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31. Non-Salesy Email Ideas for Product-Based Businesses

31. Non-Salesy Email Ideas for Product-Based Businesses

Need content ideas for your email marketing? That’s the biggest question I get from my clients and audience. They feel like if they don’t have a sale going on, or a new product to launch that they’ve nothing to say in their emails. 

The good news is, email doesn’t always have to be about the hard sell. Sometimes it’s just about staying top of mind and showing up in their inbox.  

In this week’s episode, I’m showing you how to brainstorm content to connect and build a relationship with your customers, plus give you specific examples of emails that you can send to your list right now, no new product or sale required!


If you don’t email them they will forget about you

This is just the truth. Our customers don’t care about us as much as we care about them. With so many other messages coming to them on a regular basis, if you’re not part of that mix, someone else is going to grab their attention instead. 

Sometimes it’s just about connecting with your customer and being top of mind so that when they’re ready to buy you’re the first company they think of. 

Email is a very powerful way to drive traffic and revenue to your eCommerce store

On average, email accounts for 20-35% of a store’s total revenue. So if you’re not emailing your people, you’re basically leaving money on the table. 

The percentage of the business that email generates is going to vary wildly across businesses and products, and will also depend on what other marketing channels a company is using to drive traffic. Yours may be much higher or lower than that. If that’s the case, and you’re not really sure whether your number is good or not, it’s time to take a high-level view of your business and think about what makes sense. 

For instance, I had a client who sold bridesmaid gifts. A lot of what she sells can be used for other occasions as well, but the majority of her customers are brides purchasing gifts for their bridesmaids. Email didn’t generate quite as much revenue because overall her repeat customer rate is a bit lower than normal but that makes sense for her business. 

On the other hand, I had another client who sells a consumable hobby item. Her repeat business is VERY high, as is the contribution it makes to the business and that makes sense for her particular business. 

The path to purchase is rarely linear

In fact, it’s usually a bit all over the place with people first discovering you from social media or an ad, visiting your website, signing up for your email list, seeing you again on social media or a retargeting ad, adding a product to their cart and then finally purchasing after getting a cart abandonment email. 

If you think about that, you see that email is just one part of the customer journey, one touchpoint that you have with them. And if it takes 7-10 touches before someone will buy from you, then it makes sense to be consistent with your emails to keep those touches going. 

If someone is on your email list, it’s because they raised their hand and said, “Yes! I want you to send me emails!” If you’re concerned about sending them content they don’t want and that might cause them to unsubscribe, create a preference center so they can tell you what type of email they’d like to receive. 

Content creation questions to get your creative juices flowing

I’m going to run through some questions for you to ask yourself that you’ll use as the jumping-off point for the content you’re going to create. These same questions work great for blog posts and social media content as well. 

I’m asking these questions because my goal is always to teach the why and how behind all the things. My hope is that you fully understand the concepts and have the skills to apply them on your own at any time. I don’t want you to be reliant on a list of prompts or email ideas to create your content. 

What are you going through RIGHT NOW that your audience probably is too?

  • Are they also moms trying to home school their kids while running their business or working their full-time job
  • Are they sacrificing their self-care for everyone else in their family?
  • Are they feeling overwhelmed going into the holiday season and trying to do all the things
  • Do they need to practice gratitude to make life’s hardships a little bit easier?

How do you incorporate your product into your own life and what effect has that had on you?

  • Yes, you’re talking about your product here, but you’re not sticking it in their face and asking them to buy it. You’re connecting through storytelling.

What feedback or stories have other customers told you about using your product that you can share?

  • You can pull these from your existing product reviews. Is there a recurring theme you see that you can reference?

What would you talk to them about if you were in-person or they were a friend?

  • Pretend you were getting coffee with them, what would you talk about?

What are they already searching for that’s related to your product?

  • What else do they care about that you can support them in or talk to them about? 
  • If your target customer is female entrepreneurs for example, there’s a lot of content value-added content you can give them, like productivity tips and balancing all the things. 
  • If you sell makeup, you can talk to them about skincare. 

How can you bring joy to their inbox?

Non-salesy email ideas

Start with three main ideas: creating connection, adding value, and telling stories.

One of your biggest advantages as a small business is the ability to create connections and build relationships with your customers. This is something the big guys will never be able to do as well as you, no matter how hard they try. 

People are craving connection in our digital and pandemic world, and they buy from people. Just like you create content on social media to connect and create relationships, you want to do the same thing in your emails. 

Here are some specific non-salesy email ideas. 

1. Behind the scenes

Reality TV is popular for a reason. People love to see the behind-the-scenes action. They especially like it when it’s a little messy. Sure, we love to be inspired by perfectly staged moments but we also don’t want to feel like everyone else in the world has it all together; other than us!

