Email isn’t dead. (We can say it louder for the people in the back if you want.) In fact, it’s alive, well, and more profitable than ever.
But if you’re not using it right, it can feel like a chore that just… has to be done. Kendra Swalls is here to help us break down exactly what you can say in your emails to keep your audience engaged while also taking them through the buying journey… PLUS how to find and create content without burning out.
Episode 54 – Weird Holidays You Can Use In Your Marketing
Listen to Kendra’s Podcast
Alyson Lex 0:02
We've talked a lot about building an email list on this podcast, whether that's through lists, build events, the visibility you get through your social media, lead magnets, summits, challenges, all that good stuff. But what we haven't talked about as much, and we really are excited to fill in today is really how to create that engaging email content. This is a question I get all the time is, what do I do once I've built the list? How do I maximize the results? What's the point? And so we're going to dive into what to do once you have them. And that's why Kendra swells, the host of girl means business, and an amazing strategist, and I'm so excited to talk to her today. That's why she's here. So Kendra, thank you so much for being here with us.
Kendra Swalls 0:49
Thank you so much for having me. I am so excited to be here.
Alyson Lex 0:54
What is the first email that we should be sending to someone after they opt in for our thing, like our lead magnet? or what have you?
Kendra Swalls 1:05
Yeah, so Okay, so I always like to say that with your email list, it's kind of like when you meet a new friend for the first time, like, you know, I've got kids. So if you meet like a new mom, friend, you're like, we really hit it off. And we're, you know, let's, let's keep in touch, and you follow each other on social media, and you get each other's phone number, but then you never hear from them again, and you start to question like, did I was it really that great of a connection? Was she just pretending. So emails kind of same way, you know, you haven't met this person who has said, Hey, I really like what you're offering, they've downloaded your free, whatever your lead magnet, your guide, they've joined your challenge or whatever you're offering. And then you want to make sure you don't just ghost them. So you want to follow up with a really great first email or even a series of emails. But that first one in particular, needs to be what really brings them in. So I like to make it kind of short and sweet, but also, like really value packed. So a lot of times what I'll do with the first email, is I kind of introduce myself very quickly, just so they know, like, who I am and what why this emails coming to them. I give them a couple like little either quick tips or resource links they can go to, so that they're like, Okay, this is who she is, here's some value that she's giving me. And then I let them know what to expect going forward. So I don't want to just leave them hanging with like, Hey, nice to meet you. Here's some stuff. See you later, I'll say, you know, hey, this is gonna be a two way street Converse, like a two way conversation, a two way relationship, I want you to know that my emails that you get are not one sided, I would love to hear back from you, you can always hit reply, I respond to every email, however you want to work that but making sure they feel very welcomed, making sure they kind of have a pretty good idea of who you are and how you serve them. And then making sure that they know what to expect going forward and how they can get in touch with you that way they feel like, Okay, this is not just a mass email she's sending out It feels personal. And I love of course, anytime I can add in their actual name or address them in some way that makes them feel like this is not a mass email, it's directly to them. It always makes that connection even stronger. So I think that's a really great first impression to make.
Jennie Wright 3:25
I love what you're saying and there because we have all these things. But because of what you said, it makes me think that that's going to be the longest email ever, right? Because there's a lot packed in there. Right? So two way conversation. Let them feel welcome and all these things. How are you making that short and sweet? How are you making that into a compressed email where they don't have to read and scroll and scroll and scroll?
Kendra Swalls 3:47
Yeah, so I really just kind of keep each of those pieces to like one or two lines. So like my intro, I'll say like, you know, hey, Alison, so great to meet you. I'm Kendra. I am the owner girl means business. Here's what I do. I've gotten in the next section I go into like, Hey, I know that you know, you downloaded my free email starter kit. Here are two other really great resources, whether it's a blog post or podcast episodes, and I just kind of bullet point link that it's very visually very easy for them to kind of scroll through and see like, first little couple lines, this is who I am, then a little bullet point of here, some resources and then a little another liner to at the bottom. It's like, hey, you'll get emails from me each week that we value packed with tons of information to help you with your business. I also want you to know that I am here anytime you need me, please feel free to hit reply and just an answering or asking me questions or reach out if you need anything. And then I kind of wrap up from there. So I don't get super long winded because that's why I save future emails for and what I'll do is in my series, my welcome series is I'll kind of take each of those three pieces and break it down even more in future emails. So like the next email Send might be a little more in detail about who I am and how I can help them. And then another email might be a little more detailed with, here are some more specific resources on these different topics that you might be interested in. And so I can, the first one is just kind of like a movie trailer, it's a very quick glimpse into what they're going to get. And then going forward, we go into more detail on each of those three sections
Jennie Wright 5:22
like that. There's something I just want to say for those who don't know what an email series is. An email series is something that people are receiving after they've registered for your free gift or whatnot. And it's dripped out using usually automation over several days, most people put two or three days between each email. Does that work and sort of what you're talking about?
