The Big Ideas
1. It’s not a list, silly. It is a person on the other end of that email.
I think this is one of the big mistakes that I see people make when they’re writing emails. They’re writing to 500 people, or they’re writing to 5,000 people, or they’re writing to 10,000 people. This is the wrong approach.
One person is reading that email at a time and you are writing to that one person. You want your email mindset to be targeted at individuals, not at this massive group that you call your email list. It’s not a list, it’s a person.
That’s big idea number one. I think that can help a lot of people get past a lot of the fear that they might have about writing to 500 people. In some ways, writing to 500 people can feel like speaking to 500 people, but that’s not really what you’re doing. What you’re doing is you’re kind of opening up Gmail and writing an email to a friend. That is what your emails need to be like.
2. Make it personal.
There’s a lot of noise out there and one of the things that you hear about blogging and podcasting is you’ll hear people who teach that, including my friends Leslie Samuel and Cliff Ravenscraft, talk about the unique thing that you bring to your blog, to your podcast, or to your brand, because you are you and you will reach people as a unique person in ways that no one else can.
There are some of you listening to my voice now that I’m privileged to reach in a way that is more effective than a lot of the other people that you listen to, for whatever reason, just because of the luck of how my approach to things fits with the way that you like to hear things.
There are people in your email list that are going to be like that, too. You want to make your emails personal. You are a person and you want to interject your personality, because we just decided that we’re writing to another person, so we want to get down on that level and make our emails personal.
3. Help people by delivering value.
We need to be helping people. We need to deliver massive value.
Our email list is not a thing where we send out offer after offer. It’s a thing where we engage our readers and we try to help them, one reader at a time.
Give them tips and things that they can use. We don’t email them when we don’t have something to say. We don’t email them just because we have to send out an email. We are delivering massive value. That is tip number three, to make sure that you are really helping people.
I think related to that, in order to do that is tip number four.
4. Have an objective for your readers.
What journey are you trying to take them on with your email list? What are you trying to get them to from start to finish, or from good to great, or from lost to found and proficient? What is the journey that you have in mind for the sequence of emails or for your entire list that you’re writing? How is that journey overlaying in the little baby steps that you’re sending, which are these emails?
After someone reads 50 of your emails, or 10 of your emails, what can you say about the objective that you’ve achieved for people that read your emails and took the actions that you recommended? You need to have that big picture in mind.
If you download that PDF from Episode 149, you can imagine how you might do that overall for your entire email sequence and for all of your readers, or you might imagine how you would do it in little chunks, like in my case for people who are interested in email marketing, or for people who are interested in ecommerce, or for people who are interested in affiliate marketing.
What is the objective that you’re trying to achieve with your email?
5. Change the emails that you send based on what your reader is doing.
If they’re visiting particular content, I want you to start to develop the sophistication to change the emails that you send based on that content. It’s very interesting.
I was at FinCon last week talking to the CEO of ConvertKit. Some of you guys know, this guy’s name is Nathan Barry, he’s a super nice guy. Nice doesn’t even cover it, just a very approachable, super humble guy who just loves to talk to his customers.
We’re standing around in a circle and Nathan was telling me about this new feature that they’ve just added to ConvertKit, which allows you to tag readers based on the content that they read on your WordPress blog. There’s a ConvertKit plugin that you can add to your blog and if someone reads a particular page you can tag them inside your autoresponder and change the content that you deliver based on the pages that they visit on your blog.
How incredibly powerful is that? That is a super powerful idea. That’s the kind of thing that I’m talking about.
6. Do the work that it takes to test and track.
Look at your open rates, look at your conversion rates, install the Google Analytics that you need and so forth, to start to understand how good you’re doing now and to be able to test and understand what you are able to do to make things better.
As your list grows and you have more data, you’ll be able to do things like send an A/B test of subject lines to a portion of your list to see which subject line converts better and then send the best converting subject line to the rest of your list. Stuff like that. That’s the kind of thing that I want you to have the mindset that you’re going to be doing that, because that is a really important thing.
If you are in a mode of continuous improvement and this is one of the big ideas that you’re working on, where you’re not just going through the motions of your email list but you’re actually doing the work to make it better every time you touch it, that work that you do will accumulate over time and those percentages that you increase over time will really make your list a powerful part of your marketing arsenal with your business.
1. Worry about deliverability.
Depending on what platform you use, there will be spam tools and other kinds of tools out there. I’m not going to go over right now exactly all the things that you can do to improve your deliverability, but I will tell you a couple of the big things.
Pay attention to stop words that automatically trigger marketing filters, spam filters, and so forth. Things like ‘make money fast’ and those kinds of phrases. You want to understand what the spam score is for the email that you’re sending.
You also want to understand whether your email is going to land in Gmail’s marketing promotion tab or in someone’s inbox. This is something that we can cover in a future episode, but depending on how you write your emails and things like your email provider, it will impact whether or not the emails that you send land in someone’s inbox as opposed to the promotions tab, particularly with regard to Gmail.
