Email Marketing Isn’t Just for Selling

Building a community makes a business more sustainable and powerful, which means that it’s important to have goals for your email list beyond making sales. In fact, you might find that your open rates suffer and your unsubscribe rates soar when your email list feels that all they ever receive is communication prompting them to buy something.

Check out this sneak peak of an interview between our Growth Hacker in Residence, Maja Voje, and Stella Korošec of EQUA Products, a lifestyle brand that has raised over $1,000,000 to launch two different physical products. Stella feels strongly that email marketing should not be used only to reach sales targets.

You can see more of this interview and learn more about email marketing in our Growth Hacking Masterclass update. You can enroll in the course now and receive the update next week when we launch the new material.

So, if your email lists aren’t just for advertising products, what other reasons are there to reach out to your customers?

There are a ton of reasons to reach out to your email list, but here are just a few of our favorites:

1. Company Update / What You’ve Been Working On
This is a way to plug future products and services and build excitement around them without selling anything. Give your list an update on what’s been going on and make it feel personal…almost like a letter you would write to a friend. It’s best to use plain text emails for these purposes and sign with an image of your signature.

2. Images from Social Media
Pick a platform where you’d like to increase engagement and send a few of your best and latest images with links to the original posts. Don’t take for granted that your customers are aware of the awesome content you share on social media. Some may have never considered looking you up on Instagram but would love to follow you there.

3. Blog Post Digest
If your blog is full of useful and unique content that you post regularly, don’t forget to send out a digest of all of your latest content regularly. Pick a few posts to feature and include the main post image, the title, and a bit of the copy that will lead them to click through and read the whole post.

4. Best Of
Best Of lists are a fun way to promote your content at the end of each year. Pick your top ten blog posts, videos, or social media posts based on engagement, traffic, and quality and send out before the new year. This is one of my favorite ways to repurpose content!

5. Questionnaire / Survey / Call for Opinions
If there is one thing humans love to do, it’s talk about themselves and share their opinions. Give your audience an opportunity to communicate with you by taking a quick survey, asking for advice, polling to see what kinds of future products they would like to see, etc. This is a great way to make customers feel more connected to you and your company and for you to better know your customer.

6. Contest / Raffle
Giveaways are a great way to increase engagement around your brand online and bring in potential new customers. Create a contest to be held on social media and use your emails lists to spread the word.

7. Feedback
Hopefully you’ve been segmenting your lists based on which products or services a customer has purchased. Send out a call for feedback from recent purchasers. This will show your customers that they are cared for and give you the information you need to include your products and services.

8. Thank You / Appreciation
Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to bring in more new customers that we forget to ever say thank you beyond the standard email after someone has purchased something or signed up for the list. Think of a heartfelt way to show appreciation that your customers chose you.

Do you have any favorite non-salesy email campaign ideas that I didn’t include here? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below OR you can Tweet at me.

From Harvard Business Review: Happiness Traps

eazl happiness traps

“Life is too short to be unhappy at work. Yet many professionals who are free to shape their careers are just that: disengaged, unfulfilled, and miserable.

For years we’ve heard about dismal levels of employee engagement. Numerous studies show that close to two-thirds of employees in the United States are bored, detached, or jaded and ready to sabotage plans, projects, and other people. This makes no sense to me. Why do so many of us accept unsatisfying work, high levels of stress, looming burnout, and chronic unhappiness? Why don’t we fight back?”

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How Positive Emotions Change Who We Are

eazl positive emotions

Accordingly to research from UC Berkeley, 1% of the cells in your body are replaced per day, which means all of your cells change within a quarter or season of a year. It also takes that long to form a new habit.

In addition, our emotions affect our level of cellular change. The more daily positive emotions we have, the more we can change who we are and it can even affect the way our genes are transcribed (for the better).

Positive emotions also help in the areas of:

  • Mindfulness
  • Pain reduction
  • Development of trusting relationships
  • Healthy heart rate
  • Increased resilience in stressful or difficult situations
  • Increased levels of empathy

All of this has implications for career as well due to the fact that we spend the majority of our time working and a successful career is very much based on relationships.

What can we do with this information?
We can make sure that we are “inputting” situations and activities that positively influence our daily happiness level. This is more about what you fill your day with rather than striving for grin-inducing happiness, the search for which can actually impede your search for positivity.

Reflect on activities that make you happy or content and actively insert those activities to your day. For some, it might be taking a scenic walk or getting exercise, for others it might be reading a book or cooking. Spend some time thinking about this.

