Category: email marketing

The New Way to Chat With Your Visitors

Marketing has evolved into an omnichannel approach. This means you can no longer just go after one channel to succeed.

Back in the day, companies like Facebook grew into billion-dollar businesses through one channel.

Facebook used email to grow and they did it by having you invite all your contacts to join Facebook.

Yelp was also similar. They grew into a multi-million dollar business through one channel… SEO.

Dropbox grew through social media. If you tweeted about Dropbox, they would give you more space.

These marketing approaches worked well for all of these well-known
companies, but what’s wrong with them?

The law of shitty click-throughs

What worked for Facebook, Yelp, and Dropbox were all great strategies, but over time, all good marketing channels got saturated and stopped working like they used to.

As Andrew Chen puts it, first it works
and then it doesn’t
.

It really is that simple. Sure, those channels can still
drive traffic and always will, but as people get used to them, they won’t work
as well.

Just check out this image below.

Can you guess what that is?

That was the first banner ad. AT&T created that banner ad and placed it on HotWired.com in 1994. And here’s what’s really crazy… out of all the people who saw it, a whopping 44% clicked on it.

Just think about that… that banner ad had a 44% click-through rate.

We can all agree it’s not an amazing banner ad or design, it
just so happens that it was new and novel at the time, so it generated massive amounts
of clicks.

Just like how SEO was more effective earlier on, or paid ads were more affordable and produced a higher ROI, or referral marketing was much more effective. There are a lot of single-channel case studies that worked in the past.

Again, it doesn’t mean any of these channels don’t work, it
just means that they don’t work as well as they used to work.

So how do you survive in a competitive market?

You take an omnichannel approach. You don’t have a choice other than to use all of the marketing channels out there.

Yes, they will be competitive and saturated, but they still
work.

It’s a game of papercuts… papercuts are small and don’t do much damage, but if you have tons of these small papercuts, they will add up and can do some damage.

The same goes with your marketing. If you add up all of these channels that produce a small amount of ROI, it will add up to a big number at the end. But when you look at each channel individually, the results aren’t that sexy. But when you combine them, it looks great.

Start with chat

What do you check more, your text messages or your email
inbox?

I bet you are going to say text messages because you look at
your phone more often than logging into your email inbox.

But here is an interesting stat for you… did you know that
over 6
billion SMS messages are sent daily
?

Now can you guess how many emails are sent daily?

269
billion
!

That’s a big difference.

And do you know how many people visit Facebook each day?

1.62
billion
.

Now the point of me sharing those stats isn’t to try and
tell you that email is better than text. Or that Facebook isn’t as valuable as
text messaging.

It’s more so to show you that they are all massive channels
that people are using each and every day.

So why wouldn’t you try and leverage all of them?

And you can easily do so through free chat marketing tools like Manychat that allow you to communicate to your visitors using text messaging, email marketing, and Facebook Messenger.

Once you have created your Manychat account, go here to watch how to set it up. They have tons of very helpful videos that teach you how to do things like setting up Facebook Messenger bots and connecting your Facebook page so you can start sending out messages.

Now that you are all set up, I want you to use the following templates for your business as I know they convert…

Templates that convert

My team and I have tested out tons of different messaging
for all channels, such as email, messenger and text messaging.

Here are the ones that have worked the best for us…

Text messaging templates

My favorite text message to send someone is:

[first name]?

When someone sends you a text with just your first name and a “?” what do you do? Chances are you respond with… “who is this?”.

Once someone responds with who is this, our sales reps typically
respond with…

This is John from Neil Patel’s team. I just wanted to follow up to see if you have any questions or if we can help you with anything.

It’s simple and it works well and it has boosted our sales
by 4.69%.

Another one that works well is a “flash sales” text message…

Flash Sale: All product on [yoursite] are [x]% off for the next 24 hours. [insert URL]

This one works really well during holidays or anytime you
want to run a promotion. Depending on the size of the business you run and how
big your list is, you will usually see an additional 2 to 3% in revenue for
that month.

And my favorite text campaign is…

Check out this new blog post, [subject of the blog post] [URL]

An example would be… “Check out this new blog post on doubling
your SEO traffic [URL]”

When I send out text message alerts for new posts, it usually increases the traffic to that blog post by another 4%.

Email templates

You’re probably familiar with this email template as you get
it from me every week. 😉

Subject: How to Generate Leads When You Have Little to No Traffic

If you have a ton of traffic, it’s easy to generate leads.

But what if you have a new website or one with little to no traffic?

What if you don’t have any money to spend on paid ads?

What should you do?

Well, there is a solution. Here’s how you generate leads when you have no traffic.

Cheers,

Neil Patel

I send out an email every Tuesday and Saturday that looks
something like that.

It’s a simple text-based email where the subject line is the title of your blog post and the text of the email states a problem and solution, with the solution being a link to the blog post.

To give you a rough idea, that email format has been getting me 29% to 33% open rates and 4% to 7% click-through rates.

And if you are selling info products through webinars, there are 8 types of emails I use to generate sales (check out that post if you want to learn how to make good money selling info products):

  1. Invite sequence – these are a series
    of emails that invite people to watch your webinar. (here
    are my invite emails
    )
  2. Indoctrination – you need to build a
    connection with people. People are more likely to convert if they know more
    about you and trust you. (here
    are my indoctrination emails
    )
  3. No shows – just because someone
    signs up to watch your webinar, it doesn’t mean they will attend. For everyone
    who doesn’t attend, you’ll want to email them and get them to watch the replay.
    (here
    are my no show emails
    )
  4. Encore – not everyone will watch
    your whole webinar. If they don’t stick to the end they won’t see your offer.
    You’ll want a few emails that push the replay. (here are my
    encore emails
    )
  5. Objection handler – there are a
    handful of reasons someone may not buy. You’ll want to answer each of those
    objections through email. (here
    are my objection handler emails
    )
  6. Countdown sequence – you’ll want to
    close off your course. Letting people know that they only have a few days left
    to buy is a really effective way to generate sales. These emails will roughly
    make up 1/3 to half of your sales. (here
    are my countdown emails
    )
  7. Last chance email – on the last day
    you’ll want to send a few emails letting people know it is about to close. (here
    are my last chance emails
    )
  8. Free trial offer – the majority of
    people won’t buy from you. Offering the last chance free trial offer is a great
    way to roughly get 15% more sales. (here
    are my free trial emails
    )

If you are selling products, there are 3 main emails that I’ve found to work well. The first 2 are for cart abandonment.

Subject: Did you forget something?

We noticed that you left something behind. Don’t worry though, we saved the items in your cart so you can easily complete your purchase.

[insert picture of products]

CTA button: Return to cart

This simple abandonment email typically increases sales by 1.73%. I know it’s not a lot, but it’s all about the papercuts as I mentioned above. 😉

Subject: Still thinking about it?

If you can’t decide on whether [insert product name] is right for you, here are some of the benefits:

[insert benefit 1]

[insert benefit 2]

[insert benefit 3]

[insert benefit 4]

[insert benefit 5]

[insert benefit 6]

So, what are you waiting for? You have nothing to lose with our 30 day no questions asked money back guarantee.

CTA: Complete my purchase

On average this email has provided our customers an increase of
1.44% in sales.

Subject: Who doesn’t love 15% off?

Explore new [type of products you sell] that will help you with [insert benefit].

Sale ends at [insert date and time].

CTA: Claim my discount

Now with the discount/coupon code email, we’ve found the results to vary a lot. The bigger the discount, the more sales you will typically receive. The biggest gains are when companies offer over 30% or greater discount.

Facebook Messenger templates

Unlike email and text, you can’t just easily just message people
on Facebook Messenger and do whatever you want. There
are rules

  • You can message a subscriber within the last 24 hours of your last interaction.
  • Within that 24-hour time period, you can send promotional material.
  • After the 24 hour period, messages must contain one of these 4 tags: confirmed event update, post-purchase update, account update, or a human agent.
  • For users who opt-in to receive messages after 24 hours, you can, of course, message them.

As for templates that work, because Facebook is continually changing Messenger rules, follow these templates over at Manychat as they constantly change based on real-time data of what is working or what isn’t.

Conclusion

You have no choice but to take an omnichannel approach with
your marketing.

Sure, all good channels eventually get crowded and click-throughs will decrease over time, but if you go after all of the main channels the marginal gains will add up.

And the easiest way to start with going omnichannel is with chat. I know you are probably using email, but I bet you aren’t using text messaging or even Facebook Messenger bots. And I bet you aren’t using push notifications either.

So, how many marketing channels are you using?

The post The New Way to Chat With Your Visitors appeared first on Neil Patel.

The core idea for your business strategy now, in this time of crisis.

business strategy now

I’ve been hosting a series of Facebook Live videos talking about personal and business priorities as we try to embrace the chaos and make sense of this world. Here is the full 30-minute video of my latest, where I discuss the core idea that should be driving every business strategy now.

Below the video is an edited transcript of the discussion (transcription help from the awesome otter.ai) Would love to hear your thoughts, as always my friends.

Edited transcript

I think it’s important to briefly review what I covered on the first episode of this series. We talked about embracing the chaos and how the history of business has been a series of chaotic events. The businesses that survive are the ones that transcend these chaotic times.

We talked about the importance of first embracing the chaos within yourself. You should not feel guilty or ashamed that you’re feeling fearful right now. We’re in a period of grieving. These are legitimate feelings. And that’s the filter we need to use in our businesses right now, too.

We need to connect with people as though they’re grieving, like they are at a funeral. How would you connect with somebody … how would you sell to somebody … if they were at a funeral? You wouldn’t offer them a coupon or a discount.

You would say …

  • “How can I help you right now?”
  • “How can my business serve you at this time?”
  • “How can we help get you through this loss?”

… because there is a lot of tragedy going on and it’s almost overwhelming to hear the stories of my friends and their struggles.

Re-framing and relevance

Another main point I made in the first episode that is key to business strategy now was this idea of reimagining your business offering — In this moment.

I provided examples that showed that whatever was our core competency, our skills, however we served our customers … may not be relevant today.

I gave an example in my own life of how I was doing consulting for a business in Miami.

We had a call scheduled to review a social media strategy. And we never got it scheduled and I asked them what happened. And they said well you know our, our supply chain is up in the air now, we’ve lost 50 percent of our business, and we’re in crisis mode.

So I was relevant to them a week ago. I’m not relevant to this company today.

I have to rethink what I do, and rethink what are my core competencies and be relevant to people in this moment of crisis. We all need to consider these realities.

The priority now

Now let’s talk about this new idea of the number one vision for business strategy now.

Some businesses are going to be doing great in this crisis. Amazon’s going to do fine (they’re hiring 100,000 people!). Walmart’s going to do fine. Almost anybody that’s in the medical business, or if you’re delivering food, you’re probably going to be okay.

But if you’re struggling like most of us, what is the business strategy now?

I want to tell you a story from my past that illustrates this concept very well.

Early in my career, I was a sales leader for a big company called Alcoa. At that time, Alcoa was a Fortune 100 company, a Dow Jones Industrial blue-chip company, and a very well-run company. I had a great experience with my career there and learned from great leaders.

One time when I was a sales manager, we were having terrible quality problems with one of our customers. In fact, it was so bad that we were shutting them down. They were missing their delivery shipments.

And so I had lunch with the president of the company. And I said to him, “We are doing such a bad job for you right now. We’re struggling to keep you supplied. We appreciate that we have 100 percent of your business, but at this point, why aren’t you going to a competitor?

And he said, “Well let me tell you about our history with Alcoa. My company was started by my father. And during World War II, we almost went out of business because the products we made were not relevant anymore during that crisis. We had to retool and reinvent ourselves for the war effort.

“We were running out of cash, we were running out of time. And Alcoa, our aluminum supplier at the time, came to our rescue, and they helped us in this moment of crisis. They helped us retool our plant. They gave us the technical support to pivot in this time. They even helped finance some of the equipment that we needed to survive.

“My father, the person who founded this company, as he was dying in the hospital, said to me, ‘Never leave Alcoa. They brought us to the dance. They made us who we are today.’

“And that’s why we stuck with you, even when we were having hard times.”

That was a very powerful lesson to me. Through generosity in hard times, Alcoa had built loyalty that spanned decades and generations.

The business strategy now

I don’t want to sugarcoat anything. I’m not that kind of person. There’s a lot of “rah-rah” stuff out there about, “don’t be afraid and don’t be frightened and if you’re afraid you’re just playing into the victim mentality.” The fact is, there are people who aren’t going to make it to the other side.

But here’s the opportunity, and here is the vision of this time we’re in for any business. We have to put ourselves in this mindset of fighting to the other side but doing it in a way like Alcoa did.

Fight to the other side, but fight with grace.

We have a choice.

We can be greedy and opportunistic, or we can fight to the other side and do it in a way that’s caring and human-centered, full of compassion and grace to our customers.

That’s what people are going to remember on the other side.

If you want to survive and be stronger and be a leader when things turn around, you’ve got to demonstrate that now. We’re in a crisis and we might be in the fight of our lives. That includes cutting our costs, reserving our cash, reassessing our products. We’re making gut-wrenching personnel decisions.

And we need to think very carefully about our marketing. The research shows in a very compelling way that the companies that thrive and survive in this type of crisis, spend more on marketing. This has been seen across different recessions.

