The Blog

72. Building Relationships through Email Marketing with Kendra Swalls

I left you on a cliff hanger last week on how building a funnel and having an email list is one of the most important things you can do for your business! As promised, I’ve brought on an expert on all things email marketing. Kendra Swalls is a mom of two, photographer and educator to help women get out of survival mode and into success mode, very similar to me! I feel like you’re going to jive with her so well.

Kendra was always an elementary school teacher, just totally felt like that was her path in life. She taught all the young grades and discovered her favorite was teaching math! Yeah, math. Eventually she got the nagging feeling that teaching just didn’t feel like “it,” so she got her masters in curriculum design and instruction but still had that feeling of “this isn’t it.” Has anyone else been there?

In 2012 she started her photography business, Paisley Layne Photography, and that changed everything. What started as a hobby alongside her teaching career quickly turned into a successful business, and in 2017 she left her teaching career behind to run her photography business full time.

Kendra discovered that as much as she loved the creative side of photography, what built her audience was marketing and the technical side of running a business. So in addition to photography, she now helps women, like you, take their business from survival mode to success-mode using the same relationship marketing strategies that have been the foundations for her business success. She’s found this perfect middle ground doing all the things that she loves! Kendra runs the Girl Means Business coaching program and her weekly podcast all about marketing strategies.

Why is it important to have an email list?

Kendra gives us gold, guys! She talks about how she wishes she would have started an email sooner.

“I was hesitant about not knowing what to say or that I would be sending out spammy emails, but email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing strategies in business. Email marketing gets overshadowed because it’s not as shiny or flashy as social media and you can’t see how many subscribers you have on your email list like you can see followers on instagram. But the potential to build relationships and make sales, turn emails into customers is way more powerful.”

Email Marketing

Email allows you to form connections

“Think of it like this. You’re in Times Square, shouting to everyone who can hear you, trying to get people’s attention. Some people will stop, wave, give a thumbs up. Just yelling to the masses hoping someone listens. That’s us on social media. Email marketing, though, is like walking up person to person and having a conversation with each person in the square. Sharing valuable tips, your story and providing value. You’re more likely to convert those strangers into loyal followers because you now have a personal connection. Get this, the average person spends three hours a day inside their inbox, if you can be one of the people that’s in their inbox, you’re not worrying about an algorithm or fighting for space.

“With email, you have the ability to form connections. But with social media, everything is in short form, static images or stories or seven seconds of video that people scroll by. People aren’t even reading captions. But with email, you can go in more detail that people will actually read through. You’re able to more deeply nurture those relationships and have those one-on-one interactions.”

See, gold! Email is a less exhausting way to market because you’re not fighting for attention all of the time! A year ago I started a brand new Instagram account for our family photography. It has 500 followers now but only gets like 15 or 20 likes on a post. When it would come time to fill up spring sessions or mini sessions, I always filled up through email, not social media. Whenever we open sessions, I always send that info to my email lists first and this year our mini sessions booked up through email that I didn’t even have to push on social media.

How to get started if you don’t have an email list

Kendra says to find an email marketing provider, and this isn’t just any email host.

“Gmail is not an email marketing provider, it just doesn’t really comply with the laws. You have to have the ability for people to opt in and unsubscribe, and you can’t do that within your Gmail account. And it’s just not sustainable overtime.

“I see a lot of people using Mailchimp, and that platform is totally fine but it’s not my first choice for an email marketing provider. Something to watch out for are those platforms that increase your rates when you increase in emails. It may be free when you first sign up, but as you hit 500 emails and 1000 emails and 5000 emails, your rates will increase and it gets so expensive.

“So I switched over to Flodesk which is my favorite marketing platform for emails! The downside to Flodesk, is it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that the other platforms have. It’s pretty, fits the aesthetic and is used by big-name people. But when you’re choosing a platform, think about what you want your email list to do. Do you want to send out emails from time to time? Do you want to segment your list in different groups? Do you want to do split testing? If you’re wanting basic, then Flodesk and maybe Mailchimp will work for you. If you want all the bells and whistles, Active Campaign or Convert Kit will be better.

Email Marketing

You have your marketing platform, what’s next?

Kendra says that the next thing is getting people on your email list, and the easiest way to do it is with a lead magnet.

“We all know what a lead magnet is, we just haven’t heard it’s name before. It’s like having a bar at the bottom of your screen for 10% on your next purchase and you click on it, put in your email to get the coupon. That’s a lead magnet. They give you something in exchange for your email. But the goal is not just to capture some big flashy thing and not deliver, you want something that people will be excited to give their email address for.

“For example, think about what questions people have asked you and are concerned about. Think about what your audience needs and what is going to help them feel good. What is your audience struggling with the most? Create something that solves their problems, takes away pain points or creates a win of some kind. This could be a guide or a video breaking down a solution. Give them the most value throughout the process. So not just sales, sales, sales, but value.

Email Marketing

You’re in it for the long-run

“You need to have the right expectations going into email marketing. Understand that not everyone you send an email to is going to become a client. Only 10 or 15% of your email list will actually become buyers. But that’s just why you need more people in your funnel, the greater the number of people in your funnel, the greater chance of getting paying clients.

“This is a long game, it’s not something that’s going to give instant results. It’s about getting people into your community and fostering relationships, that like and that trust. You use those emails to get them to like you and trust you, and then they’ll become clients.”

Remember, a good open rate is 20%, if you send emails to 10 people and 2 people open it you’re good! And then a click rate from that is 1-5%! Don’t be expecting high numbers.

How often should you send out emails?

Kendra says that once to twice a week is a good send rate for her, she has her weekly emails and of course her podcast show notes she sends every Wednesday.

“It also builds consistency and repetition to get a schedule down, people will just know that every Wednesday there’s going to be something from you. If I have a launch coming up, I’ll send out two to three emails a week to make sure I’m really getting that big push. But in my weekly emails, I’m not selling anything. I’m sharing valuable resources, free to consume tips like blogs or podcasts. I follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time my content is value based and 20% of the time its sales. I would say at minimum, you only want to do a big sale thing once a quarter, everything else should be sharing tips, sharing stories and asking questions.

“I want my audience to feel like there’s a friend reaching out to them, having a conversation when they say my email come through their inbox. That is what builds trust because, not emails every blue moon only about sales.”

Lastly, keep it consistent

If sending out weekly emails sounds intimidating, just break your schedule down month by month instead of week by week. Kendra recommends looking at your calendar and scheduling out what topic you want to focus on for each month. Maybe it’s habits or confidence or marketing, then you can elaborate on that topic in different ways each week. Some people don’t like scheduling and want to do it in the moment, because they want it to be authentic. You can still do that, but planning ahead will give you the preparation to stay consistent and you always have the option to be flexible with your schedule.

Find Kendra here

Email marketing starter kit:

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