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Interview with Leah Oldfield – Transcription
Kate Hi, I’m Kate Barrett, the founder of Shine A Light Media and the Email Marketing Academy, and welcome to our series of interviews with everyone from entrepreneurs to fellow email marketing experts where we will be finding out how they use email in their business to give you inspiration in your own work.
Our guest today is Leah Oldfield. Leah is a newbie entrepreneur currently setting up a business offering social media and content consulting, coaching and teaching after working in the industry for over ten years. Hello Leah, and welcome. Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed today.
Leah Hi, thank you Kate, I’m happy to be here.
Kate Fantastic, so Leah, introduce us into what you have been doing and what has made you make this jump into being an entrepreneur and offering these services.
Leah Yes, well I have an very interesting and diverse background in content social online marketing. It kind of all started ten years ago for me. I was working in a real estate office managing their marketing and because I was the only young person, so to speak, in the office I naturally became the blogger, web designer, website manager, everything marketing girl. I fell into that role naturally and since then, as the online market place has grown and social has become so big and so popular that was kind of the natural progression for me, but I actually have such a deep interest in that also, so it was really easy for me to jump in, teach myself, learn because of my interest. That’s kind of where its grown and now having worked for various companies for about six years directly doing their content and social media with them, the natural progression again into helping small businesses to develop their programs, implement them and give them some strategies and tips and shortcuts that helps them save time and money is kind of a natural progression for me from that because I’ve got such a wonderful community around me here that has shown so much interest in that, I feel like there is such a niche of people who need that hands on, maybe they can take from my experience and they can implement those short cuts for themselves. I feel like that’s a really good next step and I’m really excited to get more into that and to help some small businesses save some time and money and work some shortcuts that I’ve learned.
Kate Brilliant Leah, your story sounds so similar to mine, mine was the same working in corporate doing their email marketing for them for almost ten years and then making that jump to spreading that knowledge to lots more people and really taking all of that experience that you’ve learnt through all of that time and adapting it to the different situations, different companies that you may come across and benefiting that knowledge. There aren’t many people that have that amount of experience, so that’s really great to hear you branching out and wanting to help more people. That’s excellent.
Leah Absolutely, I think you’re right, with that experience it’s nice to help more than one company right? Share the love!
Kate I hear you there! So are you starting to generate clients at the moment? Have you got clients on board that you are working with, and if you have how have you got those clients on board to begin with? I know that that is always a hard first step getting those few clients to begin with and building from there, so how’s it going for you?
Leah Well I was really lucky to be part of a really nice tightknit community. I come from a place where the business people tend to want to help each other out and so when I started out I didn’t have to look far to some entrepreneur friends of mine who were actually looking for exactly what I offer so it was really organic and really a blessed process of mine that I could just turn and talk to my friends who were running their own businesses and said “Hey, would you be interested in something like this” and actually a lot of them were coming to me saying “I need your help with this, because this is what you do”. For me it was very organic. That being said, because I am in the early stages I haven’t really had to work too hard to get to customers. I feel very luck and very blessed that I am from this nice tightknit small community where people are so ready and willing to help each other out. For me, I was able to turn to my friends and colleagues and other business people I knew in the community and say “Do you need something like this?” or “How can I help you” or rather a lot of them were coming to me and saying “I need your help with this because you have the expertise and I want to glean from that and I want you to coach me and teach me” and some of them had even said help me and shown me how to do this hands on. So it was a bit organic for me which was very lucky and blessed, but now I am at that stage where there is that tipping point. I can’t rely on those people anymore and I am having to market myself a bit and talk about myself. So now I’m getting into developing an email campaign that grows from the few people I have already and then also working on my personal Facebook presence, because I haven’t had to have a personal business page yet, rather than the ones I have just been helping people create and the kind of branching out from there, maybe You Tube which is on my radar and that kind of thing. So for me personally, that’s what I’m working on.
Kate That’s brilliant. I think there’s a couple of things that you’ve said there, so the first is the natural progression of the clients and that’s come from your previous ten years in business where you’ve built up those contacts, you’ve built those relationships, you’ve done the work that we’re all trying to do to build that in terms of going to networking events, networking with social media. That’s what you’ve been doing for the last ten years and that’s where you’ve generated that good personal reputation which is now moving over into hopefully a new business reputation. I think that’s fantastic and I think starting with the people you know and the businesses you know is a fantastic way to go. That’s a good tip for anyone listening in, is make those relationships, make those connections and make them real as well.
