If you’re a professional speaker, you probably already know that when you’re presenting, you have to engage, inspire, and talk business. You know that the audience is not there just to see someone speak, they’re there to find answers and see someone — you! — perform.
What you may not have thought about is that, like entrepreneurs, professional speakers shouldn't leave things to luck.
Pro speakers know they need to plan up front.
Today we are talking about email marketing and how to create a plan that will help you grow your audience.
Not only is email marketing cost-effective, but its flexibility and ease-of-use make it a powerful tool for speakers at any level on any subject.
Email marketing is powerful, but you need to know how to actually use it, and as a professional speaker, you may face a challenge or two.
After all, your job is to share and inspire… well, let’s see how you’ll apply that principle to your email marketing efforts!
Why you should consider email marketing
Speaking in front of a crowd, on- or off-screen, is an event. And every good event needs a little strategic push to help it go viral, get more brownie points for engagement, and set-up lead generation and lead nurturing.
Focus on nurturing your leads and keep them coming back for more. You need your “die-hard” fans as well as the new ones that are just being introduced to your work.
Why should you consider email marketing?
Public speakers are a brand all on their own, and email marketing, along with social media marketing, can help boost brand awareness.
Well-written emails can generate more leads and create anticipation when it comes to your next speaking event.
Email marketing can get you noticed by influencers in your field of influence.
Email marketing is a great way to keep your audience engaged, even for long periods between gigs.
You now know why you need email marketing and marketing automation to boost your brand—i.e., yourself. However, do you know what you need to do to get your email marketing up and running?
Step 1: Build an email list
An email list, which is a synonym for a mailing list or subscriber’s list, is a collection of email addresses you’ve gathered of people who are interested in reading news from you.
This could be audience members who gave you their business cards or business email addresses, colleagues, friends, family, even university students with an interest in your subject matter.
Students, especially, can be of great value. University students can benefit greatly from a professional speaker’s performance. There are some things a textbook just won’t cover.
You can add these email addresses to your email marketing platform and send the same email to multiple recipients.
While some speakers like to boast large email lists of 10K-100K subscribers, it doesn’t really matter how big your list is. What is more important is how engaged and profitable your list members are.
Instead of focusing on filling an email list with people who automatically delete whatever you send them, look at creating an actively engaged list with people who are actually interested and invested in your cause.
Let’s explore how to build your list.
A. Build a landing page
Create a dedicated landing page (preferably on your speaker website) that will help with your lead generation efforts.
Once you have your page, you can send an invitation to join your email mailing list to all your contacts who might be interested. Share the link to the page on social media, and link it to your online profiles where appropriate.
Make sure to associate yourself with platforms especially made for professional speakers. These online communities, like Speakerhub, could really take your career as a professional speaker to the next level.
But back to the landing page. Your landing page is a standalone web page that aims to convert visitors into “customers”. In your case, audience members, industry thought leaders and influencers, and event organizers are ideal candidates to start building your list.
A landing page is a tool that has been made with one goal in mind — to generate leads. Unlike a home page, a landing page doesn’t need to provide information or educate. It just needs to provide enough incentive for vistiors to act — in this case by signing up to your mailing list..
Therefore a landing page typically consists of a specific message, a lead magnet, such as a free gift, a free quote, anything that matches your business, and a call to action (CTA) that urges the prospect to enter their email and sign up for your list.
Pro tip: You can also incentivize sign-ups by creating a referral program for those of your prospects that love your work and would love to share it with others that would find it interesting. Their kudos will add to your credibility.
One last note on your landing page: a common trap many novices fall into is asking for more information than is necessary. Make sure you are only asking for information that is essential for you to keep your subscribers well organized.
B. Create an incentive to sign-up
One key way to encourage more sign-ups to your email list is to incentivize it.
What do I mean by incentives? You offer a gift to sign up.