There are things that you can do to combat that, like ask your email readers to mark your emails especially for delivery into their inbox and so forth, but you want to worry about deliverability.
2. Pay attention to your subject lines.
I would say that, of all the things in your email, the subject line is probably the most important thing. That’s going to determine whether or not someone actually tries to read your email.
There are lots of resources online for how to best write the copy that is associated with your subject line. That’s what I want you to think of your subject line as, it’s actually copy – sales copy – that you’re writing. You’re trying to get a conversion, you’re trying to get someone to take action, and the action that you want them to take right there is to open the dang email, because if they don’t open it they’re not going to read it.
Here’s five sub-tips in this execution tip about worrying about subject lines that you can do to immediately improve your subject lines today.
One is swipe subject lines from your own inbox. I don’t mean copy verbatim subject lines, but to pay attention to the subject lines that you get in your own inbox and what works with you and what causes you to open up emails and repeat those behaviors when you’re writing your own subject lines.
The second thing is make people curious. Write a subject line that leaves something to the imagination and makes people go, “Well, I wonder what that’s all about?” and click. You want to leverage curiosity.
Or perhaps maybe you want to make a promise. “I can help you start feeling better today,” or, “I can help you increase your conversions today,” or, “I can help you solve the one thing that has been bugging you the most for the last 15 years.” That one does both, I’m promising I’m going to help you with this thing and I’m making you wonder, “How does he know what has been bugging me for the last 15 years?”
That subject line also does the fourth thing, which is to use a number. We know from lots of eye heat maps and other kinds of psychological studies that numbers increase conversions. They stop the eye when people are scanning the inbox, that’s a human thing. I recommend that when it’s appropriate that you use numbers in your subject lines.
Make them very specific. Make them really targeted and specific so that they capture people’s attention and they’re not just lost in the noise.
Those are my five tips for subject lines, but the big overall execution tips is make sure that you’re spending a lot of time on the subject line. Some people that are copywriters tell me that they spend more time on the subject line than they do on the email, so that kind of gives you some perspective on how important the subject line is.
3. Keep your emails short.
People are busy, be respectful of that busyness. Those people are busy and they have stuff to do. Be respectful of that fact and make sure that you keep those emails short and to the point.
We’ve already talked about making them personal. When you write an email to your friend you usually don’t write a 72 page email, so don’t write a 72 page email to your list. Keep it short.
If you have three big points to cover and that makes it long, write the email in such a way that promises that next week you’re going to give them point number two and that’s even more important than point one. Make them look forward to that email.
4. Ask questions and invite a reply.
Again, we’re trying to keep these emails personal. There’s no reason that you can’t say, “Hit reply and let me know what you think.”
Even if (and this isn’t going to happen) 30% of the people on your list hit reply and tell you what they think, is it really going to be that big of a deal for you to answer those emails? I don’t think so. It’s not going to be 30%, it’s going to be 3% if you’re incredibly lucky.
Invite a reply, get that engagement, start conversations with your audience. Use this as a way to get to know the people on your list and engage them in conversations about what help they need, what kind of topics they want to see, and what products they’d like to see from you. Engage them by asking questions and inviting a reply.
5. Change things up.
I want you to change up what you’re doing and don’t send the same template for emails every time. I’m not a big fan of these email fancy Aweber looking template newsletters like I might get from Macy’s Department Store or something like that. I want an email from you.
I think you should change it up. Sometimes tell stories. Sometimes give tips. Sometimes drive traffic back to the blog to announce a blog post. Change it up a little bit, just deliver value every time. Make it different from time to time.
6. Pay close attention to how much you’re selling.
Don’t sell all the time. Make sure that you’re giving way more value and content than you are selling. In the long run, you’ll make more money that way. If that’s your objective, trust me, if you sell all the time people are going to leave your list and once they’re gone you’re not going to make a dime from them.
7. Don’t sell too soon.
There are debates about this and it depends on the kind of traffic that is coming in to your list. In some cases it might be appropriate to ask for the sale in the very first email. I think you need to be careful about this. If you are asking for the sale early in an email sequence, I think you need to have a very good marketing reason for doing that.
Let’s say it that way. Be intentional about when you are selling in your email, how early you’re selling to a new subscriber, and make sure that you have a very good reason for selling early. We’ll talk about it in those terms.
I don’t want to say it’s never appropriate to sell early, because we know that sometimes when a prospect is hot and they first come into the list if it’s a laser targeted offer it can be good to sell in that very first email, but most of the time you want to be careful not to sell too soon.
Those are seven execution tips. Now let’s talk about five details that I think will help you with your email marketing.
1. Use your real name.
I am not interested in getting an email from LateNightInternetMarketing.com. I am interested in getting an email from the actual guy Mark Mason.
