Email marketing for makers + product brands
Hey Maker! I see you…
- Crafting beautiful, handmade products with care
- Choosing sustainable, conscious designs
- Working your booty off as a solopreneur or with a small team backing you up
Creating a sustainable, product-based business requires a lot of intention, passion, and planning. You have your process and flow in place for creating your products. Now the question is…
“How do I spread the word?”
Word of mouth, albeit a strategy I highly recommend, simply isn’t offering you the sustainability or scalability you need to grow your business (no matter how many fingers and toes you cross while waiting for a referral). Ad campaigns feel pricey and overwhelming. Social media is exhausting and never seems to make the impact you’d hoped.
It’s time to get eyeballs on your product NOW so that you can build an audience itching for your next product drop!
The Best Marketing Strategy for Product-Based Businesses
What if I told you there was a way to effectively market your product with a high return on your investment? Bonus: it can feel good, authentic, and aligned to your unique business.
Sounds too good to be true? Good news is, it’s really not complicated.
Email marketing is THE solution to building a conscious, product-based business that is sustainable for both your time and energy as well as scalable so it can evolve and grow with you.
What holds product-based businesses back from starting an email marketing strategy?
As an entrepreneur, you have SO much on your plate. You’re juggling all the things while wearing all the hats and sometimes even THINKING about managing another thing can be daunting.
You’ve likely dabbled with the idea of email marketing, but if you’re like millions of other entrepreneurs (aka you’re not alone, my friend) you’ve likely had these questions floating through your head:
“Which platform should I use?”
“How much is this going to cost & can I even afford it?”
“Isn’t email dead?”
“How do I even put an email strategy together?”
And you froze!
It can be so overwhelming to decide where to start.
That’s where I step in.
How to start your email marketing strategy
I’ve got you covered. I’ve not only researched email marketing extensively, but I have also practiced it in my own product-based business for years.
I’ve witnessed the results and impact it’s had on my business’ marketing strategy.
In this blog, I’m going to give you a true understanding of WHY email marketing should be your main marketing focus as a small business owner. (Psst!You can also check out the video on my Youtube channel here!)I want you to feel aligned as you take action. Knowing the WHY behind your strategy can help you stick to your email marketing goals and follow through.
Then, I’ll give you clear, specific ways to TAKE ACTION immediately so that you can start seeing the positive results in your own business. You’ll feel empowered to stop putting email marketing off so you can finally move the needle forward in your business!
Let’s ditch the guesswork and endless Google searches and start that email marketing plan with intention. Keep reading for the simple process I use to craft an email marketing strategy that works hard so you don’t have to.
The Top 3 Reasons You Need an Email Marketing Plan Now
You and I both know… when it comes to email marketing you’re putting it off. I get it! It can feel daunting. However, it is SO worth your time and upfront energy.
Before you take action, it’s important to understand the why behind what you do and how you do it. This will help you feel motivated, invested, and aligned while creating an email marketing plan for your unique product-based business.
Let’s explore the top 4 reasons why every product-based business needs an email marketing strategy in place now.
#1 You’ll get a huge return on your investment (ROI)
Let’s talk numbers
Recent studies show there is a 42 to 1 ratio on your return investment for your email marketing when it’s done strategically. Let’s translate what that means:
For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you get $42 return.
In my book, that’s what I like to call a “no brainer.” It is such a great option for the sustainability and scalability of your product-based business.
Time is Money
Not only will you get a great financial ROI, but you’ll also get an excellent return on your time investment. To me, this is the most important benefit of email marketing. Yes, making your dollars work harder for you is a clear benefit. But TIME is truly our most precious resource not only as business owners but as humans!
Let’s think about it: What is the lifespan of that social media post you spent HOURS working on? A day? 2 days tops? Not a great return on your time and energy investment.
Email marketing has a time ROI that is significantly higher than any content you share on social media.
Plus, email marketing offers so many more customizable options and features. My favorite benefit of using an email marketing platform is that it allows you to utilize email automation sequences. An email sequence is something like a welcome email that can work behind the scenes for you while you’re sleeping. You can put a ton of value into these emails! The beauty of an automated email sequence is once you create it, it can work for you and your audience members again and again. This is truly the art of working smarter, not harder.
