Use Email Marketing to Get More Sales

Have you ever had a friend who you were really close to and then they seemed to disappear off the face of the earth, only to drop in on you a few years later, wanting to catch up over coffee? If so, you probably wondered why on earth he was getting in touch with you after so long. And if you're like most of us, you assumed she just wanted something from you.

That same principle applies to the people who sign up for your email lists. You can congratulate yourself for capturing leads and faithfully recording the contact information from all the business cards you've collected, but it's meaningless if your prospects don't hear from you for weeks (or months). Just like you would feel slightly suspicious of someone returning out of the blue, your subscribers will be skeptical about your motives and do one of three things: delete your email; unsubscribe from your list; or report you as a spammer. They might even do all three.

Of course, there's also the opposite end of the spectrum. How do you think a prospective customer would react if they get email after email, day after day, pushing them to buy? If all you do is sell, sell, sell, people will come to the conclusion that you don't care about their needs at all, and they will almost certainly drop you. Email marketing is an amazing way to generate more sales for your business, but you have to do it the right way.

So, let's talk about that.

Starting a Relationship

You may have heard the phrase “the money is in the list,” but that's no quite true. The money is actually in the relationship you have with the people on your list. Building a solid relationship with your prospects and customers is not difficult, it's just a matter of putting in the effort.

First, use an autoresponder service to manage your email communication. It will allow you to set up a series of message to let your leads get to know you and get a feel for how you can help them.

In creating your messages, write as though you're communicating with a friend. Write to one person rather than “my subscribers.” A more personal or individualized tone makes all the difference in helping your prospects and customers feel more comfortable doing business with you.

When you set up your autoresponder series, the very first email should be a welcome message to let the subscriber know that you got their information and that you're happy to be working with them. This email doesn't have to be long and involved, but tell your prospect a little bit about yourself. Don't share your whole life story; just let them know you're a real person.

Very early in your autoresponder series – sometime during the first week or so that someone is on your list – send an email to find out what they need help with. You want to determine if they have a problem you can solve or if you have a product or service that can improve their life in some way. And how do you determine if you can be of service to them?

Ask!

Use a survey tool, such as Survey Monkey, or just ask them to reply to your email. Use those responses to guide your future email messages as well as the sales conversations you have with your prospects.

Provide Value

As your relationship with your prospect grows, it's important to engage them in a conversation. The best way to do that is to provide value without giving the impression that you're always looking for a sale.

Here are some ideas for how you can use email marketing to do just that:

1. Ask questions. Every once in a while, send an email with open-ended questions and encourage your subscriber to reply with their answers. Use survey software to make this easy to manage. Ask them to get involved and communicate their wants and needs to you. Find out exactly what their expectations are of you.

2. Solve problems. After you read the questions from your clients and prospects, put together some answers for them and decide how to deliver the information. Write a blog post or embed a video on your site answering the question, and then send an email to your subscribers with a link to that post. Being a problem-solver will help you to become known as the “go to” person in your market, and that's a very good place to be when competing for market share.

3. Give information. People, in general, like being helped, but many times they're afraid to ask or they don't know what to ask. Sending out helpful tips on a regular basis is invaluable to building good will. You don't have to create everything yourself. For example, if you're a landscaper who finds a video about the best ways to grow grass in the summertime, share the link with your email list. Or if you’re a chiropractor and another chiropractor a few states away published an article about ergonomics, go ahead and share it. Be careful, of course, that the people producing the content are not direct competitors.

When Do You Sell?

There isn’t any hard and fast rule about how long you should email before asking for a sale.

Some email marketers believe you should “nurture your list” in the sense that you don't even mention a product offer until you've given the people on your list a ton of free content.

Guess what? Taking that approach just trains your list members to expect free stuff from you. Worse yet, you do your prospects a disservice by withholding the BEST solution from them just because it's not free.

Focus on providing the best content and solutions to your current and prospective customers by sharing and promoting both free and paid resources that will meet their needs. If you are offering a useful, high quality product or service, and you genuinely believe it is the best solution for your prospect, then tell them about it! You don't have to be a pushy salesperson; just be a trusted advisor making recommendations designed only to help.

Focus on email marketing as a relationship builder instead of a way to make money and you will likely discover that you end up making more sales in the long run.

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