Some things you might also want to try to add positivity to your day:

  • Being kind to others / helping others
  • Practicing gratitude for things you might be taking for granted
  • Practicing active listening (listening to understand vs. listening to respond)
  • Try one new thing a day, even if it’s something small (like a different route to work or something different for lunch)

Making positive emotions more of a part of your daily experience requires some work and continual reinforcement. You can find a list of additional practices here.

Resources:
(1) UC Berkeley. (n.d.). Module 1: Introduction to the Science of Happiness. In Happiness and Positive Emotions. Retrieved from https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:BerkeleyX+GG101x+3T2017/course/

From Social Media Examiner: How to Find Social Media Micro-influencers for Your Small Business

social media micro influencers eazl

“Want to promote your small business on a budget?

Have you considered partnering with less famous influencers?

Highly targeted micro-influencers can help your small business gain visibility, engage an audience, and promote your products.

In this article, you’ll discover how to find and connect with micro-influencers who can promote your small business.”

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Community & Team Building Tips from Stranger Things 2

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched it yet and plan on doing so, you might not want to continue reading just in case. I don’t want to be responsible for ruining your experience with that magical show.

stranger things logo

As I, like so many other Netflix users, marathoned Stranger Things 2 over the weekend, I began to take note of the numerous examples of collaboration and community throughout the series. This show is seriously Lord-of-the-Rings-level life goals for friendship and working to achieve a giant goal.

The characters on Stranger Things accomplish amazing, superhuman feats together and I love that the general storyline has followed a pattern of personal responsibility through teamwork vs. individualism.   

I mean, what better way is there to take on a supernatural force from a another dimension than with all hands on deck and collective use of force and problem solving; a perfect combination of brains and brawn where all members contribute what they do best?

There’s a lot to be learned from these fictional characters as they possess qualities that humans admire in real life but may not experience first-hand that often.

You don’t have to be up against a shadow monster from Upside Down to reap the benefits from collaboration and community building.

Try applying some of these lessons from the series to your own work and career goals:

  1. Bravery is required for anything meaningful
    Steve Harrington and Chief Jim Hopper were two of the series’ most physically brave characters in Season 1 and they maintain their fearlessness in Stranger Things 2, with the former utilizing his bat with nails a second time and the latter venturing underground to see first hand what the monster is up to.
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Steve and Dustin prepare to take on the Pollywog.
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Chief Jim Hopper explores the monster’s underground tunnels.

Nancy doesn’t hesitate to expose the government’s role in Barb’s death or snatch up a shotgun to take on the demidogs.

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Nancy and Jonathan wait for Barb’s mom at the park as part of their plan to expose the research facility.

Winona Ryder’s character Joyce Byers, the mother of Will (the boy once abducted by the monster in Upside Down and now returned home), displays great mental and emotional strength and bravery when she “exorcises” the monster from her son’s body.

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Joyce builds the fire to “burn” the monster out of her son, Will.

People tend to think that those who demonstrate bravery are somehow endowed with special characteristics or attributes but we are all actually capable of courageous acts. We just have to make the choice to be brave.

Check out The Heroic Imagination Project by Dr. Philip Zimbardo, famed director of the Stanford Prison Experiment.

What brave and courageous moves can you make in your career, your daily actions, and your personal life? What ideas and movements can you boldly support for the greater good?

  1. Have a clear mission
    In Stranger Things 2, there are multiple groups working parallel in order to achieve the goal of finding out how to get rid of the monster. Eventually, at the end of the season, they come together and fight alongside each other only to divide and conquer once again.

You never really see a group conflict and members naturally assume their roles based on their talents. In this series, any time a character is told they should stay behind and keep themselves safe, they pretty much never listen. Even the kids!

No one is willing to put themselves ahead of the group. Everyone contributes and understands the mission, which is what makes achieving the mission possible.

Note the Rule of Law established by Will’s friends: when someone needs help, they show up and help.

Will’s friends, Dustin and Mike help strategize.

It’s easier for a group of people to work together when there is a clear mission. That’s why it’s important to ensure that the mission gets buy-in from all team members, perhaps by setting some kind of Rule of Law at the start of the engagement or project.

Remember this when you work in team, whether you are the leader or not. You can always lead by example even if you don’t have formal power within a team by showing that you are committed to the mission.