Here are some ideas:
guide: complete with tips, insights, and data
video recording of your talk at an event
resource guide, which could include
outline of the topics you discuss
links to webinars or podcasts you hosted or were a guest on
the most frequently asked questions you come across from your audience.
books, articles, and studies that are relevant to your topic
Ideally, you need to have some ready-made content that you can offer. However if you don’t, you will need to invest some time and thought into what would be valuable to your audience. Luckily, creating valuable, well-designed content is not that difficult nowadays.
Your incentive needs to be sufficiently desirable to your prospects to drive them to action.
C. Put the time in to research your audience
You need to know what your audience is looking for.
What can you do to ensure that you’re heading down the right path? There are a few key ways to find out what your audience’s needs are.
Where to start your research:
Engage in social listening and stay up to date with what’s happening in your niche on social media.
Do some research on your competitors. What do your prospects like about them? What do they offer? Find that sweet spot and make sure to utilize it better than they do.
Check the types of questions most frequently asked on social media, or create a quiz to better understand your prospects’ needs. The answers to these questions may help you come up with your incentive.
Pose questions before and after events. When your audience interacts with you after your talk, ask them what they found most essential and insightful, and what additional resources could help them.
What is already available to your audience? Are there thousands of video tutorials but no checklists? Are there lots of research papers, but not many actual, practical applications. Are there case studies? All this can help you uncover what kind of content would be valuable to people.
These are just a few ideas. Get creative with your research. The more you narrow down your audience’s needs, the more valuable your incentive will be, and that will increase the likelihood of more sign-ups.
One essential reminder: Never betray your prospects’ trust by selling their data to affiliates. It’s not only a data breach, it’s also very bad business ethics.
Step 2: Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you’ve never met and invite them to join your list
If you are a novice or mid-level speaker, speaking opportunities rarely land on your doorstep without any effort from your part.
Even if you have the talent of a heavy-weight professional speaker, and your ideas can be pivotal to your industry's progress, you will still need to get your name out there, and get people to engage.
This brings up a rather misunderstood aspect of email marketing: cold emails
A well-written, engaging cold email will inform your potential sign-up about what you do, why they should care, and how to sign up.
It can help you create connections with people from your industry all around the world, and use those connections to build your audience and get new engagements.
But cold emailing has a bad rap, due mainly to the tsunami of poorly written, unsolicited, aggressive marketing emails that clutter people’s inboxes.
If you’ve ever received one of these emails, you probably know exactly what I am talking about. Boring, long, confusing—and worse still, irrelevant.
A. What does a bad cold email look like?
Bad cold emails can be categorized by:
Basic subject lines: “Join my email list” is rather generic, and is not very engaging because it is widely overused.
It starts with “Hello” without the name of the recipient. This instantly comes across as a spam message. The same goes for the first line: the standard “I hope you are doing well” is a tell-tale sign that the email is not personal.
The email has complex visuals, or the background is grey. This Immediately looks like a marketing email that has not been created manually. Unsolicited, it looks like spam, and usually gets ignored immediately.
The email is oddly formatted. Seeing font attributes such as BOLD ITALICS that would not be found in a normal email immediately makes it look like spam.
The content is unbalanced. Either it is:
has too many ideas,
is poorly laid out,
Has too much about them (as opposed to the value to you)
or it comes off as too generic. For example, asking open-ended questions, like “What are your key marketing challenges this year?”
B. What does a good cold email look like?
First and foremost, a good cold email is thoughtful and well-researched.
A good cold email showcases the fact that you've done at least a little research into who they are, and that your email is going to be relevant to them.
Before writing an email, take a moment to view the prospect’s LinkedIn or Twitter profile, and check out their personal or organization’s website. Ask yourself, why would this person care?
Personalized content shows that you are actually interested in helping them improve, rather than just trying to sell to them.
A good cold email shouldn't be cold in its content. Keep in mind that it is just the first interaction you have with a potential customer. It should be warm and engaging.
You need to sell the value of being on your email list to them, so instead of getting on a soapbox and banging them over the head with all your accolades and achievements, frame the email as a personalized invitation, emphasizing what they will get out of it.