Ultimately, email marketing will give you the time and energy so you have more space to create, innovate, and enjoy your life outside of your work!
# 2 You Own It
While social media is an effective way to connect with your audience if you’ve ever used it to market your business you’ve probably noticed a few obstacles. Quite simply, social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook are rented “land.”
You don’t own your account, your followers, or even your content. If you’ve ever wondered, “why do I have so few likes and views?”, it’s because the algorithm is constantly changing. So many things about social media are out of our control. Email is more predictable than any elusive social media algorithm.
I’m not here to tell you to abandon these platforms and ONLY focus on email marketing. On the contrary, I think it’s healthy to find different avenues for marketing and visibility.
I AM saying that email marketing should receive more of your time, resources, and attention.
Email is OWNED “land.” You have control over your content, your subscribers, and your access. You build your brand with more confidence, knowing your email address is yours and yours alone. To sum it up: if Instagram has another outage or your account gets disabled (totally feasible), you don’t lose access to your audience! Sounds like a really good reason to jump on the email marketing bandwagon if you ask me!
Bonus: Email marketing helps you have a healthier relationship with your social media accounts since you won’t feel so dependent on them (which can be really scary and vulnerable as a business owner)!
#3 Warm, Toasty Leads
Ever feel like you’re shouting into the abyss when it comes to your marketing strategy? That’s likely because you haven’t found a way to nurture and warm up your audience. They have cold feet because they don’t know, like, and trust you as a business…YET!
Email marketing is one of the most personal spaces online which makes it an ideal place to turn cold leads into warm toasty prospects who cannot wait until your next product drop!
When a person offers up their email address to a business owner, it is an intimate exchange. It’s a bigger commitment than a passive “follow” or “like” on social media. When someone gives you their email address, they are inviting you into their inbox, and this is not something to take lightly. When an audience member takes this step, they are symbolically saying,
“I want to hear what you have to say.”
Even if it is something as simple as opting in to your newsletter or receiving your “freebie” they are expressing an interest in what you do and acknowledging they have a need you can potentially fill.
That’s what email marketing should be: building a relationship with potential, current, and loyal customers throughout the full spectrum of the customer journey. It allows you to find ways to serve their needs and speak to them directly.
Once someone jumps onto your email list, they are already a WARM LEAD. A warm lead is someone who sees the value of your business, is aware of the products and solutions you provide, and actively wants to hear from you! When you share promotions, newsletters, and other opportunities with your email list, they are much more likely to take action!
Now that you’re SOLD on the WHY behind email marketing, let’s explore how to get started so you can feel supported, aligned, and ready to take informed action.
How To Get Started with Email Marketing?
If you’re just looking for me to TELL you which tool to use, you might be disappointed. That’s because there are so many different options out there and there are so many businesses. I cannot definitively say that Platform “A” is the best. Plus, new platforms are popping up all the time!
Your business is unique, so I would be doing you a disservice if I were to give you a blanket, one-size-fits-all tool. I WILL, however, provide options and features that you should consider as you navigate the pros and cons of each platform. This insight will allow you to confidently make the best choice for your business structure, goals, and needs.
We will explore different strategies or “personas” that will guide your business. As you explore each of these approaches, I’ll guide you to consider your business model and which options will best suit your unique needs. Once you’ve identified the best strategy for YOU, it will be easier to differentiate between the many email marketing platforms.
The Best Email Marketing Strategies
I like to think of email marketing strategies in terms of “personas.” There are so many different ways to leverage email, but it is important for you to understand what will actually move the needle forward in YOUR business before you dive in. Be sure to explore each one to see which persona you most identify with. This will make it easy for you to target which features will and will not serve you best while you explore email marketing platforms.
The Ecommerce Queen
The Ecommerce Queen runs a business with a lot of products, upsells, downsells, or combinations. You’ll need something robust to support the variety of potential journeys your audience might take when they interact with your brand.
Building out an email marketing plan for the Ecommerce Queen can be really fun with the right tools, like “if, then” triggers, to support a variety of customer journeys! For example, if you sell a product, you can be really responsive to your client’s needs.