  1. Pyramid structures don’t work
    Pyramid structures are rarely if ever truly effective. This kind of structure implies that there are just a few people giving orders and many acting on those order, regardless of what their own expertise and intuition tells them is the right course of action.

There is no centralized authority deciding how to take on the monster…and that’s what makes taking on the monster possible.

Steve, Dustin, and Lucas join Nancy and Jonathan at the research facility just before they provide a getaway car for Joyce, Mike, and Chief Hopper.

Different characters have different perspectives and there are multiple problems to solve, making those individual perspectives highly valuable.

From Dustin’s creative and playful imagination developed through role playing games and Bob’s coding skills to Steve’s experience with sports teams and Chief Hopper’s familiarity with approaching dangerous situations, everyone has something they can offer and adhering to centralized leadership would squash that.

When you create your teams for work and projects, remember that your co-workers can thrive without a single manager of leader. Organic organization is powerful.

  1. Focusing on community is the biggest middle finger to “the man”
    The government as the enemy isn’t just a cheesy throwback theme that was most often seen in 80s sci-fi movies. There is meaning behind this theme and the reason we are attracted to themes like these is because they hold a lot of truth in them.

Government and military are responsible for opening the gate between reality and Upside Down, along with all of the destructions caused by it. There’s that centralized authority again.

The community coming together was the only thing that could balance out the power and limit the destruction, including getting the gate between worlds closed.

You too can organize something that has impact and counterbalances the “powers that be”. You just have to build the community, no matter the scale.

  1. Be a doer
    Chief Hopper never hesitates to jump to action, whether it’s belaying into a super creepy and perilous underground tunnel or setting up formation to shoot up some demidogs.

Nancy follows her intuition to do the right thing and expose the research facility.

Steve doesn’t need to weigh his options when asked for help.

There are a lot of people in the world who spend a lot of time talking about problems but they never do anything to help solve those problems. Don’t be one of those. How can you contribute? What problem can you help solve? What community can you bring together in collective power?

Life & Career Lessons from Euripides’ The Trojan Women

eazl euripedes the trojan women

The Trojan Women is a Greek tragedy by Euripides, one of the most popular playwrights of his time, about the destruction of Troy by the Greeks (the Trojan War). The play takes place in Troy, just after the Trojans’ defeat. Euripides follows the fate of the women of Troy after their city has been destroyed, after their husbands and sons have been killed, and as they await their division and enslavement by the Greeks.

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Bust of Euripedes

I’ve been interested in Greek tragedies lately for my research project (related to ethics and philosophy) and asked Davis to find tickets to see a live Greek tragedy in Chicago. He tracked down a production of The Trojan Women (adapted by Sartre) at Three Crows Theater in Evanston, IL.

You can look at the original play here, if you’d like.

What I like about Greek tragedies is that there are SO MANY lessons to be learned and applied and they are 100% applicable to life today. Really, they’re timeless little pieces of philosophy in story form.

Here’s a little information about some of the characters to give you a some context:

Poseidon and Athena
Opening the play, Poseidon strategizes with Athena ways to punish the Greek armies after misconduct during the war. We don’t see him much for the rest of the play, but Poseidon does return to deliver the conclusion to the audience at the end of the play.

hecuba
The women of Troy console Hecuba.

Hecuba, Queen of Troy
Distraught throughout most of the play, with some glimmers of hope, Hecuba comes to terms with her fate as a fallen queen-turned-slave. She blames Helen for the war (conveniently overlooking her son’s role in bringing Helen to Troy).

Paris, Prince of Troy and son of Hecuba
Paris died during the war, leaving behind his mother and Helen. Menelaus’ revenge on Paris for stealing his wife caused the destruction of Troy.

Menelaus, King of Sparta

Ancient style sculpture of Menelaus supporting the body of Patro
After the Greek army defeats Troy, Menelaus returns to retrieve Helen and administer punishment for her betrayal. Helen manipulates him and they return, as a couple, to Sparta.

Helen of Troy, formerly Helen of Sparta
Considered the most beautiful woman in the world in Greek mythology, Helen left her husband, Menelaus, to be with Paris in Troy. She spends the majority of her role in the play trying to defend her actions by blaming the gods and manipulating Menelaus into not punishing her. We never see her or anyone else accept personal responsibility for their role in causing the war.

Cassandra, Princess of Troy and daughter of Hecuba
Having supernatural powers to foresee the future, Cassandra isn’t worried about Sparta receiving their punishment for their conduct because she has had visions of them being punished.

