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Email marketing for startups.

I will be the first one to admit that email marketing for startups isn’t nearly as glamorous as coming up with a logo or launching a website. In fact, I’d say for most startups it’s at the bottom of their list of to-dos, tangled up in cobwebs and drowning in coffee stains. 

However, if you’re running a startup (or any business for that matter), I think by the end of this article I will be able to change your mind. 

But, first, a punchline. 

“There’s money in the banana stand.”

There’s a TV series called Arrested Development that will leave you laughing harder than a 6th grade boy who just heard his very first “Your Momma” joke. 

In one of the show’s earlier episodes, the father of a wealthy family ends up in prison and his son (a goody two shoes who previously had nothing to do with the father nor the family) is forced to take over the family business. 

The father coaches the son behind cell walls and on a handful of occasions makes mention of a ridiculous side-business he started years ago called, “The Banana Stand” –– a giant banana shaped hut that sells ice cold chocolate covered bananas during the summers on the Newport Beach boardwalk. 

Long story longer, his father keeps saying the bizarre phrase… “There is always money in the banana stand.” 

Little does the son know that the father is hinting at $250,000 he stowed in the attic of The Banana Stand. His son didn’t pick up on the hint and one day found the stand burnt down to the ground… along with the $250,000 hidden inside.

The punchline has become something of a mantra for Arrested Development and, now, a great metaphor for email marketing for startups.

Email marketing for startups, the gift that just keeps giving.

All startups must find their banana stand –– the place they can always go to whether they’re looking to push some product or quickly generate moolah. 

Email marketing, in my opinion, is the very best banana stand for startups. 

If startups can begin building a strong email list early on, it can function as a well that they can go back to again and again as they sell their products and services and go on to launch new ones. 

I won’t kill you with statistics but in my previous article, Is email marketing dead?, I shared a handful of statistics to convince the skeptics that email marketing is far from being dead. Here’s the TL;DR… 

  • There 3.9 billion active email users across the globe. 
  • 99% of folks check their emails every single day. 
  • The more avid email users will check their inbox 20 times a day.

Those three bullets should be convincing enough… 

A fool-proof email marketing strategy for startups.

Both myself and my co-founder, Andrew Holliday, have extensive experience in email marketing. We’ve built lists for both ourselves and the various brands we’ve worked with. 

Here’s a fool-proof strategy we’ve used to bolster our lists quickly. 

1.Choose the right email software. 

There are countless email softwares out there, which can make choosing one feel like absolute hell. Fortunately, we’ve reviewed just about every email software in existence, here

While you do some shopping around, my advice for you would be to not get too hung up on “price” and focus more on features. 

Between my two emails lists over at Honey Copy, I’ve seen a 65x return on the price I pay for my email software… and that’s with a fairly small list of around 6,000 subscribers. So, in other words, if you do your email marketing right, the software will pay for itself and then some. 

2. Design a damn good email opt-in page. 

Brands with the largest lists do one of two things:

  1. They store the email address of every customer that walks through their doors. 
  2. Or, they design a killer email opt-in page and funnel traffic to said page. 

If you are already getting a lot of customers coughing up their hard-earned money for your product(s), you need to be asking for their emails… and getting them queued up in a new  subscriber email sequence. 

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the luxury of getting a ton of customers early on… which is where a kick-ass email opt-in page comes in handy. This opt-in page and this one have worked incredibly well for me… performing at a conversion rate of 75%. 

While you design (and write the copy for) your email opt-in page, keep the following things in mind… 

  • Don’t offer free bullshit (like ebooks and courses), folks don’t fall for that stuff anymore… nobody has ever gotten anything out of a free ebook. 
  • Tell the subscriber what they will get out of signing up for your email newsletter (and/or tell them what they will learn from you). 
  • Use imagery the rest of the internet is not (most email opt-in pages zig, make the look and feel of yours zag). 
  • Express your brand’s personality in the email opt-in copy (in other words, just say something interesting; be interesting). 

Get it? Got it? Good. 

3. Come up with a way to drive traffic to your email opt-in page. 

You can drive traffic to your email opt-in page in a few different ways (all of which fall under the umbrella of content marketing). While these methods will vary considerably, quality is the motto here… as long as quality is strong and you’re leaving explorers of the internet with something worthwhile, they will take the time to visit your email opt-in page… 

Here are a few content marketing strategies that work… 

Write damn good articles specific to your niche. This is what The Sill does. They sell plants online. And, so to market these plants, they write articles educating folks on how to be better plant owners. 

Or, you could always launch a podcast. Podcasts have been growing in popularity over the past 4-5 years and many are saying the madness has just begun. If writing isn’t your thing, launch a weekly podcast and point listeners to your email opt-in page. 

4. Brainstorm an incredible weekly newsletter. 

Successful email marketing for startups is built on the back of the newsletter. The newsletter builds trust with the subscriber, it gets them in the habit of opening your emails… which means they will be more likely to open your emails when you have something you’re trying to sell. 

With that said, you need to be placing a ton of time and consideration into the newsletter you will be launching. Yours can be daily, weekly or monthly (I highly recommend weekly). But, more than this, your newsletter needs to be providing something extremely valuable to your subscribers. 

Again, this is where choosing a great email marketing software comes into play (make sure you’re choosing one that has the tools and features that let you design a killer newsletter). 

We’ve got a massive list of great email marketing software options, here

Anything else?

In my opinion, you should be ramping up your email marketing efforts before you ever print your first business card. Folks seem to lose business cards faster than car keys with legs. And, 90% of the individuals who land on your website never return again… 

That means you need to figure out a better way to stay in touch and that begins with grabbing their email address. 

By Cole Schafer. 

Like what you read? Let’s play Grab SaaS next week.

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