How to Use Email to Promote Products and Services

Sarah does not want to appear “salesy”.  Her efforts to avoid universal opprobrium for the sin of salesy-ness means she does not make many sales.  She makes sales in real life over a coffee but it’s a lot of work finding and pursuing leads.  Her problem is how to promote products and services online.  Automated sales would not consume so much time but isn’t it likely to cause followers to unsubscribe if she bangs on about selling her stuff, when she emails her list?

Promoting Events, Products and Services

If you sell over coffee, you can sell online.  Switch it around, if you can’t sell over coffee, you are unlikely to sell online.  Observing what works in real life helps you understand what sells online.

The context in which you sell online is important.  Give your list something of value.  Then offer them the option to opt into some deal to further their interest.  There are several ways to do this.  They are sometimes referred to as product launches and mostly include high value teaching, as a prelude to making an offer.  More sophisticated approaches include using affiliates to grow your email list. 

It depends on what you sell.  If you aim to fill a workshop with capacity of up to 30, you don’t need methods designed to draw in hundreds of customers.  A sales video or long sales letter may do the trick. 

Think it through.  A good email with some teaching, followed by a link for those who want more, is not off-putting.  If someone is not interested, they ignore the link. 

From Attention to Action

Your aim is not to offer customers a get-out clause, you want them to follow the link.  So, you need a compelling subject line, excellent email content and a clear call to action. 

Capture attention and then move readers to take action.  Think about what you do, when you go to a sales page.  What makes you buy?  On the sales page, you read on because you are interested.  Once you finish reading or watching the video, you decide whether to make a purchase.  You may be impressed by the offer but for some reason, not this time.  But you decide to keep an eye on this business, maybe someday.

Tune Down the Hype

It is not hype to state what you offer and outline its benefits. It is hype to make outrageous claims, such as “Best in the World”.

The challenge is, show you have a product or service worth exploring.  Then leave it to the prospect to decide.  Give them time but try early bird offers, so you can assess viability.  For example, if you’re trying to fill a workshop, offer a lower price for the first 50% who sign up or who sign up by a given date. 

You don’t need to attempt a hard sell to make a sale online, so long as you are confident about what you are selling.  Next time I’ll take a closer look at ways to boost your online sales.

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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