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How our agency uses email marketing to find new clients fast

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When you’re ready to make a big purchase… let’s say a new computer… you probably go steps like these:

First, you start getting tired of the old one. So you start browsing around some websites, seeing what your options are, but you’re not quite ready to buy.

Then, you get a little more fidgety as your old computer gets worse and worse and your needs for a computer get bigger and bigger. So you re-visit those sites and keep shopping around for what you could buy.

Finally, you’ve had enough! You can’t stand the POS sitting in front of you, mocking you with how slow and clunky it is (don’t they seem to do that?), so you bite the bullet and buy a new one.

When shopping for a new website, logo, business card… clients go through the same buying cycle. The longer they spend with the inadequate old one, the more serious their shopping gets.

The trick is to catch them just as the straw breaks the camel’s back and they’re ready to bite the bullet. But how do you do that? How do you catch them at just the right moment, without being some kind of mass mind reader?

Email marketing

See, most of the visitors to your website, or any website, are still in the “window shopping” phase.

Even if they ask questions via email or phone – even if they ask for a quote – they might still be in the early phases of shopping, but not quite yet ready to buy.

But if you can get that person to give you their email address, you can send them cool emails now and again so you stay at the front of their minds. That way, just as they reach their last straw and they can’t take the old [insert marketing thing here] any longer, they have you fresh in their brains…

And they reach out to get started.

The truth is, with our creative agency, we’ve always dropped the ball on email marketing, even though we do a heck of a lot of it for our clients.

But with our latest venture,, (a unique “design-to-code” company), we’ve really stepped up our game.

Here are the steps we’ve taken to do just that and win projects just as clients get to the final phase of the buying cycle.

Step 1: Give visitors a good reason to share their email addresses.

For Reliable, we decided to offer 10% off someone’s first project if they sign up for our list.

Our thinking behind this was pretty simple:

If someone wants a discount, that means they eventually want to buy, right? To be honest, I’d like to offer a bigger discount (because I think we’d get even more email addresses), but our margins can’t quite support it.

However, the 10% off is working really well. We get sign-ups for our email list pretty much every day of the week.

Discounts are extremely simple to get started with, too. You don’t have to create any content or anything. You just throw the opt-in up on the site letting people know they’ll get 10% off by entering their email address.

You can also go the ‘content’ route.

With the content route, you offer some kind of valuable piece of content that helps solve your target market’s problems in exchange for their email address.

If someone is shopping for a logo, then they obviously want to improve their brand. So perhaps a report titled, “10 Ways to Improve Your Brand’s Image Today” would get them interested.

Your content has to follow this checklist though:

  • Solve a problem that your market is experiencing
  • That problem should be relevant to the services you offer (i.e. related to internet marketing if it’s a web design, brand image for a logo, practical marketing tips for print marketing, etc.)
  • Your content must be GOOD.

Notice how “good” is in all caps.

There are a few simple reasons for this.

For starters, this content is your chance to showcase your expertise, which is exactly what clients are shopping for, right? If your tips are generic or vague or not helpful at all…that reflects on your company.

Next, it has to reel people in. If it’s not relevant enough or targeted enough to a problem your market is facing, you won’t get many sign-ups.

You want people to walk away from your content thinking,

Wow, I can’t believe that was free. This guy / gal really knows their stuff. I can’t wait to hit them up when I’m ready to buy!

Maybe they won’t shout those exact words…but deep down it’ll be what they’re thinking 😉

Step 2: Give lots of opportunities to sign up.

On the Reliable site, we have an opt-in on almost every page. (Check out our website to see how we do it.)

And our data shows us that on each page there’s an opt-in, we generate subscribers.

We used a full-width, narrow bar with a simple headline and a form that only asks for an email address. But if your coding “chops” isn’t up to par, then the easiest way to get started with an opt-in is to add a popover to your site. A lot of email marketing software like Mailchimp even give you the code to just plug in to the header.

(Mailchimp is even free to get started I believe until you hit 500 subscribers or so.)

You insert a line of JavaScript, and before you know it your site is ready to go collecting leads.

However, just as everyone has their preference of wine or cheese or contestants on “The Bachelor”… everyone has a preference for how they like to subscribe to something.

  • A popover will get the popover crowd.
  • A “hello bar” that slides in from the top will get that crowd.
  • Sidebar signup will snag a few more.
  • Etc. etc.

This is one thing we’re working on implementing ourselves, but from implementing it for clients and testing/tweaking based on analytics, it’s clear that giving options generates better results.

Which email marketing software is right for your business?

Well, if you’re brand new to email marketing, I’d start by reviewing Content Mavericks’ Top 5 Email Marketing Services.

We use Campaign Monitor at our agency and Reliable. For clients, we’ve used others like AWeber and ConstantContact and more.

I recommend starting with Mailchimp since it is so affordable (free) and easy to use for beginners. Once you reach a certain point, Mailchimp has its limitations, but if you’re new, it’ll take you a while to even notice, so I’d go for it.

Step 3: Okay, I’m getting subscribers! What do I send them? And how often?

Send your subscribers pretty much the same kinds of things you offered them in the first place to join your list.

  • You can put out cool, unique, problem-solving content.
  • You can offer specials and discounts.
  • And you can even offer updates about new services, or improvements you’ve made.

These “new and improved” updates are great because it shows people who are early on in the buying cycle that you’re always hard at work to get better and better. That leaves a good impression when they’re ready to get started and pick a company.

For example, we recently sent out an email saying that we added support for Adobe Illustrator for Reliable and we got some replies right away saying how happy some people were.

That always feels really good, too.

As far as how often you should send, there’s a golden rule I’ve always followed:

Whenever you have something truly valuable to say – say it.

Some companies mail out every day. We mail out once a week to a couple of times a month, depending on how many fresh ideas/time we have / news we have to share.

But if you have something truly of value to your market to say every day, don’t hold back just because you’re afraid they’ll get sick of you.

Some people might, but others will become even more infatuated with your brand and what you stand for.

Unsubscribes happen no matter what. So don’t let them hold you back.

The best part about email marketing…

…is it suddenly opens you up to getting sales on two “fronts.”

You’ll get the people who are ready to get started today, just like you already do.

And you’ll get the people who are ready to get started tomorrow…or two months from now…or maybe even a year from now.

The bottom line is, just by having fun and putting out some cool content now and then…you can passively grow your business.

Questions? Thoughts? Suggestions of your own?

I’d love to hear what you have to say and help in any way I can. Leave a comment and join the discussion!

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Written by David Tendrich

Staff at

David Tendrich is the co-head of creative agency Unexpected Ways, as well as the co-founder of Reliable PSD: the first-ever PSD to HTML & PSD to Wordpress service run by designers, for designers. He co-runs his companies from Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife and biz partner, Lou Levit.

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  1. Anders Sundstedt says:

    Hi David,

    I appreciate your post, very helpful.

    I create animated explainer videos and I’m always looking for new interesting projects from clients.