Dotcomology by Stone Evans, Joseph Costa - HTML preview
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6. Exploding Your Profits through Email Marketing
Email marketing is pretty similar, but with one important difference: online, you can only send marketing emails to people who have already requested to receive them. And, because those people have already chosen to receive your emails, you can be a lot more confident that they will read your offers and buy from you.
6.1 Collecting Opt-In Email Addresses
Email is still the most popular and most used communication medium on the Internet. It’s also an efficient way to distribute your message to large numbers of people who have requested that information. As a form of marketing, it generates high response rates and gives you measurable results with instant feedback.
Just keep in mind, it is never acceptable to send commercial email to people who haven’t requested to receive email from you. Bust that rule, and there’s a good chance you’ll be out of business. That gives you the challenge of building up a list of willing subscribers.
When you’re first starting out, there’s often a temptation to simply purchase an opt-in email list. Lots of people sell them and you can easily pick up a million or so addresses for just a few bucks. But while that may appear to be a fast, easy way to build up customers, the names on the list may not be up to date and they are not even opt-in contacts at all. To say it bluntly, emailing people from a list like that is called spamming.
Similarly, there are also programs that automatically crawl the web, recording every email address they find. These will let you quickly build up a huge list of email addresses. But, nobody will thank you when you stuff their inboxes with marketing material. Forget about them; they’re not worth the effort. It’s much safer, and much more effective, to take the time to build your own real opt-in list.
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6.2 Double Opt-in
Marketing by email can attract new customers, keep existing ones, up-sell, cross-sell, and cut costs. E-merchant Wine.com, for example, found email campaigns drove twice as many "best prospects" to their site compared to banner ads or other Internet marketing activities.
If executed improperly though, email campaigns can backfire with disastrous business consequences. How to minimize the risk and maximize the return? Part of the answer is a common sense approach called "permission" or "opt-in" marketing, in which customers or prospects volunteer to receive email.
Continuing on the lines of “opt-in” marketing, one of the most successful methods is the double opt-in technique. In double opt-in a user elects to receive email newsletters or standalone commercial messages. A confirmation email is sent to that user, who is now required to take one more action to be included on the list. The person must click the link within the confirmation email to affirm their intent to join your mailing list.
Although, the double opt-in techniques runs the risk of losing subscribers during the confirmation process, it gives the subscribers more control and thus, has proven to be more successful. That said, here are some measures emailers who practice double opt-in can take to reduce confirmation drop-offs.
When a user enters his address, mention an email will be sent to him and include its estimated arrival time. Indicate the user is required to respond to that message to receive subsequent mailings. With transactional customers, consider placing this information on the page with order confirmation.
Ideally, a confirmation message is sent immediately. It should be sent while the subscription is fresh in subscribers' minds and they're still engaged in an online session. If you indicate it will be within a day or two, make sure you follow through on that promise. If your systems are slower, then requirements related to message content are even more relevant.
6.3 Intelligent Targeting Through Tailor Made Research
As with any other marketing campaign, careful planning and proven techniques are the best way to deploy the most effective campaigns and to realize the highest response rates. The key: putting the right offer in front of the right person at the right time. Targeting your emails is crucial for any email marketing campaign. No product or service can be all things to all people. Acknowledging this reality, targeting is simply focusing your marketing onto a specific niche. The two factors that you alter to target your email campaigns are targeting the message, and targeting the list.
Targeting your message means tailoring your message to the expected audience. For example, you may have two pitches for your product: one that concentrates on the radical new features of the product, and another that details the tremendous cost and time savings from using it. You can also target the ad used for the email campaign. You might have two versions, one that uses a clean list of bullet points, and another that features highly stylized text that flies across the screen.
You also need to target (i.e. subdivide) your email lists. Targeted messages will be more effective when sent to an appropriate group of recipients. Continuing the example above, you would send the product feature pitch and technical information to technical people, and send the cost savings information to finance people.
The primary rule of effective targeting is deceptively simple: figure out what your target groups wants, and then offer it to them. How do you go about doing that? Simple, try asking some of your existing customers. Another way to know what actually works is to send a test campaign to a sample of your targeted group. Once you have the attention of the recipient, for an all too brief moment, the biggest factor in obtaining a positive response is usually how valuable the offer is perceived to be. Providing something of actual value that really speaks to the target is a requirement.
Tell a story to each targeted group over a series of messages. This will help lead to increasing the permission level with each recipient. As you learn more about each other you will be able to utilize more sophisticated targeting. Once you begin to establish a dialog with your target, eventually a true one-to-one marketing relationship can develop.
Unless you have an unlimited budget for your marketing efforts, you need to make sure that every dollar invested counts. You need to target your email campaigns, or else much of your efforts are being wasted. Be careful to target accurately, or your campaign might miss the target or even work against you. Deliver the correct message to the correct group of recipients, and the results from your campaigns will "hit the bull's-eye" and deliver a great boost to your profits.
Many marketers peg acquisition-based email response rates at historically low levels, primarily due to the high volume of messages in everyone's inboxes these days. Some believe that allocating any percentage of a marketing budget to acquisition-based email is waste.
However, this is not true. Although the true response rates for acquisition are typically lower than those for retention-based email, renting lists to win over prospects and grow a customer base can work wonders, if you do your homework.
Here are some guidelines that can help in buying or renting lists for achieving high ROI.
- With email, just like direct mail, how precisely the list is targeted to the marketer’s offer is critical to the success of the email campaign. The marketer will need to test a variety of email lists in order to find the most responsive names for their offer. Recency, Frequency, and Monetary Value are important within email lists. Thus, where applicable, focus on lists of recent online buyers or registered users.