Your ideal email marketing strategy will revolve around the sale. You’ll look for ways to incentivize their first purchase and offer additional ways for them to engage with you and buy beyond that initial investment. You can do this in a way that feels organic and service-based.
Let’s say you sell skincare products that typically need refills every 30 days. A strong email marketing platform will allow you to automate an email to that specific client, reminding them to reorder their cleanser or moisturizer before they run out!
This is brilliant because the email is…
→ low lift for you (set it and forget it)
→ helps your client stay organized so they can get the most out of their product
→ opens up yet another opportunity for you to get in front of them with your brand.
In addition to reminding them about the refill, you might suggest another product that pairs well with the product they have.
At first glance, email marketing in this way might appear to be more appropriate for “big box” companies. However, the principle can be strategically used in small businesses as well. When crafted right, small businesses can use this as a really intimate way to connect with their audience, develop community, and support their customers throughout the entire buying process.
What Every ECommerce Queen Should Consider When Choosing An Email Marketing Platform
- Choose a robust email marketing platform. This may come with a higher price tag, but the flexibility and options these platforms offer will give you a huge ROI and will be worth every penny if you leverage them properly.
- Ecommerce Sync. Ensure that your ecommerce page will sync with the email platform you choose. Whether you use Shopify, WooCommerce, Squarespace, or Wix, make sure your email platform integrates with your ecommerce platform (wherever you accept payments and orders). This is essential so that your email automator can seamlessly send clients reminders.
- My favorite email auto-reminder directs clients to return to their abandoned cart for checkout. Merging ecommerce with your email marketing platform can also allow you to further segment your audience.
- Not all platforms do this seamlessly, so you will want to double check that they integrate properly. Sometimes this is an upgrade charge, but I truly believe this is worth it so that you can take advantage of all your email and ecommerce platforms have to offer.
- Tip: You can always start with something simpler and upgrade later, but I believe so wholeheartedly in email marketing that I feel it’s something you should dive into, full throttle from the beginning to reap the full benefits. This is something you can and should use for the long-haul, so why not do it right?!
The Product Drop Junkie
This is me! As a handweaver and self-proclaimed “Product Drop Junkie”, this email marketing persona matches my needs best. You’re a product drop junkie too if you create small batch collections and product drops. Often you design a collection, snap photos, prep it, and drop it.
Your ideal email marketing strategy will focus on getting new subscribers to join your email list so they can be the first to know when you have something new to share!
Maybe they follow on your social media platforms (psst this is a GREAT reason to show your process, sneak peeks, or behind-the-scenes content on social media) and are eyeing a specific piece. They will be incentivized to jump on your email list so they can access your product drop ASAP!
In my business, I find this is an excellent way to build genuine urgency and sell my products via email.
What Every Product Drop Junkie Should Consider When Choosing An Email Marketing Platform
- Strong Opt-ins are key. When a platform offers diver opt-ins, you can ensure a seamless transition between your client’s initial encounter with you and the next step in their journey. Your opt-in could be incentivized with a discount off the next order, or it could simply be an explanation of how your email marketing works (how to sign up, what to expect etc. ) so that they know what to expect moving forward.
- Segmentation Options. Segmentation allows you to understand where people are finding your business and how you can serve each individual best. I love segmentation because it also helps me with my marketing. I have a better idea of what does and does not interest my unique audience, and I can pivot or adjust accordingly to make sure my messaging lands each and every time.
- Batching Features. Look for a platform that allows you to create multiple pieces of content at the same time. You might sit down and map out a full sequence so you can carefully think through how each email relates and builds on another.
I think of this email marketing approach like a journal. As a storyteller, your goal is to invite your email subscribers into your world. You welcome them in to see how you operate, where your inspiration comes from, what you’re working on.
The Storyteller strategy can feel similar to the Product Drop in some ways, but it has some key features that set it apart. This method works best for those who sell commission pieces. Your priority is to allow your audience to get to know you, understand your process, and witness your work ethic firsthand. You can demonstrate your professionalism and build authority by showcasing past client work with testimonials that sing your praises. These efforts help new clients feel more confident and excited about the prospect of hiring you!