You also mentioned getting started with email marketing, using other channels to drive traffic to your website and the obviously when you get a website hopefully adding those sign up form in as many places to capture those leads. That all sounds really exciting as well. In terms of these new marketing techniques that you are coming across, obviously you are quite a seasoned marketer anyway, in terms of your social media and content and I would guess they are going to be two big parts of your strategy going forward. As a marketing expert, how do you learn about new marketing techniques and as an expert in a specific field in marketing, how do you feel about putting yourself out there and learning new marketing techniques and sort of being the newbie again on the other side?
Leah Well that’s an interesting thing because I have for so long been the one that has been considered to carry the expertise but getting into a field where I am surrounded by experts, that’s so important. For me especially I love to learn and by no means do I consider myself done. I definitely do not even consider myself an expert , I’m such a leaner like the rest of us. I think that is a good attitude and maybe something that listeners can translate for themselves. You’re never done, you’ve never mastered something, it’s consistent learning, especially with internet marketing or email marketing or websites. Anything online is evolving so much, but not to be discouraged with that also. Personally, what I like to do is I have my daily blogs that I visit, and from those I try and follow, there’s so many I would love to follow, but I try to pick and choose and I visit my other favourites every so often to keep myself fresh, but I follow the ones that I that I feel for me are providing a value and maybe a bit of an education on a daily basis, just so I try to stay on top of things
On a bigger basis I get really excited to go and kind of nerd out, as I say, at a conference or a convention or anything I can do to really immerse myself in the community and meet other people that are doing different things than me, so that I am challenged to grow and challenged to do other things. One thing that is coming up that I have just registered for yesterday is this Social Media Examiner Social Media Success Summit that’s coming up in October. The line-up this year seems really great and I have heard wonderful things. So it will be my first year virtually attending that but I think that kind of thing is really important to go and do because you need to always be growing and challenged and to get out of your box and get out of your mind set and hear from other people even in other industries and what they’re doing and that keeps you fresh, and that keeps you knowing and it doesn’t become so overwhelming if you’re doing that on a regular basis.
Kate Absolutely, I couldn’t agree with you more. You need to keep learning and particular with internet marketing, as you said, things are always changing or slightly adjusting and you need to test and optimise and test and optimise yourself in a way. Learn those new techniques, so I totally agree with you. The event you mentioned, I think we should just mention to our listeners, Leah is based in Canada, so is that event a Canadian based event or did you say it was a virtual event?
Leah It’s a virtual event and it’s through the Social Media Examiner there are names like Mary Smith, Amy Porterfield, Michael Stelnser, Brian Kramer, great names that are headlining this year. A great price and tons of courses. It think it’s over almost a month and you have access to them for a year, so it’s really easy to get a breadth of knowledge.
Kate As I think the other thing we should mention is that as you are based in Canada, one of the big things that’s happened recently is the new Canadian spam laws. How has that affected you? With any email marketing that your currently doing, have you had to change anything and do re-permissioning because I know just for our listeners, the new Canadian spam laws make it really explicit. You have to get an explicit opt in and you can’t use a pre-checked opt in, that’s just one of the new requirements. How has that affected you Leah?
Leah I can say for your listeners, first of all I am not a lawyer so I can’t pretend to give you counsel, but I did attend a conference all about this put on by a law firm, so I trust their advice. The big takeaways that I got from that is that yes it sounds scary, it’s very broad and its very detailed, but actually it gives you a little bit, actually not a little bit, a very clear way to ask your followers to opt in, and it gives you a really clear way to have them opt out, which I think as marketers, we don’t want the people anyhow that are just following to follow, or signed up to be signed up. Yes of course there are those that we can convert but those ones will stick around with this and so for my business personally and for my clients what I have advised them is that the ones that are already signed up, there is a grace period of three years where you can gain their express consent. Right now we have implied consent and there is a three year grace period, so what you have probably seen with a lot of companies is that they’re sending out the opt ins because they have never had a previous business relationship with the people that they are emailing and that’s where you run into trouble. If you have had someone previously sign up, or do business with you, or enquire with you, you have that implied consent and now there is a grace period of three years to work with that implied consent where you can continue emailing them, or you can gain their express consent if you choose to do so. Express means that they have checked a box somewhere that says “Yes, you can continue emailing me”. The law does sound quite big and scary but at the same time they have allowed this grace period where we have the opportunity as marketers to keep working our email campaigns and keep doing business, but we have this opportunity to go and get express consent. I think the important thing to know is that effects marketers emailing Canadian email addresses and so that is where it gets a bit scary and where it’s important for people to have in place that check box that says yes, I do want to receive whatever it is you’ll be receiving and that that box is not pre-checked. A check box suffices, but it cannot be pre-checked, and then as long as you can track that on the back end you should be totally fine, so while it does sound scary those are just some basic things you can do on a daily basis and just make sure you don’t have the check box pre-checked and track it on the back end that you have obtained consent then you should all be ok.