- More importantly, when researching email lists, focus on the origin of the list to ensure compatibility with your offer. Make sure you obtain names from branded, well-recognized sites or sources. Since an outbound email announces to the recipient, in the form of a header, exactly where they gave permission, a well-recognized source would lend more credibility to the message.
A frequency cap can ensure lists aren't over mailed. If a list manager can't provide the details on mailing frequency, look elsewhere. That organization probably lacks the control, technical expertise, and reporting basics. Also ask about recency selections. Newer names offer access to new subscribers.
Frequent uploads of new names and instant suppression of unsubscribes are a must. Your brand will be associated with spam by those who unsubscribed but still receive mailings before their request is processed. Lists that are housed and resold by multiple managers are probably mailed more frequently. This negatively impacts performance, brand equity and deliverability.
As email filtering becomes dominant, you must make sure list managers are up to speed on delivery techniques and processes. ISP relations and white listing are critical. Check all available blacklists for the list manager's IP addresses. List managers should be able to monitor delivery of their campaigns and ensure messages are delivered to the inbox, not a bulk mail folder.
Finally, the best-performing lists provide the most ability to slice and dice the file to find the right people for your offer. Sorting based on demographics, psychographics, and even specific stages of the buying cycle will almost always outperform untargeted mailings.
6.5 Creating Unblockable DHTML Pop-Ups
Pop-ups are mini windows that open when a user takes a particular action. That action could be anything from reaching the site, clicking onto a particular page, or even leaving the site. The problem with using a traditional pop-up on your site is that it will probably be blocked by one of various pop-up blocking tools on the market.
However, there are some types of pop-ups that do get around most of the pop-up blockers on the market and many online marketers use these “unblockable” DHTML pop-ups quite successfully.
In fact, many businesses use DHTML pop-ups in collaboration with joint venture partners as a way of sharing traffic, but they’re also great ways to collect visitors’ email addresses so that you can keep them informed and send them marketing material. It’s very effective.
So how do you add DHTML pop-ups to your site?
The easiest way to employ this technique is using software to build your DHTML pop-ups. You can download a software program for free that will creates DHTML pop-ups for you in a few easy clicks at: www.antssoft.com/wisepopup/ One of the best things about DHTML pop-ups is that they’re very easy to produce. It takes just a few lines of script inserted into the <HEAD> and <BODY> parts of your website and, using the software listed above, you don’t even need to hire a programmer to do it for you.
Anyone can do it. But there’s no point in having a working pop-up if the pop-up itself doesn’t have text that is persuasive enough to sell. There are a few sales tactics that you can use on your pop-up to make sure the visitor actually fills in the form and sends you his details:
1. Give Them a Reason to Play
If you really want to make sure your visitors hand over their email addresses, offer them something in return. Free reports are good, ebooks are fine too. In fact, anything that’s free and relevant is likely to get results. You don’t have to go overboard here; if you can find a goody that won’t cost you anything, fantastic.
The title tag of your pop-up isn’t going to push it up the search engine listings, but it’s still important. If you leave it out, or worse, write something daft, like “mypopup”, no one’s going to take you seriously. Be professional and you’ll achieve professional results. Use a real title and make it interesting.
3. Use a Hard-Hitting Headline
I’ll talk about headlines in more detail later in this chapter. That being said, I can’t stress how important headlines are. You’ve got about two seconds to grab a reader’s attention and make them read. That’s the job of your headline. It’s got to focus on the benefits the user can expect by signing up:
“Increase Your Sales By 127%!”
“Learn How To Speak Swahili In Three Weeks Or Less!”
“FREE Marketing Newsletter! Sign Up Here!”
Use a boring headline and you’ll get a boring bottom line.
If your users have to wait more than a few seconds for the pop-up to download, the chances are they’ll close the window before it’s finished. Use minimal graphics and make sure everything’s optimized before you put it on the server.
5. Make it Sexy!
Slim doesn’t mean the same as dull. You can still use cool colors and attractive fonts, but make sure the pop-up looks professional. The copy has to be easy to read, and the whole page has to be good on the eye. Simplicity is key when it comes to effective pop-up design.
You might think it’s a good idea to keep the pop-up open until the user signs up. But if they’re not going to register to get the benefits you’re offering, are they likely to opt-in just to get rid of the pop-up box? And if they do, are they likely to buy from you? Keep your users happy; let them close the box easily if they want it out of the way. They might just buy something instead.
All right, so you’ve got the addresses. Now what are you going to do with them? Obviously, what you’re going to do is send your users marketing messages via email so that they’ll know all about the great products and services you offer.
There are two ways you can do that: you can send them a newsletter every couple of weeks or so; or you can send them a sales letter. Newsletters are very important for building trust with your subscribers and warming them up to your sales offers. In the next chapter, I’ll discuss newsletters in detail.
In the rest of this chapter, I’m going to explain how to write simple sales material that gets results. I’ll do that by concentrating on the two most important parts of any sales material: the headline and the call to action. Get those two right, and any piece of marketing material you produce — online or off — will get the results you want.
6.6.1 Writing Headlines That Grab Your Customers and Sell Your Goods!
Headlines are absolutely vital for all your marketing efforts. Whether you plan to use them on your website, your emails, your newsletters or anywhere else, they’re the hook that grabs your readers, reels them in and turns them into customers. There are dozens of different kinds of headlines that you can use and some of them are better than others. Below are the type of headlines that I use, and that I’ve found to be the most effective.
The No-Nonsense Headline
The first type of headline you can use is the simplest. No frills, no tricks, no hooks, just a straightforward description of the contents of your message. Your headline could be something like:
Tips to Save Money on Your Weekly Shopping
The Best Way to Choose Your Next Car
Real Estate Agents That Sell Properties Fast
Notice that you can still use explanations and powerful adjectives to get your point across, but these headlines do little more than tell the reader what to expect.
