One of the most important things for online marketers to do is build connections.
I realize this probably isn’t the standard advice you normally hear about how to build an online business, but it’s true.
You might be thinking you don’t have time for building connections. Don’t worry. Building connections isn’t about spending all day on social media.
Instead, one of the most powerful ways for marketers to do this is via email—but not the “hey, buy my stuff” kind of emails you’re used to getting.
Those of us who are knowledge brands—people who sell knowledge or expertise whether through coaching, providing a service, creating an online course—building connections is critical if we truly want to be successful.
The kind of connection that email can foster is important to knowledge brands because our success is built on the know, like, and trust factor. Email provides an avenue for creating deeper connections with people because we’re talking to them in their inbox.
For online knowledge brands, a big piece of our unique selling proposition is connection to us. People will come to us if they feel like we are the right person to help them solve a particular problem or the right person to guide them on a particular journey.
As you’ll discover in this post, the email marketing journey has different phases. So let’s break down the principles you need to use email to build a solid connection with your audience.
Build Your Credibility In Your CATCH Email And Your Nurture Sequence
When people first join your email list, you need to focus on building your credibility, starting with the trust factor. If you don’t establish credibility to show people that you’re someone who can help them solve a problem, you will never get a chance to build the know and like factor.
To build credibility, you need to position yourself as a trusted authority, as someone who can help solve problems. You don’t do this by telling them that you’re awesome and you’ve got all these wonderful credentials. You can put in a few credentials, but for the most part, it shouldn’t be about you. It should be about your audience and their journey.
You can establish your credibility in the first two phases of your email marketing strategy: your CATCH email and your nurture sequence.
CATCH Email: Show Them You Understand
The CATCH email is the first one you send when someone joins your list. CATCH stands for: Congratulate their decision, Acknowledge their frustration, Tells me about you, Credibility boost, and Hook.
In this email that you send your audience to deliver your freebie, you establish credibility by showing that you get them and you understand where they are and what they’re struggling with. If you do that piece, they’ll be willing to get another email.
Now I want to be clear, not everyone who joins your list will stick around. Some people will just take the freebie and leave, and that’s part of life as a marketer. Don’t take it personally.
But if you do this email right, where you really capture and put their struggles into words, they will be primed to listen to you.
The Nurture Sequence: Establish Your Credibility As A Guide
The nurture phase in your email marketing journey could literally be an email to get your audience to do some work or deepen the value of your freebie.
If people downloaded your freebie, got a CATCH email that described their pain points in a good way, and then they’re able to take the freebie and get value from it, you establish your credibility at the beginning.
So this is why the CATCH email and nurture sequence pieces are important. You’re building this bank of credibility and trust. You’re helping them realize that you’re someone worth paying attention to.
Welcome Sequence: It’s About Them, But Also About You
Your welcome sequence is powerful when done right. This is where you start to shift so that it’s not all about your audience. A lot of marketers will say it should always be about them, but I disagree. This is the power of connection. Your welcome sequence isn’t about you, to be clear, but about them and you and how you can work together.
Here, you start to let them get to know you as a person. Unless you’re in a super-duper niche space, the reality is that they can choose to follow and buy from you or follow and buy from your competitor.
For example, I’m not the only legal person in the online marketing space. Other lawyers serve online entrepreneurs, so part of what I need to do is help people decide if I’m the person they want to follow.
The welcome sequence is where you help your audience decide whether you’re the one they want to help them with a particular problem. This is where they decide whether they like you and what you stand for.
Here are some of the things you can cover in your welcome sequence:
1. Your Origin Story
Go through your origin story. Tell your audience how you got to be where you are now.
There are different ways to write an origin story. If you’re someone who is qualified by experience, have done the things that your audience wants to do, or have accomplished what they want to accomplish, your origin story will be from that perspective.
Your origin story must resonate with your audience. For me, it’s talking about building an online business and how I struggled early on (experiences that my audience can relate to) and what I did that helped me turn the corner and get me from my bottom point to where I am now. That will probably make my audience say that they also want the same kind of change in their business and think of me as a guide to help them through the same business struggles.