Kendra Swalls 5:40
Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I yeah, and my welcome sequence, I usually have four to five emails. And I do space in about two days apart. Because you don't want to inundate them with a ton of emails, I've signed up for things where I get like four emails in the first day. And I'm like, Oh, that's too much. It's a little too much. So you want to space it out and make sure that they, they're getting the content, but they're not overwhelmed by what you're sending them?
Alyson Lex 6:08
Once we get past this initial welcome sequence, and are we moving into like those weekly emails that you talk about? Are we writing those kind of timely? are we setting them up in advance? How are we setting all of that up? Technically?
Kendra Swalls 6:29
Okay, so technically, so yeah, I typically do weekly emails, I know some people do more frequently, some people will do less frequently, it kind of depends on what you're comfortable with, and what you can sustain, because you want to be consistent. So you want to make sure that, you know, if you decide you're gonna do weekly, that you're able to do them every single week. And then as far as like setting it up, so I try to make them timely, but also like, I will schedule them out in advance, because I like to batch create, I like to make sure that things are sent out and scheduled in a way that I'm if I'm busy one week, I'm not going to miss out on, you know, making sure that they get the content they need. So I will schedule it out in advance, but I try to do it like a month at a time. And if I'm doing weekly, I'm only doing four emails in one month. And so what I will do is I will then like say, Okay, I know, for example, my podcast comes out each week, so I want to include part of that in the email. And then Okay, I know that I've had a lot of people say, Well, I'm interested in learning more about Instagram, you know, reels. So I might pop in a little something about Instagram reels. So I'm just kind of taking like, or if I know that there's a fun social media holiday, or I know that there is something that is relevant coming up in the the season or the year that you know, the time that we're in, I'll talk about that. So I don't plan it to the point where it feels automated and robotic. I want it to feel like it fits with what's happening right now. But I do plan ahead. So like, I know what my podcasts are going to be for the next month, I know what topics those cover, I have a pretty general idea of what my audience is looking for. As far as like, these are the topics that they want to know more about. Because each email I'm giving value, plus saying, hey, go check this out.
Alyson Lex 8:21
So you mentioned something about holidays. And I know that we did an episode on using crazy holidays in your marketing, which was really fun. But how else are you creating this content? That keeps them wanting to get the emails?
Kendra Swalls 8:39
Yeah, and that's the number one like question. I get a lot of people they're like, okay, email sounds great. But it's feels overwhelming because of the content, like social media. For a lot of people, it feels easier, because it's kind of short. You know, it's it's just as little captions or it's creating a fun little video or graphic. But emails feel like you people think they have to write a lot more. And so what I always tell people is, one, you want to make sure that your emails are providing value, because people are not going to open an email just to see, oh, what's my business been doing in the last week? You know, they want this. It's not about you and your business. It's about your audience. So for some people, your core content are things like blog post, for me, it's a podcast. For some people, it's a video series. So I would say take that core content, and repurpose that content into your email content. So for example, if I have a podcast episode, that is all about using hashtags on your social media accounts, then I can take pieces of that and offer some value by talking about it in the email and saying, okay, hey, here's some great tips for using hashtags. And then at the end of it say, if you want to dive deeper into this topic, here's this podcast episode you can go listen to. So it's all about thinking okay? How can I serve my audience with content that's going to help them get like little wins little things that they're going to be successful in, that's going to keep them coming back. Because if someone opens your email, and they go, Oh, I implemented this one thing, this one little strategy that she sent me, and look what it did for my business. And then they can come back, they're gonna go, I want to know what she's gonna say next week in the following week and the week after that, because, man, that one little email and it doesn't have to be a, you know, a novel, you know, you don't have to give away the farm. Just go in and say, here are these this one little tip, try it, let me know how it worked for you, you know, share it and tag me or respond to this email or whatever. And then it gets the engagement app, they get excited, they feel like you're talking directly to them, they get a small win, they feel accomplished, and they're excited to come back to your next email.