The advantages of these headlines is that they’re easy to write and easy to read. You don’t have to try to come up with some hard-hitting sales message and customers aren’t put off by a document that looks like a piece of promotional material. On the other hand, they are a bit weak and that makes them hard to turn into cash.
You can use no-nonsense headlines when you don’t need to work hard to make the sale. If you’re sending information that you know your customer will read, either because it’s free or they’ve specifically requested it, these are the kind of headlines to use.
Question headlines work by asking customers a question that plays on their worries and promises a solution. These are great when you really want to grab a customer and drive your message home.
Want To Save Thousands On Your Home Insurance Bills? Learn How To Cut Your Costs In Half!
Where Do You Look For Love? Discover The Best Places To Meet Your Match!
Suffering From Termites? Drive Them Out With The Extermite-Ator!
To write these headlines, think first of what problem your product is actually going to solve. (If it’s not going to solve a problem, then you’re going to have a problem selling it!) In the first half of the headline, you ask your customers if they’re suffering from the problem. Just by asking, you’re suggesting that they do. In the second half of the headline, you tell them that you have the solution. It’s very easy and extremely effective.
This is a really simple formula to follow: all you have to do is state the question and promise the answer. And it sells too; you’ve put the problem in the reader’s mind, now you’re offering the solution.
Of course, these kinds of headlines depend on the reader empathizing with the problem. If they don’t, or if they decide that the headlines look too long to read, they’re not likely to buy.
Question headlines are most effective when your product is going to clearly solve someone’s problem and when you know your customers are going to empathize with that problem. If they don’t say yes to the question, they’re going to say no to the sale.
The How Headline
This is pretty similar to the question headline, but only offers the solution. It makes for a shorter read than question headlines so you get your point across faster, but you lose the empathy.
How To Fix Up Your Home Without Breaking The Bank!
How I Made $3,000,000 With One Phone Call!
How I Lost 33 Pounds On A High Fiber Diet And A Revolutionary New Exercise Plan!
These kinds of headlines cut straight to the problem-solving aspect of your product. They’re short and to the point and can be easily absorbed with just a glance.
How Headlines are great when the rest of the document is going to reveal information. That information might just be details about your product, but the focus should always be on telling customers how they can solve a problem. These work best when you’re selling information products like books or newsletters.
There’s a good reason that magazines like Cosmopolitan use headlines like “6 Ways To Drive Your Man Wild!” They work. Most people are put off by the sight of a giant slab of text. They want their information in bite-sized chunks. When you put a number in your headline, you let your reader know that the information you’re offering them is going to be easy to read:
7 Ways To Make Your Computer Run Faster
15 Proven Ways To Make Money From Home
23 Sales Tools That Guarantee Success
The advantage of these headlines is that they promise easy reading, increasing the chances that your text will actually be read. It’s also easy to slip a call-to-action sales message into these kind of documents: one of the promised solutions can be: “buy my product”!
On the other hand, easy reading isn’t the same as interesting reading. The headline still has to grab your readers to make them want to read it.
Numbered Headlines are most effective when you’re confident your readers will find your message interesting and you don’t have to fight to make them read on. They’re best used when you’re competing against other articles or sales letters. I use them a lot in newsletters, especially when I know it’s going to be published in a joint venture partner’s newsletter.
The Testimonial Headline
These are some of the toughest headlines to write. You take a chunk of text from a letter written by a satisfied customer and use that as the headline for a sales letter:
“Last Year, I Was Working 12 Hours A Day And Making Just $36,000. Last Month, I Made $32,000 And Worked Three Days — All Due To The Amazing Techniques Revealed Below!”
“I’d Tried Every Weight Loss Program Ever. I’d Tried Dieting, Exercise, High-Fiber, Low Fat, High-Carbs... You Name It, I’d Done It And Nothing Worked. Then I Tried The Lose Fat Fast Program. I Lost 33 Pounds In The First Two Months And I’ve Never Felt Better!”
“Within A Week Of Sending Out My Resume, I’d Got Three Interviews And A Fantastic Job Offer. I Couldn’t Have Done It Without You!”
These headlines put your reliability right at the top, increasing the customers’ confidence to buy. They explain in detail precisely what you’re offering and what you can do for the reader. They also create massively long headlines that are difficult to absorb at a glance and can put a reader off.
Testimonial headlines are best used in industries where reliability is a bit of a problem. If you’re selling weight loss products for example, or any other life-changing service, then a headline like this goes some way towards proving to the buyer that you’re trustworthy.
Those are just five kinds of headlines that I use in my businesses every day. There are dozens more, but these are the ones that I’ve found the most effective. There’s certainly enough here for you to get started. Play around with them, figure out which ones would work best for your business and try them out.
But even the best headline will only grab a reader’s eye and get him reading. They won’t close the sale. After the headline you’ll need to describe all the wonderful benefits of your product in order to get the reader to actually take the action you want.
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6.6.2 Tips for Building Your Email Lists
A popular Internet battle cry states that “the money is in your list”. It’s true that you can make a lot of money by building a list of opt-in subscribers, establishing trust with those subscribers and sending those subscribers special offers promoting your products.
But you must do it correctly. Here’s a few tips that will help you get the most bang for your buck out of your list-building activities:
While requesting a visitor to sign up, collect information that is relevant to your business. A recent study lamented that most of the corporate probing was unnecessary, given that most companies never act on the information they extract from their customers. It is crucial that you know exactly what you intend to do with the information you’re going to collect. Moreover, you should also be able to prove to your visitors that information you would be collecting from them is actually vital for your business.
