Does every business need a digital marketing strategy? Part 1: Email


Does every business need a digital marketing strategy?

Before I can answer this question, first we need to establish what exactly a digital marketing strategy is. And currently, if you ask ten people this question I suspect you will get ten different answers. So I am going to give my own definition:

As its name suggests – a digital marketing strategy is one that encompasses the digital world. The digital world being (in a nutshell) anything that can be accessed by computers, smartphones and tablet devices.

When it comes to small businesses, the digital marketing strategy I usually suggest has three pillars:

  1. An email list
  2. Social media
  3. Blog

In my perfect world our clients would build a strategy around all three of these things and today I am going to talk about email.

Why do you want an email list?

There are many reasons but the biggest one is that people can’t ignore their email. They can ignore ads on tv. They can ignore you on facebook. They probably don’t even see the flashing banners on news sites any more. But everyone reads their emails.

So when people invite you into their inbox (by signing up for your email newsletter) this is both a huge privilege and a huge opportunity for you with regard to marketing your business to them.

How do you create an email list?

Programs such as Mail Chimp or iContact allow you to create an email list quickly, easily and cheaply. The benefit of using these programs are:

  1. They are free up to a certain number of subscribers
  2. They allow you to send emails to hundreds or thousands of people at a time (which is not something you can do through Outlook or whatever your regular email program is).
  3. They allow people to unsubscribe themselves from the list without you having to do anything.
  4. They allow people to subscribe themselves TO your list via a form on your website.
  5. They allow you to set up a nicely branded design

How do you get people to sign up for your email list?

Well the first thing you do is invite all your clients to opt in to your email list. You can do this by loading your client email list into MailChimp or iContact and sending them an invitation email. If they want to be on your email list they simply click the link in the email. If they don’t want to be on your email list, they will just ignore your invitation 🙂

The second thing to do is to attract non-clients and interested parties to sign up to your list. Now the days are long gone where you can put “Sign up to our newsletter here” in the sidebar of your website and expect anyone to actually do so. No – if someone is going to give you direct access to their inbox, they want something in return.

Which means you need to give them something tangible in exchange for their email. The best way to do this is to create a free and highly  informative resource. This resource:

  1. Allows you to demonstrate your expertise
  2. Should be easy to pull together – especially if you have a blog
  3. Gives the person signing up to your list something really useful and tangible which makes them think very nice things about you.

Some examples of what I mean

  • Podiatrist: E-paper titled ‘The 5 things you can do right now to avoid running injuries’
  • Dietitian: E-paper titled ‘The 5 Diet foods that are stopping you from losing weight’
  • Graphic Designer: E-paper titled ‘3 things you can do to save money on every graphic design job’
  • Website Designer: E-paper titled ‘The fool proof web design brief that will get you an accurate quote every time’

What do all of these resources have in common?

  1. They have compelling titles
  2. They address common pain points of the prospective clients for the various businesses
  3. They are e-papers – so short and sweet (in other words, both easy to read/process for the receiver AND easy to pull together for the creator.)

Some good examples

Jeff Goins is a writer and he wants fellow writers to follow him. So he offers a small e-book called The Writer’s Manifesto



Bernadette Jiwa is a Brand Strategist and offers a free workbook called 20 questions to ask before launching your idea



Malini Parker is an artist who also offers amazing one day art workshops. She offers a free report called 5 tops tips for cranking up your creativity



Jenny Spring from Spring into Sales offers a free e-paper called Word of Mouth Sales – how to grow through gossip



Quick summary

In the next two weeks I will talk about social media and blogging and I will confess that these two forms of digital marketing are not for everyone. But I can’t think of too many small businesses that wouldn’t benefit from an email list.

And the best thing about email lists is that unlike social media platforms (like Facebook) the rules are not changing constantly. You make the rules and you own the data (ie the email addresses). Email marketing is simply the most powerful tool going round when it comes to creating meaningful connections with both your existing clients as well as prospective ones.

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