#FacultyFeature: Liz Willits on Email Marketing’s Staying Power

Email marketing is one of the oldest and most popular forms of digital marketing. Despite all the new technologies and platforms that have emerged over the years, email marketing remains a powerful way to reach an audience. 

In this faculty feature, we talk to Liz Willits, an email marketing business owner and instructor for UVM’s Digital Marketing Fundamentals Professional Certificate, about the staying power of email marketing. 

Liz Willits, UVM Digital Marketing Instructor

Willits has helped thousands of companies harness the power of email over the past decade through her time working at email marketing giants like AWeber (they invented email automation) and her own business. 

Willits shares her insights on why email marketing is still so effective and offers tips for how you can make the most of this powerful tool.

Why Email Marketing Isn’t Dead

Recent data shows that nearly one in five Americans check their email as soon as they wake up, with one in three millennials checking their emails before they crawl out of bed. This is an opportunity to engage with potential customers on a personal level. 

“In the olden days, it was about, ‘what can I sell now?’ and sending that out,” Willits reflected. “Now it’s more about relationship building and selling from there. That is something that more people are catching on to, and that has changed.”

Though the opportunity is significant, Willits says email marketing only works today when you know how to use words to build a relationship effectively.

“Better copy is becoming a thing,” Willits said.

Choose Your Words Wisely

Willits is clear: “If you don’t have good copy, it’s just not going to work.”

She says as more and more people are doing email, the words you use become even more critical. That’s why the email marketing section of the digital marketing course she teaches doubles as a crash course in copywriting. 

“I’ll go through what works from a content perspective and how you can really intrigue readers…because you’re competing with hundreds of emails in the inbox,” Willits said. “You want to grab their attention and get them to keep reading. In the course, I’ll go through how you can accomplish that.”

This includes how to:

  • Write a killer subject line
  • Incorporate the pain points of your subscriber
  • Write about the dream state (the state your subscriber wishes they could reach)
  • Effectively use testimonials

“The cool thing with copywriting principles, in general, is they can apply to all areas of your career. If you know how to write copy, you can sell yourself in all areas of your career – whether you’re using those skills in email or social media, they’re really applicable and valuable skills,” Willits said. 

How to Grow Your Audience with Email Marketing

Email marketing should never exist in isolation, Willits says.

“Something I like to apply when it comes to social media, and any marketing channel, are growth loops. You take all your marketing channels, and you create a loop where you can grow all of them by relying on the other one.”

Here’s an example of how Willits uses growth loops to promote her own business: 

  • Create high-quality content
  • Post content on Linkedin > call to action: sign up for an email list or freebie on her website.
  • Send an email that promotes the LinkedIn post > call to action: follow her on LinkedIn
  • Repeat across all channels

“It’s this growth loop where you’re leveraging all of your audiences to build audiences everywhere,” Willits said. “You get people on your email list from the social platform and then promote your social posts from the email list.”

If there were a formula for going viral, this would be it. 

“You can kind of manually control the virality of your social media post by sending your email list to that post. So, if you can send ten thousand people to a social post right at the same time, most social algorithms will favor that post.”

Just remember, the content must be engaging for it to work. 

Boost Your Email Marketing Confidence

Whether you’re just getting started with email marketing or you’re looking to refine your strategy, you can boost your confidence (instead of cringing when you press send) with UVM’s fully-online Digital Marketing Fundamentals Professional Certificate.

You’ll not only learn from Willits, but from other marketing professionals who work in the fields of search engine optimization, social media, paid search advertising, and more. 

“It’s really helpful to have that overall view of marketing and to understand all the different components because first off, you learn what you like and what you want to focus on, but also when you’re working on a team…it’s really important to have that overhead view.” 


Find the next Digital Marketing Fundamentals session starting soon.

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