Don’t Make Your Customers Repeat Information
Most customers don’t mind telling their banks the ages of their children if they think the bank will use the information to help them sort through the myriad of college savings plans or make them aware of estate planning issues. But nothing irritates customers more than having to repeat the same information to each channel as if it’s the first time they've ever heard the information. This is especially true in the case of email lists on websites.
We’ve discussed the importance of focusing or targeting customers earlier as well. Current customers are the most important email addresses to collect, much more so than prospects. They’ll be more receptive to your communications and likely to respond, since they’re familiar with your company and its products. Don’t waste your time running campaigns that attract a high number of visitors who have no interest in your products or services.
Special offers like coupons and discounts are classic direct marketing techniques that translate extremely well to email. In order for an offer to be effective, it must provide something of real value to the recipient. Minimal discounts are not enough to get the reader’s attention; you have to offer something of substance. Of course, don’t discount lower than your profit on the transaction. Having a time limit on discounted offers is also very important in order for the call to action to work effectively.
Apart from using the Internet, there are also ways you can use your marketing efforts in the real world to help build your email lists.
From your local chamber of commerce, to specialized industry groups, the meetings of many organizations are great opportunities to make contact with new people. You are exchanging business cards with interested prospects or possible referral sources, so make sure that you send appropriate email communications to these people. Start with a personal email recapping your conversation with them, and ask them if they would like to be added to your monthly email list. Don't just start sending a barrage of email to every person that you come in contact with. Make sure that the person indicated their interest in what you have to offer first, or your contact will become quickly unwanted.
Whether you have a booth, are one of the presenters, or are simply attending a trade show, you have an excellent potential opportunity similar to networking events, but on a much greater scale. Organizing the follow-ups to people you actually spoke to yourself then adding the person to your personal contact list is a given.
The general information requests gathered by associates at your booth can be handled in a similar way. Lastly, you may have organized a giveaway or contest to gather more leads at the show. These people are frequently less interested in what you have to say, and more interested in whatever they might be getting or winning. As a result, it may require secondary contact to obtain the permission to add them to your regular communications. In general, hitting contest winners with a "hard sell" is not usually effective.
Organizing informational seminars is a great way to build a healthy relationship with prospects and potential referrers. One effective technique is to have advance registration and to ask permission to send regular emails at that time. This way, even if the person is not able to attend the seminar, you still have an opportunity to stay in touch with them. After all, they were interested enough to register for the seminar.
Concerts, parties, art openings, or any other occasion that gathers people together provide an opportunity to build your email address lists. Having a registration or check-in location, or associates with clipboards working the room are just two ways to make contact. In the case of events, it is a good idea to offer some kind of incentive to boost signups. However, make sure that the person can only receive the incentive via email. This way, you will improve the quality and accuracy of the lists you are collecting.
Post Cards/Direct Mail
When a company has an existing database of postal addresses, direct mail may be the best way to get the email addresses of your existing customers and prospects. Again, offering an incentive always helps stimulate a greater response and is particularly effective when there is a pre-existing relationship. This helps increase the typical response rate of converting postal address recipients to email recipients. Publish a specific website address on your mailing to direct people to a landing page with the list signup form on your site.
6.6.3 Email Content – Text vs. HTML
This is every email marketer’s dilemma. More so, due to the fact that there is no clear majority of people preferring one format over the other. Some people will always prefer text to graphics, and some email readers only support basic text. A prominent Internet marketing website recently carried out a survey asking not only which format was preferred but why one format was preferred over another. Over 600 people, mostly marketers and small business operators, responded.
55% favored HTML and 45% preferred text. Given that well over 90% of email readers can view HTML, it is surprising that almost half the people would prefer to receive text. To investigate this point further, the survey gave those who chose text a list of possible reasons to explain why. On average, people listed about two and a half reasons each. They said:
- Can't read HTML 6%
- Just want the meat without the distractions 32%
- Like to read offline 15%
- Ads are more intrusive in HTML 22%
- Slow to download 14%
- Other 11%
The most popular reason for choosing plain text over HTML was an interesting one. People were clearly expressing a desire for email layouts that focused on the message, and they often saw HTML emails as containing elements that distract from the content — the content being the reason they signed up for the email in the first place.
11% of the people who selected “Other” as their reason gave their own reasons as:
- Text takes up less storage space 28%
- Security — fear of viruses 22%
- Easier/faster to read/scan 13%
- Text is easier to read on a PDA 9%
- Text is more reliable, formatting/forwarding etc. 7%
- Easier to save/file/copy text 6%
- Like to read email in preview pane 4%
- Text is more personal 4%
- Fear of tracking/being spied on with HTML 4%
- Text is more easily searched offline 1%
The fact still remains that readers are almost equally divided on their preference. The best way to get around this is to give your subscribers an option of receiving messages in text or HTML.
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6.7 Managing Email campaigns
People respond more favorably to marketing when they feel special and unique. People respond differently to things when they perceive themselves as part of a group. These are only some of the psychological factors that come into play when using individual message personalization as a part of your email marketing campaigns. When done correctly, personalization can be a powerful way to reinforce the bond between your company and your customer. However, poorly personalized messages can just as quickly sever that connection that you have worked so hard to establish.
The initial greeting has a tremendous impact on whether a recipient will read the rest of a communication. The tone must match the type of communication and the type of relationship that exists between the sender and recipient. For example, "Hi John" is good for an email from a business to consumer, but too casual for a message to a business recipient. A "Dear Mr. Smith" or "Dear John Smith" is more appropriate for a business to business communication in email just as in a business letter.
A very strong technique is including a reference to a specific product or service that the recipient has either already purchased, or that they have requested information about. Don't forget to link directly to the page on the site that corresponds to the product or service you are trying to sell.