Obviously we’ve never seen anything like what we’re in right now. But if you have a business model that is truly relevant right now, it might be time to double down on your marketing, as we fight hard to make it to the other side.

Not in a way that’s greedy, in a way that is sensitive and appropriate and compassionate.

Fight with grace

I have a friend who has to cancel an event with a big hotel in Chicago. The hotel is holding him to tens of thousands of dollars in cancellation fees and they’re not budging.

Let me tell you something. I’m going to be around after this crisis, and my friend will be around, and that hotel will be around after this crisis, and people like us will never do business with a hotel like that again, right?

So part of the survival strategy is, we’ve got to treat people in a way that will help enable loyalty in the long term, help each other fight to get to the other side, fight to enable undying loyalty right now.

Do the right thing, even if it hurts.

Should we offer discounts as a business strategy now?

This was the main message of my session and then I took some questions.

A friend of mine offered a 95% discount on our Instagram course in Spain and man she has had some nasty comments which I can understand. It just doesn’t seem appropriate right now.

We have to be careful about promoting products and services right now in a way that seems tone-deaf.

I need to emphasize that every single person we are working with is grieving. They are in crisis. I mean it’s unimaginable.

This week I’ve been on the phone almost nonstop, coaching people and lifting them up. There has been a time or two where both of us have been emotional because of the profound suffering and loss that’s going on right now.

Our businesses have to know this reality and can’t be tone-deaf in our marketing or advertising when people are grieving. They may not need a discount or a coupon. They don’t need leadership classes if they are trying to find food for their families in the moment. You must be aligned with the context of this day.

We need to be a real human, and connect where people are right now.

I would also say, let’s show some grace even to the people who are making mistakes. Everybody’s just trying to figure it out and stumble through.

The boilerplate emails

Businesses need to be more human than ever right now. From a communication standpoint, we’ve all had enough to have the boilerplate emails, communicate with empathy kindness, which means telling the truth.

That’s a beautiful sentiment and certainly very true.

One of the things that’s been so interesting for me to observe is how long it is taking for these businesses to adjust. Believe it or not, this morning. I saw an ad for a company that will like help you create your fantasy baseball team. I mean dude … Baseball was canceled a week ago.

That doesn’t help.

You know, and the thing is puzzling to me. It doesn’t take much effort to turn off ads. I mean really, I just can’t think of a scenario where you would somehow be encumbered, or committed in a way that you can’t turn off ads.

I think it’s more important to be sensitive than to commit these dollars when your advertising is tone-deaf.

The test of culture

We are fighting hard in Scotland UK getting our people to change pace and it is challenging. Why won’t these people change when they see what is going on?

I see this in every kind of business  — they are locked into the old way of doing business … even in the good times, right?

Sell, sell, sell, even at the expense of relationships or common sense. Always be closing. Abuse the customer with spam and robo-calls.

Marketing and advertising and doing public relations in ways that aren’t relevant to the way our customers connect to the world today was the norm even before this crisis.

I think this time will be a true test of the corporate culture. You know, every company says “customers are the heart of our business.”

Really? Let’s see what happens when times are this hard.

If you’re opportunistic and greedy and tone-deaf, people are going to remember that we are not going to be doing business with those companies when we get to the other side.

Is it appropriate to use humor now?

What do you think about companies using humor with their staff to get through this period?

I think that’s an important part of being a leader right now.

The number one thing we need to keep in our minds is that great leaders dispense hope.

When I was in the corporate world, the president of our company had only thing on his desk — a little sign that said “leaders dispense hope.”

When you get right down to it, in terms of transparency, in terms of effective communication, in terms of you know how you’re connecting to people — even in a virtual world right now — it really gets down to dispensing hope.

And I think one of the important things we can do right now is to use humor.

There are a lot of positive physical and psychological benefits to humor that we, we need right now. We need to make humor a part of our lives every single day and I think it’s not just a part of lifting people up psychologically. I think that’s an important part of leadership.

Should I offer my services for free?

I see many people offering free services and some say you should actually not start discounting your services. Hurts you in the long term. What’s the best course of action?

I received an email request yesterday from someone doing a roundup blog post and the question was something like this, “should businesses continue their Facebook advertising?”

This is an impossible question. The answer to every marketing question is, “It depends.”

There’s never a cookie-cutter answer that fits everybody when it comes to marketing. Everything depends on your business, position in your industry, customers, strategy, etc.

I want you to run your businesses in the world that IS, not the world that we wish it to be. And the world is crappy right now.

But the research shows that the companies that make it to the other end do spend more on marketing right now. Maybe that means advertising, maybe that means discounts.

As a small business owner, I’m cutting to the bone. I have to reserve cash to make it to the other side. I’ve had some of my key business partners offer to change contracts or ignore them. They’ve been very understanding and helpful.

And you know what, they will be the first companies I come back to when things return to normal. They are the companies I will be talking about for years.

The last thing I can say about business strategy now is, just be incredibly emotionally intelligent and think about your customers in the context of this moment.

Let’s embrace the chaos together as we plot our business strategy now!

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

The post The core idea for your business strategy now, in this time of crisis. appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

How to Turn Your Site into an Automated Sales Machine

Want to make more sales? Of course you do.

Maybe you’re not hitting the kind of figures you want, or maybe you haven’t even made a single sale yet. Either way, you’re not selling as much as you want to be.

But why aren’t you? 

There are tons of possible reasons here, but I’m willing to bet it’s your website. Even if you have an expertly designed site, it could still be the culprit that’s stealing all your sales.

I learned this the hard way. My websites used to flat out suck and I barely got any sales. Once I started putting serious effort into my sites, my sales skyrocketed.

I tried everything. Some stuff was a huge waste. Some techniques ticked off my users. 

But I was able to find some serious long-term winners. 

While there’s no magic formula that will 10x your sales overnight, there are some best practices that will help you optimize your website to pull in the maximum amount of sales possible.

In short, you want to turn your site into an automated sales machine.

And I’m going to show you exactly how to do that.

Ready?

Setting Up Behind the Scenes With a CRM

The first thing you need is great customer relationship management (CRM) software.

A CRM helps you manage all of your current customers and leads in one place. You can communicate, track progress, and oversee all interactions without having to leave the CRM.

The reason you want to use a CRM is that it will help you generate the most amount of money out of your customers. And this is a lot easier to do than it is to acquire new customers.

When my friends at Keap reached out to let me know about their rebranding, I realized it had been a long time since I talked about how important their tool is in my arsenal.

Now, throughout the rest of this article, I’ll show you how I use Keap to grow NeilPatel.com.

But first, let me go into what it does… that way whatever solution you decide to choose, just make sure it has these features.

All-in-one Client Management

A good CRM should provide everything you need to manage your customers. You shouldn’t have to use extra software or apps to fill in the cracks.

That means your CRM should allow you to manage every interaction between you and your customers. You should be able to look at your CRM and know exactly where you are with any given client.

Here’s what it looks like when you first view your dashboard:

Having a simple, minimalistic design like this really helps cut down on the confusion that comes with managing tons of clients. There’s no second-guessing.

Take a look at the menu on the left-hand side:

Keap has taken all the ways you interact with your customers and broken them down into nine intuitive categories.

By clicking on the Contacts tab, you can see all of your clients:

By clicking on a particular client, you can see a summary of your activity with that person, including email conversations and invoice history.

This is important for me and my team as we offer multiple products and this view helps us understand where people are.

Remember, by having multiple products you can maximize your lifetime value, which then allows you to spend more money on marketing.

There’s also a separate message function that you can access by clicking on the Messages tab:

Here you can see all of your correspondence with each client. You’ll need to connect your mobile phone with the Keap app. This allows you to seamlessly switch between mobile and desktop for an efficient messaging experience.

The Tasks tab gives you a rundown of your to-do list for your clients:

You can check off each task here and easily add more by clicking the blue “Add a task” button at the top right. This way, you’ll never lose track of what you need to do.

Next is the Appointments tab, where you can set up a custom booking link to allow clients to schedule appointments with you. You choose your own availability so that clients always choose times that work for you.

This is great if you regularly have face-to-face interactions with your clients for example.

The Money tab is your one-stop-shop for all things finances. You can connect your bank to get paid in a flash and you can also manage all your invoices without any fuss.

You’re always aware of who’s paid and who hasn’t, so you don’t have to go chasing down clients one by one. You can simply send them a reminder within the interface by clicking on the specific invoice and scrolling to the bottom where there’s a reminder option:

The Broadcasts tab allows you to send out emails to your list.

Even though this isn’t standalone email software, you can still see a ton of helpful metrics by clicking on each campaign:

This feature is especially helpful for sending out emails to specific groups, like new leads or existing customers.

Next, you’ll see the Pipeline tab. This is where you build the core of your customer journey.

Once you click on the Pipeline tab, you’ll see four basic panels: new, qualifying, contacting, and negotiating. These are the stages that you’ll go through when converting a new prospect.

This is also where a lot of the automation happens that will save you tons of time and money. I’ll go into detail on this later on in the article, but for now, just remember this pipeline structure.

The Campaigns tab is a full-featured campaign manager that allows you to follow up with leads, track unpaid invoices, simplify scheduling, and much more. (You can also automate a lot of things here.)

Finally, the Reports tab helps you stay on top of your sales. Here you can also track important metrics like email engagement and campaign progression.

Take another look at all of these features. This is what I mean by all-in-one. A CRM should allow you to interact with your clients in any way you need to. You shouldn’t have to jump from software to software to create a great experience for your clients.

Now that we’ve looked at some basic elements of a good CRM, let’s look at one of the must-haves: automation.

Automation

Automation is hands down one of the most important features I look for in a CRM.

Why?

Because running a business is a lot of work, and the more you can automate, the better.

Automating is usually straightforward, but when it comes to automating client interactions, you have to be careful.

People love personal interactions, and that’s why you should do your best to deliver. If your automation is dry and corporate, your clients will notice.

So what do you do?

The trick is to personalize your automation as much as possible.

In other words, your automation should have a human touch.

If this sounds counterintuitive, I totally understand. “Personalized automation” seems like an oxymoron.

But it’s not. In fact, it works pretty well.

Take a look at this email I recently sent:

Believe it or not, this is a template.

The reason this works so well is that it doesn’t read like a template. It reads like an email I sat down and wrote myself.

Of course, you can automate way more than just emails.

Most automation actually happens behind the scenes, so you need a CRM that’s capable of seamlessly automating everything from client data to scheduling and beyond.

Let’s say I want to email a lead when they move from stage to stage in my pipeline. This is a great technique to keep leads engaged but often you have to do it manually.

With Keap, it’s simple. First I head to the Pipeline tab and find the specific lead. Then I click the gear icon and select “Configure automation.”

I now select when I want the email to trigger: either moving into or out of a stage. For this example, I’ll have it trigger when the lead moves out of the qualifying stage (where the lead currently is).

Then I select “send email” from the drop-down menu.

Now all I have to do is write the email.

Of course, you can use personalized templates here to maximize your efficiency even more. You can even personalize the email with this form by clicking on the pound sign on the right to open up the merge fields drop-down menu.

This all takes just a couple of minutes and it’s all completely contained within Keap.

See why automation is so important? It’s one of those features I can’t go without.

And I like easy automation. I’m super busy, so the easier something is, the better. I don’t want to have to go through a million menus just to shoot an email.

All of this said, there are definitely right and wrong ways to automate. You want your automation to make your business as efficient as possible and that means creating dependable processes that you can repeat without even thinking about it.

Creating Processes With a CRM

CRMs are useful for a lot of things from qualifying leads to creating entire marketing campaigns.

But there’s a common thread that runs through all of these features: the ability to create processes.

Processes are invaluable because they save you time, effort, and often money.

They also help your business operate more smoothly. Relying on processes is much easier than having to do everything manually.

That begs the question: What kinds of processes should you create?

The short answer is that you should have a process for everything. And I mean everything

Responding to client emails? Make a process for it. Dealing with new leads? Set up a workflow for qualifying them. You get the picture.

This is critical. If you want to increase your sales, you have to be able to handle increased sales in the first place. Having processes to depend upon will allow you to take on more volume without any unnecessary friction.

As a rule of thumb, if you can automate something in your business, you probably should.

The exception (like I mentioned above) is anything based around human interaction. It’s best to stay as hands-on as possible when it comes to this.

The idea is to make your business run like clockwork so you can pay more attention to your clients and deliver a better experience.

And that’s a win-win for everyone involved.

But let’s get specific and talk about certain processes that you should make sure you have.

Lead Flow

This is a big one.

A lot of marketers focus on lead generation but not enough people talk about what should happen after you’ve got a lead.

If you don’t move your lead forward, your efforts are as good as wasted.

That’s why automating your lead flow process is critical. You don’t want to be doing this by hand––that takes hours.

Instead, let your CRM do it for you.

Create multiple stages along your pipeline and trigger unique email sequences for each stage. This means that you can keep your lead moving forward at all times.

This way, you won’t overlook anything. You don’t have to worry about forgetting to follow up or missing an important email.

So let the CRM do the heavy lifting so you can focus on providing a better service for your customers.

Marketing Emails

With a CRM, it’s possible to automate all of your marketing emails, and in my opinion, this should be one of the first things you automate.