Kate Leah, that’s a fantastic summary of those laws and how it can affect people. That was a fantastic summary, thank you. So how has it affected you and your list? You mentioned that you do have some previous contacts that you’ve got. How are you email marketing to them at the moment? What are you up to?
Leah Well actually because all my contacts have previously done business with me and I don’t have anyone that I’ve taken an email from anywhere, they have all done business with me. I have permission to work with them for three years now. If I choose to I can get their express consent that says “yes, I want to continue receiving emails”, but my decision has been I’m going to use this three year grace period, give it a few months to settle in, see where the laws take us and what happens and I’m just going to settle in for a little bit with my own campaigns.
Kate Absolutely, like you’ve said because they’re previous customers, that is a slightly different scenario there and they know you and they are aware of your business. They’re not cold customers. Just going back to a previous point that you mentioned quickly, you don’t want people on your list that don’t want to be on there so actually I think these laws are great for Canada to tighten that up and bring in best practices that any marketer would tell you anyway if you want to get the best response from your list. Just because something is in a law or not in a law and you could end up with a fine because of it or not, you should still be looking at how you can get the best engagement for your list and one of the ways to do that is with the explicit opt in. I just wanted to come back to that very quickly. In terms of your list that you’ve got then of your current contacts, are you currently sending any email marketing to them?
Leah I currently am but I am a little bit of that guilty rebel because for my customers and what I teach and coach is a little bit different than what I do myself. I think that some of us in business can say that that is the case
Kate Oh yes! It’s so difficult when you’re so busy working on client projects to do your own stuff as well. It’s another project!
Leah That is something that actually I am turning my focus to for myself and my business and I think as we talked about, because my personal business has taken a shift, and this is a little bit new for me and I haven’t necessarily been teaching and focusing on email marketing, I have been focused on the content and social with my customers and they have learned their email marketing from other areas. For me it is a bit new, because my experience is a little bit low and lacking in that area and that is definitely an area that I would like to learn and I would like to grow and maybe not master, because I can’t master everything but I would like to get to a really great place where I can build my relationships, turn those leads into customers and continue providing them value and service afterwards. I would say those are the goals I would like to achieve with my email marketing, whereas right now it’s a little bit casual and sporadic.
Kate Its getting back that consistency and providing value for your audience. That’ where email marketing really comes into its own, to be able to help you to do that and help you to do it very easy using the technology available. As we said earlier, you’ve got to keep learning about new things. You’ve definitely got the right attitude towards it which is really great to hear. Ok, so with the email marketing that you are doing at the moment, even though it’s a little bit sporadic, and your getting there to produce that strategy and you’ve gotyour objectives for the future, so is there a system that your using at the moment, an email service provider, who do you currently use?
Leah Currently I have experience with a couple of what I call basic platforms, things like MailChimp and Emma. They are not bad but I find that they lack a little bit in terms of scheduling, any information or reports you could pull from there. I have been looking into Aweber for myself, but my customers and the experience that I do have is with MailChimp and Emma and a couple of other platforms similar to those but those are the most notable. I would like to expand into something that allows my business to grow with it, to have better tracking, better reporting, a little bit of a better funnel system so I can schedule and visually see on the back end what’s going where and when they’re getting that, just have a better tracking system in place. I am a system person so I would like to see that and I think that would be beneficial to be able to look on the back and see what’s happening, where’s this funnel going and then you can manage your various funnels through it, which I think is important also. Emma and MailChimp I feel are a little bit limited in those areas.
