Have you heard that building an email list for your business is important, but you don’t know where to start? It can be confusing to wade through all of the jargon, understand how the pieces fit together, and know that you are using a system that will work. Plus, there is the tech drama, not feeling comfortable with your writing skills, and lacking the patience that steadily growing a list requires.
But, learning how to create an engaged, growing email list is one of the most important things you can do for your business. As I shared previously, an email list helps you build stronger relationships with your prospects, create revenue on demand, and feel more secure when the world seems shaky around you. It is worth it to learn this valuable skill that could help create business longevity for you.
Start your email list building journey using this seven-part framework.
1. Develop your Ideal Customer Avatar.
You can’t sell to someone you don’t know. An Ideal Customer Avatar (ICA) is a generalized, fictional representation of the client most likely to select your event services. An ICA helps you better understand your customers, determine what their pain points are, figure out where they hang out and make stronger connections. Do research to gather demographic and psychographic traits to build your ICA.
2. Create a lead magnet.
A lead magnet is a downloadable piece of content that you give away for free in exchange for an email address. This can be one of the most effective top-of-funnel strategies if your lead magnet is designed to speak directly to the pain points of your ICA. Your ICA must see the lead magnet as valuable enough to persuade them to part with their precious email address.
A lead magnet could be a guide, quiz, checklist, video series, or infographic. The key thing to keep in mind is that your lead magnet should seek to define your ICA’s biggest problem and point them in the direction of how to solve it.
Examples of a lead magnet could be a guide called “The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Tahoe Wedding” or a quiz named “Uncover Your Wedding Style.” You could even use a checklist called “The Top 10 Make or Break Things to Look for When Hiring a Caterer.”
3. Set up an email service provider.
Email marketing doesn’t happen in your normal email account. Use an Email Service Provider (ESP) to collect, tag and segment the email addresses that are generated by your lead magnet. You will also use your ESP to create your landing pages and automatically send your nurture sequences and weekly emails. I recommend ConvertKit or Flodesk because they tend to have higher deliverability rates. ConvertKit produces emails that are more streamlined while Flodesk has options for a more visual aesthetic.
4. Build a landing page for your lead magnet.
A landing page is a web page that you create in your ESP that will appear after your ICA clicks on the link to download your lead magnet. A landing page is designed to convert visitors into leads. A landing page has a form that allows you to capture your ICA’s information in exchange for the lead magnet. While it may be tempting to ask for a lot of information on a landing page, only create fields to collect your prospect’s first name and email address. The fewer the fields, the more likely it is that prospects will fill out the form.
5. Write an email nurture sequence.
An "email nurture sequence" is an automated series of emails that readers receives when they download your lead magnet and subscribe to your email lists. It starts to build trust with your subscribers and nurture them down the marketing funnel. Each email sequence should contain about three to five emails that are scheduled about a week apart. The last email of the nurture sequence should clearly ask for the sale. Make sure to include at least two links with a call-to-action such as “schedule a call” or “get a quote."
6. Create and send weekly content.
Create weekly content to increase website visitors, position yourself as a helpful expert, and continue to build relationships with your ICA. I recommend you create a blog, podcast or YouTube channel.
Batch-create content and send it out to your email list weekly via your ESP. Batch-creating content will help you stay consistent, and consistency is one of the core elements of building trust with your ICA. If creating robust weekly content seems overwhelming, start just by at least dropping a quick tip to your email list. It could be as simple as a 100-word piece of advice about wedding timeline organization or how to deal with planning stress. Up the engagement by including a beautiful photo of one of your recent events to really capture their attention.
7. Use ads to promote your lead magnet.
Promote your lead magnet and weekly content to make sure to get the most return on your investment of time and energy. “If you build it, they will come” unfortunately will not work here. You need to actively spread the word about your lead magnet to build the top of your marketing funnel. You can also share your content on social media, on your website, and in your email signature.
Use email to transform your business and hedge against seasonality and marketing changes. Use the stability you gain to feel empowered and thrive doing what you love.
Aleya Harris, an award-winning marketer and former chef and catering company owner, is the owner of Flourish Marketing, an agency that provides marketing education, strategy and tools to help wedding, catering, and event professionals get and keep a consistent stream of clients. She is the current marketing committee chair for NACE and a top speaker at conferences and events including The Special Event and Catersource.