Why? Because emails can take up lots of time without you even noticing.

According to the Litmus 2017 State of Email report, more than 68% of businesses spend a week or more on the production of just one email.

Automation allows you to cut back on that time so you’re not working on the same task for days on end. You’re able to spread out your time and attention on other things that need to be handled.

And by automating your email, you’re making your email work for you instead of the other way around.

For example, whenever you get a new lead, you need to take action as swiftly as possible.

With the right CRM, this is a snap. All you need to do is automate it so that a new lead receives an email as soon as they sign up.

That way, you’re able to contact a warm lead immediately and you don’t have to do anything manually.

You can track them right from the Broadcasts tab:

This means you can also create autoresponder campaigns to get more clients in the door.

You can then move them down your pipeline, which brings me to the next thing you need to do: build a robust pipeline.

Building a Streamlined Sales Pipeline

If you’ve ever wondered what’s stopping your site from raking in the sales, chances are it’s probably your pipeline.

Now, I could talk for hours about building an effective pipeline, but for the purposes of this article, I’m going to condense the information down to the essentials.

So here’s everything you need to know about pipelines.

Common Pipeline Mistakes

Most pipeline errors that cost you precious time and money are easily preventable, which is why you should take the time now to make sure your pipeline is seamless from start to finish.

Ironically, one of the most common pipeline mistakes is simply not spending enough time on your building it out initially.

Your pipeline is the lifeblood of your business. It’s what helps you turn leads into clients. So if it’s not optimal, your sales won’t be either.

Another mistake is not moving leads quickly enough.

The data shows that the sooner you nurture your leads, the better. Wait too long, and your leads will turn cold, which could cost you a sale.

Did you know that as much as 50% of sales go to the first vendor?

Every second matters when you get a new lead.

By baking automation into your pipeline, you can nurture a new lead immediately. The software will take care of that for you, and you’ll be one step closer to making a sale.

Likewise, it’s important to keep this engagement steady throughout your pipeline. Being present at every step will greatly increase your chances of closing the sale.

The best way to do this? Surprise––it’s CRM automation.

But no matter what CRM you’re using, don’t make these costly mistakes.

Organizing Your Pipeline

Now that I’ve talked about what not to do, I’ll tell you what you should do.

First, make sure you have your priorities right at each touchpoint.

To put it another way, your pipeline needs to be doing the right things at the right time.

For example, when you first get a lead, your top priority should be nurturing that lead. You don’t want to hit them over the head with a big sales pitch––you just want to increase brand awareness.

Also, remember that a pipeline is essentially a bunch of leads going through a sales funnel. Use that framework to create your process and automations.

Your CRM can help you create a cohesive pipeline that keeps leads moving through your funnel and ensures that the appropriate actions are taken when necessary.

First of all, the four stock categories that Keap starts you out with (new, qualifying, contacting, negotiating) are great, but you can always add more if you need to.

Just scroll all the way to the right and click the “Add a stage” text field:

For instance, you could add a Completed stage for leads that you’ve successfully converted and are moving forward with.

The way you organize your pipeline might take some trial and error, as most companies have unique workflows.

However, I would recommend having at least three different stages so you can engage your lead at the beginning, middle, and end of your pipeline.

Next, the key is to use automation to make your pipeline as hands-off as possible.

Start by automating your email sequences as I showed above to help move your leads from stage to stage and keep them engaged. Again, these emails need to be personalized. There’s no point in using boilerplate templates that are stiff and boring. Take the time to make each email feel personal.

Next, add automation to your campaigns. This will ensure specific actions are taking within your CRM as leads move from stage to stage. These step-by-step tutorials on automation can help you get up and running.

Now, I won’t lie to you––this is going to take some trial and error. You aren’t going to have a perfect pipeline on day one.

So be sure to test your pipeline before you take it out in the real world.

Plug some fake clients and numbers into your CRM and use a few burner emails to test out your CRM’s capabilities. This will give you the chance to identify and remedy problems before you go live.

This extra step goes a long way. Sure, your pipeline still might have some errors once you start using it for actual clients, but you’ll have minimized the risk involved.

Conclusion

You’re almost at the finish line! It won’t be long until you’re putting your shiny new pipeline to good use.

But first, we have to put all the pieces together, so let’s recap what we’ve gone over.

1. The importance of a robust CRM. You want software that will allow you to manage all of your customers in one place, automate your business process, and track important metrics and interactions.

2. Putting processes in place. Having processes to depend upon is crucial for every business. Doing everything by the seat of your pants leads to inconsistency and often costs you.

3. Automation. If you can automate an internal process, you probably should. You can also automate a fair amount of client interactions without losing a human touch.

The final step is to synthesize all of these steps into one unified approach.

Remember, you’re doing all this to optimize your site for sales. You’re building a strong foundation that will support you as you scale.

After all, your site is the sum of its parts, so make those parts awesome.

Choose a CRM that meets your needs and that’s flexible so it will grow with you. Then create processes that will take the weight off your shoulders––and don’t be afraid to change these processes over time as your business evolves.

And there you have it — everything you need to start turning your site into an automation workhorse.

Before you know it, you’ll be seeing some of the amazing effects of automation and hopefully bringing in more sales than ever before.

Do you use a CRM that has helped turn your website into a sales machine?

The post How to Turn Your Site into an Automated Sales Machine appeared first on Neil Patel.

How to monetize your podcast with email

Looking for an easy way to increase podcast revenue? Ad spots and sponsor messages are great ways to monetize your podcast, but email marketing makes it easy to continue selling when you’re not on the air. Email gives you another “product” to sell to advertisers plus offers new audience revenue streams. Here’s how to monetize your podcast with email.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a cost-effective, proven strategy that makes it easy to continually connect with your audience. For podcasters, that means you can hold a dialogue with listeners through another popular channel when you’re not broadcasting. It’s a great way to promote your brand, preview upcoming episodes and maintain relevance.

To get started with podcast email marketing, you need to grow an email list. That should be easy if you already have an audience. Set up an opt-in subscribe form on your website and promote it during your podcast episodes. Tell your audience why they should subscribe: exclusive content, insider information, helpful tips and tricks, a freebie or some other incentive. You can even create a lead magnet to grow your list.

email subscribe form

Once you’ve established your podcast email list, you can send regular emails that interest and engage your audience — ultimately keeping them tuned in to your podcast.

You can even use email automation tools to deliver a series of pre-made emails at timed intervals. That way you can focus on your podcast and still augment your content with email marketing.

The best part? You can use email marketing to monetize your podcast. Here are five ways to do it.

Paid ads and sponsored content

You probably already have paid advertisers and sponsor messages for your podcast. With a podcast email, you can sell more ad spots and sponsored content.

Tell your advertisers and sponsors about your email list. Let them know you can put their message in front of hundreds (or thousands) of subscribers eager to learn more about their products and services. You could offer ad spots as add-ons to their current advertising packages or as standalone products.

Your email needs to have value for your subscribers, so set clear parameters for paid content. You might limit it to an ad blurb at the beginning, middle or end of your content. Or, you might require sponsors to create content that’s relevant to your audience and allow a brief mention of their products or services.

It’s also a good idea to ask advertisers to offer your audience a discount. That way you’re still able to offer value through paid advertising.

Affiliate links

If you have products or services you recommend on your podcast, it’s a good idea to sign up for their affiliate programs. You can then promote the same products and services via email and earn a commission when your audience buys.

If a company doesn’t have an affiliate program, contact them about a joint venture in which a special link is created for you. That link can be tracked so you get credit for any sales you generate.

Like sponsored content, it’s a good idea to work with affiliate partners to offer your audience an exclusive discount. The benefits are twofold: You’re able to offer additional value to your subscribers and you increase the likelihood they’ll click your affiliate link and buy.

podcast email

Exclusive content

Another great way to monetize your podcast with email marketing is to offer subscribers access to exclusive content. You can create a series of niche podcast episodes or an online course packed with valuable information your subscribers are willing to pay for.

Promote exclusive content to your podcast email list. You already have a trusting audience that’s invested enough in you to subscribe, so it’s likely they’re willing to pay for content they can’t get via your regular broadcast.

Motivate a quick response with a time-limited special offer. Perhaps your exclusive content is only available for a short time, or you offer email subscribers a 50 percent discount if they purchase access by a specific date. Be sure to list the benefits they’ll receive to create desire and influence sales.

Donations

Many podcasters thrive on audience donations. You can use your email list to request donations that enable you to continue producing high-quality content.

Patreon is a popular donation platform that allows you to offer incentives to donors: exclusive content, merchandise and even ad spots or sponsor messages.

A creative idea: Select a charitable cause your audience is passionate about, then pledge to contribute a portion of the donations you receive to that cause. That way you can simultaneously boost podcast revenue and make a positive impact that endears you to your audience. Keep your audience engaged with regular updates about how much they’ve helped donate and how the funds have improved their world.

Merchandise

Email marketing is a great way to promote your podcast merchandise. You might have online courses, books, digital services or even physical products to sell: coffee mugs, T-shirts, keychains and more. Perhaps you have a product that’s intrinsically linked to your niche. For example, a productivity podcaster might sell a day planner designed on the principles it preaches.

Set up an online store, then promote your products to your podcast email list. Again, you can influence more sales by offering special discounts and/or pledging a portion of proceeds to a charitable cause.

podcast shirt

Email marketing offers many opportunities to monetize your podcast — even when you’re not on the air. Use these ideas to attract subscribers, keep them engaged and earn more money from podcasting.

Join 140,000 small business owners

Get expert tips and email inspiration delivered to your inbox every two weeks.

© 2019, Brian Morris. All rights reserved.

The post How to monetize your podcast with email appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

7 simple (yet powerful) email marketing ideas for local nonprofits

Email marketing is a proven way for your local nonprofit organizations to engage your audience, spread your message and motivate donations. However, if you’re like many small nonprofits, you don’t have the time or budget to create a lot of content or design beautiful email graphics. Without the time and resources of big nonprofits such as the Red Cross, United Way or Habitat for Humanity, you might feel discouraged about your ability to use email effectively.

The good news is you don’t need a big budget or a lot of time to leverage the power of email marketing for your local nonprofit.

In fact, a simple email strategy is often best for small nonprofits. Simplicity lends local appeal and suggests you’re frugal with your marketing efforts, which in turn fosters trust and encourages involvement.

To that end, here are seven simple (yet powerful) email marketing ideas your budget- and time-strapped local nonprofit can use to boost participation and motivate donations to help your cause.

1. Write short, sweet and friendly emails

You’ve seen the multi-topic email newsletters the big nonprofits send – they’re practically magazines. As a local nonprofit organization, you don’t need an entire publishing team to spread your message, and you don’t need to look like a professional publication.

Instead, keep your emails short and sweet. Don’t stuff multiple bullet points into a single email; rather, share a single message in each email.

Pretend you’re writing to a friend. Your tone can be casual and to the point, and you don’t need any graphics. When you take this approach, you can craft compelling emails in less than 15 minutes.

In addition to saving time and money, this strategy enables you to send hyper-focused emails that motivate action. It also makes it easy to keep your audience engaged: since your content is spread out over multiple emails, and each will only cover one item, nothing will be overshadowed by other news.

2. Regularly update members and subscribers

Commit to sending at least one email per week. This is easy when each email contains a single message.

Send news about your organization, commentary on new legislation, updates on important fundraising initiatives and even relevant tips your audience can use to contribute to your cause without donating. For example, an environmentally conscious nonprofit might tell subscribers how to reduce their carbon footprints at home.

Again, you don’t need long emails and fancy graphics to engage your audience. In many cases, a single paragraph will do.

The goal is to get in front of your audience regularly, so you’re top of mind when they’re ready to get involved or donate.

3. Show your impact

One of the most email marketing strategies for local nonprofits is to show subscribers how you’re making the world a better place. How are their contributions helping? What projects are you working on? Who, specifically, have you helped – and how?

Share stories that illustrate real, measurable impact. Did you save 100 dogs from the shelter? Has local lake water quality improved by 20%? Did you provide food, shelter, clothing or books for 862 underprivileged children?

Many nonprofits use email to highlight the problem they’re trying to solve. There’s nothing wrong with that, but keep in mind people want to help. If you underscore how your efforts are solving the problem, you’ll notice a direct correlation between your “big news” and a spike in new memberships and donations.

4. Need volunteers? Ask for limited help

Local nonprofits are understaffed and often rely on volunteers to do the good work. Unfortunately, volunteers can be hard to come by. Email can help, especially if you take the right approach.

A common mistake local nonprofits make is to simply ask for volunteers. The problem is the request is open-ended, and people might feel as though they’re being roped into a long-term commitment.

A better approach is to send emails that ask people to volunteer for specific, time-limited tasks.

For example, let’s say you’re hosting an annual fundraising event. If you ask for volunteers for the event, people might be worried they’ll be stuck there all day or that they’re going to be stuck doing something they don’t want to do.

On the other hand, if you say you need someone to man the door from noon to 1 p.m. or you need someone to bake four dozen cookies, you’re far more likely to get volunteers on board. They know which task they’re responsible for, that there is an end to the expectation, and they won’t be asked to do anything else.

Send an email that lists specific volunteer tasks and time slots, and you’ll get more volunteers than ever before.