Kate I think you’re right there. You’ve hit on a key point in terms of the lower cost entry level systems, MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact. I haven’t personally come across Emma, but there are thousands of systems and you’re right in terms of they are low cost entry systems and the thing is there they do what they say on the tin and they do have limited functionality. There’s ways around it, there are ways to do different things within the systems if you can get a little bit more advanced with it, a little bit more technical, but they do have limited functionality unless you manually change things yourself basically. Until you go up to that middle tier, or the higher tier, but obviously you have the costs associated to that. I think you’re right to have a look around, you’re doing the right thing there, you know what you’re looking for, you know the features that you want and I guess some of that is coming from your previous experience with social media systems perhaps, and the analytics you can see through those, and I guess perhaps with what you do as well looking for a system that integrates with social media as well. I think you’re doing the right thing, having a look around and seeing what suits you and having a clear idea in your head of exactly what you want to get out of a system.
So, we’re going to get into the nitty gritty areas. I know you are only doing things sporadically but I know you’ve worked with other clients before and things like that. In terms of email marketing have you ever made any errors that you’ve held your head in your hands. Has anything ever happened to you and if so, how did you solve that situation?
Leah Who hasn’t right?
Kate Absolutely, you wouldn’t be human if you hadn’t.
Leah That’s what I think is the big one for people to realise. It’s not an if, it’s just a when. It’s going to happen. I come from the mind-set of “we are all human” and I prefer to talk to someone as a human and say “Woah, I had a flub there!” Specifically, I can recall one of my clients with a campaign we came up with a while ago. We sent the wrong price, and so we had included this beautiful email and it was selling a package and we included the wrong price. It went out to their thousands of their clients with the wrong price. For them it was nerve wracking because the price was lower than what they were actually offering! That was a hard one to recover from. Thank goodness we have a really forgiving customer base and we could email and say “OK, we are goofballs!”, and we drafted a really nice email. I think the important thing that we learned there is not to pretend it’s all ok and pretend that it was intentional or in any way try to cover it up. I think the best way to handle that and handle really I would say probably any flubs – this could be more life advice – is to admit it. If you have made a mistake you admit it and then you can say here’s what we’re doing to fix it. I think you run into more trouble when you try to cover it up or pretend that it didn’t happen.
Kate Totally, and again as you said life lesson there, not just email marketing lesson, life lesson!
Leah Absolutely because you know what, like I said it’s not an if it’s a when there is going to be a mistake somewhere and so having a contingency plan in your back pocket is always a good idea. Knowing what you’re priorities are and how you want to handle that in your business is important to know before it happens so when you go into panic mode, because you will panic, you’ll know what you are planning to do about that. You can’t plan for every situation but you can have your contingency plan of when I make an error here is how I would like to handle that in my business. Luckily we had discussed a little bit about this early in our relationship just around social and content, so we had this in our back pocket where we could go, ok, now we have to just draft that email where we say “Were’ so sorry, we’re in the wrong here” and we actually did offer a little incentive to them and said to them and said for our mistake we’re going to give you this bonus, but that was our choice and our decision to offer that, kind of as a “Sorry! ”
Kate You did the right thing though. I think that’s a really good tip there is to have that information in your back pocket. What do I do if something goes wrong? I know in social media having those plans is really important and I totally agree just having a think about it for email marketing, what if something does go wrong, what are you going to do, what’s the plan going to be? I think that’s a great tip and thank you for sharing that Leah that’s really interesting.
I don’t think my listeners would forgive me if I had a social media expert on and didn’t ask about the fantastic link between social media and email marketing. Have you got a quick tip that you can give our listeners in terms of driving social media users through to sign up to your email lists?
Leah You know I think what I have found in my experience, and I think that some markets could be different, depending on what you’re doing, but again I like to be really transparent. I don’t like to trick people and say “Check out this link for a freebie”. I like to be honest and open and say “Hey, I’m building my list” or “I would really like to connect with you on email” or “can we have an email relationship as well”. I like to be honest about what I’m asking and like I said, not try and trick them into signing up for my email. I like to put out and ask, I like to maybe post a snippet of an email just showing the value that you do offer, so you can say “Here’s a snippet of my recent members email and it’s free to become an email member” or however you want to word that with your customers, but bring up some nice wording that gets them excited and makes it sound exclusive. I like to give a snippet or show how I can provide them value over and above our Facebook or social relationship so that there’s a value for them and they can say, “OK, you know what, I do want to invite them into my inbox”, because that is an opt in and they are choosing that relationship, whereas social is a little less voluntary, it’s easy to click and like on a page and then scroll past whatever their saying, but with email it’s an invite into your space.