C. Who to reach out to? Building a list of audience members, event organizers, thought leaders and influencers
You want to build a list of relevant people who will help you build your speaking business. This could mean that they will attend events you speak at, they will help you build your credibility by helping you network or sharing your content, or they will hire you to speak.
Start on Google. Research events, speakers, writers, influencers, thought leaders, and past event attendees in your field of interest. Click on names, profiles, and websites, looking for names and email addresses.
A. Stay organized
How you organize yourself depends on which tools and processes work best for you.
Some speakers set up a spreadsheet and fill in names and email addresses of potential customers, with dates on when they were emailed, and where their name was found.
Others use CRM or lead building platforms.
Some speakers are less structured and systematic, and simply remember everyone they have emailed—however be careful if you use this approach, it can be easy to get confused, especially when you are sending dozens of emails over a long period of time.
Once again, make sure you track enough information to help you make your emails personalized. This will help you keep your cold outreach emails from being too cold.
B. Write the email
As with any good cold email outreach attempt, you need content that won’t just be flashy but will actually give value. And not just in the form of the incentive.
As an example, you could send an email to event organizers stating how excited you are about their conference, and how you’d love them to share some key insights for your use in a blog post or a round-up newsletter to your mailing list. And of course, that you’ll mention them, their name, industry and all.
If they answer negatively, then it’s tough luck. If not, then you’ve really got an opportunity to build a relationship with them.
The promise of some extra exposure on social media, and email marketing campaigns, can go a long way.
This would essentially make the organizers think that your audience wants to hear you speak as well, and they may see you as an influencer.
Provide value by showing what you’ve done for other events or audience members. Always focus on what the results were.
Keep it short, but not so short as to look unprofessional.
Step 3: Email marketing before and after events
Using events can be a great way to build your list and share new content and updates with your email list members.
A. Before your talk
Well in advance of your talk, let your current email list members know which upcoming events you will be speaking at and where they can buy tickets.
Even if they cannot attend the event, it will showcase that you are active on the circuit, and this can help build credibility.
Building your list before your talk
Before your talk there are many resources for finding out who your audience will be.
Here are some ideas:
You can negotiate with the event organizer for access to the list of attendees,
You can ask to have a link to your speaker profile sign-up page added to the event website,
Look on the event’s social media for guest lists and actively engaged audience members
Find out who the event sponsors and contributors will be
Check out other speakers at the event and who their audience is.
A note on GDPR Compliance
It is important to note here that for European contacts you need to stay on the right side of GDPR compliance.
Always be sure to ask people for permission to sign them up for your email list, and add them only after they agree. This is called “opting in”.
It is not recommended that you dump a huge list of people into your email list then start emailing them willy-nilly. This could land you in trouble, plus it is bad for your credibility.
While you might have a smaller email list by enforcing opt-in, you will ensure you are ethically building a list of engaged people.
B. After your talk
The same process needs to be followed after you leave the stage. Use various tools to gain a competitive advantage, and gather the email addresses or social media profiles of those who comment on your work. You can even make an offer while on stage — e.g. offering an incentive to join your email list.
You can include the sign-up link on your presentation slides. If you go down this route, make sure to include your social media handles and your speaker email address.
Pro tip: When an audience member writes to you, jot a quick note on the email they send you with any topics you spoke about, or other things they may have mentioned in person. Make sure to save it as a draft. That way, you’ll know exactly how to please each and every one of the “attendees” that made an effort to reach out to you
When it comes to networking, remember, the more social you are, the better. But even while you are buzzing around like a social butterfly, keep the goal of building your list in mind.
After the event, email invested audience members and request feedback, recommendations, and/or referrals.
Step 4: Plan an email campaign
It takes time and effort to see the real benefits of marketing. However, when done right, email marketing can help you reach your outreach goal faster and with steadier steps.
Now let’s say that you’ve got more email addresses than ever before—you need to utilize them.