5. Save the pitch with strategic timing

Resist the urge to turn every email into a pitch for donations and memberships. Instead, focus the bulk of your messages on your nonprofit’s impact and news about your cause.

Good examples include annual membership drives, holidays, Giving Tuesday, the end-of-year donation spree and whenever you launch a new project. The idea is to make the ask when people are already excited and inclined to give.

This isn’t to say you can’t include a call to action at the end of every email – that’s a good idea, since donations will trickle in year-round – but it does mean most of your messages should focus on valuable content. Once you’ve proven your nonprofit is helping the community, you can send request monetary contributions with strategically timed emails that are destined for success.

6. Showcase contributors

Receive a big donation? Did a local company provide free work? Did a volunteer go the extra mile? Showcase your top contributors via email. It’s a great way to express your appreciation and demonstrate how every dollar helps to other potential donors.

Many people want to be recognized for their contributions, even if their motivation is altruistic. Email is a simple and effective way to offer recognition and foster more community involvement. When subscribers see the people and companies they know and trust contributing to your cause, they’re more apt to follow suit.

One word of caution: Be sure to ask permission before you highlight anyone in your emails. Though many people appreciate public recognition, some prefer to stay behind the scenes.

7. Email invites (and not just to events)

Email is a quick and easy way to invite subscribers to attend your events, but events aren’t the only things you should invite them to.

Use email to invite subscribers to follow your social media accounts, share your cause with their friends and family members, purchase fundraising products and submit ideas of their own. Actively encourage community involvement through social media and enable your supporters to spearhead their own pet projects so you can do more with less. All it takes is a quick email.

Local nonprofit email marketing doesn’t need to be difficult, expensive or time-consuming. Craft short, simple emails that focus subscriber attention on your message and enable you to reach subscribers with relevant messages that influence action. Highlight how you’re making a difference, and you can easily harness the power of email marketing to attract more volunteers, members and donations than ever before.

Join 140,000 small business owners

Get expert tips and email inspiration delivered to your inbox every two weeks.

© 2019, Brian Morris. All rights reserved.

The post 7 simple (yet powerful) email marketing ideas for local nonprofits appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Automate these 7 event marketing emails to skyrocket ticket sales

Email is one of the most important tools in your event marketing toolbox. Easy to create and ultra-affordable, email makes it easy to promote your event to tens of thousands of people with a single click.

Event marketing is even easier when you take advantage of email automation, which allows you to schedule a series of emails upfront and frees your time to focus on other marketing efforts. Make your next event a success by automating the following seven emails designed to boost attendance and drive ticket sales.

1. Event invitations

Begin your email series with an invitation to your event. Your invitation emails should create excitement. Ask yourself:

  • How is your event relevant to your audience?
  • Why should they attend? What benefits will they get, and what experience can they expect?
  • Where can they learn more?
  • How can they register?

Common sense says your event invitations (and all your event emails) must include the name, date, time and location as well as your event logo. But go the extra mile by telling your audience what’s in it for them. 

2. Early bird discounts and incentives

What can you offer to people who register early? A discount or freebie can be a powerful incentive that also helps you determine how many attendees you need to plan for. Ideas include:

  • A discount on event tickets purchased before a deadline
  • A series of tiered discounts leading up to the event
  • A freebie if they sign up by a certain date, such as a T-shirt 
  • VIP seating or accommodations
  • First dibs on the official event hotel
  • Preferred parking or a free parking pass
  • Backstage passes
  • Food and drink vouchers

Not sure which offer will motivate your audience? Consider A/B split testing against small segments of your list to see which gets the greatest response. Then, send that offer to your larger list.

3. Referral requests

Events are more fun with friends, so include referral requests as part of your email series. You can send emails that:

  • Ask registered attendees to invite friends, and offer an incentive for every friend who registers
  • Offer special incentives to groups of three or more to encourage multiple ticket sales
  • Promote an in-event contest, such as best group T-shirt or costume
  • Offer hotel room discounts for multi-room bookings
  • Offer free or discount parking for cars with three or more people
  • Give attendees a social link to easily share and invite their friends
  • Encourage attendees to forward your email invite to their contacts

Remind your audience how much they’ll enjoy your event if they bring friends along, and you can easily double or triple your ticket sales.

4. Group sales emails

Use email to promote group sales and earn a massive spike in ticket sales. Ideas include emails that:

  • Ask your audience to share your event with their groups, such as nonprofits, church groups, clubs, sports teams, schools, Facebook groups, community organizations and any other group they’re part of
  • Offer group discounts and incentives such as reserved seating so groups can sit together
  • Offer special incentives for nonprofit groups, such as a portion of ticket sales donated to a given cause
  • Promote a charity that groups will be interested in supporting: They get to contribute and have a great time doing it

Consider which types of groups are likely to be interested in your event. Then, help them see why attending your event is a good idea for their group.

5. Event newsletters and announcements

Send regular email updates to keep your audience interested and excited. Ideas include:

  • Entertainment announcements: Tell your audience who will be performing as you ink contracts
  • Food and vendor announcements: What treats can they enjoy at your event? Which vendors offer on-site shopping?
  • Available experiences: Will your event have games, contests, obstacles and other experiences attendees can participate in?
  • Helpful tips: How can they get in early? Where should they park? What are the best directions? Where are the best seats?
  • Event schedule: Make it easy for attendees to print a schedule to keep in their pockets

Use email newsletters and announcements to continually create buzz around your event and increase registrations as the date draws near.

6. Social shares

Use email to ask your audience to share your events on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social accounts. A simple request can work, but you might get better results if:

  • You attach your email to a contest; for example, promote a photo contest prior to the event and let others judge the winners on social media
  • You offer a special incentive for sharing your event, especially if those shares lead to ticket sales
  • Your event supports a cause, remind your audience about your event’s impact and suggest social sharing as a simple way they can help

Don’t underestimate the power of social media for event promotion or the ability of email to drive social shares.

7. Product sales

Offering cool swag at your event? Let your attendees get it early with emails that promote product sales. Ideas include:

  • T-shirts, hats and other apparel
  • Wristbands or event bracelets
  • Sunglasses
  • Drinkware such as tumblers, water bottles and coffee mugs
  • Flying discs
  • Umbrellas
  • Tote bags

Even better, create an official event swag bag packed with the necessities attendees need to “survive” your event. Sell it as an add-on to ticket sales or offer it as an early registration incentive.

Get even better results with advanced event email automation

These seven types of event emails are a great start for event promotion, but you can take your marketing a step further with advanced automation. For example, you can:

  • Automatically segment registrants into new lists and automate emails that focus on referrals and product sales
  • Automatically segment your audience by demographics and promote unique selling points by segment; for example, you can advertise the charitable cause your event supports or the entertainment value of your event
  • Automatically segment VIP ticket holders from standard registrants and automate different emails according to the experiences they’ll have  and promote unique upsells relevant to each audience

Remember, the more your emails speak to your audience, the more likely they are to respond, share and register. Advanced automation can maximize ticket sales for your event.

Augment your email marketing with social automation

Email isn’t the only event marketing platform you can automate. Augment your email promotions with social posts scheduled to coincide with your emails. Doing so offers multiple benefits, including:

  • Multi-channel marketing and repetition that influences registrations
  • Social proof when your audience likes and shares your event
  • “Set it and forget it” simplicity when you schedule your posts ahead of time
  • The ability to focus your efforts on new event marketing opportunities as the event draws near

Email and social automation are powerful event marketing tools that are proven to increase event attendance and boost ticket sales. Leverage the power of automation to make your next event a roaring success.

Join 140,000 small business owners

Get expert tips and email inspiration delivered to your inbox every two weeks.

© 2019, Brian Morris. All rights reserved.

The post Automate these 7 event marketing emails to skyrocket ticket sales appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

6 proven local email marketing ideas for small businesses

Email is often underutilized by small, local businesses despite the fact that it boasts a whopping 122 percent ROI  more than four times that of social media and direct mail. Whether you own or operate an auto repair shop, landscaping business, tax preparation service or other local business, here’s how you can leverage the power of email to win new customers and keep them coming back.

Local email marketing ideas

Email marketing should promote your business, but your email strategy should also feature value-added content that motivates opens, influences clicks, fosters trust and ultimately earns sales. Try these proven email marketing strategies for local businesses.

1. Create an editorial calendar around events, holidays and local happenings

A local focus will endear your business to local customers, so map out an editorial calendar based on the holidays, events and other local happenings important to your audience. Ideas include:

  • Promotions for community holiday shopping days: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday, for example.
  • Special offers for annual events: Consider homecoming dances, community festivals, parades and historical anniversaries.
  • Interesting historical facts about your city: These can segue to the importance of shopping at downtown businesses.
  • Seasonal offers relevant to your local audience: For instance, people in northeast communities need to weather the winter cold, while those in southwest communities need to beat the summer heat.
  • Promotions tied to local athletics: A restaurant can offer a pre-game special while a spa might offer a discount based on the number of points scored by the local football team.
  • Local gift guides: Consider promoting top-selling holiday gifts in your local area or the most-wanted Christmas gifts based on local feedback  a great way to drive business to local retailers.

Want more great ideas for building an editorial calendar around local happenings? Watch Season 4 of Small Business Revolution, where our Deluxe colleagues help Searcy, Arkansas-based creperie and coffee shop Savor + Sip harness the power of local email marketing.

2. Craft valuable newsletters

The best email newsletters are packed with valuable tips and tricks your audience can use to solve their problems, achieve their goals and improve their lives. Your newsletter lends authority to your business, establishes solidarity with your audience and fosters long-term customer loyalty. Ideas include:

  • How-to tips with a local focus: For example, a beauty salon might feature tips about how to maintain skin health in cold, dry climates or a landscaper might send a tip about the best local source for garden soil.
  • Localized guides: Anyone can send a guide to landscaping a home, but only a local landscaper knows which plants grow best in your community. What unique local insights can you share with your audience?
  • Important local announcements: Is the city utility rate going up? A local hardware store might offer energy-saving tips to keep costs low. Keep abreast of local news and identify relevant tie-ins that educate and help your customers as well as naturally promote your business.

There are plenty of great email newsletter topics. Pick one, then apply a local focus to give your business a competitive advantage customers will love.

3. Promote a rewards/loyalty program

Many local businesses offer rewards/loyalty programs, and email is a fantastic way to boost enrollment. Use email marketing to:

  • Create excitement for your program and detail the benefits of signing up.
  • Ask existing customers to send referrals your way in return for a special discount or reward.
  • Send customers gifts on special days, such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and more.

You can also send reminders for customers to check their rewards account balances online and to share your program with their friends and family members on social media so they can reap the rewards, too.

4. Create customer spotlights and case studies

The proof is in the pudding, and you can use email marketing to show your audience how you’ve helped local customers just like them. It’s a great way to prove you understand their needs and can deliver solutions. Ideas include:

  • Customer spotlights and testimonials
  • Case studies that detail exactly how you solved a common local problem
  • Before and after photos for a visual experience that highlights your capabilities

Customer spotlights, case studies and photos help you show off what you know, which motivates customer responses.

5. Gain customer insights

Polls and surveys can help you learn more about your local audience, which can, in turn, inform future email marketing and boost ROI. Try these ideas:

  • Send a poll or survey to get customer feedback on local trends
  • Report the results in a follow-up email. Local residents will no doubt find them interesting, and it presents a perfect opportunity to promote a relevant product or service
  • Share the results with your local newspapers, radio stations, television stations, popular bloggers and other media members  a fantastic way to get free PR

Your polls and surveys can ask about customer behavior, favorite products and trends, or even get opinions about local hot button issues. Start by determining which questions you want to answer and if those insights will have local appeal  and if there is a natural segue to your business. If so, you have a winning poll or survey idea. (By the way, VerticalResponse makes surveying customers quick and easy.)

6. Send special offers

Email marketing is an easy way to send special offers to your subscribers. You can:

  • Send promotional emails with a single, time-limited discount to motivate quick sales
  • Include a special offer at the end of every email newsletter
  • Subtly embed references to your products and services throughout your email content

Email is a great way to reach local customers with valuable content intertwined with timely, relevant promotions that drive local customers to your door.

How to get local subscribers

These are all great local email marketing ideas, but you can’t implement them without a subscriber list. The good news is building one won’t add a ton of work to your already busy schedule. In fact, you can automate nearly everything with email marketing tools. Here are ideas for building a local email subscriber list.

  • Automatically enroll customers, loyalty card members, callers and people who email or fill out your contact form into your list. Make sure cashiers know to collect email addresses during checkout
  • Invite Facebook and other social media followers to subscribe to your email newsletter. Sweeten the deal with an instant incentive
  • Add a form to your website, either in the sidebar, in the content or as a pop-up. Offer a discount incentive or go with a lead magnet to boost your subscription rate
  • Partner with other local businesses to create a community deals email list, or share subscribers with one another (just make sure they know they’re signing up for a community-wide list that will deliver great content and offers from multiple businesses)

Check out more great ideas for building an email list.

Advanced local email marketing tips

Once you get your feet wet, you can take advantage of these advanced strategies to get more out of your email marketing.

