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Email Marketing 101 for Product Businesses

Most business owners squirm a little when I ask them about their email marketing. I get a lot of guilty “I need to do more” responses. 

If this is you, I’m here to help. Because email marketing is POWERFUL. 

First, let’s talk about how powerful email marketing really is. Here’s a chart from Shopify comparing traffic sources and their conversion rates. Email marketing is #1, followed by search, direct and social media.

(Source: Shopify)

Your email marketing list can make you money. It can make you consistent, reliable sales. And it’s not as hard as you think.

So whether you’re starting from scratch or you’ve had an email list for years, this will be such a great month for you in the Launch Lab. 

I’ve had a long journey with email marketing myself. I knew it was a “must-do”, which turned into a “should-do” for me. About 8 years ago, I dutifully started emailing my email list every week. A few months in, I proudly told a business friend about this, and she asked me a question that I didn’t see coming:

“Are you getting any sales from it?”

Sales? Well no. No, I was not. Was that what I was supposed to be trying to do with email marketing? I thought it was just essential I emailed my list, but I didn’t get any further than that.

I told her that no, I was simply trying to provide value with my weekly emails. So I didn’t ever add anything that could sound the least bit sales-y. I didn’t invite sales, and I didn’t get them.

After that lightbulb conversation, I realized that I was wasting my precious time with my email list, which was unfortunate since I thought I was doing the opposite. 

Emailing without a strategy was not doing anything for my business.

Slowly, I started incorporating actual sales strategies and highlighting my offers to my email list, but I fell off the consistent wagon pretty quickly. 

Years later, when I launched my program Shop School, my email list became critical to my business. In preparation of launching, I spent months growing my email list numbers. And I credit my email list to getting Shop School off the ground at all. 

How does email marketing work?

On your website: 

  1. A lead signs up on one of your forms (pop up form, footer, newsletter section or when someone purchases and they check “sign up for email marketing). The bottom line is they’re consenting and purposefully joining your email list from somewhere on your site. 
  2. Their info will be added to your email marketing platform
  3. You can send them marketing emails!

On Etsy:

Same process but your sign up form is limited to a link on your Announcement and/or About section. The link will send someone to a landing page on your website or generated on your email newsletter platform. 

(Note: the exception is Aweber, which integrates more fully with Etsy, but I’m not a big fan of Aweber itself.)

Email Marketing Platform (ESP)

So in order to start using email marketing, you need an email marketing platform. There are lots of other platforms out there but I recommend choosing from one of these.

BUILT BY SHOPIFY:

Shopify Email: If you’re on Shopify, I know it can feel easy to just use Shopify Email. It’s a Shopify app that integrates seamlessly with Shopify. It’s very simple and does allow you to make campaigns and some automations, but doesn’t do anything with customer tagging and segmenting. I’d only recommend this as a starting point.

Learn more about Shopify Email →

JILL OF ALL TRADES:

Mailchimp: Mailchimp is a good choice with a free option and low priced plans.

Learn more about Mailchimp →

Mailerlite: Free for your first 1000 subscribers. I personally like the interface more of Mailerlite compared to Mailchimp and find it more intuitive. 

Learn more about Mailerlite →

E-COMMERCE SPECIALIST:

Klaviyo: The professional platform for e-commerce with the most features, by far. You can utilize advanced segmenting, make flows (automations) and also use their SMS feature if you want to use text marketing as well. Their free plan is less generous and their pricing is higher than Mailchimp and Mailerlite. Most of my clients use Klaviyo or decide to switch to Klaviyo when we work together.

Learn more about Klaviyo (affiliate link) →

How much does it matter which platform you choose?

At first, not that much. Especially if you aren’t setting up automations or segmenting and just sending the occasional campaign email. 

And I always tell people – even if you have no intention of sending emails right now – still use an email platform and start growing your list. No one ever wishes they waited to do that! Once you’re ready to send emails and set up all the automations, you’ll have leads waiting to hear from you.

So if you’re in the category of just getting started and you don’t have a lot of time to invest in setting up your email marketing, go with Shopify Email, Mailchimp or Mailerlite because they’re cheaper.

And when you’re ready to put more time into your email marketing and setting up all the flows – then it’s time for Klaviyo. 

It’s relatively easy to switch email platforms when you just have a list of emails. If you’ve created automations or segmenting, those will usually have to be recreated on a new platform. I’ve personally switched email platforms 4 or 5 times! 

And for my product business Wildly Bright, I signed up for Klaviyo.

Learn everything you need to know to utilize email marketing with my masterclass, Email Marketing 101 for E-Commerce Sales.