Bonus: The Storyteller approach is an impactful way to connect with art directors so they can see what you’re working on.
What Every Storyteller Should Consider Before Choosing An Email Marketing Platform
- Email Templates will be your friend as a Storyteller. Look for options that allow you to add images in an aesthetically pleasing way. This will elevate how you showcase your work and will also add a personal touch to every email you send.
- Segmenting, or tagging will also be important here so you can segment commission clients, art directors. Segmenting is simply utilizing tools that allow you to understand what each individual in your audience is looking for. This way you can best serve them and only share information that will be relevant to their interests and needs.
Email Marketing Best Practices
Regardless of your business’ unique strategy, there are several universal email marketing principles that apply to all businesses. No matter what strategy you choose, you’ll want to incorporate these best practices.
Especially for product-based businesses, we want to consistently show up in our audience inboxes and provide value while staying top of mind. While they may not need something from you right away, the next time they have a need or are looking for your gift, you’ll want to be sure that your email is on their radar! They may even be able to refer you to a friend who would benefit from your product.
Not only is consistency practical, but it also builds your authority and legitimacy. When you show up week after week or month after month, you build TRUST. Your audience learns to count on you and they can witness the value you offer to them and other clients on a regular basis. Even if they don’t open the emails every time they are still seeing your name.
Go Above & Beyond
Provide value beyond their expectation. You could include an original discount or free shipping code when they sign up, but your next email can continue to surprise and delight them. This could include a video tutorial, a free printable, or anything that will help them have a mini-win in their life! You want them to learn that while some emails will be sales-focused, not every single email will aim to sell them something. You truly want your audience to find success and feel supported, whether they buy right away or not. In between the product drops, you are showing up and serving with excellence.
Your brand identity revolves around your mission and vision. It is essential that you share this through email marketing to deepen brand awareness and buy-in. Bring your email list along for the ride. Get them invested in what you do and why you do the work you do. You’ll create a customer-centric, community-centric brand that is built to last in a sustainable and scalable way. Show your face, share about YOU, and reveal the human(s) behind the brand!
Leverage These 2 Email Opt-ins
You’ve seen them in the “wild” but don’t take these for granted because not every email marketing platform will have these capabilities.
- The pop-up. This needs to integrate well with your website. This is one of the main ways you will be capturing emails. NO matter how they land on your website, this will ensure you have the best chance at gaining their email address.
- The form. A form can be a ribbon banner at the bottom of your website or embedded on a blog page. This is a static form (meaning it won’t pop up on the screen) but you want to be able to embed it into your website platform. Creating a form easily and putting it wherever you need is essential.
Estimate Your Subscribers
Finally, this tip is a best practice for making sure you’re not overspending on your email marketing platform! Most platforms offer different pricing depending on the size of your email list. Before you select a plan, estimate a realistic number of email subscribers that you’d reasonably expect within the next 6 months or year. Your product type will often indicate how many people will likely subscribe. A business selling a $1,500 product will likely have a much smaller, more exclusive email list than someone who is selling cards or stickers for $2-5 each (and will likely have a lot more orders). This is important because pricing does increase depending on how many subscribers you have.
Set a Date!
Now it’s time to choose your email marketing platform. You know which strategies will support your business best. You’re equipped with best practices in email marketing. You know what features are going to be essential, and what you can skip over. It’s time to jump in.
I highly recommend that you schedule time on your calendar to start your email marketing process.
- Block off time to shop and explore different platforms like Flodesk (snag my discount code), Mailchimp, or Klaviyo.
- Create your first email welcome sequence.
- Create an opt-in pop up for your website.
- Connect your email platform with your ecommerce shop.
Are you looking for more individualized support along your email marketing journey? Even with all the right tips and tools, it can be tricky to figure out how it all applies to your unique business. Plus, if you’re anything like me, we tend to get more done when we have accountability and feel supported by community!
I’ve created a community to guide you along the way!
I’d love for you to join me in my next Email Marketing for Makers Live Training. Our exclusive cohort will kick off January 2022. Click here to join the waitlist and be the first to know when I’m hosting the next cohort!