  • A/B split testing: Test multiple versions of the same email to see which performs best. Then, send the winner to your entire list.
  • Segment lists: Most businesses have different types of customers. Segment your lists by interests or demographics to send the most relevant information and offers. Doing so can increase responses exponentially.
  • Automate email marketing: Create a series of emails designed to nurture leads over time, then send them on schedule with an email autoresponder program. Set it and forget it!
  • Measure response: Use email analytics to measure open rates and clicks. Identify which emails work best, then emulate those efforts for future campaigns so you can improve your email marketing over time.

Email is a powerful and affordable tool local small businesses can use to boost sales. Use these tips to connect with local customers, earn referrals, beat the competition and keep business coming through your door.

Join 140,000 small business owners

Get expert tips and email inspiration delivered to your inbox every two weeks.

© 2019, Brian Morris. All rights reserved.

The post 6 proven local email marketing ideas for small businesses appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

3 easy steps to your first email drip campaign (that sells on autopilot)

Email drip campaigns are good for small business. In fact, automated email series get 80 percent higher open rates and triple the clickthroughs of single emails, and they generate 80 percent more sales at 33 percent less cost. Despite such convincing statistics, many small businesses do not engage in email automation. The concept of email drip campaigns can seem overwhelming to novice marketers, but in reality it’s not difficult to create an email drip campaign that works. Give your small business a powerful advantage and sell on autopilot by taking these three easy steps to create your first email drip campaign.

What’s an email drip campaign and how do they work?

By definition, an email drip campaign is a series of emails sent at set intervals after a subscriber joins your email list. For example:

  • Email 1 is sent immediately upon subscription
  • Email 2 is sent three days after subscription
  • Email 3 is sent six days after subscription
  • And so on

When you adhere to email drip campaign best practices, each email in the series has value but also builds upon previous emails. The overarching effect is lead nurturing: Your email series takes subscribers on a journey from introduction to purchase. It lends credibility and authority to your company, fosters trust and creates desire for your products and services until subscribers are ready to buy.

The beauty of email drip campaigns is they’re automated. All content is created before you launch your campaign. After that, your email automation software handles the work, which frees time for you to focus on other business growth efforts. Create your content upfront, and you don’t need to come up with a new email every few days to keep subscribers engaged — simply set it and forget it!

How to create an email drip campaign that works

Email drip campaigns aren’t difficult when you follow these three steps.

Step 1: Identify your desired action and set up a landing page

The goal of every email drip campaign is to nurture subscribers and influence them to take a specific action. In many cases, that action is completing a purchase, but it can also be to schedule a consultation, submit a lead generation form or click an affiliate link. Start by determining exactly what action you want your subscribers to take.

Once you’ve established your campaign goal, set up a compelling landing page that makes it easy for subscribers to take the desired action when you deliver a special offer. It might be a sales page for your product or service, a simple lead generation form or even a blog post with an affiliate link button.

Your landing page is where subscribers will go when they’ve clicked your email link, so it should be laser-focused on guiding subscribers to take your desired action. It shouldn’t distract them. It’s the first thing you build but the last thing your subscribers see before they act, so by the time they get there they’re ready to buy, submit or click.

Note that you might not necessarily need a landing page, especially if your special offer is a coupon code for an ecommerce website. However, a landing page will keep subscribers focused on the product or service you want to sell.

This landing page for Smartwater makes it easy for customers to buy online or find their product in stores.

landing page

Step 2: Create and schedule your emails

Start by determining how many emails will be in your series. Drip campaigns can be comprised of as few as three emails or as many as fifteen or more, but it’s best to keep your first drip campaign simple: limit your series to six total emails.

Next, determine your email intervals. There are no hard-set rules about how frequently you should send emails, so rely on your knowledge of your customers’ buying journey to inform your decision. Also consider which stage of the journey they’re in when they subscribe: Are they in the information-gathering stage or is a purchase imminent?

For example, if customers typically buy within one week of expressing interest, you might want to send a series of six emails over six days. If customers tend to hem and haw for a few weeks, you might schedule emails to send every three days.

Your email content should cater to subscribers’ current goals. Answer these questions:

  • What are subscribers trying to accomplish? How can you help?
  • What information do subscribers want and need to know?
  • What stage of the buyer’s journey are subscribers in?

Use your answers to create a series of individual emails that build on each other and nudge customers toward taking the next step in the purchasing process.

For example, let’s say you operate an interior painting business. The answers to the above questions might be:

  • What are subscribers trying to accomplish? How can you help? Subscribers want to beautify their homes. You can help by offering interior painting tips and inspiration.
  • What information do subscribers want and need to know? They want to know which colors will look best in their homes. They want to know complementary accent colors, and which colors work best in which rooms. They want to see inspirational photos and examples. They want to know how to achieve certain paint effects. They need to know how to properly apply paint and associated costs, as well as ways to simplify the process.
  • What stage of the buyer’s journey are subscribers in? They’re planning to begin their project within the next 30 days, so it’s important to give them everything they need to know over the next two weeks.

Now, you can create a series of emails designed to influence customers to buy paint and supplies from you or hire you to do the painting for them. Your drip campaign might look something like this:

  • Email 1: Introduction with links to helpful articles on your website
  • Email 2: The best colors for each room in the home
  • Email 3: Inspirational paint effects for living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms
  • Email 4: Why all paints are not created equal (which paints to buy)
  • Email 5: Tools needed for a perfect paint project
  • Email 6: How much does it cost to paint a room?

Each email can include a call to action that leads to your site for more information, or directly to products and services customers need. In our example, the last email might compare the cost (in terms of money, time and effort) of DIY interior painting versus hiring it out, then deliver an instant coupon code to hire you to do the painting for them. The coupon code button will link to your landing page, where you seal the deal.

As you can see, each email is designed to be relevant to subscribers and to help them achieve their goals. The campaign nurtures subscribers through the buying process and ultimately influences them to act.

Once you’ve created your content, load it in an automated email sender program such as VerticalResponse and set your schedule. The VerticalResponse email builder makes it easy to add custom text, images and buttons for beautifully designed emails subscribers will open, read and click.

STEP 3: Add an opt-in form to your website

Your email drip campaign is ready to go – all that’s left to do is add an opt-in subscribe form to your website. That’s easy to do with VerticalResponse’s form builder tool: Drag and drop form elements to create your design, then embed the form code in your website.

Use these tips to craft a compelling form that converts subscribers:

  • Tell subscribers how they’ll benefit. In our painting example, they can sign up to receive expert interior painting tips and tricks
  • Use images to create desire. In our example, an image of a beautifully painted living room would do the trick
  • Don’t ask for too much information. It’s faster and easier for subscribers to input their email address than their name, phone number, physical address and other information. Remember, they’re just agreeing to receive emails from you. If they feel they’ll be badgered with phone calls, they won’t subscribe. If you need additional information, collect it later via your landing page
  • Foster trust with a no spam policy. Make a promise (and keep it) that you will not spam their inboxes or sell their information to any third party
  • Prominently and strategically display your form. Don’t bury it in your footer. Instead, use a pop-up or slide-in to put it directly in front of site visitors who are reading relevant content. They’re your most likely subscribers and customers. Or, put it on top of your sidebar or right in with your site content. The idea is to make the offer on the right page, at the right time to the right people

This Nerd Fitness opt-in form illustrates how to showcase subscriber benefits and motivate sign-ups.

email opt-in form

Once you’ve embedded your subscription form, your email drip campaign is set. Site visitors will see it and subscribe. Your email software will automatically deliver your messages at set intervals, and leads will be funneled to your landing page to complete the next step in the purchasing process.

Use reporting tools to measure the success of your campaign. You can view open rates and click-through rates as well as track sales. Feel free to tweak emails to see if you can improve conversions; later, you might get into more advanced A/B split testing and even list segmentation, but for now, you can keep it simple while you learn how to harness the power of email automation to boost sales.

Email drip campaign ideas

Want more email drip campaign ideas? Give these examples a try.

  • Real estate agents can create email courses on home buying, selling and commercial property investments
  • Fashion brands can send a series of makeover tips
  • SaaS companies can send a series of emails that illustrate different ways to use their software
  • Apparel companies can show subscribers how to craft their personal styles
  • Landscapers can offer lawn beautification and maintenance tips
  • Fitness companies can send workout programs, diet plans and weight loss tips
  • B2B bookkeepers and accountants can develop an email series about saving at tax time
  • Mechanics can send a series of auto upgrade and maintenance ideas
  • Computer repair services can create an email course on how to stay secure online
  • Restaurants and caterers can send a series of guides on how to throw the perfect party
  • Pet stores can create an email series around keeping dogs happy and healthy

Consider your customer base. What information do they yearn for? Identify a way to package it into an email series, and you can quickly develop a winning email drip campaign that increases sales on autopilot.

Join 140,000 small business owners

Get expert tips and email inspiration delivered to your inbox every two weeks.

© 2019, Brian Morris. All rights reserved.

The post 3 easy steps to your first email drip campaign (that sells on autopilot) appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

In Favor of Long, Image-light Ecommerce Emails

We’ve written about email on Copyhackers… a lot.

And for good reason.

In 2019, email still has the highest ROI of any marketing channel ($42 return on every $1 spent, according to Litmus). And McKinsey found that email is 40x more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter – combined.

Email just plain works.

And here at Copyhackers, we take optimizing email… seriously. Very seriously.

We wrote about optimizing SaaS free trial emails, upgrading launch emails and sending B2B cold emails that actually work.

Yet… we’ve never tackled this beast: ecommerce emails.

But we’re not going to stay silent any longer.

There’s too much at stake…

In ecommerce, the average order value from email is 20% higher with 3x the conversion rate compared to other channels. Email is your best fuel for customer retention, and Harvard Business School found that just a 5% increase in retention can increase profits by 95%.

Ecommerce emails done right can be the lifeblood of an ecommerce business.

Yet, many ecommerce stores are deeply underinvested in email.

Even though 59% of marketers say email gives the greatest ROI of any marketing channel… 64% of ecommerce marketers expected their company’s email marketing budget to increase or significantly increase in the following year.

They’re realizing they need to be spending more on email marketing.

Not surprising, given that Pure360 found in a survey of 205 marketers that 9 out of 10 brands are behind the email marketing maturity standards they expected.

Beyond the numbers, it’s something that email consultants like myself see every day.

Austin Brawner, my friend and the CEO of Brand Growth Experts, has had a similar experience to mine.

I once heard him say, “I’ve been in hundreds of email marketing accounts and I have yet to see someone who’s sending too many emails.”

He’s right. Though many of us are worried about over-emailing, that’s rarely the problem. And big wins can come from small, strategic optimizations.

That’s why I almost always encourage clients to invest more in their email marketing. I know the impact it can have.

Like when I optimized the welcome sequence and abandoned cart sequence for my client, EcoVibe Style, I was able to increase their revenue from email to 38%… from a mere 8.7%.

That’s a 236% increase in revenue from email… from just two sequences.

But the difficulty isn’t in convincing store owners to care about email marketing. They know they should optimize their email marketing.

The struggle store owners are having… is in knowing how to go about optimizing their email marketing.

The (email marketing) struggle is real

The DMA’s email marketing survey asked marketers about their most significant challenges to investing more in their email marketing.

Their top answers were: “limited internal resources,” “lack of strategy” and “lack of content.”

So they want to send more emails… but they struggle to get the strategy and content expertise they need to do so.

Bottom line…

Ecommerce email marketing requires a great deal of expertise.

There’s a lot of know-how that goes into emails that convert.

There are sequences and newsletters, send times and from names, dozens of ESPs and email clients, subject lines and calls to action, exit intent pop-ups and floating bars…

When I started out as an email marketer, I was overwhelmed, too.

And when you finally decide on your strategy and get your technical pieces all set up, and it’s time to write an actual email… then you have to know what to put in that email. 

You need to figure out what will get the attention of your recipients, so all that time and money you’ve invested actually pays off.

When you finally sit down to write an email…

That’s the moment of truth.

Everything you’ve invested into your software and your content comes down to how well that email performs.

And… it’s only getting harder to win the inbox. 

The typical professional receives an average of 121 emails per day. Getting YOUR email to stand out is… tough.

Marketers know how hard it’s getting.

Which is why some resort to a strategy I don’t recommend:

Sending sale email… after sale email… after sale email… after sale email…

Every day, like clockwork, I get an email from Crate & Barrel.

Here, in my inbox, to announce a very exciting, ultra-exclusive, can-you-believe-it, hold-on-to-your-hat…. SALE SALE SALE!

And every day, their email goes… unopened.

But, I do understand why they send me these emails.

It’s an easy pattern to fall into: you send an email blast and it doesn’t get the conversions you’re after. So you send another email with a steep 40% discount and – BAM! – lots of people buy.

You try to go back to sending an email without a discount but it’s still not working. So now you send…

“FLASH SALE 70% OFF”

…and you get lots of conversions again.

Before you know it, every email you send out is a sale email.

Even if you’re not quite at Crate & Barrel’s level… it’s always tempting to send that sale email.

You want your email to pay off, after all. But… you also don’t want to get stuck sending emails that no one pays attention to.

And if you abuse the Sale Email, its magic starts to wear off.

The response from your subscribers changes from buckets of revenue to… deafening silence.

Unlike SaaS email marketing – where the bias tends to be toward nurturing subscribers, rather than selling to them – it seems that ecommerce has the opposite trend: selling without nurturing.