2. Your Core Values
You need to have core values in your business. These should be clear so that people understand you and your approach. People want to buy from people that are like them or that they resonate with. Given the choice to buy from someone who shares the same values or someone who shares different values, largely people will opt for the person who shares their values.
This part helps people decide whether you’re their person. This might seem scary because you’re probably going to say that this means some people aren’t going to be your people. That’s true. But for every person who doesn’t stick around because you’re not their person, the depth of the connection and relationship that you’ll build with your people will offset it.
There’s value in being able to take a stand for what you believe is important. It will help people to resonate with you deeply. Core values can be about things that are cultural, societal, or political, but it doesn’t have to be about only these things. Core values can also be related to business.
3. Your Core Content
People should know what your content is and how you deliver this valuable content. If you have a podcast, a blog, a YouTube show, people should know that.
You can do this in various ways. One is to use content that you’ve created in the past (maybe podcast episodes or blog posts that talk about your core values) and weave that into your core value emails. Your audience will learn that you have content out there.
Another way to do it is to list your “Greatest Hits.” For instance, you could tell your audience that you serve people through podcasts and here, you’re giving them 10 of your most popular episodes that they should listen to.
You can also let your audience know where you are on social media. You don’t have to give them all your platforms or groups but ask yourself which platform would be most important for you as a point of connection. If you could get them to either connect with you on one social platform or join one group that’s important to you, highlight that because you want them to know where they can connect with you on social media.
In these welcome emails, you should lean into your personality, unique voice, and particular approach to things and show that off, so people get to know you. Again, it’s because you’re trying to build a connection.
How long should a welcome sequence be? There’s not a right answer. You can go shorter if you don’t have as much to say or you could go longer. In my case, it’s typically 10 to 12 emails in six to eight weeks. My goal is that someone who gets through my welcome sequence should clearly want to be on my list.
Going Deeper By Building Connection Regularly
Up to this point, the initial journey from the CATCH email to the welcome series was aimed at building credibility, building the know and like factors to get your audience to consider you as someone they’d go to for help. After the audience gets on your regular weekly email list, you’ll need to go deeper and reinforce that connection regularly. You can do that in a couple of ways:
1. Send a story-based weekly email
The content of this weekly email is a personal vignette. It’s like a little snippet from your life that you can pull a message or a theme out of that relates to that week’s content.
For example, in one story-based email, I told a story about how my wife and I would have repeated conversations about trying to pick where we’re going to go for dinner. I linked that to a podcast episode I was recording about how to build a high converting opt-in page for list building.
One of the principles there is to have a single purpose. Do they want to opt-in or not? So I teased this idea out of that little dinner story. The important thing is people will hear that story about me having this conversation with my wife and can realize that they can relate to it.
As you tell more of these little stories and tidbits about your life, you’ll connect with people on different levels. Suddenly, you’ll become the person that they relate to because of a particular story that you told.
The important thing is that the stories should evoke emotion from people.
2. Send an email newsletter
Another way to build connections regularly is through a newsletter. However, I want to stress here that if you’re creating only one piece of content a week and that’s it, you should not be sending a newsletter.
Where a newsletter can fit in is if you have multiple pieces of content each week that you want to tell people because that’s part of the way you can serve them. However, whatever you do, if you’re going to send this kind of email, don’t make it a boring newsletter where you simply recap or regurgitate content.
Your newsletter roundup email must have value beyond simply recapping your content. In my case, I came up with a weekly “rant” about things marketing, a weekly marketing tip, a section on learning resources, a section on any promotions and sales we’re running, and a content roundup that gives blurbs on different content we have available out there, such as my guesting on other podcasts.
Summing Up: Email Is A Great Connection Tool In The Inbound Journey
Your CATCH email, nurture sequence, welcome sequence, and weekly emails are all about building a connection. They help you build the know, like, and trust factors among your audience. If you do your email marketing right, when the time comes to sell, people will be primed to buy if your product is right for them at that time.
If you want to learn more about email marketing, we have a complete Email Marketing course inside the BADA$$ Online Marketing University (BOMU). This used to be a paid course, but now it’s 100% free. Check it out.