Jennie Wright 10:54
Um, it actually leads me well into my next one. And that is, how far ahead Are you batching these emails? Do you ever put in the super timely stuff of, Hey, I did a Facebook Live yesterday, or I did you know, such and such yesterday, and here's the link and stuff like that, or are you really batching these out, like writing four or six at a time and getting those set up.
Kendra Swalls 11:16
So I do a little bit of both, um, I do kind of batches. So I will say at the beginning of each month, I will sit down, I'll kind of match up with the emails I'm going to send with, like I said, kind of my podcast episode topics. So you know, if I'm doing these four topics, I sort of have these four emails lined out however, I and I will kind of schedule them out. But I can go back in I mean, once even though they're scheduled, they're not like permanently locked in place. So if something comes up, and I say, Oh, yeah, I forgot I was gonna talk about this thing I have coming up, or I was gonna mention this other resource I found or I want to make sure people know about this clubhouse room I'm hosting that can always go back in before it sends out an add those in. Um, but I mean, a lot of times, I kind of have an idea of what's coming up in my month schedule, like I don't go any further out than a month, because it's too hard to keep up with, you know, if something comes up at the last minute, or if I'm a guest on somebody else's podcast, and they put it out right away, I want to make sure I can add that into an email. Or if I just happen to come across this really great thing on Facebook. And I'm like, Well, I want to make sure to include that. So I kind of give myself space to say, Okay, here's sort of the general framework of how my emails are going to look for this month, I'm going to go ahead and put in the content I know I want to have in that email, but I'm gonna leave space for me to go back and be able to add other things in.
Alyson Lex 12:42
I think that's a really good strategy. And I say all the time, like, Dude, it's an email, not a stone tablet, like it can be changed. Exactly, yeah.
Kendra Swalls 12:51
I think people get in their mind. They're like, Okay, once I get it on paper, or you know, paper, meaning like on the screen, that it's like, set, it's permanent. And nothing is permanent. I mean, even something as simple and I'm notorious for making like, typos. And so my husband will be the first one to message me and be like, your Facebook post has a typo. And I go back and change it, no big deal, you know, and I get even, like, I've sent out emails where I send out an email without a working link, or the link, you know, is broken, or whatever. And I'm like, dang it, so then I gotta go back. And, but I'm just like, okay, fine, I'll send out another email with Hey, oops, messed up, forgot to add the link, you know. And sometimes I get more opens that way than I do the first time anyway. So if there's another perfectionist, you're probably listening like cringing at the idea of that. But I also think that like Dan is better than perfect. And so if you can get it out there, and then maybe if you know, your emails are going to go out every Tuesday, then on Monday night you have it or Monday afternoon, before you're done for the day, you make it part of your to do list that you're going to go in, and double check that email and make sure all the links are working, check for any typos. Make sure all your content that you want to have in there is done. Even though you've already created it, when you were batch creating, you have it in your schedule to go back and just sort of double check it before it actually gets sent out to make sure you feel good about it.
Alyson Lex 14:13
So let's say we do all of this work, right? We put together all these emails, we've got a list of people that we know we were sending fantastic content to. But they're not opening. They're not reading, they're not taking action. They're not clicking, they're kind of just there. And how do we reactivate them? I mean, I know what I tried to do. I tried to do some stuff, the scroll subject lines or maybe give them an irresistible freebie or something like that, but what are your strategies?
