We are determined to keep small, independent farmers profitable and in business. Our priority will always be to provide legal expertise and assistance to keep your operations running smoothly and hassle-free, but we can also use our experience to help you in other areas on the farm—like email marketing!
Consistent marketing is the key to connecting with customers, establishing relationships, and increasing sales. One of the easiest and most efficient ways to market directly to your customers is via email. Some might think it’s social media, but it is not.
Social media platform algorithms are always changing, and you will never have direct access to your customers via social media. The algorithms control what your followers are exposed to. The beauty and simplicity of email marketing is that you own your customer list. If you put in the time and effort early on to build a quality list of customers, you will have direct access to their inbox and their ear for as long as their address remains active.
Whether you have an email list already or are beginning at square one, we have compiled ten steps to help you improve your email marketing.
Note: for most of these tips we are assuming you already have a basic farm website with a blog. If not, we will touch on farm websites and blogs in future articles.
Pick an Email Marketing Platform
Don’t email from your personal account! This is the number one rule in email marketing. You must pick an email marketing provider for a couple of reasons. To name a few, these platforms: decrease the likelihood that you’ll be marked as a spammer and lose your contacts; allow subscribers to sign up or unsubscribe from your emails on their own; and track all data so that you become more savvy. MailChimp is an excellent service and is free for under 2,000 subscribers.
Build a List
To make an email marketing strategy successful, you need email addresses. Start collecting email addresses wherever you can. At your farm stand, farmers market, or via your website. A great idea that I learned from Charlotte Smith at 3 Cow Marketing is to implement lead magnets as a way to encourage new customers to join your email list. A lead magnet is a free product you offer in exchange for people to join your list. Instead of saying Join our Email List, you can say Get Your Free Guide to Herd Shares. (Check out our lead magnet HERE.) Customers will enter their email address, be automatically added to your mailing list, and receive your free guide all via your email marketing platform.
Use a Name as Sender
In the sender field, use your name, or an employee’s name. Doing so is important to establish a connection with your customers. Readers want to feel like they are receiving an email from someone they know, not just an anonymous entity.
Test Your Subject Lines
How you write your subject line can increase or decrease the number of people who open your emails; this is called the open rate. I like to use an email subject score service like CoSchedule to test my subject lines before sending.
Address Recipients by Their First Names
People like to open friendly emails, and one of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to address emails directly to your readers. Your email marketing platform will make this easy for you. As long as you have the contact info for each recipient, you can plug in a macro for first name. Use the macro that will replace it with the recipient’s first name, and your email marketing service will automatically address your emails. For instance, in our email marketing service, the macro “<>” automatically addresses each email to the reader’s first name. The macro you’ll want to use will differ based on your email marketing platform.
Keep It Simple
We use emails to drive customers back to our website to read content (blog posts, articles, etc.). Or you can also directly sell in your email. The most important tip to remember when writing an email is simple is better! Most people are skimmers these days, and they do not read the entire email. So keep it short and to the point!
I know writing does not come naturally to everyone, and it’s easy to get hung up on word choice and style. One trick I find that helps is when writing I like to imagine I am talking to a friend. Even better, you can imagine that you are talking to your favorite, most loyal customer. Talk to that person in your head, and write it down. This will keep your style friendly and natural.
Include One Call to Action
Keep your emails to one direct call to action (CTA). We used to send out emails that were jam-packed and included several links with just too much information. We have now switched to a model that shares one piece of news and encourages our readers to do only one action. This model increased our open rates and fostered a more engaged readership. For you, one CTA could be asking readers to buy your beautiful fresh cut flowers or your new pork snack sticks. Doing so will drive your customers to focus on that one task.
I am a writer naturally and not an editor. There is a difference! It’s always helpful to have a second set of eyes scan your copy, whether that’s a farm employee or your significant other. Another useful tool is a site like Grammarly, which serves as a virtual writing assistant.
I will dig deeper into the content and scheduling in a later post, but I want to touch on the importance of consistency. Pick an email schedule and stay consistent! If it’s once a week or once a month, it’s crucial to keep up with those emails. I know it can get overwhelming at times, but it is beneficial to spend a few hours planning out a content schedule each year. That way, you will have a rough idea of what you want to say all year long. More on this topic later!
TAKE ONE STEP AT A TIME
Tackling email marketing is a big project, but once you implement a few best practices and maintain a consistent email schedule, it gets easier. We are always here to help, and don’t forget to check out other resources like Charlotte Smith at 3 Cow Marketing.
Stay tuned for more articles about marketing in the coming months!
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