Tag Archives for " email marketing "

November 14, 2018

How to split-test your emails

‘How to split test your emails’ is probably the biggest email marketing question I’ve never written about.

Why not? I don’t know. You can and should split test your core email sequences. In my world that’s the sequence that goes out after people opt-in. My objective at that point is to sell someone a book. Which is an unclear conversion metric, because if someone buys from Amazon I can only see that if they respond to an offer within the book.

Split-testing can work at different levels. You can split test the subject line of an email, keeping everything else the same. You can split test an entire email, testing a completely different approach. Or you can split test an entire email series, including completely different emails.

Testing subject lines is akin to fine tuning. Testing entire sequences is more like fishing with dynamite. Although as with other forms of split testing, you can limit your risk by sending most of your contacts through your control sequence.

You need a reasonable flow of new contacts through a campaign for the results of a test to be meaningful. And as with all forms of split-testing, you need to document your tests. Otherwise you’ll lose track of the key learnings.

I sometimes find that people try to split test emails too early. Split testing only works when you already have a working control sequence. In many of the projects I work on, we’re trying to create an effective control sequence. You can only split-test once you have a baseline level of performance, and clearly defined metrics. (As discussed yesterday, I suggest you use Google Analytics as a good starting point).

As a rule of thumb, you want to create a balance between live production and core sequence split-testing. Most of my emails go as live broadcasts. I could conceivably test different subject lines, or even different emails. But the payoff from doing that in a single broadcast is relatively small.

Rather than muddying the water, I’d suggest you focus your split-testing efforts on your most critical email sequence. This sequence is always related to the biggest bottleneck in your business.

In my business, my primary metric is to convert cold prospects leads into book buyers within 30 days of opt-in. So it makes more sense to split-test that sequence rather than individual broadcasts.

Unless your email software caters natively for split-testing, you’ll usually need a third party service. With Infusionsoft for example you could use PlusThis, My Fusion Helper, or InfusionLabs.

November 13, 2018

How to measure your email results

Nerd alert warning: today’s post contains nerdy language, including the word ‘parameters’. You’ve been warned…

We were talking yesterday about the trade off between email length and email frequency. The next question is tracking. In other words, how do you know if a long email is better than a short one?

Most email platforms will report on open rates, click through rates, and sometimes conversion rate (you get a script to put on your website). For me, this is a little limited. I suggest you measure the overall effectiveness of your emails in Google Analytics.

Even if you’re a copywriter or creative person at heart, you need to make sure that tracking measures are in place. Some email providers (e.g. Drip, Mailchimp) will automatically append Google Analytics tracking to all links. This tracking code is called ‘UTM parameters’. Google originally bought Google Analytics from a company called Urchin, so UTM stands for ‘Urchin Tracking Metric’. Just by the by.

If your email platform doesn’t add UTM parameters automatically to your links (Infusionsoft does not), you have to add them yourself. Google has a free tool where you can do this.

When you click on links in my emails you might notice that the URL itself ends with:


That code tells Google Analytics that the visitor came from my Infusionsoft data, the medium was email, and the campaign was ‘daily email’. If I wanted to compare the performance of my daily emails against my welcome sequence, I would need to have tagged links differently in the welcome sequence.

Most people are slapdash about tagging their links. I suggest you obsess over it.

The next step is to configure your Google Analytics goals so you can measure form submissions, phone calls, live chat conversations, and anything else that is valuable to you. Measuring form submissions is relatively easy – just send people to a ‘thank you’ page after completing the form.

Measuring phone calls and live chat interactions is more complex and requires third party software. But if you want to know what is working, I suggest you measure any actions that are of value to you. If you take orders on your website, either configure the Google Analytics ecommerce module, or send people to different order form thank you pages for different order forms, so you can associate a sale value with the goal.

Those two steps will get you the right data in Google Analytics, and the right data coming out. I then suggest you hire or train somebody who likes analysis (not me!) to tell you what is working.

I’m the creative person, not the analyst. Took me a few years to realise that. I can get this stuff setup, but I don’t like working in Analytics more than ten seconds a day. Quite frankly I’d rather spend my days writing instead.

If you have significant data (e.g. more than 10K contacts on your email list) then paying someone to analyse your data is a good idea.

It’s worth remembering too that all numbers are best taken as relative rather than absolute. Knowing that an email had a 25% open rate is about as useful as a bendy hammer. But if you sent two versions of an email, where subject line A got a 20% open rate, and subject line B a 40% open rate? Well that’s genuinely useful.

More on split testing tomorrow.

November 12, 2018

The email frequency / length trade-off

I remember copywriter Drayton Bird commenting that in his vast experience, a well written 2000 word email should always outperform a well written 400 word email.

Which is fine, in principle. But in reality there is a trade-off.

I send five of these emails a week. Some of them are batch produced ahead of schedule, but most get written the day before. If an email isn’t scheduled in my email platform by 9PM the night before, it won’t get sent. (My 9-month son Hugo sees to that!)