Kendra Swalls 14:50
So this is always tricky, because there's a lot of different ways you can go about this and it can be really frustrating. But when you you know you hear people say like well open right like it Average, a good open rate is like 25 ish, you know, somewhere in that range. That seems like okay, but that's 75% of my people not opening my emails, oh my gosh. But here's the thing is I kind of think about it like your social media following as well, like, you may only have 10% that interact with your, you know, your Instagram posts, that doesn't mean the other 90% didn't see it or didn't, weren't interested in it. We're all busy, we've got so many things going on. And so someone might have signed up for your email list, been really excited about the content you were giving them. And then realize, like, you know what, I've got this family thing going on right now, I just can't focus on the content she's sending out right now. Or they're like, you know what, this is all great information. But I need to come back to it at another time, because I'm not in that place. There's so many different reasons, they could be not opening your emails. So what I would suggest doing is you can do like a list cleanup, if you want to, which is what I do with the list cleanup is I will send out probably two, sometimes three emails, that's kind of like, Hey, I'm getting ready to clean out the list. If you want to be here that, you know, click this link or go check out this or whatever. And that kind of will help reactivate them. You know, I have some subject lines, things like, are we breaking up question mark, question mark, you know, and people won't do that. It'll get some of people's attention, you know, and they can decide, do I really want to stay? Or do I want to go. And cleaning out your list a lot of times can help you boost that open rate. Because if people have signed up for your list, and they've decided they're not for you, but they just haven't taken the time to unsubscribe, they're kind of clogging up your list. But if someone sees that, and they go, Oh, no, I really don't want to be removed, like her contents, good. I just haven't had a chance to get to it, maybe they're saving it on a folder to come back to when they have time, that can kind of help bring you back to front of mind. And I do agree that like you also need to be having catchy subject lines. Because you think about your inbox, you have a ton of emails every morning, when you check your inbox, you're only going to read the ones are open the ones that really grab your attention. So making sure that you have you're walking that line of catchy emails, but not clickbait. So you got to have that nice little Goldilocks in the middle spot. And then once they open the email that they're getting those value that value, they're getting those actionable tips, because I've opened somewhere it's like, they tell this whole long story about their, you know, something that happened in our life. And I'm like, I just don't care like this is not helping me, you know, but if I open an email where it's like, hey, if you do these three things, then you can boost your engagement on Instagram, I'm gonna be like, yeah, let me let me see what they have to say. And if it's quick, it's easy to digest, it's easy to implement, you're gonna be able to bring them back in. So there's definitely you can revitalize that. And again, just keep in mind, don't take it personal, because you never know why that person hasn't been opening your emails.
Jennie Wright 17:56
We're having way too much fun on this episode, Allison and I actually have been adding questions to this. And you're doing amazing, but we're like, oh my god, we're gonna go for like two hours on this if we keep going. So we're gonna try and ask a really like a couple really pertinent ones that we think are important. And one of them is, do you recommend using an automation that creates a tag on a contact after they've gone non active? Right? So maybe your are we breaking up? Email doesn't didn't get them going? Do you recommend using something that says, okay, they've been inactive for X amount of time. And if they're that inactive, they get flagged? And then you can go in and delete them? Or how do you do a list cleanup and that way?
Kendra Swalls 18:37
Yeah, so um, I'm all about tags, like if you can, the more you can kind of tag people and find these little groups, the better because it's kind of, you know, it's, I think, like, of course, I used to be an elementary school teacher. So I think about it in the way of like, we use, you know, group your students based on, you know, how well they do or don't do in class. And so kind of the same thing, if you have your super active like, these are the ones who open every email, they always click the links, they always do all the things and you put them in this tag group, then you have the ones that are like they're kind of lukewarm they sometimes do sometimes don't, then you can tag the ones that don't. And that helps you to send emails just to them, you can kind of really focus or reengagement sort of strategy with them. And then if they ultimately are not opening emails, and they haven't even opened, like your list cleaning ones, I have no problem removing people, just because I don't want people in my community that are not going to be active members of the community. And that sounds kind of harsh, but at the same time, like, I mean, if you're not going to participate and you have you've shown me through your actions that you're not participating, then it's just easier it's better for me if I just kind of say this is where we part ways you know, no hard feelings.
Alyson Lex 19:58
Okay, so we talks about content. And we've talked about timing. And we've talked about cleaning, and we've talked about tech. And now we get to talk about my favorite part selling. How often should we sell in our emails? Like, what's the rule of thumb? What's the big No, no. Because some people are afraid to sell and some people sell all the time. I know, there's got to be a good spot.
