Last week, I opened my Gmail and was “greeted” with hundreds of new emails in my inbox. Sound familiar? Your inbox is probably full to overflowing too. We are all inundated by requests, offers and just plain junk mail on a daily basis.
Yet, email is an easy and inexpensive way to stay in touch with prospects and clients. It is a key part of my business. We send email messages to our prospects and clients every single day because it works, One of the key metrics my team pays attention to is Email open rates. A client can’t respond to your message if they don’t read it.
Email open rates have fallen 8% this year after holding steady for the past 8 years.
Over Eighty percent of emails are not opened at all.
Email marketing still works but to succeed in 2020, you need to stand out in your clients’ crowded inbox so that your emails are opened and your message is heard.
The Problem: Being Heard in an Information Tsunami
To stand out in a crowded inbox you need to develop “name recognition”. People are more likely to pay attention and open emails from people they already know.
Research from Pinpointe Marketing found that by using a specific personal name, rather than a general email address or company name, you can increase open rates by as much as 35%!
According to the study, 69% percent of recipients open emails based on who is sending vs. only 47% who open because of the subject line.
Why is this? Online marketing does not help you build relationships with your prospects...
In a previous Marketing Minute about distrust in the online world, I summed the problem with marketing in an online world up this way:
“Automation, by definition, is impersonal. Your prospects see it coming a mile away, and they ignore it. In so many cases, it actually pushes your prospects away because these new technologies lack the personal touch that your prospects need in order to build a real relationship with them, and for them to know that you have their best interests in mind.”
How to Become a “Trusted Name" When Nobody Knows Who You Are
The good news is that you don’t need to be a “big player” or have a giant list to become a “trusted name” to your community of prospects. There are just two keys to standing out by building trust: Consistency and Authority.
- Consistency will help you gain your prospects' trust by being in their inbox frequently and delivering value.
- Authority is creating a reason for your prospects to connect and engage with you. You need to be seen as a resource for them.
So, is there any easy way to create authority and consistency in your marketing? Yes, you can do that by creating an Authority Leadership Platform.
An Authority Leadership Platform is essentially a group that you create and lead on either Facebook or LinkedIn. As a group owner, you get to be the leader of the group and your prospects get to see you as someone who is “serving” their community.
Managing a group is a bit like having a chamber of commerce sticker on your restaurant window. It is a signal to your prospects that you are there to help them not just to sell your services.
I started a group called Small Biz Forum to position my brand and services in front of small business owners – the exact people I wanted to connect with.
One day, I got a call from a business owner who was a member of the group. He needed help building financial projections for a new venture. I met him at his facility, and his assistant escorted me to his office.
He was wrapping up a few things but invited me to have a seat. His computer screen was facing me, and he had Outlook pulled up with his recent emails. I noticed the email he currently had selected was the digest of content from my LinkedIn group, Small Biz Forum. Coincidence? Hell no.
He had seen my name repeatedly, was receiving the group content, and the day he had a need, I was the one he called. I later found out that I was the only one he called. This just goes to show that I had already developed a level of trust with him before we even met for the first time.”
We’ve seen this work the same way for our clients. Starting a group results in increased recognition. As our clients begin to be “seen”, their content shows up more on their prospects feeds, more connection and friend requests are accepted and, of course, more emails are opened.
Additional note: If you are expanding your network through LinkedIn a particularly effective play we’ve seen when sending connection requests is to position yourself as the founder of your prospect-focused group as part of your headline.
When a cold contact gets a connection request from you, many have their guard up.
If their first thought is, “Oh boy! What’s this person trying to sell.” It’s a less than ideal start to the relationship.
If instead, their first thought is “Whoa! I didn’t even know there was a group like this out there. Sounds like something I should check out and see what this person is up to.”
You’ve shifted the balance of the relationship. Allowing you to get your foot in the door and build up more trust with your prospect.’
The end result of creating a group… more appointments, sales, and greater self-confidence.
One of our clients put it this way:
“What this did was give “me the confidence to NOT wait until somebody to tell me that I’m a leader and a professional. I could wait my whole life before somebody gave me that accolade. I’m gonna take it, but I’ve got to live it, I’ve got to prove it, otherwise, people will see through it quite quickly.” - Matt Jones, Owner Advanced Safety
How to Become a “Trusted Name" When Nobody Knows Who You Are
Step 1: Pick your Platform
You essentially have two choices when creating a group for your prospects, LinkedIn, or Facebook. Here are the advantages of each type of group.