When recipients are members of a known group or organization, you can create a positive tie-in. When using this kind of personalization, you must make sure that the relevancy will be obvious for the recipient. This works particularly well for sending partner offers, but again only as long as the offer tightly matches the needs of the target group, and will be perceived as relevant.
The more reliance your email marketing campaign has on your database, the more important that it is to have the correct data. Errors in your data can lead to your mailing showing how poorly you know the recipient, not how well.
Always have default information to substitute in case you are missing data. You can write your copy so that substituting this default text maintains the flow of the narrative. For example, let's say you plan on merging the "Company Name" from your database into your email. Using default text of "your company" works well as in "We know that XYZ Corp. can benefit from our services" or "We know that your company can benefit from our services".
Lastly, always respect the privacy of the recipient and avoid all sensitive information. Anything that might make the recipient uncomfortable such as financial status or health status are best left off limits when it comes to email personalization.
In conclusion, leverage the full power of your database to personalize email content to individual names, histories, likes and dislikes. In the world of direct email marketing, one size does not fit all, so use available tools to make your email as personal and as relevant to each person as possible.
If you look at the overall behavior of all of your website visitors, you'll be inundated with a ton of information. Trying to distinguish and identify patterns among such a large group is extremely difficult, if not impossible.
If you segment or divide your users into logical groups and then compare and contrast how they behave and what they do, you'll have more accurate, actionable information that actually means something.
Segmenting your website visitors allows you to develop a clearer overall picture of your site's performance. If the metric you're trying to measure is how many people buy a particular product, it makes sense to measure that within the context of how many people interacted with the site in a meaningful way.
Since prospects and customers are always more likely to respond to messages that match their interest sets, it makes sense to chop the database into smaller, segmented slices based on preferences and past behaviors, making email messages as relevant as possible to each group. You may use historical data to apply what you know about the likes and dislikes of your target market segments, and develop your messages and offers to fit.
6.7.3 How Often And When to Mail?
Email marketing is a powerful yet inexpensive way to make contact with customers and prospects. Depending on whom you are trying to touch, there may be certain times of day, or days of the week, when the recipient may be more responsive to your message. In addition to specific timing for your email marketing campaigns, the frequency and the number of times to send can all play a big role in helping to improve your results.
When to Email?
For a mailing to business recipients, sending midday from 11 AM through 3 PM is generally the best time. Sending a message earlier in the day can result in a higher risk of the message getting lost in the rush to prepare for morning meetings. Send it too late in the day and it may end up quickly deleted before the recipient leaves for their commute home.
On the other hand, when mailing to consumers, 5 PM through 8 PM is the best time. People tend to check their personal email when they get home from work or after dinner. Most consumers are too busy getting ready for work in the morning to read their email.
Like the time of the day, different days of the week can affect your results as well. The best days to contact businesses are weekdays except for Monday and Friday. Monday has proven to have too many meetings to reach decision makers, and on Friday, most people would prefer to leave early before the rush hour than receive your email, no matter how exciting the email and offer may be.
Consumers are more likely to spend more time on the Internet on weekends, and hence have more time to consider your offer. One observation is that since many people tend to check their personal email at various points throughout the day, selecting a specific time to hit your target group while they are online is much more difficult.
During the holidays, people tend to be away from their computers and don’t check their email regularly. This means they may get your message when they return together with a ton of other mail that has piled up during the holidays. Chances are all but the most important messages will be deleted in a rush without a second look.
Sending email too often can be annoying, resulting in recipients asking to be removed. Don't send often enough and you may be forgotten when the recipient is finally ready to buy. Generally, once every 2-3 weeks is best. A few exceptions are a daily newspaper or a time-dependant offer like a seminar invitation.
Sending three variations of the same offer to the same recipient is a good way to improve response rates. You should never send the exact same offer more than once. Otherwise you risk the recipient thinking that it’s just another copy of the same email and deleting it. If a recipient has not responded by the third attempt, they are not going to respond at all, either because it’s the right offer/wrong time, or the wrong offer altogether.
It is important to follow up at least once after an initial offer. Many times it has been observed that a number of recipients will click-through on the first mailing only after receiving a second mailing. You cannot wait too long to send a follow-up message or they may have forgotten about the original offer. Follow-up contact is recommended 1-2 weeks after the original offer is sent.
The proliferation of abusive email marketing has dramatically changed the landscape for anyone with an email address. Legitimate marketers now not only have to work harder to obtain a positive response for a campaign, but they also have to avoid a negative response and all this while trying to avoid getting filtered right out of the inbox before recipients even see your message.
Make sure you have permission to communicate with every person on your lists. Many spam emails are now claiming "you signed up for the XYZ list" when in reality there is no existing relationship. If someone has indeed opted-in to your list, make sure they understand when and where this took place. If their relationship is with a third-party that you are partnered with, make sure to spell that out instead. You may be better off with a partner sending on your behalf, so as to avoid any confusion about exactly why the recipient is being emailed.
Once you've crossed the line with a recipient by spamming, there is usually no going back. The same ability of email marketing to directly reach recipients, can inadvertently offend them. Like the difference between using a chainsaw to cut up a fallen tree versus accidentally severing your own limb, email marketing requires both care and knowledge to use correctly. Make sure you stay on the correct side of the line, and you can put that power to work and start improving your bottom line results.
These days, many people’s email inboxes are protected by some sort of spam filter. The purpose of the filter is to block spam email from arriving in the user’s inbox. One of the methods used by spam filters is to identify certain words, known as “spam triggers”, found within your message. If your email contains too many spam triggers, it will automatically get deleted before reaching your subscriber’s inbox.
