(Art Credit: Kathryn Sheldon)
This article is posted with permission from our partner Lili and originally appeared on the Lili blog at: https://lili.co/blog/small-business-email-marketing.
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Email marketing has long been an integral strategy for growing a product-based business and developing passive income streams, but what about growing your business as an exclusively service-providing freelancer? Social media and blogging are great for growing your business and sharing your expertise, but email marketing allows you to truly own your audience and get right in front of them in the comfort of their own inbox!
By developing and engaging with an email list, you’re moving into a space where the rest of your competition’s messaging won’t interrupt yours. You’re positioning yourself as an authority in your industry and building trust with your dream clients, creating an actual brand for your business.
The Purpose of Email Marketing
Email marketing is a long game. You don’t want to send pricing and services in your first email! That feels pushy and inauthentic, and won’t build trust with potential clients. Get to know your ideal client — who are they? What problems do they have? What would make them interested in subscribing to your emails? How can you serve them before they become a client?
Also, take some time before setting up your email marketing to write down your own goals. What actions do you want subscribers to take at the end of your campaign (i.e. the series of emails they’ll receive overtime)? How many new clients do you want or need? What might you want to use your email list for in the future, beyond gaining clients?
As you build your email list and see the success or failure of different email marketing campaigns, review your goals and client persona and adjust as needed.
Setting Up Your Email Marketing Plan
Once you’ve set your goals and have identified your ideal client, you’re ready to get into the nitty-gritty of email marketing! This can be a lot of work upfront, but once you have your campaign all set up and automated, you can let it run and simply focus on promoting it, so it’s worth taking the time now to have it all set up and running smoothly.
1. Getting a Professional Email with Your Domain
Before you can create the emails for your automated campaign, get a professional email connected to your domain (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). This will look more professional and avoid getting blocked, as bulk emails from free, personal domains likely will.
To get your custom professional domain, you can either set it up when you buy your domain through registrars like GoDaddy or BlueHost, or you can get one with Google Workspace (previously G Suite), which has the added bonus of storage space and other content organization tools. The way you set it up depends a lot on your domain host, so be sure to look at your host’s specific guidelines for setting up a professional email for your domain. Here are guides for Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix.
2. Choosing an Email Marketing Platform
There are dozens of email marketing platforms out there to choose from, and choosing the best one for you really depends on your needs and preferences! If you’re just starting out, look into one of these free options:
- MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers, with paid options after that.
- MailerLite is free for up to 1,000 subscribers and has great design and landing page features.
- HubSpot is free for up to 2,000 emails with unlimited subscribers, and includes tons of other CRM tools.
- Sendinblue is great for developing drip campaigns because it allows unlimited subscribers, but only 300 daily email sends in the free version.
- Sender is free for up to 2,500 subscribers and has very affordable prices as your list grows.
3. Building a Drip Campaign
A drip campaign is an automated series of emails that guide subscribers from the initial opt-in to your final offer. It’s the path you take to build trust, establish yourself as an industry expert, and convince subscribers to take that next step and convert into paying clients!
This can happen over just a few emails or a dozen, depending on how long you think your ideal clients need in order to be prepared to sign up to work with you. In general, your drip campaign should flow through the following four phases: opting in, building trust, narrowing interest, and offering services.
Drip Campaign Phase 1: Opting In
This is where you convince users to sign up to receive your emails. You can provide incentives through free downloadables or answers to key questions they’re asking. Get them to subscribe in a way that will also set them up to stick around for more!
Drip Campaign Phase 2: Building Trust
Introduce who you are, what you do, and why you’re an expert in your niche. Provide free information and tools to help your subscribers on their own business or personal journey, all the while piquing their interest in working with you.
Drip Campaign Phase 3: Narrowing Interest
Those who have remained subscribed to this point are clearly hungry for more, so begin to niche down toward your offer. Start teasing how you can help them and remind them of the problem(s) you can solve. At this point, you can start offering discovery calls or invite them to a free webinar where they can learn more.
Drip Campaign Phase 4: Offering Services
This is it! For those who have made it this far and not yet committed, it’s time to pitch your offer to them. Remind them of all the good times you’ve had so far and how working with you will allow them to dive even deeper and really grow their business!
Other Uses for Email Marketing
If you don’t need new clients at this time, you should still consider investing your efforts in email marketing. You can use an email marketing strategy to grow a waitlist if you’re booked out, or grow a community for selling products, tools, or courses in the future for passive income. It will also give you a place to continue connecting with potential clients and industry peers in the event of a social media collapse (temporary or permanent — you never know!).
Just remember that email marketing is a long game, so don’t be discouraged if it takes you a while to get those initial subscribers.