So I have a trade-off in production. I could send you one 2000 word email per week. Or I can divide that work across five 400 word emails. You can test this, but your best customers usually want to hear from you at a higher frequency. Everybody else doesn’t matter so much. The bottom 20% of your list will complain vociferously whatever frequency you set, and never buy anything.

Recency matters more than anything else. Every contact on your list is going colder, all the time. The longer you don’t mail, the less likely an interested buyer is to read when you do send. Only cater to interested buyers: all other opinions on frequency are irrelevant.

You have to play around with the length / frequency trade-off, and find out what works for you and your audience. But I find that most people set publishing schedules based on assumptions rather than reality.

Another risk of writing a longer email is it’s easy to cover more than one core idea. Each email you send should only cover one thing. The idea behind this email is the ‘length and frequency trade-off’. Which is technically two things but one idea.

The logical development of this idea would be to talk about tracking measures you can put in place, or ways to split-test email sequences of different length and frequency. Both both of these would be new ideas, best saved for their own email.

I could then pull together all of these things in a longer format, such as my print newsletter or a book. It’s possible to write a book in five months by publishing in this way.

As it is, we’ll talk about tracking tomorrow, and split-testing on Wednesday :-).


P.S. Before editing this post was 386 words, including the postscript…

November 7, 2018

Email Frequency: Nobody sees you showing up as much as you do

‘How often should I email my list’ seems to be the marketing question that never goes away.

Usually this is the wrong question to ask. Most people pay less attention to you than you do.

Take my old accountants for example. The send me a monthly email, containing ‘November newswire’ as the subject line. Or something equally sleep inducing. Consequently I don’t even read their monthly email, and they may as well never email me at all. The question of frequency is irrelevant.

A better question is: “how can I make my emails more relevant, entertaining and valuable?”

I don’t want to receive a boring email once a year, never mind once a month. But an interesting email I’ll happily receive every day, even if I only read when I get time.

If you’re worrying about frequency, you should pause first and ask whether your emails are genuinely valuable to your recipients. Do they save your emails in a separate folder? Do you get people replying personally?

A corollary exists on Facebook. A Facebook ad that attracts a large number of likes, comments and shares can expect a 25-75% reduction in cost per click. I think we need to ask the same question about our emails too. Besides tracking open rate, how many genuine conversations do you stimulate?

Otherwise, are you sending something for the sake of making noise?

I don’t know many people outside of marketing who send a daily email, and these emails are mostly a demonstration of what I do. But the question is still the same:

– Do the people on your list want and expect your emails? (If not, we need to talk…)

– Do a statistically significant number of readers want to hear from you more often, and is it worth your time to serve them?

Because serve them you must, first and foremost.

June 12, 2018

How long should your emails really be?

I was talking to a marketer I respect the other day about copy length. We were talking specifically about blog posts, but the same idea applies to email.

He expressed the opinion that it’s better to write a less frequent number of longer posts (1000+ words) that actually stand the test of time. That aren’t written for the sake of communicating something.

I agreed, but with some caveats.

The danger with a longer blog post or email is that more things can go wrong. The most common error is you end up with a fragmented email about two or more key ideas.

The point of these emails isn’t to deliver a certain number of words to you each morning; it’s to get you to stop and think about marketing in a different way. To get you to examine an idea you perhaps hadn’t thought about.

It’s more effective to do that in 2000 words than it is in 300, but the word count isn’t really the point. Rather than focusing on how long your writing is, it’s better to ask how useful it is.

Collectively I actually send you a lot of words, but I choose to drip feed them into smaller more frequent bites. I’m under no illusions how many other emails you have in your inbox.

It’s tempting here to spin off and explain why frequency also matters, but that would take us into a second key idea and fragment the email… 😉

Resist the temptation and save the second idea for another day.

May 25, 2018

The wimps approach to GDPR

I seem to have had two types of email in the last day or so…

1. People I’ve never heard of telling me they’ve updated their privacy policy. (Thanks, but I don’t care. Where’s the unsubscribe link??)

2. People I do know telling me I need to double opt-in to continue hearing from them. You know, even though I get two emails from them per year.

The first approach is the wimps approach to GDPR. Heaven forbid you have to remove anyone from your precious database.

The second approach is the most laudable, as long as you understand you’ll burn down your list by doing it.

I’ve gone down a slightly different path. I had about 250 contacts in my database who weren’t double opted in and hadn’t opened any of my emails in 4 months. I emailed them telling them I would delete them if they didn’t confirm their email. 18 confirmed, and I deleted the rest. Most of these were email-only records, with no phone number.

I’m not a lawyer, so this in no way should be taken as legal advice. But I’m not too concerned about the engaged part of my list that is ‘single’ opted in (they originally filled in an opt-in form).

If you’re going to email large parts of your database asking them to double opt-in, why not take the next step and commit to email them regularly?

If you’re busy and don’t have time, you should book a call to discuss how we can work together.