Here’s a few frequently used spam trigger words: money back, order today, cards accepted, order now, extra income, money-back guarantee, for free, 100% satisfied, special promotion, check or money order. To avoid having your message automatically blocked, check your message content first BEFORE sending it out with the free analyzer tool found here: www.onautopilot.com/email-analyzer
6.8 Analysis of Email Campaigns
6.8.1 Tracking Performance - Measuring Useful Metrics
Tracking and analyzing the actions of your customers and prospects is critical to your success. After deploying several campaigns, you will have generated a mountain of response information that reveals invaluable data enabling you to create new and more effective approaches and offers. There are many software tools easily available that track, record and analyze all data pertaining to your email marketing campaign. Many sophisticated analysis tools predict future actions based on past behavior. Such tools are crucial for your campaign as response data is meaningless unless it can be analyzed and turned into valuable customer knowledge.
Once you have the capability to track the vital statistics of your email marketing campaigns, the inevitable question becomes: how well are my mailings doing? Here are some guidelines on what information to gather and how to measure the performance of your campaign from the gathered information.
There are a number of different pieces of information that can be gathered when using any reasonably good email broadcasting service. The five primary measurements are: the totals each of messages sent, message opens, click-throughs, bounces, and opt-out requests. Total number of items sent must be accurately counted, based on reaching each individual email address only once. Opens measure the number of people who actually view the message using their email program.
I prefer to use “unique” opens, so that if a recipient views a message in their preview window, then opens it into a full size window, that this only counts as a single open instead of two opens. Click-throughs are recipients that respond to your offer by clicking on a link in the email. Bounces are messages that are undeliverable to the recipient. They could be “soft bounces” due to temporary issues such as a full mailbox or “hard bounces” from an invalid email account, but for our purposes here it means “people on your list who did not receive your message”. And last, opt-out requests are recipients who request to no longer receive email.
There are a wide range of results that can be measured for email campaigns, such as:
- How accurate is the list (how many bounces out of total sent)
- How active is the list (how many opens out of total sent)
- How positive was the reaction to the offer itself (number of click-throughs out of total opens)
- How negative was the reaction to the offer itself (number of opt-outs out of total opens)
The actual number of responses on any particular campaign can vary quite a bit. A newsletter whose primary job is to inform will not achieve the same click-through rate as a promotion, which is intended to get a specific response. The differing levels of permission within your list of recipients will also affect results. Until a list has been "cleaned" of bad addresses and those who are not interested, you may see far different data. Pruning these from your lists will help you improve your results considerably.
In order to account for these wide variations in factors, I suggest some general "baseline" ratios that should be achieved on any particular mailing. There should be more opens than bounces, or else the list is probably out of date. Also, there should be more click-throughs than opt-outs, otherwise the offer is poorly targeted or the list is of questionable origin.
In order to get the optimum response you will need to send two or three multiples of your email marketing campaign, each time using a variation of the original offer. If they haven't responded by 3 attempts, it’s time to change your approach.
The typical response pattern is that mailings 1 and 2 will have a similar response, with number 2 often having slightly fewer click-throughs than number 1. Number 3 picks up the stragglers and undecided recipients, so the response will be much lower, but usually significant enough to justify the mailing. Please note that you shouldn’t necessarily just blast out three mailings one after another. For example, you might piggyback your first offer onto a monthly newsletter, send the second offer separately as a special promotional mailing two weeks later, then finish the series with the final offer in the next month’s newsletter.
It is useful to understand how the size of your lists is changing over time. By viewing how many people sign up for your lists each day, you can attempt to correlate list growth with other marketing activities that you may be conducting. It is also important to consider how many people are signing up for your lists versus how many are opting out of them. If your lists have been cleaned, and the overall list size is still shrinking, you need to reevaluate both your list acquisition strategy and the content relevancy of your mailings. Testing is critical to optimizing your email marketing campaigns. But in order to test, you have to measure first. Make sure you have a way to collect detailed information about your mailings, preferably in an automatic way. Careful analysis of the actual metrics will give you the information you need to take your email campaigns to the next level.
The process of email marketing may not always bear the kind of results that you expect. In fact, even after doing all the basics right the response rates may fall way short of expectations. The good news is that email responses can be enhanced with a little bit of analysis and research.
We’ve discussed the importance of gathering statistical data during email campaigns. With this information now available and a few creative segmentation strategies, email response can be improved a great deal. Your emails may reach three sets of readers:
- Those who deleted the email without even opening it
- Those who opened the email but did not read it or click on the offer made
- Those who read the email, clicked on the link provided but did not accept your offer
The set which represents readers who never opened your email is probably the biggest. In fact, it’s possible that at least 50% of readers discarded your email as junk. To boost response rates of such readers, you should segment these as a group and change the subject line of the email or the sender’s name and address. Chances are good that you’ll find some of the changes work better than others, and that some of the non-openers to the first message have opened up the new message based on a single and possibly simple change.
Perhaps this change lies in a new appeal in the subject line, or perhaps it's due to the message coming from a living person instead of an impersonal company. Record and save those variables and continue to test and fine-tune them with each subsequent campaign.
The next segment is comprised of readers who read the email but were not interested enough to click on the offer and land on your website. This segment may be pretty big as well. It is very likely that most of these readers may have read a couple of lines at the beginning of the mail and deleted it. The best possible remedy in such cases is to analyze that section of your promotion. Does it say enough to make people want to read further? If not, reformatting and/or reworking the introductory copy and headline may be all it takes to increase your clicks.
Finally, we have the last segment comprised of readers who actually read the email and were interested enough to click through and reach your website. However, once they got there, their interest faded and they chose not to follow through with the transaction. This segment of people will normally be much smaller when compared with the above two segments.
