Even though email is one of the oldest forms of online communication, email still dominates. Yes, it’s less effective than it was in 1995, but what isn't? Sure, social media advertising is more effective, but you don’t own the audience. With the right tools, the right list, and the right process you can use email to dominate your market and grow your business effectively.
Now, you know that every business needs a different list. If you are starting from zero, then just get started, but if you already have some sort of list, it’s a good idea to measure your lead nurturing stats to see where you need to focus. If you sell products, then you need to build up a list of people who need a specific product and subsequent, related products. If you sell a subscription service, you want a large group of recipients who will continue to have the same problem over a long period of time. Even these two categories aren't enough to specify the specific audience you need based on the types of products and services you sell.
If you have a service business, your target market is a very particular set of individuals, and that means you need to craft a specific strategy to reach consumers and business owners. Luckily, the type of services you offer won't change the general outline of the steps you need to take. Whether you offer professional advice on how to become an optician, how to set up self-employment retirement accounts, or how to grow an appliance repair business, there's a process to build your email subscribers. Here's what you need to do:
1. Create a free course.
Content marketing is the best way to increase traffic to your site. Through blog posts, content giveaways, and white papers, you can build up SEO credit and convince human visitors that you're an industry expert.
But that type of content marketing isn't the only way to reach new audiences with content. Instead, showcase your knowledge on a third-party course site like SkillShare or Udemy. Audiovisual content is often more attractive to audiences than wordy, long-form articles, and it also puts you in the place of being an authority. Even better, the people who find your course are already in the mindset of wanting to learn a skill or solve a problem. They're halfway down their buyer's journey and you can step in easily.
Your first free course shouldn't be a gold mine of everything you know. Instead, it should be a basic overview showing your target market how to solve a problem at the very beginning of their journey. For example, if your business offers consulting services to independent opticians and medical offices, give a basic overview of how to become an optician or the X number of crucial elements to running a medical office. This is simple, basic information that you don't have to invest a lot of time in but which can be invaluable to someone just getting started.
When users on most platforms join your course, you build an 'email list' of sorts through the site. It won't be a downloadable list of names and emails because the third-party site needs to protect that information. They also have an incentive to have you communicate to subscribers through their system only. However, this is still a list of interested consumers whom you know are already invested in your subject matter.
2. Grow your student base with more courses.
One free course isn't enough to get traction. Build up your expertise and your audience by adding new courses that dive deeper and deeper into the subject matter. At this point, not all of your courses have to be free. In fact, many of the most successful course-makers start their courses as being available for free before establishing a price once they have high ratings.
Every course you add makes all of your other courses stronger. Depending on the specificity and competition in your niche, you can quickly dominate the knowledge field. Once your profile is on top for delivering the content your target market needs, it will be very hard for a new competitor to dislodge you.
At the point where you're charging students for your courses, congratulations! You are a consultant, even if it wasn't on the platform you originally imagined. Many course-makers interact with their students in the comments and can come to additional arrangements for direct consulting hours, or when they are ready you can sell them your full-blown services and make them a client. The more you stay active on your course platform, the more opportunities you have. And the larger your student base the more opportunities you’ll have to grow and scale your business.
3. Offer email courses for more technical depths into your courses.
Once people trust you as a knowledge resource, courses aren't going to be enough of a workable format. You can garner more interest in different types of subjects by opening up email courses, too. If you want to help your subscribers develop technical skills and procedures, the best way to do it isn't by giving them the information all at once.
Instead, break it down into bite-size chunks of daily tasks and tips. Some things, like reorganizing a database system or setting up a website, involve too many steps all at once. That can overwhelm your customers and make them stop listening. But email courses provide structure and simple advice.
Even better, this format gets you direct subscribers that want to open emails from open. Most email list growth occurs on a tit-for-tat system. You'll offer a PDF or a coupon of sufficient value to make your audience give you their email, but that's no guarantee they'll want continual communication with you. With an email course, you know those subscribers want to hear from you.
Why are courses a great way to reach your business's target market?
People who are likely to pay for your services know they have a dream but are missing some of the knowledge to make it happen. That means courses — free, paid, and over email — are precisely what they need to get started. If you can give burgeoning business owners the information they need without hassle or gimmicks, they will trust you and keep coming back.
Even better, this is a target market that will actively find you. One of the biggest drags in growing a business is finding a steady supply of leads. Content marketing means you're available when potential customers are ready to find you, especially if you couldn't otherwise find them.
People who need your services the most aren't leads that you can search for. They won't have a social media presence or profiles in local business directories. If they have such an established presence that you can find them, their customers can find them. While that doesn't mean your services won't apply to their situation, it means you have less to offer, and they might already have a solution.