- Great place to find businesses and business prospects. If your prospects work in a certain type of business, you can find them on LinkedIn.
- Helps with LinkedIn connection rates. As I said earlier, mentioning your group in your headline gives your credibility. We’ve found that connection acceptance rates are 10% higher for clients that mention their groups.
- Less effort to maintain LinkedIn groups are less active in general than Facebook groups. There is less of an expectation of constant owner involvement and interaction This makes managing the group easier.
- Better for direct to customer businesses. People come to Facebook to interact personally.
- Organic group growth is possible. Facebook will promote groups that are growing in the newsfeed of potential members.
- Your posts and content will automatically be shown in the notifications of active group members.
- Content posting can be automated. While you can schedule content in your regular LinkedIn feed, you need to post content in your LinkedIn group manually. You can pre-schedule content in the Facebook group.
Step 2: Create the Group for Your Prospects
The biggest mistake people make when creating a group is to make it about their business. That’s not the point of having a group. The idea is to be a gracious “group host” and create a space for your prospects to get valuable information and to network. This is a chance for you to stand out from the crowd by engaging and being of service to your prospects.
What if you aren’t a member of your group’s ideal audience. Can you create a group for accountants if you aren’t a CPA? Yes you can.
Here are some examples.
- Julie Lindsey created a group for her prospects called “OT Experts”. She may not be an OT expert herself, but those are the exact types of people she targets.
- Matt Jones created a group called “Health and Safety Professionals New Zealand”. Again, a very targeted group of people.
- Patty Jensen targeted retail marketers, naming her group “Store Troopers: Forum for Retail Marketers of Consumer Technology”.
- Neil Kemp named his group “Security Intelligence Community.” Notice that he’s doesn’t work as part of the security intelligence community, he works WITH them. They are his ideal prospects, so he created a group about them and for them.
By positioning the group in this way they are creating a community of their PROSPECTS instead of their competitors.
Step 3: Create Content
The easiest way to stay top of mind for your group members is to regularly post content to the group. The content should be about topics that will be helpful to your prospects. The majority of the content should be articles that are useful and not directly related to the services you provide. At my content automation company Emphatic, our rule is that posts about you and your business should be less than 20% of the content you provide.
Add a few posts in your group before you invite people in so they can see what to expect.
Step 4: Promote and Grow Your Group
Now that your group is set up, you are ready to roll out the welcome mat and start promoting your brand new group. Here are a few quick tips to help get your group growing:
- Reach out to friends to "pre-seed" the group. You don’t have to have a lot of members to have a group to build your authority. But, you don’t want to be inviting your prospects to join a “ghost town” either.
- Invite people to the group via personal messages to people you are connected with on LinkedIn (for a LinkedIn group) or Facebook (for a Facebook group). This can seem a bit time consuming - but personal invitations are a great way to grow your group quickly.
- Send an email to your contacts announcing the group and inviting them to join. This is one of our most popular templates in our Connect 365 warm email software.
Step 5: Leverage Your Group to Stand Out in a Crowded Industry
Once your group is set up and you’ve recruited your first few members, it is time to leverage the group and serve your prospects by continuing to engage with them. Continue to post content and periodically ask questions that allow them to network.
Don’t be discouraged if your group doesn’t seem to engage right away. Having a group is about showing that you are there to serve. The size of the group or amount of engagement is secondary to that.
You can leverage your group by inviting your group members to get additional messages from you via email or to connect with you for networking calls.
By sharing your group content on other social media channels and via emails, you can benefit from being seen in more than one place. This builds your authority even more.
Grow Your Platform and Grow Your List
Having a strong personal brand is more important than ever. It is the reason why most people open emails. Starting a group can raise our authority and elevate you as a leader in your field. And, as I’ve shown above, it doesn’t have to take a lot of your time.
Groups are a great way to build authority and consistency in your marketing. As people see you in their inboxes more often, they’ll be more likely to open your emails and start to build a relationship with you.
Group building is just one of the topics we cover in our Connect 365 Marketing Lab. It’s included with your subscription to our Connect365 warm email software.