Talthybius, Herald of the Greeks
Popping in and out of scenes throughout the play to deliver information about the fate of the Trojan women and their future as slaves to the Greeks, Talthybius takes a don’t-shoot-the-messenger stance, showing no bravery or integrity.

Chorus- Captive Trojan Women
The Trojan Women share bits of their grief with us, following Hecuba’s lead, throughout the play.

Here are the lessons I took away from The Trojan Women combined with some further research and real-life applications:

  1. Do not seek vengeancevengeance

From the play:
Vengeance is sought by Menelaus, the King of Sparta, after his wife Helen –attracted to the opulent living of the royalty in Troy– leaves the King for Paris, the handsome Prince of Troy. This is cited throughout the play as the cause of the war between Troy and Sparta.

Hecuba, Queen of Troy and mother of Paris, wishes harm on Helen, who she views as responsible for the King of Sparta’s actions of war against Troy. You know, typical mother-in-law issues. She can’t wait for Helen to be punished.

Research:
In Berkeley’s Science of Happiness course, vengeance is shown to be a negative and unhelpful reaction and a symptom of an inability to forgive an offender.

Unforgiveness is associated with a negative emotional state that increases blood pressure and heart rate. It also leads to release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Basically, it’s really bad for your health!

Studies have shown that forgiveness decreases nervousness, restlessness, and sadness while increasing well being. (1)

Real-life application:
Seeking vengeance isn’t good for anyone involved, including you. You don’t have to absolve a person from their wrongdoings, but you’ll have much better personal and work relationships if you learn to speak calmly about your issues with others and make a conscious effort to forgive instead of seeking vengeance or cutting ties.

  1. Stop thinking that evil always winsgood vs. evil

    From the play:
    One of the Trojan Women repeats “crime pays” in the last scene of Sartre’s adaptation of the play when it’s clear to her that the gods will not punish the Spartans for their unjust behavior. Hecuba reminds her that Troy will be remembered forever and it will be known that the Greeks acted wrongly. And this play serves as the vehicle for communicating that knowledge!

Research:
There are a TON of instances of crime paying in the short term and punishing in the long term. Just take a look at current events that involve Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Martin Shkreli and EpiPen, Roger Ailes (once called one of the “worst Americans ever”), and Sophia Amoruso of Nasty gal –just to name a few. Some of these issues are still working themselves out, but these people fell hard and fast. And there’s a lot more where that came from.

Crime and wrongdoing ALWAYS have a price. We just tend to not see the punishment because it’s often hiding behind money, which we give people WAY too much credit for possessing.

Unethical people pay the price of their decisions through erosion of relationships, lack of happiness, and poor mental and physical health. Plus, the fall to the bottom is hard once people find out how awful you are.

Real-life application:
Accepting the false narrative that corruption and dishonesty is all a part of success isn’t fair to you or the society you live in. Be careful when you make decisions because every action has a reaction.

  1. Come to terms with the fact that materialism corrupts (and that includes you)materialism

From the play:
Helen is attracted to the opulent living in Troy and the physical attractiveness of Paris, Prince of Troy. She abandons her husband and her home for shallow desires.

In the end, she is hated by both the Greeks and Trojans, with both sides wishing her harm, but her grip is tight as she manipulates them with her beauty and deceptiveness. Helen lives despite Menelaus’ resolve to put her to death (he is weak) but her reputation lives on.

Research:
Studies have shown that we experience a short-term increase in happiness right after we buy something, but we then return to our baseline happiness level very soon after. Money only boosts happiness when it brings and individual out of an impoverished situation. Otherwise, it doesn’t impact happiness at all. (2)

What does lead to happiness is strong social ties and belonging to a strong community. Friendship activates oxytocin, which reduces stress hormones, and is one of the most powerful determinants of happiness. (1)

Real-life application:
By realizing the science behind consumption, we can curtail our focus of attainment of physical items and refocus our efforts on building relationships. Change your whole outlook on what your work means to you and, once your priority transitions from the paycheck to relationships and doing good, you’ll see how much more fulfilled your are in your work.

  1. Expediency is punishableexpediency

From the play:
Helen left Greece to live a better life in Troy (comfort-wise) and was quick to manipulate Menelaus and tell him her actions were the fault of the gods instead of her own fault because she feared being punished.

