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What is Email Marketing and Why is it Important?

You may already be familiar with the terms email marketing, email opt-in forms, lead magnets, and/or opt-in freebies. However, if these terms seem like a foreign language to you, consider me your translator.

When I ask clients if they plan to have an email opt-in form on their website to collect email subscribers, many times the answer is, “no, I don’t think I want that.” Even after learning the benefits of having this feature on their website, some clients are still a bit leery.

If you fall into the “I don’t think I/we really need that feature” category, let’s first talk about what email marketing is before going over the benefits.

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is the practice of connecting with potential and current clients and customers via email.  In other words, a business or organization sends an email directly to your inbox vs. banking on the hope that you will see their updates on social media.

Proper, legal, legit email marketing works this way: You visit a website and see an “opt-in” area where you enter your name and email address. You may see this area in a pop-up window, in a static area on the website (i.e. middle of the page, bottom of a blog post, or in the footer or sidebar), or via a link/button somewhere on the site (i.e. in the menu). Typically, you will receive something in your inbox soon after “opting in” to receive emails. That “something” could be an email to confirm that it was really you who signed up (this is called a “double opt-in”, meaning you opt-in, then confirm your subscription before you can start receiving emails). Or, the company might go right into sending you emails if they don’t have a double opt-in enabled. Emails you receive after subscribing to a list could include a welcome message, a series of emails (i.e. if you subscribed for a five-day course to be delivered via email), or a “lead magnet.” More on lead magnets in a bit…stick with me. 

Another way to opt-in for emails is to sign up in person at a store or event. At checkout, you may be asked if you want to add your email into their system. If you say yes, you’ll be added into their email marketing system and will start receiving emails from the company (likely with a coupon for future shopping trips).

What is a Lead Magnet?

When you opt-in to an email list, you are likely not doing so JUST to receive blog posts and/or updates about their business.  I’m going to guess that you’d probably appreciate something in return for giving that business direct access to email you.  Think about it this way – for a business to ensure they are seen in your Facebook feed, they have to pay for those front row spots to the tune of Facebook ads.  For a business to get your email address – a direct line right into your inbox – they just have to ask you for it upon checkout (in person or online); have a flyer or signage that encourages you to opt-in (i.e. at a restaurant you may write your email address on a card to opt-in to specials or scan a QR code), or by putting a sign-up (opt-in) form on their website. 

But here’s the kicker: everyone is competing for your email address. 

Businesses want to email you about new products and services or send you coupons so you’ll click and spend money with them or drive over to their store or restaurant. To entice you to do that, they’ll typically give you something in return for your email address.  This is where those PDFs, videos, and coupons come into play…a.k.a. lead magnets, or as some may call them, opt-in freebies.

Lead magnets have to be useful and relevant, of course. Sure, some people want to opt-in because they are truly, genuinely interested in what you have to say, teach, and share. But if you can increase your chances of getting people to subscribe by offering a little gift in return, why wouldn’t you?

But I’m an X type of business. I don’t want or need that!

When you’re first starting your business, or maybe you’ve been in business for a while but you’re revamping your website, you may think an email marketing feature does not align with your business or isn’t needed for your website.  Maybe you can’t envision yourself ever sending out an email to subscribers.

But think about this: What if, one day, you realize that you DO have something to share (i.e. important news about the company or that you’re closed due to bad weather) and you don’t want to depend on social media to relay such important information?  Heck, what if Facebook and Instagram are down (which has happened, as we all know)? You’re going to be very glad you added that email subscription area on your website, even if it’s small and discreet.  Even if you’ve never used it and may never use it again.  Even if barely anyone has subscribed. You could take that email newsletter (or campaign, as some email marketing companies call it) and post it to your social media along with a reminder to sign up for your email list so they don’t miss out on future email updates.

If you have an inkling that one day you MAY want and need a way to communicate with people who visit your website or your brick-and-mortar business, start early and collect email addresses from the get-go (or as soon as you realize the benefits).  And guess what…you don’t even need a website to utilize an email marketing software and send out emails or newsletters.  With Mailchimp, you can embed an email opt-in form onto your website or utilize the unique URL Mailchimp provides when you create your account.  Here’s an example, which you can link to in your email signature or anywhere else you wish.  You can also connect your email marketing program to Facebook by having a tab on your Facebook page where people can opt-in right there without even leaving Facebook.

Pro Tip:
Because you can upload lead magnet PDFs to your website, you’ll want to make sure they aren’t visible to the public. If someone is searching for you, your website, your industry, or the topic of the blog post that may have been on the same topic as your freebie, the freebie itself (the PDF) may show up in search engines. If someone finds it, they can access and download it without subscribing to your list. You want to avoid that because the whole point of the lead magnet is to attract email subscribers vs. making the lead magnet available to anyone. Be sure it’s hidden from public eye by setting it to noindex, as per Google’s instructions.

So there you have it.  Reasons galore why it is important to use an email marketing software and give people the opportunity to subscribe to your list.

Do you have questions about why email marketing is important? Do you want to explore ways your business or organization can use email marketing to grow and connect with your audience? Get in touch here so I can assist you with setting up and growing your list.

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Stefani Harris

Hey there! I'm Stefani, your website strategist, designer, developer, caretaker, and proud Google nerd. I believe in taking a mindful, holistic, and collaborative approach to accomplish your website and tech-related goals. Click here to learn more about me and Exhale Design Co. I look forward to meeting you and working with you!

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