I am sure you have read titles saying email is dead. Email is very much alive and well.
So if you are new to email marketing, what exactly is it?
Wikipedia describes Email marketing as: sending email to build relationships, advertise, encouraging new or current customers to buy something.
Email marketing for farmers is very under-rated, think about the possibilities there are if you were using email to build a relationships with your customers. If you have a farmers market booth, you can keep that connection strong when you aren’t at the market.
Why should you create an email list?
There are many reasons why you want an email list. Here are a just a few reasons why you want one.
- Update people about upcoming events or products or problems.
- Build relationships with your customers.
- Sell products directly to your customers.
- Let them know their favourite cow had a calf ( it could be anything you want to tell them about).
Worst case scenario(updating people)
Let’s say your site goes down and you don’t have an email list. How are you going to get in contact with your readers and know what’s going on. Answer: you can’t.
On the other hand, if you have an email list you could let your readers know what’s going on. A very recent example is of Pat Flynn whose site went down, and got in contact with his readers via email(and YouTube).
Here is a screenshot of a perfect example of what I am talking about.
In Pat’s case he makes around $50,000 a month via his websites, so keeping them up is extremely important.
You could use social media, but you run the risk of people not getting your message.
Another example of keeping your customers informed is, sending your newest blog post directly to their email inbox. This is probably the most common use for email for a blog.
Staying in contact with the readers is a great way to use your email list. You can keep them informed daily, weekly, or even bi-weekly. The choice is really up to you, but you need to build a long-lasting connections with your clients.
You can also just email people to say hi and see how they are doing, which deepens your connection with them.
Chris Brogan is really good about encouraging people to email him so it is a two-way conversation.
Sell products directly to your customers
If you have a booth at the farmers market, you have products that you want to sell. You can use your email list to sell products. Sometimes this is frowned upon because it is what Chris Brogan would call a selly sell sell email. But you have to put food on the table right?
Also, you don’t have to sell them something directly in your email. You could direct them back to your site where they could buy your products, which is a much less aggressive way of selling.
Do farmers need an email list?
Yes, every farmer who has a website should have an email list.
It allows you to tell your consumers about what is happening on your farm.
Having an email list allows you to have direct contact with your clients. This gives you a big advantage over other farmers who aren’t utilizing their website as good as you are. Think about it, normally you have to talk to your clients at the farmers market. But if you have an email list, you can contact them when you want with the information you want to give them.
So by having email list, you basically have an edge over your competition.
So how do you create an email list?
There are a few ways you can create your email lists. You can do something easy like using WordPress.com to send your blogs directly to your readers, but this option gives you little control over what you can send to your email list.
What do these pieces of software do?
Basically, what they do is they gather email addresses and they put them into a database. You can put a sign-up form on your website using most email marketing options, which is where you get the email address from.
Email marketing software options
As I mentioned before, MailChimp is one of the options available to you. Now I will be honest with you, I have not used MailChimp before. Check out some reviews to see if it is right for you.
MailChimp provides a free service for up to 2000 subscribers. For most farmers, that will be more than enough.
MailChimp does not allow you to create a auto responder series with the free version. An auto responder series is a series of emails that is automatically sent to your email list after they sign up. It is like autosteer for your email ( you do have to write the emails, but only once)
If you want an autoresponder option, you will have to pay for mail chimp to get it or go for Aweber.
Another option available to you is Aweber. This piece of software gives you a trial for the first month which only costs a dollar.
That allows you to try out the software and see if you like it before you buy it. After the first month it costs $19 a month to have the service. Aweber does allow you to have an autoresponder series set up, but you are paying for the service.
Both MailChimp and Aweber offer analytics if you are into that sort of thing. It gives you information like how many people open up your email, and whether they click a link or not.
I personally use Aweber and I love it. It gives me all the options that I am looking for at a reasonable amount of money. As I mentioned before, I have not used MailChimp before but they do have a free service which is a great option for most farmers.
Have a look at both and see what tickles your fancy.
How to set up a newsletter using Aweber and how to create a web form with Aweber
- Log into Aweber.
- Create new list.
- Input basic information.
- Click personalize information.
- Input company branding.
- Click on Confirmed Opt in.
- Change confirmation email.
- Put in your confirmation success page URL.
- Save settings.
- Go to web form tab.
- Create new web.
- Design your web form.
- Change your thank you page to a custom page.
- Put your custom thank you page URL in the box.
- Go to step 3 and save.
- Add text widget to your sidebar.
- Verify your web form works.
- You’re done.
Incentive for subscribers
It isn’t very difficult to actually create an email list, but encouraging people to get on your list is difficult at times. If you offer good enough content, they will want to be on your list.
Sometimes people give something away for free to encourage people to get on the email list. So, as a farmer you might give away something like a recipe for your famous jam. It could be something as easy as a video, or picture or an e-book. Do you need to give something away? Not necessarily, it’s just an idea.
Great resources for email marketing
Here are some of my favourite email marketing related websites or sections. They provide amazing value. I am not the be and end all email marketing for farmers. These website will give you a huge amount of information if you want it.
- Waldo Social
- Social Triggers
- Aweber’s blog
- What Counts email
- MailChimp’s blog
- Pat Flynn guide to setting up a newsletter
- Email marketing with Copyblogger
Final thoughts on email marketing for farmers
Email marketing is an important part of your marketing plan. Every farmer who has a website should have some sort of email marketing set up. You don’t have to have a paid service like Aweber, but you should have something set up, so you can get in contact with your clients when you need to.
Your email marketing plan doesn’t have to be complex. You can keep it simple because why make things hard.
Basically, what we are doing with email is creating strong relationships with your customers.
If you found this helpful, share it with someone who you think would benefit from this knowledge.