By Ian Brodie

In our previous articles on email marketing we’ve looked at getting more subscribers and getting those subscribers to open and read our emails.

Our primary goal, of course, is not just for them to read our emails – it’s to take action. Ideally to buy something from us.
Normally that happens in two stages.

If you’re lucky, some people will join your email list already ready to buy. They already know what they want, they know you can provide it, and they trust you to deliver.

But most people won’t be ready yet. They’re probably new to you. They’ve subscribed to get valuable information but they don’t yet trust you enough and they’re not sure you can do what they’re looking for. They might not even be sure what they’re looking for yet.

So over time your emails are going to share valuable information that shows them you’re an expert in your field. And if you’re smart, you’ll share that information in the form of personal case studies and examples that will give them the confidence to hire you.

But there’s something else you need to.

You need engagement.

One of the pitfalls of email marketing is that you can condition your subscribers to become passive receivers of information. You send them useful tip after useful tip. They read them or scan them, think “hmm, that was interesting” then get back on with their lives.

If you’re not careful you become a bit like the guy who keeps sending flowers and chocolates to the girl of his dreams without her ever doing anything to reciprocate. That’s not a real relationship.

And no matter how often he sends her gifts, if she’s not reciprocating then when he asks her to marry him she’s going to say no.

It’s the same with email marketing. If all you do is keep sending useful stuff to your subscribers, when you ask them to take a big action like buying from you they’re not going to be ready.

If instead, you’ve asked them to take lots of little actions beforehand then they story’s a different one. Get them to hit reply and answer a question. Complete a survey. Like a blog post or forward it to a friend. Make sure they get rewarded for doing so too. Send an unexpected free video to people who completed the survey. Send a thank you email to everyone who commented on a blog post.

If they’re used to taking action (and getting good results from it) whenever they receive an email from you then when you ask them to make a bigger step like calling you or buying something then taking action won’t be something completely new to them.

So they’re more likely to do it. And that can only be good for both of you.

Ian Brodie is the author of The Art Of Email: 7 Success Strategies for Effective Email Marketing. He teaches consultants, coaches and other professionals how to attract and win more clients using online marketing. Follow him @ianbrodie.