In such cases it’s best to take a hard, objective look at the landing page. Something is clearly missing or is not being communicated effectively. Does the offer remain clear? Is the form too cumbersome or too long? Can you revise the form, and perhaps also revise some of the required form fields within it, for purposes of having these potential customers complete their first transaction?
Sometimes it may pay to instill a little humor in your email. There have been many instances when potential clients were so moved by a humorous gesture in the email so they immediately decided to do some business with the marketer. Make some assumptions and apply them to your next campaign. It's all about getting potential customers to feel good about you and what you have to offer.
Considerable time and effort may be required to improve the email responses you get. That said, the fruits such a process can bear over a period of time can be well worth it.
6.8.3 Should the message trick the reader or be honest?
Often, companies try to trick people into opening an email to start a relationship with a prospective customer. From the customer’s point of view, this is certainly not the most brilliant idea. Almost all potential customers would prefer not to do business with someone who deceives them, no matter how good a product or service they offer.
As a marketer you must approach your direct mail and email marketing messages with the attitude that this may be the one and only opportunity to start a relationship with a new customer.
Considering this, the tips below will be helpful:
- Messages should be honest and reflect the company’s credibility - Take the high road with your ads. Tell people who you really are and what you really do.
- Be clear and concise with the offer - Don’t make it difficult for the reader of your message to figure out what you are promoting.
- Test your message - Try your message out and ask for feedback. This is a good way to assure that you are not misleading your prospect.
- Know your audience - The shotgun approach to marketing does not work with direct mail or email. Sending your message to the wrong audience is a wasteful way to spend your advertising dollars.
Remember your message is a reflection of your brand, product or service and employees. Make sure your message is something you can stand behind with pride no matter how it is delivered.
Automation of your email marketing process is crucial for the success of your business. An automated system enables you to reply immediately to requested information, send automatic follow-ups to your prospects, and save tons of time. Automation can be achieved with a tool known as an autoresponder.
The autoresponder (Auto Responder) is a program that automatically sends an email reply with a pre-written response to any person with an email address that requests it. Anytime that you’ve visited a website and signed up for an online newsletter and found a reply waiting for you in your email inbox almost instantly, you’ve been automatically added to someone’s autoresponder campaign.
An autoresponder allows you to capture the email addresses of your website visitors so that you can build your own opt-in targeted mailing list and follow up with your subscribers automatically. This is the tool most commonly used for sending an email newsletter.
The autoresponder will automatically extract the prospect’s name and use this information in your follow-up messages. With an autoresponder, you can send personalized follow-up messages addressing each subscriber directly by their own name. If you personalize an email message with a subscriber’s name, this prospect is much more likely to buy from you.
You can sell your products 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with the help of an autoresponder. An autoresponder is also a handy tool that automatically follows up with a series of email messages at preset time intervals and works for you 24 hours a day. You will be able to develop your follow-up messages and set reliable time intervals. For example, you could write a series of 7 messages that you want delivered to new subscribers and set each of those messages to be delivered to new subscribers every third day. So, when someone initially subscribes at your website, that person will receive one follow-up message instantly and 6 more messages over the next 18 days. All of this is accomplished without any additional effort from you, other than the one-time setup of the messages in your autoresponder.
Following up with your prospects could easily translate to a 100% increase in your sales or more. Your potential customers may simply forget about your initial message or they simply may have a bad day which is why it’s so important follow-up with your prospects at preset time intervals at least five times after sending your initial message.
Autoresponders are great for sales letters. Suppose you posted to a couple of forums and newsgroups — you could offer a free report about your industry. You then post the email address of your autoresponder instead of the website and within seconds the forum user could be reading your free report via your autoresponder follow-up and your autoresponder messages could direct them to your sales letter for a related product. It’s 100% automatic. With your autoresponder, you can even set up predefined answers to the most likely questions. This can cut up to 80% of your normal customer service requirements.
Given below are some of the other key benefits of autoresponders:
- They introduce your business to the prospective customer
- List out special offers for members
- List out benefits of joining your website
- Compare your product or service with your competitors
- Give testimonials of existing customers
- Welcome letters for new members
- Thank you messages for new orders
- Order confirmation
- Acknowledgement of a query or a receipt of payment from your customer
- A reminder when their subscription or free access period is about to expire
It can be simple to set up and use an autoresponder, but choosing which one from the dozens of autoresponders that are available can be difficult. Most web hosts offer a simple autoresponder that gives one email message in response to an email to a specific email address. The problem with this type of responder is that one message is often not enough to keep the continued contact or deliver the content that you want to offer your visitor.
There are two main types of autoresponders. They each have their pros and cons.
Autoresponder services are web based services that allow you to send a series of emails to a visitor who has either requested the email through a web-based form on you site (the service provides the html code for your site to use) or who has sent an email to a specific address the service has provided you to use.
The primary advantage of such services is that they are very easy to set up, and are very reliable. In addition, they are host independent. This means that your web host doesn't have to allow you to run any particular services on your site to have access to all the features that an email autoresponder can provide.
GetResponse.com works perfectly well for most people. It has all the features you could ever need, and the price is very reasonable.
Autoresponder Programs (or Scripts)
The other choice for an autoresponder is to purchase (or lease) a program or a script (usually written in perl, requiring CGI access on your server.) Several of these are available.
These types of autoresponders allow, potentially at least, for increased flexibility. Some are quite powerful in their own right, while perl scripts can generally be modified to suit your needs for a fee. A good example of a script-based autoresponder that you can install on your site and never pay monthly fees to use is Autoresponse Plus at
Autoresponse Plus offers the advantages of a system you can own along with all of the flexibility. It is available at a very reasonable price and most of the complexity often associated with such programs can be almost completely eliminated because professional installation is available for a small fee.