May 24, 2018

Should you accept a 25% email open rate?

I spotted a thread on Perry Marshall’s forum yesterday where a copywriter I know was complaining about email open rates. Open rates on one of his accounts had dropped from 25% to 15% overnight.

He suspects his emails are appearing under the Gmail ‘Promotions’ tab.

Facts are facts. If you rely heavily on email you HAVE to play by someone else’s rules. Where your emails appear is ultimately determined by Google, Microsoft and other Email Service Providers.

Also, a 25% open rate is now considered good. Are you happy to accept that as the fruit of your list building efforts?

In my systems I only ask for email address up front, but I soon look to gather someone’s mobile phone number and mailing address too. In exchange for something valuable, of course.

An email address always has been a fairly transient piece of information about someone. Many personal email addresses only get checked occasionally. Work addresses get checked more often, but only for as long as the recipient stays in the same job!

I have an SMS service and a mail house integrated to Infusionsoft. I don’t send loads of text messages and mailers, but the option is there.

Email isn’t dead, but it’s time to broaden the conversation beyond email.

May 22, 2018

STOP competing on expensive AdWords keywords

What marketing ‘tricks’ do you hate the most?

Near the top of my list are automated webinars where the presenter pretendsit’s live. Fake audience interaction, dummy questions, that sort of thing. Fundamentally it’s a lack of respect.

On the other hand, I’ve seen £3K+ products be sold from automated webinars. Under the right circumstances I’ve seen them work well. It’s the pretence about it I don’t like.

Bearing in mind those mixed feelings, I’ve been working on my own automated webinar. You’ll be relieved to know there’s no simulated audience interaction. No ‘FAQ’ questions. No comments like “I can see we have Jane from Texas on the call today.”

Just an hour of story selling education.

Watch now to learn:

  • Three simple ways to improve ANY of your autoresponder emails
  • How to communicate your uniqueness
  • How to get potential customers to feel like they know you
  • How to STOP competing on expensive AdWords keywords
  • How to generate a rich store of copy ideas that will keep you going for months, if not years

Register Here

May 17, 2018

Does writing a marketing email sap hours of time?

The first online copywriting course I ran was an online course, spanning six weeks.

“Off you go,” I announced halfway through the course. “Go and write me an email…”

White faces all round. Five minutes of eerie silence. It quickly became apparent everyone was stuck, intimidated or both.

The problem was I had asked too much from the group as a single step.

So we created an additional step in the process that day, called the Speedy First Draft.

The Speedy First Draft is your secret weapon to never get stuck writing a marketing email.

Look over my shoulder as I critique a first draft for David in my Writer’s Circle:

If you found that interesting, you should consider taking my Nurture Email Mastery course.

Nurture Email Mastery is for writers only. If it made you want to stick pins in your eyes, you shouldn’t do it. Or pay a colleague to do it instead.

Read more here

30% off ends tomorrow. Use code TRANMERE at checkout, on either payment plan.

October 13, 2017

Create email ideas from things you dislike

If you’re ever stuck for something to write about, you can’t go wrong by analysing your dislikes. Mine are basically endless, and range from humorous to serious. For example:

  • Instant coffee. Proper coffee is only slightly less instant than instant. Why mess around with freeze dried nonsense?
  • Horror films. We watched the new IT film last week. I honestly don’t know why I put myself through these things, other than to amuse Linzi. (I’ll admit that IT does have a good ‘overcoming the monster’ story, which is about all you can do with horror).
  • Overuse of the word ‘anthem’ on radio programmes.
  • Airfreshener. I’d rather the bathroom smelled of poo.
  • Drivers who drive in the middle lane of the motorway when not overtaking.
  • Drivers who stay in the third lane of a four lane motorway for no reason (this one really makes the red mist come down).
  • Toilet seats that won’t stay up.
  • Women who won’t (heaven forbid) touch the toilet seat to put it down. (Seriously, I don’t want to hear about it. Grow up).
  • The language of marketing coercion. Tripwires, campaigns, product launches. As marketers we need to redefine what we’re doing if the rest of the world aren’t to view us as scum.
  • The pervasiveness and normalisation of plastic packaging. Why wrap food in an oil-based material that never, ever degrades? This has to be one of the biggest problems we face that would be easiest to fix.
  • The assumption that sheep farming is a natural and harmonious part of country life, rather than a heavily subsidised system for complete environmental destruction.
  • The annual lack of correlation between treeless (sheep filled) uplands, and devastating floods down river.
  • The slow implosion of the NHS. In 50 years we’ll look back and realise what a good thing we had (as any visiting American can already tell us).
  • The absence of communities and public spaces in the political discourse of state vs private interests.

Would I use all of these as the subject of an email? Some of them I might. Few of them relate directly to marketing, which doesn’t matter so much. They all let you get to know the real me in some way.

Your task for next week is to make a list of stuff you don’t like, and write an email about one of those things.

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