Email Marketing: How Dustin W. Stout Makes It Work

Email marketing can be a powerful and effective tool for freelancers. But it’s hard to know how to do it right. How can freelancers make the most of email marketing?

dustin-w-stoutToday we hear from Dustin W. Stout. He’s a speaker, a web design and social media consultant, and the co-founder of Warfare Plugins. You can also follow him on Twitter.

“If anyone has an email list and they aren’t inviting their subscribers to reply and have conversations, they’re truly missing out on mountains worth of ideas.” -Dustin W. Stout

This conversation covers how to stand out in someone’s inbox, how to offer valuable content and the benefits of interacting with your email audience.

What are some of the most important things you need to do to have a successful email marketing strategy?

To me, the most important things that one must have for a successful email marketing strategy are:

  1. A strong desire to give people extraordinary value in exchange for opening your emails.
  2. A dedication to being consistent in delivering that value.
  3. An easy workflow for creating enticing lead magnets and content upgrades (to keep your list growing quickly).

How do you stand out in someone’s inbox when there are so many other things going on (both for the recipients of your email and for you)?

The best way I know to stand out in people’s inbox is to first of all be consistently showing up in their inbox. Secondly, you must learn to use emotionally charged but unique subject lines. If it sounds like salesy, branded, corporate jargon then get rid of it. Write subject lines that strike some sort of emotional chord or find a way to say something unexpected.

For example, my most successful subject line, to this day, has been “Much goodies for you!”

The grammar nazis reading that just threw up in their mouth. But you know what? It worked because:

  • It was unique.
  • It didn’t sound corporate or salesy.
  • It quickly showed that there was going to be a clear benefit to opening the email.

So I would say keep those things in mind every time you write out a new email marketing message.

It seems like a lot of people in this industry who are successful with email are actually targeting freelancers and not clients, or they have a product to sell. When you’re a freelancer and focus on clients, how do you offer valuable content to people who need websites but don’t live and breathe websites?

I feel like I can speak directly to this question. I never targeted freelancers in my email marketing. Could freelancers use the content in my email marketing? Of course. But they were never the target audience. My target audience was the DIY business owner or social media manager who needed help navigating their way through social media and design. There’s a certain point though that they have to go “OK, all this is great, but I don’t wanna learn all this so I’ll just have to hire Dustin to do it for me.”

My email list has been my #1 source of both clients and customers. And it’s because I freely delivered value consistently enough that people trusted me to get the job done. In my newsletters I taught people how to manage their social media accounts. Most took the advice and ran with it. A handful of people thought exactly what I expected: “That’s great, but I’d rather you do it than try to learn.”

And that’s all you need, right? You don’t need every single person who subscribes to your email list to hire you. That would be a nightmare! You only need a few good, paying clients to take you up on your expertise.

So to put it simply— speak in your ideal client’s language and teach them the simple things. Every now and then throw in something advanced and trust that the right people are going to hire you to do it for them.

In your emails I’ve seen you ask people questions and encourage them to reply and answer you. Do people do it? Are you able to create conversation with your email audience? How beneficial is that?

Oh, gosh—this is probably my favorite thing to do. Whenever I send out one of my emails and ask people to reply, I know that I’m going to be locked into some great conversations over the following 24 hours.

Yes, people do reply. I respond to every single one of them.

And to be honest, I often get more value out of it than they do. Often times it begins with the individual asking questions about problems they haven’t been able to solve. And sure, I may be able to help solve their problem, but what they’ve given me by asking it is such a gift. I now have a greater understanding of what my audience is struggling with. Because if one person is struggling with it, many are.

I usually walk away from these conversations with several great ideas for blog posts to write or courses to build. I ended up loving these conversations so much, it ended up being the primary motivator to taking my audience interaction to the next level by opening the doors to my private Slack Community. Now I get to have those kinds of conversations daily.

If anyone has an email list and they aren’t inviting their subscribers to reply and have conversations, they’re truly missing out on mountains worth of ideas.

To learn more from Dustin W. Stout, check out our previous interview on productivity.

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