by offering genuine value in your emails, like:
- Surprising your readers with freebies, gifts and offers
- Educating your readers about your products
- Sharing tips, tricks and useful information
You can use email as a platform that increases your sales as a result of earning the trust and engagement of your readers over time. When done well, emails are your best friend.
Email marketing: how to get started
The first step to take is to begin building a quality list of subscribers and readers. The quality of your readers is way more important than how big your list is. A big list doesn’t mean you have a good list. Super engaged readers = more sales.
To start, you need three things:
- Permission from your audience
- The right tool to send emails
- A website or landing page to collect emails
Get permission before you send an email
Collecting emails can’t be done without your customer’s consent. This is not only against many platforms policies, such as Etsy, but it’s also illegal and it’s an annoying way to kick-off your relationship with your customer. This means that any sale you make, you’ll need to confirm with your customer if he or she wants to hear from you first.
If you haven’t made the sale yet, you can invite your shop visitors and community to opt in to your email list before they hand their email over.
Sign up to an Email Marketing platform
An email marketing platform like MailChimp is useful and free for beginners new to email marketing. Here at Zibbet, I personally use ConvertKit and it’s a lifesaver when it comes to creating opt in forms, organizing subscribers, sending messages automatically and delivering email campaigns at convenient times.
Set up a website or a landing page to collect emails
As you can’t grab emails off of your order forms, you need a place outside of it to collect emails. You can create a landing page on your website or blog or use specialized landing page software such as Instapage if you’re not into the whole website ‘thing’. These places let you insert a form for your community to fill out with their details.
Grow your email list
So you’ve begun constructing your email list, but how can you grow it without all the effort and stress?
Here are some of my favorite steps to grow an engaged and high quality email list:
- Creating a useful incentive or freebie
- Promoting and publicizing your list everywhere
- Writing emails that your readers want to share
Give away something for free
Create an opt-in offer and be clear about what you are offering as your incentive. These offers could come in the form of free digital downloads or valuable information that’s only available via email. When you create an offer, make sure to delight and surprise your readers with something genuinely useful.
- A free e-book, guide or info sheet on a topic your readers would be interested in.
- Discount coupons, vouchers and free shipping codes.
- Downloadable artwork, patterns, stock photos and elements, desktop wallpapers, calendars and anything else you can think of.
- Tools and worksheets
- An educational email series
Here, SC Stockshop offers free stock photos whenever you sign up to her mailing list and delivers it as soon as you sign up.
Make sure you deliver on your offer as soon as the customer signs up to your email list. Many platforms let you set up automation, so all you need to do is draft the emails, and they’ll send it to your readers as soon as they sign up.
Plan your own opt-in offer
Download your free Opt-In Offer planning sheet as part of the Email Marketing tools bundle. It’ll be your roadmap for creating a compelling opt-in offer that your community will love.
Promote your email list
You can offer the most killer deal or spend hours creating a beautiful downloadable guide. But remember, you have to let people know that you have a list to subscribe to in the first place.
Try using these platforms to let everybody you know that you want to be part of their inbox:
- Share your incentive through social media. Add a new post to your Facebook page and shout it out in your latest Instagram post.
- Include it in your in-shop announcements or in your listing descriptions
- Add a visible form on your website, blog or landing page
- Share sign up details in your automated sales message
- Include it in your email signature
- Add it to your thank you note in your orders
- Use a clipboard to gather emails at offline events like craft fairs and trade shows
Here, Rise and Wander adds a opt-in form at the bottom of her website to attract new readers.
While you’re building your subscription forms on your shop and spreading the word, you can start collecting emails the old fashioned way: with a pen and a piece of paper. Download your own Mailing List form as part of the Email Marketing tools bundle to start collecting emails at offline events.
Create content people want to share
Finally, you want to create emails that people will want to share with their friends and community. Now, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never written an email in your life. As long as you share genuinely useful information in your emails and you are authentic in your messaging, your content is worth sharing. Be consistent in your email schedule (start with 1 email a week!) and always ask yourself how your emails serve your subscribers before you hit send.
