Email marketing is hyped as an ideal solution. We’re told to build our lists and send out great content and watch the money come in. But it never seems that easy. How is a busy freelancer supposed to make email work?
Today we learn from self-described “WordPress Chick” Kim Doyal. She’s a digital wizard, offering strategy, consulting, coaching and more. She also emails. A lot.
“Start writing, start emailing, start sharing and start having conversations.” -Kim Doyal
This conversation covers email strategy, content and practical tips.
What are some of the most important things you need to do to have a successful email marketing strategy?
There is a lot of information and data available on email marketing, but without a doubt the simplest (and most effective) thing you can do to have a successful email marketing strategy is to be consistent and congruent in your message.
Before you begin worrying about sequences, tagging, funnels or any of the metrics that people use to measure how effective your email marketing is, simply start by emailing often.
I think the days of only sending a ‘newsletter’ are behind us. I’m specifically talking about the online marketing/blogging/WordPress space. Telling stories, sharing experiences and being transparent creates a trusting relationship with your subscribers.
Once you’ve developed a habit of consistently emailing and communicating with your subscribers you can start working on how best to optimize what you’re doing (split testing headlines, deliverability times, how many calls to action per email, etc.).
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)?
As trite as this saying may be, content is king.
I’ve spent this past year focusing on fundamentals and a true desire to start mastering direct response marketing. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest tactic, but the solid strategies that have been around for decades are what will sustain you (and position your brand and business for growth).
One of the things I did when I made the decision to focus on fundamentals was simply subscribe to people who were doing well in this space. I paid attention to headlines and content that grabbed me.
While I feel like a kindergartener in the copywriting space, giving this the time and attention it deserves has blown me away (I always say this stuff isn’t sexy until it is… because it starts working).
I started by focusing on headlines. One of my favorite tools is the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer, which is a free tool and also comes built into CoSchedule (one of the tools I use most in my business). Basically I enter a headline and run the analyzer, which grades your headline and shows you what you can do to improve it. If my initial score is weak I keep tweaking it. This doesn’t take as long as you might think and you start to understand how you can improve based on your results.
From there I work on telling a story, sharing an experience or teaching something, all of which will lead to one simple call to action in my email. It’s either a link to a post, podcast or product recommendation.
The more you write the more you find your own voice, which is pretty much the primary differentiating factor.
As Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!”
It’s perfectly fine to model what other people are doing, but putting your own personality and spin on things is how you stand out.
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?
This is one of my favorite topics because often people don’t put their business first (before their clients) and spend a lot of time engaging with peers.
If you’re a freelancer and your focus is on clients you have to find out what problems they need help solving. Showing people how to do things doesn’t cause them not to hire you. By helping them you’re instilling trust that you know what you’re doing (while creating content for your own brand).
I haven’t had a portfolio on my site for a few years but constantly get website requests (I don’t do them anymore) because of the content I create. I’m not a developer or programmer, I just fell in love with WordPress and shared what I was learning.
The trick with all of this is that it’s the marathon strategy. You have to do your due diligence with all of it: keyword research, what people are asking, what they need help with, what people are searching for on YouTube, etc.
Then you just start.
Start writing, start emailing, start sharing and start having conversations.
Freelancers tend to stay busy with client work and tasks (understandably since this is paying the bills). The problem is if you don’t schedule time to work on your own business (content, lead generation, conversions), you’re constantly building an asset for someone else. This is an endless loop of frustration as well as staying stuck in the “time for money” trap.
The easiest way to start this process is to simply document what you’re working on (and how it works). Explain things in everyday language that your customers can understand. Don’t be afraid to explain the ‘why’ to your customers as well (e.g., why they really don’t need a slider).
It’s imperative that you position yourself as the expert/consultant as opposed to the hired help.
You seem to send out a lot of emails and they’re not short. How do you command that kind of attention?
I truly baby-stepped my way into emailing frequently (the goal is daily, I’ve hit that a few weeks here and there).
I am a subscriber and customer of Ben Settle. Ben emails and sells every single day.
I found that his emails were the ones I wanted to read every day so I started paying attention to what I liked and what I didn’t like.
Ben definitely has his own style (he’s pretty sarcastic and makes it clear that whiners are not welcome. He often uses snarky emails from people as content for his own emails).
The simplicity of what he was doing was really appealing.
His emails are a simple format: story and one call to action.
Because of the way my audience responds to my written content and podcast episodes I knew I could do this (and just like anything else, the more you write the easier it gets).
All I can say is that I wish I did this sooner.
Active Campaign (my email auto responder) quickly became one of my top traffic sources.
Because I mix up the content (link to a podcast episode, post, resource or product), people never know what they’re going to get. Earlier this week I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about and so thought I’d share some of the results I was getting from using the new CoSchedule feature ‘ReQueue.’
My subject line was “Use What You’ve Paid For,” because we all purchase tools, apps, plugins and courses with the best of intentions, but we don’t always make the most of what we’ve bought (before we’re on to the next thing).
I shared that I was just as guilty as everyone else in doing this, and by focusing on this one feature and tool my opt-in’s were increasing.
Many of these emails are also posted as blog posts (when I realized most were easily over 700 words I knew it would be worth it).
It’s been fascinating to see what this has done for my traffic and subscribers.
More than anything I think the ability to command the attention from my subscribers with these emails is that I make myself relatable. Building an online business can be challenging. There’s a ton of value in sharing the journey.
For more insight from Kim Doyal, check out our previous interviews on success and productivity.