And Seth Godin would not approve.

The father of permission marketing, he revolutionized the way people think about marketing in the digital age:

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing.“ – Seth Godin

Marketing is easy to ignore. Especially in a crowded inbox.

So if you can send those relevant, anticipated messages your subscribers crave, you’ll be that unexpected gem people look forward to getting emails from.

And thinking of email as permission-based marketing sets us up well to answer the question…

Well, what do customers want
in their email marketing?

They want variety.

The problem with Crate & Barrel’s emails isn’t that they’re sales emails.

It’s that they’re ALL sales emails.

If you’re having a sale tomorrow (and every day until the end of time), why should I be excited about today’s sale?

If, however, every time you send me an email, I can’t be 100% sure what’s going to be in it (cool content? a funny story? new products? or maybe even a… SALE?!?), then I’m anticipating and wondering what’s in your email.

Novelty is the best tool email marketers have to keep subscribers engaged.

Neuroscience research supports the idea that novelty is almost as effective at grabbing our attention as physical need.

…Meaning something new is almost as exciting to my brain as something that will satisfy my hunger.

(And I get really excited when I see a box of donuts.)

You can also see proof of the power of novelty by looking at the counter-example…

What happens when you don’t switch it up?

I see this often with my clients: they’ll find a subject line that works well, so they reuse the same formula. But, pretty quickly… it stops working.

It happened with one client recently…

My client found great success with a subject line that followed the formula…

“[Product] is back!”

His email got an open rate 30% above their average open rate.

Not too shabby.

They used that same formula with a different product again, and this time they got another open rate 39.9% above average.

Great! This formula works like a charm.

But when they used it for a third time… their open rate unexpectedly dropped to 8.7% below their average open rate.

What happened?

The subject line wasn’t novel anymore, so people stopped paying attention.

Very quickly… after just three uses… this subject line formula was dead.

An attention-grabbing air horn can turn into snooze-inducing white noise pretty quickly in the world of email.

That’s why a combination of sales emails peppered in with other kinds of emails is your best chance to keep people interested.

Let’s see how top brands use novelty
in their email marketing

Top brands that do this well use three different kinds of emails:

  1. Sales emails
  2. Nurture emails
  3. Engagement emails

A sales email is going for the close – like a promotion or a product announcement.

A nurture email is nurturing subscribers and building their affinity for the brand and product line.

And an engagement email is going for a click, rather than a sale – linking to content like blog posts, surveys and social media.

Kettle & Fire, a brand selling bone broth to health-conscious customers, uses all three kinds of emails well.

Sales emails that provide discounts and make the case for their product:

Ecommerce sales email example
Sales email: welcome.
Sales email: abandoned cart.

Both emails are driving toward the use of a coupon. The welcome email is selling people on the brand, and the abandoned cart email is selling them on the product.

Kettle & Fire is anticipating where the customer is at and, in turn, matching their message to what the customer needs to hear (i.e.: “You’re likely here because you heard bone broth promotes skin, nail, joint and digestive health.”)

They also use nurture emails that educate people on bone broth and its importance for gut health:

Nurture email.

This builds a loyal subscriber base that can point to reasons why Kettle & Fire’s products are desirable.

And they send engagement emails that get people clicking through to their website and their content and building their relationship with Kettle & Fire.

Engagement email.

This email does a great job of showing why their content is worthy of a click – and sends readers clicking through to an email course.

Kettle & Fire rotates between these three kinds of emails, always trying to anticipate where the customer is in their journey and giving them the message they need to hear at that moment.

Another brand that does this well is Moo, a company that sells business cards and stationery.

They rely on design to drive curiosity in some engagement emails:

Moo engagement email.
Moo engagement email.

And then go full plain-text in other engagement emails:

ecommerce welcome campaign
Moo engagement email.

And also send a mix of sale and nurture emails:

Moo sale email.
Moo nurture email.

A short sale email driving you to an exciting, unusual sale. And a welcome email nurturing you on the brand.

These brands do it all. They use a variety of email types and use short emails alongside longer emails to engage their subscribers.

Now, I want to stop here, just in case the thought in the back of your head is…

“Wait, but people don’t read long emails. They want images, not text.”

If at this point, this is all making sense to you…

But you’re worried about sending longer emails that people have time to read…

There’s a study you might want to see.

In 2014, Hubspot surveyed thousands of people asking them what kind of email they preferred to receive: HTML or plain-text.

And their answers support the idea that you should send design-focused emails.

HubSpot email survey

They said they preferred HTML over plain-text.

And when HubSpot asked if they wanted mostly text or images in their emails, they said images.

HubSpot email survey

So… all of this would indicate that we should send short emails, right? More images. Less text.

Well, here’s where things get interesting…

What people say they want in email vs. what emails they actually preferred to engage with… tell two completely different stories.

HubSpot email survey

Increasing the design of HTML in the email – with more design and more images – actually decreased open rates. If you’re like “email content doesn’t affect open rates” (which it does), the study continues…

HubSpot also found that emails with more images had lower click-through rates. Zero images in an email generated the highest click-through rates.

So it makes sense why many marketers believe that more images and more design is better for email marketing.

After all, that’s what people say they want. But what creates actual conversions is text (ahem, copy!) and simple design.

But, there’s a place for both kinds of emails. Design-rich and text-rich emails nurture and engage subscribers in different ways. And you can use text-rich emails when you want to increase conversion rates. (I prefer the nice sound of a ka-ching to praise, personally.)

So there’s a place for emails with more design than copy, and emails with more copy than design.

Now, we just need to figure out when a text-rich email makes sense and when you should be more to the point.

“How do I know how long to make my email? Then figure out… what to write in it??”

Well, dear copyhacker…

Let’s get copyhacking.

And let me show you the formula and template that will…

Let you determine exactly how long to make every ecommerce email you send. And solve the problem of what copy to include.

We will do this by answering four questions:

  1. What’s my One Reader’s beginning stage of awareness?
  2. Where’s my One Reader in their customer lifecycle?
  3. How many emails are in this sequence?
  4. What’s the one goal of my email?

(If you’re not sure about all this “One Reader” and “stage of awareness” talk, check out 10x Landing Pages by Copyhackers. Yup, the foundational copywriting training in that course works for emails, too.)

Cool! There’s your answer. End of article.

I kid, I kid.

Let’s break down those four questions. And work through an example so it’s crystal clear.

We can use the email sequence from the sustainable apparel client I referenced earlier. I’ll show you how I built their welcome sequence to get them their 236% increase in revenue from email.We’re going to answer the four questions, then use them to fill in this template (which you can download for your own use):

And once that’s filled in, we’ll know exactly what content to include.

(Don’t worry about that template for now. We’ll come back to it later.)

Step 1. Find your One Reader’s beginning stage of awareness

If you’re not a seasoned copywriter yet, then stages of awareness may sound strange. Here’s a quick refresher:

Picture a slippery slope.

(Yes, I stole that from the great Joe Sugarman.)

Here’s how Joanna illustrates the stages of awareness and how they impact what you’ll write:

And here’s a modified view of that for ecommerce specifically:

If your prospects (your not-yet customers) are sliding down a slippery slope, on their way to becoming your customers, then they need to move from pain aware all the way through most aware to get there.

At each new stage, they come closer to buying your product, and importantly you cannot skip a stage.

If you want your prospect to turn into a customer, they cannot go from pain aware straight to most aware. They need solution awareness and product awareness to continue sliding down the slope.

So, in our example – the welcome sequence for the sustainable apparel brand – our one reader is new to our brand and probably knows little about what we offer.

So, in this case, I assumed they were in the earliest stage of awareness: pain aware. We use that information to answer the first question:

  1. What’s my One Reader’s beginning stage of awareness?
    Pain aware.
  2. Where’s my One Reader in their customer lifecycle?
  3. How many emails are in this sequence?
  4. What’s the one goal of my email?

Great. One down, three to go.

Step 2. Figure out where your One Reader is in their customer lifecycle

Lifecycle marketing is the idea that customers go through a… well, lifecycle.

In the early stages, a prospect becomes aware of you. Then they buy from you. (Hooray!) Then, they might buy from you again. (Whoopee!)

…But eventually they lose interest in your products or stop needing them (how many {something funny} does one woman need anyway?) and they move on. 

A sad day, but an inevitable one.

To visualize, the customer lifecycle looks like:

Here are the main stages to remember, as they relate to email marketing:

  • New: New to our brand, never purchased
  • Abandoned cart: Close to purchasing
  • Post-purchase: Just after purchasing from the brand
  • Lifecycle: The natural lifecycle of a product when it would make sense to purchase again (e.g. for a 30-day supply of vitamins, the lifecycle would be 30 days)
  • Winback: When a customer has lapsed and is not purchasing at the normal lifecycle interval.

For our example…

Since it’s a welcome sequence, then we’re sending these to prospects who are new. They have yet to make a purchase from us.

  1. What’s my One Reader’s beginning stage of awareness?
    Pain aware.
  2. Where’s my One Reader in their customer lifecycle?
    New
  3. How many emails are in this sequence?
  4. What’s the one goal of my email?

Moving right along…

Step 3. How many emails are in your sequence?

Now, this is something you can decide before you start creating content for your email sequence. It depends on the timing of your emails and how long you want your sequence to run.

If you’re sending a newsletter, then that would be a one-off and you can just fill in ‘one’. (The formula works the same way for newsletters.)

To help you decide how many emails to include in your sequence, here’s benchmark data from Klaviyo on how emails perform based on how many there are in the sequence:

For my sequence, I wanted to send four emails (so I could send a mix of sales and nurture emails). So let’s answer question #3.

  1. What’s my One Reader’s beginning stage of awareness?
    Pain aware.
  2. Where’s my One Reader in their customer lifecycle?
    New
  3. How many emails are in this sequence?
    4
  4. What’s the one goal of my email?

Step 4. Figure out the goal of your email

And finally, we move from questions about the entire sequence to questions about each individual email.

To do this, we need to refer back to our template from earlier:

Now, let’s fill in the pieces that we already answered from the first three questions: lifecycle, stage of awareness and number of emails.

Now, for each of the four emails in this sequence, we need to decide on what kind of email we’re going to send: nurture, sales or engage.

Determine the kind of email you’ll send based on your goal:

  • Sales emails sell, so their KPI is revenue (if you’re generating more orders) or average order value (if you’re generating larger orders).
  • Nurture emails nurture, so the KPI… depends.
  • Engagement emails engage, so their KPIs are click-through rate followed by active time on site.

Now, let’s look at my welcome sequence for my sustainable apparel client.

In my four-email welcome sequence, I’m going to send:

  1. A welcome email with a discount coupon (which is the incentive to opt-in).
  2. A nurture email that tells a story about the brand.
  3. A second nurture email that tells another story about the brand.
  4. A reminder email – that their discount coupon (from email #1) is expiring today.

That means emails #1, #2 and #3 are nurture emails because we’re nurturing new subscribers. And email #4 is a sales email because it’s the final email in the sequence and it’s closing on the expiring discount. So now our template looks like this:

(Note: email #1 has Sales listed as a secondary goal. We won’t use that in our formula, but I included it because we may want to use revenue as a KPI for that email – since it has a discount coupon included.)

Now, let’s use our formula to fill in all the grey cells for us.

Here’s the formula that will eliminate the guesswork from how long to make our emails:

For nurture emails, the ending stage of awareness of that email is one stage past the beginning stage of awareness of that email (e.g. Problem → Solution, Solution → Product).

For sales emails, it doesn’t matter what the beginning stage of awareness is. The ending stage of awareness is always most aware. (Since we’re trying to make the sale).

For engagement emails, the beginning and ending stages of awareness are the same. Since we’re trying to engage, not sell.

To make it easy, here’s your handy-dandy formula:

Nurture email: Add +1 to Stage of Awareness

Sales email: Ending SoA = Most Aware

Engagement email: Beginning SoA = Ending SoA

So for our example welcome sequence, this fills in the rest of our template to look like this:

Of course, this formula didn’t give me the description of our One Reader at the top.

I got that from all my voice of customer research. (You can check out content from master researchers – like the tutorial of Copyhackers’s own Hannah Shamji on getting quality VoC from customer interviews – to learn how to get inside the head of your One Reader.)

Armed with your VoC research, and now with this template, you can see how to work your VoC data into the email sequence you’re building.

Now, I made two promises to you…

That you’d know how long to make your emails AND that it would become clear what to write in your emails.

So let’s see how this template helps us with both of these problems.

Problem #1: Knowing how long to make your email

Just as the original conversion copywriter, Joanna Wiebe, teaches: copy is as long as it needs to be.

And you can figure out how long a piece of copy needs to be… by looking at the beginning and ending stages of awareness.

(Where your prospect is now vs. where they need to be for your goal.)

This template shows our beginning and ending stages of awareness for each email.

Let’s look at emails #1 and #4 from our sequence to see how this template influenced their length.

If you remember, both emails are giving a discount to the subscriber. So it would seem like they’d be identical in length. Right?

But what the template shows us, is:

  • Email #1 moves from problem aware to solution aware
  • Email #4 is already at most aware – and stays there

So email #1 is slightly longer than email #4 because it has more work to do. And email #4 is just going for the close.