Take them on the buying journey with you, let them vote on products. This could be having them help you pick out new styles, patterns, or colors. Maybe you’re thinking of creating or adding an entirely new line of products that you want to get their feedback on. 

Show your team packing orders and give them a peek at your warehouse. Show them your creation or design process.

2. Feature your latest blog post or popular blog

If you don’t know what type of content to create for your blog, refer to the questions we just went through.

When emailing a specific blog post, start with the post’s featured image and then the first paragraph or so from the post with a button to read more. The ultimate goal is to get them on your website, so don’t put the entire post in the email. 

If you have products to support the post, you can feature them in the email too, or maybe you just have 3-6 of your currently trending products at the bottom of the email. This way it’s more of a passive sell vs. a hard sell. 

3. Round-up post of content from your other channels

Remember, not everyone who follows you on social is also on your email list. And even if they do follow you on social media, it doesn’t mean that they see everything that you post. 

Whatever platforms you’re on —Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Blogging — create a collection of posts on related topics, like Top 5 Tips for X. 

4. Round-up post of other people’s content

What content are you consuming right now that your audience would also enjoy? Go back to those questions we asked ourselves… what else are they struggling with right now, or how can you bring joy to their inbox. 

5. Tell the story or why you started your business, what problem were you solving?

I know it can feel like you’ve already told this story a million times, and you probably have… but not necessarily to the same people. 

Even if you already have it in your welcome series and on your about page, that doesn’t mean people have read it, or that they remember. And even if they have and they do, are they going to be mad or annoyed that you’re sharing it again? Not likely. 

6. Tell a story of something you screwed up, either in your business or your life

As I said, people love the messy behind-the-scenes stuff. This is a great way to just connect with your audience and talk human to human. And it doesn’t have to be your deepest darkest secret. It can be something simple. If you can relate it to your product somehow, awesome, but it’s not necessary. 

If you’re not sure what to share, think about something you would put on an Instagram story for example. 

Did your packaging get screwed up, did the pages of a recipe get stuck together while making a trifle a la Rachel on Friends? 

7. Resend a successful email to new subscribers and those who didn’t open the first time

You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Go back into your archives and look for an email that generated a lot of revenue or had a lot of engagement.

I’m sure you have new subscribers on your list that have never seen it, and people who didn’t open it the first time you sent it. 

If it’s been a few months, you honestly don’t even have to change the subject line for those people who received it the first time, they’re not going to remember. 

8. What are you doing for yourself to deal with X

Many of us are dealing with a lot of the same things in life and it’s inspiring to hear from someone who has figured things out or at least is on their way to that. 

If you go back to the questions we asked ourselves earlier, particularly what is your customer dealing with RIGHT NOW… share your own story of battling that same thing and how you’re figuring it out. This can certainly be related to your product, but it doesn’t have to be. 

For example, if you sell candles, you could talk about how you’re dealing with the stress of today’s political climate or homeschooling your kids by soaking in your tub with your favorite scented candles burning. 

Raise your hand if you’ve seen the second Sex and the City movie? One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Miranda and Charlotte are having drinks at their hotel talking about motherhood. Charlotte is hesitant to say anything negative about being a mom, constantly saying things like but it’s all worth it and motherhood is such a gift, etc. Miranda eventually says something about how stressful it actually is. And encourages Charlotte to do the same so Miranda isn’t left hanging feeling like the worst mother ever. And of course, they take a drink before everything they say.  

That moment between them didn’t solve any of their problems. It didn’t make motherhood easier or mean that it wouldn’t still be stressful when they got back home. But it made them feel less alien and terrible for having some of the same thoughts and feelings. It validated them and made them feel less alone and sometimes that’s all we really need!

9. Share your holiday or seasonal plans

This one is pretty straightforward but is easily used multiple times throughout the year. This also would make a good blog post idea. Depending on what makes sense for your relationship with your customers and your business, it can be used for everything from Valentine’s Day and the 4th of July, to Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

From your makeup look to your recipe traditions, there’s so much content you can share around your seasonal plans. 

When it comes to sharing content like this, I think we get hung up because we think nobody cares. But 99% of the time, that’s not the case at all. We’re all so curious and voyeuristic, it’s just human nature.  

For example, anytime I post my cat Gomez or just my life, in general, is when I get the most engagement and responses! People just like to see that it’s an actual person on the other side. 

Now what?

So there you go, 9+ ideas for non-salesy email content. Rotate through these with your regular product-related content so you can keep in touch with your customers on a weekly basis.

Most of these can be reused to fit different situations and times of the year. Just keep going back to those questions we discussed, in the beginning, to figure out what the actual content or topic should revolve around. 

Download this week’s worksheet so you can brainstorm these content ideas and tune in next week where we’ll go over more email ideas that are specific to your products! 

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Hey, I'm Jessica

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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