ONE DARK AND STORMY NIGHT, while puzzling over the best way to design an email marketing strategy for a client (using Infusionsoft’s incredibly powerful Campaign Builder feature), it occurred to me that I should take a break, let my mind settle, and compose a group interview project via a brand new tool recently launched by my friend and mentor, Ann Smarty.
My theory is that there is only one place to go when you aren’t sure of where to go next: Return to the basics. Therefore, I tried to get right down to brass tacks … the basics of email marketing.
Group interviews provide a varied perspective that just isn’t possible with one-on-ones. For this project, I collected responses from a varied bunch of online marketers (read the addendum to find out more about the new tool).First lesson: The interview is only as good as the question … and my first question was not only unnecessary, but none of my business.Click To Tweet
Nevertheless, those who responded to the interview request came through with some gems.
Are you building an email list? If so, how many addresses have you collected?
As with every business owner or marketer who’s interested in digital marketing I am building a marketing list. Notice I use the term “marketing list.” I require each entry to have an email address, so you could call it an “email list,” but the point is that we should not rely on one method of marketing to the people we connect with.
Sure email is easy and cheap to send, and we can customize each email to include details for each person on the list, but what if that email goes straight to the spam folder?
The way I am dealing with this is to include people on my marketing list in all sorts of marketing: email, direct mail, telephone, hand written notes, and anything else I can think of.
I currently have around 200 people on my marketing list. All local … and I’ve spoken to every one of them personally, either on the phone or in person.
I’m building several email lists. One has 400 names, another has 3000 names. The biggest list I ever built reached a size of 40,000.
How often do you mail to your list?
I mail to my list once per week. If I had the time, I would mail more often. I think you can mail as often as once per day, if you have a good relationship with your list.
I try to keep in touch via email once a week at least. I send out snippets of news and useful tips on SEO. Occasionally, I send out an offer of some sort in an effort to turn that contact into a paying customer.
Every weekday. I currently don’t mail on the weekends.
I’d say once per week, but sometimes there’s a bigger gap. It really depends on whether I have something to say I know they are going to be interested in.
That would be once per week, on average.
I have some RSS updates that go out weekly or monthly, depending on the list. Manual updates are also weekly or monthly, depending on the list.
I will email to my list every time I post an article. In other websites I use the rule of the 7. I send out 7 follow-ups if I am trying to sell a product. If a client doesn’t buy before the 7th email goes out, this means there is not a real interest in the product. From there, I will send only a monthly newsletter.
Monthly seems optimal for my business
I send mail to my list every day, apart from Sundays. My broadcasts range from follow-up messages, auto responses, quick updates, and uplifting messages to a new-release message, a promotional message, or blog links.
So I keep them fed, warm cuddled, and loved … and I haven’t had an unsubscribe yet! Mind you, though, my list is only a baby one 🙂
I do broadcast emails 1-2 times per month. New members of my list go through an autoresponder series that contacts them every 10-14 days. And if I’m doing a campaign to promote something specific, then I’ll contact the people it is meant for approximately every 5-7 days.
I mail once a week. I promised my subscribers never to write more often.Second lesson: How often to mail depends on your audience, your purpose, and your promises.Click To Tweet
What do you send? (Newsletters, sales letters, blog post notifications … etc.)
Third lesson: Don't ask pointless questions. People send all sorts of things ... but most try to make it useful.Click To Tweet
How do you measure email marketing results? How successful have you been thus far?
To me, the only thing that matters is conversions. Not open rates, not click-throughs. Just the bottom line sales. The more personal I get with my emails, the better the results.
This is a tricky question for me to answer. I don’t really take much account of the open rate in emails as that can be pretty innacurate these days. I do look at the click rate with more interest, but I have to say that the click-through rates are not where I’d want them to be.
In terms of how successful I am, I feel like it’s working. I know more now than before, for all the right reasons, and I am picking up new clients.
I count sales.
When I started to mail daily, my sales doubled. It’s as simple as that.
If I’m sending them to a sales pages, I’ll measure how many convert using a tracking pixel.
If it’s just sending them to a blog post, I’ll measure the rate of open and clicks.
It’s really easy to measure your success. Check your monthly email list growth and divide this number by the amount of unique visitors you got this month. You’ll get the overall conversion rate of your blog.
Like I already said, my conversion rate is 3%, which is very low. But I have identified the reasons behind that, and I think I can easily triple that number.
If I keep building the lists at this rate I’d be pleased, however I think things will be better in the future. I haven’t been promoting them much so far.
Most of them have a 40% open rate and a 10% click rate, which is (by all accounts) pretty good.
Selling is the key, if we are talking about a website that has this purpose. So to measure the success of an email campaign, I try to figure out how many sells are made thanks to my email campaign. If we are talking about a blog, I consider subscriber likes a key indicator of the success of contents.
I measure results by the response from my “Tribe.” They send me emails saying “Thank you.” They may post on social media or give a shout out. They may send me their results, good or not so good.
My autoresponder also tells me when something worked. I get a full report on every email I send out, so I know which one went down well. I use Google Analytics to measure bounce rate on every web page. I have several other ways of checking, split testing, and measuring!
Always check. Its the only way to ensure you are hitting the sweet spot!
How I measure depends on the purpose of the email. For show announcements, it’s who shows up to the gig. If it’s a new release, I judge by sales and downloads. I do always look at open rates and how many people email me back when I ask them to as well. I find the greatest successes with 2-3 campaign emails and it drops off a bit from there.
