By Leah McHenry
The Most Lucrative Thing You Can Ever Do In Your Small Business
Are you a small business owner selling physical products online? Are you trying to figure out how to become profitable as soon as humanly possible? Are you overwhelmed with the different marketing approaches out there and need to know what to focus on to truly move the needle in your business?
If that's the case, take a sigh of relief, because I'm about to tell you exactly what the answer is and I hope you can put this into action right away (this is free - so leave me some love in the comments ).
When in the early stages of launching a new brand or product, most business owners get shiny object syndrome. We all know what that is, right? Coming from a place of motivation, we're trying this and that and this and that, and throwing spaghetti against a wall, hoping something sticks. Everything from trying to build all these different social platforms and get followers on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Facebook groups, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, Etsy, Amazon -- the list goes on! Then add to that blogs and podcasts and giveaways and more... no wonder you are overwhelmed!
I'm going to make this very easy and simple for you.
After generating multiple 6 figures in one business selling music & merchandise online, selling over 10 million dollars in digital products in company #2, and building a candle company to a 2.8 million dollar run rate in seven months, I can tell you this one marketing channel is by far the most lucrative!
The most important marketing activity you can possibly spend your time on right now is EMAIL.
Yes, boring email!
I don't mean a newsletter (and please don't call it that to your customers).
I mean, building a real relationship with your customer via the channel of email. Through this medium, you will get your future customer hooked on your story and your brand, you will show them behind the scenes, you will develop real relationship and loyalty.
This is where you truly show them the difference between your brand and everyone else.
When they have the choice of buying bath bombs from a hundred different places, they'll choose your shop, because they feel like they know you and they truly want to contribute to your success.
Why focus on email?
In the world of e-commerce (the sale of physical goods online), email marketing accounts for 30-50% of sales in a healthy, mature company!
That's a MASSIVE revenue channel!
What are other possible revenue channels? They can include paid traffic such as Facebook and Instagram ads, organic social media, influencers (or paid partnerships), wholesale, licensing, media buys (such as banners or ads on websites, magazines, or email blasts), podcasts (paying a host to read your ad to their audience during their show), and a myriad of other possibilities.
Do these other channels work? Of course, they do. But none of them typically create 30-50% revenue for an online shop the way email does. And many of these channels are difficult to track! And trust me, when every dollar counts, tracking is so important so you know if it was a worthwhile investment.
So we've established email is the most lucrative form of marketing. Why?
- Less distraction. Unlike social media platforms, there's a lot less going on in their inbox. Once they open your email it's all YOU. There's not much else going on except your content.
- It's always worked and it's here to stay. We don't even know all the main reasons it works, only that it just does! Despite the rumors, email is absolutely going to stay. Just try making any purchase without an email address -- it's not going to happen. Transactional emails are the most opened emails in the world and the most forsaken and forgotten. We make our receipts fun and special with fun wording to make the mundane an unforgettable experience.
- Email is less intrusive than other forms of marketing. People can decide to open or not open your email. They can unsubscribe at any time, and they can engage as much or little as they want.
- An email list is considered an asset! If you ever go to sell your business, part of the appraisal process involves evaluating the size and quality of your email list. Why is that? Because it's direct contact with a base of customers and leads. Having an email list increases the value of your company.
- You can sell over and over to the same people. In fact, this is the whole idea! There are only a few ways to increase your revenue, and selling to the same customers multiple times is one of the big ways we do that. This is also known as the metric, Lifetime Value, or LTV.
- It's wise to have a list of contacts that you control. You don't want to build your entire business on other platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, Facebook, or social sites for the simple reason that you don't own that real estate -- you're on rented land, which is bestowed upon you, and he who has the gold makes the rules. You can get banned, cut off, and totally screwed, with no way to contact anyone who's followed you. Remember Myspace? People had tens of thousands of followers, and suddenly that platform vanished. An email list is something you can control and that no one can take away from you.
What are the best ways to build your email list?