Start by going back to your research. Who is your audience? What do they need from you, and how can you serve them?
Figure out what people need, then divide your list accordingly.
Let’s look at some examples:
Newly acquired emails: People who have just been added to your list will want to learn more about you, your brand, and your message.
Older subscribers: will likely want new information, like latest trends and insights, what you are working on, and where you will be speaking next.
Where contacts were acquired may be important: for example, business professionals from a specific industry, conference, or group.
Your connection: your relationship to them. For example, potential clients you would like to work with, loose acquaintances and friends you’d like to keep in touch with, audience members looking for your expertise.
By classifying your contacts into these groups, you can ensure that your emails will be valuable to them. An email to a casual acquaintance would be framed differently to an email that is loosely pitching your talk to an event organizer. Additionally, you can adjust the tone and frequency based on their needs or your relationship.
When it comes to writing the email itself, think about putting value first for your audience. What do you want them to come away with? What do you want them to do with the information? Having this in mind will help you frame your email effectively.
It may seem like a lot, but writing the perfect email or knowing how to create a newsletter is fairly simple.
Step 5: Always follow up
One of the main ideas behind emailing marketing is to help you improve your communication with your audience and your potential clients, but if it is a one way street, then it might be difficult for the reader to feel like they can connect with you.
This is why it is essential that you always follow up when someone emails you with a question, comment, suggestion, or praise. Always make the time to reply, and work at nurturing the relationship.
You can ask your past audience members what they loved about your speech and how it changed their perceptions. Ask what they took from your speech and how they are going to implement your advice in their day-to-day lives. Their responses can be used as testimonials, or help you narrow down which parts of your talk are the most impactful.
Be open to criticism and encourage honest feedback. Sometimes honest opinions can be hard to hear, but it will help mold you into a better speaker.
Answer questions in a timely manner, or keep the asker updated on your progress in finding an answer. If it is not really your area of expertise or you don’t know the answer, redirect them to someone who does know, preferably from within your network so you can make an introduction.
Email marketing is a tool that can create a very open, very free-spirited channel for dialogue. So once they contact you, ask them what their takeaways from your speech were and whether they enjoyed it.
By following up, you show that you care for their opinion. By engaging in conversation and actually asking your prospects to give feedback on your talks, you show that you value their opinion.
You can also create a FAQ on your website and encourage prospects to send you an email if they find that the section doesn’t really answer their specific question.
Don’t forget to thank them for taking the time to interact with you. Let them know how much you’d enjoy seeing them again at one of your events, and close your emails with a promise to keep them updated.
Step 6: Always make it personal
This is my favourite tip, and I am always reminding people that it is essential for great email marketing.
Whatever you do, try to personalize your email marketing efforts, be it cold emails or email newsletters that relate to events you’re a part of.
If I’ve attended one of your talks, I don’t need any content that will be taking me back to step one. On the contrary, I’ll need to know what happens when I get to step two.
If I’ve booked you for one of my events, I don’t need to get a canned response on how my event will be packed with people when you get there.
Always be sure to personalize by segmenting and studying your audience. Deliver the right message at the right time to the right person, and nurture your leads with your email content.
Email marketing is a tool that can help you grow your audience, add more prospects to your mailing lists, and, eventually, lead them down a sales funnel that will benefit you both.
Just keep in mind that you need different campaigns for different people, and that you are your own brand, and as such, you’ll need to put in extra effort to get your human face out there and not fall into the trap of being too “professional”.
What to read next
- Nailing your digital marketing as a solopreneur
- World of Speakers E.05 Impactful speaking in a digital age
- World of Speakers E.11: Your speaker website
- Find an audience who gives a damn
- World of Speakers E.48: Level-up your speaking business
Téa Liarokapi is a content writer working for email marketing software company Moosend and an obsessive writer in general. In her free time, she tries to find new ways to stuff more books in her bookcase and content ideas-and cats-to play with.
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