I use a simple program to measure results by replies, leads, sales, etc. On the coaching site, I use a service to track bounces, unsubscribes, email opens, link clicks, etc. Link clicks is my ultimate judge of successFourth lesson: These pros key on different metrics, for the most part. One constant is the conversion rate. The bottom line is the bottom line.Click To Tweet
What are your three best tips for someone considering email marketing?
- Start now!
- Do everything you can to increase subscription rates. Test multiple sign-up forms, multiple positions throughout your site, and multiple incentives.
- Build a relationship with your list. Let them know who you are, and give them your best information.
- Make sure that you provide value.
- Don’t rely on email mareting alone.
- Sell, once in a while. Maybe every 7th email should be a sales letter.
- Start doing it right away. It took me years to get over my fear of being thought of as a spammer. And then, finally one day, I wrote the simplest promotion email and sent it to my list. We made over $10,000 worth of sales from that email alone. And I never looked back.
- Don’t be afraid to email your client list. They are much more likely to buy from you than your prospect list.
- Use joint ventures to build your email list. The easiest way to build a list is to have someone endorse you and direct his existing readers to your site. Conversion rates from an endorsed email are as high as 50%.
If you hop over to my site and sign-up, I’ll show you exactly how.
- It takes time to build a quality list. Consistency is key.
- Don’t just bombard your list with free stuff.
- Send relevant emails, don’t just lump everyone into the same list.
- Give out a freebie. It’s really hard to convince people to opt in, unless you’re offering them something in return. I guess it’s an industry standard to write an ebook and offer it for free to your website visitors in exchange for their email address.
- Design good looking email forms. Once you have your freebie, you have to design a few good looking email forms that would promote this freebie on your website.
- Send regular updates.
If you’re just focused on growing your email list and forget about giving them something valuable on a regular basis – your email subscribers will simply forget about you.
So make sure you’re regularly sending something of value to your email subscribers. Remind them that they made the right decision when they signed up to your email list.
Depends on your audience, but of course the best tips are:
- Give away value to make your readers to subscribe.
- Don’t force too much. People don’t buy because you tell them to. They buy because they are interested.
- Don’t lie.
- Have something of value to share in every email. Make it 100% FREE to start with, to help you build trust!
- Email your list, however small, DAILY. No sales pitches. Simply recommend or suggest something you found useful and which they too may find useful.
- Don’t care/mind about the unsubscribes. It’s not personal. They would never have become raving fans or bought anyway!
- Start early and improve as you go along
- Use lots of different entry points to your list
- Offer an incentive that either provides something they can’t get anywhere else, or makes something easier than it would be
- Make your opt-in forms easy to find and easy to use
- People will subscribe to get the free gift and then unsubscribe after receiving it, so don’t give too much away
- Always respect the people who trust you enough to give you their email address
What are your three biggest problems or challenges with email marketing?
- Volume. Who doesn’t want more subscribers!
- Time. It takes time to write emails.
- Content. It’s hard coming up with content ideas.
- Getting permission from the people I meet
- Making sure that I do provide information that the recipients actually want to read
- Properly tracking and assessing the outcome of a campaign
- Coming up with daily emails. It’s a lot of work to come up with new, fresh ideas every day, but definitely worth it.
- Handling the crazies: every list contains a few people who have really lost their marbles. And when you mail daily, they come out of the woodworks.
- Time – again. It takes a lot of time to cultivate and entertain a list. But again … worth it!!!!
- Getting people to sign up without a free incentive. You want buyers in your list not just a bunch of freeloaders.
- At the moment hard to justify using a paid email service, when my list is so small and growth is slow.
- Creating content for your lists, as well as the blog, is hard.
- To create enough quality in order to make people subscribe to the newsletter … without any free give away
- Not make people get bored by my communication
- Increase conversion
- Generating more traffic to opt in opportunities
- Not having my emails dumped into spam boxes or “promotions” tabs
- Who needs a third with those first two? 🙂
- You have to invest time and effort into crafting quality email messages, and even then some people will still unsubscribe
- You have to constantly find new ways to promote email sign ups
- As a blind computer user, a lot of this process is less than accessible … meaning it all takes me more time than it takes a sighted person
Sixth lesson: It ain't easy ... but it's worth it.Click To Tweet
Questions: How did this magic happen? Does it take long to set up a group interview? Where do you find people willing to participate?
One answer: MyBlogU. It’s a new tool. It’s plenty of fun. And it’s free to use (at least is it right now). Check it out. Ping me. I would love to help out with your own group interview. We all learn from one another — regardless the experience level.
But that’s not all, folks!
There was something else I had been pondering on for a while: When checking email, do most folks begin their sorting (and deleting) by first scanning through the “From” column … or do they begin with the “Subject” column?
Standard advice for sending mail, writing an article, or designing an ad is to write a compelling subject line or headline. If the reader gets rid of much of the mail before even reading the subject line … isn’t who the mail is FROM quite important as well?
My (quite informal) poll — using the MyBlogU Brainstorm tool — delivered an interesting result: The tally was split 50/50. A few brave souls said they actually read every email before deciding whether to toss it or not, but most either went primarily by Sender or Subject.
Go figure.Seventh lesson: When you think it's getting tough for you, consider how much effort a blind blogger, like Maxwell Ivey, has to put into the work.Click To Tweet