Category Archives for "Email Marketing"

How to build long-term subscribers

Broadly speaking there are two things you can write about when emailing your list:

1. Things that immediately help your reader

2. Things that challenge them, or jolt them awake

You need both types, but they belong in slightly different places. The things that immediately help a reader are what entices them onto your list in the first place. Successfully challenging their thinking is what keeps them subscribed over the long term.

As time passes, I’ve become less interested in the former, and more interested in the latter. Things that immediately help someone are usually tactical, and quickly expire. It’s hard to get to the truth of a situation when you’re outlining a seven step process.

How then, do you jolt someone awake?

You point out the thing they’re not seeing. The thing that’s lurking in their blind spot.

Because as much as we like to believe otherwise, we all DO have a blind spot. Assumptions we’ve made, or things we think we know that actually we don’t.

What’s in your reader’s blind spot? That’s the thing to focus on.

February 28, 2019

How long should it take to write an email

I’ve come to believe that the optimal time between having an idea for an email, and sending the thing out, is 24-48 hours.

Any less, and you’re likely to vomit all over somebody’s inbox. Any more and it’ll probably go cold, or you’ll second-guess yourself out of sending it.

What specifically might that 48 hour window look like?

When you have an email idea, you have to quickly make notes with whatever you have to hand. I’ll do this on a computer if one’s handy, or into my Evernote app on my phone if I’m out. I might use pen and paper, although I find this slows the process later on.

Another valid approach is to drip-feed notes on the email throughout the day. This is a fairly time-intensive way to do things, because the email ends up taking more brain-space than it merits. (Sorry, did you have other things to do today?) But it can help when you’re starting out.

1 – 24 hours later you want to convert your notes into a draft. Drafting the email is easier the more care you have taken with your notes, and even a one-hour gap between notes and drafting is beneficial. Not all of my notes continue to the draft stage. Sometimes I’ll have lost enthusiasm, or had a better idea.

If you’re like me, the second you’ve finished with your draft you’ll want to send it. “Shakespeare himself would be envious in his grave,” you think smugly to yourself. Of course, 24 hours on, your wonderful writing might not seem so wonderful at all. So if possible it’s best to leave some time between drafting and sending.

I’ve had clients in the past who have failed to grasp the importance of this delay. Usually they then like to ‘point out’ mistakes, which is the price you pay for a rushed email.

These are rules of thumb, to be broken at your own discretion. Working in a hurry can sometimes be a virtue. But I believe the delays I’ve suggested are optimal for most people.  

February 21, 2019

Should you link to a blog post in your emails?​

An email marketing question keeps popping up in client conversations. That question is whether it’s best to include everything you want to say in the body of your email, or to send a short enticing snippet linking to a full blog post.

Without wanting to dismiss the question, my gut response is to kind of yawn, and mutter ‘do whatever you think.’

Shortly afterwards I’ll remember to reign in my grumpiness, and give the following advice…

Email is a personal medium, first and foremost. How many emails do you receive from friends and family which open with a short snippet and a link to a blog post? Not many. So most of your business emails should follow suit.

(I know, your friends and family don’t email you anymore, especially now they’ve discovered WhatsApp. But just pretend they did…)

Having said that, if what you have written is:

  • Quite long (say, over 1000 words)
  • Very detailed, practical or hands-on (e.g. an A-Z guide to doing something)
  • Quite technical or content heavy

Then it can make more sense to link to a blog post. If the reader needs to invest significant time and concentration, then the email should sell the reader on reading the thing. Don’t take people’s attention for granted – you’re likely one of 100 other people arriving in their inbox today.

Sending people to a blog post also has the advantage of topping up your remarketing audiences. You could even run ads to people who read about specific post topics. The minimum audience size for remarketing is 30 on Facebook, 100 on Google.

Somebody who reads a blog post and then sees a relevant Facebook ad offering an appropriate next step may well be tempted to respond.

That is all I have to say on that.

February 13, 2019

Tip-toeing around new subscribers​

When a new contact opts into your world, you need them to proactively decide whether they want to hear from you. The best way to do that is to send them a series that tells your story.

Telling your story in your marketing is an expressive endeavour. Which if you’re used to talking exclusively about the mechanics of your work, is mildly terrifying.

The terrifying part is that people will judge it.

My experience is that the wrath of judgement isn’t as bad as most people imagine. The people most likely to buy from you will judge your expressive work kindly.

The people who are the biggest pain to work with – who actually cost you money to service – might not be so keen on hearing your personal stories. So when they unsubscribe, it’s actually a good thing for everybody. Good riddance.

If your business is based around long term customer relationships, you have to force the ‘do I want to hear from you‘ decision. Sending someone a daily email for two weeks forces people to decide (even if you DON’T send daily emails after that). Sending someone a monthly email does not. These principles apply to any communications media, not just email.

Are you forcing the decision? Or are you tip toeing around it? If you do nothing a new subscriber will quickly forget about you. It is a limited-time opportunity.

February 8, 2019

Email vs Messenger Bots

Every week I see someone – usually on Facebook – talking about how email is now dead, pointless or ineffective.

Usually the people making these assertions have very little to say of value, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that email isn’t working for them.

The argument goes that a good email open rate is widely considered to be 20%, and a good click through rate perhaps 2%. With a Facebook Messenger bot, open and click rates are more similar to SMS. You might get a 95% open rate, and a 50% click through rate.

Which on the face of it is impressive, and not something to ignore. But just because somebody has opened a Facebook message doesn’t mean they remember you, like you, or even want to hear from you. Most people are talking about messenger bots like they’ve discovered a magic shortcut to profitable customer relationships.

Email is still an excellent inner-sanctum – a way to communicate with your most engaged readers on a personal level. You can and should add other forms on top of that, such as messenger bots, direct mail, SMS and so on. But one doesn’t replace the other.

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