Research:
Humans naturally desire to punish people who act with expediency and self-interest. We are naturally compassionate creatures but we also choose who we exclude from that compassion –often those who display selfish behaviors. (1)

In addition, those who accept fault for their wrongdoings and make the effort to ask for forgiveness have stronger social ties and better relationships, which leads to greater well-being in lots of areas, including mental and physical health and stronger support networks. (1)

Real-life application:
Caring about others does pay off –don’t be fulled by what you see on the surface with self-oriented people. They do pay the price in some way…you just aren’t witnessing the punishment. You’ll be more successful at work when you begin to truly care about the people you work with. You might even find that others will begin to root for your success instead of being unnecessarily competitive with you.

If you haven’t already, work on your apology skills. An effective apology includes:

  • Remorse, shame, and/or humility
  • Acknowledgement of offense and accepting of responsibility
  • Offering of empathy/explanation
  • Undoing of the harm: offering of compensation/reparation
  • Reassuring that there is low likelihood of recurrence (3)

5. Align your values with your actions

align actions with values

From the play:
Talthybius, herald of the Greeks, continuously returns to deliver more bad news to the Trojan women, including the pending execution of the child heir to the throne due to the Greeks’ fear of future retaliation and announcements of future owners for the women’s enslavement.

We also continuously see Talthybius ask the women not to blame him because he is simply the messenger and is only communicating the King’s commands.

Research:
Talthybius’ don’t-shoot-the-messenger approach reminds me of research that has been done in the area of value and action alignment, as well as a concept called flow, which posits that we are happiest when we can throw ourselves into something that we truly value and believe in. 

Real-life application:
I see a lot of people in employment situations where they have to do and support things that they explicitly do not agree with and they are afraid to make a career change because it’s not fun looking for a new job or making a career move.

Ultimately, it’s far more detrimental to stay on the path that clearly doesn’t work for you. A person who is in the right work is excited to get up in the morning and make progress on a project that they are passionate about and that their skills and interests are aligned with.

What’s your favorite Greek tragedy? Tweet at me with your thoughts.

 

Sources:

  1. Berkeley’s Science of Happiness course on EdX
  2. David Myers’s The American Paradox
  3. Aaron Lazare’s On Apology
  4. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow

From Harvard Business Review: Playing Office Politics Without Selling Your Soul

playing office politics

“Unsurprisingly, research shows that when employees perceive their workplace as more political, they are less engaged, less productive, and more likely to quit. And yet, a more effective way of dealing with office politics is to engage in them — playing the game, instead of complaining about it. Fortunately, not all politics are bad, and there’s a way to play the game without selling your soul.”

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Should Driverless Cars Kill Pedestrians to Save the Car Owner?

 

Big, real questions are starting to bubble up as artificial intelligence and driverless cars get closer to impacting our daily lives.

Here are some of the opportunities to dig deeper into this fascinating mix of philosophy, technology, and society:
The Driverless Car Dilemma (via Radiolab) at http://bit.ly/2xXdXrL [Podcast Episode]
Why DeepMind Established a Coalition on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (via the DeepMind Blog) at http://bit.ly/2yKejhW [Blog Post]
The Partnership on AI at http://bit.ly/2hQSpXl [Study Group w/ Google, IBM, Apple, + More on AI and Society]
Racism and Predictive Algorithms (via ProPublic) at http://bit.ly/2xZ2tRV [Article]

A major debate was started when Christoph von Hugo, an executive at Mercedes revealed that Mercedes’ programmers had programmed their driverless car to prioritize the life of the owner of the vehicle over those of pedestrians should it ever have to make a decision in the lead-up to a crash. What are the ethics of AI?

Moreover, it turns out that some racist AI applications are already being observed. For example, evidence shows that artificial intelligence in law enforcement has led to an increase in the incarceration of black people.

Now Google’s DeepMind team has launched a team to look at the ethics of artificial intelligence. What’s your take?

Cover Image: Mercedes’ driverless concept car.

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From Forbes: Never Give Up Your Salary Details — Do This, Instead

eazl never give salary details

“It is wonderful to see job-seekers waking up to realize they have more power in the hiring equation than they thought they did.

Employers can’t grow their businesses without great employees on board.

Job-seekers need to know that there are lots of badly-managed organizations that treat job-seekers like dirt. Almost everyone has run into one of those organizations at some point.

The faster you run away from organizations (and recruiters) who treat you badly, the sooner you’ll find the right people to collaborate with!”

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