You look at your email list and feel yourself deflate. The only people on it are your friends, your mom, and your clients — people who already know, like, and trust you.
That’s great for staying top of mind with your clients; keeping them in the loop and allowing them to give feedback or ask questions…but maybe not quite what you had in mind? You were hoping for something a bit more…productive. A way to reach new people, not just those who already know you.
Before you give up on email marketing, let me reassure you that newsletters really ARE worth the effort. Your website visitors just need the right incentive to hand over their email address. I’m sure you’ve been there: browsing an interesting site and suddenly a popup screams in your face — SIGN UP FOR OUR FANTABULOUS NEWSLETTER SO WE CAN PESTER YOU FOR ETERNITY!!! “Umm, why? I don’t want any more spam email, thanks,” is probably your instant response, and you bail from that website double quick.
But if the message had been Sign up here to access this very-useful-and-valuable-thing that will help you change your life in 10 minutes, maybe you’d have been far more inclined to hand over your email address?
And that’s the power of download incentives. In order for a complete stranger to hand over their email address, you need to give them a very good reason. There are any number of things that dog trainers can offer as download incentives, but some of the easiest and most effective are email mini courses.
What’s a mini course?
If you panicked at the thought of producing a mini course, take some deep breaths and relax. Unlike “proper” pay-to-access online courses, email mini courses don’t need complicated tech, specialized platforms, or private logins. All you need is a short series of emails that provide valuable information to the recipient. You could link a series of written articles covering related topics, but more usually a mini course would be a series of short “How to…” videos.
You host the unlisted videos on YouTube or Vimeo and provide the links, one at a time, in a series of regularly timed emails. It’s a super easy setup which you can do in any email marketing program that has automation. “Set it and forget it” marketing at its best!
The biggest effort comes from the production of the videos themselves. But if you already have training videos you send to clients, you could probably repurpose some of those as a short course. Your videos shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes each, so if you have longer videos covering a topic it might be a good idea to edit them down to make them more digestible.
Why an email mini course is a win-win
Creating a email mini course as an email incentive is obviously a win for you — it gets someone on your email list so you can start building a relationship with them via your newsletter. But it does more than that! Video mini courses allow your prospective client to see how you work and get a feel for you as a person. That’s a huge step towards knowing you, liking you, trusting you, and possibly buying from you — and you haven’t had to lift a finger other than to set up the course.
But the course should also be a win from your website visitor’s perspective. They should get a series of quick, easy tips that allow them to see progress in solving their problems. If they follow your advice, they’ll find themselves in a better place than before they signed up. That means your course needs to contain actionable information: practical stuff they can do to provide results they can see. And they get it for “free” — just the cost of their email address.
But what should my course be about?
Ideally, you want to create a course that will attract your target client. If your focus is mainly on puppies and you don’t touch behavior cases, there’s little point in producing a mini course on dealing with leash reactivity. So, think about the clients you want to attract, and what would be valuable to them.
Let’s go back to our potential puppy owner client; what sort of easy, quick wins can you give them? Let’s say you’re providing a three “lesson” email mini course. Your lessons might be:
- Offered eye contact
- The name game
- Puppy management at home
- Introducing a crate
- Teach a nose touch
There are a lot of options! Try to come up with foundation skills or behaviors that will put their (very smart!) puppy ahead of the average puppy should the owner sign up with you in person.
What about if your focus is predominantly behavior cases? Here are some options.
A course to help keep your visitors safe if your dog is scared of strangers:
- Management strategies
- Muzzle training
- Recognizing thresholds
Or for leash reactivity:
- Emergency about turn
- Management strategies to avoid direct conflict
- Positive ways to redirect your dog’s attention back to you
Packaging your mini course
For maximum effect, try to give your email mini course a catchy title that lets people know what they’ll get for signing up. You can also dress up the videos with short intros (no more than 5 seconds to keep their attention!), explainer text, and links to further information in the YouTube description.
You don’t have to do those extra things, but remember these videos aren’t just educational — they play a marketing role too. They’re demonstrating who you are, what you do, and what you stand for. So a rough, poorly lit, wobbly video with bad audio isn’t going to show you and your business off to best advantage!
Mini courses are only limited by your creativity and client preferences — who you want to attract, and what they’ll find valuable.
If you’d like to know more about email marketing, we have plenty of blog posts devoted to the topic, including one that explores other download incentives for you to try. Once you have your email signup strategy sorted you should see website visitors joining your list in droves!