Kendra Swalls 20:23
Yeah, so this is kind of one of those things where, like, I think everybody has their own opinion, on my opinion, is you should be hard selling only like, a handful of times throughout the year, because otherwise, you're going to become known as a person who's just selling to people, and you don't want to be that person, because then they're gonna be like, Oh, another email from Kendra, she's gonna want me to buy something I'm not I don't want to spend money today, you know, whatever. So I think that my kind of rule of thumb is like, one big sell, like one big sales series each quarter. So like, for example, I'm getting ready to launch a big project coming up, we're going into quarter two, so I could, this will be my big sell for the quarter two. But what I also do is I utilize like a PS in my emails, or I'll throw in like a little, you know, oh, hey, don't forget, we've got this program going. So it's like, I've given them a bunch of value in this email. And then at the bottom, I might say, PS, if you haven't signed up for XYZ program, it's still active, it's still live, whatever, click here to check it out, or to learn more, or, you know, hey, don't forget, we've got X y&z coming up, make sure you keep an eye on your inbox for it. So I'm not really selling hard selling to them more than a couple times a year. But I'm just putting in these little reminders, because like, I think people forget, like, if you're constantly giving them value, which is great. They're gonna sometimes they'll forget, like, Oh, yeah, she has paid offers as well. We want to make sure you're sprinkling those in here and there. So I will add in, like I said, the little PS. Or I might add in like, a fun little button at the bottom with like, a cute little like saying of some kind, like, click here, if you want to, you know, do this, or this or this or whatever. And I try to make it kind of light and fun. And not too like sales pitchy. But just enough, it's like, Hey, don't forget, I also offer these things.
Jennie Wright 22:23
That's a huge conundrum too, right? Because if we're giving so much value, when we put those offers in front of people, it they tend to go, Oh, wait a minute, you're, you're making an offer, right? And that can be a bit of a challenge. People just either ignore them, or they don't go for them. And that's, you know, you're right, that fine line, there's a really, really fine line, I find that to be something that we get questioned about a lot. I have one more question for you before we start wrapping this up. And that's what if you have ignored your list, and you've not marketed them marketed to them enough or at all in a very long time? How do you revive that list? Is it worth reviving that list? Do you dump the list? What do you do? Okay, so
Kendra Swalls 23:04
first of all, never dumped the list? Because I feel like that's like, it's like deleting a social media page when you have people already there. Why would you not just utilize what you have. So I would say, definitely just start by starting. So jump in and say, Okay, you know what, I have this list, it's got, let's just say 100. People just even if it's a small list, maybe you started a while back, and you were like, this is too much work. So you have 100 people on that list. You never know, even if five of those people work with you or buy from you, it's worth keeping that list. So what you need to do is just start sending out like, basically start with a welcome sequence. And even if you want to kind of depending on your personality and your brand personality, like I would probably come at it as playful and fun and be like, hey, hope you didn't forget about me, I'm still here. And I would just kind of you know, like, make a joke about it, and then go into, you know, I want to start building this sort of VIP community and my email list. You know, you're already here. So if you would like to continue to be on this list, I would love to have you here. If not, you can click on subscribe or whatever. So kind of clean it up a little bit, let them know, and then just start sending valuable emails. I think that it's never too late to start. And it's never too early to start, you just have to start. And so think of it as if they were 100 new people that just signed up. What would you do with them?
Alyson Lex 24:30
Really like that. And I'm the same way I would probably be like, I don't know, maybe send that GIF of the guy coming out of the bush. Right. Right, just and that's my personality as well. So we match on that. But I really like how you said to just match it to your personality. Some people are just going to be like, Hey, here's what happened. I'm gonna own it and move on. And some people want to have a better story or have more of a personal share. And so I think there are options there. I know that gentleman I mentioned that we have probably, I mean, we probably have like 12 more questions. But the big question that we're going to ask right now is where can people connect with you and find out more?
Kendra Swalls 25:12
Yeah, so I am on social on Instagram On Facebook, I'm at girl means business. And then my website, girl means business calm is sort of my home base. So that's where everything lives, you can find links to the podcast resources, my contact form if you want to reach out to me with any questions you have. And then also it has links to all my socials and everything on there.
Jennie Wright 25:35
And you do some really cool edgy reels and stuff like that. I like watching your reels. They're cute. They're fun.