Email #1
Email #4

They’re both discount, promotional emails, but that’s not what determines length. It’s the stages of awareness from our template that we need to adhere to. Here’s how to figure out how long your email should be:

The greater the distance between our beginning and ending stage of awareness of the email (with problem to most aware being the greatest), the longer our email needs to be.

So, length: solved.

Problem #2: Knowing what to write in your email

Now, this is the real magic of filling out the entire template.

To find what content is best, you need only to isolate the email that you’re currently writing and find the copy that solves your problem. 

Let’s look at email #2 for this one.

For this email, we’re moving the One Reader from solution to product aware for sustainable apparel.

So she knows about other sustainable apparel options, but she wants to know why our line of clothing in particular is better than our competitors’. And she’s frustrated that most sustainable clothes don’t look great and are expensive.

Bingo.

Now, all I have to do is weave the VoC I have from my research into an email about how problems with sustainable clothing shopping (the solution) are solved by a particular brand: EcoVibe (the product).

And the resulting email…

Armed with this template, and your voice-of-customer data, writing your email is largely done before you even open up your blank Google Doc. You know where to start, which is a great way to end Blank Page Syndrome. And you know your destination, which means you’re less likely to ramble. Now just plug that VoC into a compelling framework! Well, there’s a little more to it…

“I still don’t want to send long emails.”

If you’re still against writing a longer email with more than just a sentence or two of copy…

Darling, let’s not fight.

Let’s compromise.

Try writing an email with just a bit more length, but feel confident by putting a call-to-action above the fold.

Like I did in the first email of this sequence:

So no one has to read, if they don’t want to. They can click-through right away.

(And you and I can pick up this discussion later.)

“Okay, but what about campaign emails? Those go to a variety of people.”

You are absolutely right. I’ve got a suggestion for how to handle the varied audience of a typical email newsletter, but first I want to say…

THIS is exactly why segmentation is so powerful.

Segmentation helps you know which portion of your audience you’re speaking to, where they are in their customer lifecycle and what their stage of awareness is. The better your segmentation, the more you can dial-in your messaging and use this formula to your advantage. (Jo talks more about segmentation inside 10x Emails.)

But if you (like many ecommerce stores) are sending newsletters to your whole list…

You should switch it up between longer and shorter emails. Just like the examples I showed you above from Kettle & Fire. By getting different messages to your email list, you’ll get more of the right message to more of the right people.

Use nurture, sales and engagement emails to engage your whole email list. Use variety to target the natural segments within your email list.

A quick note on the engagement email –
the bread-and-butter of email newsletters.

Many times your campaign emails will be engagement emails. That’s the classic newsletter email that people think of when they think of marketing emails, where you link to content and try to get people to click through.

So let’s talk about what an engagement email should look like. Since, from our formula, you remember that the beginning and ending stages of awareness are the same.

Engagement emails, as you expect, should be very short.

Our stage of awareness doesn’t change with an engagement email. The content that people click through to might change their stage of awareness, but that’s not our email’s job. Our email’s job is to get them to that content.

So, here, the copy should be very short. Just enough to entice them to want to know what’s after that button.

That’s why the very short Moo engagement email works.

It’s doing just enough to get you curious, and not distracting you with anything else.

Copyhackers also sends engagement emails that follow this principle:

Just enough to make your curious about the content. Nothing else to distract.

It’s your sales emails and nurture emails that will be longer. Since those need to bring your subscribers further along in their journey. So make sure you’re still including engagement emails in your email newsletter strategy.

Your ecommerce emails…
mapped, wrapped and ready

By answering the following four questions:

  1. What’s my One Reader’s beginning stage of awareness?
  2. Where’s my One Reader in their customer lifecycle?
  3. How many emails are in this sequence?
  4. What’s the one goal of my email?

And armed with our voice of customer data and the answers to those four questions, we are able to fill in the white cells of this chart:

Then, use the following formula to automatically fill in the remaining grey cells:

Nurture email: Add +1 to Stage of Awareness

Sales email: Ending SoA = Most Aware

Engagement email: Beginning SoA = Ending SoA

We’ve mapped out the entire content strategy of any ecommerce email sequence.

Whether the emails you’re sending are automated, a single newsletter, a 10-email long sequence… or any other hypothetical you can imagine, with these tools in your arsenal, your email content strategy is solved.

So you never have to stare at the blank page again.

The post In Favor of Long, Image-light Ecommerce Emails appeared first on Copywriting for startups and marketers.

How I Turned Dozens of Bad Reviews into Hundreds of New Customers

Unhappy customers appear out of nowhere.

Usually online. Usually passionate. Usually vocal.

Nobody likes getting negative reviews. And I’m not advocating that you go out and try to stir some up. But here’s what a lot of people miss about getting bad reviews:

You can write some really great copy – and optimize your offers – using what unhappy customers tell you.

I did exactly that.

What I’m about to share works great for small businesses, freelancers, even established companies. If any of these scenarios rings a bill, you’ll want to read on:

  • Your business gets negative customer reviews that are public
  • Your business gets bad feedback from clients and customers, via support, phone or in-person conversations
  • You find yourself anxious or afraid of your work not being good enough to pass the test of all those strangers out there who might not like what they see… and might then say negative things about you.

Let’s turn bad feedback – which everyone gets – into a blessing.

Here’s how I just did exactly that for a client of mine.

My client’s last-ditch attempt at salvation

It all started when I received an email from a lead:

Long story short, this guy wanted me to work on his email campaign. He seemed to be in a rush. Nothing out of the ordinary. Leads almost always want things done yesterday.

Me + good money = good work.

Good work = happy client!

That’s what I thought… until I started researching his business and found a bunch of very negative one-star reviews:

I had a problem…

A HUGE problem. This client had so many negative reviews! It wasn’t catastrophic. But for a business getting most of it leads online, it certainly wasn’t going to make my job easier.

My client had so much bad feedback he could give Comcast a run for its money

Would people buy anything from him?

I relayed my thoughts to him and got an apt response:

“Just do whatever it takes to get me some business.”

Ah… if only it were that simple.

The nature of my client’s industry meant customer opinions and reviews were really important in influencing sales. It didn’t matter if I was John Caples’s reincarnate; prospects would always stop and reconsider their purchase the moment they checked the reviews.

I was very close to refunding my client’s deposit…

Then, it hit me.

What if I could somehow leverage negative customer feedback to improve conversion rates?

What if I could adapt the age-old sales technique of handling the objection before the customer brings it up?

Any other business owner would have raised concerns over the suggestion. But I knew my client was so desperate he’d accept whatever I offered to help keep the business afloat.

After a few hours of research, I realized most of the negative feedback revolved mainly around two things:

  1. poor customer service and
  2. the offer itself. 

When we talk about copywriting, we’re really talking about three things, in this order of importance:

  1. The list / visitors.
  2. The offer.
  3. The copy.

Optimizing your offer is even more important than optimizing your copy. What the negative reviews showed us was that customers felt the offer, which was a 28-day fitness challenge, under-delivered on its promise. It was mediocre at best, and it was over-priced at $197.

Bad review. Good insights.

So I incorporated my findings into an email campaign for a new and improved bootcamp. Customers were invited to try a 14-day challenge, after which my client could then upgrade them to the 28-day program.

But I didn’t stop at optimizing the offer. Instead of shying away from the flaws in the previous offer, I used my client’s mistakes as leverage in getting attention for (and clicks to) our emails.

Check out this email subject line, for example:

That subject line represented the overall tone and approach of the emails: no excuses, and 100% transparency about the previous offer (and past mediocre customer service).

Within a month, we brought in over 300 new customers with this email campaign. And we would not have arrived at this place of growth had we not read through and used those negative reviews.

The fact that I managed to get 300 paying customers despite working with such a massive disadvantage was unbelievable, even to the client.

Wondering if the reviews improved? They sure did. Remember: we upsold the 14-day folks to 28-day customers, hence the “28 day” mentions:

I know what you’re thinking.

What if that was just a fluke?

That crossed my mind a couple of times.

So I decided to repeat the exercise, but this time for a digital marketing coach and good friend of mine. The business was doing OK-ish in terms of customer feedback – not too bad yet nothing to write home about either.

My friend wanted to generate leads for his new course and enlisted my help to craft his autoresponder. I could have gone with a tried-and-tested technique, but my success with the previous client had me itching for experimentation. We had collaborated for a long time so I knew for a fact that this guy had one fault:

He was terrible at client calls.

You’d be more likely to win the lottery jackpot than to have a productive conversation with him on the phone. I say that with love. Great dude. Terrible salesperson. And although he didn’t have actual negative online reviews for me to reference, I knew from our experiences together that he was getting negative feedback in client calls.

So I did an A/B test for the autoresponder:

Variation A acknowledged negative feedback, while Variation B was your industry-standard email series. 

Like I did with the previous client, I tackled the problem head-on by inserting language and insights from the business’s negative reviews into the copy. Here’s how one of the subject lines turned out:

I turned my friend’s problem into an advantage by explaining why the guy sucks at client calls.

This is an excerpt from the email body copy:

Notice how I turned the negative feedback into a good thing for the client by justifying why it’s alright for him to suck at calls. Sure, it is a questionable approach, but this client is gung-ho in his teaching style (think Tim Ferriss). So it was not out of place for his business.

Guess what! I got great results again.

We got 42 paid signups (for a course worth $197) within the first 12 hours of launch day, which was way above what the client expected.

I tried the same technique with another fitness client.

This client was eager to promote his latest weightlifting program. Unlike the first fitness client, this gym had just surpassed the 4.5-star mark on Google.

The problem at this gym was this:

A lack of coaches.

People were coming in only to get turned down or were receiving minimal assistance. And their reviews showed it:

My client wasn’t too keen about my idea of acknowledging the gym’s weaknesses. Given it had been building momentum from a number of glowing reviews, why would he bother bringing up negative feedback that only happened once in a while?

With the results of the previous two clients, I convinced him to run a similar campaign and to hire a handful of part-time coaches to keep up with demand. One of the headlines I came up with for the email funnel alluded to this change:

Surprise, surprise: We sold out slots for every location within two weeks of the launch.

It turns out this negative-review-mining technique can be replicated… and it can be used in various niches to produce fantastic results. 

In the following sections, I’m going to discuss everything I did in leveraging negative reviews so you can use them to your advantage.

Bad reviews are more useful than you think

Reviews are crazy important.

Spiegel Research Center showed over 95% of online shoppers check reviews before buying online while a similar study by the Content Marketing Institute placed reviews as one of the most impactful factors in purchase decisions.

The relevance of online reviews for US buyers (image source)

The power of reviews is why many business owners tremble at the thought of getting bad comments – including yours truly.

It hurts to have someone say something negative about your work.

Imagine hustling your butt off only to have someone say it sucks.

“I’m not gonna pay for this!”

Awful, right?

Well, shit happens even to the best.

Apple got a ton of flak for throttling the performance of iPhones with older batteries.

Netflix lost half of its share value after a price hike in 2011. 

JetBlue made international news a decade ago after leaving over a thousand passengers stranded.

Guess what?

They’re still in business today. Big business.

To overcome bad reviews and leverage them in your favor, you need to know why and how they happen.

I split negative customer feedback into two parts: your fault, and the customer’s fault

You get bad reviews when your work sucks (duh).

The same also happens even if you do nothing wrong. No matter how hard you try, some people cannot be pleased.

What you CAN do is recognize your blunders and be honest about them.

I’m sure you’ve been through sticky situations in your career. Missed deadlines, shambolic client communications, poor work quality – you name it.

The best comeback?

A sincere apology. Let your customers know you made a mistake, that you’re sorry and you will make up for it.

Wait a minute…

Can I trust a company so open about its weaknesses?!

What if they make a mistake with MY order?

Unless you’re building spaceships, you WILL be making mistakes from time to time. Hiding your faults is going to take a lot more effort than accepting them.

You need to embrace your weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Why does being vulnerable work, anyway?

It boils down to how we treat and trust people who display signs of vulnerability. People who are vulnerable with each other are more likely to have longer lasting relationships than those who aren’t. 

Don’t get me wrong.

To be vulnerable is not to be weak; it is the willingness to let go of your ego and share your deepest, darkest fears as well as expressing your feelings truthfully.

You’re more likely to build stronger bonds with friends or family with whom you discuss personal issues than you are with colleagues or acquaintances who aren’t privy to your innermost thoughts and feelings. 

Umm… but what does this have to do with copywriting?

The exact same logic applies to businesses.

Your customers want to feel that closeness too!

Your customers want to know you understand them and that YOU have the best solution for their problems.

They don’t want to be another cog in the profit machine. They want to feel important – especially if your products are relatively expensive.

Last year, I finished an article way past the submission date.

My client commented on my lateness. And rather than making excuses, I owned my mistake and expressed my remorse. 

Obviously, he wasn’t happy about the late article but check out his response.

The point is…

I made a mistake, told my client about it and got back to work rather than finding excuses. 

When done correctly, apologizing builds trust and customer satisfaction – like in my situation. This guy has since become my most profitable (and happiest) client. And we’re still working together today.

Another perk?

Apologizing can help you win back customers and clients you’ve lost and turn them into loyal, profitable supporters of your business.

There’s nothing special about what I did.

Companies have been doing this for years.

