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Here are the highlights...
- Embrace Your Soft Skills
- Be friendly and engaging
- Share stories
- Be yourself
- Encourage communication
- Map out your nurture series
- Questions to ask yourself
- Go beyond the nurture series
- Build Trust
- Personalize your emails
- Segment your audience
- Don't SPAM or be annoying
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Building Strong Connections to Engage Your Audience
Today I want to step outside the realm of branding and website design and talk about one of the most powerful tools in building my own business. RELATIONSHIPS. My business has grown over the years and continues to grow because of the importance I have placed on building relationships with my audience and one of the best ways I have found to do that is through my email list. So today I want to share with you my email nurturing best practices that will help you develop lasting relationships – the key to long-term success.
Embrace Your Soft Skills
I know we are all about technology here, but technology is not going to build lasting relationships with your audience. Sure it is definitely a powerful tool that can help make it easy, but it's the soft skills that are necessary here to build real relationships with your audience.
Write in a friendly and engaging tone.
When it comes to crafting your emails to subscribers, don't fall back to the letter writing skills taught in middle school. Instead, focus on having a conversation with them. When I write a letter to my email list I always imagine I am writing a letter to my friend Crystal. I think of how I would greet her in the letter, what words I would use for the letter to feel conversational and comfortable and how would I close the letter in an easy feel good way.
Crystal is not only a friend, but was my first client as a web designer. She is literally the poster child of my target audience, so when I am writing to her I am writing in a way that connects with all of my target audience.
Stories is one of the most effective ways you can become relatable to your audience because people love stories. They love reading about your experiences, how you overcame a challenge, or how a funny turn of events inspired change in your life. Most importantly, stories have the power to make your content and you more memorable, which is the goal.
The key to a good story is to be genuine and authentic. Don't use stories to manipulate feelings. Use them to connect.
Have you ever tried to pretend you are someone you aren't? Maybe you have tried to make more out of your struggles to create connections? Was it easy to keep the charade going for long? Probably not, and my guess is the relationships you started while pretending, weren't long lasting either.
You are who you are for a reason, and the world needs you! So, let your personality shine through in your emails. The people you are here to serve and dream of working with are more likely to connect with you if they feel like they know the real you.
The key to any relationship is communication, so don't just have a one-way conversation. Ask questions, invite responses, and use these to strengthen the bond between you and your audience. Just make sure when you receive a response that you respond back!
Mapping Out Your Nurture Series.
The people receiving your nurture emails came to you by opting into your email list either through your blog, a lead magnet or perhaps through a public appearance. Nurturing this connection is key to creating lasting relationships. So before you start filling up their inbox, take some time to consider how they connected with you, and how you can build on that connection.
Here are some questions to consider...
How did they get on your list?
How a person connects with you is going to determine the content of the emails you send in your nurture series. If they came through a lead magnet you could offer more value to what you have already shared. If you met them at an event, you could share more about your experiences with the event itself.
By personalizing the emails they receive based on how they connected, you are developing a stronger more real connection.
How will each email align with your audience's needs?
They signed up with you because you are fulfilling a need, so how can you provide them with additional value to fulfill that need? Do you have more tips to share? More resources you can offer? Think about what they want and provide them more of what they need. This will strengthen the connection you have created and start building a more solid foundation.
Think about how each email aligns with your overall goal.
Your overall goal is to eventually welcome them as a customer, so you are you encouraging that? You could share success stories of clients you have worked with that will be relatable, and helps them start envisioning themselves as a client. And you can just plain ask. Invite them to reply to your email with questions or better yet, get on your calendar for a free discovery call.
What Call to Action would you like the reader to take in each email?
Will it be to download a resource, visit a specific webpage, read your blog or respond to a question? By inspiring action you are encouraging your readers to connect with you even more, getting them used to the idea of you being a valuable resource to them, so don't ignore those call to action opportunities. Use them.
Go Beyond the Nurture Series
Often I see people set up an email nurture series, and then disappear only to reach out and email their list when they want to bring in new business. This practice is going to hurt you more than you know. Think about it. What if you made a new friend, who you really enjoyed getting to know. You have a few coffee dates, grab lunch and then POOF! They disappear and ghost you for months. And when they do finally reconnect, the first thing they do is ask to borrow money. Would this be a friend you want to keep? Probably not, and your audience is going to feel the same way.
So don't just stop at the nurture series. Set up a system within your business that makes it easy to connect with them on a consistent basis, and continue to share more about your business, the value you offer and little things that can help make their life better. By doing this, when you do send that email to drum up more business they are going to be much more likely to pay attention.
In email list building trust is a very fragile thing, one that can be broken easily if you aren't careful, and that can hurt you and the community you are building. If people lose trust they will most likely leave you forever, just as when you build trust they are more likely to stay connected and even introduce you to others they know.
Here are some tips on building and maintaining your readers trust.
Personalize your email.
I always gather first names in my email opt-ins because when I send an email I want to address my readers by name. Not just at the top of the page, but throughout the email where using an name is appropriate. This personalization has had many people commenting they felt I was emailing only to them, and others believing that was the case. This level of personalization has developed relationships that have lasted over 10 years with some members of my audience and that my friend is a value beyond measure.
Segment your audience
If people are connecting with you in different ways, then you are going to want to have a multiple nurture series to build the relationship.
- If they came through your blog share popular blog posts that appeal to your audience.
- If they came through a lead magnet, add additional value to the resource they received.
- If they connected with you through an event, share emails that relate the event.
By segmenting each audience you are creating a more genuine connection, that will help the reader feel like you are truly connecting directly with them.
Don't SPAM, Sell their email address or be Sales-y.
When you start off a relationship with a "what's in it for me" approach you are off to a rocky start. The reader may stay connected for a short while if what you have to offer is that valuable, but it won't be long before they say good-bye to you and your business for good. Not only that, if they talk about you to their friends and family, it probably will not be nice. So just be respectful and don't SPAM, sell their information or be overly sales-y.
That doesn't mean you can't share valuable offers you have, just do it in a classy way.
The Bottom line...
There are a lot of strategies out there in building an email list. Many that would disagree with what I am sharing here today. That is okay! They have their way of doing things and if it works for them, great! My suggestion is to really think about what would work for you.
If the approach you are considering is something you would hate, so will your audience. Employ the golden rule "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." and let your authentic self shine!
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