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Social media is sexy. It’s the first question I get from any of my new clients: How do I increase my Instagram following?

2018 Jacqueline StoneJacqueline Stone has a diverse background in finance, marketing, advertising, product development, fine jewelry manufacturing, design and sourcing. She now serves as CEO of her own marketing consulting and coaching business, Bubblegum and Duct Tape.
While Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter can be fun and are important, they are not what I want to talk about in this column (though they will be the topic of a future article).

What I want to discuss is an old, tried-and-true medium of communication: email.

“Ugh,” you might exclaim. “That’s so late ‘90s.” But before you continue to groan, be mindful that analytics don’t lie. Email is still one of the most powerful marketing tools we have available today.

Shocked? Think about it: Why would, for example, J. Crew email you every single day (at the risk of being incredibly annoying) if it wasn’t helping their bottom line? Jewelry designer Vittoria D’Aste-Surcouf and I were discussing this just the other day.

She put it like this: “I have two full-time jobs. I am a custom jewelry designer and a mom of two little boys, so shopping for myself is last on my list. I need to keep it simple, so my daily ‘uniform’ has become classic, neutral pieces that I can throw together (usually in the dark) and accessorize with fabulous jewelry, of course!

“Recently, I became quite loyal to Banana Republic for three reasons: They have classic pieces in tall sizes (very important since I am a little over 6 feet tall), their deals and the convenient e-mails that make their website very accessible. They send out regular emails that advertise their specials to make it easy to go directly to their website and get what I need.”

There are so many ways to attack email marketing.

Below, I’ve put together a list of some of the tips and tricks that have helped both me and my clients gain digital traction and convert advertising into sales.

1. Don’t Buy Your List
It goes without saying that buying email lists is a waste of time. With the new laws in place by the GDPR and the power in the recipients’ hands, it’s not worth the risk of sending an email to someone who might be less than thrilled to hear from you.

While we all know that buying a list is out of the question, what about sharing? I recently had a client procure a list from a trade source. The source assumed that the client’s product offering was in line with theirs and that the recipients would be pleased to receive emails from the client.

Unfortunately, this was not the case.

After the first mass email was deployed, my client received a barrage of angry voicemails, threats, a visit by the police (to check on said threats) and a CRM (customer relationship management) system shutdown.

While it definitely delivered some fascinating drama to the relatively zen world of marketing consulting, it proved to be a valuable lesson. These days you can’t buy a list, and you can no longer share.
The biggest thing to remember when sending emails is to send something worth mentioning. If you are emailing your audience just because you feel the need to get something out there, it feels disingenuous and falls flat.
2. Create Meaningful Connections
So with all these roadblocks in place, how does one start to expand their following?

It becomes a bit of a Catch-22; how do I get the word out about my brand to new people if I can only send a note to those who told me directly they wanted to hear from me?

Well, unfortunately, there are not a ton of overnight success stories. It truly is about consistency and creative content. I’ve had a lot of success with creating a newsletter that presents as a digital magazine that delivers engaging and insightful content.

Things to think about include the following.
-- You get a ton of email solicitations. Think about your reactions to the subject lines. What made you open the note?
-- If you received the email you’ve created for your brand in your own inbox, would you forward it to a friend? Click on a link?
-- What topics fascinate your audience? What niche could be explored?
-- What creates intrigue? What helps you stand out as an expert in your field?
-- What is the value-add (i.e., why should anyone care)?

The biggest thing to remember when sending emails is to send something worth mentioning. If you are emailing your audience just because you feel the need to get something out there, it feels disingenuous and falls flat.

I think an excellent use of this medium is to shoot out an electronic correspondence every time you post something new to your blog. WordPress, for example, automatically offers this feature.

I follow Diamonds in the Library, and every time Becky creates a new post (which is always a good read) I get an email that hits my inbox.

While your blog might not be automated in this way, it’s a good way to keep fresh and engaging information flowing through the interwebs.

3. Promote with Panache
You’ve seen contests on Instagram. Heck, you’ve even entered them (I may or may not have tried to win a Vitamix blender). But how do you truly get these to work for you?

First of all, it’s always a great idea to reach out to your favorite influencer to brainstorm on collaborations (most professionals have a price sheet for their services ready.)

While you’re setting up the rules of the promotion, don’t forget to make an email sign-up one of the requirements. This is a great way to expand your email list to those who have an interest in your field, but never knew you had so many great things to say.
While the days of rotary phones and the sound of that old dial-up modem connection blaring through the computer’s speakers are long past us, email is definitely here to stay.
4. Build an Email Subscription Landing Page
Something that people often forget is to create a landing page for email sign-up.

While we’ve all been taught to include the subscription link in the header or footer of our website’s homepage, an email subscription landing page is an excellent tool.

You can make this URL work for you by posting it throughout your social media and can even include it in your email signature. This landing page lets you talk a little bit about your brand and how you hope to engage with your audience through email. A heartfelt note from the CEO goes a long way.

While the days of rotary phones and the sound of that old dial-up modem connection blaring through the computer’s speakers are long past us, email is definitely here to stay.

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the inbox clutter, but trust me, I always have time to click on a note from my favorite store as a welcomed, colorful distraction.

I’ll wrap up by reminding you to think about this question: What do you have to say? You are a business owner, a designer and/or a jewelry connoisseur. What knowledge do you have to share? Get excited about the prospect of spreading important educational information.

In the meantime, don’t be shy about This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and please check out my next column, which will focus on customer relationship management tools.

A recovering jewelry designer, Jacqueline Stone has a diverse background in finance, marketing, advertising, product development, fine jewelry manufacturing, design and sourcing. Now she serves as the CEO of her own marketing consulting and coaching business, Bubblegum and Duct Tape. Stone can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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