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Jan 12 2021

Build Connection, and Stay Connected, with Email

With all of the twists and turns our lives and our businesses have taken in the past year, it’s only natural that we’d look for new ideas and new ways to engage and connect with our people. Truth is, though: one of the most effective tools for staying connected is one you’ve had in your toolbox for ages – email marketing.

Yup. Good old email. Sure, everyone and their grandma is on social media these days. You definitely want to maintain a consistent presence on platforms relevant to your offerings. But if you’re after direct, meaningful connection with your audience, there’s no better way to create that connection than email marketing.

The Proof is in The Stats

Social media is definitely here to stay, but statistics show that the vast majority of us still rely on email communication. Over 90% of consumers check their email at least once a day, with Millennials and Gen Z accounting for 93% of email users. The majority of us (58%, to be more specific) check our email before we check in on our social media accounts. And a point I love to sing from every literal and figurative mountaintop: email marketing has the largest return on investment of any digital marketing practice, with a potential $44 for every dollar spent. Imagine what your business could do with that income!

You might be asking, “Okay, I get it: email is important, but it’s not new. Why make a fuss about it now?” If we look back on 2020 (for research purposes only—no need to dwell!), an experience many of us shared was a shift to doing business virtually. That meant a lot more of us online at the same time. We also saw a sharp decline in organic website traffic across most industries. Email open and click rates, however, managed to increase, without a matching increase in sends. This tells us folks are turning to and relying on email communication for information and updates. They especially want to hear from and stay connected to the small businesses in their local communities.

The Direct Connection

Unlike the “broad-stroke” marketing approach of social media, email gives you direct access to your people. In the same way a friend welcomes you into their home, a customer invites you into their inbox when they opt in to your mailing list. You don’t get in unless you’ve been granted access. This means messages shared with them via email have a much greater chance of being seen than posts you share on social media, and being well-received.

Social media can provide useful real-time updates, but fatigue is real, y’all. Folks need a break from the 24-hour news and information cycle, and they also want ways to stay connected on their own schedules. Plus, email inboxes are chronological, not influenced or controlled by an algorithm. With most of us checking our email before our social media feeds, messages you share have a much greater chance of being read.

Not to mention: people tend to trust email more than social media. With the increase in untrustworthy and questionable accounts on social media platforms, the direct relationships you form through your email marketing become even more valuable.

Let ‘Em Get To Know You

There are a few key factors that lead someone to open an email: 

  • They’re looking for help, some kind of assistance for a concern they have. 
  • If they don’t need something in the immediate future, they open emails from you because they know, like, and trust you and they consider you a valuable resource. 
  • Building further on the know/like/trust aspect: you hear and see your people; the experience they have with you feels personal.

Your basic strategy is being helpful, offering value, and being personable. You can accomplish this by keeping the tone of your emails friendly and casual. Remember: you’ve already been invited into this person’s virtual home! They’re interested in what you have to say. 

A little empathy goes a long way as well, especially these days. If you’re experiencing challenges, don’t be afraid to acknowledge them! Share what’s going on in your own life, as well as what you’re doing and how your offerings fit into this ever-changing world.

Along those lines: if and when it’s appropriate and safe for you to do so, don’t shy away from being open about your story, experiences, and creative processes. Giving folks a glimpse behind the curtain also helps build trust and long-term relationships. Most importantly: be yourself! Your folks want to get to know YOU, to learn from you and to know how you can help them. Now is the best time to work on and develop your brand voice.

What’s In It For Them?

Now here’s the thing: you know and I know that we’re using our email marketing to stay top-of-mind with current and potential customers. We got bills to pay! That said: your email list isn’t just a list of buyers – they’re a list of flesh-and-blood people. Take time to serve them and acknowledge their needs rather than constantly selling to them. Developing that relationship will lead to increased loyalty and sales in the long run.

As great as you and your offerings are, you can’t forget another rule: your customer always comes first. The “what’s in it for me?” factor is real, friends. Folks opt in to email newsletters and subscriptions based on the value the content brings into their lives. Your intention should be clarity about the benefits of your offerings, with less focus on their features. Remember: the goal is building and nurturing connection!

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