Kendra Swalls 25:40
Jennie Wright 25:41
Yeah, I like them. They're very there. I like the one where you like turn in the chair. You did one recently, where you like vanished. And then you did one where like, you're like the the music from the office, you know where you're like, Hi, I'm the son. Hi, I'm a copywriter, and I'm the administrator. So you can help with this. By the way, I just got to ask, are you doing it?
Kendra Swalls 26:01
I do it myself. I have a running list on my phone of ideas. And then I just have like my ring light tripod. And sometimes my daughter helps occasionally or she's in them a lot of times. But yeah, just me.
Jennie Wright 26:12
Too cute, worth looking at. So people can take a look at that. We have a couple takeaways from today's episode. This is the part this is one of my favorite parts of the entire episode, where we share some things that we kind of gleaned from you that we think are important that people can take away and use in their own businesses right away. So we have a couple today, I'm going to do the first couple Allison's gonna take the last couple, we're just going to share it up. So the first one is that consistency in your email marketing is key. I mean, this is the thing that I want tattooed on, like everybody's arm consistency with your email marketing, right? The start and stop is the thing that causes the problem with building that machine with adding more people to your list and connecting with them. You know, it doesn't feel good, like you said to meet somebody think you hit it off, and then have them ghost you. So consistency is the number one thing. Number two is using batch writing or batch option, you know, batch content creation, as much as you possibly can. This plays into my love for planning. This means that you're never without something that's going to be going out. And it's timely. And it makes sense. It takes into consideration holidays, which you were talking about earlier, and which we talked about in one of our episodes. And then also it takes into consideration what you might be offering or what's coming out. Because you're running a podcast and everybody you know, you know your own personal schedule as to what that's going to be, then you know what you can talk about that month, which is great. And then number three, tagging is your friend, I love tagging, I big fan of tagging, I'm a big fan of creating that segmentation within the list, so that when you are emailing the list about a specific thing, it's the right thing for the right person versus blanket, you know, carpet, emailing everybody and hoping just hoping that one person is going to click the thing.
Alyson Lex 27:53
I have a couple of takeaways. And you know, mine are going to be about sales, right. So I like the rule of thumb for one big sales push each quarter. And we didn't really talk about the promotion and like promoting your freebies or your webinars. But you can also remind people in the PS, or little asides or things that you have things for sale, because the last thing you want is to train your audience that you're just going to give things for free. Right, so we want them to know, hey, he or she has paid stuff, cool. And then if you have an inactive or old list, and you've just not connected with them recently, don't dump them. Don't get rid of them. I've done that I've burned entire lists, and it's probably not the best idea. Do something to wake them back up, be upfront and just start by starting, I really liked that I might get a little sign made from my wall, start by starting.
Jennie Wright 28:50
That's fantastic. And we just want to say thank you, Kendra, for being on this with us and talking about this episode and talking about email marketing, Allison, and I do email marketing as part of our businesses. But it's always good to have a fresh voice and a fresh perspective. So that you not only do we feel kind of validated, not gonna lie, but it also pulls in some stuff that maybe we don't even think about on a regular basis. So I think that's good. And so I just want to take a second to say thanks so much for being part of this episode with us.
Kendra Swalls 29:18
Thank you so much for having me. This
Jennie Wright 29:19
has been something I could talk to you about marketing with your person all day long, because there's so much greatness there. So I appreciate you having me on to share. Absolutely. And there's again, we have like 15 other questions we could ask. But that would make it the longest episode in our history. We just can't go there. So we might have to look at like something else here. Do we ask Kendra back? Maybe we didn't go maybe we'll have to have another episode in the future never know. So I just want to take a second to thank everybody who has been listening. And if you haven't already, please do consider following the podcast wherever it is that you're listening to episodes. So you catch all the episodes that Allison and I are doing, not only with just Allison and I but also with experts and also the quick tips that we do on Mondays. So make sure you're checking those out if you have some feedback for us. Or you'd like to leave us a review please do so let us know what you think. Allison I are here and At your service, please go to System to THRIVE COMM And check out how you can connect with us or how you can work with us. And we're also open for speaking opportunities as well. So go and check that out. And last but not least, we have our own free gift for you which is 128 content marketing tips like how to content creation tips, pardon me, that's available on the website. So at System to thrive.com forward slash and I believe it's content. Allison always reminds me that so go and check those out. Thank you so much for listening. We'll be back again soon answering another big question.