There are a few great ways to build your email list. Some are static, and some are dynamic.
Let's talk about static options.
Your website and social media profiles should have static links and email opt-in forms.
Any place that doesn't change and where you have consistent traffic needs to direct people to sign up to your email list. For a place like Instagram, you'll want to use Linktr.ee or Shorby.com to create a landing page where you can host multiple links since Instagram only allows you one link in your bio.
Do you always need an incentive, such as a discount? Not necessarily. If you have a premium brand, you may want to stay away from discounting so as not to devalue the brand (i.e. Apple never discounts their products). However, a 5-10% discount is often a great incentive for many people and a nice introduction to your brand. The idea with the coupon is to encourage them to make a purchase soon after opting in, or even immediately if you're able to display the discount right on your shop after they opt-in.
For dynamic options, we're mostly referring to running paid traffic ads to encourage people to opt into your email list. In the education/transformation space, we often call this a "lead magnet". The future customer is the lead and we're trying to attract the right people into our business by providing them some free value first. Give, then receive.
In the world of e-commerce, we often approach it quite a bit differently. What worked incredibly well in my candle business is running a Facebook ad showing a photo of my MVP (minimum viable product) and asking people if they wanted to be notified when it was ready to launch. Essentially, we built a pre-launch list!
The key to making an opt-in ad like this work is three-fold:
You must know who your audience is first!
If you don't know exactly who your ideal customer is and what niche your product fits into that people are excited and passionate about, you're not ready for Facebook ads yet. You can be soon, but it will take some work first (and I can help you).
Your audience should be a passionate group of people. No one is going to get excited about another bath bomb. But how about bath bombs for pets (lol - it just popped into my head, probably a terrible idea)? Or bath bombs for coffee lovers? You see, the problem isn't your product, the problem is you aren't focused on PEOPLE. Focus on a very specific group of passionate people and you'll have all kinds of products you can sell to them.
Once you know your passionate niche audience, ads will become very easy. Facebook makes it incredibly easy to find interests and targeting options to find those very people who will love your products.
You must have a compelling reason why they should sign up!
Urgency and scarcity. Get used to these words and start immersing yourself in this concept. Urgency speaks to limited time and scarcity speaks to limited quantity. All your promotions, including opting into your email list should include something that invokes urgency or scarcity.
This works exceptionally well in the hand made products category, as everyone knows products will be made in limited batches. No need to twist arms or exaggerate the truth!
My best performing opt-in ads let people know that we would be launching our product very soon and that it would be "first-come, first-serve, so sign up to be first in line!"
Don't overcomplicate the opt-in page!
Many people try to have bells and whistles on their landing page. When you only have 1-3 seconds for someone to make a decision, complexity is your enemy.
An opt-in landing page should only have one purpose: force the person to make a yes or no decision.
Do they want to be on the waitlist? Yes or no.
Or do they want to be first in line when this product launches? Yes or no.
Do they want a 10% discount? Yes or no.
We don't need a long bio, we don't need a bunch of photos or even much text. Simple and plain often work the best! And most of all, it needs to be mobile-friendly.
Your button should be "above the fold" on both mobile and desktop, ideally. That means they shouldn't have to scroll in order to find the opt-in button. Make your language fun and on-brand. If your brand voice is casual - write as you speak. That works well for most modern brands.
There's obviously a lot to cover when it comes to email list building, and this is just a taste of it as I can only write so much in one blog post. This blog is meant to inspire you and give you a general direction, as well as answer many common questions I get on the regular. If you're looking to go deeper and you need help implementing this in detail, see here.
What's your biggest challenge with building your email list right now?
Meet Leah: Starving artist to millionaire in 12 months. Overcoming a past of pain, a poverty mindset, and lack of business education, Leah went on to create multiple businesses into the high six and multiple seven figures. Aside from her passion for being a wife, and mother to her five children, she's also a well-known recording artist in the Symphonic Metal genre, lover of freedom, free-market capitalism, and follower of Jesus.