After that, don’t be afraid to ask your readers to forward and share your emails – it isn’t hard to share something that adds real value.
Write emails that sell more
Once you’ve begun building your email list, the only thing left to do is to construct, send and help guide your readers towards becoming paying customers.
Every time you start typing out an email draft, take note of:
- The goal of your email
- What type of email you’re writing
- What you want your reader to do once they’ve read the email
- The best tone of voice to communicate with readers
- The images and visual layout of your email
Plan your first email
Download your Email Planning sheet as part of the Email Marketing tools bundle to start planning and writing out your first email.
Pinpoint the goal of your email
Be clear with yourself as to what the goal for your email is.
Do you want the customer to purchase your latest product or sign up to a service your offer?
Are you aiming to advertise an upcoming event of yours?
Or are you trying to educate and teach your reader something they may not know?
Make this clear before writing and sending your mail.
What type of email are you going to send?
Once you know the goal of your email, now you can start to think about the best way to communicate this to your readers.
Here are a few examples of types of emails you can send:
- Newsletter email. Curate the highlights of your business on a regular basis. This can include your newest products, upcoming news, content from your blog and social media and whatever else you can think of in summary form.
- Offer email. Promote your coupons, vouchers or free stuff.
- Shop announcement email. Announce your latest sale, new product line or collection.
- Educational email. Share your knowledge and expertise. You can use these emails to direct your readers to your website, blog or a sign up page for an educational video series.
- Email invitation. If you run events, workshops or webinars, you can send an invitation to collect RSVPs and registrations.
- Welcome email. When your readers first subscribe, let them know who you are and what kinds of content they should expect to find in their inbox from you.
- Polls or survey email. Give your readers the drivers seat and let them give you feedback and thoughts on what kind of content and products they’d like to see from you.
Include a call to action in your emails
When writing your email, ask yourself:
What do I want my reader to do after they’ve finished reading?
Do you want them to buy your latest product?
Do you want them to read your latest post on your blog?
Or do you want them to share your content with their friends?
You want the person on the receiving end of the email feel encouraged to take some form of action when they read your email. The easiest way to do this is to make a request, in plain english.
This is called a call-to-action or a CTA. A CTA is a marketing tool used to direct your audience to where you want them to be. They should be low risk to the reader, encourage immediate action and be direct and easy for the reader to complete the action.
Include these call to actions in your emails, along with a link back to where you want your readers to be. Make them pop – underline, highlight or turn them into a clickable button.
Keep them short and direct:
- “Shop the new collection now”
- “Download your free pattern”
- “Read the latest post”
- “Get started now”
- “Sign up today”
Branding your emails
When you understand who your audience is and the goal of your email, you can start crafting words and graphics that tell your story and speak directly to them. There are two approaches to brand your email.
You can either be:
- Personal, or
Crafting a personal email to your subscribers
Remember that people are attracted to stories. You can weave your personal experience into your emails and form a relationship through your tone of voice. You can be a trusted friend, an advisor or someone familiar. Don’t be scared of sharing your struggles and personal accounts. Here you might want to focus on creating a more casual tone that’s like having a private conversation with your reader. You can also strip away many of your visuals and graphics so your reader feels like they’re getting a personal email directly from you.
The professional touch
On the other side, you can craft emails that show your readers that you mean business and that they can trust that you’re a legitimate business. Many email marketing platforms now let you quickly design a schmick looking email layouts without needing to know a single line of code. Finally, add some easy-peasy graphics to your layout using free design software like Canva.
Whenever you’re writing emails, remember that the content you have to say is something that your community needs – your content is valuable to them. Serve your readers first, build trust and make every email newsletter, offer and freebie a true delight. Over time, you’ll draw people in, keep them hooked and convert them into loyal, paying customers.
Do you have an email list? Share it below in the comments along with any questions or feedback you have about this lesson.