I recommend that you definitely use your real name. It goes along with my big idea of making it personal that we talked about earlier. You want to do that by going into your email autoresponder and making it that it’s an email from you.
For the longest time, if you got an email from ConvertKit, it actually came from Nathan Barry. How cool is that? If you replied, Nathan actually answered the email. Very cool stuff.
2. When they subscribe, tell them exactly what to expect.
I know some of you are afraid to do that. “I don’t want to let them know that I’m going to email them, otherwise they won’t give me their email address.” That’s the wrong idea.
You want to qualify the lead. Say, “I have this thing for you, it’s a great free offer. If you give me your email address I will send you the thing and about once a week I’m going to send you some amazing information that is just as good as the thing that I just gave you.”
Be upfront with them and tell them what to expect. “Expect an email once a week,” that sort of thing.
To help with that, if you’re using a tool like ConvertKit you can give people the option to opt-out of certain kinds of content. Let’s say you decide to do a promotion and you’re going to email often. For example, towards the end of the year I’m going to be talking about Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever product, because it’s a product that I use and that I believe in, I’ll be promoting it. When you see me email about that, I will say at the bottom of some of those emails, “If you don’t want to hear about BYE anymore, just click this link and I won’t email you about BYE anymore.” If your platform allows that, you want to build in that sort of click automation to make sure that people know what expect and they’re getting what they want.
3. Use their name carefully and in moderation.
It’s okay if you use their name, “Hi, Bob. Great to talk to you,” where you do this automation. But, use it carefully and don’t use it too much. I think it sounds really creepy when you use someone’s first name 17 times in one email.
Use people’s real names from their opt-in form in the same way that you would if you were writing an email to your friend down the street. Once or twice, maybe three times.
Make sure you use it in a way that if it’s blank that it still makes sense. If it’s, “Hi, Bob,” and Bob left his name blank, then he just gets, “Hi,” which is great. Don’t do it in ways where if the name field is missing it doesn’t work out right.
Some platforms have some advanced logic for this. I keep talking about ConvertKit because that’s what I use. For example, you can tell ConvertKit if the name is not there then use an alternate greeting. That’s what I do.
Just be careful how you use that, but go ahead and use their real name.
4. When you’re trying to drive traffic you should use multiple links.
Put multiple links in the copy. A lot of people do this, but one of the mistakes that I see them make is they’ll put them too low in the email message. They’ll write copy, copy, copy, then a link, copy, copy, copy, and then the link at the end of the message.
I definitely recommend and a lot of testing has shown that you want to get one of those links up high in the email, in the very first sentence, so that they have an opportunity to click on that early.
A lot of people are trained to click on email message links and that’s what you want your people to do, so give them that opportunity by using multiple links. Usually two is what I recommend, and putting the first one up high. Three would be the most amount of links that I would typically use in an email.
This is something that you can test. You can split test where you put the links and how many you use, and you can try various things. My experience has been two or three links, just make sure that one is up high in the copy.
5. Don’t forget the P.S.
Brian at Copyblogger has referenced this as the power of the P.S.
There is something magical about that postscript. People’s eyes are drawn to it, they go down and read it.
“P.S. This ConvertKit offer is only available on Cyber Monday, so don’t forget to come back to this email on Monday and take advantage of this amazing offer. LateNightIM.com/convertkit.”
That’s the kind of thing that you want to do in the P.S. and we see a lot of conversion rates.
A bonus tip: If you are using multiple links in your emails you may want to tag those links separately so that you know where the clicks are coming from. That can help you optimize your copy. That’s very easy to do either with Google Analytics or PrettyLink or something like that, so that you know exactly which link in the email is being clicked so that you can work that out later and optimize your copy accordingly.
Wrapping Things Up…
There you have it. That is a handful of tips; six big ideas, seven execution tips, and five detail tips, for a total of 18 email marketing tips. I hope that has been incredibly helpful to you.
If you would like to download the email marketing funnel template that I described in the last episode, you can find that at LateNightIM.com/149.
If you’d like to leave a comment about this episode or if you have a question about email marketing, I’d love to hear that at LateNightIM.com/150.
You can also ask your questions in the Late Night Internet Marketing Facebook Group. We’d love to see you there. It’s a great place to hang out, there’s lots of exciting stuff going on. Shout out to Phil, he just quit his job and is a full time online solopreneur. Congratulations, Phil.
Speaking of guys like Phil that are making it happen online, we’re going to have a couple of those guys on the show to let you know that regular people just like you and me can actually make this stuff work.
Next week we’re going to have my buddy The Helpful Pharmacist, Brady Cole, on the show to tell his story about how he parlayed a little startup blog that he started on Bluehost into a writing gig for a major publication that is actually mailing him real checks every time he writes an article as an expert in the pharmacy niche. We’re going to talk about that next week, that’s going to be a very exciting episode.
Until then, I wish you all kinds of crazy amazing success in your business.