Kate I think that’s absolutely true and I really like the idea from you there of providing that snippet of a previous email showing value. It’s all about that extra value and it’s about what’s in it for them, what’s the benefit there. I think that the other thing that you said there is about trying to trick people onto your list. Absolutely, you’re absolutely right, you don’t want to do that in any way, so offering a value add, such as a free download or something like that is absolutely fine and it can actually increase your sign ups, but you’re absolutely right, you’ve got to be open, honest and transparent. You need to let people know when their signing up for that download what that means, that they’re going to get added to your list, but also the benefits of being added to your list, not just of getting that free download, but what that means for them in the future and the extra benefits and value that you’re going to give them on that regular basis. I think that’s a great point that you brought up. You don’t want to trick anybody, you want to offer value, giving a snippet on your social media is a great way to generate that interest, show them what exclusive content they could be getting if they signed up. You’ve got to be friendly about it and open. So I think that’s some great advice there Leah, thank you.
Leah And I just want to clarify, in case I sounded like you shouldn’t offer an offer or a download. I think its important to offer that offer or download but like you elaborated, not to be tricky and when they’re downloading that, be clear that that is the intention the email relationship, but here’s the value that you’re getting out of it.
Kate Absolutely, you’re right, there’s no need to trick people or anything like that, because guess what, as soon as you start emailing them, they’re going to know! It’s not a secret anymore!
Leah The secret is out! The cat’s out of the bag!
Kate Exactly, and that will do you more harm than good. That won’t produce that positive engagement that you’re looking for, and as I think we said earlier, you only want people on your list that want to be there, that want to receive that information from you. That’s some really great advice there. Thank you, I had to get that question in there as you’re a social media guru!
Just to round off our interview, there’s a question that I like to ask everybody that I interview, just to round it all off. Which business people do you admire? Who do you look up to, and why?
Leah I have to say that over years, and almost every month I seem to find someone new and jump on their blog and want to know everything about them and what they’re doing, so it’s almost like I have someone new or new people that I’m checking out on a continual basis because there’s so many to discover. I would say some of the top people I am following right now and wanting to know more about what they’re doing, there’s a few woman, there’s Mary Smith, Marie Forleo, Amy Porterfield and Melanie Duncan and I think for various reasons those four women round out my education right now and where I’m at. I would also have to say that those relationships are wonderful, but I also think there’s a great value to local business relationships, and I touched on this earlier and a huge portion of my business to start has come from local business people. I would have to say that those face to face interactions and the women that I have met in our local business community and connected with here, that has been so valuable to share trials and successes, but also to be able to be challenged and sharpened by them, so those women are also at the top of my list. I think it’s important to have that balance of following some people and learning what they are doing online and making those connections but also making that face to face interaction with their local business community and getting to know those women and what’s working for them and what’s not and then you have that face to face relationship and wouldn’t you know, a lot of business comes out of those relationships as well. That’s a broad answer of who I follow.
Kate That’s a great answer. Just to end the interview, what are you working on at the moment in terms of your business and how’s email marketing going to help you with that? Have you got any specific projects on the horizon you can tell us about?
Leah I do, like we talked about Kate, I am really excited to be personally launching into my business now. Right now we’re building the web page, building our email campaigns, trying to get some scheduling in to film our first round of videos for You Tube and for Facebook. I’m at the absolute bare minimum building stage for myself so I’m starting from scratch, probably like a lot of our listeners right now, so I’m in the same boat. I guess my benefit is that I do have some years of experience under my belt, but I’m a little bit of a newbie emailer in terms of my own campaigns. I am working on those and working on my funnels and writing all the scripts and making sure that they come across well, my personality but also my vision, just grabbing their attention but also getting them on board with what I’m about. So just writing that and I would say that the big trial there is making sure that your wording and text and everything that I’m doing is all in line is all consistent and that I’m putting out my consistent message.
Kate Definitely, big challenges ahead Leah, very exciting challenges it sounds like. That’s fantastic. I just want to say thank you for speaking to me today, it’s been a real pleasure, finding out more about you and thank you for the tips that you’ve provided our listeners with today and also getting your view on the new Canadian spam laws as well. Thank you so much for speaking to me today and we’ll have to catch up with you in the future and see how you’re getting on.
Leah That’s right, and thank you so much for having me Kate. I’m very excited to talk to you and have your listeners here us. Thank you
Kate Fantastic, thanks a lot Leah.