Most successful companies have procedures to address their customers’ concerns, which also act as safety nets when shit hits the fan.

Companies fail from time to time,
but notice how they respond to negative reviews

Apple’s infamous Batterygate scandal is a textbook case of how effective this technique can be.

In response to the criticism, Apple released a letter addressing the problems with its phone batteries and apologized to customers for the inconvenience.

The complaints could’ve been brushed aside, but acknowledging the problems with the iPhone’s battery life was 100% the right move for Apple’s reputation. To top it off, Apple offered massive discounts on its batteries with no strings attached.

Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings made up for huge mistakes in his handling of pricing changes by apologizing publicly in an honest email, while former JetBlue president David Neeleman filmed an extremely personal video message after passengers were left stranded for over eight hours due to an ice storm.

And they worked.

Netflix continues to grow leaps and bounds every year despite the incident. And while Neeleman is no longer at the helm of JetBlue, his apology remains a top example of companies owning up to their failures and pleasing their stakeholders in the process.

Turn the frowns around: leveraging your negative customer feedback

Now you get why negative feedback is a good thing for your business. What can you do to make use of it in your marketing?

Step 1: Compile the negative reviews

Start by seeking out all the negative reviews you can find. A simple Google search on the name of your business will likely turn up a bunch. Review-sites like Yelp, Trustpilot and Facebook are also useful, or any other platform you may have set up for your company.

Don’t forget feedback via email, text messages, Slack channels and even phone calls. It all counts. Be thorough.

Pull out all the negative comments and compile them. (Try the Airstory Researcher.) For my clients, I copied every one- and two-star review and recorded them in Google Docs – like a swipe file for negative feedback.

Feeling down from all the not-so-nice words you’ve tallied up?

Take your time to bask in any positive reviews, too. Or go do something else for awhile.

Mistakes happen to everyone, and there’s always a way to bounce back from the bottom.

Ok, done?

Step 2: Identify the pain points within the negative feedback

Get out your highlighter (virtual or otherwise) and go through all the feedback you’ve collected. Highlight all the pain points mentioned.

A pain point is something your business must solve to function successfully. Ever pulled your hair out waiting for your license to be renewed? That is a pain point.

You have discovered a pain point if the person complains about something that:

  • They assumed you would do but you did not
  • You did but that was unsatisfactory to them
  • You shouldn’t have done, according to them 
  • Your competitors are doing better than you

Some examples of common pain points include:

  • Paying too much for a mediocre product or service
  • Bad customer support
  • Slow delivery
  • Broken promises

If there’s a rationale for the negatives, include it. Highlight the text that appears to reveal the source – or the why – behind the customer’s unhappiness, like I did here: 

If you’re having problems identifying the pain point and the reason for it, the review may be too vague or too short. In that case, move on to the next one.

Now you should have a document full of your customers’ and clients’ pain points.

This is what mine looked like:

Step 3: Now check out what people are saying about your competitors

Next, you want to repeat the process but for your competitors’ feedback. Use whatever channels are publicly accessible, and compile a document much like you did for your business.

Criticism of your competitors’ services is a gap in the market you can fill. 

Since their customers are not satisfied, those very customers will be looking for another business or solution WITHOUT the negative aspects mentioned in the feedback. That’s where you come in.

For example: Picture yourself running a logo design agency. You discover your competitors don’t deliver their work on time. With this information, you know clients want deliverables to be sent quickly.

What do you do?

You craft your emails and proposals to include your agency’s speed in completing design projects, since you know that matters to prospects.

Make sense?

You can merge your competitors’ reviews together with your own, but I prefer to have separate files.

Ideally, you should have two documents: 

1) a document for your negative reviews and 

2) another document for your competitors’ negative reviews.

Highlight the pain points like you did in the previous step.

Step 4: Extract the biggest offenders

Organizing, extracting and analyzing your pain points – and those of your competitors – will help you unearth the most common offenders you’ll want to refer back to in your copy. 

I recommend building a table to record these pain points and sorting them based on the number of times they occur. You can do without it but it’s going to be messy if you have multiple reviews, so I suggest creating a simple table like this table I used for my clients (it’s yours for the copying).

I call it the Table of Mistakes. It’s extremely basic but it gets the job done. 

Sort these pain points into ‘bigpain points as shown below. Think of them as categories for your pain points.

The ‘big’ pain points vary for everyone. 

If you’re running a SaaS startup, for example, the availability and responsiveness of your website would be good additions to the table.

How the table works is simple 

The more entries under a big pain point, the more important it is for you to address and the more impact it will have when used in your copy. 

The same logic applies to your competitors’ table, except that more entries means a bigger market gap for you to fill.

Once you’re finished filling in the Table of Mistakes, focus on your biggest pain point and identify the key problems within it. These problems are the root cause of the pain point; they’re the reason(s) your customers or clients complained in the first place.

In my case, clients were confused about the cancellation and refund policy.

So I wrote that in the key problem column of my table.

The key problem column is a summary of the pain points for a category. In the example below, most of the complaints were about the product’s payment structure and cancellation policy. I summarized this and filled it in the key problem column.

Doing this allows you to see the big problem easily when you’re working on the copy later.

Fill in the key problems for your competitors’ pain points, too.

Nice!

You’re finally done with your Table of Mistakes.

Now you have a knowledge base documenting why prospects are unhappy with your business or industry.

Take a break or bookmark this post for later if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

The next section is going to talk about implementing what you’ve gathered into your sales materials.

Crafting an effective email campaign with your pain points

I’ll be talking solely about writing email copy, assuming you already have a list of subscribers to market to.

But if that’s not the case, and you’re interested in learning about how to generate leads or convert them to subscribers, HubSpot has an evergreen lead generation guide you can check out, and the incredible Jon Lamphier has a great piece on creating high-converting lead gen pages right here on Copyhackers.

Let’s turn your negative reviews into amazing, sales-generating emails.

For my clients, I used a five-part email series:

  • 1 introductory/welcome email
  • 3 value-based emails
  • 1 sales email (directing them to a landing page)

You can use any number of emails you want, but I suggest between three to seven emails for optimal results.

The key here is to acknowledge your vulnerabilities in your emails and, at the same time, convey your business’ strengths to your leads.

Cool. How the hell do I do that?

Refer to your completed Table of Mistakes. 

That table has everything you need to come up with incredible headlines and engaging copy.

Your only concern now is working your copywriting chops with the data you have and writing emails so good it’d be criminal for your leads to ignore.

Start by creating strong, personal subject lines

Everyone has their own beliefs, but I swear by starting with the subject line first.

I don’t have to tell you that the subject line IS the most important part of your email series if you care about open rates.  

No matter how great your copy or offer is, NOTHING will happen if the email is not opened in the first place.

In my client’s case, I used a brutally truthful headline for the first email:

This headline would’ve never seen the light of the day for 99% of businesses, but I had free reign and my client was comfortable with the tone.

I used the same style for the other subject lines in the series.

They were a hit. We achieved a 52% open rate average across every headline.

To make things sweeter, the autoresponder brought in 150 paid customers but the client only paid about $20 to acquire each one.

That’s the power of a strong subject line.

Higher open rates, lower lead costs and if your copy is equally top-notch, expect no less than a fruitful success from your campaign.

Choose a pain point as a base for you to craft your subject line.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes.

What would be the biggest concern for you?

I’ll take cost as an example.

The big problem was that customers were unclear about how the business’s payment structure worked. 

This led to serious misunderstandings as they believed they were being charged without permission.

I came up with a subject line addressing the problem and, at the same time, relaying the benefits of my client’s offer.

The offer for the campaign had a 100% refund policy so I wanted to leverage it in my subject line.

Leading to…

I used personal words like “me” and “you” instead of words like “we” or “our business.”

Why?

You want your subject lines to be as intimate as they can be.

Going back to my opening email, which of these subject lines would you click on?

“We messed up. We’re sorry.”

“I fucked up. I’m sorry.”

The second one would win almost always because it’s personal. You feel like the CEO is talking to you, not “we”.

In a nutshell, use your pain points in your subject lines and write them in a way that makes your readers feel you’re talking to them one-on-one.

Read this comprehensive post on writing effective headlines if you need more guidance.

Write copy to generate trust

I made a huge blunder in the first few days I was working on the campaign in question.

I worked hard on coming up with honest subject lines, but the actual body of the emails did not represent at all what was mentioned in the subject line.

I realized…

You shape expectations based on your subject line.

Before I knew it, I was already in a pickle.

My client was losing his mind over the emails. Open rates were brilliant but conversions remained as awful as ever.

Thankfully, I had a fallback.

Whenever my copy fails, I always return to the Toyota of copywriting techniques – the ever-reliant PAS formula.

It was perfect for the campaign, although I needed to tweak it a little.

The pain points were the problems, the comments left by disgruntled customers settled the agitation part and the steps we took to nullify the problem were the solution!

Here’s how one of the email intros looked like:

I wrote the body in response to my client’s team not giving enough guidance and motivation to customers – one of the major pain points.

I agitated leads further by mentioning how it must suck to not have enough help in completing the program. 

VERY IMPORTANT.

Empathize with your customers and understand why pain points exist to make it work.

You won’t be able to agitate your readers until you fully understand how the problems affect your customer.

When done right, your customers feel connected to you – like you’re living inside their head.

They are more likely to trust and like you more. 

Guess what that leads to?

More sales!

In my client’s case, I knew customers would struggle to progress in his course if the team did not provide enough support – so I used it as my agitation point.

The question is:

How do you come up with effective agitation copy?

You already have all your (and your competitors’) pain points. So put yourself in the shoes of your prospect and think of how it would affect you if the highlighted problem did happen to you.

I would be mad.

Waste of time.

My progress would stall.

Tune your mind to your prospects’ feelings and you’ll quickly get the inspiration you need to agitate your readers.

Belinda Weaver has a great resource for writing effective PAS-based copy to give you some inspiration. And here’s another super in-depth and useful guide for writing agitation copy from Joanna herself.

Now on to writing the solution.

Tell your leads what you’ve done to solve the problem.

Explain why the pain points are no longer a concern and more importantly, how they can benefit from your solution.

Here’s what I did.

I addressed the customer support concerns by mentioning that every customer will have a dedicated support staff member assisting them throughout the course, along with the gym’s updated 24-hour response policy.

Notice how I transitioned from weakness to benefits in the solution. 

What started off as an email to acknowledge a vulnerability has now turned into a pitch for the lead to try out a better solution for his or her pain point.

The key is to explicitly convey what you’ve done to address the deficiencies.

Saying, “Hey, we did something for you” is not going to work.

Customers want to hear, “Hey, I did X, Y and Z for you and here’s what you’ll gain.”

Relay how these changes impact your customers positively. 

For my client, improving the team’s attention to customers would mean that they would be able to complete the offer faster and eventually increase their bottom line.

You’ve heard about it a million times, but remember to emphasize the benefits your CUSTOMER will gain, NOT the benefits to your business.

Instead of:

“We have improved our team communication times.”

Use:

“Send a request and we’ll respond in an hour. Guaranteed.”

Another great conversion booster is specificity. This means including figures or statistics in the benefits of your solution as it’s a fact that specificity improves conversion rates

In my case, the client gave a $37 discount to leads who joined early. Instead of using dollars to convey the discount, I used a specific percentage to illustrate the savings. This drove home sales considerably as it was easier for buyers to see how much they would save if they signed up early.

This works in other industries, too. If you’re an accounting freelancer, for instance, telling your leads how many hours and the potential headache they can save with your services is a good way to apply specificity.

You can learn more on specificity in this really good post by Kelton Reid.

Why these tactics work

To help me understand what was working, I asked customers targeted in these campaigns why they made the purchase.

It turns out people were surprised by this:

How honest the emails were. 

In a barrage of generic “Last chance!” and “How this person used X and earned Y” nonsense, our emails stood out and made them feel like their attention mattered.

A huge contributing factor to the success was the subject lines.

I made sure they were:

  • Personalized to each prospect using their name or location
  • Relevant to the pain points I collected

Neville Medhora talked about how powerful personalized headlines can be in his blog post (totally worth reading) on writing great subject lines. 

The low-down?

Personal-sounding subject lines had significantly higher open rates compared to other types of subject lines.

I also received a brief but enlightening email from a customer…

When you use the tone or language your prospects are familiar with, they are more likely to trust what you say. The (slightly) vulgar headlines and copy I used may have been disastrous for larger companies where professionalism is a must – but they worked great for this particular client, where the audience talks like the client does.

Too many marketers become so engrossed in crafting awesome copy to the point where they forget who they’re writing for.

Can’t find the right tone to use for your audience? Don’t be afraid of emulating bodies of work that you like. Look at what other companies are doing successfully to gauge the effectiveness of your copy and gather inspiration – copywriters have been doing it for decades with swipe files.

When all else fails, go the old-fashioned route: get in touch with your customers personally.

Gather up those one-star reviews and start emailing

Hopefully, I’ve opened up your mind to the possibilities of leveraging negative feedback to your advantage.

So the next time you see a one-star review notification pop in your inbox, don’t fret. That review may just be the catalyst you need to kickstart a new offer and a successful email marketing campaign.

The post How I Turned Dozens of Bad Reviews into Hundreds of New Customers appeared first on Copywriting for startups and marketers.