The following is a guest post by Patrick Foster, eCommerce entrepreneur, coach & writer. Patrick is currently writing on EcommerceTips.org where he shares engaging eCommerce content for entrepreneurs and business owners. You can follow him on Twitter here, or add him on LinkedIn.
Got an army of loyal followers and readers? Not quite sure how to broach selling to them for the first time? Selling to your audience for the first time can be scary, but here are some surefire ways you can turn that loyal following into a profitable business. (If you want to learn more about email marketing and building your email list – read this previous post).
Don’t be afraid & embrace it
A large email list can be a weighty responsibility. The biggest thing holding people back from selling to their online audience is fear. Fear of being rejected, of asking too much, of saying the wrong thing. You have to embrace your role as a marketer as well as a publisher to succeed.
- Selling via email is about relationships too. Don’t assume that just because you are selling you are going to instantly turn people off and alienate your audience. Selling is nuanced; you are dealing with people who already ‘know’ and trust you. Build on this relationship and sell in increments.
- Come up with a structured email plan that slowly ups the ante of your sales pitch. Make sure the sequence has an internal logic and that your readers can follow a cohesive narrative. Start with ‘awareness – problem – solution (product)’ as a simple framework to set you off.
- It’s all about how you frame your sales pitch. If you’re coming out with a product or service that you absolutely know your audience are going to love because it adds value, then sharing it with them only makes sense. After all, you’re just helping them solve a problem they may face. When framed like that, selling will seem natural and on-brand.
Incorporate (real) deals and offers
Treat your email subscribers like VIPs.
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Offer your readers special offers to thank them for their loyalty and engagement. Include them in the top-tier of your potential customers and reward them with special email discounts. No one can say no to great offers (caveat: real value – not a 5% discount on a bin end product).
- If you are going to email people about a product or a service for the first time, why not add a custom offer rather than just a generic, “Hey check this out.” Don’t just drop the offer straight in if it doesn’t feel right – you can build up to it with a story that ends on the offer. Cultivate a friendly and engaging tone when giving away something for free.
- It has been done to death by now, but a free trial is always a good offer to send out to your email list as people can ‘try before they buy’.
- Keep it focused on the relationship and include the offer as a bonus. You can thank people for their support and membership over the years, explaining that this offer is exclusive to them.
- Use accurate segmentation and personalisation to send out even more targeted and useful offers.
Persuade and beguile, don’t push & shove
Be subtle and alluring; don’t hit people over the head with your sales pitch in email one.
- Modify sales language and messaging to keep things consistent and never, ever suddenly shift tone and go into ‘sales mode.’ It will seem disingenuous.
- You’ve earned people’s trust and their emails, so don’t throw it all away be being too pushy. Start by focusing on the problem you are aiming to solve. Raise people’s awareness levels before going in for the kill.
- Long copy and storytelling can be great for a more subtle selling approach. Stay clear of any flashy call to action buttons or big bold statements in the first instance – they will be an audience turn-off.
Continue the conversation on social media
The distinction between subscribers and followers is blurry – take advantage of the fact that many of your readers also follow you on social media.
- Here is how to build your social media identity if this is still new to you and your brand. If you have a more established social media presence, replicate some of the sales messages from your emails on social media. Remember to build cohesion with previous content – super important for your social media brand.
- Repeating variations on the same theme is a good social media/email marketing strategy. If you have been emailing people about how they can save time by downloading your ebook, you might want to post about productivity and timekeeping tools, tips, and hacks.
- Don’t forget to slightly shift your tone with social media, using shorter copy and incorporating rich media as much as you can.
Review data and adjust
The beauty of email marketing is that you have all the data you need there at your fingertips (and if you haven’t yet, find an email marketing service like MailChimp that offers campaign data). MailChimp aren’t the only ones out there – there are loads of other email services out there, as well as WordPress plugins and the like.
- Monitor clicks and unsubscribes to see how your new approach is going down with your audience.
- Look at your analytics and see how people behave on your site (you’ll need to tag up email campaigns correctly to track referral traffic). Are they engaging with your landing pages or not? Are you making any sales through email? (Here’s a technical post on how to tag email traffic in Google Analytics).
- Does your product or service offering need to be stronger? It may be that your emails are compelling, but the actual offering isn’t delivering when people arrive on your sales or landing page. Remember, email marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum and works in tandem with your social media and website.
Monetise (with style)
It’s worth covering a few different ways you can monetize your website. Whatever you do, just make sure that what you’re selling or promoting ties in with your content and brand so that people aren’t turned off.
- Set up an online store under your domain or blog (doesn’t have to be anything fancy – this online store creator is one of the most widely used by bloggers). Start small and grow from there.
- Affiliate income is a really subtle way to monetize both your website and your actual emails. Include affiliate links to products or services you want to endorse in your email and website body copy. Don’t forget to disclose that you’re using affiliate links. (You might need to separately apply to some affiliate programs, which can be a bit of an admin nightmare).
- Banner ads from the right brands and services can actually enhance your website, and you can even include banner ads or promo spots in your email newsletter. This works best when the ad looks and ‘feels’ right with your content, so screening is key. Don’t let publishers get pushy with you and reserve the right to pull out if you feel it isn’t going to make a good impression.
Note: Are you still looking for the right email marketing tool? After trying several other tools we are now happy customers of ConverKit – check it out!
Selling to email subscribers for the first time is fun and challenging; embrace this new dawn in your internet career. What sorts of sales emails do you find interesting? What turns you off?
Do you want to start your email marketing? Do you need some help with the basics of list building and newsletter best practices?
Get our free ebook “Email Marketing Recipes” – and get email marketing tips that will help you start your email marketing the better way.
Hey, before you read on - we have in various FREE in-depth guides on similar topics that you can download. For this post, check out:FREE workbook: CREATE AWESOME BLOG POSTS
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