If you don’t want to deal with the headaches of setting up your own profit-pulling autoresponder campaign, I’ve developed a service that sets up an autoresponder for you, loads it with a 400 day pre-written email marketing campaign, builds that autoresponder into your own website and provides step-by-step instructions on how to build your opt-in list and make money online. To learn more about how my service can save you time and make you money, click here now.
6.10 Call to Action — Closing the Deal
At the end of the day, everything you do online is geared towards one thing: driving your users to take an action that will result in you making money. That might be buying something from you, subscribing to a newsletter, clicking an affiliate link, etc.
When you begin preparing your email copy, you have to know exactly what you want the user to do as soon as he finishes reading. You can have the most amazing headline and the greatest product described in the finest email ever written, but if the reader doesn’t know what to do at the end of the email, you’ve wasted your time.
You’ve got to get them to take action.
There are a number of points to bear in mind when you’re trying to turn your reader into a customer.
You want to be sure that your reader doesn’t miss your call to action. It’s got to absolutely stand out from the rest of the page. You can do that by playing with font color, font size, underline, bold etc., but make sure it’s easily noticed so that it can be acted upon!
Orders rarely come in the form of long sentences. In general, marketing material should take the form of short paragraphs, punchy phrases, and bulleted points that spell out the benefits as clearly and quickly as possible. Potential customers tend to scan rather than read. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they’ll buy from you.
The words you use to persuade someone to take action are crucial. You want your call to action to include real action-packed verbs that are simple to obey. Use phrases like “Click here”, for example, or “Press Submit”. The more precise the verb, the easier it will be for the reader to take the action you intend.
Play it Straight
Once you’ve got them doing what you want, you don’t want to waste time. If you’ve told them to click on a link so that they can fill in an order form, make sure that the link leads right to the form. Don’t give them a chance to change their mind. Even the best call to action copy only works for a short time.
Many people like to put off making a decision as long as possible, especially if that decision means spending money. The fact is though, if they don’t take action as soon as they finish reading the email, they probably won’t take action at all.
You have to create a real sense of urgency, an idea that if they don’t buy, click, order, whatever... right now, they’re going to lose the opportunity of a lifetime. This isn’t too difficult to do. Here are some options:
Offer a time limited prize: “Order now and receive a FREE copy of ‘Build Your Own Bicycle!’”
Offer a quantity-limited prize: “The first 50 people to register will be entered into our FREE prize drawing!”
Create a penalty for not acting immediately: “Every day that you don’t use the amazing ideas in this book, you’re throwing away thousands of dollars! Download your copy and start earning now!”
Bear in mind that the kind of action you want people to take will depend on the kind of product you’re selling and the type of person you’re pitching to. If you’re trying to sell cars online for example, “Place your order here” isn’t likely to get many results. People don’t usually like to buy cars so quickly. You might want to say something like: “Click here for a picture of the interior” or something that's less committal than inviting them to part with lots of cash. Similarly, if your marketing material doesn’t contain all the information necessary for someone to buy, your call to action will only be to invite them to find out more.
Below, I’ve put all of these suggestions together in a sample marketing email. I’ve also added my notes to explain how I built it up. Feel free to use this email as template for your own.
Subject: Discover How To Make Your Visitors Pay You!
(The subject line is unique to emails. It’s like a mini-headline, but it’s got to stay short.)
Want Your Users To Give You More Money?
Give Them More Value!
(There’s the headline. I’ve used a Question Headline here. I’ve stated the problem and followed with the solution.) Dear Friend,
As the webmaster of a dating site, you know how important it is to keep your users coming back day after day, week after week. You know that the more your prospects see your site, the more likely they are to buy a subscription – and the more they’ll keep sending you cash!
(The first paragraph explains what the email is all about: making money.)
And you also know that the only way to keep those users logging in is to renew your content on a regular basis.
GoDating.com is now making its dating magazine available to the webmasters of dating sites. GoDatingMagazine will give your users: (And here I explain how to do it: by adding value. Note the link so that they can see what I’m offering. GoDating.com and GoDatingMagazine are fictitious and simply created for the purpose of this example.)
- Amazing, insightful articles on subjects ranging from matchmakers and soul mates to swingers and foreign brides.
- Real, practical dating advice for both online dating and face-to-face relationships.
- Exclusive interviews with dating experts, authors and celebrities.
- Fun, interactive Love Quizzes to help your visitors discover their real selves!
- Heartwarming relationship news from around the world.
- Exciting, fresh content, week in, week out!
(Bullets and bold make the benefits stand out.)
GotoDatingMagazine is updated every week with new articles, news stories and an interactive advice column.
That’s 20 original relationship articles every single month! You can provide your users with all this fantastic dating content for just $99.95 a month.
If you were to hire writers to produce this content yourself it would cost you hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars. For the price of just a few monthly subscriptions, you can give all your users this incredible extra value increasing your customer retention and profits.
(More details. As soon as I tell them it’s going to cost money, I explain why it’s great value.)
To learn more about what we can do for your users — and your income — contact me TODAY at: email@example.com.
(And there’s a simple call to action.)
We look forward to working with you!
In conclusion, from the advent of the Sears catalog in the late 19th century to tons of catalogs arriving in every mailbox today, Email marketing has proved to be a superior way to quickly and cost-effectively create a personal connection with customers, and garner immediate sales results. It also lends itself to greater measurability and testing in order to optimize results. Email marketing can be easily coupled with other marketing techniques to further improve end results. One such technique, which is an integral part of email marketing, is marketing through newsletters. Newsletters are discussed in detail in the next chapter.
You can get your own email marketing newsletter setup to start making money online within 24 hours using this service.